15 Tips for Home Security Cameras You Must Try

I’ve compiled 15 tips that you should apply when setting up your security cameras. I found these tips through missteps I’ve made along the way. Take these tips and apply them to your home security setup today. These tips are in no order, and all have equal weight.

Use cloud storage

Regardless of your home security system, I recommend using cloud storage. Either use cloud storage that comes with the camera or system or use a third-party cloud storage provider. If you can find a cloud storage that is free, use it, otherwise, it may be worth it to pay a little per month to have your recordings saved to the cloud.

Here are a few reasons you should use cloud storage:

You can access the storage from anywhere. This is especially important if you are using a Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) system. 

If your hard drives are stolen, all is not lost. CCTV and Power over the Ethernet systems use physical hard drives to save camera footage/ If someone steals the hard drives and you are not backed up to the cloud, you will have no way of knowing who stole the equipment. Cloud storage will save the recordings even if the hard drives are taken.

Using cloud storage may be cheaper in the long run. Cloud storage may be cheaper than keeping and storing external hard drives. With cloud storage, you can compress files into one folder then place them in the cloud. 

Cloud storage is elastic. Cloud storage and grow and shrink as you need. Because of the elastic nature of cloud storage, you only pay for what you use. In addition, you can set up rules within your cloud storage to remove old files after a certain day. For example, you may want to create a rule that deletes old files after 90 days.

Easy to send to friends, family, or the police. Cloud storage is much easier to send to people that need to see the video. The steps to send a cloud file is as simple as sending the link to the file or creating a share request. If you are using physical storage, you have to download the file to your local computer, then send it as an attachment. If the file is too large, you have to download the file to a hard drive and take it somewhere.

Location

Location is also very important when setting up your camera system. Most break-ins occur in one of three places: the front door, backdoor, and garage. 

Frontdoor

I like having a video doorbell because it kills two birds with one stone. You can the ability to see who is at your door, and you can answer your doorbell from anywhere. There are a number of video doorbells that send push notifications anytime there is a motion, or someone rings the doorbell.

If you do not want a video doorbell, make sure that you have at least one camera pointing at your front door. Statistics show that break-ins are most likely to occur during the day, at your front door. 

Back door

The back door is another place where break-ins occur as most people have sliding glass doors. Often homeowners forget to lock the back door, and criminals can walk right in. Backdoors are also easier because it is all glass. It would be very easy for a criminal to break the glass and lift the handle.  While I don’t think a doorbell is necessary, you can find a number of products that have the backyard in mind.

Garage

The third most important place for criminals is the garage. A garage can be easy to get into for a few reasons. First, there is technology that criminals use where is guesses codes until the garage door opens.

Second, it is very easy for homeowners to leave the garage open at night. There have been times where I thought I closed the garage door, but due to a reflection from the sun, the door stayed open.

Other important places

The window to the basement is another place criminals like to use to gain access to the home. On newer homes, the window is used as an escape point if there is a fire. These windows are usually big enough for an adult to get in and out with ease. Put a camera there as soon as possible.

Blind spots

Does your house have natural blinds spots which make it easy to hide? Does your homes’ architecture lend itself to unique shadows? Place a camera there with a spotlight to brighten the darkest of places. 

Inside the garage

Another spot often overlooked is inside the garage. A garage with no access to light is pretty dark most of the time, Place a motion camera in there to know if and when something’s up. There are some indoor cameras that can detect motion as small as mice movement. You may not need or want that, but you should have a camera in the garage.  

Gates

Gates are another surprising place criminals can use to gain access to your home. If your gate does not have a lock, then it is really easy to access the backyard. If your gate has a lock, bolt cutters can break the gate in minutes.

I recommend buying a camera that focuses only on the gate, and give it a special name so that you know if someone is accessing your yard though that method.

Two-way audio is a must

Two-way audio is the ability to communicate with the person on the other side of the camera in real time. In most cases, cameras are installed with both a microphone and speaker. The two-way audio feature can be found on all video doorbells and most wifi cameras. 

There are a number of benefits to having tow-way audio. First, you can speak directly to the person on the other side of the camera from anywhere in the world as long as you are connected to the internet. Second, you can catch potential criminals off-guard by letting them know you are watching.

Push notifications for the win

Possibly my favorite feature of my cameras is the push notifications. Push notifications send you alerts to your phone, tablet, or desktop via the security cameras app. Push notifications can provide all types of information including: if someone is ringing your doorbell, or if there is motion at your camera.

I usually will check my cameras when I notice a bunch of push notifications happening at the same time on the same camera. Most of the time it is something life garbage swirling around, or kids playing, but its a nice feature to have just in case.

It’s electric?

Another tip is to decide if you are going to use cameras that connect to wall outlets, wireless cameras, or PoE cameras well before purchasing any cameras. Cameras that are connected to a wall outlet can limit the placement of your cameras, and make it difficult for repair or replacement.

If you are going with the wired approach, I recommend using a PoE system. The PoE system combines two wires into one, and offers additional benefits old school CCTV systems cannot.

Recording length matters

If you plan on using a camera that records clips instead of continuous recording, check the clip recording length. In most cases, this will only impact wireless IP cameras, but it’s important to know how long the video will record.

