Recently I bought my very first CCTV system consisting of 4 cameras and a DVR system which provided both live viewing and recorded all the video footage to a 1 TB hard disk drive that you could download to a USB stick or directly to a PC.
Not wanting to spend a fortune, I went for a budget system called the HomeGuard Pro HD 720p, which provided (as the name suggests) 720p HD video footage.
The HomeGuard Pro HD 720p cost me £185 (including p&p), and contained 4 fairly small black coloured day and night vision weatherproof cameras, a DVR box roughly the same size as a DVD player, 2 power cables (one for the box and one for the cameras), and roughly 60 feet of cable for each camera plus wall fixings. The only thing missing was a HDMI cable to connect the box to your TV.
Overall I was pleased with the video quality of the HomeGuard CCTV system, and the only major downside was the DVR box which had a rather noisy fan, a bit like an old desktop PC, which meant I ended up installing the box in my dining room and running a long 15 meter HDMI cable into the living room TV.
Was It Difficult to Install?
Well, for me personally it wasn't a straightforward task. Setting up the DVR box was easy, but it's the installation of the cameras themselves that can be both difficult and time-consuming. Of course, the difficulty level will depend on your DIY skill level, the layout of your house and whether you need a heavy duty drill and a ladder.
As already mentioned, the kit I bought containing 4 cameras. 2 cameras were installed on the front of the house, 1 in the garage and the last one on the back of the house.
My house has had an small extension and garage built on it with a sloping roof complete with fascia board and guttering. So, the ideal place for me to install the 2 front cameras was on the fascia boards which are roughly 8 feet off the ground. I installed the 2 cameras directly to the left of the garage door by drilling 2 holes into the plastic fascia board and threading the cable up into the cavity, which i then pull through from the garage. This had 2 bonuses, one being that the cables would be completely hidden, but also that the cables terminals where they join to the longer piece of cable wouldn't need to be weatherproofed, since they wouldn't be exposed to the elements. The 2 cables then had to go through the garage wall directly into the dining room to the DVR box. This took quite a while to drill a hole since the wall was fairly thick.
The third camera was installed in the garage by simply screwing it to one of the wooden beams and running the cable down the beam to the wall, however it couldn't go through the same hole due to the annoying design of the cable.
Rather than the cable being one solid piece like a TV coaxial cable, it splits into two where you have a signal and power terminal, which in itself makes it difficult to thread through a cavity wall, but you also have the inconvenience of a very large lump of plastic, meaning you have to drill a bigger hole than the cable itself. So, the only option was to drill a second hole to get the cable into the dining room.
To get the cables through the wall, I used a thin piece of rigid garden wire to which I taped the cable to and then threaded it through.
The fourth and last camera was installed on the back of the house on the upper fascia board. Not particularly fond of heights, nor did I own a ladder, the only option was to stick my head out of the bathroom window and drill a hole through the fascia board, thread the cable up into the loft (or attic) and then connect the camera. This was undoubtably the most difficult one to install as the cable had to go on quite a long journey, from the loft, down through the plasterboard into the boiler room, then into the bedroom directly above the dining room, through the floorboards into the cupboard situated in the dining room, then underneath the carpet to the DVR box.
The good thing about installing the camera roughly 15 inches to the side of the bathroom window meant I could easily adjust it, rather than go up and down a ladder. It also means cleaning and general maintenance would be a lot easier.
To install all 4 cameras took me at least 25, if not 30 hours by the time I tidied up all the cables and made some adjustments. I also had to run the 15m HDMI cable from the box in the dining room to the living room TV, which involved modifying two carpet grippers so I could thread the cable underneath them. The entire job was done over a period of 3 weeks rather than 4 or 5 days.
You will also have quite a spaghetti junction of cables, since each camera requires a single cable which splits into two, one for the signal, and one for the power which is supplied by a separate power supply and a splitter. You then have the power supply for the box and of course the HDMI cable, plus an ethernet cable to connect it to your Internet router if you want to wirelessly stream footage to your PC.
So, is a outdoor CCTV system easy to install? The answer is no, but it will totally depend on where you place the cameras and the overall layout of your home.
Before you buy, you really need to plan out exactly how you intend to install it. Try to work out exactly where the cameras will go and whether the cables will go through the wall, along the wall or up through the fascia boards. Take your time and explore every option before you go ahead.
Tools you'll almost certainly need:
- Drill capable of drilling through an outdoor wall or fascia boards
- Appropriate drill bit
- Cable clips
- Cable ties
- Ladder or small step ladder