Proper Box Camera Installation

By Brian Rhodes, Published on Oct 31, 2012

Bad installations of box cameras are nearly everywhere. Not only does it make the site look bad, it increases risk of vandalism and service problems. In this note, we look at what it takes to properly hang a box camera, and identify some of the most common installation errors.

Proper Installation Includes:

  • Recognizing Common Indoor Mounting Barriers
  • Using Correct, Loadbearing Fasteners
  • Effective Gasketing & Sealants
  • Protecting Cabling With Tubing and Conduit
  • Mounting Cameras To Sturdy Surfaces
  • Using Drip Loops

Then we examine mounting mistakes that often cause operation issues as a result.

Proper Installation

Despite the easy availability of high-quality equipment, the installation of these cameras often leave much to be desired. Fortunately, most of the problems can be easily prevented by being aware of a few critical issues during installation:

Camera Height

Because indoor boxes are typically mounted without a protective enclosure, extra attention should be paid to the vulnerability of exposed cabling - even the pigtails connecting autoiris lenses can be a target. Also, consider the potential for knocking them out of alignment via handslaps or swung purses.

The risk of mounting cameras too high is that poorer images are the result, especially when complicated by downtilt viewing of human subjects.  We cover this problem in depth in our Testing Camera Height vs Image Quality post.

Lighting

Get Notified of Video Surveillance Breaking News
Get Notified of Video Surveillance Breaking News

Consider the proximity of the camera to flourescent light sources that can cause interference or cast glare into the frame. While cameras may be aimed to avoid glare from light sources, this may not provide ideal coverage of their intended area, which may be possible by relocating the camera. 

Hanging Decorations

Indoor box camera mounts often become anchor points to hang seasonal decorations from, especially if mounted in an office-type environment. If discouraging this practice is not enough, consider the impact the extra stress may have on your mounting methods and mounting type.

Use the Right Fasteners

Standard outdoor box enclosures can be quite heavy - often as much as 15 - 20 pounds. This means that using the correct fasteners to secure the mount to the wall is critical. Uncommon fasteners like Masonry bolts, anchor bolts, or toggle bolts may be required to securely anchor the mount to the wall.

The right choice of fastener depends on the type of surface being mounted to, but common drywall screws are never the correct solution for outdoor mounting as they are not treated for corrosion prevention nor have threads designed to hold cameras flush with mounting surfaces.

Using the Right Sealant

Keeping water out of the enclosure and cabling is a critical step. Not only can water cause immediate damage (like electrical shorting) and impair visual quality (fogged/wet lenses), small amounts can freeze.

Any joint or drilled opening should be sealed, especially where the cabling penetrates the housing. Proper sealant needs to be water-proof and UV stable: RTV silicone or polyurethane sealants are good choices, but NOT acrylic caulks or expanding foams because they can soften, crack, grow fungus, and absorb water during prolonged exposure to the outdoors.

coil Using the Right Cable Protection

Any exposed cabling (like the pigtail extending out the back of the housing) should be run in properly joined EMT, conduit, or liquid-tight flex (LFC) conduit that both seals the cable against exposure and offers some amount of armoring/tamper resistance. Additionally, proper liquid-tight knockout glands should be used to terminate the conduit into boxes or wall penetrations.

Mounting to the Right Surface

This is a commonly underestimated, but critical, step in properly mounting box cameras. Generally, box camera enclosures are designed to be mounted to secure, rigid, and flush mounting surfaces (like brick walls). However, when the cameras are mounted to 'irregular surfaces' like poles, stucco, and equipment trouble can develop. It is critical that the surface is able to bear the entire weight of the housing and is not susceptible to damage from vibration, snow/ice, or being pulled away from the mounting surface.

Installing Cable Drip Loops

Other mounting 'best practices' include installing cabling with drip loops, or cable bends allowing water to drip away from housing before it enters enclosures.

Using water proof putty to back fill voids and gaps in the mounting surface is another damage prevention step. For example, drilling into brick can cause 'breakout chips' around a hole, and dressing this opening with putty prevents further damage.

 

Spot The Issues

This illustration highlights common problems, which we review below:

1. Driving Fasteners Into Mortar

While it is much easier and quicker to drive screws into brick mortar joints rather than the brick itself, it is not secure. Not only can the fastener easily pull away, this practice can potentially cause wall damage due to 'mortar washout' caused by rain, ice, and wind.

2. Non-Outdoor Exposed Cabling

While it appears a significant length of the exterior cable run is secured in conduit, the 'pigtails' - the sections from the camera to the conduit box - are exposed to potential vandalism and not outdoor rated. Even if no one disturbs the cable deliberately, the effects of weather can break or short the cable over time in its exposed state.

3. Non-Weatherized Knockout

The penetration into the junction box is not weatherproofed using a grommet or cable connector. If water, dirt, or insects infiltrate the junction box, it could potentially disable 3 cameras, not just one.

4. Housings Not Locked

While this may be an optional security step in some installations, the source of this image explained these same cameras had been stolen once before, yet no locks had been installed. In general, securing cameras against theft is an easy step to take: in this case, a few inexpensive padlocks would stifle future theft attempts.

5. Fasteners Not Driven Flush

Several of the mount fasteners can be seen sticking out from the brick/camera enclosure. This not only looks bad, but could potentially allow the camera to pull away or be shifted out of position - especially if high winds or snow loads are an issue.

