The Ultimate Guide to Security Camera Installation

Discover how to design, build, and install commercial grade security camera systems to increase employee safety and reduce crime.

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Are you looking to install a new security camera system to protect your business or commercial property? Would you like to see your entire property at a glance from your smartphone and even stop crime before it happens?

Welcome to the world of video surveillance and security camera solutions.

Security camera CCTV systems come in a variety of different image resolutions, integration capabilities and use cases. Some business security cameras are used indoors while others are used outdoors, some pan, tilt and zoom for broader coverage while others are built to read license plates coming into a parking lot. All businesses need a security camera system.

Why? Because having video evidence of any crime happening on your property can not only help catch the perpetrator but it can also show where the building’s security system is vulnerable and you can make the necessary changes so that it doesn’t happen again.

Basic Components of a CCTV System

Surveillance Cameras in the Workplace Laws California
  • Security Cameras
  • Cabling / Wiring
  • Network Video Record Recorder (NVR)
  • Storage (Hard Drives)
CCTV systems are complex. A functioning CCTV system, offering full property coverage around the clock, requires a network of compatible commercial security cameras, ample storage, proper cabling and even power. Thankfully, surveillance doesn’t have to be difficult. Keep reading to see the equipment and components you’ll need to get your IP surveillance system up and running.

Commercial Security Cameras

The most important parts of business security camera systems are, of course, the security cameras. Commercial security cameras capture footage of everything that happens in and around a facility, then sends footage to recorders, monitors, and mobile devices. Security cameras come in a variety of hardware types for different camera installation service needs.

Which security cameras are right for your system depends on your individual needs and budget; are you placing them indoors or outdoors? Is 1080P a large enough resolution? Will they be able to see and record video efficiently in low-lighting? Are they placed with adequate field of view, or will a PTZ (Pan Tilt Zoom) camera be necessary? These are all important questions to be considered when choosing security cameras for your CCTV camera installation project.

Cabling and Wiring for CCTV Camera Installation

For most commercial CCTV systems, structured cabling running throughout the walls and connecting your security cameras to the server or NVR will be a vital component during surveillance camera installation. While more and more wireless security cameras are becoming popular, especially for home use, wired security cameras still reign supreme for more permanent and demanding security use.

IP Camera Installation Cabling

When using IP cameras – as most CCTV systems do these days – you will most likely be looking at Cat5E or Cat6 cables, which can transfer the large amount of data required by digital video and high resolutions at very fast speeds, and often over long distances. This is an upgrade from the coax cabling that usually powers analog security cameras; coax cables are reliable, but not compatible with IP camera installation. In many cases, Cat5e and Cat6 cables will also power the security cameras, eliminating the need for further wiring. This is called Power-Over-Ethernet and requires a PoE switch when the security cameras are not connected to an NVR. Wireless security cameras may need less wiring in the walls but will still require cables to power the security camera separately, usually via 110VAC power.

Network Video Recorder (NVR)

The Network Video Recorder, also known as the NVR, is another essential element to any IP camera system. Connected to the same IP network, the NVR can be installed virtually anywhere in your building or home. The NVR allows you to record and store video on a hard drive, snap images and transmit them to your computer or remote device for live and recorded viewing. Network Video Recorders usually have multiple channels for inputting security camera feeds, and are an all-in-one place for combining feeds and keeping a comprehensive eye on your surveillance feeds. NVRs and DVRs may be placed on a shelf or desk, wall mounted, or mounted behind a false wall.

NVR’s differ mainly from DVR’s in that they record video from IP cameras, while DVR’s mainly record analog-based video to a digital format. Standard DVR recorders use coaxial cables, while many NVRs connect through Ethernet cables, such as a cat5e or cat6.

Dahua NVR

Hard Drives

An NVR makes it easy to record video surveillance footage, but you will need connected hard drives on which to store this footage. Choosing the right amount of storage for your surveillance camera installation can seem like a confusing gamble, but it doesn’t have to be; it’s simply a matter of calculating the length of video you need to store, by the bitrate and resolution your camera shoots at. When recording 4k security camera video, this can end up being a large number requiring terabytes of footage. For lesser archival needs, you can usually get away with much less.

Which is Better, DVR or NVR?

DVRs with coaxial cables generally have image quality that deteriorates after around 300 feet. With an NVR system, you can get around this by using a POE extender, POE injector, or POE switch to extend cables over long distances, while maintaining high image quality. NVRs offer high flexibility — connected to the same IP network, NVRs can be installed virtually anywhere in your building.

