Backboxes are a necessity in surveillance, whether for managing cable whips, recessing cameras, adding wireless radios. But it can be confusing to know which option works for their install.
In this report, we explain:
- When to use backboxes
- Camera backbox compatibility
- Gang boxes
- Fixture boxes
- Octagon boxes
- NEMA enclosures
- Proprietary backboxes (plenum/non-plenum recessed)
- Integrated backboxes (for wireless, power, and more)
When To Use Backboxes
There are three common reasons backboxes are used:
Space for connections: In many installs, cable is simply passed through the wall or ceiling and plugged directly into the camera, eliminating the need for a backbox. However, in others, cable whips and pigtails may require a backbox to protect them from the elements or accidental/intentional disconnection. This may be especially true when audio and I/O are used.
Additional equipment required: In some cases, such as pole mounted or wireless cameras, backboxes are used to contain power supplies, media converters, battery backup, or switches and wireless radios. Rarely is there space to locate these items without using a larger enclosure. Additionally, when using PTZ cameras, some users prefer to use backboxes to contain 24VAC power supplies to avoid voltage drop issues possible when using low voltages at long distances.
Plenum spaces: Finally, backboxes are often installed when required by code in plenum spaces. Code requires that connections not be left in the open in plenum ceilings, requiring either a standard or manufacturer specific backbox to contain the connections and/or the camera. See our Installing Cameras in Plenums Tutorial for a detailed discussion on this topic.
Camera Backbox Compatibility
Note that many cameras and mounts have proprietary hole patterns and are not made to mount to backboxes, while others include mounting holes to attach to standard gang boxes (discussed below). For example, the camera on the left below requires a separate plate to adapt to a gang box, while the camera on the right is made to mount to single and double gang, octagon, and square boxes:
Users should make sure their selected cameras and mounts are compatible or custom work must be performed to use the box, e.g., drilling new mounting holes through a NEMA box.