Camera Labor Estimation Standard

By Brian Rhodes, Published on Nov 19, 2014

IPVM is proud to release the first ever surveillance camera labor estimation standards.

These standards help integrators improve the accuracy and efficiency of their installations, reducing risks and cost.

Global Survey

We developed these standards based on a global survey of integrators who provided in-depth responses on how much time and what factors impact their installs.

6 Core Scenarios

The standards focus on 6 fundamental scenarios where integrators routinely install cameras:

  • Low Indoor Tile / Grid Ceiling
  • High Indoor Hard Panel Ceiling
  • High Outdoor Commercial Building
  • High Outdoor Masonry Column
  • Pre-prepped Freestanding Pole
  • Flat Mount Roof

Description and Image Provided

To ascertain richer and more meaningful responses, we provided an image of the scenario and a description of the area.

For example, in the "Low Indoor Tile / Grid Ceiling", we described it as such to integrators:

"The location has 1/2" thick fiber acoustic tile suspended from grid, with no existing backing material or needed plenum rating, located 8' - 10' above the floor. Cabling has previously been run and terminated to the mounting spot. How many manhours would you estimate for mounting a camera in the following area? Why?"

With the following image provided:

Each of the other scenarios had the same information and visuals.

Responses In-Depth

Integrators provided us both a number, in terms of hours, and a description of the key factors that impacted them (tools, safety concerns, logistical limitations, etc.)

We then tabulated a range of hours estimated, an avearge hour estimate plus color commentary on the issues impacting their estimates.

*** **** ** *** six *********, ** ******** the ********* *** **** into * ****** '****** average' *****. ***** *** given *****:

  • *** ****** **** / Grid *******: *.** ********
  • **** ****** **** ***** Ceiling: *.**********
  • **** ******* ********** ********: 2.75 ********
  • **** ******* ******* ******: 3.50 ********
  • ***-******* ************ ****: *.** ********
  • **** ***** ****: *.** ********

** *** ******** **** follow, ** ******* **** location ** ******* ******, showing *** **** ****** of ***** *** ***** comments ************ **** ********** *** results.

*** ********* **** ******************* *** ******** ***** for * *****/******* ****, or ** **** ** a*************. *******, **** ********* could ****** *** **** time ** ********* ****** on *** ********* ** moving *****, ******* **, or ********* '****** * job **********'.

Low ****** **** / **** *******

***** **: ** ****** acoustic ****/ **** ******* location '***' ****** ** reach ** **********. 

***** *** ******** **** our**** ****** ** *** *******. *** actual ****** ******** ***** was:

"*** ******** *** */*" thick ***** ******** **** suspended **** ****, **** ** ******** backing ******** ** ****** plenum ******, ******* *' - **' ***** *** floor. ******* *** ********** been *** *** ********** to *** ******** ****. How **** ******** ***** *** ******** *** mounting * ****** ** the ********* ****? ***?"

*******: **** **% ** *** responses **** ******* *.* to *.* ********. *** **** ****** is ***** *****:

**** *************: ******* **** Variable

*** ****** ** *** install *** ********* ** the ******** *** ******* or *** *** **** needed ** ** ********** first. ** ************ *** not ******* **** ******, as ** ***** ******* the ******* ** * specific ******** ******** (**: Not ********** *** ** grid ******, ** *********). In **** *****, ** installers ********* **** *************, their ********* **** ******. 

  • "***** ** ***. * have ** ******* ************** *** ******, *** the ****, ******* *** adjust *** ****** *** then ***** **."
  • "* ***** ******** *** camera ******* ** **** 1.5 *****. **** ** due ** ******* * mounting ******* ** ** installed *******-******** ******** ********."
  • "*** **** ***** * hour *** ** *** to ***** *** ****** since *** **** ** drill *** ***** *** cables *** ** **** to ******* *** **** of *** ****** ** be **** ** *** ceiling."
  • "*.* **** ** *****. This ** ******** *** mounting ** * **** that *** **** ***-********** with *** ******* ** address. ********** **** ****** tile, **** ***** ****, mount****** ***** * ****** back-plate."
  • "* **** *******, ********* on *** ****** *****. We **** ********* ******* a "***** ***" ******* that ***** *** ****, and **** ******** *** weight ** *** ******, which ** ******* ******* the ****."

