Buying a security camera system for your home or business has become a growing necessity, more than just a choice. Most people, usually homeowners and other property managers in addition to camera installation professionals are keen on installing the latest security camera systems at their premises, to provide them with better security and the ability to watch their property closely. Selecting a camera system that will deliver the quality of video and features that are desired is the most important starting place which we have addressed many times previously, so today we will focus on actually running the cables.
Many people who purchase their own security camera system do so quickly, ordering up whatever camera system they find that suits their budget and has enough 'buzz words' in their description or title to make it seem like it was a good investment. Needless to say, they receive the camera system and quickly realize that now they need to figure out how to get the cameras installed onto their property which oft seems a far more daunting task than the person thought initially. At Platinum CCTV, we actually love the pre-boxed systems, because it gets people interested in our industry, and once they find the limitations of the pre-boxed security camera systems, then they start pursuing better technology like the systems that we have to offer. However, just because we love the fact that it is getting people into our industry, does not mean that we will install these cut-rate systems for you. Below, I will take a few minutes to give you the top reasons that we don't install these cheap systems from Home Depot, Menards, Amazon, Costco, Sam's Club, etc.
Professional installation is usually not available for pre-boxed camera systems for a multitude of reasons:
Cheap Cables Fail Quickly
The cables provided with these pre-boxed camera systems are generally sub-par, as are the recorders and cameras. This becomes evident as soon as a person starts stretching out the cables to run them. These cables often show signs of abrasion or cracking very quickly, and by the time the camera is mounted, signal may not even reach the recorder from the camera. Cheap cables are also not manufactured for outdoor use, so exposure to UV light, rain, high or low temperatures will accelerate the deterioration, resulting in cameras that are not reliable, just due to cable quality. Professional security camera installers will not work with these cables, ever. If an installer uses your pre-boxed cables, and the camera doesn't work when they plug it in, then they would have to charge additional labor to remove the cable and then additional labor again to re-run the cable once you return it and receive a new cable from the manufacturer. This is something that a customer who purchased the lowest cost pre-boxed consumer grade camera system they could find would not want to pay for, resulting in disputes over who is responsible.
Liability for Products that don't function
When customers hire a company to install their pre-boxed camera systems, they expect that the expert will ensure that all cameras are functional, adjusted properly and useable prior to them departing the installation site. However, an pro cannot guarantee that a customer's own cameras will be functional after they have been mounted and connected. Disputes can quickly arise over who is responsible for replacing cameras that are non-functional, however if customers supplied them, then it is the manufacturer or vendor they were purchased from who will have to replace cameras. This causes more labor for return visits by the company performing the installation, which increases the cost of installation significantly. Because homeowners believe they should not be the ones required to pay extra, this creates an uncomfortable dispute with installation companies. So this is a very big reason that installers will not install systems they didn't sell.
Professional installers will not provide technical support for systems they did not sell, how could they? These systems are dime-a-dozen and are cranked out by companies that just want to sell a box. Many are half-functional and come with very limited warranty and even more limited technical support. You cannot expect a professional installer to know every system on the market, nor be responsible for setting up your apps or computers to connect with a software that is not familiar to them. These repeat calls from demanding homeowners who purchased their own equipment in the first place is another large reason that many companies will not install these cameras systems.
As you can see, if you are one who purchased one of these camera systems, you will likely have a hard time finding someone to install the cameras you purchased from Amazon, Sam's Club or Costco (insert additional big-box stores here) is an almost impossible task. We know, we get calls about this constantly from small business and homeowners. While we would love to be able to help each and every one, we have learned the hard way that for the reasons above, it will not end well and no one likes to have a dissatisfied customer.
This is also why, if an installation company is trying to sell you a pre-boxed standalone DVR or standalone/embedded NVR and cameras, you should definitely question their credentials, professional companies will not sell these systems.
So what do I need to know to run the cables myself
Where does that leave you? Trying to install the cameras yourself. This is where learning to run cables properly is important, so that you can hopefully achieve success in your journey to better security. Below I will take a few minutes to provide some key tips and tricks from a seasoned security professional to help you in your journey to install your security cameras. Let me walk you through to help get you on your way to installing your own cameras.
Where should I run the security camera wires?
Every house is different. This is the reason that before we do residential security camera installations, we always schedule an on-site visit first. However, there are a couple of ways to route the cables that apply to the majority of the residences out there.
Attic Routed Cables
First, and most frequent route for cables is through the attic. For ranch houses especially, cables can often route from the camera locations (usually exterior eaves) directly into the attic to the location of the DVR. However, you will likely not be installing the DVR or NVR in the attic, so what do you do when you get to the room where the recorder will be installed?
Basement Routed Cables
When an attic is not available or convenient for placement of cameras to run cables through, then a basement is a second option to get cables out to your security cameras from your DVR or NVR. However, since your cameras will not be on or under the ground, this will pose several challenges. How do you get cables up to the cameras from the basement level?
The question is easier than the answer in many cases. First, look for an easy way to get cables out of the basement. Based on where you are positioning your cameras, usually it is best to look for a downspout that can be used to conceal the cables. These run vertically from the basement level, and often get you up to a height where the camera can have a good vantage point. Then cameras can be mounted to the brick or siding at the appropriate height directly next to the downspout.
