Lightning can damage or totally fry your security camera system which will leave your property exposed to possible intruders. Not just the camera, but a thunderstorm can burn the whole DVR or NVR as well.
There are a few easy steps you can follow to protect your CCTV system from lightning. Follow this easy guide to find out how you can make your security camera system lightning-proof.
Protecting your security camera system from lightning
There are three basic tips to protect your CCTV system:
- Proper Mounting
- Use power supply panels
- Use lightning rated security cameras
Mount the camera properly
The right way of mounting a security camera is the best lightning protection. An improperly installed camera and a thunderstorm will end up in a burned or damaged CCTV security system.
Usually, the outdoor cameras mounted in the yard, driveway, corner of the buildings, garage or any other open spaces are more prone to get hit by lightning. You should pay special attention when installing the cameras in these spots.
The key to protect the outdoor security cameras from lightning is to use a proper grounding system and avoid mounting the camera on metal structures. When installing a security camera, follow these tips to avoid lightning damage:
- If your security camera is mounted on a non-metal surface, you should ground it using a copper strap that runs from the camera’s mount all the way to the ground system at the base.
- If your security camera is mounted on a metal pole, you should ground the camera to the pole itself which in turn needs to be connected to a ground system located at the base.
- If the security camera is installed on a budding, obviously you need to ground the camera using the building’s ground system, usually by grounding it to the metallic structure of the building.
- Don’t mount the camera on the highest point of your building or property. If you install the camera right by the lightning rod, the lightning energy may be accidentally detected to the camera and thus it will get friend. So, avoid installing the camera on high points.
To conclude, proper grounding (using the building ground system) and avoiding installing the security camera straight on a metal structure is the best way to protect your CCTV system from a power surge caused by thunderstorms.
Additionally, by using a copper strap, you’ll reduce the electrical surge getting transmitted down the coaxial wires all the way to the DVR, thus reducing the risk of having the recorder fried.
Use power supply panels
The outdoor security cameras are always at risk of getting damaged by lightning, even if you’ve deployed some sort of protections. However, you can take some countermeasures to assure that the recorder itself (DVR or NVR) will be safe.
The risk of getting fried by lightning increases if you use an individual power supply for each security camera. You need to use CCTV rated power supply panels, surge protector and UPSs (Uninterruptible Power Supplies)
If you use these anti lightning devices you may reduce the risk of having all your security system damaged (all the cameras and the recorder). If it happens, one camera will get burned but the rest of the system will still be okay.
By using a surge protector and UPS, you’ll protect the system in case the power surges unexpectedly. Moreover, the UPS ensures that your security system runs uninterrupted if there’s power outage, power surge or a heavy thunderstorm.
When purchasing a UPS, keep in mind that there are two types of them: the one called standby UPS and the continuous one.
The standby UPS powers up the NVR or DVR only when a problem is detected. So, if there’s a power interruption, the standby UPS kicks in and powers the recorder.
The continuous UPS works on a different scheme, the UPS powers the NVR/DVR all the time while getting recharged. When there’s a power interruption from the grid, the NVR/DVR won’t notice anything because the UPS will always maintain optimum voltage.
Usually, the standby one is cheaper compared to the continuous one. We recommend using a continuous type UPS to constantly provide the right voltage to your recorder.
Use lightning rated security cameras
You get what you pay for. If you’re worried about lightning in your area that may damage your security system, then you should purchase high-end cameras that are able to self protect against thunderstorms.
The cheaper security cameras manufactured by shady or unknown companies, are made of cheap materials and offer no protections against lightning. On the other end, the more expensive cameras from reputable brands are more resilient against heavy lightning.
It’s recommended to check the specs of the camera, or, even better, call the manufacturer or the seller and ask them if the cameras can withstand lightning. They know their products and will advise accordingly.
Serious manufacturers or installers will suggest installing lightning rods or arresters on the mounting point (or rack) and ground the whole thing to the grounding pipe. Either way, a medium to high end camera, will fare better against lightning compared to cheap security cameras.
As any other electronic devices, outdoor security cameras are prone to lightning strikes. However, there are a few tricks you can deploy to avoid or minimize a possible lightning damage.
A well installed security system will minimize the damage caused by a heavy thunderstorm, even if one camera is burned, the rest of the camera and the NVR/DVR itself will be saved. Imagine if your whole security system is fried, the cost to replace it will be immense. That’s why, you should plan ahead when installing a security camera system.