Choosing Cameras for Your DIY Home Surveillance System

Deciding that you want to install your own DIY home surveillance is a big step, but it can be a bit overwhelming once you start looking at all the information that’s out there. How do you know where to begin? Well, if you have in mind the reasons you want to install a camera system, that’s a good place to start. Think about the areas you want under surveillance and think about exactly what it is you want to keep an eye on in those areas. With that in mind, it’s time to start looking at the different kinds of cameras there are available out there.


200171288-001First off, think about the area you need to be watched. What is the lighting like? Take some time to observe the lighting of each area, and maybe even check on it throughout the day. Doing this will help you determine what kind of Lux rating camera you need. The Lux rating of a camera determines how well it can capture video in a certain amount of light. A lower Lux rating means that it can capture quality video even in a very dim-lighted area, or even in the dark. Many of these cameras come equipped with a certain kind of lighting on them that will engage if the lighting reaches a certain level of dimness. A higher Lux rating means that the camera is able to capture footage in very bright light, such as outside during a bright, sunny day in the summer. Unfortunately, no camera can  capture quality clear footage if aimed directly at a source of light. This washes out the picture and makes it difficult to discern anything that’s going on in the area under surveillance. Keep that in mind as you’re observing your surveillance areas.

Something else you may want to consider is a day/night camera. Day/night cameras are made to be able to function in areas where the lighting changes from bright to dim. If you need an outside camera, a day/night camera may be your best option. It automatically adjusts to the differences in lighting so that you can always have a clear visual on your area of surveillance.


As you observe the area you want under surveillance, decide whether you want a fixed camera or one that is able to move about. Fixed cameras work great in areas where they only need to be watching a specific portion of the room, say, a safe or a case of valuables. If you need to watch a larger room, however, and want to be able to capture what is going on more than just a blur that runs across the screen, you should perhaps consider a camera that can move, such as s PTZ camera. These can pan, tilt, and zoom (thus their name) and many of them are even equipped with motion sensors so that they can follow the source of movement as it crosses the field of view.

Outdoor vs. Indoor

Security Camera or CCTV isolate on white background 478836331Do you need cameras that will be indoors or outdoors? Unfortunately, most cameras aren’t easily exchangeable between indoors and outdoors. Every camera has an IP rating, which rating explains how weatherproof it is. Lower ratings, say, a rating of 45, will label the camera as a strictly indoor camera that is low-impact and would be severely damaged by exposure to elements or excess moisture. Higher IP ratings, such as a rating of 66, mean that these cameras are weatherproof and can be used either indoor or outdoor in harsh conditions. You may be tempted to just purchase all outdoor cameras so that you can interchange them, but do keep in mind that outdoor cameras tend to be more expensive than indoor cameras. Also, even though a camera says it’s weatherproof, you should make sure to take care of it and mount it in an outside area that is at least somewhat sheltered. Even a weatherproof camera can get a damaged lens from too much direct exposure.

Hopefully now you have been able to narrow down your list of which cameras you want into a smaller handful of possibilities. Now it’s time to compare brands and prices and get to work on that installation!