How to Install A Security Camera
How you install a home security camera depends on what type of camera you choose. Is it an indoor camera or an outdoor camera? Does it use a power cord? Is it wireless? These are some of questions you’ll want to consider both when you install your home security camera, and when you consider what type of camera you want to buy.
If you’re not sure what type of camera you want, check out some of our other reviews to explore your options.
- Best Outdoor Security Cameras
- Best Indoor Security Cameras
- Best Wireless Security Cameras
- Best Cheap Security Cameras
- Best CCTV Systems
Once you’ve chosen the best security camera for your home, here’s an overview of what you’ll need to set it up.
How much does installation cost?
If you install your security camera yourself, then installation won’t cost you a penny. If you prefer to have the pros do it for you, then you’ll need to drop some dollars on that service.
Do-it-yourself camera installation
If you can install a camera yourself, then it’s pretty much free after you pay for the equipment. Most cameras these days are not only easy to install on your own, but also designed to be as pain-free as possible. Some you can set on a table, stick with adhesive on a wall, or attach to a wall with a drill. However, not everyone is comfortable with drilling into their walls, especially if the screws have to come in from the outside.
The easiest cameras to install on your own will be wire-free models like the Arlo Pro 3 or the Reolink Argus 3. If you have an indoor security camera, then those are also quite easy to set up yourself. You just need to put the camera where you want it and plug in the power cord.
If you get one of the professionally installed Best Home Security Systems we’ve recommended (namely ADT Command or Vivint), you’ll get an installation tech who will install everything for you, including your cameras. Vivint’s system installation fee is $49, but ADT’s fees are significantly more. You may pay as much as $199 for that pro installation.
If you want to get a whole network of home security cameras that integrate into your home security system, then it’s much easier to have a professional install those cameras for you. It’s also easier to have the pros install video doorbells, so you don’t have to mess around with electrical wires.
Both ADT and Vivint offer professionally installed doorbell cameras.
Pro installation for standalone security cameras
If you’re buying a camera yourself and want to have it professionally installed, then there are third-party services like HelloTech that are a great way to find local professional installation for security cameras. Plus it’s actually a decent bang for your buck compared to higher prices from CCTV companies.
How much you’ll pay depends on what type of device you have and potentially other factors as well, such as your location. But HelloTech does list starting prices for security cameras and video doorbells.
Smart security camera installation price: starts at $129
Video doorbell installation price: starts at $99
How should you position your security camera?
Not everyone has to deal with thieves and break-ins (thank goodness). Some of us just want to check on deliveries or see who visits our house while we’re away. Other people want a way to check on family members or pets. Decide which purpose is most important to you and place your camera where it will best be able to see what you want to keep an eye on.
Indoors or outdoors?
The biggest difference between indoor and outdoor cameras is their ability to endure the weather. The last thing you want is for your new camera to quit in the first blizzard of the year, especially since you’ve noticed your snow boots have gone missing, too.
Check the operating temperature and approved use for the camera you want to buy. There are some models, like the SimpliSafe SimpliCam, that can be modified to work outside as well as indoors.
Where to install an indoor security camera
Installing an indoor camera can be as easy as finding the right spot, plugging it in, turning it on, and syncing it with your mobile or desktop app. While some may require drilling, most indoor cameras we’ve come across won’t require anything more than a screwdriver.
A good indoor camera should have a decent field of view, which you can get with a higher corner or shelf. The best places will have a clear view of the room, a place to hide the camera from thieves, and very little foot traffic (to avoid unplugging the camera or tripping on the cord).
Where to install an outdoor security camera
The most popular places for an outdoor camera are above the garage door or looking over a front or back porch. For a garage camera, make sure you have a large field of view. For a porch camera, make sure your camera is mostly looking at a driveway or walkway to capture all the action possible with a smaller field of view. You may want to consider a doorbell camera like the Nest Hello, the Arlo Video Doorbell, or the RemoBell S.
Should you get a wired, wireless, or wire-free camera?
