Security Camera DIY Cabling

 

Safety First - Step back and have a tail-gate safety meeting, even if your running solo!

It's makes good sense to evaluate the risks and how to prevent any dangerous situation.

 

To install most networked (IP) security cameras you will need to run some cable, nearly all the cameras that Accent Alarms sells and recommend (at least new systems) use standard ethernet cabling. This is the same cable,using the same standards, used by computers, printers and other "networked" devices.   Installing (pulling) cabling is often the most time consuming part of camera installation and the variables are plentiful to say the least.  We will attempt to give you a few of the most common pieces of information to help you get your cable pulled.   If this task seems a bit overwhelming for you, you can often find an electrician who is willing to give you a hand, as a bonus your local electrician will be familiar with your local building/cabling codes.

We won't get too in depth here, there is plenty of information available on network cables on the net.  We will try to guide you towards what we have found works best based on our experience.

Cable Type

Ethernet cables are most broadly defined as CAT types.  The minium and most common cable suitable for camera/video systems is CAT5e, which supports speeds up to 1Gb/s and Power Over Ethernet (PoE).   Due to the time it takes to pull the cable, I recommend using CAT 6 cabling if your budget will allow it.  CAT 5e is currently the minimum and while I don't expect it to become outdated soon, I would always like to be as future proof as I can.

I also would avoid cable sold from big online resellers and big box stores, if the price seems to true then it's likely inferior cable.  You do NOT want to install cable only to find out that it does not meet the performance standards you need.   I've seen this first hand, and it not a good scenario.  They will likely either replace or refund the cost of the cable, but you will be redoing the labor it took to install it.   Our preferred brands of cable are General Cable (GenSpeed6) and Belden (Datatuff), but both of these manufactures are reputable and provide quality cables.

To Shield or Not

Once you decide to use CAT 5e or CAT 6 you will need to decide if you want shielded (metal braid protection for interference) or non-shielded.  There is no concrete answer to this.  Most ethernet cable, including commercial sites, is installed without shielded cable.  Some camera manufacturers specify that all outdoor cameras use shielded cable.  I have a client who has installed hundreds of outdoor cameras at industrial sites and they do not use shielded cable and it has never been an issue.   I also do use shielded cable for my wireless radios and cameras in close proximity to anything that may induce noise, it's the first thing their technical support group asks me if I call!

Cable Use (Plenum, PVC, Buried)

You will also need to determine the use of your cable.  Specifically if you have the cable running through a plenum you must use plenum cable and fasteners.  If you are burying the cable, you need cable that is meant to be buried.  The most common type is PVC, but be sure that you do not have plenum ceilings. 

A list of tools you will likely need and step-by-step directions for installing a security camera onto a stucco surface

Terminating

Once you have your cabling pulled you will need to put ends on them.  Often you will want to ensure that your cable is routed through your wall or to it's final destination before putting ends on the cable as the it will take a much smaller hole to get the cable through before putting the ends on it.   See our related page and video for additional information on terminating cables.

Protection

You can typically run your cable "wild" or without protection (check with your local codes) but it could be damaged.  Even when cable is run "wild" you do want to (by code) secure your cabling to rafters, joists, etc.  You can protect your cable using one of these methods:

  • Liquid Plastic Tubing
  • Flexible Metal Conduit (FMC) dry locations only
  • Electrical Metal Tubing (EMT)
  • Liquidtight Flexible Metal Tubing/Seal-tite (LFMC)

Be sure to check the applicable codes for use and the number of cables allowed within the type of conduit if used.

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