There are typically both indoor and outdoor cameras in a given security camera system, like those found on the average household or business. Although each type of device provides specific functions in a given security system, the two types of cameras are categorically different by design.

What's the Difference Between Indoor and Outdoor Cameras?

What's the Difference Between Indoor and Outdoor Cameras?

As the best installers in the Dallas Fort Worth area, A1 Security Cameras implements several different types of security cameras on any given workday. However, a common mistake we run into is DIY installers implementing an outdoor or indoor camera in the wrong environment. While seemingly insignificant, doing so can be a costly mistake. As such, we have developed a guide that distinctly describes the differences between the two.

There are typically both indoor and outdoor cameras in a given security camera system, like those found on the average household or business. Although each type of device provides specific functions in a given security system, the two types of cameras are categorically different by design. As will be discussed throughout this article, those differences include:

  • Advantages and disadvantages
  • Price difference
  • External design
  • Internal design
  • How they react to environments
  • Quality and resolution
  • Performance in low light
  • Night vision
  • Placement

As will be shown, the differences between indoor and outdoor cameras are distinct rather than blatantly obvious. However, as will be argued and supported, you should match a camera to the environment it is designed for. As will also be stated, not doing so will lead to both economic and electronic consequences.

What are the different styles of security cameras?

In the categories of indoor and outdoor cameras, different styles are included in any given security apparatus. Shown in the security cameras section of A1 Security Cameras, styles typically indicate the specialized features included in each individual camera. As will be referenced later, we will provide a quick overview of the most popular types:

Box cameras: Sturdy yet highly customizable, box cameras are known for delivering some of the best results in surveillance. The most popular style worldwide according to IPICA, these security cameras allow for owners to switch out the lens, some internal hardware, and housing, unlike other types of cameras. The top three best selling brands through A1 Security Cameras of this style of camera at the time of writing include Mobotix, Samsung Hanwha, and Geovision.

Bullet cameras: Slightly similar in shape to box cameras, bullet cameras are defined by their narrow design and flat front that features the lens. However, unlike the other two cameras on this list, bullet cameras are particularly favored for long-distance surveillance, and are generally installed in areas with a more significant expanse to cover. The top three best selling brands through A1 Security Cameras of this style of camera at the time of writing include LTS Security, Geovision, and Axis.

Dome cameras: Popular in homes and offices, dome cameras are designed with a protective “dome” around the rotating camera that can provide 360 degrees of coverage while featuring a discrete design that is more subtle than most other security cameras. However, it should be noted that A1 Security Cameras will not install dome cameras outside and will recommend against it due to the dome cover inhibiting the camera. The top three best selling brands through A1 Security Cameras include LTS Security, Geovision, and Vivotek.

Most security cameras typically have a style similar to these three, with the exception of specific types like Pinhole, fisheye, and a few others that do not move. This article will therefore focus on the three styles of camera listed. This subject is covered further in our post, covering many of the different types of cameras.

What are the pros of indoor vs outdoor cameras?

Indoor Camera Pros

  • Access control monitoring
  • Allows policy enforcement
  • Allows for faster reaction
  • Easier installation
  • Entrance monitoring
  • Helps gather information

Outdoor Cameras

  • Allows policy enforcement
  • Deters property crime
  • Helps policy enforcement
  • May reduce insurance costs
  • Property monitoring

What are the cons of indoor vs outdoor cameras?

Indoor Camera Cons

  • Can be expensive
  • Less durable
  • Imposing
  • Will not thwart crime

Outdoor Camera Cons

  • Can be a target
  • Can record everything
  • More expensive
  • Will not hinder crime
What are the pros of indoor vs outdoor cameras?

Summation for indoor versus outdoor pros and cons

In general, the advantages and disadvantages for both security cameras are typically similar with subtle differences. Outdoor cameras, for example, are sometimes more likely to persuade certain insurance companies to lower rates. In contrast, insurance cameras are better at giving you all of the information by nature before you even enter the room. The reality, however, is that these qualities are greater or lesser depending on if the camera is indoor or outdoor. Outdoor cameras deter more crime than indoor, while indoor cameras are better at encouraging policy adherence.

The disadvantages are also distinctly similar. An example is that unless configured otherwise, security cameras will record everything. While that might not be an issue with indoor, outdoor cameras might catch events on other properties and will always spot strangers passing by. Furthermore, indoor and outdoor cameras troublemakers that are more emboldened when committing criminal activity. The key difference here is that outdoor cameras are more resistant to impact and tampering, while indoor cameras are more delicate by design.

More detailed information about outdoor cameras can be found in a past article. Likewise, A1 Security Cameras has also written a similar argument for the benefits of indoor security cameras.

What is the price difference between indoor and outdoor security cameras?

It is no secret that security cameras range wildly in price and features. However, the majority of famous examples typically are around one to three hundred dollars each. The difference between the two types typically is outdoor security cameras being a bit more expensive with an added hundred dollars. However, the more costly price tag generally is because of more advanced and specialized features. That is because outdoor cameras are often sold with the intent to use in more expansive areas day and night, meaning better quality at a more extended range, durable exterior, and more are needed. Indoor cameras often have the same options, but the average example is fine under normal circumstances.

Are outdoor security cameras more durable than indoor?

Are outdoor security cameras more durable than indoor?

While not universal, outdoor security cameras are much more durable than indoor alternatives. Outdoor surveillance typically features cameras that are resistant to differing levels of impact and function under much more strain than what is used inside a home or business. Furthermore, modern security cameras designed for outside environments will more commonly feature vandal resistance ratings, which indicate when they are being physically handled by unauthorized individuals if not being damaged.

