In this guide, we will help you with a buyer’s guide that you can use to select the right cameras for the job as well as a step by step guide on how to install them in your home.
A buyer’s guide to choosing security cameras
Some important considerations for security cameras and mobile home security:
These are considerations you should take into account before you even start looking at cameras as they lay at the heart of how you will operate them.
- Indoor/outdoor cameras: Not all cameras are suitable for outdoor use. Cameras used outdoors need protection against the weather, specifically rain. This means that indoor cameras can usually be a bit cheaper and less bulky.
- Discreet or visible: You either prefer one or the other. Some want their cameras to be visible and act as a deterrent. Others want their cameras to be hidden so that intruders don’t tamper or avoid them. It depends whether you want to stand the best chance of catching intruders or want them to stay away in the first place. For home use, we recommend visible cameras as most intruders will be amateurs that will easily be persuaded to choose a softer target.
- Monitoring: Some cameras come with a remote monitoring service attached to it. However, this will be significantly more expensive and will be a service you need to keep paying for as long as you use it. Other cameras allow you to monitor yourself or simply records to a computer.
Types of security cameras:
There aren’t actually 100% clearly defined “types” of cameras. For example, you can find an infrared camera that can pan/tilt/zoom or is constructed as a dome camera. Any number of these combinations are possible. However, these are the main types you will come across:
- Infrared: The biggest advantage of infrared cameras is that they provide fantastic quality footage even in low-light conditions. Usually, they can automatically switch from color to black and white for low light conditions.
- Dome cameras: These cameras are usually placed on the ceiling and are shaped as half a glass sphere with a rotating round camera inside. They can be made to obscure the camera so that an intruder doesn’t know which way it’s facing.
- Pro box cameras: Best for high-quality daytime video, these cameras usually also have good nighttime visibility. However, they are not as great as infrared cameras. Their shape is usually rectangular and easily visible but they provide the highest resolution footage.
- Pan/tilt/zoom cameras: These cameras look a lot like dome cameras but are usually mounted on a movable arm to give them an even greater range of motion and visibility. In most cases, you can control them remotely by pointing them in the desired direction. This is why they are one of the more expensive options.
- Hidden cameras: There are two types of hidden cameras. Some are hidden because of their small size while some are disguised as other objects, for example, smoke detectors. Because of their size constraints, they usually don’t provide the best imagery.
Most important features
These are the most important features you should keep an eye out for when looking at any type of camera. Some types already come with these features, such as infrared cameras with night vision. However, others might need to implement some of these features in a different way. Or omit them entirely:
- Motion detection: Motion detection cameras can automatically detect motion. Additionally, they can either alert their owners, the security software with which they work, or follow whatever is causing the motion.
- Field of view: The field of view is the angle that a camera covers when pointing in a direction. The wider the field of view, the better. This can help make up for the lack of mobility in a camera.
- Resolution: The resolution will play the biggest role in the quality of the camera footage, at least during the daytime. However, a higher resolution will also result in much larger storage sizes if you record the footage.
- Wi-fi capability: Except for convenience, wi-fi is preferable because they can’t be interfered with as easily as wired cameras by cutting or damaging their wires.
- Night vision: A camera needs some kind of night vision technology to provide visible footage in the dark. A common way is to switch to infrared or black and white footage when it gets dark. Most cameras with this ability can do this automatically when they detect low light.
- Sound: Some cameras can record audio while filming, although this is usually rare and makes cameras expensive. There are a few cameras that can also double as a speaker.
- Mobility: Not all cameras can pan/tilt/zoom the same amount. The less mobility the camera has, the better you will need to position it. In contrast, the less space it will cover, then the more cameras you need to cover every inch of your space.
- Mobile monitoring: Some cameras come with a mobile app that you can use to look at the live footage from your mobile phone remotely. This is a super convenient way to put yourself at ease. Some even allow you to control the cameras or receive notifications.
- Security system: Some cameras can connect with the rest of your home security, such as an alarm or an emergency response unit.
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How much will it cost
The type of cameras you want to install and how extensive you want their coverage to be will play a huge role in how much it will cost you in the end. Another important factor is whether you will hire professionals to install the cameras for you or do it yourself.
You can pay anywhere from $100 for a single camera with installation to $2,200 for multiple cameras with the installation.
For home cameras, you shouldn’t have to pay more than $100 per camera. Some decent indoor cameras sell for around $15-$20, like this model from Amazon. You can also buy entire basic kits like this one from Firstrend for around $199 for four cameras and a storage unit. As you can see from the latter, the price can go all the way up to $599 for full HD cameras with a monitoring system included.
