Can Trail Cameras Be Used For Home Security?

By Tim Chesonis •  Updated: 05/02/19 •  9 min read
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If a trail camera can be used to detect movement within the words, could it detect movement within the home? Is there any reason not to use a trail camera in the home?

Trail cameras can be used both inside and outside of your house for home security purposes. However, there are several things to consider when setting up a trail camera to protect both your family and property, including the discipline it takes to maintain the trail camera itself.

Typically, when you think of a trail camera, you think of it being used for hunting, or perhaps for recording those pesky raccoons that get into the garbage barrels in the middle of the night. Trail cameras can be used for more than that, however. You can use them for home security as well. With that understanding, let’s take a look at how we can utilize a trail camera for home security purposes for outside use, and then we will look at some best uses for indoor use.

Things to Consider When Setting up your Trail Camera for Outside Use

Below are several features and settings that you will want to take into consideration when setting up a trail camera for home security.

Consider Using a “No Glow” Camera

If your intention is to hide the fact that you are recording the potential intruder, be sure to turn the flash setting off in the camera settings. A “No Glow” camera uses an infrared flash to take pictures so that the intruder has no idea that he’s being recorded. This is the same technology that National Geographic uses when recording images or video of animals at night.

If, however, your intention is to scare of the intruder away, leave the flash feature turned on so that when the motion sensor is triggered, the flash will scare the perpetrator away.

Video Surveillance

Not all trail cameras offer video surveillance, but most of them do. Others will come with sound as well. You can even pick up trail cameras that record video up to 90 seconds. The downside, however, is that when it records video, it will drain your battery much faster, so keep that in mind.

If you do purchase a trail camera with video surveillance feature, make sure that we get one that records in high definition. This way, if triggered at night, the video will not be grainy.

Some of these cameras will start recording 0.6 seconds after the motion sensor is triggered, and provide a viewing angle of 120 degrees. That’s nice.

Motion Sensors

Motion sensors are the core feature of trail cameras. When purchasing a trail camera for home security purposes, you will probably want to get a long range motion sensor trail camera. Of course, there are many to choose from, but a long range trail camera has a range of about 80 feet. You can easily pick on up up from Amazon for less than $90, or visit your local Walmart.

Wireless or Cellular

Trail cameras have come along way in the last few years. Here is one feature that is hard to beat. Some trail cameras today will send you a snapshot image to your cell phone when triggered.

If you have trail cameras enabled throughout your property, and you receive an image of the perpetrator from one of those trail cameras, it gives you time to prepare. In other words, it gives you time to grab your gun and make yourself known to the would-be burglar.

Another advantage is that if somebody were to attempt to steal your trail camera, you will have a snapshot of who it is that tried to steal it. You can then take that image (or video footage), to the authorities in an attempt to retrieve your trail camera.

Time Stamp

Trail cameras have a “Time Stamp” feature, which will let you know when the picture or video was captured. Make sure that this setting is turned on when you mount your camera. Should you ever need to use this in court, you will then have definitive evidence that stipulates the time and date that the transgression occurred.

Camouflage your Camera

You want to make sure that when you mount your camera that it is hidden from view, because you don’t want you trail camera to be stolen. This is why it’s probably a good idea to mount your camera in a tree. People are not looking up in trees for cameras when they are about to rob your house.

Line of Sight

Trail cameras are already designed with angles in mind. Therefore, it does not need to be mounted at eye level. As already mentioned, you can mount it up in a tree, or on the ground. Just keep in mind that when people walk they are already looking down, so it’s probably a better idea to mount it above eye level.

Mount your Camera in the Shade

When you mount your camera, you need to take into account where the sun comes up. Just like you would not take a picture of a subject while facing the sun, you do not want to mount your trail camera facing the sun either. If you do, not only will you get glare in the captured photo or video, but the picture will be washed out making it useless.

Don’t Setup a Trail Camera Though a Window

It may be tempting to set up a trail camera in your house so that it looks out the window. I can certainly understand why you would want to do this. For one, it would be very convenient to change out the batteries as needed. You also would not have to fight the elements to change out the batteries should should it be raining or snowing outside

The problem with setting up your trail camera in your house where the camera is pointing out the window, is the glare that come from the window pane. When initially setting the camera up, you may find it there is no glare, however, at some point in the day, the sun is going to hit the window pane at just the right angle and wash out the image or a video that is captured.

Things to Consider When Setting up your Trail Camera for Indoor Use

Generally speaking, people tend to think of using a trail camera outside. But what if you were to use it inside? Is there a practical use for using a trail camera inside the house?

Mount the Camera on the Porch Facing Your Door

If you mounted a trail camera on the porch facing your door, it will trigger every time somebody approached the door of your house. Statistics tell us that 34% of the time, burglars attempt to break in using the front door between the hours of 10 AM and 3:00 PM, when you are not home and at work. You will want to mount it on the side of the porch so that you can get a side view of the intruder as he attempts to break into the house.

Turn the Camera On When Going to Bed

If the cellular feature is turned on, you can mount it to a doorway, and once triggered, it would send you the image of the intruder to your cell phone. If in bed, you would receive the image on your cell phone waking you to let you know that there is an intruder. If the flash from the camera did not scare of the country are away, this might give you time to grab your gun or a baseball bat.

Easily Replace the Batteries

If using a trail camera within your house, it is very convenient to replace the batteries.

The Upside of Using a Trail Camera for Home Security

Trail Cameras are Less Expensive

Trail cameras are generally less expensive than professional home security cameras. The primary reason for this is that trail cameras are limited in features, resolution and how far they can clearly see, but they *may* also be sufficient for you needs.

Outstanding Battery Life

Some cameras allow for 8 AA batteries, which will take up to 1 million images before the batteries die on you. That’s impressive.

The Downside of Using a Trail Camera for Home Security

As with anything, there are downsides to using a trail camera for home security.

Useless Photos Sent to Your Cell Phone

If you set the camera to send you an image every time the motion sensor triggers, you will receive thousands of useless images that were taken because the wind blew a tree branch. This is a bad thing because it won’t take too long before you become numb to it, or simply turn the cellular feature off.

Too Many False Triggers

Even if you do not enable the feature that sends images to your phone, you will find that it does take a LOT of pictures of nothing. False triggers, (the wind, a squirrel, rabbit, raccoon), or any other animal that does not have any intention of breaking into your house to rob you, will be recorded.

Batteries can Leak

The longer a trail camera is left outside, the higher the probability that the batteries will leak acid if not replaced regularly.

Overexposed Images

You may find that images are overexposed, even if you mounted the trail camera in the shade and faced it away from the sun.

Final Thoughts

You can use a trail camera inside or outside of your house for home security purposes. You just want to make sure that you get one that works for your family‘s needs.

They are relatively inexpensive and are available pretty much everywhere. Being disciplined to empty the SIM card of all photos and video that has been taken and maintaining the batteries will determine whether this will be and effective solution for you or not.

Tim Chesonis

Tim loves writing to help people succeed. He loves tech, Linux, his iPhone and iPad. When he's not writing another article, he's probably binge-watching “The Middle” or “Breaking Bad”, (again). To learn more about Tim, click here.