Backboxes for Video Surveillance Tutorial

By: IPVM Team, Published on Aug 15, 2018

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.

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  • ********** ********* ********:** **** *****, **** as **** ******* ** wireless *******, ********* *** used ** ******* ***** supplies, ***** **********,******* ******, ********************* ******. ****** ** ***** space ** ****** ***** items ******* ***** * larger *********. ************, **** using *** *******, **** users ****** ** *** backboxes ** ******* ***** power ******** ** ***** voltage **** ****** ******** when ***** *** ******** at **** *********.
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Camera ******* *************

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Recessed ********* ********* ***********

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Standard ***** ****

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Gang *****

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Octagon *****

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Manufacturer ***********

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NEMA *****

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Proprietary *********

***** **** ******** *********, manufacturers **** ***** *** types ** *********** *******:

  • ******/******* *********: ************ ******** to ******* * ****** and *** *********** ** plenum ** ***** ******* mount ************.
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Plenum/Ceiling ***

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Integrated *******

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[[****: **** ***** *** originally ******* ** ****, but ************* ******** ** 2018 ** ******* ******* options *** *********]]

Comments (19)

When needing an enclosure, I prefer to use one with a wood backboard. They cost more but are easier to mount to and less chance of water ingress. 

Image result for hoffman enclosure wood backboard

Ty - thanks for the response. We recently installed a box on the back of the building to house a PoE switch. This has allowed us to keep several cameras back there for analytics testing.

 

We used a box with a metal backboard, which is shown below with the switch mounted to it.

I've seen an AHJ balk at the wood backboards.  It seemed silly, but I guess the objection was that wood is potentially combustible, even if everything mounted to it is UL certified and low voltage.

Have you heard/seen this sort of objection before?

No. We use the Hoffman Wifi Enclosures a lot. I can't understand it but I could see someone saying something.

Allied Moulded makes one with fiberglass backboard which would work for wireless equipment. Although it's more difficult to mount things to then wood. 

I don't care for the metal back boards because it will introducing metal shavings when mounting additional equipment in the future. Just a preference.

If you used fire resistant plywood you should be OK. This is used a lot in telecom closets for the walls.

I have not seen a lot of manufactures offer plenum rated backboxes in the last several years. Even though the cameras are mostly manufactured to be surface mounted bringing the cable in for termination is always questionable. And some manufactures have whips for network or I/O. 

I'm assuming they aren't manufacturing them as much because installers weren't purchasing them. 

It would be a good idea to embed some pass-through RJ-45 socket into backboxes so an installer would be able to aim and focus the camera by connecting to the camera with a test monitor.

currently it is a challenge to do this when using proprietary backboxes.

That would be a pretty neat idea. Does anyone make a connector like that? Like a RJ-45 jack, but with punch down on both sides kind of thing, that's what comes to my mind. OR I guess like a three way coupler? What would be the best way to achieve that I wonder.

Veracity's Pinpoint is the closest thing I know of.

Completely forgot about Veracity.

RJ 45 Passthrough Connector

This particular one is expensive but there are many to choose from. You would still need some type of device like above or the one where you hook two USB connectors to your laptop but at least you wouldn't have to open up the housing.

 

Variations of this kind of splitter.

Not an elegant solution.

What was the reason for showing this. I would never drill in the cover of a Quazite box. I would instead dig down and feed back up out of the ground next to the Quazite box. How would you take the cover off to service under the box?

Also the fact that the conduit being used is way too small for the conductors and the wire is not rated for this either. I have personally pulled out tens of thousands of feet of improper wire in this type of situation especially considering that burial rates cable is not that expensive anymore. 

I'd hate to have to repull that wire in about a year once it starts to fail underground!

One thing is for sure if they are still around when it fails and they have to fix it they will realize why not to do it that way and always oversize your low voltage conduits. I know I did the same types of things early on in my career but with Google at your fingertips all the proper information is right at your fingertips these days. The sad part is the service tech that has to go and troubleshoot this will be one mad person.  

I only have slack of 5 feet of wire and  A pipe I can easly removed the cover,, reason for showing this is what  Cain of box I use to hide my poe, u can do this different ways but the topic was about  back boxes 

Good article! Curious about what standard hole patterns are most important these days. How common is - say the European outlet box size vs. the single-gang US outlet size and 4" square junction box?

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