Security Installation Tools Guide - 22 Tools Listed

By: IPVM Team, Published on Feb 19, 2019

In this guide, we cover 22 tools that security installers frequently use. This is one part of our upcoming Video Surveillance Installation Course that starts next month that will teach installation in great depth.

Personal Installer Tool Inventory

Installing security equipment often requires a variety of hand tools to be easy to reach so work can be done quickly and safely.

The most common installation tasks like hanging cameras and running cables require tools like strippers, knives, screwdrivers, crimpers, and electrical tape.

In general, the price to assemble a tool kit stocked with the common tools costs ~$200 - $500, but installer novices often use the same tools as they progress to even advanced jobs.

In the sections below, we explain each of these tools and share why they are important for installers:

  • 1 pair small Diagonal Cutters
  • 1 pair Linesman's Pliers
  • 1 full set of screwdriver, both 'slot' flathead and Phillips types
  • 1 'Stubby' short #2 Phillips screwdriver
  • 1 set/brick of Security/Tamper Drivers and Bits
  • 1 battery powered/cordless screwdriver and bit set (often included)
  • 1 medium Hacksaw, with metal cutting blade
  • 1 Tape Measure with 20' - 40' (6m - 12m) length
  • 1 set of Allen Keys, various smaller metric and inch sizes
  • 1 pair of 26 AWG - 10 AWG Wire Strippers
  • 1 medium Hammer
  • 1 Combo/ Rafter Square
  • 1 small Torpedo Level
  • 1 battery powered cordless drill with wood/metal and masonry drillbits
  • 1 handheld or hatband LED flashlight
  • 1 retractable Utility Knife
  • 1 general purpose RJ45 crimp tool
  • 1 pair safety glasses
  • 1 pair workgloves
  • 1 pair earplugs
  • 1 hardhat
  • 1 nonconductive/fiberglass 6' - 8' (2m - 2.5m) stepladder

The actual mix and configuration of tools carried is typically optimized for each installer based on the jobs and equipment they install, and a 'starter' list may include specialty or advanced meters, safety equipment, and cabling tools not mentioned above.

Diagonal Cutters, Often Called 'Dikes'

Get Video Surveillance News In Your Inbox
Get Video Surveillance News In Your Inbox

Used for course cutting and trimming of cable, wires, and cords. These should not be used to strip cable jackets in the place of specifically sized cable strippers as cut material deformation, damage, and personal injury can occur. Usual prices range $10-$20 per cutter.

Linesman's Pliers

These heavy-duty pliers are used for the firm gripping and grasping of cables, and cutting or trimming small metal components like connectors, or punching out conduit knockouts. Usual prices range $15 - $35 per set.

Screwdriver Set

General purpose set of screwdrivers in various sizes, lengths, and bit driver types. For general construction, '#2 Phillips' fasteners are common, but security installers often use a variety of flathead/slot sizes for installing wires into devices, including small 'jeweler' sized drivers. Regular sets run ~$25 or less, but highly insulated or ergonomic sets can cost ~$100 or more.

Short 'stubby' #2 Square and #2 Phillips Drivers

In addition to general screwdrivers, two less common but especially useful types are 'Stubby' sized #2 Square and Phillips drivers, on account of commonly needing to secure electrical boxes or components within those boxes where clearance is too tight for regular screwdrivers. These specialized tools typically range ~$5 - ~$15 each.

Hacksaw

A handheld hacksaw with metal / wood cutting blade is often needed to cut down lengths of conduit, tubing, and other metallic components like cable trays. Hacksaws are ideal for occasional cuts, but more substantial or frequently cuts should use a powered angle-grinder or hacksaw to prevent fatigue and take less time. These saws range ~$25 - $45 dollars with blades.

Drywall Saw

However, where gypsum, acoustic tiles, or particle board needs to be cut, a smaller and more coarse saw is needed for easy, clean cuts and minimal dust. Handheld drywall saws often are priced ~$5 - $15 each.

Triangle Rafter/Combination Square

In many applications, a right angle, straight edge, or straight mark is needed for accurate placement of devices. 'Combo' square also include coarse angle marks for irregular mounting purposes. A triangle 'square' is lightweight and ideal to scribe reference marks or straight lines. These tools often are ~$5 - $15.

Tape Measure

As noted in our Measuring For Security Installation Guide, portable measures for length and location is best handled by a tape measure. Installers often use a 16' - 30' length tape more most security install measurements. Tapes usually cost ~$10 - $30 each.

Torpedo Level

Another 'reference' tool for establishing squareness/levelness is a small 'Spirit Bubble' or Torpedo level used to make sure devices are hung in level or flush orientations. Small levels cost ~$5 - $15.

Medium Framing/Ball Peen Hammer

Certain tasks are simply resolved through the application of brute force. Medium hammer sizes are ideal for security installs and sized with enough mass to be effective. Larger hammers are too unwieldy and awkward, while small sizes do not weigh enough mass. Hammers in this size typically cost $15 - $35 each.

Small AWG UTP/CAT Wire Stripper

Wire strippers come in numerous sizes, but sets optimized for 26 - 14 AWG sizes are best for security install work and coincide with the most common conductor sizes used. A set of security AWG sized strippers range ~$10 - $25 each.

