DIY Home Surveillance Installation Considerations

This is a guest post by David at Security.

When considering the installation of security cameras at your home there are a few things to keep in mind. First, what am I trying to accomplish? If your goal is for the cameras to be a deterrent to crime, you need to know that there is little evidence suggesting that cameras deter crime. What cameras can do very well, when properly installed, is provide information and evidence that can be used to identify and prosecute perpetrators of crime.



To assure that your cameras are properly installed you will need to consider:

  1. Camera type (low light, IP etc.)
  2. Lighting conditions at the camera location and the area to be viewed
  3. How the cameras will be installed (wall, ceiling or pole mount for example)
  4. How you will get power to the cameras
  5. Where the pictures from the cameras will be viewed or recorded
  6. What you trying to accomplish with the cameras


Camera Types

There is a wide range of surveillance equipment available to the average consumer today including black & white, color, standard resolution or high resolution, day/night cameras, low light cameras, BLC (back light compensated) cameras, thermal cameras, panoramic view cameras and IP cameras.

A good low cost residential camera installation could consist of cameras with infrared (IR) illuminators and a recording device. Many security DVR’s now provide a path for homeowners to connect through the internet to their home camera system.


Lighting Conditions

Different cameras have different operating characteristics. For example, black and white cameras generally provide a better picture at night because they are more sensitive to infrared light (IR) than color cameras. This is why some cameras include on-board IR illuminators. Other cameras called Day/Night cameras change from color cameras to black & white cameras at dusk to improve camera performance.

Back light compensated (BLC) cameras also called wide dynamic range cameras are a good fit for camera locations inside a room looking toward a door or a window. Glare from doors and windows will sometimes cause a picture from a camera to “wash out” making images un-useable. A Wide dynamic range camera will compensate for the lighting overload and assure a good picture.

photo courtesy of 2mcctv


Camera Mounts

Typically cameras are wall, ceiling or pole mounted. It is important to consider how you will mount the cameras. For example, what tools will be necessary (e.g. ladders, drills, mounting hardware etc.).


Camera Power & Cabling

Cameras need electricity to operate and each camera location must consider accessibility to a power supply. There are different options available depending upon your needs. For example, some people choose to use a centrally located power supply and run wires to each camera location from there. Others choose to use small power transformers at each camera location. If that uninterrupted operation of your surveillance system is critical, you should consider battery back-ups for both your cameras and your DVR.
There are two ways to get the cameras signal back to the monitor and DVR. 1. Direct wire, 2. Wireless. As with any option there are aspects unique to each approach that you should consider. For example, wireless is generally less expensive, but, it can also be subject to signal interference and range issues that can impact the quality of the picture. Direct wire will provide a more consistent and reliable signal but is more labor intensive to install.


Viewing & Recording

The camera user should also give thought to where and how the camera images will be used. For example, some camera applications are used for viewing purposes only and don’t need to be recorded. In this case a good quality monitor should suffice. With the relatively low price of recording media in the marketplace today however, no camera system should be considered complete without a recording device of some type. There are a number of ways to record your video streams. Like cameras, there are a wide range of DVRs available in the marketplace. DVRs range from residential to high end industrial grade. Many now offer remote web access to your camera system.


Some things to consider when reviewing DVRs include:

Number of channels-this limits the number of cameras you can tie into your system. For example a four channel DVR is limited to 4 cameras.

photo courtesy of 2mcctv


The amount of recorded images you will capture on the DVR is limited by the number of cameras, their recording speed, and the size of the storage media. Typically, DVRs will record until the allotted space on the hard drive is consumed and then begin recording over the oldest images. Some DVRs are available with an on board DVD burner allowing the user to transfer recorded images to disk for permanent archiving.

Lastly, the quality of the monitor you use for viewing will impact the quality of the viewed images. It is important to consider how you will use the monitor to view images. For example, some businesses like to put a monitor near the entrance of their businesses so that customers see that there is an active surveillance system in use in the business. In other cases the monitor will be used only to review recorded images in the event of an incident. There are many options available to the consumer that will provide high quality images at an economical price. It is important to assure that the output format of your DVR is compatible with the input format needed by the monitor.


Author Info: David W. McCoy, CPP, David is a security professional and writer for 2MCCTV Security with 28 years in the security industry evaluating and designing security & surveillance systems and programs for government and multinational corporations.

This was a guest post. Click here if you would like to be a guest blogger at 1house1couple. here to leave a comment!

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4 Responses to 'DIY Home Surveillance Installation Considerations'

  1. Rachel says:

    Josh and I have a camera system set up at our house but the installers did a terrible job! We are thinking of getting a new company and new system! Thanks for the info:)

    • Lisha says:

      Hi Rachel. So disappointing… why can’t people do their jobs right? I mean, if you only do one thing, you should be able to do it right. just sayin 😉

      Hope you can get what you need.


  2. Derek says:

    great article, very informative and in depth. Thanks!

  3. Most camera installers know what they are doing, but sometimes fail to explain the limitations to the customer. Its always a good idea to let them know its not like the movies.

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