Trail cameras feature motion sensors capable of activating photo or video recording modes, allowing a photographer or a hunter to see whether an animal has been in the area without physically being present.
Those same features have found an additional niche in the domain of home security. Strategically-placed, they can record human movement and significantly augment a home’s security setup.
However, many thieves will not hesitate to disable, steal, or even destroy cameras they can reach, either while casing the house or just before entry. Learn how to hide your trail cams properly, so they are as effective as possible.
Why a Trail Camera?
At first glance, a wildlife camera used for watching animals for hunting or photography may not seem like a good fit for a home security setup. Yet, they possess many advantageous features that can improve your home surveillance system.
A trail camera features heavy-duty housing, so it is well-protected against weather and the elements, making it suitable for outdoor and indoor use. Knowing how to hide a trail cam for home security allows you to watch your home and the outside of your property efficiently and discreetly.
Most trail cams can take photos and videos, complete with a timestamp. Typical models record to a local storage medium, such as an SD card, although some more advanced models may connect to a Wi-Fi network and send you the images directly to your smartphone in real-time.
What Features Should I Look For in a Home Security Trail Cam?
If you intend to use a trail cam for home security, choosing models with the right features is essential to ensure their efficacy and preserve them from being spotted, disabled, or even stolen or destroyed by potential thieves.
- High Image Quality
Like any camera intended for security, it needs to record at a sufficiently high definition to recognize facial features in both photo and video modes.
The photo recording mode should output images with a resolution of at least 16 megapixels (roughly 4920×3264).
For video recording, you need a camera capable of outputting Full High-Definition (Full HD) video or better. The resolution of a Full HD video camera is 1080p (1920×1080), and it should not be confused with HD Ready models, which only output 720p (1280×720).
If you can afford a model capable of higher resolutions than recommended, don’t hesitate. The higher the quality, the more useful they are for recognizing potential perpetrators.
- No Glow
No-glow trail cameras feature infrared flash, invisible to the naked eye, and ideal for capturing images in low-light conditions. With no visible flash, your camera remains undetected even as intruders come into view.
- High Motion Sensor Range
The trail camera’s range motion sensor refers to two different factors: the angle of view and the distance between the lens and the target.
Quality trail cams should have a motion detection range of at least 40 ft. with a 90° field of view. A wider field of view is not necessarily useful as a very wide-angle lens can produce a fish-eye effect, but a longer detection range is always better.
- Real-time Notifications
Advanced trail camera models can be configured to send a notification to your smartphone when the motion detector activates, giving you peace of mind and letting you know when someone (or something) is approaching your property within seconds of it happening.
- Other Desirable Features
Consider how long the camera records video when the motion detector trips; some record as low as 10 seconds, while others go as high as 90 seconds. Some models may also record audio, which can be invaluable for recording evidence.
Hiding Your Trail Cam for Home Security
When you know how to hide a trail cam for home security, you can set up a more effective security system that not only records and alerts you to activity but can also deter potential intruders. Depending on where you want to install your camera, you have multiple options on where and how to hide it. Many of these techniques are inspired by how hunters conceal their trail cams for watching wildlife.
- Mount Them High
When hunters mount their cameras high on a tree, they exploit the fact that deer cannot detect movement above the horizon very well.
Surprisingly, the same method is also relatively effective on humans. We tend not to look up when walking or looking for something in particular, making high-mounted cameras harder to find than low-mounted ones.
Installing your camera at least 10 ft. above the ground reduces the chances of detection.
- Camo Matters
Of course, it doesn’t matter how high you mount the trail cam if it sticks out from the environment.
The right camouflage for your camera depends on where you install it. You can use paint or buy cameras with realistic foliage camo patterns to match the local background.
For extra effectiveness, consider using additional concealment methods. You can conceal your camera inside an innocuous-looking outdoor fixture, such as an old birdhouse or a nest box.
If you mounted your camera on a tree, consider hiding it behind camouflage meshing, branches, leaves, bushes, and other foliage, giving it a sort of ghillie suit to match its environment.
- Location, Location, Location
The best way to make sure intruders aren’t going to find your camera is to place it in a difficult-to-reach location, such as under roof eaves and soffits, concealed in PVC piping or fake rocks, hidden inside or around roof gutters, or disguised inside porch lights.
- The Value of Decoys
If you know you have a trespasser problem, or if your area is known for camera theft or destruction, you may need to use decoy cameras to catch the perpetrators in the act and obtain valuable evidence to help local law enforcement.
A decoy camera doesn’t even have to be functional; if you can find an old, broken, or otherwise unusable model, it can fit the role of a decoy.
Place your decoy camera in a relatively obvious spot, somewhere where a potential thief would expect a camera. Then, place and hide one of your real trail cams so that it watches the decoy.
You can also install cable locks or other bracketing devices to make it seem like the decoy is the real camera, which can occupy potential thieves and stall them as they try to cut or pick the lock.
With a little luck, your real trail camera will be able to capture images of trespassers tampering with your decoy, allowing you to gather evidence that can be presented to your local police or sheriff’s department.
The Last Word
Trail cameras are excellent additions to any home security setup; they’re already designed for concealment and come with durable features that make them ideal for outdoor use. Following these guidelines allows you to watch more areas of your home or your property efficiently and with minimal risk, so you can protect what matters the most in your life.