If a camera only records for 10 seconds, it may miss the actual event. I recommend looking for cameras that record at a minimum of 30 seconds at a time. You will not need to worry about recording length if you use a CCTV or PoE system. 

Along the same lines, check the length of time the camera must wait between recordings. For example, if a camera records for 30 seconds at a time, but needs an additional 5 seconds before it can record, assume the recording time is 35 seconds. Find a camera that has low 

Night viewing distance

Night viewing distance is another important factor to consider. The longer the night distance, the further away you can see activity. If you have a good night distance, then you may need fewer cameras. The longest night vision distances are around 300 feet.

While you do not need a camera that has a night viewing distance of 300 feet, between 130 and 165 should be enough for your home. You should be able to find a camera of any type (PoE, CCTV, WIP) that will meet these needs.

Live viewing options

Most cameras now have the ability to view live recordings. One factor you must consider is the user interface if you have multiple cameras. Another thing to consider is how the functionality changes between the mobile app and the website. For example, are you able to configure your cameras the same way using the mobile app or website?

Make sure that you find a camera system that allows you to watch multiple live camera feeds at the same time though the mobile app and website. There are a number of security cameras that allow you to do one or the other, but not both.

How flexible is your camera

How many different configurations does your camera have? Can you set motion zones, motion sensitivity, or adjust the motion alert distance? Can you disable the camera for 15, 20, or 30 minutes, so you can cut the grass?

The ability to customize your camera to meet your needs is an important, but overlooked feature. I suggest finding a camera that allows you as much flexibility as you are comfortable with. Also, don’t just accept the settings out of the box, take some time to adjust the cameras to your wants. 

Get out the window

This is one of the mistakes I made early on. I purchased a Foscam IP camera and placed it in the window. This was a good camera, with lots of features, the only drawback was it is an indoor camera. I wanted to point at the front door. Just one problem, when the night vision took pictures, it only got the reflection of the camera.

Make sure you purchase the right camera from your needs. If you want the camera to face outside, either buy an outdoor camera, or purchase a camera that can make the necessary adjustments. There are a few cameras that are smart enough to make the internal adjustments. 

Purchase the same camera your neighbors have

One of the newer features on the market is the ability to share events within the same app and neighborhood. For example, Ring has a feature called “neighbors feed,” where you can view, share, and upload events to a this section, and neighbors can view or download the event.

The benefit of the neighbors feed is that you can quickly catch and report any suspicious activity that is happening in your neighborhood. This feature is like a neighborhood watch without having to do any additional work.

I recommend talking to your neighbors and purchasing products by the same manufacturer to make sharing even easier. 

Invest in the accessories, within reason

If there are accessories for the camera, it may be a good idea to look into purchasing them. The reason being is that the accessories provide an upgrade that will be paid off over time. For example, if you are using a WIP camera that runs on battery, invest in the solar panel. The solar panel will save you time, money and energy by not having to replace the batteries every few weeks.

There should be a limit to the number of accessories you purchase. For example, if your camera is already waterproof, you may not need to purchase a waterproof cover. The cover may cause more harm than its work

I recommend investing in the accessories as they may increase the longevity of the camera. However, make sure what you are investing in is an upgrade over stock.

Wires are more secure

PoW and CCTV offer a higher level of security than WIP cameras. The reason these systems are considered to be more secure is because of the physical connection to the DVR/ NVR. If you have a wireless camera, there is an opportunity to hack or steal data while it is being transmitted to the base station of router. 

If you have to have a WIP camera with the highest level of security, look for systems that have AES-256, or AES-128 level encryption. These encryption types to not prevent hacking, but it lets you know they considered security when creating the camera.

Connect to a battery backup

Connecting your router and DVR/ NVR systems is another forgotten but important issue. Many security camera users forget that if they lost power and they have a Poe or CCTV system, they will not have access to those systems without a battery backup. 

This recommendation is for anyone that values the internet, get a battery backup and put your router, modem, security camera system, and at least one TV on it. You will be the only person in the neighborhood with tv and a security system

Change all passwords, often

The first thing you should do when you purchase a new security system or router is to change the default password. Most routers username is “admin,” and the password is “password,” “admin,” or something else really simple. In fact, you can look up all of the usernames and passwords manufactures use.

A second tip for this section is to change your passwords at least once a quarter. Changing your passwords helps to prevent hackers from breaking into your security camera or router. 

 A third tip is to make your passwords difficult but rememberable. Do not use “1234,” “IloveCats,” or anything along those lines. There are password generators you can use online to help you create very strong passwords

Mind your angles

Another important tip is to be aware of your cameras’ viewing angle. The viewing angle, or field of view, is the degree to which your camera can see individuals. In most cases, wider is better. The cameras with the widest viewing angles are cameras that can pan/ tilt/ and zone PTZ.

Many of the PTZ cameras have a narrow viewing angle, but because of the PTZ they can see 360 degrees. 

Conclusion

To conclude, I have provided close to 30 tips and tricks you should use by configuring your home security cameras. While you may not find every one of these tips available in every camera out of the box, find the camera that has the most and meets your needs. 

You can later modify your camera to get it to as close to perfect as possible.

Bonus tip: temperature matters

Check the operating temperature range of your cameras. Some cameras cannot operate before 32 degrees, while others cannot operate at temperatures higher than 110 degrees. Find a camera that will work for your climate. 

Recent Content