Who Installs Security Cameras?

Once you make the decision that you need a security camera system, the next thing you have to think about is who’s going to install it. It seems like everybody claims to install security these days and some experts will even tell you it’s easy enough to install yourself. In this blog, we’ll talk about the different factors that will help you determine whether you need a professional installer or if you can do it yourself and if you decide to go with a pro, who you can call to do the job right.

That being said, there’s a difference between who can install security cameras at a business and who can do a home security camera installation?

Who can install security cameras at a business?

Home security camera installers and commercial security camera installers actually have a much different skill set. A commercial security camera installer usually has a deep knowledge of the infrastructure of a business facility but installation at different facilities require a different level of expertise. The following are the different types of commercial structures and the skillset required to navigate them from an installation perspective:

Exacqvision installation

Licensed Security Camera Installation Professional

Licensed security camera professionals obviously are the first choice for most security camera buyers looking for a company that specializes in this technology. Since most licensed security camera professionals also install burglar alarms, access control, and other network devices, a security contractor likely gives a customer that best chance at a fully integrated system since the other vendors on this list likely don’t have proficiency with burglar alarms and access control.

Not all security camera installers are the same though and one thing to note is that some security camera professionals are not as well versed on cyber security as others. A modern security camera installer will be very knowledgeable on cyber security best practices and will be working directly with the IT team to ensure network security but old school contractor’s might not have a deep knowledge in this area. Make sure your security camera installation professional has a deep level of knowledge on cyber security before hiring them for your security installation.

Questionnaire For Vetting a Security Camera Installer

In the market to hire a new security camera installer for your project but don’t know how to find the right one for the job? Fill out the form below and we’ll send you a pdf with a list of questions that will help you vet the security camera installers on your list.

IT Professionals

Since security cameras nowadays are basically network devices and IT Professionals install network devices, it would stand to reason that an IT professional could handle installing your security cameras, right? It depends. Not all camera systems are created equal and while some video management systems and software are pretty cookie cutter, some VMS’s are very in depth and complicated. More robust systems require a level of knowledge that an IT Professional probably doesn’t have. Some IT Pro’s have a lot of experience with many different camera systems and some don’t have very much experience configuring and engineering security systems so depending on how robust your security application is, an IT pro may or may not be a good fit for your security camera installation.

Electrical Contractors

When electrical contractors are hired to run conduit and cable on a construction site or retrofit project, a typical question is “do you guys install cameras too?” Most electrical contractors will install security cameras but not all of them will have engineers on their team that know how to configure and engineer the software and hardware for your security system. Most security contractors and IT professionals will have a deep knowledge of cyber security and can protect you from threats when adding a network device to your environment but this is not usually a strength of an electrical contractor. Sometimes electrical contractors will partner with a security firm to offer “parts and smarts” so they can pick up the wiring and installation on their bid but beware of electrical contractors that go it alone on the configuration side of the installation as this is where they likely don’t have much expertise.

Audio Visual Contractors

AV contractors mostly install televisions, speakers, and multimedia systems for conference rooms and homes. Since they run network cable and install network devices, it’s likely they also offer security camera installation as well. Most security contractors will also install some A/V as well so it’s a common cross-over skill set.

Do it Yourself

DIY is an option if you have a knowledge of how to do the following things:

  • Terminate cat 5 cables or coax cables
  • Basic IT knowledge and the ability to discover IP addresses on a network
  • Proficiency with installation of network hardware
  • Penetration to get a cable from inside a facility to the outside of a facility
  • Ladder work and lift work

Most companies that opt for a DIY solution are not as concerned with the esthetics of the installation and are ok with wires that aren’t neat and tidy. They are not looking for a robust cyber security configuration and are comfortable handling the configuration and implementation on their own. One of the best security cameras on the market is called Verkada (link) and is commonly installed DIY because of the ease of configuration and the fact that the cameras have hard drives built into the cameras themselves so no server configurations are necessary.

