Houston Heating, Cooling, and Electrical

Safely Installing Security Cameras On The Exterior Of Your Home

Many home security cameras are designed for easy installation, and some don’t even need to be wired. While some homeowners may choose a wireless technology, it’s important to consider that wiring the cameras will ensure signal stability and higher quality videos. Regardless of which option is chosen, to safely install the cameras, the following will be needed:

  • The security cameras (wired or wireless)
  • A digital video recorder (DVR) or a subscription with a cloud-based surveillance service
  • Hardware to mount the cameras (unless the cameras mount with adhesives)
  • A device to monitor video feeds. Many people use their phone for remote monitoring.
  • Power and video cables to wire the cameras to the DVR. Siamese cables are a popular option, which include power and video bundled in a single jacket.
  • A power supply box if you’re going to connect several cameras to a single outlet. If you’re uncomfortable with wiring, this isn’t necessary, but it can keep cables safely organized.

There are many all-in-one security systems that bundle the cameras, the DVR, hardware and cables together, making installation simple. If you’re only going to need a few cameras, these systems are a good fit for many homeowners.

Where should I put my security cameras?

Before you install any hardware or drill a single hole, know where the cameras are going and confirm that there’s a useful viewing angle from that position. This is a common dilemma DIY installers find themselves in—placing the camera and then discovering that the camera can’t see what it needs to see.

To avoid this frustrating pitfall, prioritize the following areas for your cameras:

Front, back and side doors – The International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI) surveyed law enforcement professionals to determine where burglars are most likely to enter the home. According to the InterNACHI survey, about 1/3 of burglars break in through the front door, while 22 percent enter through a back or side door.

These are, by far, the most common entry points for burglars, so they should be equipped with cameras. Some home security experts recommend placing two cameras each at the front and back doors. One camera is positioned directly above the door to catch the burglar’s face, while a second camera is placed far enough away to record exactly what the burglar is doing.

Driveway and garage – The InterNACHI’s survey also found that 10 percent of burglars enter through the garage. Would-be intruders often follow the driveway up to the home, and may take a quick look inside an open garage to see if there are any valuable tools, bikes or sports equipment to grab.

A camera placed over the garage will catch anyone taking a long look into your garage, and anyone walking up the driveway. Install the camera at a height that will make it difficult to vandalize, but don’t worry about it being conspicuous. Security cameras can often deter criminals with their mere appearance.

Windows that don’t face the street – After the front door, burglars are most likely to break in through a first-floor window. Windows that don’t face the street are particularly enticing to burglars, so have a camera in position over every window you want to monitor. It may be tempting to aim one camera at multiple windows, but you’ll likely have to compromise on image detail to make this happen, and image detail is critical.

How should homeowners install exterior security cameras?

The only cameras that need no wiring at all are battery-powered wireless cameras. They are the easiest to install, but if they run low on power, they aren’t much use. Wireless cameras also rely on the home’s WiFi network to send video data, so if there are slowdowns or interruptions, you may not get a clear picture.

Wired cameras are the most reliable, and they can be positioned further away from the DVR, as long as you’re willing to do the wiring. Wired cameras may be installed with adhesives, but for maximum stability, the camera should be mounted to the wall with hardware. The camera will come with the appropriate hardware, and you’ll need a drill to secure it to the camera and the wall.

Here’s what to keep in mind when installing your security cameras:

  1. Place the camera high off the ground, but under shelter – An elevated position keeps it out of range of vandalism, but make sure it stays under shelter. Security cameras designed for exterior applications can shrug off rain, but it can still affect image quality, so keep the cameras dry if possible.
  2. Aim the camera away from light sources – Intense glare will wash out the image and make it difficult to see things in detail. Aim away from the lights so the cameras can pick up on movement and color better.
  3. Pick cameras with an IP-rated enclosure – A camera designed for interior use will not survive the elements, so stick with cameras designed for exterior use. Even better, if the camera comes with an IP rating, check it. The IP code consists of two digits and it describes how durable the camera’s enclosure is against solids and liquids. For exterior security cameras, you’ll want a camera with an IP66 code, at least. This means the camera’s housing is dust tight and capable of withstanding powerful water jets from any direction.
  4. Also consider a camera with coolant – Dust and rain aren’t the only hazards to consider, because excess heat can also bring a camera down. Some cameras, though, are built with cooling systems to prevent overheating, and they’re worth considering. You can also protect the camera by keeping it shielded from the sun.

Once you’ve got the cameras placed, they’ll need to be wired to the home’s power and to the DVR for recording. You’ll need a video cable and input for every camera, so make sure the DVR can accommodate every camera. Siamese cables combine power and video in a single jacket, making it much easier to install.

Ideally, you’ll have a central location for your DVR, so you won’t have to run as much wire to the cameras. To protect from surges, consider cable that is rated for burying, ground it at one end and run it underground. This will keep your new security system from sustaining system-destroying damage in the event of a nearby lightning strike.

Security cameras offer a powerful layer of deterrence and surveillance for homeowners, as long as you have the right cameras in the right spots, and they are installed the right way. A home services expert can assist with any questions or difficulties, and it’s a perfect weekend project for someone who would like to secure their property.

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