Installing Cameras On False Ceiling

Best practice to install cameras in false ceiling/drop cieling tiles? need suggestion on mounting mehods and recommendations for longrun. (Indoor Dome Camera / Box Camera (with Varifocal lense) & Bracket / Speed Dome indoor camera)

Velauuthan, we have a camera mounting guide that might help. Can you take a look at that and let us know if there are still specific questions we can answer?

Brian, Ethan and many fellow members will certainly have more advice to offer.

Thanks John, Box & dome mounts are suitable for drop cieling tiles but it will add-up another 75$ to 200$ to camera cost!

What about installing cameras on POP false ceiling installation and non-standard drop cieling tiles? In most of the installation for better view we need to place the camera in corner but these corner tiles are not standard size...

what about using any ply/wooden/toggle bolts support to install the cameras?

I would guess the vast majority of cameras I have installed, and have seen installed into ceiling tiles have been installed with toggle bolts.

We used to use speaker support rails to mount cameras to drop ceilings. It's essentially just two pieces of thin L-channel, which you can buy at any hardware store here, but these had holes pre-drilled so we could just use a nut and bolt. It's also thin enough that it can be cut to length with a metal shear for non-standard ceiling tiles.

A lot depends on the weight of the camera. For lightweight plastic non-vandal domes, we typically just use machine screws and put large fender washers above the tile. Those cameras are so light, the cables can act as a safety chain if wire-tied to the camera and a ceiling support wire. If light enough, they also pose little risk even in the extremely unlikely event they did fall.

Obviously, heavy metal vandal domes are a different puppy, so if you're installing those, YMMV.

I always grimace at this subject. Not that it is not commonly done, but just that there are so many things that can go badly in the practice:

1. Unless the area is climate controlled, the effects of temperature and humidity on drop tiles can cause them anything from sagging, to spalling, to breakage. With the added weight of the camera, this process and the effects are accelerated. Tiles are made of pressed fiber or gypsum, and are very susceptible to environment. Keep in mind, it may look great on installation day, but look like a ragged mess next year at the same time.

2.Using backing material is essential, and it's best to have material that is long enough to span the width of the tile and rest on the grid itself. This does not need to be costly, and ripping 1" x 2" strips to length works well. Using steel strapping or expanded metal are other options - but the key: span the tile to rest on the grid.

3. Anticipate the worst that can happen. The camera is only one 'bad thing' that can wreck a tile. Can someone slap the camera (separating it from the tile) from the ground? Are there any systems above the tile that need maintenance access? Are there condensate pipes where water drips onto the tile? Replacing a ceiling grid tile is cheap until you stick a camera to it, so taking care to observe good camera placement is key.

4. 'Best Practice' is using a bracket or housing, not direct attach. The ceiling tile manufacturers will not recommend using their product as a mounting surface. Obviously, it is frequently done, but beware the results!

I'll leave you with a haunting image of a 'near miss' ceiling tile disaster taken from our IPVM Advanced Video Surveillance class on camera layout:

In new contruction, you must not use wood. You can save a buck by going to a metal shop and have them cut you up some 2' x 6" metal strips that you can drill and toggle or self tapping screws.

In older non code buildings, we use 2' wood strapping. Never, Never, Never toggle directly onto a ceiling tile.

I know some codes may require chains, but I have not seen yet (not sure if there is a weight limit for this)

Thanking you all for your suggestions.


Where are you coming up with "you must not use wood"? I can believe that combustible materials are restricted in some contexts, but are you sure that is universally applied? We have used standard 1x4 stock exactly as Brian describes without any complaint from the inspectors. We usually run a screw through the T-channel into the end grain of the wood on each end. This provides a very sturdy assembly (and can negate the need for chains depending on who is reading the code book). If flamability is a concern, you could buy some fire treated plywood (typically used for telecom backerboards) and rip that into strips with a table saw. Should be drastically cheaper than something custom from the metal shop and still satisfy the fire marshall.

Of course, it all depends on the fire Marshall and how much he wants to exhibit his control. Those are also the guys that push for plenum cable requirements, even where not needed. In this area (Portland, ME), we can not get away with wood supports on suspended ceilings for new buildings (at least not for schools, as we have been warned).