CCTV or surveillance cameras have become indispensable security equipment today, you see them almost everywhere, and for good reason.
They act as your first line of defense against potential break-ins and thefts. Let’s face it: crime rates aren’t going down anytime soon, so people are increasingly relying on security cameras to keep themselves and their families safe.
But then, where should homeowners place security cameras? Should they be visible or hidden? If you’re having a hard time answering questions like these, that’s where this guide comes to the rescue.
We installed an extensive home surveillance system recently and decided to compile all the information that would help you do the same. For the sake of brevity, we have divided this guide into four parts.
So, without further ado, let’s get straight into the details.
Factors To Consider Before Installing Cameras
When you set out to install cameras for home security, you must ask yourself some critical questions. A few of these questions are:
- What are the places in or around your home that should have cameras?
- Do you have an obscured entrance that would be a probable entry point for criminals?
- Did anybody break into your house, even when the previous owners were living there? If yes, which spot did the culprit pick to break into?
- Should you be installing security cameras yourself or seeking professional help? If you DIY, what tools would you need?
Asking such questions will help ensure that you do not leave any significant loopholes in the planning of your home security system. In fact, you should think of this as the first step in the process.
One of the most important factors to consider is the type of camera you need to install. There are several security camera brands out there that offer hundreds of products with different features. Cameras can come with or without motion sensors, night vision, rotation, and a wide focus range.
Another crucial factor to consider is the number of security cameras to be installed. We don’t have an answer to that because it may vary based on the size and layout of your home. Moreover, the exact number that needs to be installed is based on the features and quality of the camera itself.
Should you be installing cameras indoors or outdoors? When it comes to installing an adequate home security and surveillance system, you must pay close attention to the interiors, as well as exteriors. So, it all boils down to finding the right balance between indoor and outdoor cameras.
Irrespective of the exact location of an outdoor camera, it must be waterproof and should ideally have night vision. So those are two additional features to look for in an outdoor camera relative to its indoor alternative.
Best Locations For Security Cameras
Installing security cameras will end up becoming a waste of your finances if you do not get it right. And by that we mean installing cameras in the right locations. You do not want to install a camera in every possible spot because that would be overkill and unnecessarily expensive. So, you must choose where to place them. How do you do that, though?
One of the most important home security tips to consider is being able to think from a burglar’s perspective. Which spot is a criminal most likely to choose for entering your house? We have picked the best locations for security cameras based on a survey that found the most common entry points for burglars:
- 34% break in through the front door
- 23% break in through the first-floor window
- 22% break in through the back door
1. Front Door
This is perhaps the most central location for a security camera because nearly one in three burglars chooses the front door as their entry point.
What you need to keep in mind is that your front door is easily visible. So, it makes sense to place a camera there in such a way that it is out of reach and preferably out of sight from potential criminals.
2. First-Floor Window
If you have an apartment that goes up to one or two levels, burglars may be looking to get in through any off-street windows on the first floor. So, you should place a camera close to the windows that are not near any streets.
If you’re wondering why criminals prefer these windows, it’s because they don’t run the risk of being spotted by cars on the street.
3. Back Door
Those of you who have a back door or side doors in your house must place a camera there. As a rule of thumb, place a camera near every door in your house.
When installing a camera above a door, make sure that it is facing slightly downward so that it covers some area leading up to that door.
4. Other Locations
When you install cameras near the front door, back door, and first-floor windows, is that it? As it turns out, those cameras are capable of preventing around 80% of burglaries. So, you’re still not 100% secure, and there are some other locations where you could use the help of a camera. Some of these spots include:
- Second Floor
In the end, irrespective of the places you choose, be vigilant about it and ensure that the installed cameras cover the most theft-prone areas of your home.
Common Mistakes You Should Avoid
It is a tad difficult to zero in on the best camera placements and strategies given the many dynamic variables and subjective preferences. However, there are some common pitfalls that you should avoid. Here are five mistakes that people often make while installing home security cameras:
1. Carelessness About Outdoor Cameras
Your outdoor cameras are more important than indoor ones. Why? Because they can effectively prevent theft from happening. On the other hand, an indoor camera will only be useful to identify the thief. Once a criminal gets into your home, it is highly unlikely that an indoor camera will deter them.
To cut a long story short, you must pay more attention to the outdoor cameras. Anybody should not be able to tamper with them or damage them, so keeping them out of reach is of utmost importance. We recommend keeping outdoor cameras at least 9 feet above the ground.
