What IR-capable residential security cameras are inconspicuous?
March 6, 2014 12:28 AM   Subscribe

I'm interested in getting a few residential security cameras installed to cover our yard and car areas. Requirements are: ~40 feet night vision, decent motion detection, networked recording to central PC/DVR unit (either over WiFi or PoE power), no batteries, weatherproof, not easily stolen. There are plenty of cameras with good tech specs, but many of them look like warp engines. I imagine putting up giant cameras will not only piss off the neighbors, but serve as a giant ROB ME I HAVE STUFF sign. What exterior cameras are not only good but inconspicuous?

So far I've looked at:
nannycams - interior use only
game and trail cameras - inconspicuous, but mostly battery powered
costco security cameras - seems mostly targeted for conspicuous retail use

Any install tips to make the cameras less visible but also have a decent visual range would be appreciated.
posted by benzenedream to Home & Garden (3 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Some possibilities here, maybe.
posted by rongorongo at 4:30 AM on March 6, 2014

I've looked into adding some of these to our home also, and what I've learned is that there is a prevailing mindset that, like seeing a "secured by" sign in the yard, having a visible obvious camera will deter a criminal. But I also know that whenever I see one in my decent, relatively low crime neighborhood it makes me think "Hey why you watchin all of us/they must have something worth stealing" too.

That said my plans are to place the cameras where if you see them you are already poking your nose around. Like at the back of a carport looking at a fence gate, or the back corner of the house where it would catch someone coming around. Neither of which would be visible from the street, but if you jumped the fence I'm going to get a good picture of you.

You could always build a small enclosure and paint it to match the trim or something. Lots of cameras on Amazon of course, but I've never seen anything matching your requirements that is inconspicuous and not outrageously expensive.
posted by Big_B at 11:42 AM on March 6, 2014

If you expand your search to traditional PAL/NTSC cameras that are powered and hardwired, you'll find more possibilities and shapes for external mounting. There's just a lot more product there.

If you have a shed or garage, you have opportunities to mount a camera inside the structure behind an opening with a smoked plexiglass front to make it less conspicuous. Plexiglass passes IR light, which is what your camera will be using for night vision. You can also skimp on the toughness of the camera itself when kept out of the rain and wind.

You will find that if you open these cameras up, the enclosure itself is the part that keeps the internal components snug and dry. If you are project-inclined, you can take an inexpensive camera that will handle temperature and humidity changes, then transplant that into an outdoor NEMA enclosure that you then mount to your house or other structure. Instead of something shaped like a camera, you can keep it in something that looks like a telephone/cable/sprinkler timer box on the side of your house. The retail weatherproof cameras are really made for flexibility in mounting and positioning, thus the "bullet" or dome shape for most of them.

If you are not interested in a project, consider finding the least obtrusive camera and painting it to match your siding or mounting surface.

Regular outdoor motion-detecting lights will help your camera a great deal at night. If you really want the element of surprise against anyone without NV equipment, there are infrared floodlights you can use to increase the range and clarity of your camera's view at night. Those camera-mounted IR LEDs can use the help.
posted by graftole at 2:05 PM on March 6, 2014

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