6. Exposed Splices

Another aspect of this install that begs problems are the cable splices. Assuming that these splices were done in a 'best practices' manner - cable splicing is not always recommended - the fact they are simply wrapped in tape and left to oxidize and be exposed to weather almost guarantees image quality problems, if not outright image failure.

7. No Drip Loops

Rainwater drops accumulate on cable, and will follow the run to the lowest point before dripping off. Unless this point is deliberately made below adjacent knockouts, there is a risk of running water into enclosures. While not a 'worst case' condition, the roughshod nature of cabling means damage could occur without well-formed drip loops.

[Note: This guide was originally published in 2012, but substantially expanded and updated in 2018.]

2 reports cite this report:

Outdoor Camera Installation Guide on Mar 25, 2019
Outdoor camera installation can be fraught with problems. Creating a sturdy...
Four Major Outdoor Camera Install Problems on Jun 14, 2018
Over 140 integrators told us the top four camera installation mistakes that...
Comments : Members only. Login. or Join.

Related Reports

AHJ / Authority Having Jurisdiction Tutorial on Aug 06, 2020
One of the most powerful yet often underappreciated characters in all...
Door Fundamentals For Access Control Guide on Aug 24, 2020
Doors vary greatly in how difficult and costly it is to add electronic access...
Propped Doors Access Control Tutorial on Jan 07, 2020
Doors should keep 'bad guys' out, but a common access control problem is...
Vehicle Gate Access Control Guide on Mar 19, 2020
Vehicle gate access control demands integrating various systems to keep...
Installation Course Fall 2020 - Save $50 - Last Chance on Sep 22, 2020
This is a unique installation course in a market where little practical...
Multipoint Door Lock Tutorial on Jan 23, 2020
Despite widespread use, locked doors are notoriously weak at stopping entry,...
Exit Devices For Access Control Tutorial on Aug 25, 2020
Exit Devices, also called 'Panic Bars' or 'Crash Bars' are required by safety...
Outdoor Camera Installation Guide on Mar 25, 2019
Outdoor camera installation can be fraught with problems. Creating a sturdy...
Drain Wire For Access Control Reader Tutorial on Sep 23, 2020
An easy-to-miss cabling specification plays a key role in access control, yet...
Access Control ADA and Disability Laws Tutorial on Feb 17, 2020
Safe access control is paramount, especially for those with...
Securing Access Control Installations Tutorial on Oct 17, 2019
The physical security of access control components is critical to ensuring...
Forced Door Alarms For Access Control Tutorial on Aug 17, 2020
One of the most important access control alarms is also often ignored....
Glass Doors and Access Control Tutorial on Nov 21, 2019
One of the biggest access challenges are locking and securing glass...
Delayed Egress Access Control Tutorial on Feb 04, 2020
Delayed Egress marks one of the few times locking people into a building is...
Faulty Hikvision Cali Colombia Fever Camera Implementation on Jul 20, 2020
The mayor of one of Colombia's largest cities has promoted a faulty Hikvision...

Recent Reports

Panasonic Presents i-PRO Cameras and Video Analytics on Oct 19, 2020
Panasonic presented its i-PRO X-Series cameras and AI video analytics at the...
Augmented Reality (AR) Cameras From Hikvision and Dahua Examined on Oct 19, 2020
Hikvision, Dahua, and other China companies are marketing augmented reality...
18 TB Video Surveillance Drives (WD and Seagate) on Oct 19, 2020
Both Seagate and Western Digital recently announced 18TB hard drives...
Watrix Gait Recognition Profile on Oct 16, 2020
Watrix is the world's only gait recognition surveillance provider IPVM has...
Intel Presents Edge-to-Cloud Ecosystem for Video Analytics on Oct 16, 2020
Intel presented its processors and software toolkit for computer vision at...
Best Manufacturer Technical Support 2020 on Oct 16, 2020
5 manufacturers stood out as providing the best technical support to ~200...
Microsoft Azure Presents Live Video Analytics on Oct 15, 2020
Microsoft Azure presented its Live Video Analytics offering at the September...
Worst Manufacturer Technical Support 2020 on Oct 15, 2020
4 manufacturers stood out as providing the worst technical support to ~200...
Clorox Announces, Then Pulls, Fever Camera on Oct 15, 2020
For almost one week, Clorox was marketing fever cameras. The booming...
Faulty Hikvision Fever Cam Setup at Mexico City Basilica and Cathedral on Oct 14, 2020
Donated Hikvision fever cameras (claiming screening of 1,800 people/min. with...
Directory of 209 "Fever" Camera Suppliers on Oct 14, 2020
This directory provides a list of "Fever" scanning thermal camera providers...
Avigilon UMD / UAD Tested on Oct 14, 2020
Avigilon's Unusual Activity Detection and Unusual Motion Detection claim to...
Longse Promoting Hikvision Partner Fullhan Chip Based Cameras on Oct 14, 2020
With Huawei HiSilicon production being shut down at TSMC, camera...
Meridian & Goodview (BEMS Relabeller) Temperature Screening Tested on Oct 13, 2020
A lot of temperature tablets look exactly alike and that is because they use...
Monitoring Alarm Systems From Home - Innovation or Danger? on Oct 13, 2020
Remote monitoring by alarm companies since COVID-19 is bringing cost savings...