For many people looking to set up a new security system on their property, the sole interest lies in the camera’s features. They look at the camera’s field of view, resolution, night vision quality, and audio, among other things crucial for efficient surveillance.
All these features are essential, but the one thing that ties the whole system together is the positioning of the cameras. So I wrote this article to answer one of the most asked surveillance questions, ie, Hidden Or Visible Security Cameras?
The positioning of your security cameras largely depends on how you want to use them. Hidden cameras are tiny and can easily be fixed within other objects or concealed by furniture and plants.
They are perfect if you want to record footage without the people on the property knowing they are being watched.
On the other hand, visible security cameras are bigger and can be mounted in various places to give a better viewpoint and broaden the camera’s range.
In addition, they provide clearer images than the tiny hidden cameras. However, you can only use visible security cameras if you’re willing to sacrifice the idea of secret surveillance.
There’s a lot to unpack about security cameras and their positioning. So in this article, I’ve discussed all the benefits and disadvantages of using visible and hidden security cameras on your property. I’ll also show you the best places to install security cameras for the best view of your space.
Let’s get started!
What Is Security Camera?
A security camera is a video recording device designed to capture footage of people’s activities to detect and prevent crimes. It allows property owners to monitor their property, whether they are there or not.
There are two types of security cameras; wired and wireless.
Wired security cameras have power and video transmission cables connected to an on-site storage device. The devices most commonly used for storage are Digital Video Recorders (DVR) or Network Video Recorders (NVR).
These camera types do not use Wi-Fi, but you can connect them to the internet using an ethernet cable for remote viewing.
On the other hand, wireless security cameras use Wi-Fi signals to transmit surveillance footage to a cloud-based internet server. They are often called “smart cameras” because you control them using an app on your smartphone, and you can integrate them with other smart home devices.
However, you should know that most wireless cameras are not entirely wireless because you need a power cable to plug them into ac power. Rechargeable batteries power security cameras that are entirely wireless.
Whether you buy wired or wireless cameras, you can have them professionally installed. Hiring a professional is especially important when installing outdoor wired security cameras to ensure they are positioned and installed correctly.
Most wireless cameras are simple to set up, requiring that you only have a drill and a ladder. For that reason, they are usually referred to as DIY security cameras. Remember, some wireless security cameras need electricity for power; therefore, an outlet must be near the installation point.
Is It Better to Have Cameras In Open View or Hidden?
Whether you choose to install hidden or open-view security cameras depends on where and why you’re installing the system in the first place. Each camera position has benefits and limitations that make it more suitable for some situations than others.
Here, I’ll discuss the benefits of hidden and open-view cameras to help you make an informed choice.
Benefits of Open View Security Cameras
- Visible Cameras Discourage Criminals
Visible security cameras are a perfect deterrent for criminal and other shady activities. For any potential perpetrator, the goal is to steal or vandalize property without being seen. So, when they see a camera surveillance system, most perps look for other targets to remain on the safe side.
However, some bolder people will wear a mask and try to disable the security cameras. If you buy generic kinds of cameras, your property won’t stand a chance.
Therefore, I recommend always purchasing open-view cameras with vandal-proof features like metal housings. In addition, always install the camera a little further from the ground where it is hard to reach. This way, the perps will have a hard time circumventing the system.
- Visible Cameras Give a Better View
Installing visible cameras shows that you are not worried about hiding the surveillance of your property. This openness gives you limitless choices of places to install the cameras. You can put them at any corner or height of the property, provided nothing obscures the view of the property.
Benefits of Hidden Security Cameras
- They Offer Discreet Surveillance
The most significant benefit of hiding your cameras is that no one knows it’s there! The devices are small, allowing you to conceal them in unlikely, well-placed mounting points that won’t be disturbed.
Consequently, the culprits won’t know they’re being watched, allowing you to catch them in the act or identify them after the fact. Hidden cameras are also highly popular as nanny cams that let you watch your kids or pets when you’re away.
- They Are the Best Option Where Property Aesthetics Matter
You may want to install cameras on your property but don’t want to ruin its aesthetic. Take the inside of a home, for instance. You may want to watch your pets or kids while you’re away, but nobody wants to see a large camera peeking from the corner of a house.
This is where hidden cameras save the day. You can place a camera on a clock, a
bookshelf, a vase, or a hidden corner with a good vantage point of the living space. This way, you don’t have to compromise your preferred decor arrangements to accommodate a camera.
So, Which One Is Better?
As we have seen, the strength of one camera position is the weakness of the other. Therefore, there’s no sure way to pinpoint the best option. However, I often recommend using hidden and visible cameras to exploit their strengths and eliminate their weaknesses.
Where Is the Best Place to Put a Security Camera?
After purchasing your home security camera, the next thing to consider is where to put them. It would have been easy if there was a one-size-fits-all rule for where to place security cameras. However, everyone’s security priorities differ, and house and yard layouts vary from home to home.