*** ******* ** *** answers ** *.** ******** *** **** ********.

High ****** **** ***** *******

*** ****** ******** *****: "The location ** **** *******/******* sheathed, ******* **' - 15' ***** *** *****. Cabling *** ********** **** run *** ********** ** the ******** ****. *** many******** ***** *** ******** *** mounting * ****** ** the ********* ****? ***?"

*******: **** **% ** *** responses **** ******* *.* to *.* ********. *** **** ****** is ***** *****:

**** ** ** ****?: Biggest **** ********

* ********** ****** ** increased **** *** ******* or *** *********** ********* this ******** ** *** of * ****. ** general, ********* **** ****** for ***** ********* ******** a*********** * **** **********. The ***** ****** ** the ********* **** ** needing * ******* ** safety *** ** *** floor.

  • "* *****. ****** **** slower ************ ******* ** articulated **** **** ** required ** ****** *** mounting ********."
  • "* *****. **** *******, lift *** ********** **** needed. ***** **** ****** due ** ***********."
  • "*.* *** *****. *** involve *** *** *** lift ******."
  • "* *****, ******* *** man ** *** ****** keeps *** **** **** around *** ****."

******** ***** ***** ***** a ****, **** *** responses ******** * ******. Many ** ***** *** not ******* * ****** person ******** *** **** from *** *****:

  • "* ***** ***** *.* MH ** **** * ladder **** ********, ***** your *********** *** *** wire/whip, ***** *** ****** to *** ******* *************, **** ***** ** behind."
  • " ******, ********* ** ******* it ** * **** traffic **** ** *** it ***** **** ******. 25 ****** *** *** *********** ladder, *** ***** *** camera, ******* ***** *** ******."
  • "*** ****, **************, ****** ****** *** clean **. * ** using * ****** ****** so **** ***** **** play."

*** ******* ** *** answers ** *.** ******** *** **** ********.

High ******* ********** ********

*** ****** ******** *****: "The location ** *******, *********** from ****, **' -**' above ******, ** ********** steel ********* **** ******** backing *****. *** ************ ***** *** ******** *** mounting * ****** ** the ********* ****? ***?"

*******: **** **% ** *** responses **** ******* *.* to *.* ********. *** **** ****** is ***** *****:

**** ** ******: ******* Cost ********

*****, *** ******* **** differences **** *** ** use ** ********** ******. ******* ********* noted * ****** ***** be *** ****** ****** due ** *** ***** proximity ** ******** ***** cables **** *** ********. In *******, ***** * ladder *** **** **' - **' ****** ******** the *** ** * secondary ******* **********, ** the **** ********** ******* either ****** *** ****** close:

  • "** ******* ******** *** material *** *************, ********** * **** and ****** ******. * would ***** *** **** around *** ****** *** protection."
  • "*** ******** (**** ******** wiring) ****** ** ***** to *** *****, ********* a ******* **** *** reaching *** ****."
  • "** ****** ** **', we ***** **** * boom **** ****** ** well. -- ****"
  • "* ***** - **** is *** ******* ********* ****** ******** *** will **** * ****** man ****** * ******."
  • "* ****, *.* ** times *** ******* ******* of ****** ***********. *** on *** ******, *** is **** *****."

*** ******* ** *** answers ** *.** ******** *** **** ********.

High ******* ******* ******

*** ****** ******** *****: "The location ** ** * ***** ******, 12' - **' ***** ground. How ************ ***** *** ******** *** mounting * ****** ** the ********* ****?"

