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21 Common Security Camera Installation Mistakes

common security camera installation mistakes

Security cameras are a vital part of any security system. They keep an eye on things when you’re not around, and can provide video evidence if you need it. But if they’re installed incorrectly they could be easily vandalized or even present a fire hazard. Here are 21 common security camera installation mistakes to avoid when setting up your security system.

21 Common Security Camera Installation Mistakes

There are many different types of security cameras you can use to protect your home or business. You can install a security camera fairly quickly, but it is important to set them up correctly so that they are effective.

common security camera installation mistakes

1. Camera not High Enough or Low Enough

An easy mistake many people make is not placing the camera at the right height. Especially on a DIY install job.

If the camera is too low, it can be easily vandalized. If it is too high, it might not capture good video or cover the area you intend to capture.

2. Camera not Facing the Right Direction 

Believe it or not, this one is pretty common too. Make sure you’ve sketched out the area you intend your camera to capture before your final setup. Then face the camera in that direction.

3. Installing the Wrong Camera for the Area

Not all cameras are created equal. Some are better for indoor use while others are made specifically for outdoor installation. Perhaps you need pan, tilt, and zoom (PTZ), but you’ve already purchased a bullet camera. 

Do a little more research before installing your cameras so you can avoid getting equipment that isn’t right for what you need.

4. IR Lights Blocked or Bouncing Off Nearby Surfaces

IR (infrared) lights are what allow your camera to see in the dark. If they’re blocked by something like a screen door, then your camera’s night vision won’t work.

Nearby surfaces can also cause IR reflection, making it nearly impossible for your camera to see what’s beyond the reflective surface.

5. Setting up with Improper Angle for Field of View

The FOV (field of view) is the angle at which your camera can see – left to right, and up and down. If the camera’s FOV is too narrow, important areas of your property could be in blind spots. The camera’s upper and lower field of view can also become limited when you’ve installed a camera too high or too low.

6. Ignoring the Cameras Operable Range Limit

Cameras can only capture clear images out to a certain range. The image quality will undoubtedly suffer if you install a camera too far away from the area you want to monitor. There’s no such thing as image enhancement software like in the movies.

Be sure to check the specifications on your camera’s range limit before deciding where to place it. This way you can avoid one of the more common security camera installation mistakes.

7. Extending Data Cables for Too Long of Distance

Many networked cameras use Unshielded Twisted Pair (UTP) cabling over Ethernet to connect for power and data. UTP cable has a maximum distance of 328 feet (100 meters). You’ll notice the limit is a bit more for cheaper cable and a bit more for higher quality cable.

If need to extend further than 100 meters, you’re better off using a more expensive cabling option like fiber optics. You can use a Power Over Internet (POE) repeater/extenders to extend your UTP cables for longer than 100 meters, though. Just know that every time you use a repeater/extender, you degrade the signal strength and video quality.

installation outdoor camera

8. Using Cheap Data Cables

UTP cabling is relatively cheap and easy to find in most stores. But not all UTP cables are made the same. The better the quality of the cable, the further you can run it without losing any signal strength or video quality.

It’s possible to spend a lot of money on cheaply constructed, copper-clad cables, resulting in numerous difficulties later on. If you’re buying large amounts of cables, or if you have a long cable run of more than 100 feet, make sure you’re using solid copper.

9. Installing Too Few Cameras

It’s better to have too many cameras than not enough. You can always disable or remove a camera if you find that it isn’t needed. It’s a lot more difficult to go back and add cameras later, especially if you need to run new data cables.

10. Leaving No Room for More Cameras in Your System

You might be only installing three or four cameras to start. And you decide to purchase a receiver with only four channels. What happens when you want to install more cameras later? You’d have to start from scratch and get all new equipment.

Save yourself the headache and purchase a receiver with more channels than you think you need. Most of today’s receivers come with eight or sixteen channels. And they’re not that expensive.

11. Failing to Weatherproof Exterior Camera Connectors

Your exterior cameras should be built to withstand the elements, but their connection points might not be. Make sure you’re using weatherproof connectors for any connections made outside your home or business.

If you’re using standard connectors, you can add weatherproofing materials like electrical tape or rubber grommets. Just make sure the materials you’re using can withstand moisture and both high and low temperatures.

mistake installation camera

12. Not Having All the Equipment Needed for Installation

Forgetting accessories is a common mistake made when installing security cameras. Be sure to have everything you need on hand before starting your installation. 

Here’s a list of items you’ll probably need:

– Drill and bits

– Screws and anchors

– Wire cutters/strippers

– Level

– Ladder

– Wire management materials (cable ties, wire raceways, etc.)

– Cable testers

– Drywall repair material

13. Installing the NVR/DVR in a Bad Location

Where you place your NVR or DVR is just as important as where you place your cameras. DVRs and NVRs hold all your recordings and need a climate-controlled environment to function properly. 

Avoid placing your NVR or DVR near windows or doors, or in any other location where it could be exposed to extreme temperatures. Also, choose a location with enough ventilation to prevent the equipment from overheating.

Make sure to store your NVR/DVR in an easy-to-access location. You’ll need to get to it quickly if there’s an emergency or manually change any of the settings.

14. Installing Wireless Cameras Outside Your WiFi Range

If you’re installing wireless cameras, make sure they’re in range of your router. The average WiFi range is about 150 feet indoors and 300 feet outdoors. Of course, this range can be affected by walls, interference from other devices, and other factors.

If your cameras are too far from your router, you can purchase a WiFi extender to extend the range. Just keep in mind that the further the extender is from the router, the weaker the signal will be.

15. Cameras Eating Too Much Bandwidth on Your Network

If you have a lot of devices connected to your network, your bandwidth can quickly get bogged down. This is especially true if you have multiple high-definition cameras streaming video.

