Installing IP cameras for home security can be a great way to keep an eye on your property and loved ones. With technology advancing rapidly, IP cameras have become more affordable and user-friendly than ever before. In this guide, we’ll walk through the step-by-step process of selecting, purchasing, and installing IP cameras in your home.
Step 1: Determine Your Needs
The first step is identifying why you want to install security cameras and what specific areas you want to monitor. Important considerations include:
- Indoor vs outdoor: Will you need outdoor cameras to monitor entryways, yards, etc. and indoor cameras to monitor high-value areas inside the home?
- Field of view: Do you need a wide field of view to monitor large areas or a narrower field of view for monitoring hallways and doorways?
- Night vision: Do the cameras need to capture footage in low-light or complete darkness?
- Wired vs wireless: Do you want to wire the cameras back to a recorder or utilize wireless cameras for greater flexibility?
- Internet connectivity: Do you want cameras that can live stream footage to your phone and upload clips to the cloud? This requires an internet connection.
- Audio: Do you need cameras with two-way audio communication?
- Camera resolution: Higher resolution captures more detail but requires more storage space and bandwidth.
Once you’ve considered your key needs, you can narrow down the type of IP camera best suited for each area you want to monitor.
Step 2: Select IP Camera Models
With your needs in mind, the next step is selecting specific IP camera models. Key factors to consider include:
- Image quality: Higher megapixel resolutions and larger image sensors generally provide better image quality, especially in low light.
- Field of view: Cameras with wider fields of view can monitor larger areas while narrower fields of view provide closer monitoring. Varifocal lenses allow adjusting the field of view as needed.
- Night vision: Look for cameras with infrared LEDs or improved low light sensitivity for capturing footage at night.
- Weather resistance: Outdoor cameras need weatherproof housings and weather sealing to withstand the elements.
- Power source: Cameras can be powered via ethernet/PoE, WiFi, or 12V DC power.
- Wireless connectivity: Wireless cameras transmit footage to a recorder via WiFi, eliminating the need for ethernet cables.
- Cloud connectivity: Cameras with cloud connectivity can provide remote access and receive software updates.
Some of the most popular brands of IP cameras include Hikvision, Dahua, Amcrest, Reolink, and Nest. We recommend selecting models that fit your specific needs and budget.
Step 3: Purchase Security Camera System
In addition to the cameras themselves, you’ll need a recorder to capture, view, and manage footage from the IP cameras:
- DVRs: Digital video recorders have multiple channels for wired analog security cameras.
- NVRs: Network video recorders are designed specifically for IP cameras and encode footage digitally. We recommend NVR systems.
- Storage: NVRs use hard drives for storing video footage. Select models with adequate storage for the number of cameras and video quality settings.
- Remote access: NVRs with mobile apps, web interfaces, and cloud connectivity allow securely viewing footage remotely.
- Smart detection: Advanced NVRs include features like motion detection, facial recognition, and AI analytics.
When purchasing an NVR system, make sure to get a recorder with enough channels and storage for all of your IP cameras. Reputable brands include QNAP, Amcrest, Reolink, Hikvision, and Lorex.
Step 4: Install IP Cameras
Once you have the IP cameras and NVR system, it’s time to install the cameras in their designated spots:
Outdoor Camera Placement
When installing outdoor IP cameras, ideal placement includes:
- Entrances and exits
- Driveways and paths leading to doors
- Yards, patios, and perimeter fences
- Outbuildings like garages and sheds
Choose locations with a clear, unobstructed field of view. Point cameras towards doors at a height of about 9-12 feet for optimal facial recognition.
Indoor Camera Placement
For indoor cameras, optimal placement includes:
- Entryways and hallways
- Living and family rooms
- Home office
- Valuable rooms like master bedroom
As with outdoor cams, aim for unobstructed views 9-12 feet off the ground.
Outdoor cameras typically mount to walls beneath eaves and soffits to be protected from rain and sun. Use exterior-rated mounting hardware.
Indoor cameras can be mounted to walls, ceilings, or tabletops using included mounting screws and anchors.
Adjust viewing angle by swiveling the mounting bracket to optimize the camera perspective.
For wired cameras, run an ethernet cable from each camera location back to the NVR recorder. Outdoor cables should be exterior-rated and buried for protection.
Use cable staples, clips, and ties to neatly run cables against walls and along trim. Connect cables to the NVR and camera ports, leaving no exposed wiring.
Wireless cameras communicate with the NVR wirelessly, eliminating the need to run cabling.
IP cameras are powered either via the ethernet cable (PoE) or separate power cables:
- PoE: Cameras plugged into a PoE switch or NVR port receive power and transmit data on the same ethernet cable.
- Power adapter: Cameras without PoE use separate plug-in power adapters that connect to electrical outlets.
Outdoor cameras should have power adapters that are weatherproof and surge protected.
Step 5: Connect Cameras to NVR
With the cameras mounted and wired, it’s time to connect them to the NVR recorder:
- Plug each camera’s ethernet cable into one of the PoE ports on the back of the NVR.
- Log into the NVR interface using the default credentials.
- Follow the on-screen prompts to add each camera to a channel on the NVR.
- Assign a name and set the date, time, and any recording or settings for that camera.
- Repeat for each additional camera you’ve installed.
The NVR will now begin capturing and recording live footage from the IP cameras as they stream it to their assigned channels.
Step 6: Adjust Camera Settings
Most IP cameras and NVR systems provide a variety of adjustable controls and settings:
- Image settings – Adjust brightness, contrast, saturation and image quality
- Motion detection – Set up customized motion detection zones to trigger recording
- Night vision – Set infrared night vision range and control light sensitivity
- Compression – Higher quality footage requires more storage space
- Resolution – Higher resolution provides more detail but also requires more storage and bandwidth
- Frame rate – 10-15 FPS is typical. Higher rates provide smoother video
- Audio – Enable or disable camera microphone and speaker
Adjust these settings as needed to optimize performance, recording quality, and storage capacity.
Step 7: Connect NVR for Remote Access
A key benefit of IP camera systems is the ability to securely access live and recorded footage from anywhere. This requires connecting the NVR recorder to your home network and the internet.
There are a few approaches to enable remote access:
- Connect NVR to router – Use an ethernet cable to connect the NVR directly to your WiFi router. Port forwarding allows remote access.
- Cloud subscription – For plug-and-play access, subscribe to your NVR manufacturer’s cloud service. This hosts your system online.
- DDNS – Register for a free dynamic DNS service to assign a domain name to your NVR for remote access from any device.
- VPN – Connect to your NVR system while away from home using a virtual private network for enhanced security.
- Smartphone apps – View live and recorded footage using iOS or Android apps from your NVR manufacturer.
Proper router configuration is important for enabling remote access while also protecting your security system from unauthorized access.
Installing IP security cameras provides an effective way to monitor your home. By following this step-by-step guide, you can properly plan, install, and configure a DIY IP camera system tailored to your home’s unique needs and budget. With remote viewing capabilities, you’ll have peace of mind being able to check in on your home anytime from your smartphone or computer. Just take care to maximize placement, adjust camera settings, and implement remote access properly. With the right IP camera system in place, you’ll have a secure way to help protect your family, property, and possessions.
Contact Callaway Security to help you install IP cameras professionally.