On top of that, cameras of this nature are meant to be durable to normal weather conditions like direct sunlight, constant rain, winds, and more. However, by no means should anyone expect average outdoor cameras to be resistant to extreme weather like lightning, fire, and natural disasters. However, for colder environments, companies like Axis, Geovision, and Vivotek have developed Arctic Security Cameras for surveillance in the cold.

Is there a difference in size between the two?

Generally, yes, outdoor cameras are more significant than the smaller indoor surveillance options. While not a fact across the board, such is typically the case because of the exterior durability and weatherproofing. Furthermore, the size is also meant to house more capable features that produce more detailed footage or produce performance in more hostile environments.

Alternatively, while outdoor cameras are generally larger, indoor cameras are typically smaller and harder to notice. As referenced in a post about how to hide cameras, owners of indoor security cameras enjoy more creativity when trying to conceal their surveillance or implement them in plain sight. While not featuring as many functions, these cameras are also more easily mounted indoors than outdoors due to their more compact design.

What is the difference internally?

In the past, outdoor cameras were the only cameras that could adapt to different types of lighting, while indoor cameras required a certain threshold of light to be capable. However, recent innovations have allowed indoor cameras to perform regularly in low light or dark conditions. The same can be said for motorized zoom, which is more common in outdoor cameras, but can be available for indoors.

The primary difference internally for cameras typically is with unique examples like LPR cameras and explosion-proof cameras. LPR or license plate cameras feature more advanced hardware and software internally to detect license plates, often using software also in the recorder to catch more detail. Explosion-proof cameras also use enhanced internal hardware internally and externally to prevent any sparks or charges from escaping the interior, with the body containing the resulting reaction if gas were to enter the device.

Can an indoor camera be used outdoors?

Can an indoor camera be used outdoors?

While an indoor camera will function outside on a good day, it is absolutely not recommended to do so. Indoor cameras do not feature a water-tight exterior, will deteriorate more quickly under direct sunlight, especially when made of plastic, and are weaker to impacts from birds, debris carried by the wind, and more. Outdoor cameras are specifically designed to deal with the usual conditions that come with the weather, while indoor cameras are not. The owner of an indoor camera might be able to enhance it for outdoor use, but there is no guarantee it will perform to any extent. A1 Security Cameras suggests only using cameras for their specified environments.

Can an outdoor camera be used indoors?

Similarly, you should not use outdoor cameras for indoor environments, but not for the same reasons as above. Instead, outdoor cameras typically feature more advanced features that would be redundant indoors and are much too imposing due to size to be placed in an average room. While some may be good for normal circumstances, it’s typically best to use an outdoor camera outside. However, for environments like stadiums, factories, auditoriums, and similar environments, an outdoor security camera may be beneficial when featuring the ideal functions. However, often there are specific cameras for specific domains, with added features proving that.

Are there any differences between the two in low light conditions?

For quality in low light conditions and night vision, the quality is dependent on a case-by-case basis. Analog cameras, for example, typically feature as good or better night vision while being less expensive than most average and modern cameras on the market today. IP security cameras, likewise, are an excellent option for indoor and outdoor environments when looking for low light or night vision capabilities precisely. However, not all security cameras feature night vision, which is possible through infrared technology. If it must be said, more outdoor security cameras feature low light or night vision capabilities. However, when in doubt, implement some lighting in the area of surveillance for added performance regardless of if the camera has infrared.

Are security cameras interchangeable?

As shown, no, each security camera is typically equipped with specific features that benefit it in a particular environment. For example, displayed directly above, indoor cameras should never be used for outdoor surveillance, and outdoor cameras should not be used indoors. Furthermore, doing so will lead to expensive mistakes and therefore is not recommended by A1 Security Cameras, especially when we implement the installation.

Similarly, outside of specifically outdoor and indoor cameras specifically, cameras with a particular purpose would not necessarily be applicable for installation for reasons outside of their given purpose. Explosion-proof cameras, for example, would not be reasonably placed in areas in environments devoid of materials it is rated for. While being expensive, these cameras are also specifically designed to keep people safe. Likewise, arctic security cameras would not be reasonably placed in warm weather environments because it is impractical from a technological and price standpoint.

Where should outdoor security and indoor cameras be placed?

Where should outdoor security and indoor cameras be placed?

A1 Security Cameras has previously authored an article describing the best places for outdoor cameras. In this post, we recommend outdoor cameras be placed in each location with:

  • Above lights
  • A reasonable height (10ft and above)
  • Out of reach without equipment
  • Within a clear view of traffic or equipment

Outdoor cameras provide excellent surveillance for homes and businesses while being capable, especially with surrounding light fixtures. Indoor cameras are similarly meant for rooms with lighting, but as mentioned above, can feature low light or night vision. Likewise, indoor cameras must be placed where their features are used best. However, due to homes and businesses being all different sizes, the conditions are typically toned down. For example, indoor security cameras are recommended to be placed seven feet high if possible and within view of places where people will congregate, work, or enter and exit.

Should my security camera system use indoor and outdoor cameras?

Not everyone will require both types of security cameras in their homes or businesses and some areas cannot even have one type of camera, to begin with. For example, a company that is only limited to an office space will have no need for outdoor cameras and construction sites typically have no critical need for indoor cameras. Homeowners with property and business owners with a parking lot or other external space should have both types of cameras in their security camera system. When you are looking to design such a system, use the A1 Security Cameras system design service to make the process so much easier. Our team of experienced professionals will stick with you every step of the way, so your future security apparatus covers everything you need under surveillance.

Contact A1 Security Cameras today for more information on indoor and outdoor security cameras. Our team has detailed information about each product in our catalog and can help you to make a final decision on each product you are considering. Furthermore, we can give suggestions on the right camera, recorder, accessories, or system you need for your personal property or business. Reach out to us today and have our professionals help you!

Jan 18th 2022 Wayne Hahne

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