Written by McCall Robison | Last Updated February 24th, 2020McCall Robison is a Senior Marketing Strategist who specializes in the health and safety industry. Over the past three years, she has conducted hundreds of hours of research and interviewed dozens of experts, so she can give consumers the information they need to make the best decisions for their health and safety. Her work has been featured on top sites, such as Forbes, Yahoo, and MarketWatch.
When it comes to home security, you want to make sure you have the right amount of security cameras for your size of home and for the type of protection you're looking for. You don’t want to purchase too many security cameras and feel like you wasted your money, but you also don’t want to purchase too few cameras and feel as if your home isn’t properly protected.
By answering a few simple questions, you can determine how many security cameras you need for your unique situation.
Home Security Camera Tips
In addition to the number of security cameras you need for your home, there are also a variety of other details you should consider before purchasing. We asked numerous security experts to give us their top tips and details to consider before buying security cameras, and here's what we found.
Standalone Security Cameras vs Security Packages
Laura Schmitz, a Frontpoint home security specialist, tells us this about individual security cameras vs full security packages. "Home security cameras can work as a standalone piece of equipment or as part of a Smart Hub. Shoppers should consider whether they only need a camera or two or whether they might benefit from an overarching system. A smart hub system offers the ability to sync additional home automation devices and control them all from one place."
Wired vs Wireless Security Cameras
When choosing between security cameras, you need to decide whether or not you want wired or wireless security cameras. Wireless cameras seem to be the most popular on the market these days and Schmitz tells us why. "Wireless cameras offer the added benefit of a greater range of placement options and the ability to control the cameras from a smartphone."
Indoor vs Outdoor Security Cameras
Depending on your security needs, you may need indoor or outdoor security cameras — or possibly both. Schmitz gives us advice when considering indoor vs outdoor security cameras. "If someone needs to monitor a walkway or driveway or keep tabs on package deliveries, an outdoor camera is a great option since these cameras tend to be weather-proof and offer quality night vision. If someone needs to monitor indoor activity — such as seeing if the kids arrived home safe, checking in on the dog, or monitoring a new baby — an indoor camera might be the best fit." If you're wanting security coverage for both types of scenarios, you may consider purchasing both indoor and outdoor cameras.
DIY vs Professional Installation
Most security cameras have the option to be self-installed or professionally installed. Both are great options and the installation option that is best for you will depend on how confident you feel doing it yourself and how much time you have to spare. Schmitz gives us a breakdown of do-it-yourself installation vs professional installation.
"If a shopper wants to get security up and running quickly and they can spare an extra hour or two, DIY systems offer a simple way to get started without the extra work of scheduling a technician. DIY security cameras tend to feature simple set up and easy-to-follow directions with the option to call for help." If you're confident in your installation skills and the equipment isn't complicated, DIY installation might be the better option for you.
"Many security cameras offer professional installation as part of a larger system. If a shopper feels comfortable having a professional get everything set up to industry standard, professional installation is a fantastic solution." Professional installation may be the better option for you if the setup process seems difficult and you would prefer a professional.
State Audio Recording Laws
When you thought about installing indoor security cameras, you might not have considered audio recording laws. It's your house, so don't you have the right to record whatever and whenever you'd like? Schmitz gives us some insight. "Indoor cameras — also marketed as 'nanny cams' — can pose legal issues. Several states have 'all-party consent' laws, which prohibit the use of audio recordings unless all parties involved know about it. Indoor camera owners can protect themselves by not placing cameras in 'private areas' (such as bathrooms, bedrooms, or changing places), only recording video, or disclosing audio use beforehand."
Security Camera Placement
Your security cameras are only as good as their placement. Phillip Murdock, Managing Director of Envision Intelligent Solutions, suggests the following when deciding where to place your security cameras. "Take time to consider the risks to the property, vulnerable areas, access points, and what you want your system to achieve. Remember, more cameras is not always the solution. When placing your cameras, make sure that your camera locations do not create blind spots," and if necessary, protect the area with a secondary camera.
Louis Wood, a 20+ year veteran of the Security, CCTV, and Access Control Industry, also tells us this when considering camera placement. "Camera placement depends on where you can get a wire to, but it is advised to put the cameras at bottlenecks or chokepoints so burglars must cross the path of the camera. It is also best to mount cameras just out of reach because the higher a camera is, the worse the view of a perpetrator's face. With PoE cameras, DIY installation is well within the realm of reason for anyone reasonably handy with basic tools and an average level of technical proficiency."
Benjamin Ross — Realtor, Landlord, Source Expert, and Investment Specialist with nearly two decades of experience in the housing and security industry — reminds us that lighting is a crucial component of camera placement. "Coordinate your outdoor lighting with your outdoor cameras. Without adequate light, your cameras will be useless. With that said, position your camera with the light and not against it. Light going the wrong direction can easily destroy image quality." If you have a darker area outside your home that you want security coverage for, consider adding additional lighting, especially since dark areas are typically where intruders gravitate towards.
Lastly, Ross tells us not to forget about reflection images affecting camera lighting. "Be sure that the reflection of your windows does not obscure the image. Many cameras have infrared light which helps in motion detection. It also enables the camera to function in a lower light setting. IR light can reflect off of the window obscuring the image."
The Audio Element
Gabe Turner, Director of Content at Security Baron, gives us more insight into the audio element of security cameras. "I prefer cameras with a speaker and a microphone enabling two-way audio so you can speak to whoever the camera is on remotely. If you do end up getting robbed, this is a great way to scare them away." If you're looking for just security cameras rather than an entire home security system with 24/7 monitoring, two-way camera audio gives you a monitoring element that allows you to interact with anyone your camera detects, which could, as Turner said, prevent theft or a break-in.
The Artificial Intelligence Element
Turner also gives us insight into Artifical Intelligence and what it can add to your security cameras. "I prefer cameras with person detection, meaning you'll only be notified when the camera detects a person as opposed to movement of any kind. This leads to smarter, more specific notifications. Extra points for cameras with facial recognition, which can learn the faces of your friends and family over time!"
The Video Element
Turner tells us what to look for in security cameras video standards. "I look for cameras with 1080p HD video display, the industry standard, the ability to zoom in optically, as well as a field of view of 120 degrees or wider." These video elements will give you the best quality for a decent price point.
Max Babych, CEO of SpdLoad, explains that you should also consider camera photosensitivity. "Camera photosensitivity plays an important role when conducting round-the-clock video surveillance. The higher its sensitivity, the better the image quality and the more shooting options you'll get in twilight and dark hours."