How to Install a Security Camera System by Yourself?

Did you buy a camera? Awesome. Don’t have it sitting in the box; put it to work. Let’s learn how to install a security camera system alone.

Even if you are by yourself, you can still manage to install a security system alone. Though you can usually hire someone to or pay the company an extra fee, by putting in the work of installing it, you can learn more.

It might seem extremely complicated and quite intimidating, but don’t be off-put by these feelings. Most newer cameras in the market today are more versatile and made for users to install themselves.

No more advanced networking skills are needed to put your camera together. Plus, companies include directions and even instructional videos to help customers have the best experiences possible.

Installing a security camera

The Two Parts

There are two significant parts to installing a security camera. The first is placement. This includes finding a location, choosing the right tools, running all the cables to finally place them in the correct spot, and securing it.

The second part is the setup, which means angling the camera, connecting the recorder, adjusting your settings with your preferences, and checking if it is working.

Before you run to call someone to do it for you, trust me, it is easy to be done yourself, and these popular brands make sure of it. Furthermore, these systems configure themselves automatically, so there is little to no work when it comes to configuration.

Installing your camera on your own also saves you a couple of bucks as you won’t have to pay for the installation. However, if the brand you bought from does free installations, you should attempt to receive one.

Around 70% of the total price of your camera usually comes from installation. Thus, you can save money by installing the cameras yourself.

Let’s go over the steps on how to install a security camera system alone below. Remember, the article will be split into the two steps that were mentioned above.

Step 1: Preparation

Cameras fall into one of two categories, including wireless and wired. They both have their advantages and disadvantages, so you can choose as you wish.

Wireless cameras, the ones bombarding the market, are always going to be IP systems. While wired cameras can be either IP or coaxial, depending.

IP cameras rely on Ethernet, which transmits a stable internet connection. To do so, you might use a PoE cable that can simultaneously provide internet and power to your camera.

If you want to learn the difference between active PoE and passive PoE switches, I have an article all about that!

Moreover, coaxial cables are powered individually, meaning that cameras require two cables instead of just one, like IP cameras. Whether you choose a wired or wireless camera, the installation process for either follows the same application.

Do keep in mind that if you plan to upgrade your system continuously, IP systems are a good option for you. IP does not require you to rerun the cables and can re-use the old ones, thus making them more affordable in more ways than one.

The picture and resolution of IP cameras can also be argued to look better than coaxial-based systems, but it is ultimately up to you, your needs, and your budget.

Decision Time

After choosing what kind of system you prefer and whether you want to go wired or wireless, you’ll have to find a brand. There are various companies and models you should research prior to buying.

For instance, if you do not want to work with cables and wiring, and might need a renter-friendly option, then opt for battery-powered cameras that work just as well as wired ones.

Know that battery-powered cameras usually have rechargeable batteries that you have to replace once in a while. Or, if you plan to install it outdoors, you might be interested in solar panels that keep your camera charged all the time.

These cameras will need a WiFi connection, which might be tough, considering outdoor cameras tend to be outside and furthest away from the router. You should not experience issues with this if the camera is installed inside.

Security cameras

Issues with the WiFi will not occur if you utilize a wired camera, but it might create more hassle for you. Again, there are pros and cons to both, and it is up to you to choose what fits your needs.

Camera Style

You can choose from a variety of shapes, sizes, and kinds of cameras. For example, you should not install an indoor camera outside as it might not be able or equipped to handle the temperature or weather outside.

There are also shapes to choose from, such as fisheye, bullet, and dome. But these choices are usually only for wired cameras. Wireless tends to be a more uniform shape.

Bullet cameras can look big for indoor purposes, so if you are looking to install something inside, and want a wired camera, opt for a dome so it can better blend into the surroundings.

Tools

To install a camera, you will need to have a few tools on hand to make the whole process easier. Keep in mind that depending on your camera, you might need more tools, or you might not use all of the ones listed below.

  1. Camera: Pretty self-explanatory. You should have it out of the box, along with everything that comes with the camera. Find and flip through the manual to ensure you know what you need before starting.
  2. Recorder: This would be the DVR/NVR if you are using one. Only wired cameras need a recorder, so disregard this if you are using a wireless camera.
  3. Cables: Whether it is a PoE cable you purchased or the ones that came in your camera’s box, you will need to connect your camera to power. Battery-powered cameras are the only ones that do not need any cables at all.
  4. Ladder: Depending on the placement of the camera you will install, you will need to get up on a ladder to mount and install the camera.
  5. Phone: For most installations, you’ll need to scan a QR code or make an account online. So have your phone near in case you need it.
  6. Drill: You will need to make holes in the wall to attach the camera.
  7. Provided pieces: The camera should come with screws, anchors, and plates to mount the camera to the wall.
  8. Template: Along with all the other pieces that the camera brings, you should see a paper that guides you to drill the correct location. This simplifies the installment process.

