How to Buy Outdoor Surveillance Cameras

By Brian Richards

Surveillance cameras are often a staple of a home security system. Outdoor cameras can give families the peace of mind to know that their homes are protected. While surveillance cameras can be found in most hardware and electronics stores, the great variety of cameras to choose from can make it difficult to choose the correct camera for your home. When buying an outdoor surveillance camera, keep in mind your particular needs to make sure you select the best option.

Step 1

Select a location for your surveillance camera. This will determine which features you need and which you can safely ignore. The most frequent location for a security camera is outside a home's front door, but some security experts also suggest putting cameras at alternate entrances including garage doors, shed doors, and back doors. Fears of identity theft have even encouraged homeowners to place a camera where their trash bins are stored.

Step 2

Determine how you will mount your camera. Most cameras can be mounted directly onto a wall or hang from an overhead ledge. If this is not possible, choose a camera with different mounting options, such as straps or adhesive.

Step 3

Consider your year-round climate. Areas with heavy rain or snow will need sturdier outdoor cameras than more temperate locations.

Step 4

Take your electrical skills into account. Wireless cameras are much easier for a novice to install, but wired cameras are more reliable.

Step 5

Decide if you need to record video. This feature requires more hardware and is often expensive. If you will be using your camera only to see the identity of a stranger before opening a door, a recording option is unnecessary.

Step 6

Make a list of your needed, wanted, and unneeded features. Take this list with you to the store or have it accessible if you are shopping online.

Step 7

Ask a sales associate for assistance to find a camera to meet your needs. Some associates, particularly in stores that specialize in surveillance equipment or home security, are trained to assess your requirements and can recommend a surveillance camera that meets your needs.

Tips & Warnings

  • Before buying a surveillance camera system, try to see if you can fill your needs with only one camera. A one-camera setup is much simpler than a multi-camera system and may be sufficient.
  • Your state or city may have privacy laws that limit your use of surveillance cameras. Some locations, for example, do not permit audio recording. Additionally, zoning regulations or renter's agreements may prohibit the addition of surveillance cameras. Familiarize yourself with these laws before purchasing a camera so that you do not inadvertently buy one with a feature you can't legally use. Consult your city's building department, your landlord, or an attorney if you need assistance.