Utility/Razor Knife

Tasks from cutting cable jackets to opening packages to trimming tape, the utility knife is indispensable for having an easy to handle sharp edge. Blades typically cost between ~$1 - $15 depending on quality.

RJ45 Crimper

In terms of attaching terminations, an RJ45 compression tool is the most lightweight method of crimping the ends, costing $20 - $50 each. We cover various crimpers in detail in our Favorite Network Termination Tools post.

Allen Wrenches

Many industrial and security fasteners use hexagonal 'Allen' head fasteners, especially for rack mounted, rail, and tamper-resistant devices. A collapse-able set often costs ~$15 - $25 each.

Flashlight

Another key tool is a small hatband strap flashlight or handheld. Usually LED styles using common battery sizes are best for security, ranging between $5 - $35, but high end models often cost $100 or more.

Security/Tamper Bits

Security installers often work with devices using Tamper-Resistant or Security Fastners with uncommon bit patterns. Many installers carry a set of different bits with various security patterns, usually costing ~$15 - $50:

Even a set of 'most common' security bits may not fit all devices, and in some cases manufacturers furnish drivers specific to the patterns they use. In this case, even novice installers can quickly find themselves needing and carrying 'odd' tools meant for specific uses, like this ~$25 Axis Security Bit Driver Set:

Non-Conductive Electrical Tape

A roll of black PVC adhesive tape is often used for temporary attachment of spot insulation of wires and cables. Rolls of tape are a 'consumable' item, typically costing $1 - $5 each.

Cordless Drills

One of the primary power tools security installers use are battery powered drills. We examine them in detail in Power Drill Selection Guide, and the best model and type selected depends on the variables like typical camera install location, common power tools used for battery compatibility, and length of use between charges.

Drills (driver, hammer and rotary) are available in cordless, or battery operated, and corded. A cordless drill is far more convenient on a job site. However, the drill becomes less efficient as the battery depletes, making it more difficult to drill holes as the charge level drops. A corded drill requires power, which is not always available on job sites. Even on sites where electricity is present, managing extension cords becomes another challenge to be dealt with.

Cordless drills come in a variety of voltages. 18 V and 20 V tools (the differences are negligible) are standard for professional grade tools. 12v and 14.4v tools are mainly designed for DIYers, but they can still be useful for driving screws and cutting holes in sheetrock. 12.v and 14.4v drills tend to be much lighter and have ergonomic designs, making them very comfortable to work with for long stretches of time. We recommend buying one of each, and bringing out the appropriate tool for the job.

When purchasing cordless tools for heavy use, we recommend sticking with lithium ion (Li-ion) batteries. These batteries are lighter and offer longer runtime. The average lifespan of a Li-ion battery is two to three years, so plan to replace the battery at least two or three times over the lifetime of the drill.

Cordless drills can be a big investment, with prices ranging from ~$100 - $350 depending on brand, battery type, jaw collet size, and power tool system.

Cordless Drivers

However, using full power drills for sensitive tasks like tightening screws often damages them.

For fine work, where torque must be applied carefully and power limited, using a smaller cordless screwdriver is ideal.

The units have interchangeable or disposable batteries and have simple collets fitting typical hexagonal bits. In general, cordless screwdrivers do not have the torque or power need to drill holes, but instead, are power limited to avoid damage to fasteners and devices.

Cordless Drivers often range from ~$30 - $150 depending on battery system and included accessories.

Step Ladders

The most common ladders used for security install are step ladders, which consist of an A-shaped frame with steps for rungs on one side, usually the most ideal mix of height and being light enough to carry onsite.

These units are available in many sizes, from small 2' step stools to high reach ~20' models, and are popular for their ease of use and often, but not always, lighter weight. They are best for heights ~16' or less, but may also be necessary when lifts or extension ladders are not an option, such as servicing a ceiling mounted camera at ~20', not uncommon at big box stores.

For more details and other ladder types, see our Ladders For Installers Guide.

Onsite Tool Storage

For installers, having tools on your person will save time and frustration. Wearing a toolbelt or tool sheath held installers wear the most important tools they use most often for easy access. Going up and downa ladder or walking around a job site to fetch tools is inefficient and unprofessional:

Many toolbelts range from $25 - $100 dollars, with construction materials, webbing type, and pounch or loop adjustments driving prices.

Toolboxes and Cases

However, for more secure but still portable tool storage, 'packouts' or modular soft and hardcases are useful, as they often can be locked but are still portable via integrated dolly:

Packout systems are not ideal for permanent site storage, but for installers who need to locate tools far distances from vans and trailers, rolling tool cases are a welcome stopgap.

Many tool brands offer 'packout' systems, with base kits starting at ~$150, but with additional boxes, crates, and bags costing ~$30 - $200 each.

Employee or Company Purchase

The financial responsibility of buying installer tools generally falls to the installer to purchase, and can be a significant barrier to beginning work as a professional installer often requiring thousands of dollars in investment.

In most cases, this requirement will be overtly stated as a hiring criteria, that installers 'must furnish own tools'.

