Last Updated on 23 November 2023
How to make your garage — and what’s inside of it — more secure.
Did you know that garages are often targeted by thieves? Attached garages can serve as an entry point for burglars, giving them access to the home through unlocked or unsecured doors. Even detached garages can be alluring to thieves, often holding vehicles, lawnmowers, tools, and other valuables.
If you’re interested in adding security measures to your garage, there are plenty of great security camera systems that can help protect your driveway, or garage. But what type of security system is best? That depends on what you need.
Types of Outdoor Camera Systems for Garage and Driveway Security
The main difference between indoor and outdoor systems is the durability of the cameras. In order to withstand outdoor weather conditions, including rain and extreme temperatures, security cameras overlooking driveways and garages need to be built stronger and tougher than their indoor counterparts. So, no matter what type of security system you choose, make sure it’s designed for outdoor use.
Let’s explore some of the key differences between DVR and NVR systems, letting you decide what type of outdoor camera systems are best for your garage and driveway security.
Outdoor DVR Camera Systems
DVR, or Digital Video Recorder, systems use traditional security technology – analog cameras, coaxial cables, and DVR recorders. The analog cameras connect to the recorder through the coaxial cables, transmitting unprocessed video signals. Once the signals reach the recorder, they can be processed and made available for viewing.
Since these security systems require a physical connection from the cameras to the recorder, they’re not ideal for people with detached garages. DVR security systems are better suited for attached garages, where coaxial cable can be fed directly into the house. This is even easier to do if there’s already a DVR system installed in the house, where expanding your coverage is relatively easy.
Because DVR systems use more affordable analog cameras, they’re much less expensive than NVR systems — although installation costs can add up if you hire a professional. It’s important to note that with the reduced price of analog cameras comes reduced capability. They lack a lot of the smart functionality and video analytics available from more advanced cameras, such as facial recognition.
If you’re ready to shop DVR systems, the Swann 2 Camera 4 Channel 1080p Full HD DVR Security System comes with two cameras (add-on cameras are available) and features sensor lights, 1080p Full HD resolution, and True Detect™ heat sensing technology at a reasonable price.
Outdoor NVR Systems
NVR, or Network Video Recorder, systems are a relatively new technology, driven by advanced IP, or internet protocol, cameras. These digital cameras encode and process video data themselves, then stream it to the NVR recorder for storage and remote viewing. Since NVR systems process video data at the source, not the recorder, they are capable of being wireless.
However, there are many kinds of NVR systems — not just wireless systems — offering varying degrees of flexibility. This can be complicated, so let’s break it down:
- Wired NVR systems are hardwired, transmitting video and audio signals from the cameras to the recorder through Ethernet cables, with power supplied via PoE (Power over Ethernet). The SecureAlert 2 Camera 4 Channel 4K Ultra HD Wi-Fi NVR Security System features two cameras (add-on cameras are available) with 4K Ultra HD resolution, Night2Day™ Color at Night technology, True Detect™ heat and motion sensing, Speak to See integration with Hey Google or Alexa, and more.
- Powered Wi-Fi NVR systems transmit signals through the home’s Wi-Fi network instead of using Ethernet cables, but the cameras still need to be plugged into a power source, such as a nearby outlet. The SecureAlert 2 Camera 4 Channel 4K Ultra HD Wi-Fi NVR Security System has powered Wi-Fi video, two cameras with 4K Ultra HD resolution, the ability to recognize faces, detect vehicles, talk to visitors, and more.
- Wireless or Wire-free NVR systems also transmit signals through the home’s Wi-Fi, but use rechargeable battery- or solar-powered cameras that don’t need to maintain a connection with a power source. The AllSecure600 3 Camera 8 Channel 2K Wire-Free HD Wireless NVR Security System includes three 2K HD cameras, Easy Review technology to stitch activity clips together for fast, easy playback, controllable spotlights and sirens to help deter intruders, and more.
For those wanting the convenience of wireless security cameras for garages and driveways, nothing beats the flexibility of powered Wi-Fi, or especially wireless or wire-free, NVR systems. Regardless of their wireless capabilities, NVR systems incorporate the latest technology to provide an enhanced, feature-rich experience that exceeds the limitations of traditional DVR systems.
Outdoor Standalone Cameras
Stand-alone wireless and powered Wi-Fi camera systems save footage directly to the cloud, or in some cases on a MicroSD card eliminating the need for a DVR or NVR recorder. Instead, you can access footage anytime from an app, such as the Swann Security app, making stand-alone cameras one of the most convenient and affordable ways to protect your home.
The CoreCam 2K Wireless Spotlight Cameras with 2-Way Talk, Siren & Heat + Motion Detection standalone camera package features two 2K HD cameras, motion lighting and sirens, Night2Day™ Color Night Vision, easy local and cloud storage, and more.
Installation Options for Garage Security Cameras
The optimal placement of cameras in or on your garage often depends on what type of security system you have.
DVR systems or Wired NVR systems will have limited options, as you’re bound to wherever the cables can travel. The coaxial cables of DVR systems tend to be thicker and more rigid than the Ethernet cables of NVR systems, further limiting where cameras can be positioned.
Powered Wi-Fi NVR systems need to be situated near an outlet, which can somewhat limit where the security camera can be positioned around the garage, even with a long power cord.
Wireless or Wire-free NVR systems have virtually no limitations, so you’re free to focus solely on where you’d like to capture footage.
