Planning Your Security Camera Placement

Before pulling the trigger on a security camera purchase it’s a good idea to have a think about the future state of your home surveillance setup. Even if you’re not planning to go for full coverage right away, knowing the potential end state will ensure you’re not wasting money having to replace or relocate cameras to fix coverage gaps later.

The resulting camera placement plan will drive decisions around camera specifications, so the two go hand in hand when looking for which models to buy.

Keep in mind that video doorbells used near exterior doors or in the porch area can be used as part of the overall coverage plan. This is particularly useful if you have a recessed porch area that would be obscured from other cameras.

Camera Placement Considerations

  1. Coverage area

  2. Mounting surface

  3. Mounting height

Camera Specifications Impacted

  1. Camera field of view

  2. Cabling requirements

  3. Required weather resistance

Camera Field of View

The following diagrams use 90° fields of view for the cameras for simplicity of illustration. Most security cameras will have lenses that provide 110° - 130° which helps provide overlap and approach coverage around minor obstructions. Very wide angle lenses (160° - 180°) should be avoided unless the required coverage area is fairly close to the camera, such as a side fence situation. Wide angles compress the image further away from the camera and make it hard to discern any detail.

Coverage Area

The primary objective here is to position your cameras to minimize blind spots and to ensure no camera can be approached and attacked without the intruder being seen. This can be by the camera itself or by another camera. This will obviously depend largely on the shape of your home and the nature of the approaches to it. There are a number of common approaches to achieve this, each with pros and cons.

Corner-to-Corner Placement

The easiest solution is to have a camera placed on each outside corner of the building facing towards the next camera in a circular fashion. Each camera is covered by one other, and you have full 360° coverage of the surrounding property. The main issue with this approach is that many houses are not a simple rectangle. You may also have obstructions in the yard that would require some additional coverage to watch the approaches effectively.

This is a good starting point which you can then augment with other placement options below to work around the structural variations and obstructions in your specific situation.

Top-down view of a corner-to-corner camera placement

Corner to corner plan - Each camera at 45° towards the next

Inside Corner Placement

This option is a natural complement to the corner-to-corner approach any time you have an inside-corner situation. It can provide the approach coverage for one of more corner cameras while needing no additional coverage for itself as it cannot be approached unseen.

It’s not necessary to use this placement for every inside corner if one of the other cameras can adequately cover any approaches. For example, in the diagram below a corner camera on the top-right facing the Living Room would provide sufficient cover along the top side of the house. While a small section behind the corner leading to the rear garage door would be obscured, the approaches are still completely covered.

Top-down view of a corner placed camera

An inside-corner placement covering the front of the garage.

Back-to-Back Placement

Where you have long walls that need to be covered, a single corner camera may not provide sufficient detail at the far end. In these cases you can use either this back-to-back method or the cross coverage method below. The obstructions in the yard and arrangement of windows and doors will dictate which placement method provides the most practical and optimal coverage.

Top-down diagram of a back-to-back camera arrangement on the wall of a house

Back-to-back camera placement preventing blind spots from the center of the wall.

Cross Coverage Placement

Cross coverage placement provides complete approach coverage where corner mounting is not practical. Cameras can be positioned part way along the wall while still covering each other. Care needs to be taken to keep the distance between the cameras small enough such that the far side has adequate image detail to be useful. With a typical 90°-120° field of view, this is around 5-7m (15-20ft).

Top-down diagram of opposing cameras in a cross coverage placement

Cross coverage placement where each camera can watch the rear approach to the other.

Mid-Wall Placement

Mounting a single camera midway along a wall is generally the least preferable method, but there can be situations where it might be necessary. Using a camera with a wide-angle lens can compensate for the field of view, but this should be done with caution as the resulting ‘fisheye’ effect severely compresses the image towards the edges and in the distance. This hobbles its usefulness for identifying people or seeing any detail as to what is happening, so should only be used in confined spaces like recessed porches or narrow walkways.

Mid-wall placement. Typical cameras will be left exposed to the sides.

Mounting Surface

While security cameras always have some degree of weather resistance, long exposure to extreme heat, moisture and UV can result in reduced service life. Lens-flare from direct sunlight can also severely impact what the camera can see at certain times of day. For these reasons it’s best to mount cameras under cover whenever possible.

Positioning the camera under a soffit or eave will provide this added protection and allow for running cables to the location in most cases. Ease of access for cable management is a valid consideration and should factor into the overall plan so that each camera has the easiest installation possible. If cabling is not possible in some cases, battery-powered cameras can provide coverage in those locations.

Mounting Height

For most home security installations without long sight lines it is recommended by most manufacturers to mount the cameras between 2 and 3 meters above ground (8-15ft). This height ensures clear visibility of facial details and allows smart person detection algorithms to work correctly.

Mounting higher may sometimes be necessary due to obstructions or structural limitations but be aware that the steeper field of view may not be able to see faces or detect motion correctly if using those smart features. Cameras that offer continuous recording won’t be affected by the motion detection issue, but the need to identify faces is still a consideration.

For properties with larger areas to cover, opting for a PTZ (pitch/tilt/zoom) camera in a higher position will provide better surveillance over the wider space, with increasing distance demanding a higher position for best results.

Max Distance Camera Height
0-30m 2-3m
30-100m 3-6m
100-300m 6-10m

Learn more about planning and installing your security cameras with our camera guide library.

David Mead

David Mead is an IT infrastructure professional with over 20 years of experience across a wide range of hardware and software systems, designing and support technology solutions to help people solve real problems. When not tinkering with technology, David also enjoys science fiction, gaming, and playing drums.


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