Many questions come up when selecting the best security camera. One question often overlooked is: where you should situate a security camera for maximum benefit? Although nothing beats an in-house inspection and analysis from a professional security installer, we’re happy to share some pro-tips to get you up and running, so that you can best meet your home security needs if you choose to install security cameras yourself.
Indoor vs. Outdoor
With so many indoor and outdoor security camera models available, it might be difficult knowing whether the inside or the outside of a house is more important to monitor. Oftentimes, the only real difference between the camera models themselves is that outdoor models are weatherproof, and lack some of the bonus features often present in indoor models, such as a microphone and speaker, or siren. Outdoor models are also more likely to include night vision.
Having security cameras on the inside and outside of the house perform two very different tasks. On the outside, a security camera can act far better as a deterrent. Would-be burglars can see an outdoor camera and know this house is not an easy target. Outdoor security cameras can monitor everyone who intrudes upon the yard or approaches the door, and can be used to capture license plates, or see how a burglar entered and left the site.
Indoor security cameras are not very helpful for crime deterrence, but can still be used to scare robbers once they’ve broken in, and thus mitigate the damage they cause. Nothing causes panic like having a siren going off, or hearing the homeowner talking to you over the indoor camera’s microphone — all while being recorded!
On top of that, indoor cameras are often used as baby monitors, pet monitors, ways to check on the elderly, and some indoor security cameras can control home automation tasks as well. Such as the Canary All-in-One and Piper Classic.
Knowing what your needs are will help you prioritize indoor or outdoor camera usage, or a combination of both.
Powering the Security Camera
Most security cameras require a cord for power. Often ones that market themselves as “wireless” are referring to the fact that they run off WiFi, but still require dedicated power. There are security cameras that run on batteries. In recent years, security-camera battery life has improved dramatically, making this a viable option.
With outdoor camera placement, perhaps your home doesn’t have outdoor outlets. Perhaps the outlets are nowhere near where you’d like to place the camera, or they are too easily reached and can be yanked out by intruders or the cat. There are great wire-free, battery-powered outdoor security camera options out there, such as Deep Sentinel’s cameras, Arlo’s series of outdoor cameras, the Canary Flex, and Ring Spotlight battery and solar-powered models.
Some outdoor security cameras, such as the Nest Cam IQ Outdoor, require an indoor power outlet, but provide plenty of cable and wall anchors to get you there, so long as you take that into consideration when planning your camera placement.
Wired outdoor security cameras will have the benefit of not needing to be checked for battery life, at the expense of longer installation times and possible limitation of camera placement. Prepare to make some choices in that regard.
Indoor security cameras will almost always require a power outlet. However, the downsides of that are minimal. Power outlets are far more prevalent indoors, and having a wire snake around the inside of the house is less cumbersome than planning and installing wiring outside the house. Manufacturers have taken notice and keep cameras AC powered, so that you don’t have to worry about changing batteries. However, check if you camera takes a battery backup, as some do, and it’s always a good idea in the case of a power outage for your security system to function properly.
Basic Placement Tips
Now for some basic placement tips, so that you get the best coverage per camera. For outdoor cameras, the best place to start is the front door. That’s because 34% of home break-ins occur at the front door. Make sure you position it to capture the intruder’s face as they approach the door, but not too low so that they can easily remove the security camera. Consider covering the camera in mesh wiring to protect it from being knocked down.
It also benefits you if the camera is visible from afar, both so that it can deter burglars before they get close and so that the security camera has a greater distance it can track. If your front door is not visible from the street, consider installing a second one that aims at the road, above your garage or on the upper midsection of your home.
If you have multiple doors, it’s always a good idea to begin arming them, starting with the next most obvious door. Believe it or not, burglars are not incredibly sneaky and go for the easiest, quickest way in. 22% of break-ins occur at a back door, so it’s a good idea to repeat the positioning tactics for your front door for any other doors you may have.
If you have a gated yard, it’s also a good idea to install a camera pointed at the entrance, as most burglars will at least exit through there. If you can’t make a door camera cover this entrance while completing its own job, consider purchasing a camera that catches criminals, preferably as they exit.
For indoor cameras, placement is all about covering as much as the room as possible. Sometimes you can achieve this simply by placing on a desk or shelf, or you may have to install a wall slot that fits the camera. Consider starting with the living room and other rooms with lots of connections, as burglars will likely have to walk through there. The master bedroom is another good pick, as most burglars will make their way there knowing that that is where most people store their jewelry and safes.