Placing Security Cameras Near Lights (Best Practices)


Security Camera and Floodlight Above a Garage

Balancing lighting and the security camera angle is something most people struggle with. You want to provide ample lighting to record clear footage, whether during the day or at night. Sometimes placing the cameras too close to the lights can cause picture distortion, and this is something you don’t want to happen. 

When placing security cameras near lights, there are no exact best practices and each placement should be handled on a case-by-case basis. Multiple spots should be tested for each location in order to determine the optimal place to attach the camera. Make sure all tests are done at night.

Keep in mind that positioning your security cameras involves much more than placing them in the right places, in relation to lights or not. Read on to learn more about some of the things you should consider when placing security cameras.

Choosing a Location to Install a Security Camera

Although there aren’t places that you can’t install security cameras, there are places that give you an optimal view, blend well with the surrounding lighting, and not get disrupted by the light sources at night. These places include the front door, back and side doors, first-floor windows, driveway, and the garage.

Don’t Place the Cameras Too Close to Bright Lights

Placing the cameras too close to bright colors disrupts the image. Furthermore, having your outdoor security cameras pointed to direct sunlight causes stripes in the image.

Ensure that the camera isn’t placed close to any bright light if you need to get all the details captured clearly. Bright lights result in high contrast in the captured footage, which makes it challenging to tell what’s happening.

Possible Locations

Let’s cover each potential security camera placement separately.

The Front Door

Research by the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors shows that 34% of burglars get through the front door of most houses. An alarm at your front door will use your outdoor light at night and natural light during the day to pick up and record activity at your home’s front entrance.

It is unlikely that porch lights would disrupt a security camera, just make sure you the edge of the light fixture doesn’t impede the viewing angle.

The Back and Side Doors

Another large percentage of burglars use the back door to gain entry into a home. You should focus on placing security cameras at the back and side doors of your home.

If you have a multi-story building, you can place the other camera on the second story. Ensure that the camera is 10-12 ft. Above to make sure that there’s enough lighting and to prevent the burglars from tampering with your camera.

Be careful of placing the camera too close to floodlights. Typically, these types of fixtures are a lot higher power than porch lights and can definitely impede or degrade the quality of your images.

I suggest that you test it out at night by either having someone hold the camera at various placements under or next to the floodlights and see how the footage looks from each position. Then, you can make a decision on which spot is best.

First-Floor Windows

Having first-floor windows that don’t face the street can be risky as most burglars target these enclosed spaces. Place visible cameras above the windows that face down. You can also pair an indoor camera with an outdoor one to ensure visibility.

Excess lighting around a camera isn’t usually a concern when you place them above or just inside windows. However, just make sure you test out every area you decide on.

Garage and Driveway

Place the security camera 12ft above the ground to get proper lighting. You also want to ensure that if you’re operating a motion-activated camera that it’s placed where an intruder is likely to walk across as that will help pick movement.

Make sure you test the locations in front if you have floodlights. Use the same best practices when choosing a spot.

Avoid Placing the Cameras at the Highest Points

One common mistake that most people make is to put their security cameras at the highest point of their house. Unfortunately, this isn’t the best place as it gives you a larger view instead of a detailed look. The highest point may also not have the right lighting, which could interfere with the video quality and camera angles. 

Experts recommend placing the cameras at the height of 8-12ft minimum and 20ft as the maximum height. That will make it challenging for burglars to tamper with the system, but also ensures that the cameras work. 

Remember that when using motion sensors, most have a limit of 25ft for them to work. The higher your lights, the less distance your camera will view. With the recommended distance, your lights will provide ample light for decent coverage. 

The light beam spread concept asserts that light dispersion works when you get toward the 20ft threshold. With this approach, you maximize the space with enough amount of light while eliminating blind spots and shadows. 

You’ll get unclear footage directly below the bulb, and this is one place you want to avoid. 

Follow the Inverse Square Rule When Installing Security Cameras

Security cameras installation experts recommend following the inverse square rule when placing your cameras. The rule states that when you double the distance to the object, bring it. You need four times the initial light. 

In certain cases, you need to apply more lighting if you’re looking for a well-lit area in your security cameras field of view. You don’t want the footage to appear too dark or washed out. 

Measure the Light at the Subject and Not on Horizontal Surfaces

You need to measure light at the subject’s face, which is 30lx from the floor level when you measure it vertically. Aim for 20-30 lx depending on your situation. 

You’ll notice that some camera manufacturers claim that their devices will work with scene illumination of 1lx, but this is never the case. That means you need to provide more light to compensate for problems like signal noise, automatic lenses, and gain control. 

Consider Vertical Illumination Rather than Horizontal Illumination

Horizontal illumination casts dark shadows on people, and the faces of people with hoods and hats can be dark. You’ll want to mount extra luminaries at face height for proper coverage. That is about 1.6 meters. 

Be Careful About the Motion Blur

Although specialists integrating cameras work in low light settings, the major problem is the motion blur. For example, if a person or a car is moving, you won’t be able to see a clear view of the face or number plate. 

In such a case, the longer the integration, the worse the blur. Another concern with cameras with sensors and infra-red lights is that you only get monochrome footage. However, these cameras operate in low light. 

Explore Camera Options

Security cameras cover a wide range of areas. For example, a wide-angle camera covers different points, and this eliminates the need to have extra cameras. Nonetheless, these cameras make everything look small, which translates into less detail. 

When choosing the camera, don’t forget to think about lighting. Any reflections or having too much light can distort the footage. What’s more, a change in insight can make an image useless. The trick is to find the right lighting and camera angle. 

Opt for Motion Detector Lights

The best way to make sure that you capture any movement during the day or at night is to purchase night vision cameras. However, if you have a regular security camera, you can place it close to motion detector lights. Place the motion sensor porch lights to flank the door. 

Consider Getting Professional Installation

Let’s be honest; trying to install your security cameras for proper viewing and taking lighting into consideration can be a huge challenge. Sometimes you may install the cameras, but they don’t capture the space you’d want them to view, or the lighting could be too dark or too bright. 

An experienced security camera expert has years of experience with the installation process and will help you install the camera in the right place and with the proper lighting to ensure quality coverage. Moreover, they are experienced with home security placement laws as you may point the camera to a place that invades other people’s private space. 

That is considered illegal. Installation experts have experience with security cameras in residential areas and will ensure that your cameras are positioned in a way that doesn’t violate the set laws. 

Conclusion

Don’t forget that lighting should create an evenly-lit scene in the camera’s field of view. That ensures that there are no areas washed out or too dark. Place security cameras near lots of light for clear images.

However, make sure you test each potential location so that you ensure that the light is not distorting or degrading the image. There’s nothing worse than screwing a camera into place and then learning that the footage quality is poor due to bad placement.

I hope this article has been helpful. Thanks for reading!

Jim James

Jim James spent most of his childhood outdoors fishing on lakes in his area. Due to his scouting background, he has always been interested in survival, camping, and the outdoors in general. Jim is a best-selling author and has a degree in History, Anthropology, and Music. He lives with his family in Charlotte, NC.

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