Where to Install Outdoor Garage Security Cameras
Ideally, outdoor security cameras should be positioned over the garage door, with a view of both the driveway and the opening of the garage. This will allow you to capture anybody parking on the driveway, approaching the garage, or entering through the garage door. If your garage has a side entrance, it may be a good idea to place a second outdoor security camera nearby — capturing the outside of the door and, ideally, the main walkway leading up to the door.
Indoor Garage Security Cameras
When capturing footage from inside your garage, you may not need an outdoor security camera — though it certainly wouldn’t hurt, especially if your garage isn’t temperature controlled. What you will need, however, is to capture all of the outside entry points. This can be done by using a single camera in the corner of the garage, facing both the garage door and side entrance (if applicable). If your home has an attached garage, you may also want to situate a camera in front of the door to the house. This will maximize your security, giving you a good look at anybody entering, or trying to enter, your house from the garage.
Some people ask, “Can I add a camera to my garage door opener?” The answer is yes, you can. There are some garage door openers with built-in security cameras, giving you a great perspective of the garage door entrance and driveway from the inside of your garage. You can also install a powered Wi-Fi, wireless or wire-free camera on the bottom of the existing garage door opener to achieve the same effect — which can actually be more convenient, acting as an expansion of your current security network rather than a separate device. These cameras are easy to mount, and there should be an overhead outlet for the garage door opener that can be used to plug in a powered Wi-Fi camera.
Features to Consider When Choosing a Garage or Outdoor Security Camera
If you’re having trouble deciding between a DVR and NVR system for your garage security, try considering what sort of features you’d like. Some common considerations are:
Standard DVR systems don’t always support audio. For audio capabilities, an RCA connection is needed. But, even with an added RCA connection, only a small number of cameras can support audio due to the limited number of audio input ports on the DVR recorder.
To resolve this issue, Swann has developed audio-over-coax (AoC) technology. This allows for an internal microphone, along with the recorder’s chipset, to capture and process audio and record it with the video footage. Swann DVR systems either have audio via separate wired RCA microphones or feature audio-over-coax.
That being said, most DVR systems on the market still don’t have native audio. This contrasts NVR systems, which usually come standard with audio capabilities built right in. If you want your garage security cameras to capture audio, these are important considerations.
Since DVR systems only capture and transmit analog footage, they typically feature a lower image quality than NVR systems. DVR systems often feature 1080p Full HD resolution, but thanks to recent advances in analog camera technology, can be made with 2K HD, 5MP Super HD, or even 4K Ultra HD resolution.
Even with the newfound capabilities of DVR systems, it’s much more common for NVR systems to feature higher resolution options. While there are 1080p Full HD NVR systems, there are also many 2K HD, 5MP Super HD, and 4K Ultra HD systems to choose from. You can even get NVR systems with highly advanced 6K Mega HD (also known as 12MP) resolution.
Finding the right resolution to fit your needs is important. If you just want your security cameras to give you a general idea of what’s going on in your garage and driveway, 1080p Full HD is a great choice. As you start moving up to 2K HD and 5MP Super HD, it becomes easier to identify facial features and other small details. And, for the ultimate protection, 4K Ultra HD and 6K Mega HD make it possible to decipher nearly every detail of an image, including license plates.
Power source and ease of installation
Wired systems power cameras through either coaxial cables (in DVR systems) or Ethernet cables with PoE (in NVR systems), meaning that once the cameras are wired into the garage, you won’t have to worry about powering them. However, wiring cameras into your garage is labor intensive, especially if you’re starting from scratch instead of expanding an existing system.
Powered Wi-Fi cameras, though free from Ethernet cables, will need to be plugged into an outlet. While the installation itself is easy, finding an appropriate place to put the cameras may be more difficult, depending on your situation. You’ll need to have outlets in and around your garage near your desired surveillance areas.
Wireless or wire-free systems don’t need any cables or constant power sources, making them incredibly flexible and easy to install. They do feature batteries that will eventually need to be recharged, however. If this becomes an issue, Swann makes a solar panel specially designed to recharge outdoor Wireless and Wire-free cameras.
Motion detection and push notifications
Motion detection is designed to activate your cameras to capture only relevant events — not hours of meaningless footage. If you’d like, you can set up your smartphone to receive notifications when the cameras activate, allowing you to see footage in real time.
While many security cameras have motion sensors, relying solely on motion detection can result in many false alarms. Instead, look for security cameras that use infrared heat sensors for more accuracy. Infrared heat sensing ensures you won’t be bombarded by unnecessary alerts on your phone. When looking for a garage security camera with motion detection, consider PIR or Swann’s True Detect™ infrared sensor technology.
Motion activated flood lighting
If you’d like to deter people from hanging around your garage or driveway, you may be interested in security cameras with motion activated flood lighting. These flood lights can help to scare people off your property, especially if they’re up to no good.
Generally, flood light security cameras are available in all kinds of systems. But, if this is an important feature for you, you’ll want to ensure that your system comes with or can incorporate flood lights.
If you’d prefer night vision to flood lights, there are plenty of options available to you. Certain manufacturers, such as Swann, even offer flood light cameras with night vision, giving you the best of both worlds.
Good night vision cameras can provide clear footage of people, cars, and more, even in the darkest of conditions. Swann’s Night2Day™ technology even lets you see color at night, letting you see up to 100 feet.
Video and audio storage
If you’d like to use a recorder for maximum data storage, you should focus on a DVR or NVR system. Depending on the model or brand you choose, these recorders can store footage for up to one year. At the same time, you’ll likely be able to access footage via the cloud for around a week.
However, you don’t have to have an entire security camera system to monitor your garage or driveway. There are standalone powered Wi-Fi, wireless or wire-free cameras that work without DVR or NVR recorders, instead storing footage straight to the cloud.