I want to discuss all the best spots to set up security cameras in your house. This way, you can identify the best camera placements that align with your home’s layout and security vulnerabilities.
The Best Spots to Put a Security Camera Are:
Outside the Front Door
The front door is the main entrance to your home and should always be protected. Many intruders often use the main house door because the confidence of it all makes passersby not suspect them. The front door is also where package thieves strike, so a security camera is necessary.
Outside the Side and Back Doors.
The back and side entrances usually allow you to enter and leave your home without being detected. And, unfortunately, intruders also piggyback on the idea. Always install security cameras on the secondary entrances, especially the ones you use as much as your front door.
Outside the Garage, Pointing to the Driveway
Burglars target garages because they are usually the most accessible entry points in most homes. They also hold many expensive tools and equipment that could fetch a few good dollars.
Placing a camera outside your garage door will help you monitor your sports equipment, grills, cars, and anyone that handles them. If your garage is attached to the main house, the camera will be an additional security to another potential entry point for burglars.
A Camera Pointing Toward the Yard
Monitoring your yard, especially the backyard, will keep an eye out for anyone lurking around the house. It also comes in handy for capturing the activities of your kids and pets when you’re not with them.
Common Areas Indoors
Setting up cameras in gathering areas like the living room and kitchen is a great way to keep tabs on what’s happening around the house. You’ll know what the kids are up to, or you can use it to check on cleaners and maintenance people while you’re out.
Ensure that you also prioritize rooms that have large windows that are floor-level. That way, you’ll see if anyone tampers with them or uses them as an entry point.
Along the Hallway or Main Stairway
Placing cameras in the main access routes around your house will make it difficult for anyone to move about undetected. If someone uses an unmonitored area to break in, the camera will still capture them as they move.
Places Where You Shouldn’t Install Security Cameras
Spots that Violate Your Neighbors’ Privacy
The specific laws on cameras and privacy vary from state to state, so check local laws to know your limits. However, homeowners can generally set up security cameras on their property, provided the camera’s view does not extend to the neighbors.
You could have legal problems if your cameras can see through the neighbors’ bedrooms or other private areas. So, when scouting for a place to put your cameras, consider the direction of your neighbor’s home.
Your Bedrooms and Bathrooms
The urge to keep tabs on kids and older folk in your household is normal. However, limit your surveillance to common areas and leave out the areas where everyone deserves some privacy.
Guidelines For Security Camera Placements
After Identifying the perfect spots to install your cameras, it’s time to strategize how to get excellent camera visibility and function.
Guidelines for Outdoor Security Camera Installation
- Install all outdoor cameras at least 8-10 feet from the ground. At this height, the camera is low enough to capture fine details and still out of reach for thieves and vandals.
- Don’t point the cameras directly at the sun because the bright light will cause a glare and high contrast in the footage. Such a contrast will make it hard to make out details in the security footage. So consider how the sunlight hits your house and angle the cameras accordingly.
- Even though the most popular outdoor security cameras have ample water and weather-proofing, they are not all the same. Some extra protection would go a long way in avoiding damage. Therefore protect your cameras from the elements by installing them under eaves or any other semi-protected area.
Here’s How to Install Outdoor Security Camera:
Guidelines for Indoor Security Camera Installation
- Install your security cameras in corners to get the broadest possible vantage point.
- Face your cameras away from windows because it causes reflection and degrades the image quality. Many security cameras have Infrared light technology that aids in detecting motion and allows the camera to function in low light. When this light reflects off a window, it washes out the images, especially those taken at night.
- If you must point the camera out the window, take glare-minimizing measures to ensure the images remain crisp. You can position the camera as close to the glass as possible or backlight the outdoor area to reduce glare.
- Angle your security camera so your household lamps and light fixtures do not wash out the footage.
What Are the Disadvantages of Hidden Cameras?
The footage of hidden cameras has helped solve many crimes over the years. They capture real, unrefutable evidence and are increasingly becoming the primary way to protect personal property.
Despite their benefits, hidden cameras also have crucial disadvantages you can’t ignore. Here are some of the major ones:
Hidden Cameras Often Cause Privacy Concerns
Invasion of privacy is the number one problem of hidden cameras. For instance, having hidden cameras in your office or workplace could make some employees feel violated. You may cross some lines without knowing it and open yourself up to legal action.
So, always check your local legal policies to ensure you’re not breaching anyone’s privacy before installing hidden cameras.
They Are Illegal or Restricted In Some Areas
People always have a high potential to use hidden cameras for illegal and criminal activities. For this reason, many countries allow their use under strict restrictions or make it illegal.
For instance, it is illegal to use hidden cameras to record people without consent in many states in the United States. However, some states, like New York, allow their use only for security purposes and with strict restrictions on audio recording.
