Security camera location in relation to flood lights


Active Member
My home's two "side walls" are gable ends. I want to put a security camera and security/flood light on each of the gable ends, but I haven't found guidance about how the cameras should be located with respect to the flood lights. I plan to mount both in an area about 12' - 15' above ground level.

What's the best way to locate them to lessen the chance of one interfering with the other, and hopefully complementing each other? For example, for nighttime camera viewing with the flood light on, is it best to have the camera above, below, or beside the light?

The flood light will not be dusk-to-dawn or motion sensitive. It will only be turned on/off by a switch in the house. I'm looking at LED wall packs and flood lights in the 3000 - 5000 lumen range. The IP PoE cameras will be hardwired, i.e., not wifi.

The problem with mounting the cameras that high is that your viewing angle will be very steep the closer the subject is to the camera. What that means is that you are not going to get good facial images when a subject is close to the camera - which is where the camera will provide the best images. As the person is farther away from the camera, you'll start to get a better facial shot, but unless the camera as some serious "zoom" capabilities, the images won't have enough clarity to be useful at that distance. It is far better to mount the cameras about head height so that you can get facial images. Criminals know to wear hats and hoodies for a reason - most cameras are placed far to high to be of any use.

Honestly depending on the camera, it probably has an DORI "identify" range of 15-20' max and that's it. If you camera is located 15' above the ground and the average person is 6' tall, this means that 9' of that "identify" range is lost from installation location. This means that even if the subject looks directly into the camera, you'll likely only be able to identify that subject if they are within about 10-12' from the gable wall which is extremely close. Placing the camera's at head height will extend that range out 15-20' which still isn't great (and why people should stop using wide angle cameras as the "end all, be all" of security cameras), plus you'll have better facial shots without requiring that the subject look up at the camera.

Basically placing the cameras that high will mean the cameras will be worthless if you need to identify a subject from the footage. Sure you'll be able to see that a person is out there, but you'll never be able to provide the police with clear and identifying footage that they can use to charge a person with a crime.
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Personally here I did overlapping views of the IP cameras. On the house it was 2nd story under eave cameras, first floor level cameras for driveway, front porch, rear entrance to garage and rear deck. I ran infrastructure to corner berms and put cameras facing the house. All of this in the midwest. In FL just put infrastructure for cameras in the corners of the eaves with the flood lamps that were typically off. The neighbor in FL added a house mounted cameras facing his boat dock. Side of house mounted cameras looked down with a wide angle lens and a front and rear view from the berm cameras.

In the midwest I was not allowed to use flood lamps in the subdivision. I put motion sensors outside and would just illuminate all out door coach lamps and all of the low voltage lighting with motion. That worked for me.

Its all about the need of and purpose of the cameras. In the Midwest it was one incident in 15+ years. In FL it was one incident during a hurricane evacuation and attempted thievery was by boat.
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For these two cameras, I'm not too concerned about the identity distance because one gable end wall has only a small (24"W x 48"H) fixed pane window. The bottom of the window is about 9' above grade. The other gable end wall doesn't have any openings (it's the side of the attached garage). This wall is somewhat more important because it's where utilities come into the house, and there will be a standby generate and water well on this side of the house.

With an 8MP camera with a 2.8mm lens (which is the minimum spec I will use for any camera, except the video doorbells), it looks like the recognize distance is about 45' during the daytime.

I can lower the one on the garage wall to about 10' above grade and place the flood light several feet above it.

I would try and keep some distance between the flood lights and the cameras. The lights will attract swarms of insects and interfere with the camera image.
With an 8MP camera with a 2.8mm lens (which is the minimum spec I will use for any camera, except the video doorbells), it looks like the recognize distance is about 45' during the daytime.

Just keep in mind that most 4k cameras are going to be terrible in low/no light situations. That's because the pixel size is so small that each individual pixel cannot gather as much light compared to a lower resolution camera with the same size sensor. Those individual pixels will be larger (because there are fewer of them) and therefore they can gather more light in the same amount of time as the 4k resolution.

There are just starting to be 1/1.2" sized 4k sensors in cameras, but that is the smallest sensor that I would recommend on a 4k camera. Most 4k cameras use a 1/2.8" size sensor which is extremely small and will require nearly 4 times more light to work effectively as a 4k camera with a 1/1.2" sensor. In low/no light situations, this is the difference between running your cameras at 1/30th a second shutter speeds (which will result in motion blurring) or 1/120th to 1/250th a second shutter speeds which will not result in blurring.

Resolution means nothing when the image is bad quality due to poor exposure and motion blurring. Having 8mp of blurry or "ghosting" pixels is much worse than having 2mp of sharp, properly exposed pixels.

These are really the min resolution to sensor size ratios that you should consider if you want a fighting chance of getting good no/low light captures:
4k (8mp) sensor should be no smaller than 1/1.2"
2k (4pm) sensor should be no smaller than 1/1.8"
HD (2mp) sensor should be no smaller than 1/2.8"
(Keep in mind that these sensor sizes are fractions. People tend to get confused and think 2.8" is larger than 1.2", but not with the "1/" in front of it. a 1/1.2" sensor is close to a 1" sensor while a 1/2.8" sensor is only about 1/3" of an inch big).
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The main thing I'm trying to do for now is determine rough-in locations (house is under construction and electrical rough-in is being done now) for outside cameras and flood lights.

I understand that camera selection is complicated, and good cameras aren't cheap. My plan is to get the locations as correct as possible, then try various cameras at each location to determine what is best for a particular location.

I know Reolink has a poor reputation for low light images (especially when the subject is moving), and a good reputation for daylight images. The good thing is that the are relatively cheap so I can experiment with them without too much of an investment. One thing I want to experiment with is how much the flood lights will help the nighttime camera images.

My plan is to use Blue Iris so I can mix/match cameras to a particular location's needs.