18 Common Mistakes When Installing Security Cameras

You’ve finally completed all the research and decided which security camera to buy, Great! Here comes the hard part: installation. Installing your security cameras can be challenging for a few reasons.

In this post, I will address 18 common mistakes homeowners make when installing security. In addition, I will discuss simple fixes for these mistakes. Each mistake will include camera type (wired, wireless, or both), and what will happen if the mistake is made.

Continue reading to see if your mistake made the list!

1. Installing Your Camera Too High, or Too Low

Mistake: The security camera is installed too high, and the field of view in limited. Or, the security camera was installed too low, where it can be taken or damaged.

Camera type: Wired and Wireless

This is a common error; a homeowner wants to see “everything,” so they decide to install the security camera as high as possible. Installing a security camera higher than 11 feet will reduce the amount your camera will be able to see.

Conversely, installing your security camera too low is also an issue because it can be stolen, or damaged. The absolute worst-case scenario would be the object that should enhance your safety, instead, it is the thing stolen or damaged.

Solution: You should review your owner’s manual, but the recommended height is between 9 and 10 feet. This is the recommended height because it is high enough to prevent the average person from messing with it. Also, it is still low enough that it can catch evens that occur from 30 feet or more away from your property.

2. Not Having the Correct Accessories

Mistake: Forgetting the needed accessories and having to wait for another shipment or making another trip to the store.

Camera type: This can affect all camera types but mostly wired cameras.

In a blog post entitled, “26 Security Camera Accessories You Need But Will Forget,” I discuss almost every accessory you may need for installation. Forgetting accessories is a common mistake because either you or the salesperson didn’t know you needed it. These accessories include:

  • Not enough ethernet cables
  • Wire cutters/ stripping
  • Electrical tape
  • Dry wall repair kit
  • A few extra screws
  • Dry wall fishing kit

The worst part about this mistake is it can really stretch out the length of the project. Instead of getting everything installed in one day, it now takes take two or three days.

Solution: Try to anticipate what tools and accessories you will need while planning the project. Consider the worst-case possibilities at every phase of the project, and you should have everything covered. I suggest not opening recently purchased items until you need them, because if you don’t use them, you can return it.

3. Not Having the Correct Router

Mistake: Assuming any router will work with any security camera.

Camera type: This mistake effects wires cameras, but may impact wired cameras as well

This mistake isn’t really the fault of the homeowner as much as it is the tech industry. Most people aren’t aware that wireless devices (routers, security cameras, cordless phones, etc.) have two main frequencies: 2.4 and 5.8 GHz.

The problem is not all security cameras and video doorbells work on both frequencies. In addition, some older and lower tier routers don’t transmit on both. This will result in the homeowner installing the security camera and wondering why they cannot connect to the internet.

The biggest difference between the two frequencies is 5 GHz is better for shorter distances, while 2.4GHz is better for longer distances. Also, 5GHz provides faster data rates than the 2.4 GHz frequency.

The homeowner will then decide if they want to upgrade their router or purchase a device that is compatible with their current router.

Solution: Know your routers operating frequency and compare that with the frequency for the security camera. If the frequencies are different consider buying a newer router (if it’s too old).

4. Installing the NVR/ DVR in a difficult Location

Mistake: Installing the NVR/ DVR in the wrong location can make it difficult to access, or can shorten the lifespan of the device.

Camera type: Wired connections, although some wireless connections now include NVRs/ DVRs AND not physical securing your DVR/ NVR.

DVRs and NVRs are the devices that hold your recordings, allow you to watch your cameras live, and make other configuration changes. It is important to store this device in a cool dry location that is easy to access. Because this device has a hard drive installed, and is where the cameras connect, you will want to have easy access. One of the most common mistakes is installing this device in the attic.

Do not install your DVR/ NVR in the attic as it will shorten the lifespan of your hard drive.

The second issue is securing your device. You will want to physically secure your device for this reason: if this device is stolen, you will not be able to see who committed the crime.

Solution: The placement will vary, but I recommend installing your DVR/ NVR in a closet. There are devices available that allow you to mount secure your device to metal racks, then the racks are secured to the wall. Also, installing in the closet does not take up additional, livable space.

5. Not Writing Down the Username and Password

Mistake: you are so excited you completed the project, you forget to write down usernames and passwords, Or, even worse, you keep the same default username and password.

Camera type: Both wired and wireless

This problem can occur even before you install your security camera. If you’ve forgotten to write down your router’s username and password, you may have issues configuring sometimes of security cameras. For example, I had a Foscam IP camera that required me to change my IP address from dynamic to static. To do this, you must log into your router.