RJ45 Crimper
UTP cat5e and RJ45 connectors

Step 2: Installation

To install a security camera system alone, you should have all of the above prepped and ready to go. The steps below should get you started in installing your camera.

Select the Area

The first part of installing is choosing a spot to place your camera. Remember that angles play a crucial role and might render your camera useless.

Try to cover as much area by placing your camera up high; this will also allow your camera to get a larger view and create a clear image. Furthermore, it will keep anyone from messing with the camera or obstructing the camera’s view in any way.

Remember, you want to cover the most amount of area with the least amount of cameras. Doing this will keep your house from cluttering while saving you money as you won’t need to invest more money towards additional cameras.

Though outdoor cameras are weatherproof, they are not waterproof. So keep them under a roof to keep them from breaking. Also, check the specs of the camera’s temperature resistance. It might be too cold to leave the camera outside or too hot. This will depend on where you live.

Avoid pointing the camera towards other’s properties, such as your neighbor’s window or doors. This can escalate into an issue as it is an invasion of property.

Be wary of light sources and reflective surfaces as they can blind your camera and keep it from working correctly.

Mounting

Gather your tools and get ready to drill the wall. Usually, cameras bring a paper template that can guide you on where to place the screws, and you can go ahead and drill through the paper as it can be ripped out after.

After you drill the holes, you can screw in the camera and place it at the angle you want; you can change it later. 

Security camera installation

Depending on your chosen camera, you might need a bracket to mount cameras on a wall; this is usually common on dome cameras because they are made to be installed on ceilings.

Cable Run

If you opted for wireless or battery-powered, you could skip this step; no issues here. But if you have a wired camera, this is where the fun doesn’t begin.

The most tedious part of the installation of the camera is running cables through the walls. Mapping out the cables’ run before starting the process is crucial for success.

You should also ensure that you have enough cable to run all across and reach both the camera and the recorder, wherever you place it. Placing it near the camera will use up less of cables and make the process shorter. 

To install a security camera system alone, you will need to add cables inside the walls. First, make a hole wide enough to fit the cable and shove it into the wall. 

You might want to use a snake rod to move along the cables in a more effortless manner. You should be able to have the cable come out on the other side. If you wish to avoid all this hassle, you might choose to hide the cable against the wall or ceiling and cover to shield it from view, and keep it safe simultaneously.

Connecting the Camera

After running the cables to the camera, if necessary, you can now connect and enable your camera. Connect all the needed cables to where they belong, and power on your recorder (DVR/NVR).

You might be interested in connecting your TV to the recorder to monitor the cameras on a bigger screen. To do so, use a VGA or HDMI cable to run the footage from the recorder to the screen.

UTP patch cords

Turn On

This is the last step to installing a security camera system alone, and it is the easiest of the installation portion. Bring your cameras to their “On” settings, and make sure the cameras are plugged into your recorder correctly before turning it on.

You might have to create credentials, such as a password and username, to be allowed to log into this account later. Default passwords are common in some brands if you need them.

After a few minutes of configuration, the auto-configuration of your recorder should show the cameras on screen. You might want to explore the recorder and its settings.

Security cmaera diagram

Brands usually provide apps that can be downloaded through your phone’s application store to view and monitor your cameras remotely. You will most likely be prompted to log in, or you might just need to scan a QR code.

You might also be interested in downloading your brand’s software to continue to monitor through devices like computers, desktops, or tablets. This might be easier than monitoring through your phone.

Final Thoughts

You have seen that it is possible to install a security camera system alone. Though it might not be easy all the time, it is still a DIY project that can potentially save you a lot of money. 

At times it will be harder, but the instructions will guide you. Furthermore, opting for battery-powered or wireless cameras removes much of the leg work that is running cables.

But at the end of the day, it can be a challenging process that can grant you new experiences, and you might even learn something as you go. 

Whether you are installing one camera or an entire bundle, you’ll soon learn that it is possible to install a security camera system alone. However, it might be in your best interest to start with one to learn the steps.

By doing this, you will feel more in control, learn how to do a new task, and even save a few bucks on the installation.