Working in security, I have found that more people are requesting their security cameras to be hidden because of increasing levels of vandalism and theft. Learning how to Hide a camera outside can be challenging. But, with the right planning, you can have an undetectable surveillance system.
Hiding cameras is not commonly done for security cameras because thieves and burglars being able to see the security camera has been proven to be an effective deterrent, hence the rise of the fake security camera market. However, if your main concern is vandalism or theft or a potential burglar damaging the cameras, this is a great way to prevent these issues.
Below are some of my favorite methods to hide security cameras outside.
1. Hide Security Cameras near Trees/Bushes
A lot of leaves and tree branches can help hide a security camera. Trees are incredibly busy objects that may be visual overload and a perfect place to hide the camera.
The only thing to keep in mind if using a tree is that you should make sure that the camera is either a camouflage color like green or painted to conceal it.
The next issue becomes the wiring, which can be easily sorted by running the wires through the tree and ground and painting them the color of the trunk and grass. The closer the tree is, the lower the cost of wires.
2. Paint / Camouflage Cameras or Use a Trail Camera
This method is a little less effective, but it does help. If, for example, your security camera is mounted on a brick wall, it may be best for you to paint it the darker color red of the bricks. This can help camouflage the security camera to a certain extent. It will be camouflage when someone first looks at the camera or the wall, but if someone is more observant, they can easily spot this; that is why this solution offers minimal protection.
This solution is great, though, for hiding wires, wires from a security camera should be painted whichever color of the wall they are put on as best practice since this can hide them and make unsightly wires less intrusive.
When painting the camera, remember to put painter’s tape over the lens before you start painting because any paint that gets on the lens can potentially damage it, and scraping it off later can leave scrape marks that reduce image quality.
After you remove the painter’s tape, clean the lens with a small mixture of rubbing alcohol and a lint-free cloth. Likewise, when painting the wires, ensure there is no open connection that you accidentally paint.
3. Disguise Outdoor Cameras in Birdhouses
This one is a classic. It is simple and effective. You put your security camera within a birdhouse and run the wires out of the back. There is one thing to keep in mind, and that is camera reflection.
When a camera is walled in or too close to other items, it often begins to have a white reflection, especially if it’s an IR night vision camera, so make sure it’s protruding enough not to cause issues but deep enough not to be seen. This can be a fine art and needs testing to get the position perfectly right.
4. Put Security Cameras Behind Glass Windows
This is a great option. When you hide your camera behind a glass window, the glare or reflection from the window can hide the camera perfectly and remove the person’s ability to tamper with the camera.
Sometimes people will spraypaint cameras or destroy them before thefts, and this is a great option to keep them secure as a second layer of protection.
One thing to remember is if you have an IR night vision camera, the window will prevent the night vision from working as it will impede the LED from properly bouncing IR night vision frequency through its shutter. This may not be a good option if you’re looking for effective night vision.
5. Use PVC Pipes to Hide Wires
This solution mainly hides wires, but some creative people have cameras in larger pipes. A PVC pipe is one of the most utilized items in home improvement, and it’s almost impossible to know exactly what the house is using it for because of how common they are.
For example, the pipe can be potential drainage for an air conditioning system or contain wiring from a cable system. You never know. That’s why they are perfect for hiding your wires. (1)
There are many ways to use the pipe, like mounting it over your house, or if your camera is farther away, like in a tree, you can dig the pipe under your lawn to completely hide the wires and protect them from any insects or corrosion.
6. Hide a Camera Inside a Rock Or Gnome
Regarding hiding your security camera within a rock, some outdoor security cameras on sale come disguised as a rock with a camera inside (you weren’t going to try to hollow out a rock were you? :)).
For the garden gnome, you may have to do it yourself and put a camera expressly in it while placing the camera inside and creating an opening within the gnome’s eyes to accommodate the lens.
7. Hide a Camera Inside a Clay Pot
For a clay pot camera to work, you need to ensure that you don’t expose the camera to water or dirt, which could neutralize its functionality.
A good method to do this would be to hollow out a certain area of the plot and create a housing for the camera there where water or dirt will not be able to damage it.
Once you have hollowed out that certain area, you can place the camera inside and create a small circular opening for the lens. You can easily design or paint around it to make it look like the lens is part of the Pot’s design.
8. Use a Doorbell Camera
There are new doorbell models that have a built-in camera. These are perfect for recording anything in front of your house and are pretty well concealed since some come in incredibly small designs that most would not suspect being recording devices.
The one thing to keep in mind with these is that you have a very limited field of vision, and if someone chooses to rob your house from the back, they will not be as effective.
9. Use Light Bulb Cameras
This method involves a special spy camera purchase, a security camera built into a light. These lights act as both lighting and recording devices. They are built to offer HD camera features while using power from the connection of the light fixture.
Interestingly, they have a small lens within the light and are not very easy to spot. They offer great features like wifi and remote viewing and are becoming more advanced every year.
Why Should I Not Hide My Security Camera?
Studies have shown that security cameras that are obvious and can be easily seen act as a deterrent to crime in many instances.
A lot of this involves the psychology of a robber and then being able to see the camera causing them to target another house or use more caution towards your house because of the added protection.
Studies have even shown that something as simple as a small LED red light that shows the cameras on can also deter robbers and cause these houses to be targeted 1% less than other houses. These benefits may be small but may add up over time, so hiding your security camera may not be the best decision. (2)
Is it legal to hide security cameras or use a hidden security camera?
Do you need a permit? How long is the hidden camera allowed to be there, etc.?
The legality of this topic will depend on the state and country in which you live. For example, in most states, it is legal to conceal a security camera in the United States as long as it doesn’t affect any health and safety laws or rights. However, some states may require an official permission letter from the property owner where the hidden camera is placed. Also, videos can be removed on request by citizens.
What about using fake/decoy security cameras?
Fake security cameras have many uses and benefits for different people. For instance, they can deter crime in a business or private property. However, they should not be used as a replacement for real security cameras. Always take precautionary measures when using them since you are not protecting your property but only taking advantage of deterrent effects.
(1) PVC pipe – https://www.dummies.com/home-garden/plumbing/pipes/how-to-recognize-different-types-of-pipes/
(2) LED – https://www.britannica.com/technology/LED
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