Many of these models and kits can be set up easily by yourself using some basic tools (drill, screws, etc.). However, if you want to call out the professionals to set these cameras up for you, prepare to add on another $200-$1,000 depending on the size of the job.
How to install security cameras
Phase 1: Planning
First things first, grab a piece of paper, a pencil, and an eraser. You should take these first free steps to come out with a plan of attack to set up your home security camera system. Making a simple diagram of your home (including sensitive areas like windows, doors, gates, etc.) will help a lot in this phase.
Once you have a simple sketch of your house’s layout, walk around inside and out and start planning where you will put cameras. Make sure to mark the camera locations on your diagram as well as how their wires (if they’re not wireless) will connect to your recording box as well as their field of view.
Go through the following steps as you do this:
Step #1: Decide what you need
Use the guide we supplied to assess your needs and come up with a list of criteria that you want in your security camera system. Do you want to be able to remotely monitor your cameras from your phone? Will you need low-light visibility? Are your cameras used outdoors, indoors, or both? Do you want them to trigger an alarm or call a security response unit?
These are some of the most important questions that we recommend you ask yourself and think through. The rest are “nice to have” that you can figure out as you shop for a security camera.
Step #2: Figure out how many cameras you need
This process may not be as straightforward depending on which type of camera you go with. As you can see from the features, the number of cameras you need might completely depend on the mobility, field of view, and type of camera as well as how thoroughly you want to cover each room.
If you want to go with stationary cameras, try and identify potential threats (such as windows, doors, vents, gates, etc.) and make sure that you cover these first. You can then decide if you feel it is necessary to buy even more cameras.
Remember, that more mobile cameras or cameras with better resolution/field of view will also cost more. You might also be able to save some money by only buying the outdoor cameras you need and using indoor cameras for the rest.
Step #3: Think about lighting
If you don’t want to go with more expensive cameras with great low-light visibility, you may want to think about lighting. It could even be cheaper to install a few well-placed lights than to buy infrared or low-light cameras.
Another option is to install lights that switch on when they detect motion. This will save you money when it comes to your energy bill as well as act as an extra deterrent for intruders. These lights are also relatively inexpensive.
Step #4: Go buy your cameras
Now that you have completed the planning, it’s time to go buy your cameras. Depending on whether you want to do the installation yourself or hire a professional, you can either shop online on sites like Amazon/Home Depot or go into a physical store/contact a security company.
Based on the information you have gathered, a professional should be able to provide you with a suitable package or quote. If you’re not sure about your budget, ask for a quote to decide whether you can afford it.
Phase 2: Installing the cameras
Now that you have your cameras, it’s time to install your new home security system. How exactly you’ll go about this will be very different depending on which cameras you buy. However, any camera kits should come with extensive step-by-step documentation as well as a customer support line should you struggle.
We will go over the process in broad strokes that should cover most devices.
What you will need:
- A ladder.
- Screwdriver, screws, and molding pins (if screw-mounted. Screws and molding pins usually included).
- Wire clips (if not wireless).
- Hammer (for wire clips).
- Pencil or marker.
Step #1: Set up the recording device
Most kits will come with a recording kit or allow you to connect to your computer. Pick a secure, central location for your recording device that will give you the best chance of placing all your cameras within range. If you go wireless, it’s best to install this as close to your wifi router as possible.
Step #2: Test your cameras
Test individual cameras close to the recording box first to make sure they all work before you go through the effort of installing them. Your product’s manual should have instructions on how to do this. If you have wireless cameras, they may need to connect to your wi-fi router as well.
Step #3: Install your cameras
Most cameras need to be mounted by screwing them into either the ceiling or wall. The higher you set up your cameras the better. It will provide a better field of view as well as make it harder to interfere with them.
To mount them: place the camera where you want it on the wall or ceiling, mark the holes, drill the wall on the holes, place the mounting pins, and then screw on the camera. You can also find stick/suction padded cameras but these aren’t nearly as secure.
Step #4: Cable management
Most cameras will need to be connected to a power source and if you went with wired cameras, they will also need to be connected to the recording box. This is why you should have some wire clips handy. Follow the corners of your wall and ceilings, door frames, etc. to make the wires as inconspicuous as possible.
Easy, isn’t it?
That’s how simple it is to start improving the security of your family and your home. While you’re at it, you might as well continue the process of incorporating technology to create a better home by following our 11+ Solutions to Design a Smart Mobile Home. Your mobile home security is just half the battle. One of the biggest threats to any type of homeowner is fires caused by accidents. So, make sure that your mobile home is always up to code when it comes to fire safety.