Different commercial structures require different Solutions

Home security camera installers and commercial security camera installers actually have a much different skill set. A commercial security camera installer usually has a deep knowledge of the infrastructure of a business facility but installation at different facilities require a different level of expertise. The following are the different types of commercial structures and the skillset required to navigate them from an installation perspective:

Office

Since offices usually have low, drop-tile ceilings, cabling is typically easier than in other facilities. Almost any contractor can run cable above a drop-tile ceiling and this is even an environment that many companies will decide to DIY since the complexity of the installation itself is easy.

Industrial

Industrial environments can be difficult to run cable and install cameras since they usually require scissor or boom lifts and camera installation 30-50 feet off the ground. A contractor that mostly installs in office environments will struggle in an industrial environment as it requires a different skillset to navigate tall ceilings.

Commercial

A commercial building typically has a chaise from floor to floor where a contractor can run cable but it can be very difficult to install cameras in the lobby’s and hallways of commercial locations as in many cases, they have a “hard lid” ceiling and will require conduit or wire molding to hide the cable. Many commercial locations are cabled during the construction phase to avoid these challenges but buildings that require a retrofit will challenge even the best security camera installers.

Retail

Retail facilities usually have a mix of drop tile and hard-lid ceiling so the same challenges that exist in commercial locations can exist in retail environments. Since many retail stores are small and well lit, less cameras are needed and can be handled with wireless cameras in many situations.

Construction Phase Installation

The most common environment for a security camera installation is during the construction phase. Since electrical contractors are already running conduit, it behooves a builder or general contractor to plan where the security cameras will be placed during the planning phase. In many cases, the different phases of a project (cabling, installation, engineering) will be contracted to different vendors during a construction project to increase efficiency since many of those contractors will already be involved with other phases of the project.

Parking Lot

Parking Lots require a level of engineering that even most security companies aren’t capable of. Since the process requires either trenching the parking lot to run underground conduit or wireless point to point nano beam installation which requires engineers that have that special skillset, many security contractors stay away from parking lot projects. Even if you do find a security contractor that can navigate the wireless nano beams or trenching, you’ll likely need to involve an electrician that can install some outdoor rated enclosures with power outlets inside that a security contractor can install their gear inside of (poe switch, nano beam head end). Check out our case study to a parking lot security project where we installed 85 cameras on 35 light poles using wireless point to multi point technology to avoid trenching: Parking Lot Security Camera System Case Study

Who can do a home security camera installation?

Who can do a home security camera installation?

Believe it or not, most business security camera installers don’t install home security camera systems and vice versa. Since installing cameras in homes requires a much different skillset, most contractors stick to what they know. A home security camera installation requires a contractor to crawl in an attic or crawlspace to run the cables for each camera, most commercial camera installers aren’t suited for this type of work.

The following are companies that typically offer home video surveillance system installation:

Alarm Companies

Since home security camera installation is actually much more difficult than business camera installation, many alarm companies opt for a wireless camera solution in homes. This solution can work well in conjunction with a burglar alarm system that alerts the authorities when a break-in is in progress as a homeowner can check the cameras in the same app that the notification comes from. Alarm companies are the most likely to offer home security camera installation. Here’s the questionnaire you can use to vet an alarm company to see if they’re a good fit to install your security cameras:

Questionnaire For Vetting a Security Camera Installer

In the market to hire a new security camera installer for your project but don’t know how to find the right one for the job? Fill out the form below and we’ll send you a pdf with a list of questions that will help you vet the security camera installers on your list.

Home Automation Companies

Home Automation companies typically offer security camera systems that integrate with the automation systems they install. Since cameras can be used in conjunction with the home automation apps, it’s common for these contractors to provide and install cameras along with other audio visual equipment in the home. Some home automation companies will subcontract the security programming and engineering to a security contractor since this isn’t their area of expertise and other automation companies have one or more people on their team that specialize in security.