There are generally three power options for security cameras, although the terminology can get a bit confusing:
- Wired, which means the camera relies on wires to connect to both power and your internet.
- Wireless, which means your camera can connect to the internet wirelessly but requires a power cord. Sometimes these cameras are still called “wired” since they require a cord.
- Wire-free, where the camera runs off a battery pack and doesn’t need any wires at all. Sometimes these cameras are called wireless since they run without power cords.
With wired installation, you’re a little limited in terms of placement, but your connection will be more reliable and secure. Consider where you have to run the wire and how much length you need. You can always buy extension cables on Amazon.
Steps for installing a wired security camera
- Find a stable spot on the wall
- Some cameras may require finding a stud, while others will come with drywall screws
- Check for existing wiring
- Mark and drill the appropriate holes
- Thread the wiring back to the monitoring source
Just make sure the hole you drill is big enough to pull the wire through but not so big that you can no longer mount the camera.
A big benefit of wire-free (sometimes still called wireless) cameras is being able to place them nearly anywhere, but you’ll still want to make sure you’re within range of your Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, or other wireless connections. That being said, if your outdoor camera needs a power cord, like the Nest Cam IQ Outdoor, you should be able to drill easily through denser materials like brick or stucco if needed.
Make sure you place your security camera out of reach so a thief or guilty child can’t just grab it and leave without you ever seeing the footage. Tech installers recommend placing your cameras at least nine feet above ground—but just don’t go so high you can’t see what’s happening on the ground.
Should you choose local or cloud storage?
Most cameras today offer cloud storage as a way to prevent thieves from just grabbing the evidence and running, but some people still prefer local storage for its privacy and convenience.
Local storage options vary by camera, but may include these options:
- microSD cards
- USB drives
- Digital Video Recorders (DVRs)
- Network Video Recorders (NVRs)
If you’re going with local storage, you’ll have to place your cameras out of harm’s way, but somewhere you can access it when you need it. However, if you get cloud storage, you can view footage through your phone or desktop apps, and you can access footage regardless of the camera’s condition.
For most cameras we recommend, you can install them yourself. If not, there’s always a professional who can help— either from the security company itself or a third-party provider like HelloTech.
If you are going for DIY installation and need more specific instructions, some CCTV and surveillance companies have thorough walkthroughs and video tutorials on their websites:
Pseudo Home Security in America
Security systems and cameras are awesome if you’ve ever been unsettled by a prowler in your neighborhood or suspicious noises at night. But that stuff is expensive, and it seems like a hassle to set up something new. So what about fake security cameras? If they look just as real, they must be just as good, right? Or are they?
We took a survey of 500 Americans to see how people feel about real and fake home security measures, and if they think both are equally effective. Here are some of the most interesting things we found.
- 15% have used a fake security camera.
- 25% have used a fake or outdated security monitoring sign in their yard.
- 24% have used a fake or outdated security monitoring sticker in the window of their home.
- 24% have hidden a key in a fake rock.
- 28% have hidden a key under their doormat.
- 17% have placed a trick delivery package outside their house.
We asked America: How effective is fake home security?
- 1 in 5 believe that fake home security systems are just as effective as an authentic system.
- 1 in 4 believe that a fake security camera is just as effective as an authentic security camera.
- 17% believe that a fake security alarm (audible) is more effective than an authentic alarm.
- 17% believe that a fake security monitoring sticker is more effective than an authentic one.
Plenty of people are using tactics like fake security cameras and outdated yard signs to protect their homes, and many think these measures are just as effective as the real thing.
But most people agree that the genuine article is better than any fake. When it comes to defending your property, the majority opinion is that real security systems and real cameras offer better protection. And we agree. A real security camera, with a livestream you can view through a mobile app and two-way audio you can use to yell at intruders, is always going to top some plastic replica.
We conducted an anonymous survey of 500 Americans over the age of 18 regarding sentiments about their usage and perceived effectiveness of both pseudo and authentic home security measures. Using the responses from our survey, we have highlighted the most common answers in this report.