However, some integration companies may provide a stipend of tool allowance as part of a salary, while other integration firms may reimburse installers based on years of service or choose to purchase (more expensive) power tools while leaving manual handtools to the installer to purchase.

Because tools are often stolen and mistreated, many firms view installer responsibility of tools as a management method of minimizing theft and abuse.

IPVM Tools Guides

For optional reading and deeper analysis, IPVM has a library of individual guides dedicated to common installation tools:

Upcoming Installation Course

This report is just one part of our upcoming new installation course where, in 6 weeks, with live classes and demonstrations, we teach how to install security equipment:

Tool List Adds, Changes, and Recommendations?

See a tool missing the list that is important for technicians? We want to include the basics, but the list could contain far more. Post in the comments and give a short explanation of why. We will add good submissions to the report's list. Thank you!

Comments (57) : PRO Members only. Login. or Join.

Related Reports

LifeSafety Power NetLink Vulnerabilities And Problematic Response on May 20, 2019
'Power supplies' are not devices that many think about when considering vulnerabilities but as more and more devices go 'online', the risks for...
Maglock Selection Guide on May 16, 2019
One of the most misunderstood yet valuable pieces of electrified hardware is the maglock. Few locks are stronger, but myths and confusion surround...
Bank Security Manager Interview on May 15, 2019
Bank security contends with many significant threats - from fraudsters to robbers and more. In this interview, IPVM spoke with bank security...
Access Control Request to Exit (RTE) Tutorial on May 13, 2019
For access controlled doors, especially those with maglocks, 'Request to Exit', or 'RTE' devices are required to override electrified locks to...
Dahua ePoE Long Distance UTP / Coax Tested on May 03, 2019
Dahua's Enhanced PoE (ePoE) line is claiming extended video and power transmission over 600m without repeaters, with devices interchangeable via...
Registration Closed - Spring 2019 IP Networking Course on May 02, 2019
Register now for the Spring 2019 IP Networking course here - Closed. Last chance now.   This is the only networking course designed specifically...
Verkada Cloud VMS/Cameras Tested on May 02, 2019
Verkada is arguably the most ambitious video surveillance startup in many years. The company is developing their own cameras, their own VMS, their...
Camera Configuration Manager Shootout - Avigilon, Axis, Bosch, Dahua, Hanwha, Hikvision on May 01, 2019
Which camera manufacturer has the best management tool? We tested 6 manufacturers - Avigilon, Axis, Bosch, Dahua, Hanwha, Hikvision to find...
Subnetting for Video Surveillance on Apr 30, 2019
This guide explains when subnetting is used on security networks, and how it works. We explain how to add or remove IP addresses to your range,...
LenelS2 Launches VRx Video Platform on Apr 29, 2019
For years, S2's video management platform, the NetVR, was based on Exacq. Now, after years of internal development, S2 has launched its own...

Most Recent Industry Reports

Access Control Job Walk Guide on May 22, 2019
Significant money can be saved and problems avoided with an access control job walk if you know what to look for and what to ask. By inviting...
ASCMA / Monitronics Declares Chapter 11 Bankruptcy on May 22, 2019
Monitronics is entering into Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The company, also called Ascent Capital Group Inc., aka ASCMA, aka Brinks Home Security,...
US Considers Sanctions Against Hikvision and Dahua on May 22, 2019
The US government is considering blacklisting "up to 5" PRC surveillance firms, including Hikvision and Dahua, Bloomberg reported, with human...
Dahua USA Celebrates 5 Years of Errors on May 21, 2019
Dahua USA is, in their own words, 'celebrating' 5 years in North America or as trade magazine SSN declared: Dahua Technology finds success in...
Axis ~$150 Outdoor Camera Tested on May 21, 2019
Axis has released the latest in their Companion camera line, the outdoor Companion Dome Mini LE, a 1080p integrated IR model aiming to compete with...
Covert Facial Recognition Using Axis and Amazon By NYTimes on May 20, 2019
What if you took a 33MP Axis camera covering one of the busiest parks in the US and ran Amazon Facial Recognition against it? That is what the...
Amazon Ring Public Subsidy Program Aims To Dominate Residential Security on May 20, 2019
Amazon dominates market after market. Quitely, but increasingly, they are doing so in residential security, through a combination of significant...
LifeSafety Power NetLink Vulnerabilities And Problematic Response on May 20, 2019
'Power supplies' are not devices that many think about when considering vulnerabilities but as more and more devices go 'online', the risks for...
Facial Recognition Systems Fail Simple Liveness Detection Test on May 17, 2019
Facial recognition is being widely promoted as a solution to physical access control but we were able to simply spoof 3 systems because they had no...
Inside Look Into Scam Market Research on May 17, 2019
Scam market research has exploded over the last few years becoming the most commonly cited 'statistics' for most industries, despite there clearly...

The world's leading video surveillance information source, IPVM provides the best reporting, testing and training for 10,000+ members globally. Dedicated to independent and objective information, we uniquely refuse any and all advertisements, sponsorship and consulting from manufacturers.

About | FAQ | Contact