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Home > Projects & DIY Toolkit > Buying Guides > Select and Install a Security Camera

Select and Install a Security Camera

Security cameras can give you peace of mind, whether you're keeping an eye on children at play or watching to see who's coming to the front door.

Homebound people and those concerned about neighbourhood safety appreciate an increased awareness of their surroundings. Cameras differ in their suitability and function, so make sure to choose the one that will give you the best picture for your needs. Lowe's is happy to provide this information as a service to you.

Selecting a Camera

Choosing a security camera system requires a few basic decisions. Here are some questions to help guide your purchase:

  •   • How many cameras will you need? Some monitoring systems can accommodate only one or two, while other systems offer further expansion.
  •   • Do you need audio as well as video? Some camera systems include microphones so you can hear what you're seeing.
  •   • Do you want colour or black and white? Colour pictures are often clearer, but the equipment can be more expensive. Colour cameras might not work in low-light situations.
  •   • Do you prefer wired or wireless? The right choice for you depends on where the camera will be located:
    •     • Wired cameras are fixed in place and must be put in a spot where the wiring won't get in the way. They offer greater assurance of a high-quality picture.
    •     • Wireless cameras can be moved around easily and can be installed in more places, but other devices (such as cordless phones, baby monitors and some computer networks) can interfere with signal transmission.
  •   • Will the camera be outside? Cameras that monitor outdoor locations require special weatherproof housings and may not be appropriate for extreme temperatures. Those that might be the target of vandalism need extra-tough casings to resist tampering.
  •   • What is the light source? Steady, reliable light - either from the environment or from the camera itself — is required for clear images. A camera's lux rating measures its ability to capture images in the dark. The lower the lux rating, the less light is required for a clean picture. Unobtrusive monitoring in the dark or near-darkness can be done with infrared light, which is invisible to the human eye, but the technology can be expensive.
  •   • Is there a power source nearby? Some cameras and monitors must be plugged into a wall outlet. Others can run on battery power.
  •   • Do you want to use your computer? Some cameras can be attached to a computer, allowing you to view the images from anywhere using an Internet connection. The required software is usually included with the camera.
  •   • Will you record the images? Some cameras are meant just for viewing - to see what the kids are doing in the backyard or who is ringing the doorbell. Others are meant for long-term monitoring and may be attached to VCRs. If a VCR attachment is planned, make sure the camera system is compatible with the recorder. Special VCRs can use time-lapse recording to fit many hours on a standard videotape. Some recorders can be set to activate only when motion is detected.

Wireless systems may include portable cameras that can be moved around without permanent installation. Take care that nothing between the camera and the monitor degrades the signal that is transmitted. Cordless telephones, baby monitors and some home computer networks may cause interference.

Installing a Security Camera System

Most home security cameras require little wiring, but installation differs according to model. Here are the basic steps:

  •   1.  Determine the area to be monitored and, using the instructions that come with the system, place the camera at a proper distance to focus clearly on the desired area. The distance between camera and subject area will vary from camera to camera.
  •   2.  If the camera is to be mounted on a wall or structure, hold the mounting bracket to the surface in the correct position and mark the location of mounting screws.
  •   3.  If necessary, drill pilot holes. Attach camera to wall and secure tightly.
  •   4.  If using a wired system, connect the camera and monitor according to the manufacturer's directions. Try to expose as little as possible of the wiring, to prevent vandalism of the system.
  •   5.  Plug the monitor into a wall outlet, turn it on, and adjust the picture for best reception.

Tools, products, materials, techniques, building codes and local regulations change; therefore, Lowe's assumes no liability for omissions, errors or the outcome of any project. The reader must always exercise reasonable caution, follow current codes and regulations that may apply, and is urged to consult with a licensed professional if in doubt about any procedures. Please visit our terms of use.

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