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I'm thinking about placing an indoor camera outside under the eave of the house. I'm hoping that it will be covered enough by the roof and partially by the house. Maybe even extend the dimensions with some scrap wood or a nirdhouse-like enclosure.

Is that likely to be enough protection from weather, or should I get a proper outdoor camera?

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    It should work for a time, but probably not built/sealed for outdoor humidly. Life span will probably be greatly reduced.
    – crip659
    Nov 13, 2022 at 16:26
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    Outdoor cameras are widely available. Protecting it from rain by putting it under the eave does not protect it from fog, humidity or cold, so you can throw it in the trash now, put it outside and throw it in the trash later, or use it inside for a long time without it becoming trash...
    – Ecnerwal
    Nov 13, 2022 at 16:39
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    Are you planning to run UTP to each camera spot? Or are you planning on using wireless ethernet ? Or some old-school analogue ?
    – Criggie
    Nov 14, 2022 at 10:20
  • If you'll take the tour, you'll see that we do one-question-per-question here. Please pick one and stick with it, then start a whole new post for your next question. Do be aware that your "bird house" question is rather open-ended and invites discussion, which will likely get it closed as being off-topic.
    – FreeMan
    Nov 14, 2022 at 16:30

7 Answers 7

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I wouldn't even think of doing this, because outdoor cameras are so cheap, and the amount of work involved to weatherproof something which isn't designed for outdoors will end up costing you more than buying a new camera.

You can get a wansview or reolink outdoor camera for under $75.

I've also found that indoor cameras have power cords which are far shorter than what you'd normally need/want for an outdoor camera, and outdoor packages usually have additional mount options.

Personally, I want my cameras to be visible. Remember, cameras don't make you safer, they only capture the events which happen.

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    You can get outdoor-rated cameras for well under that, if network-attached meets your needs.
    – keshlam
    Nov 13, 2022 at 19:48
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    I was just looking at the reolink I bought a couple of years ago, and it's currently $65. Depends what format you want the camera to output.
    – LarryBud
    Nov 13, 2022 at 20:15
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    Cameras can make you safer, by acting as a deterrent. But that just feeds into the whole "I want my cameras to be visible" idea. Maybe amend the sentence to "hidden cameras don't make you safer" Nov 14, 2022 at 17:05
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    +1 for the comment about making the camera visible. Part of the deterrence factor of having a camera is having it known that there is a camera.
    – spuck
    Nov 14, 2022 at 21:24
  • If we've learned anything from countless surveillance cameras catching outright murderers, beatdown and muggings on camera is that criminals don't care about cameras.
    – LarryBud
    Nov 15, 2022 at 0:16
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Sure.

There is nothing magical about outside. It's a harsher environment, and your camera will likely die faster because of it, but it's not going to immediately stop working.

That said, it's probably unwise because the extra cost of a camera which is designed to be more durable is relatively low. But if you just need it to work for a week, or you're willing to have it die and replace it, go for it.

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    Noting that IP65 versus 'faints at the sight of liquid water" may matter. Nov 14, 2022 at 22:49
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    @RussellMcMahon as a general rule, sure. But specific device resilience will be highly variable. I found some ~$20 speakers that had surprisingly decent sound (but zero protection) and hung them on a screen porch as a temporary measure, planning to replace them with something permanent when they died (I was willing to just pay the $20 to have music for a specific party). Ten years later they were still there and still working great. Would I recommend relying on that for more than a couple weeks? No. But it's not a crazy use case or outcome.
    – fectin
    Nov 15, 2022 at 17:15
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    I agree. I designed and built genuinely IP65+ portable solar lights in China. I'm aware of the challenges and issues. (Numerous Chinese factory visits. Lots of fun.) Nov 15, 2022 at 23:45
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Read the specs, and check the temperature range and compare it to your normal extremes.

You're taking an investment and security risk.

Low temp can cause temporary malfunction but not necessarily permanent damage. High temp (e.g. sun) can cause permanent damage. Frost can cause permanent damage. Moisture through condensation or extreme humidity can permanently damage electronics, lenses etc... And unsealed openings are an open invitation to spiders and wasps who can render the equipment inoperable. Sun UV may be a factor for the camera sensor and lens.

Weather proofing an electronic device involves designing well sealed encasement suitable for the intended use, selecting components for a wider temperature range, applying moisture rejecting coatings on the circuit boards and components, adapting the cooling for high ambient temperatures, mechanically protecting the encasing from expansion/contraction and hardening/brittling of seals and other plastics when exposed to low and high temperatures and temperature cycling.