Note: When running cables 'exposed' even behind a downspout, UV rated exterior cable should always be employed. The cheap pre-made cables included with a pre-boxed camera system are usually not even riser rated (rated for use inside interior walls) let alone UV rated for outdoor applications. This is why I would consider carefully what cables you are going to run. It would be a shame after all the work getting cables run out, to have to do it again soon. Check out our Security Camera Cables for options that will make your installation easier, as well as help ensure your cables are suited for the environment they are used in.
Once you have selected where your cable or cables will run out, double check your measurements prior to drilling and determine what type of material you will need to drill through.
If drilling through siding or wood, then you will use a standard drill bit large enough to allow the cable (and possibly connector) to pass through. Double check that you will not be drilling into any plumbing, sewer lines, electrical lines or gas lines prior to drilling. Always double and triple check measurements first. If you are running multiple cables, you will need a hole-saw or spade-bit to get a large enough hole. Once the hole is drilled, you might consider using a "bell box" or "lb" to cover the hole and help route the cables. This is what we do with professional installations, so that you don't have just a wad of cables hanging out the side of your house. Regardless, make certain that you caulk any holes leading into the basement. You do not want water entry, nor do you want to have pests entering.
Drilling through Brick and Concrete can be a little more difficult. In these situations, a masonry drill bit and hammer drill are recommended. The thicker the brick and concrete, the more expensive the drill and bit will be. Also you must take into account when selecting a bit the number of cables that run into the house. This can get pricey if you have a great number of cables or large connectors. Make sure just like above that nothing important is behind the wall, and drill your hole carefully. This takes a little longer than wood, but equally as important to make sure you know what is behind the wall. When we are drilling through an outside wall, we also try to ensure that we are always drilling at an upward angle. Even though the hole will be caulked, that helps make certain that if water gets past the caulk into the hole, it will not make it into the basement too.
Once your cables are through the wall from the basement, you may have to loosen up the brackets holding the downspouts in place so that you can loosen them away from the wall far enough to slide the cables behind. In some cases it might be necessary to add some invisible (clear) zip ties to help hold the cables in place so they don't sag or fall out from behind the downspout. Afterwards, make sure the downspout is still secured to the building.
If you purchased a pre-boxed system, then likely the cameras did not come with (and often don't have available) junction boxes that will mount behind the camera. In the event of wall-mounted cameras, these junction boxes are helpful to conceal the connectors where the cable meets the camera. This can help to prevent corrosion in the elements, but also makes the installation a little nicer looking too, by hiding the big connectors. If junction boxes that are designed for the camera are not available, then a generic 'bell box' or junction box from a hardware store may be useful instead. The camera can be mounted onto the cover of the generic junction box, and a hold drilled to allow the connectors to be housed inside. Keep in mind that if you install a junction box of any kind, always provide a weep hole in the bottom of the junction box to allow any moisture that gets inside the box to drip out. Otherwise, you might find a box that fills up with water causing damage to connectors later, no matter how well you try to caulk up the holes.
After the camera is mounted and the cable run into the basement, you next will need to turn to the DVR or NVR location. In some cases, you can install the recorder into the basement, however in other cases, you may have to run cables up through a wall instead. Next we will look at those vertical runs from basement or attic.
Running Cables Through Wall to DVR/NVR Location
Whether your cables will be routed through the basement or attic, you will likely need to eventually run the cables through a wall to the DVR or NVR to make them look nice. Don't be that guy that just has 8 cables dropping out of a hole in the ceiling and stretches to your DVR. Though I often see even "professional" companies that have done this sort of thing as well. Instead, keep your family happy and be able to proudly say to your friends that you installed these cameras yourself. This will involve running the cameras through the wall to a nice pass-through plate then up to your DVR, keeping the cables hidden in the wall.
Start by selecting the area where your DVR will be installed, so that you can find the right "pocket" between studs. Measure carefully. Then drill down inside the pocket with a hole large enough to easily allow all of the cables that you will be running. Since pre-boxed systems generally have pre-terminated cables, make sure to take not just cable length and number of cables, but also the connector size into account. For this hole, you will usually need a spade-bit or hole-saw. Once you have the hole drilled, you will want to cut a single or double-gang sized hole in the wall where you will be running the cables out. This is usually done with a hand drywall knife or multi-tool. Then an "old-work" backing plate is installed to support a pass-through plate to make the cables look nice when you are done. Now drop a fish tape or even a nylon pull-cord with a weight down through the hold into the pocket from the attic or basement and then tape your cables to it so you can pull them through your pass-through plate and connect them to your DVR or NVR.
What needs to be done to run security camera wires?
We have given you a wealth of information that should prove helpful in running the cables for your home security cameras. However, this task if done properly may prove more difficult than a homeowner was intending in the first place. While we will not install customer-purchased pre-boxed systems for the same reasons I covered at the beginning of this post, we do have systems that are available for homeowners to help suit your needs and budget.
Check out our full line of Home Security Camera Systems
or give us a call at 630-225-0693 to set up an on-site consultation for a new home security camera system. You probably won't even believe the difference that our AVM (Advanced Video Management) system can make when compared with cheaper pre-boxed or even other 'professional model' camera systems.
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