Modern security cameras are straightforward to install for the most part, especially for indoor models. It can be a little more involved installing an outdoor camera, but the same principles apply.

The setup process varies from manufacturer to manufacturer, but almost all now use a phone app that guides you through the steps you need to take.

There are two main types of camera: those with Wi-Fi only and those which also have Bluetooth. It’s a lot easier to set up a camera with Bluetooth since you don’t have to switch between Wi-Fi networks. And with some cameras, you don’t need to enter your Wi-Fi details at all because they’re taken straight from your phone.

With others, you might need to scan a QR code or type in a unique identifier. If it’s compatible with Apple HomeKit, you may need an iPhone or iPad to set it up and scan the HomeKit code.

We’ll use a Nest Outdoor camera here so you can see the process from start to finish, but here’s a quick summary that should apply to most home security cameras:

  1. Download the appropriate app on your phone
  2. Create an account if you don’t have one already
  3. Connect the power supply to the camera and wait for it to be ready to set up
  4. Use the ‘add camera’ option in the app and follow the instructions
  5. If necessary, connect to the camera’s own Wi-Fi network
  6. Select which Wi-Fi network you’d like the camera to connect to and enter its password
  7. Wait for the camera to connect to your Wi-Fi and display live video
  8. Place the camera in its final location
  9. Configure the settings, such as motion detection regions and notifications

Tips for installing a security camera

Don’t drill any holes or mount your camera before you’ve set it up and got it working. It’s best to plug it in near your router to start with, then move it to the room or position you want to monitor later. That way you can check there’s a strong enough Wi-Fi signal.

This is especially important for outdoor cameras where you will need both a power source – ideally a waterproof outdoor socket – and a strong Wi-Fi signal.

It is also well worth getting someone to hold the camera in the desired position to check that it will give you the view you need. Lenses play a big part here as they determine the field of view: some offer a wider angle than others.

If you are installing outdoor cameras, be sure to abide by all local laws concerning privacy and – if necessary – put up appropriate signage to warn visitors to your property that they may be recorded. The usual CCTV in operation signs are widely available.

Don’t attempt to conceal or hide the cameras. Their presence acts as a deterrent to thieves.

Position is important for any camera. Obviously mount it so it can cover the area you want to monitor, but bear in mind that pointing it at a window could lead to false notifications of movement, and sunlight streaming in and shining directly at the camera can render the footage useless.

The same goes for outdoor cameras, which should ideally be mounted in a sheltered spot out of the rain. They may be water-resistant, but water on the lens will reduce the amount of detail you can see.