Since NVRs use a software program to automatically record video in a digital format, they can easily transmit data over computer networks and even remotely stream security footage in real time on a mobile device. NVRs are also typically newer and more advanced systems that offer higher video quality, compatibility with more cameras, and more flexible features.

For business security systems with existing coaxial wiring and analog cameras, installing a DVR is the best bet. For commercial security camera systems starting from scratch, NVRs are a great choice, which offer higher-resolution IP cameras and remote video feed access.

To learn more about the difference between NVRs and DVRs, check out this article.

Security Camera System Installation: Video Storage

video monitoring system

How Much Storage Do You Need?

For most businesses, it is recommended to store footage from commercial security cameras for at least 30 days. For large operations, camera footage is often stored for up to 90 days, requiring a larger storage solution with more capacity. 

Storing more footage generally means using more physical space and hard drives, as well as more terabytes of space. The average 12-camera business surveillance system requires at least 8 terabytes of space to store 1080p footage for 30 days, at industry standard frames per second.

To learn more about security camera storage options, read our blog here.

Do You Need a Hard Drive For Security Cameras?

Recording security camera footage requires hard drives and/or cloud-based storage. If you have an analog security camera system, the DVR has a hard drive inside of it. In IP camera system installation, the NVR can use hard drives for onsite recording and cloud-based recording, in the event of hard drive malfunction.

Check out this article to learn more about hard drives for security cameras.

What About Cloud Storage?

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More modern CCTV camera systems allow users to store security footage in the cloud, allowing property owners and managers to access live and recorded footage from a mobile device or web browser. This is a good alternative to memory cards, because it offers better storage of large video files, as well as more convenience in today’s internet-based world. Using the cloud allows users to get instant security alerts, making it easy to view and respond to security footage in real time, even when users are offsite. Many cloud-based CCTV camera systems offer a limited amount of free cloud storage, as well as monthly, annual, or lifetime subscription.

Types of Security Cameras

  • Bullet Cameras
  • Dome Cameras
  • Turret Cameras
  • PTZ (Pan Tilt Zoom)
  • Cameras Fisheye
  • Cameras Multiple
  • Sensor Cameras
  • Doorbell Cameras
  • Wireless Security Cameras

No matter your surveillance system configuration, the type of security camera you choose will have a tremendous impact, and there are many types of commercial cameras and camera installation service types out there. Each camera has its own strengths and weaknesses, its own benefits and downsides, so it’s imperative you make an informed choice to achieve the best security camera system for business safety. Remember, you’re encouraged to mix-and-match camera types when installing the security camera system that’s right for you.

Bullet Cameras

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Bullet cameras range in size from a rifle bullet or a lipstick tube to a bread loaf, but the basic gist is the same in every case. They’re linear security cameras that mount to your wall or ceiling with a tri-axis mount (so don’t worry about orienting them while you’re screwing them into the wall) and focus on a specific part of your premises. Given their tubular design, they have room for night-vision and IR features, and they have better range and zoom capabilities than the flatter dome security cameras.

Since they’re so obviously recognizable as a security camera, they’re a great deterrent as well, and they’re easy to mount just about anywhere. With the typical weatherproof hoods, they’re quite durable, but they don’t always come with the full IP certification of other models.

On the other hand, they’re more susceptible to damage than other models and they make tempting nests for wildlife, so make sure you choose a good spot to install bullet cameras on your premises.

Dome Cameras

dome camera

The small, black orb of a dome camera offers a better field of view than its bullet counterpart. It’s also more subtle, more durable types of security cameras on the market. If you’re looking for a less assertive security camera system, the humble dome has its advantages. All the security with none of the appearance of vigilance.

Since they can survey wide areas, dome cameras are great for retail establishments, restaurants, hotels, and casinos. Since they are small and out of the way, dome cameras offer subtlety for those who want to hide their security cameras.

Dome cameras are durable, allowing them to resist vandalism and environmental damage. They are generally used indoors and mounted on ceilings. Thanks to their strong and dirt-proof shell, they are ideal for spaces that get dirty easily.

Turret Cameras

Also called “eyeball” cameras, the turret camera has a ball-and-socket joint to let you precisely redirect the field of view without remounting the security camera every time. They’re great for warehouses. Some of these may resemble dome cameras, but there’s a simple trick to distinguish them – if the lens and the IR LEDs are in front of the glass on the housing rather than contained behind it, you’ve got a turret camera instead of a dome.

