If you’ve decided that a cottage-monitoring system is a security must-have for the cottage, the next step is to consider the number and type of cameras to put in place, along with where to install them inside and outside of your property in order to get the most use out of them. There is no one-size-fits-all answer—points of entry, building layout, cottage size, and the placement of detached structures like sheds and boathouses can all have an impact on your system design and installation choices.
To help you get started, we reached out to Ilan Gershon, director of product management and development at Lorex, a manufacturer of weatherproof cottage-security cameras, for his expert tips on camera placement, common installation mistakes, and how to improve nighttime image quality. Here’s what to keep in mind when you’re installing a cottage-monitoring system.
The optimum number and placement of cameras depends on the size and layout of your cottage.
“I typically recommend four to six cameras for the main cottage itself,” says Gershon. “Four cameras to cover all sides of the building, assuming it’s a square or rectangular shape, and two additional cameras as needed to get a better or close-up view of priority spots such as the front door, back door, or shed.”
Depending on your property set up, you may also want to consider pointing cameras towards the end of your laneway—you’ll be able to see all arrivals, and whether the main road has been cleared in winter—along with locations more vulnerable to theft such as the boathouse, outbuildings and dock.
There are two main strategies for camera installation. “Some cottage owners prefer to make sure people are aware that they have a video-surveillance system and therefore will install it in visible places on the cottage. Others may want to keep the system relatively inconspicuous, and may want to install the cameras on trees or external structures,” says Gershon. Of course, if you rent out your cottage, you can use surveillance devices only in common areas, and they have to be clearly disclosed in the rental listing.
Protect cottage entry points and “dead spots.”
“Similar to at homes and businesses, cottage entry points are very important locations to install cameras at,” says Gershon. “But it would also be desirable to have additional cameras to cover ‘dead spots’ where camera views don’t overlap.” For example, a camera installed above your front door that looks straight ahead won’t be able to show or record someone approaching the corners of the cottage—adding additional units can offer overlapping views of all corners.
The entry points onto your land are important monitoring spots, too. “If you have a difficult-to-reach property, you may want to consider adding a camera near the front of the driveway and near the back of the cottage to see people arriving by vehicle or watercraft,” advises Gershon.
Keep an eye on your valuables.
Having cameras in areas where you store valuables such as a boat or pricey water toys makes sense. “While it would not necessarily prevent theft, you capture valuable evidence in case something does happen,” notes Gershon. Plus, units like Lorex’s Active Deterrence cameras offer features like two-way talk, warning lights, and a built-in siren to help scare off potential thieves in real-time.
Ensure adequate illumination.
The area around a cottage is typically much darker at night than the exterior of a home, notes Gershon, which means cameras have less light to work with, and it can be harder to get good image quality at night. Additionally, most cameras will switch to black and white in low-light environments for better sensitivity, but then rely on infrared radiation (IR) light to illuminate the area around the camera. “You may want to consider adding some relatively inexpensive and compact IR illuminators in important places to help the cameras ‘see’ at night,” says Gershon. “I suggest installing the cameras as needed and then determining whether further illumination is required in select places once you see what it looks like.”
Follow installation instructions.
“Common installation mistakes include putting the camera in front of a window looking outside, which will cause reflection and produce unusable video during the night time,” says Gershon. “The other is pointing cameras towards or near outdoor lighting like floodlights, which can result in significant reflection issues.”
Gershon emphasizes that it’s important to follow local building codes, and to follow each camera’s recommended installation instructions in terms of placement and angle. You’ll also want to set up clear ‘motion zones’ for cameras, to select the areas you wish to monitor and exclude the spots that can lead to false alarms. Bushes and trees, for instance, can trigger motion recordings in strong wind.
Want to keep an eye on what matters to you? A high-definition, weatherproof cottage-security system from Lorex lets you keep tabs on your cottage when you’re not there. Learn more here.