Another common mistake people tend to make is not considering the fact that outdoor cameras may also be stolen. Let’s face it: a highly motivated criminal will likely take your camera, too, rather than getting scared of it. So, it makes sense to secure the cameras with a wired enclosure or a box.
2. Overestimating Cameras
The vast majority of homeowners out there believe that cameras will always pick up all the clues that might lead to the identification of suspects or criminals. But we hate to break it to you that security cameras in real life are not as efficient as the ones you see in movies and TV shows.
Although technology is advancing by leaps and bounds, and AI has made its way into several aspects of our lives, a security camera is yet to be smart enough to multitask. You cannot expect one camera to pick up somebody’s face, their car’s license plate, as well as the house across the street simultaneously.
To avoid making this mistake, we recommend that you prepare a camera placement diagram. We know it is an additional step, but it would help ensure that each of the cameras you install will work optimally. Furthermore, it will prevent the redundant installation of cameras where you don’t actually need them.
3. Not Gaining A Good Vantage Point
If you have watched war sequences or have read about them, you know the importance of a good vantage point. The same applies to security cameras in the battle against potential burglars or thieves.
We said a “good” point, but most people make the mistake of interpreting it as the “highest” point. While that works well to view a larger area, it fails miserably at identifying specific features of any person. So, all you would see is that someone came and broke in—not very useful, right? The only exception to that is installing a high-res camera, but those tend to cost a lot.
The bottom line is: Do not install cameras at the highest point possible. Like we already mentioned, the minimum height is 9 feet above the ground, but do not go too high.
4. Cameras Without Wide Dynamic Range (WDR)
This is a tad more technical but makes a huge difference. People tend to use regular cameras near doorways and windows when they should be using those that come with WDR.
If you aren’t familiar with WDR, let us explain: If one part of an image is quite dark while another part is much brighter, a non-WDR camera will not show the details in the dark part. So, the cameras you install near windows and doors must be equipped with WDR.
Do not fall prey to the common misconception that criminals lurk around houses only at night. In fact, burglaries are more common during the day. So, do not forget to get some WDR-enabled cameras for your windows and doors.
Generic Tips For Home Security Cameras
Now that we have discussed everything else, it is time to look at some general tips that will help you make the most of your home security cameras.
1. Check Applicable Regulations
The first thing you want to do before installing cameras around your house is checking the camera placement laws applicable in your region. You do not want to violate these regulations, so we recommend going through the local guidelines that talk about the use of surveillance cameras in residential areas.
Typically, you will violate these regulations if your camera is invading someone else’s privacy. So, avoid pointing any cameras in the direction of your neighbors’ properties.
2. Consider Installing Dummy Cameras
This next tip is for people who want to leave nothing to chance. It cannot be denied that security cameras, especially the ones that are quite evident, could get damaged.
How about placing reasonable, low-quality cameras as dummies in places that are visible? And to take it up a notch, you could put a hidden camera that points towards the dummy camera. So, if a criminal tries to destroy the dummy unit, it is recorded on the hidden camera.
3. Ensure Adequate Lighting
Although we recommend buying outdoor cameras that are equipped with night vision, you could do without them as long as you ensure there’s adequate lighting outside. You do not want to be dealing with low-quality footage if at all someone breaks in during the night.
Having said that, avoid placing cameras very close to bright lights because that can also lead to disruption in the recording.
4. Audio, Video, and Storage Capabilities
This one is a no-brainer! You should be installing cameras that come with top-notch audio and visual capabilities. We know those cameras can be a bit expensive, but they are worth investing in for sure.
As far as storage is concerned, we recommend going for cameras that directly link to your cloud storage and save the recordings there. This can be especially useful if you plan to record everything because there’s only so much capacity you can get with local storage.
Summing It Up
As per FBI crime statistics, a burglary happened every 23 seconds in America in 2017. So, you can imagine how vital it is to take all the measures at your disposal for securing your home. And having security cameras at the right places is one of the most effective ways to ward off burglars.
Some people are advocating for the use of solar-powered security cameras because you need not worry about charging their batteries or somebody tampering with the power source. So, that makes a good choice as well.
On that note, we have reached the end of this guide. And we hope you found the answers to most, if not all, of your questions about home security cameras.
Till next time—be safe!