Since the glass housing doesn’t get in the way, they aren’t quite as vandal-proof as dome cameras, but they make up for it in capabilities. As well as being great for re-positioning on the fly, they are better for low-light and infrared since the glass housing doesn’t impede the lens. With some, it’s hard to tell at a glance where they’ve been aimed, so they can give a panoptic impression as a deterrent, regardless of their true field of view. Installing a video surveillance system with a few of these is a great option for a number of different configurations.

PTZ (Pan Tilt Zoom) Cameras

PTZ cameras, or “pan-tilt-zoom” cameras, can be re-aimed remotely using an app, joystick, or computer program. They can track a person or a car across a range, or be programmed to cycle through different orientations to give you a 360-degree field of view with a single piece of hardware. PTZ cameras also zoom and focus in on faces or license plates in real time.

What PTZ cameras lack in hardiness, they make up for in versatility. They are one of the most adaptive types of security cameras and the ultimate IP camera, these “pan-tilt-zoom” cameras can be re-aimed remotely. They can track a person or a car across a range, or be programmed to cycle through different orientations to give you a much more comprehensive field of view with a single piece of hardware. They can also zoom and focus in on faces or license plates in real time. They’re exceptionally useful as NVR cameras, since they can respond to user inputs even from off-site network connections.

Fisheye Cameras

fisheye camera

With a central focus and a condensed periphery, a fisheye lens security camera gives you a concentrated look at a wide field of view. It’s great for a parking lot or a warehouse, where the finer details aren’t as important as the overall picture. These are self-contained and, since the lens is doing the heavy lifting, they aren’t as susceptible to mechanical failure as their multi-lens counterparts. What you lose in resolution, especially at the edges of your field of view, you make up for in reliability.

Multiple Sensor Cameras

If you’re looking for the field of view of a fisheye lens but don’t want the distortion, you probably want to install a multisensor camera. This type of panoramic camera uses multiple discrete sensors and picture channels to capture up to a 360-degree field of view and uses image-processing software to stitch the channels together into a contiguous video feed.

Multiple sensor security cameras are better for low-light or infrared (you can even target several cameras to the same spot and capture overlapping video feeds on different frequencies) and they’re better for high resolution over fisheye lenses. Additionally, in case of damage or blockage to any single sensor, a multi-sensor security camera will keep broadcasting where a fisheye or other single sensor camera would fail.

Doorbell Cameras

Simply put, security doorbells are just small security cameras – wired or wireless – that include a door buzzer and a 2-way intercom in the frame. Combining the benefits of a security camera and an intercom gives you a wide range of powerful features to secure your home or business.

One of the most important features of doorbell cameras is that they can interface with your smartphone through an app, allowing you to see and react to events at your door whether you’re home or not. The best security doorbells connect to Z-wave devices like lights and door locks, allowing you to lock and unlock your front door remotely.

Wireless Cameras

Wireless security cameras leverage your home or businesses WiFi connection to create a surveillance network. These are great to use to monitor small to medium sized rooms and buildings because they tend to get image distortion when zooming in to objects that are far away. Some of the advantages of wireless security cameras over wired security cameras are easy remote access, easier installation and less wiring. We go more in depth on wireless security cameras here.

Indoor or Outdoor Business Security Cameras?

Do Outdoor Cameras Need to Be Weather-Proof?

If you are performing outdoor security camera system installation, be sure all cameras are waterproof and weather-resistant, and able to withstand moisture, heat, and the cold. Commercial outdoor security cameras are a great choice for any security system, but they should be properly equipped with the right casings, or else they may be damaged. Tough camera casings also prevent people from tampering with and vandalizing your business camera system.

Should I Hide My Outdoor Security Cameras?

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Often, the mere presence of security cameras in commercial security systems can scare away less-motivated intruders. This suggests the best camera system for business security could be a visible one. But on the other hand, keeping commercial cameras hidden and out of sight can keep them from being tampered with or damaged by the more determined burglars. Also, if intruders cannot see any security cameras, they may also be less careful about covering their faces and their tracks.

Your location and potential threats will determine whether hidden or visible cameras are right for you. If you’re concerned about your cameras being disabled, you may want to hide them. A combination of both can often be a good plan, too.

Can You Use An Outdoor Security Camera Indoors?

Outdoor security cameras are more than durable for indoor use. With certain security cameras, like large bullet cameras, are simply too bulky to be installed comfortably indoors. Vise versa, the majority of indoor security cameras do not have the durability or weather proofing to withstand the rain, wind and snow of the outdoors.

Learn more about indoor security cameras vs. outdoor security cameras here.