*******: **** **% ** *** responses **** ******* *.* ** 4.0 ********. *** **** ****** is ***** *****:

********* ******** ********: ******* **** Variable

*** ****** *********** *** much ** *** **** was *** ******** ** the ******, **** ** terms ** ***** ***** mounted *** ** *** front ** * **********-********** retail ******. ******* ********* noted *** ***** ******** needed ** **** *** area ****** ******** ********* safe *** ****** ****** customers. 

  • "** ***** ******** **** a ****** ********* *** to *** ******** ** a ****** **** *** the ********** ****** ** the ******. ** *** install *** ** * private ****, ** ***** lean ****** * ****** installer."
  • "* *****. *.* *** the *** ** *** ladder, *.* *** *** safety *** ** *** ground ** **** ******** and ******** ****."
  • "* *** * ***** each.  Lift ** ****** **********, need  ********** *** *********** because *** * ****** location."
  • "* *** ******* *** lift/ ****** (******* ** how **** ******* **** business ***)."
  • "********* *** **** *********. Extension ****** ** ****** truck ** *** **, potential **** *******, ****** and **** ********** ******* of ******, * *** labor."

******* **** ****** *** drilling ******* ******* *******, which ******* ***** **** and ********** *****. ******* installers ***** **** ***** suggest *********** ******** ********* to ***** ******* ********:

  • "*********, *** ***** *** get * ****** ** the ******** ** *** building. ******** ***** *** take **** ********* ** how *** ****** ** built."
  • "* ***** ******** *.* hours *** *** *******. The ***** ***** ** due ** *** **** of * ******* **** extension ****** *** *** use ** ** *** hammer *****."
  • "* ***** ** *** have ** ***** **** brick. ***** ** ******. There *** ** ** a ****** ***** ** mount *** ******."

*** ******* ** *** answers ** *.** ******** *** **** ********.

Pre-prepped ************ ****

*** **** ****** ******** asked: "Assume * **' - 35' **** ** ******* installed/prepped *** ******* *****, and *** *******/********* ** available. *** ************ ***** *** ******** *** mounting * ****** ** the ********* ****? ***?"

*******: ****** **% ** *** responses **** ******* *.* ** 3.0 ********. *** **** ****** is ***** *****:

******* *** **** *************: Biggest **** ********

***** *** ******** ************ omitted *** **** ** running ***** ** *** camera, **** ********* ***** this ********** *** ***** time, *** *** ******* condition *** ********* ** cabling ****** *** **** is *** ** *** fast *** ******* *******:

  • "* ***** ** ******* camera, ******* * **** is ****. ****** **** require * *******, ***** suppression, ******** **** *********************** *** *******."
  • "*-** ********* *** **** all **** ********...*********** ** are **** ******* ***** hardware ********...******* *** ******* cabling/grounding ******* ** *****."
  • "* *****. **** ****** take ** ******. ********** when ******* *** ****, working **** ****, ********** to *****, ***."
  • "******** * ****** ** this **** ***** **** less **** *** ***** if ** **** ******* prepped *** ******* *** available. **** **** ******* our ****** *** ********* ladder ***, ** * bucket ***** ** **** lift ***** ** **** to *******."

*** **** ******** ** answers ******** ***** ** use * **** ** bucket ***** ******* ** a ******, ***** ******* out * ********* ***-*********** **** *********** **********. Renting **** **** ***** add **** ** ** install:

  • "***** ***** *** ** all ******* ****. ** far ** ******** ** concerned * ***** ******** 3 *****."
  • "*.* *** ***** ** mount, **** *******. $*** bucket ***** **** ******."
  • " * ***** ******* *** 3 ** **** ** be ****, *** ** could **** ****. ** would ** ******* * lift *** **** *******. You **** **** ** load *** **** ***** and ******** **** *** bucket ** *** ****, drive ** **** ** this ********, ******* ** into *****, ***-***** *** holes ****** *** ********, mount *** *** *** then *** ******. *** need **** ** **** if ******."
  • "*** *** *** *** hours **** ****** ** sufficient. **** **** **** an ***-******* **** ** bucket ******* *** ******. You *** **** ******** or ****** ********** ***** it ******* ** ** spring *** ** *** be ***** ** ******* ground."