Since home security camera installation is actually much more difficult than business camera installation, many alarm companies opt for a wireless camera solution in homes. This solution can work well in conjunction with a burglar alarm system that alerts the authorities when a break-in is in progress as a homeowner can check the cameras in the same app that the notification comes from. Alarm companies are the most likely to offer home security camera installation.

Home Automation Companies

Electrical Contractors

Electrical contractors typically work with security cameras during new construction projects when they wire up the home for other low voltage electrical cabling. Electrical contractors, like home automation companies sometimes will subcontract the security engineering to a security company and other electrical contractors have one or more people on their team who specialize in security as well.

Handyman

In many states in the US and in countries around the world, it’s very common for a low voltage contractor like a security company or home automation company to be required to hold a special license to be authorized to work with low voltage systems and cabling. But not everywhere. In some states in the US and countries around the world, no such license is necessary and many handyman type companies will offer security camera installation. Since many customers will buy cameras off the shelf at Costco or online at Amazon, they go searching for contractors to install their newly purchased cameras. What they find is that most contractors will not work with consumer brands and are only comfortable working with industrial grade camera systems and they end up turning to a handyman that will take on the project. “”

Do It Yourself

For Wifi cameras, a do it yourself approach is a very common and effective strategy to install your home security cameras. Some wifi cameras need to be plugged into an outlet and some are battery powered so depending on the technology of wifi camera, these installations can be very simple. The limitations of wifi cameras vs hardwired cameras is that wifi cameras tend to be clip based and don’t usually offer continuous recording like hardwired cameras do. They also don’t have the same level of clarity or refresh rate since they are sending video packets through the air as opposed to those signals running through a wire. If a home security customer is looking for a hardwired security system that will record video at resolutions up to 4k on a hard drive for 30 days or more, they typically turn to professionals to install the cabling and cameras for them. Want more info about DIY camera installation, check here.

How much does a professional security camera installation cost?

A professionally installed CCTV IP camera installation will cost you about $7,500 on average.

An average camera system including labor, materials, cameras, and server costs between $500-$1,000 per camera installed. So a 5 camera installation will likely cost between $2,500 and $5,000 depending on the complexity of the installation and the level of hardware you choose. A 10 camera system is likely between $5,000 and $10,000 and so on. This is the cost breakdown for an industrial grade camera system that’s designed to last for decades and withstand the elements etc.

An average cost for a Costco/ Amazon system/ kit that will last a couple years and then likely break down is much less than that but you get what you pay for. Some Costco/ Amazon kits are as cheap as 200 dollars for 8 cameras and you can likely find a mom and pop garage contractor to install them for about $500 dollars but buyers beware if you’re looking for any software support or have an expectation that this system will stand up for more than a year or two.

So what’s the best solution for installing a security system on your property?

So what’s the best solution for installing a security system on your property?

Since everyone claims to install cameras these days, it’s important to vet the contractor that you’re working with to make sure they have proficiency in the following:

  • Cabling
  • Installation
  • Engineering/ Configuration
  • Cyber Security
  • Service and Support

Depending on the project, these different skillsets can be divvy’ed up among several contractors and sometimes, this is the best option. Sometimes the company that’s great at cabling and does it for cheap isn’t good at the engineering and ongoing support. A company that’s great at engineering and ongoing service is likely more of an engineering firm and might subcontract the cabling labor anyways.

If you’re looking for a well rounded security system installation professional that is top notch at all of these disciplines, give us a call. Even if we’re not a great fit for your project, we’ll still help you develop a plan of action to help you get the job done. Or use our questionnaire for vetting a security camera installer here:

Questionnaire For Vetting a Security Camera Installer

In the market to hire a new security camera installer for your project but don’t know how to find the right one for the job? Fill out the form below and we’ll send you a pdf with a list of questions that will help you vet the security camera installers on your list.

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