The second part is not writing down your new username and password. I see this often in a Facebook group that I frequent. Users need to make an adjustment to their security cameras, but they forgot the login information.

A bigger issue is not changing the login information on your router and security cameras. When I say login information, I don’t mean your WIFI password. Like your computer, your router also has a username and password. Also, like your computer, it is very important to change the default username and password.

Solution: Write down your username and password as you are creating them. Either store this information in a safe place or use websites that protect passwords. Websites that protect passwords may have a monthly cost.

Also, change the default username and password as you are installing the device. Changing this information can save you some frustration later.

6. Not Performing a “Dry Run” Before Installing the Cameras

Mistake: Not testing all parts before getting on a ladder.

Camera type: both wired and wireless cameras.

The second most common mistake is not testing your components before attempting to install them. This is a huge source of frustration because you must spend time troubleshooting the problem. Is it the camera? Is it the ethernet cord bad?

Solution: This solution is easy, take everything out of the box and test each component one by one. If something doesn’t work, replace it. This will make your install go faster, save you time and frustration.

7. Not Buying the Correct Security Camera for Your Needs

Mistake: Buying a bullet camera when you need a pan, tilt and, zoom camera

Camera type: both wired and wireless.

This problem should appear before your installation, but you may not notice until after the camera is installed. After installation, you realize that you need a camera that can move automatically or a camera with a better motion detection system. This failure may result in blind spots, adding more cameras, or removing the current camera.

Another issue is installing a camera that uses a battery in a difficult space. Currently, I have a security camera that needs its batteries to replace, but the location is covered in snow. The battery will not be changed until spring.

Solution: This requires more research on the front end. You should have a clear idea of what you want to cover, motion detection coverage, and any other features that are important to you. There isn’t much worse than going back to the later after you think your job is done.

8. Buying Based on Cost

Mistake: Buying a security camera because it meets a certain price point and not considering any other factors.

Camera type: wired and wireless

I often see online looking to buy a security camera under X dollars. This is a challenge because a cheap camera may not meet your needs resulting in adding more and more cameras. Instead of having 2 or 3 cameras, you now have 4 or 5 to cover an area.

Buying cameras based only on costs may result in you sending more money than you anticipated to meet your needs.

Solution: Buy based on needs not cost. If the best security camera is out of your price range, save a few dollars until you can afford it. As I mentioned earlier, buying based on cost and needs may result in spending more money, time, and frustration.

9. Buying a Closed System

Mistake: Buying just enough cameras to meet your current needs.

Camera type: Wired cameras primarily

Buying a closed system means buying a DVR/ NVR for the number of cameras you need now, and not the number of cameras you may need in the future. These devices come with a set number of channels (camera inputs) and once these inputs are filled, the homeowner must decide if they want to upgrade their system.

If you do decide to upgrade the system, you will need to buy another DVR/ NVR and complete a partial install. The next question is what do you do with the other hard drive? Do you transfer the recordings, do you just throw it away, or do you remove the hard drive from the device?

Solution: To save yourself the headache of reinstallation, buy a system that has a little room to grow. For example, if you only need 4 channels right now, buy a system that has room for 8 channels. Nothing happens with the unused ports.

10. Not Considering Additional Monthly Costs, if Any

Mistake: How much more will your security cameras cost you per month?

Camera type: both wired and wireless

For the most part, security cameras will add a monthly cost. The question is are you ready to incur that additional cost? These costs may include additional electricity usage, additional accessories, or cloud storage costs.

Solution: this should be addressed during the planning stage, but you should use the first few months after installation to monitor how adding devices will affect your finances.

11. Going in Without a Plan

Mistake: Thinking I’ll figure it out when I get on the ladder.

Camera type: Both wired and wireless

This is the worst possible situation an installer can get into. Unless you built the house, you have no idea the problems you may run into when installing your security cameras. Everything from not having enough wiring, to not having enough signal strength can happen if you don’t plan out the installation. You can also run into an issue where you’ve purchased too many, or not enough, security cameras.

Solution: Create a plan as to where you’re going to install your cameras. Walk the property to anticipate potential challenges. Schedule a dry run before attempting to install your security cameras.

12. Not Considering Your Current Internet Connection, the Required Speed for Your Device, and the Impact it Will Have on Other Devices

Mistake: Installing security cameras without considering bandwidth implications.

Camera type: IP cameras (wired and wireless)

One often overlooked aspect of installing IP cameras is the internet speed required for security cameras. IP cameras send and receive audio and video via your internet connection, and it you have a slower speed, you may see problems. These problems include connecting to the device, audio and video transmissions, and problems with other devices.