Security Camera Installation

Wired and wireless security camera systems for business facilities provide 24/7 safety, if properly positioned. Security camera installation doesn’t have to be a confusing process, but there are a few things you need to keep in mind. In some cases, you may even be able to do it yourself for a very basic CCTV surveillance system. But most of the time, it will pay to have it put in by professional CCTV installers

Where Do You Install Security Cameras?

The front door, back door and first-floor windows are the most common entryways for criminals, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. CCTV camera installation service providers should take care to cover main entrances, such as front and back doors and gates, as well as the paths leading up to them. They should also monitor first-floor windows, where trouble is most likely to occur. After that, cameras can be placed at the corners of your building to capture the entire perimeter. Parking lots and garages are also risky areas, which should be monitored day and night.

It is important to pay attention to the field of view, and avoid creating blind spots. You should also pay attention to lighting, placing cameras in well-lit areas ensures a brighter, clearer image. You may also consider cameras that use infrared to detect body heat and function similarly to night vision.

Commercial security cameras should be placed high up, so people can’t tamper with them — around 9 feet off the ground is usually enough. Another thing to think about is whether you want your cameras to be visible to intruders.

For more information on where to install security cameras, check out this article.

Camera Angle And Positioning

security system integration

During security camera system installation, it is important to consider the distance of the camera from its subject. All the right areas should be in focus and clearly visible at all times. Avoid placing the cameras where they can be obscured by glare — this means cameras should not face direct sunlight, as too much light reduces visibility.

Security cameras should generally be installed pointing at a downward angle, unless it is a round camera such as a dome camera. If you mount a camera to a wall or structure, make sure it’s mounted properly so the camera won’t shake and distort the picture.

Do Security Cameras Work In The Dark?

Not all security cameras work in the dark. Security cameras that have low-light capabilities have a shutter that allows more light to enter the camera’s sensor. The more light that is allowed to enter the camera the brighter the image will be. However, even these low light capable cameras have digital noise that make the dark image look fuzzy. To combat this fuzzy image some security cameras come equipped with 2D and 3D digital noise reduction. Some security cameras now come with infrared light that is invisible to the human eye but can be picked up by a security camera’s sensor.

Business Security Cameras Cabling

How To Run Security Camera Wires

Structured Cabling Installation

Something that must be considered when installing CCTV cameras is how they will be powered, and how wiring will be run throughout the building. In many cases, you’ll be able to install cameras and wiring simply by running the wires through a drop tile ceiling and into the wall. Other jobs will necessitate the use of conduit – piping for running the wiring and protecting it – and in some cases, tearing out part of the wall to lay wiring inside. For these larger jobs, professional video camera installation is usually the right choice, as professional camera system installers can choose the right material for conduit pipes, determine the right number of cables to run, and more.

How Do I Protect My Security Camera Wires?

Security camera cables must be safeguarded against corrosion, water, heat, and other forces that can cause damage over time They should also have some kind of protection against intruders and vandals who may try to cut the wires. Some protective measures include covering cables in sheaths or raceways, painting cables to blend inconspicuously into their surroundings, and running cables inside walls, ceilings, and baseboards. CCTV installation companies should have a strong grasp on all cabling types and uses, to ensure your wires are properly protected.

CCTV Camera Installation: Budget and Timeline

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How Much Does Security Camera Installation Cost?

CCTV monitoring typically costs around $150 per camera per month — about $1,800 annually. Certain CCTV security systems cost more than others, depending on several factors: systems with more wires are more expensive to install, since they can require expensive trenching, running cables through walls, and post-installation repairs. Higher resolution CCTV systems, License Plate Readers, and cameras with other special features typically cost $50 to $300 more. Heavy-duty, weatherproofed cameras generally have higher price tags. Cloud-based systems also come with cloud storage fees. It is important for facility owners and managers to make an informed decision about their security investment.

Are Cameras or Guards More Cost-Effective?

CCTV installation works best in combination with guards, but if there is a choice between the two, surveillance cameras are more cost-effective. The average annual cost of hiring an unarmed security guard is nearly $33,000. By contrast, at $1,800 a year, a CCTV system costs 94% less than hiring a security guard, and provides 24/7 surveillance.

Should I Do Home Installation or Hire a Professional?

You may choose to undertake your own business security camera system installation, though this can be challenging, depending on the scale of your system and whether it requires cabling. If installed improperly, security camera systems can fail to provide protection to your facility. A safe bet is to hire a professional security camera installer, as this will ensure all camera systems are set up for the best possible functioning. Commercial security companies have experts who can make sure cameras are positioned at the right angles, providing a safe and effective security camera installation for business protection without fail. They are also practiced at performing installations and running cables without accidents and injuries that can happen during home installation.