*** ******* ** *** answers ** *.** ******** *** **** ********.

Flat ***** ****

*** ***** ****** ******** ****** question *****: "**** ******** offers no ****** **** ******, and ****** ** ** be ******* ** ******** parapet ** ****** *****. *** ************ ***** *** ******** *** mounting * ****** ** the ********* ****? ***?"

*******:  **** **% ** *** responses **** ******* *.*  and *.* ********, **** **** **% falling ******* *.* *** 2.0 *****. *** **** ****** is ***** *****:

**** ***** ********* / Penetration: ******* **** ********

*** ******** ***** ********* noted *** ******** ** penetrate *** ****, **** to *** ***** ** recommending ********** ***** ** cameras *** ******** ********* to ***** **. *** question ***** ******* ** assuming *** ***** *** already **** *** *** the **** ***** *** already *********, *** ******* installers ***** **** ***** verification ** ***** ****** would ** ******** **********:

  • "*** ***** **** ** bring *** **** *** of *** **** *** a ***** ****** ** other ** ** ******* on *** ************ ** that. ** **** ** readily ********* **** ****** 60-90 ******* ** ***** everything."
  • "*.* ***** ** **** ladder ******, **** ****** the ***** ** ******** you ***** **** ** fumble **** **** ** there."
  • "***/ *** ***** ************ cause ********* ** ******.  We ***** ******* **************** ** *** *****."
  • "*'* ********* *** ******** to **-***** **** ********. 4-5 ***** ** **** insist *** *** **** penetration ***** ** ******** or ******* ********* **** the ******* ********** ** how **** ** ********* the ****."
  • " * ******'* ** **** enough ** ***** ** in **** *******. *'* do * **** ***** the **** **** ******* for **** ***** *** get *** **** *****."
  • "** ** ** * junk *****, * ******'* waste ** **** ****** to ***** **.  *'* prefer ** ***** ***, it ** ****** *******."
  • "**** ****** ** ***** four ** **** ***** to ***** *** **** needed ** *** * customer ******** **** ***********, project **********,**** ** ****** with * ***-*** ******* team."
  • "* ***** *** ** exterior ******. * ** assuming *** ********* ******** penetrations *** ******* ********* by * ********* ******* contractor *** **** **** of *** ***** *****, cabling ** ******* ***."

*** ******* ** *** answers ** *.********** *** **** ********.

Comments (19)

How many contractors actually took part in this survey?

Hello Jonathan:

Between 60-85 responses were collected for each scenario. We eliminated the few data points that obviously misunderstood the given scenario.

Brian, is average calculed using mean method?

For last exampel, flattened roof (2.15 manohours), figuring by graph lines, gives value closer to 3 than 2, i am maybe to think.

Thanks for bringing this up. I transposed the values. It is 2.51 manhours. I corrected this.

We eliminated the few data points that obviously misunderstood the given scenario.

Seem at first harsh, but those data points will think twice before misunderstanding next time...

Does the time reflect the type of installer?

  • Trunk Slammer
  • Experienced Technician
  • Average Technician
  • Apprentice type of Technician
  • New Trunk Slammer
  • Gouge Company

Maybe include some Safety First Type of category into the mix?

An end user should also think about safety consequences when hiring a contractor/integrator. A death can bring negative publicity to your company. It happens more than one would think. I like the comments that they have an extra worker on the ground on the lookout. Lifts get run into more than one would think even inside of a building like a manufacturing building where workers operate forklifts and speed around corners.

It would be nice to know the % of what country answered what for each question.