To avoid overloading your network, be sure to check how much bandwidth your cameras are using. Most cameras have settings that let you lower the video quality to reduce bandwidth usage.

16. Not Enough Storage Space for Video Recordings

Whether you’re using an NVR or DVR for video recording, you need to make sure you have enough storage space. The amount of storage space you need will depend on the resolution and frame rate of your cameras, as well as how long you want to keep the recordings. 

For example, a camera that records at 1080p resolution (1920×1080 pixels) and 30 frames per second will use about 130 gigabytes of storage space for one week of recording. Multiply that by the number of cameras you have and you can see how quickly storage space can add up.

Most NVRs and DVRs come with built-in storage, but you can also add external storage via USB or network-attached storage (NAS). 1 terabyte is a good minimum storage space for a basic security camera set-up of four to six cameras.

installing dome camera

17. Failing to Hide the Wiring

If you have a wired camera system, it’s important to hide and secure the wiring. Not only does this make your system more aesthetically pleasing, but it also protects your wires from damage and tampering.

You can run your wires through the walls or ceiling, or you can use wire covers or wire management materials to keep your wires hidden and organized.

18. Purchasing Outdated Equipment

Technology changes quickly and security camera systems are no exception. If you purchase a system that’s already outdated, you may not be able to take advantage of the latest features and technologies. 

Do your research and read reviews before making a purchase. Once you’ve narrowed down your options, check the manufacturers’ websites to see if there have been any recent updates or firmware releases for the models you’re considering.

19. Not Doing a Site Survey Before Installing Your Cameras

A site survey is an important step in the installation process, yet it’s often overlooked. A site survey helps you determine the best location for your cameras based on your specific needs. 

Assess the layout of the area you want to monitor, and consider factors such as lighting, any obstructions, and the field of view you want to cover. Then do a basic sketch of your property and note where you think the cameras should be installed.

A good site survey will help you fine-tune the placement of your cameras and make sure they’re installed in the best possible location.

20. Forgetting to Remove the Protective Film

Many security cameras come with a protective film on the lens to prevent scratches during shipping. If you forget to remove this film, your camera’s image quality will be reduced. 

Be sure to remove the film before you power on your camera. Most films are easy to spot and can be peeled off by hand.

21. Forgetting to Write Down Username and Password

After you’ve installed your system and everything is up and running, it’s important to write down the username and password for your NVR or DVR. This may seem like a small thing, but it’s actually one of the more common security camera installation mistakes.

Keep your username and password in a safe place, and make sure only authorized personnel have access to them. You won’t be able to access your recordings if you forget them.

interior security camera

How to Set Up Your Cameras for the Best Protection

Now that you know common security camera installation mistakes, it’s time to learn how to set them up for the best protection.

Where to Place Your Cameras

Start by placing cameras near all entrances, both front and back. You should also place cameras in any other potential break-in locations, such as first-floor windows or attached garages.

Inside your home, place cameras in high-traffic areas such as the living room, kitchen, and family room. You might also want to place a camera in your home office or any other room where valuable items are kept.

How to Set Up Your Cameras

The proper height for exterior cameras is about 10-12 feet, while interior cameras can be placed as needed. The exterior height recommendation is so the camera can see over any potential obstacles, such as fences or cars while being high enough that it won’t be easily tampered with.

Angle your cameras downwards to get a clear view of faces and any potential weapons. Create clear lines of sight, and if possible, avoid placing them behind objects such as plants or furniture.

Install your cameras in weather-resistant locations to protect them from the elements and ensure they continue working properly.

installation security camera

Tips for Keeping Your Camera System Running Smoothly

-Make sure to regularly check your cameras for damage and to clean off any dirt or debris that might have built up.

-Make sure your camera system is up to date with the latest firmware. This will ensure your cameras are running properly and that you have the latest security features.

-Watch out for blurry or grainy video, especially if it’s coming from just a couple of cameras. It might be caused by camera damage, the camera housing being jarred, or other factors that prevent your cameras from sending a clear image.

-Keep your camera system’s software up to date to avoid any security vulnerabilities.

-Pay attention to when your video footage cuts in and out, even for a few seconds. It could be an indicator your WiFi needs an upgrade because too many connected devices are slowing things down.

-Keep an eye on the data limit in your storage device – whether it’s cloud-based or local network storage. If you run out of storage space, you won’t be able to record any new video.

Conclusion

In this article, we have discussed the 21 most common security camera installation mistakes that people make. We have also provided tips on how to avoid these mistakes and get the most out of your security camera system. By following these tips, you can ensure your cameras are properly installed and positioned to give you the best protection possible.

FAQ

Can someone mess with your security camera?

Yes, security cameras can be tampered with, but it’s not easy. Cameras that are properly installed and secured are much more difficult to tamper with. To prevent vandalism of your security cameras, make sure to install them in weather-resistant locations and hide all wires and cables.

Do security cameras burn out?

Yes, eventually all security cameras will need to be replaced. The lifespan of a security camera depends on many factors, such as the type of camera, the quality of the camera, and how often it’s used. Generally speaking, most security cameras will last between 3-5 years.

What causes video loss in security cameras?

There are many reasons why video loss can occur in security cameras. Some of the most common include weak power supply, damage to the camera, interference from other devices, or a weak WiFi signal. To prevent video loss, be sure to regularly check your cameras for damage and keep your camera system’s software up to date.

Do real outdoor security cameras have blinking lights?

No, real outdoor security cameras do not have blinking lights. Blinking lights can actually make your home more vulnerable to break-ins because they alert burglars to the fact that there is a camera present. If you want to deter burglars, install your security cameras in well-lit areas. This will make it more difficult for them to approach your home without being seen.

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