One of the best and most popular ways to wire a security camera is through the soffit and the attic.
This works for different designs and different types of soffits as well, be it wooden, vinyl, or aluminum.
However, planning the installation will often bring about some questions and problems, like, for example, how to mount the camera and the best way to run the wiring.
Important Considerations Before You Start
There are some preliminary checks that should be done before even starting.
This is one of those measure twice and cut once type of situations, and you don’t want to make unnecessary mistakes that may require fixing, patching, or extra expenses. In certain cases, you may be better off choosing a different way to mount your camera.
Follow this checklist to ensure you have all bases covered before you start.
Do you have access to your attic?
Accessing the roof is not always easy, and there are some safety considerations that should be taken into account before even considering venturing there.
Make sure that you are aware of the basic safety steps when working in an attic.
If you want to know more watch this video on how to walk safely in an attic.
Naturally, if your attic is unfinished, the whole process will be significantly easier.
However, the majority of people will be dealing with finished attics in most cases. Finished attics are trickier because you have very limited space to work in, and you might not even be able to reach your soffit.
Also, if there is insulation accessing the cables will be more difficult but not impossible.
I will discuss how to make the installation easier and some possible workarounds if that is your case.
This brings us to the next thing you need to check.
Can you remove some of the soffit panels? If you can, you will have access to the open space above it, which can help a lot.
Do you have access to the soffit from the attic?
Having direct access to the soffit from the inside is best, but you will also need to reach the soffit from the outside, which can be trickier with multi-storey buildings.
There are some workarounds if you don’t have direct access to the soffit.
For example, if there’s drywall in the way, you might have to go through it, or you might have to run the cables up and above some of the beams.
Are there soffit vents? If there are soffit vents you are in luck because, generally, this makes running the wires a lot easier since you will generally be able to get access to the attic airspace.
There are some exceptions here, as well, which I will cover in the articles as well.
Camera and NVR or WiFi Router Location
Plan where you will be placing the cameras and the NVR or WiFi router.
You want all important points of interest to be covered and the cameras to have some overlapping too.
You want to be sure that once installed, the cameras will give you the view you want.
Assess what the optimal way to run the wires from each camera down to the NVR would be. At this step, you will need to consider several things.
The next thing to consider is the location of your NVR.
You should place the NVR in a place to which you can run the wires and that would be convenient to you and suitable to keep an NVR.
A lot of people prefer to keep things out of the way. For example, they will keep the NVR in a closet and drill down a hole in the closet from the attic. Closets that also have access to the attic can be a particularly good choice in this case). Some other popular areas to keep an NVR are on the first floor or basement.
Are you going to be drilling holes and running the wires through walls or running them through cable channels along the wall?
Drywall is easier to work with and patch. However, drilling through concrete walls can be trickier and more labor-intensive. You also have to ensure you are not going through load-bearing beams or areas where wiring or plumbing may exist.
There are a few tools that you will likely need depending on your setup.
- 3/4 of an inch drill bit
- Siding removal tool
- Fish bit
- Fish stick or fish tape
- Flashlight or headlamp for the attic/crawlspace
- Junction boxes, conduit, cable ties, and cable clips
- Mask, gloves, and goggles
How to Run the Cables Through the Soffit
After the preliminary checks mentioned above have been done, you can proceed with the actual process of mounting the camera and running the wires through the soffit.
There are a few different ways you can go about this, which will be covered below.
Before we start let me get this out of the way.
Yes, you can drill through the soffit to hang cameras and run the wires through it.
Plan the Wiring Route
After planning where you will be mounting the cameras and where your NVR or WiFi router will be, it is time to plan the wiring route.
Use your home’s blueprint. This can help in determining how much wire you will need without having to go around measuring everything.
Always make sure to have more wire than you think you’d need.
After deciding where you will be mounting the camera, mark the spot where you need to drill a hole for the cable.
Drill a Hole Where the Wire Will Run
The hole should be large enough to fit the cables through. Often, no more than 3/4 of an inch is needed depending on the camera you are installing; some cameras may have multiple cables, so make sure to account for that.
Drill the hole where you will be mounting the camera. That way, both the cable and the drilled hole will be hidden by the camera’s canopy.
If the panel is nailed down, you may have to use snips or a reciprocating saw to cut a small section near or out of the soffit, but a regular drill may work just as well.
Mounting the Camera Using a Backing
This is a less destructive way to mount the camera as, in some cases, it is not even necessary to drill through the soffit.
Get a 2″ aluminum flat bar and ensure that it is of the correct length so that it can be inserted between the soffit channels. The soffit brackets are strong enough to keep the aluminum flat bar in place so that it can be used as a base for the camera. Then, you can run the wire on top of the bar and up around the soffit.
The aluminum flat bar can then be secured with nails or screws to prevent movement if you live in a particularly windy area.
For a better visual example of how it all works check this video.
Some homeowners also go the route of using a 2×4 as a backing to keep the camera secured—especially, if the soffit is very flimsy and unstable.
The 2×4 is placed above the soffit, and the camera is mounted through the soffit and into the 2×4. Usually, a hole is drilled through both the soffit and the 2×4 for the wire. The process is the same as outlined above but with a few extra steps because of the 2×4.
Run the Cable Into the Attic
If you were able to remove the soffit, generally, you should now have access to the attic airspace.
After drilling the hole you can run the cable through the hole and up the attic.
This is where you may run into some problems.
Often, the design of the crawlspace can make it very difficult or even impossible to reach the wires, especially if there is a lot of insulation around.
This is where using a fish stick can make the job a lot easier.
Using a fish stick push the cable inside the attic.
Fish sticks can also be used to pull the wire from the inside, too, which can be super helpful if you cannot remove the soffit panel. All you have to do is attach a little cord or a zip tie to the wire, push it through the hole you have just drilled in the soffit, and reel it back in with the fish stick.
That said, depending on your soffit you might need a helper, too.
Be careful not to pull on the cables too hard, as this can damage the camera or the cables.
Here’s a quick video guide on how to drill the soffit and run the wires inside the attic.
Terminate the Wires and Test
Run the wire to the wiring closet, the central area of choice, or the junction box.
At this point, you can terminate the cables and test them using a cable tester if you want to.
Turn on your security cameras and test the live feed. Ensure everything is running smoothly.
Precautions to Take After Running the Wires
Ensure the soffit does not end up jagged with sharp edges that can damage the cables over time. If your soffit got damaged badly consider sanding the sharp edges, twisting them, or using a conduit.
Generally, silicon around the mount is not necessary but can be applied if desired.
Weatherproof boots can be used to run the cable through the soffit and provide better insulation and protection to the wires.
Outdoor cameras are usually waterproof, so there is no need to worry too much about them. The eave will also keep them protected from the rain and sunlight.
If the wiring is going through the soffit and inside the attic, it is unlikely to run into any issues when it comes to water.
Consider running the wires inside a conduit and junction boxes where possible; that makes the installation neater and gives everything an extra layer of protection. If you will be using junction boxes in the attic, make sure to have them properly installed, covered, and protected.