Interestingly enough, no one choose 'trunk slammer' or 'gouge company.' :)

The average industry experience for IPVM survey respondents is 10 to 15 years. Beyond that, it's really hard to self assess whether a respondent is a trunk slammer or 'ninja'.

This is why we provided averages and color commentary so professional integrators could better interpret and relate the answers provided to their own use.

Brian and John;

Thanks for taking the time to post this useful information in one document. Having this type of information makes it eaiser to develop cost estimates as part of work packages on jobs that we are currently working. The only difference is that I will take the estimated manhours and apply our corporate rates and adjust based on the other internal tax systems that we are required to apply when providing a cost estimate for work to be performed. Nice Job!

Robert, btw, a related post you might find interesting: Security Integrator Hourly Rates

What I don't like to see is where people are saying they would use a single tech to install a camera at 12-15' or for that matter even lower. If they are following OSHA guidelines then they do NOT have a choice but to include a spotter which doubles the number of techs that are really necessary in many locations.

Hence why it would be nice to know the country of the stated quotes and country % in the poll.

  • "5 manhours, get tools and get a ladder to the location in the building. Drilling brick can take time depending on how the column is built."
  • "I would estimate 3.5 hours for the install. The added labor is due to the need of a smaller type extension ladder and the use of an SDS hammer drill."
  • "5 hours if you have to drill that brick. Which is stupid. There has to be a better place to mount the camera."

The above seem rather excessive. Drilling into brick, masonry, etc. is not really a big deal if you have the proper tools. I carry two SDS+ drills in my van, one Hilti 36V cordless and a corded Bosch (up to 4" thinwall). I have no problem drilling into any of those surfaces. The cordless saves a lot of time since you don't need an extension cord which can often times be a safety concern (having an extension cord). Now if I were trying to mount using only tapcons and a non-SDS cordless cordless hammer drill, I could see the problem.

I had a cable installer working at a residence when I was installing a TV and he needed to rewire the house for a whole house DVR. All he had was a Rigid cordless drill and only had 1/2" of 5/8" bit for 8 RG6 cables. I lent him my cordless SDS and an 1.25" solid bit for the cables because I didn't want him drilling multiple holes in my customers brick wall. Proper tools are everything and can make a huge difference in labor time.

I would love an SDS-Max drill, but at that point, I would rather sub that out to a concrete cutting company because when you need a large hole, you can't assume you won't hit rebar (or other items buried in a slab).

Thanks for this article, interesting information!

Would be very interesting also with a similar survey where differences in camera brands would be analyzed, ie what is the difference in time and difficulty to install a certain type of camera from one manufacturer vs other manufacturers. Any plan for such an investigation?

No plans to official survey members on specific brands, but we have had discussions on that exact question, ie:

Maybe I missed it but is there an average manhour listed for the cable run and wire prep?

Say runs under and over 100' average ceiling height 8'?

Runs over 100' with ceiling height 8'-15'? Over 20'?

Drop tile vs open ceiling vs hard ceiling

We have results for wire runs that will be published in a separate update. This one was already quite long and only addresses camera installation, but the wire run one is coming!

Awesome, Awesome artical. Makes my investment in IPVM worth every penny. After 15 years in the industry these survey's are pretty much in line with my estimates, however like others have posted, safety also needs to be considered and I am not sure if the high elevation locations include the extra man to foot the ladder or spot the lift, which is a requirement for most of our projects. But know I have some much research to present to my salemens and customers on how long it should take to install a camera. Thank you John.

All of these expect to have a cable run to them. I usually only add cameras to areas which also need a cable run. Accessing the DVR secure area, IT support if needed, setup DVR or troubleshooting if the camera doesn't come up right away, as well as running the cable, change these metrics dramatically. It is nearly useless information. Sorry.

Hi Jared,

We are running a sequel to this on Camera Cabling Labor Estimation.

We decided to split up the two posts because they are long. Once that is released (next two weeks) you can cross-reference the camera install with the cable installation information.

Also, Brian explained this in a comment above yours.

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