A second mistake is not considering how distance away from the router affects internet speed, transmission ability, and other factors.

Solution: Before installing your cameras, find out the wireless signal strength of each location. In addition, conduct speed test at these locations. You should conduct these tests as your internet connection is being used by other devices.

If the connection is poor or unstable, consider adding a range extender to your network. While a range extender will not solve all problems, it should help with signal strength.

13. Trying to Install the Cameras by Yourself

Mistake: Thinking that installing security cameras is a one-person job.

Camera type: Mostly wired security cameras

This is a common mistake, attempting to install an entire security system without any help. You are going fish the wires, run to the basement to pull the wire through, run back up to the second floor because something is tangled, now go back down, wait the wire isn’t long enough.

You will double your time spent if you attempt to do it all yourself.

Solution: ask a friend for assistance. Have everything laid out so the installation will go faster. Reward the friend with food.

14. Not Understanding How Night Vision Works

Mistake: Thinking night vision means color recordings at night and night vision distance confusion.

Camera type: wired and wireless

Some security camera users are under the impression that night vision means color recordings at night. This isn’t the case for most security cameras. Except for a few newer security cameras, most record in black and white. Security cameras need light to record color.

Users also don’t understand that the distance that a camera sees at night is based on the number of LEDs that surround the lens. For the most part, the more LEDs the further the cameras can see at night.

Solution: Install security cameras around lights or install lights around security cameras. Doing this will enable the security cameras to record in color day and night. The closer the light is to the lens, the better the camera will be able to see at night.

15. Installing Security Cameras Behind Other Objects

Mistake: Installing your security cameras behind a tree, or another immovable object.

Camera type: Both wired and wireless

This common mistake is due to poor planning. Installing a security camera where part of the field of view is blocked by a large tree. You should make every effort to avoid this because it creates a hole in your security. This may result in using an extra camera for one location.

Solution: Propper planning will help prevent this common mistake. Also, adjust the angle of your camera so the field of view is not obstructed by the camera.

16. Installing Outdated Equipment

Mistake: Installing equipment that is 2 or 3 generations old.

Camera type: Both wired and wireless

This will be a bigger problem is a few years when the current technology is outdated. Old technology can result in security holes, and more importantly, the need to remove the old and install the new. Personally, I don’t want to break out the ladder every 2 years to install a new camera system.

Solution: buy a current system and it should last you 5 – 7 years. Buying last year’s model should be ok but know that the window of usage closes a year earlier.

17. Not Being Aware of Animals the May Share the Space

Mistake: Forgetting your cameras will be installed around birds, mice, and other animals.

Camera type: both wired and wireless

Another common mistake is not anticipating the animals that share your space. Running wires might be ok until a squirrel or mouse chews on the cord. Also, consider if the birds will see your security cameras as a place to build a nest. While animals are unpredictable, take them into account when installing your cameras.

Solution: Walk your property before beginning installation. Look for signs that mice or squirrels live in and around your property. Also, consider what will happen if you introduce security cameras to this environment.

18. Forgetting About Maintenance of Your Cameras

Mistake: Thinking that you’re finished once you install the security cameras.

Camera type: wired and wireless

The final common mistake I see online is thinking that your job is complete once you’ve installed all of the cameras. In fact, you should consider a maintenance schedule when you are installing your cameras. Consider questions like: will I be able to access this camera in the winter? Will this camera be blocked by blowing leaves or other debris?

Solution: This should be resolved during the planning stage on your project. Ask questions like do I want to get on a ladder here when its -3 degrees out? Will I be able to access this camera if there is a foot of snow on the ground?


These are the 18 most common mistakes and how you can prevent them. Most of these issues can be resolved beforehand with proper planning. If you spend a few minutes on the front-end planning, it will save you hours on the back end. Both you and your family will be happy that you spent time planning and not cursing.

What do you think? Have you run into any of these mistakes? Tell us about it!

Additional Questions

How Long Do Batteries Last in Wireless Security Cameras?

This depends on several factors including camera type, configured settings, and the amount of traffic in the area. For example, Blink XT claims to have a 2-year battery life. This may be based on little traffic on the lowest sensitivity setting.

Also, the length can be impacted by included accessories. For example, before I installed solar panels on my Ring Spotlight Cameras, by battery life was about 2 weeks. This is because I live on a corner in a high traffic area, with the sensitivity sent to the most sensitive. This setting is so sensitive, it creates an even when the wind blows.

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