Some of these factors remain important even if the device is protected from rain and installed under the eaves or in a bird house out of direct sunlight.

If you are planning to purchase a device, get the kind rated for outdoors: it is designed for these temperature and moisture conditions, and the warranty of course includes such exposure.

If you already have indoor grade cameras and don't what else to do with them, you can try it out. Battery life (if applicable) may be much lower than expected.

Place them in the awnings, high and away from splatter and in a down-wind corner away from direct sun, if possible. It could last for years and you'd just upgrade when they start failing.

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I've used a bunch of cameras outside over the last decade. Some were indoor grade, some were outdoor, and some have ceased-to-function.

Curiously, I have indoor cameras that have worked for 6+ years outside, and outdoor cameras that have failed within 2 years.

Your camera location must avoid:

  • Water in all forms - that's driving rain, dripping water, condensation, and fog
  • Heat - a white painted camera will survive longer than any other shell colour. Some even have heatshield panels on the outside to reject sunlight.

It helps to have a dust-free spot without strong wind, and an overhang that shades the camera. Shade in Summer helps more than shade in Winter. Dust is not a big issue, but insects can be attracted to the IR, which attracts spiders who make webs which reflect IR and look like battleship mooring lines in the image.

Cameras will still need power and signal. The outdoor ones often have a ~20cm pigtail of wire which has a RJ45 socket and perhaps a barrel socket. These are intended to be inside a soffit or other protective box, not just dangling in the wind.
By contrast, indoor cameras might just have a RJ45 port directly on the back with no sealing.

Power Over Ethernet is gloriously good for whatever cameras you end up using. POE means only one wire to each camera, and you don't need to bother calculating DC voltage drop. Downside, you need a POE-capable ethernet switch, or a midspan injector per camera. A switch becomes worth it at about 2 injectors.


I've never really dealt with cold temperatures - minus 5 degrees C is about the worst I've had locally. If you live in a cold place, the POE transformer inside the camera could be of benefit, though the camera body should be airtight and dry.

Personally my last cameras bought were $40 NZ aliexpress specials like https://www.aliexpress.com/item/1005003600846816.html And when they die in five years, I'll buy replacements.
Two considerations for cheap cameras

  • The default provided configuration software often tries to phone home to China, even if its just a hard-set DNS server setting. You might not be able to change this. I put my cameras on an internal VLAN with no internet access, and read them using motion on a linux box.
  • The management interface might mandate the use of an ActiveX DLL. Seems to be super-common with the Chinese cameras. I keep a win2008 VM with Internet Explorer around if they need re-configuring.

But at $40 each, they are disposable.

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  • I had a camera-in-a-birdhouse. It worked really well, but was poorly positioned and a lightfingered person got behind it, cut the wire, and tore the whole thing off the fence. Cameras should be inaccessible without a ladder. I suspect the bright glowing red IR lights gave it away at night.
    – Criggie
    Nov 14, 2022 at 10:21
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I'm going to stir the pot a bit an say YES, you can, though you may find the camera not working properly at some temperature extremes.

If you mount it under the eave where it's protected from rain, then that becomes a non-issue.

I can't speak for all indoor cameras, but the Kasa/TP Link cameras I use are operationally rated for 32 F to 104 F. They will in all likelihood work outside that temperature rage - they're just not guaranteed to. Storage (non-powered) they're good down to -4 F. Likewise, operational relative humidity (RH) is 10%~90% RH non-condensing, which is good for all but foggy conditions.

Main issue I see is that the pan-tilt mechanism may not want to work beyond the rated operational temperature range.

About the operational temperature range. In the Mil-Aero industries, electronics are designed and tested to work beyond their operational temperature range. These extended temperature ranges go by the name Acceptance, Proto Qual, and Qual (lification). Consumer products may have a similar set of temperature hierarchies. The point I'm trying to make is that even consumer products probably have some amount of margin built into them.

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    "The point I'm trying to make is that even consumer products probably have some amount of margin built into them." With quality products, usually, yes. Not every product is designed the same, some are optimized for cost a bit too thoroughly...
    – Mast
    Nov 14, 2022 at 11:08
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I wouldnt do this. On my house, 4 out of 8 outdoor cameras have corroded internal bits, the night time enhancement motorised bits have seized up, in just 3 years. If the external cameras wont last long, the internal ones definitely won't.

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That would depend on the specs of the camera. Easy answer is no, it is not made to stand the elements. Like hotb and cold fluctuations and probably not waterproof. Will it “work” sure but how long is a guess.

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