Help Finding A Camera System For A Tricky House

I'm struggling to find a suitable camera system for a lovely old house and would greatly appreciate some help. Neighbors on both side of the house were burgled on the same day so the residents in the middle are understandably feeling rather vulnerable!

The residents want two cameras on the front of the house so they can see anyone entering their property from the street. They want one camera at the back of the house and one inside in a central hallway.

The two-storey house was built in the 1800's and everything is solid. The internal and external walls are double-brick. Under the floor is bluestone! They have renovated the house beautifully and do not want any exposed cabling or conduit. The house is in a major city.

Ordinarily I avoid wireless cameras but am considering them for this job. Three of the cameras would need to be rated for outdoors. I'm in Australia and, unless I am mistaken, none of the local distributors for Samsung, Dahua or Hikvision import their respective WiFi camera models. This seems to rule out WiFi cameras although I am following up with each of these companies in case one of them can supply WiFi cameras in Australia. I don't want to import the cameras myself as they wouldn't have gone through the costly compliance testing for WiFi products in Australia. If the cameras caused any interference, I would be liable and the customer would be very unhappy.

External radio equipment, such as that from Ubiquiti, would be ruled out as it would ruin the look of this lovely old house.

Does anyone have any other bright ideas as to how I could provide them with a 4 camera solution which they could remotely access via the Internet. They are not keen on paying ongoing costs for some kind of Cloud storage although I haven't completely ruled that out. They would prefer a one-off cost for the equipment which is a reasonable preference for residential installations.

Any ideas would be greatly appreciated as I'm finding these constraints to be quite tricky. I'm also considering some kind of neat-looking camera with built-in recorder even though it would not be connected to the Internet. I just need to find one that doesn't look like a camouflaged trailcam. Thank you for your help!


Work from the attic follow the gutters and down spouts down. There is no advantage to "wireless" when there is no power available at the site you want to place equipment. Im sure they dont want solar panels and storage cells. Use a network over electrical wiring device to get the network to the attic and the interior can be an ip cam on the network. I wonder if I will live long enough to see a device that uses energy out of the air with zero cabling required.

There is going to be wiring involed they have to decide how bad they want cameras.

Hi A, thank you for your excellent suggestion about following the gutters and down spouts. I might even be able to do that without resorting to using network over electrical wiring devices.

If they truly won't accept wiring, I might have to just use cameras which accept 12vdc and record to flash cards. I don't want to use trail cams but something like this one might do the trick. I can get power from a nearby light fixture. However I'll see if I can use your "follow the pipes" idea as it's a clever and neat solution. Thanks very much!

Hey Luke,

I haven't persoanlly used powerline adapters before, but I have heard of them

There would be a few concerns I have with the powerline adapter option.

  1. Age and condition of the power lines themselves.
  • Degraded wiring can affect the speed and reliability of the power line links
  • Appliances, flourescent lighting and AC to DC converters can add noise/interference, thus degrading the signal.
  • Power line adapters from different manufacturers may not play well together with the security feature turned on.
    • This is a features that helps prevent a neighbor from tapping onto the network with their own adapter
  • I haven't seen any that explicitly say they will serve PoE, but some do have an 'extra' power out port for powering other devices.
  • I hope this helps

    Hi Matt, thanks for your comments. I'm not enthusiastic about power line adapters but if necessary will try them to see if they are reliable in this situation. They add an extra layer of technicalities which is why I don't like them as they are another point of potential failure. On the other hand, they might solve an otherwise unsolvable problem. Thanks again.

    Nothing is getting hacked unless your neighbors sharing your eletric meter. The easiest solution is get your drill out and buy wire mold. If the electric system lights a fixture with out burning down the house due to a bad over heating connection and your lights aren't flickering it will work its not majic its another tool available. Im sharing info that I have used and works it has landed me jobs other integrators had to pass on, I you dont think outside the box you will always be stuck in the box. Just have you customers call me. LOL

    Luke,

    I would revisit the customer and get a clearer idea of what they are trying to accomplish. Do they want to have good camera views of what is being stolen and who is taking their stuff? Because thats just what they will get by having a non-obvious system. Without any deterrent value, cameras only tell a story of what happened.

    Are they trying to prevent the thefts? Then think clear obvious signage, burglar alarms, good locks, good motion controlled lighting. These things prevent thefts; cameras mostly just record them.

    If cameras really are desired, consider moving them off the house to poles or structures in the yard. The cables can be trenched/hidden, and with PoE, power is not a problem. The central hallway should be easy to do with a covert cam and some closet vertical cabling.

    I have had great experiences with customers when I simply ask them to explain what they want to get from their system. Many people think cameras are the answer, when in reality, the camera are often just a bit player.

    Hi David,

    Thank you for your wise words about cameras and deterrent value. The cameras would not be covert but still need to be neat. Moving the cameras off the house, to poles or structures in the yard, would be an excellent idea in this case but would also increase the cost beyond what the customer is likely to accept.

    The project has been put on hold but, if it proceeds, I believe the customer will accept wired cameras with the cabling running down from the eves and following the gutters and down pipes as first suggested by Undisclosed A Integrator.

    Ethernet over power line adapters work really well, or really poorly in my experience. (very little in-between). It would be easy enough to do a test, then a speed test to see how they hold up. They can be picky as to what outlets work and what outlets don't. And they don't seem to like bridging across the breaker box. If your outlet is served by a breaker on the other bar of the breaker box, your odds of success seem to go down significantly. Also, make sure you get the faster models. BUT, these can really save your bacon, and be helpful for tough installs. You just have to understand their limitations. Particularly great if you want to put a camera next to (and power it from) something like a porch light.

    But truly, whenever possible, wired is best. Totally agree with running wiring down the drain spouts, and even more so with coming through from under the eve of the roof line and mounting there.

    The problem is, if they are broken into, the odds are fairly good that their VMS system will be stolen as well. So it should be secured, and, explaining to the customer that making the cameras somewhat visible will act as a very big deterrent.

    I really like the PoE varifocal "eyeball" / "snail" / "Turret dome" type cameras. They go by different names, but are basically a metal ball containing the IR/camera, that is contained in a hooded metal enclosure that allows it to rotate and be freely positioned. Get one in white (or paint) so that it matches the color of the house, and it is very subtle. These seem to pass easily by most HOA issues because it's not an eyesore, but, the bad guys will very likely see them.

    Hi Jason,

    Thank you for detailing your experience with Ethernet over power line adapters and for your camera recommendations. I wrote off the wireless idea and told the customer they would need to have a cabled solution if they were going to proceed. If the project proceeds, I intend to avoid powerline adapters as they add technicalities which I'd prefer to avoid unless there is no other practical choice. Thank you for your help.