How to Install Security Cameras

Proper installation in easy-to-follow steps

What to Know

  • Determine location: Consider entry points (each point = 1 project), take advantage of objects and architecture.
  • Install: Configure camera first > mount camera base > attach camera to base > adjust > attach and run cables.

This article explains how to properly select a spot for and install a security camera.

Determine Where to Mount Your Security Cameras

Before you begin the process of actually mounting your security cameras, you should spend some time considering where the most effective places are to mount them. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  1. Consider each entry point separately. The most important aspect of installing a security camera is location. Consider every entry point to your house as a separate installation project. Step back and examine the entire entry point. Imagine where intruders will most likely be coming from when they approach the entry point to the house.

    Image of a typical home entry point
  2. Take advantage of existing objects above doorways. For doorways, place a camera over the door for clear face captures. If you already have lights above the door, these are an excellent location to conceal a security camera and make it appear only as part of the lighting base.

    Image of an overhead lighting unit over front door
  3. Use beams or posts. Beams and joists are usually positioned at a high angle that provide both an overhead view of the intruders face, as well as an angle of access routes intruders will take to approach the doorway.

    Image of an overhead beam above front door
  4. Remember side access points like windows. Intruders don't always use doorways. If there are windows on the sides of a home, consider installing a security camera on any nearby objects like posts or trees that provide a clear view of those entry points.

    Image of side entry point
  5. Rear entry points are most critical. Most intruders think it's safer, especially at night, to enter a rear door. Especially if that door goes into the basement. Just like a front door, consider all posts, beams and other structures where you could mount the camera. Ideally aim for a camera angle like the one below which covers not only the doorway but also the access path that an intruder has to approach from.

    Image of rear access point of a house

How to Install Security Cameras

Once you've selected your cameras and decided where they will be most effective, you can begin the process of actually installing the security cameras. Installation is part physically installing the hardware and part configuring the software.

These installation instructions are general steps you'll need to install your security camera. While most cameras will require these steps, some manufacturers may require additional steps or may require a different order for the steps to be completed. Be sure to read the installation instructions and materials that come packaged with your chosen security cameras.

  1. Once you're ready to start installing your cameras you'll probably need to configure the cameras in the accompanying security app. Make sure to get the mobile app installed, the camera powered up, and your app communicating with the camera properly. Usually, apps need you to scan a QR code on the back of the camera which can be difficult if you've already mounted it.

    Image of camera QR code
  2. Mount the base. At each entrance point, decide on the location or locations where you want to mount your camera. Start by mounting the base plate. These usually have two or three screw holes. Most cameras come with self-drilling screws that will work in most types of wood with just a regular electric drill.

    Image of attaching a camera base plate to wood
  3. Determine how the camera attaches to the base plate. Most cameras come with mounting hardware that attaches to the base plate in a way that's easy to connect and disconnect by pressing a button. Make sure you understand how the unit attaches to the base plate before you finish attaching the base plate to the mounting point.

    Image of checking mount attachment to baseplate
  4. Mount and adjust the camera. Once the base plate is attached to the post or wall where you're mounting the camera, attach the mount and the camera to the base plate. Then adjust the camera angle and tighten the screws or wingnuts that hold the camera position in place.

    Image of mounting an outdoor security camera
  5. Mount and adjust any peripherals. If you're using a solar-powered camera, then you'll need to repeat the process above to mount the solar panel in a nearby location. Try to mount any solar panels in a location that has clear access to the path of the sun throughout the entire day.

    Image of mounting a security camera solar panel
  6. Next, attach and run all cables. If you're using a wireless solar-powered camera then you'll only need to worry about the wire from your camera to the solar panel.

    Battery-powered cameras won't have any cables.

    Wired cameras will require both the data line into the house (which may require drilling or passing the wire through existing conduit), as well as running wires to a nearby outlet. Outdoor security camera wires are rated for outdoor use, so it's okay to tie-wrap the cable to any existing wires on the same pole. If there are none, you can use wire staples to attach the wire along wooden posts and along walls.

    Image of outdoor security camera near wires
     Sutin Yuukung / EyeEm\Getty Images
  7. Explore the settings in your security app. Make sure to browse through all of the settings in your security camera app so you're making use of all available features.

    You don't want to realize audio recording is disabled after an intruder has already broken in. Often sound provides police with important clues. Also, make sure to adjust the camera resolution to the highest setting available for clear images of faces and license plates.

    Screenshot of security camera app settings.
  8. Use IP camera software. Since security cameras each have a unique IP address, you can use generic IP security camera apps that can connect to all cameras you've installed and display them on one screen. This lets you use your tablet, computer, or smartphone to see all cameras at once.

Select the Security Cameras

Before you mount your security cameras, you'll need to find the best security cameras to meet your needs. Always choose the right camera with the right features for the right job. Here are a few important considerations to keep in mind:

  • If the location you're mounting a camera already has motion-activated lights, you can save money by buying a security camera without night vision.
  • If there are no power sources or outlets nearby, use a security camera that's battery or solar-powered.
  • To ensure important video or photos don't get lost, try to purchase cameras with cloud-based storage.
  • Always purchase the highest resolution camera you can afford.
  • If your internet is reliable, a wireless camera with cloud storage is easier to install. Otherwise, you'll need to purchase more expensive wired cameras as well as a central controller for video recording.

Select the Right Mounting Hardware

The best outdoor security cameras are those that come with a hood to shield from sun glare. If you afford a dome camera, these are even better because it's difficult for intruders to see where the camera is pointed. Security cameras come with a round base plate mechanism that allows for easy adjustment of the camera angle after mounting.

Night vision cameras come with what look like extra camera lenses. These are actually LED bulbs that illuminate an area with light in a frequency that's invisible to the human eye. Intruders won't see this light, but your camera will be able to see the entire area as well as if it were daytime.

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