This article is written for those that purchased their home security cameras and are running into some installation problems. Most of the tips provided in this article apply to the popular cameras like Nest Cam, Samsung SmartCam and Flir FX, as well as many other brands. There are all sorts of issues that can be encountered when hooking up a new home security camera.
This article will attempt to address some of the most common installation problems. Most suggestions apply to all wireless home security cameras regardless of model.
We previously wrote detailed reviews on these cameras if you would like to read all about them while you’re here:
Nest Cam Review
FLIR FX HD Portable Security Camera Review
Samsung SmartCam HD Plus Review
Power Cable Too Short
The most common problems have to do with power. I suppose there’s some analysis that goes into it, but the typical cable length that I see with a home security camera is 6-10 feet. The Nest Cam has a ten foot cable. The Samsung SmartCam has an 8 foot cable. That may not be long enough to attach to wall outlet.
While I suppose you can buy a traditional bulky extension cord, that’s going to look, well, bulky.
Consider the 20 Foot USB Cable for Nest Cam which would double the length of the one from Nest. This cable has a USB ending on one end, mini USB on the other. A lot of other cameras use this same cable type. Others do not use a micro USB cable. For example, the Samsung SmartCam doesn’t use a micro USB so it’s going to need a common extension cord.
Of course, you can also go a completely different route. The Blink Home Security Camera System is a wireless camera that uses batteries instead an AC outlet.
Weak Wireless Signal
One of the most common installation problems when installing a wireless home security camera is a weak wireless signal. You have it all hooked up and the signal isn’t strong enough to stream any meaningful video. This problem can become especially bothersome with a 1080p HD camera like the Nest Cam or Arlo Q.
It might be time for a wireless extender. This device will be located halfway between your wireless router and camera. The purpose of a wireless extender is to extend the distance of your wireless signal. These devices can connect to a wall adapter or sit on a table. I like the ones that actually mount to the outlet. They don’t sit on a table or stand on a desk. These conveniently mount right to the power outlet.
The wireless extender is going to connect to your wireless router and then create a secondary network name with a newly boosted signal. The wireless extender will use a different network name versus the router. Your wireless home security camera will connect to that device instead of the router. It may add some latency to the live video feed but it beats having no video at all.
I have used the Netgear N600 Wall Plug Version Wi-Fi Range Extender and it helped immensely. What was a very weak signal outside my home is now as strong as the one I get inside the house. It solved my connectivity problem completely. This extender supports a 2.4 and 5 GHz network although you might be able to use one that just supports 2.4 GHz. This is because few home security cameras support the 5 GHz band.
I have two properties. One is located in New Jersey where I use Cablevision’s Optimum service. The other is located in Florida where we have Comcast. Guess which one was a problem? Yup, Comcast. The cameras, and in fact all wireless devices, would drop out and then stay dropped out. Not good for an absentee owner. I found the hard way that Home Security Cameras + Comcast = Installation Problems.
Turns out some of the equipment provided by an ISP is limited in terms of connectivity. That was the case with the Comcast wireless router. Turns out this is a common issue. You may need to replace the modem and router. Not that hard to do and over the long term will save money. This is because you are likely paying $10-$15 monthly to rent the Comcast wireless router. Spening some money to fix a problem then saving money on my bill seemed like an easy decision and it was.
I replaced the modem with an ARRIS SURFboard SB6121 DOCSIS 3.0 Cable Modem. This works just like the one from Comcast only it doesn’t drop connections, and in fact, might be faster. When connecting it, be sure that you have online access to your account to let Comcast know the serial number of the new modem. You can also call them to provide the details. Make sure they enter it onto to your account. I had to call a few times to get them to do it correctly.
On the router end, I use the Netgear Nighthawk AC1900 Dual Band Wi-Fi Gigabit Router. This is a great router. It was so great, I even installed it in my New Jersey home where I wasn’t having any issues. I have in excess of a ten wireless connections going simultaneously and it never dropped a connection. The router has a lot of nice features that have little to do with your home security camera like support of Apple AirPrint so that you can print directly from your iPhone or iPad. You may also notice a significant improvement in speed.
Between the modem and router replacement, no problems at all in two years of use. I even installed this for a friend who had similar issues with Comcast and her connection is also flawless. There are a variety of modem and router configurations that will solve your installation problems. These are the two that worked for me.
So these are three of the most common installation problems that I have encountered. I was able to fix them using the techniques described in this article. You will need to evaluate your circumstance to ensure my tips will help your situation. As I run into more issues (which I hope I don’t), I will be sure to update this article.
All of these articles are written by someone (me) that figured out how to do this stuff the hard way. I have owned and tested dozens of cameras. Manufacturer support varies. There are a few good companies that provide timely answers when you have questions. There are several that sell you the camera and seem to have little interest in post sales support (which leads me to finding out stuff the hard way).