Their Features Have More Limitations Than REgular Security Cameras.
Hidden cameras often produce lower-quality images compared to other types of camera systems. These cameras often have smaller sensors because they are tiny and designed for discreetness. In addition, they usually capture footage from a small pin-hole opening, limiting their field of view.
For this reason, the clarity of footage from hidden cameras cannot match that of regular security cameras. Moreover, the restrictions on audio recording make any poorly recorded footage unusable.
Quality Hidden Cameras are Costly
Some hidden camera brands shoot in high-quality resolutions like 1080p Full HD or 4k UHD. However, those gadgets are often expensive to purchase and maintain. Most of them require a memory card or an expensive subscription to cloud storage.
What Is the Best Field of View for Security cameras?
When purchasing a security camera system, Field of View (FOV) is listed as part of the camera’s specs. It is not a feature you can ignore or take lightly because your choice determines how well your camera “sees” your property.
But what exactly is a field of view?
A camera’s field of view, aka viewing angle, refers to how much the camera can see from the 180° in front of it. It is closely connected to the camera’s lens size. The bigger the camera’s lens, the smaller the field of view and the more detail you’ll capture.
An excellent example of this action can be demonstrated using your smartphone’s camera. Open the camera and point it at anything in front of you.
You’ll notice that the camera “sees” part of the scene but not everything. If you zoom in on something, you’ll be able to see better detail, but you’ll have a lesser portion of the entire scene on the screen.
Sometimes you may want a wide field of view, and other times a narrow one is best. So you must pick a camera with suitable specs for your needs.
That said, What is the best viewing angle for security cameras?
A camera’s field of view breaks down into five main categories.
- Superwide angle
- Super Telephoto
I’ll discuss their differences and the best times to use each to help you make an informed choice.
Superwide-angle (aka ultra-wide)
- Suitable for surveilling a wide area
- Too wide that the footage image isn’t detailed
A superwide-angle FOV captures the full 180° in front of it, although some can see 360° around them. The angles may sound ideal from a security standpoint, but there’s a catch.
A superwide-angle camera tends to warp the images and creates a fish-eye effect like the one you see when you look through a peephole. They are helpful when you want to monitor as much of the scene as possible, but you must be content with subpar detail and blurriness.
This field of view is often favored for backyard and parking lot cameras.
Wide-angle Field of View
- The best angle for security cameras
- It provides a broad view with fine details
A wide-angle FOV usually ranges between 60°-110° or a little more.
Cameras with this viewing angle sacrifice coverage for footage with better detail. This makes a wide-angle one of the best viewing angles for security cameras.
When you experiment with the security camera’s placement, you can reduce or eliminate blind spots caused by the reduced field of view. For instance, a wide-angle camera mounted in the high corner of a room will capture 90% of the scene.
On the other hand, a camera mounted in the middle of the wall will have blind spots on both sides.
Standard Angle Field of View
- The FOV for most cameras
- Excellent for surveilling small rooms and spaces.
As the name suggests, this is the FOV of most security cameras. Such cameras have a viewing angle of about 25°-60°; therefore, they only capture 1/3 of the scene at most. However, their shots are more precise and detailed because objects and people appear closer to the camera.
Regarding security, a standard angle camera can be quite effective in small rooms or if you only want to monitor a specific section of the overall scene.
Telephoto Field of View
- Not ideal for security cameras
A telephoto FOV is a viewing angle between 10°-25° and is not helpful for security purposes. The camera only sees a tiny portion of the overall scene despite the images being crisp and detailed.
This field of view is ideal for zooming in on a particular object and capturing full details. However, you can’t use it to monitor a room or outdoor space efficiently.
Super-telephoto Field of View
- Not ideal for security cameras
This highly zoomed-in FOV is usually used by photographers and journalists who want to capture stunning detail from afar. They are perfect for wildlife photography and paparazzi shenanigans.
With its viewing angle of 1°-10°, this field of view won’t capture anything substantial, leaving your property as vulnerable as before. You’d have to hole that the intruders happened to walk through that narrow field of view by sheer luck.
A lot of thought goes into installing a camera security system. You must determine everything from the camera’s field of view to other audio and motion sensors.
Even if you get all these things accurately, you will only get the highest functionality from your cameras with the correct placement. And the main detail that people want to know is:
Hidden Or Visible Security Cameras?
You should hide your security cameras if you want the surveillance to be discreet. However, you must be ready to deal with potential image obstructions from the items you use to hide the cameras.
Visible security cameras are the perfect choice if you want to be more transparent about monitoring your property. On top of collecting footage, the mere cameras’ presence will discourage intruders from trying to enter your property illegally.
Thank you for reading this article. Hopefully, it has helped you decide on the ideal placement of your security cameras. Please reach out in the comments if you need clarification or have more information to share.