How To Hide A Security Camera Indoors

Photo by Howie Mapson on Unsplash

When it comes to wanting ideas for hiding a security camera indoors, it seems to me that there are two very different needs.

The first is from people who have ordinary, smart security cameras.

Cameras such as Arlo Pro, Nest Indoor or a Wyze Cam.

The second need is for people who want to know about the best types of spy cameras.

These are cameras that are already hidden because they are built into everyday objects such as USB chargers.

And so in this post I want to provide ideas for both sets of needs. 

Firstly, let’s start with the more traditional cameras.

Why Hide A Security Camera?

I think that there are four reasons that anyone would want to hide a security camera. 

It is important to remember that there are a number of laws in the U.S., Europe and the U. K. that cover the use of security cameras. 

The reasons that I list below are affected by these laws to a greater or lesser extent.

[1] Intruders

To me this is the most important reason for the majority of people. Householders want to hide a security camera so that any potential intruders cannot steal the camera or destroy it. 

Any security camera that records footage onto an SD card, even these beauties, are vulnerable when the camera is stolen or destroyed because any evidence is destroyed or stolen alongside the camera. 

Security cameras that store footage in the cloud aren’t as vulnerable. 

[2] Covert surveillance

The second biggest reason that people want to hide security cameras are to monitor people in their homes (or workplaces) that aren’t intruders. 

Such people include family members, domestic staff and employees. 

There are strict rules which apply to secret recordings and these include the fourth amendment (which provides individuals with protection against searches and seizures) and one party and two party consent. 

All of these will be discussed in detail in the next section. 

[3] Good looking

A lesser reason for people to want to hide their indoor security cameras is that they don’t want a security camera ruining the look of their interior. 

This is a bit feng shui but there are some people who want the peace of mind that a security camera brings but don’t want its presence. 

[4] Wildlife 

If a camera is used to monitor wildlife, then they need to be camouflaged so that the animals aren’t spooked. Although this is slightly outside of our discussion today because we are concentrating on indoors.

 The Law

In the U.S. there are no specific laws that relate to privacy unlike in Europe and the UK. 

And so that means that the most relevant legislation to look at is, firstly the fourth amendment.

The fourth amendment is about protection from searches and seizures. This is protection against unreasonable searches in locations that are thought to be private.

As far as security cameras are concerned, this means that they cannot be placed in bedrooms or restrooms. 

Tighter and clearer laws seem to be in place regarding the recording of audio or wire tapping. In the US these are covered by one party consent rules (which applies in about 30 U.S. states) and means that only the owner of the recording device needs to consent in order for any footage to be deemed legal. 

All other US states follow a two party consent rule. For any audio footage to be recorded legally, every person in the recording needs to agree to being recorded.

And there is an interesting overlap with another very new and contentious gadget- digital assistants such as Alexa and Google Assistants, which listen and respond to verbal commands (as well as storing these records.) 

Now that we have finished with the serious business of discussing applicable laws, let’s crack on and look at the different places that you can hide your standard security cameras. 

Hiding Smart Security Cameras Indoor

These come in all shapes and tend to be of a similar size but they have one thing in common.

They were designed primarily to record good quality video footage and to look fairly attractive so that they blended in with modern interior design.

Manufacturers wanted people to not be embarrassed by placing these cameras around their homes.

Importantly, these types of security cameras were not designed primarily to be hidden- that is only something that has become an important afterthought for them.

Their size and design make them much harder to hide.

And one of the things that make some of these cameras harder to hide than others are wires.

Some security cameras need to be constantly plugged into a power cable and an Ethernet cable in order to work. 

So in this section I am going to give you a long list of practical ways that you can hide these cameras.

[1] Silicon Skins

A Silicone skin is a flexible cover that you can buy for your camera.

These silicone skins are designed to protect your security camera and to help it blend in or remain hidden.

Interestingly, most of these skins are made by third parties and not the manufacturer themselves.

An example is that if you wanted to buy a skin for your Arlo camera, you would buy one from a company such as Wasserstein and not Arlo themselves. 

Of course, the more popular your camera, the better choice of skin color and pattern that you can choose from. 

And so, the choice of skins for your Arlo Pro or your Nest Indoor Cam are wider than for other cameras.

Skins for Arlo cameras come in four of five different colors including a camouflage design for outside cameras. 

Another interesting use of skins is in the baby monitor and camera market. There are skins available that will make your camera less intimidating for a young baby or toddler.

They turn your camera into a cute object such as a rabbit or a dog

Advantages of Using Skins To Hide Your Security Camera

High quality product which will work well.

Disadvantages of Using Skins To Hide Your Security Camera

They need to be purchased separately: although they should only cost around $10. 

[2] Using mounts or brackets

The second way to hide your security camera indoors is to buy a mount or bracket which will enable you to place the camera in an unexpected location.

These brackets make use of the hiding in plain sight principle. 

Because these security cameras are not hidden as such, they are invisible because they are in unexpected locations. 

The main types of mounts for indoor cameras are those that enable you to mount a camera on a wall or ceiling (the higher the better), plugged into an electrical outlet, or hanging from a hook or a bar.

All of these do present some challenges in terms of the location of the camera and the quality of footage that they can record. 

For instance, if you mount a camera on a wall up near to the ceiling, will it be able to capture the features of people’s faces or will it just film the top of people’s heads. 

The same goes for security cameras mounted into electrical sockets- will you film people’s faces or just their chests and knees?

Advantages of Using Mounts To Hide Your Security Camera

High quality product which will work well if set up properly. 

Disadvantages of Using Mounts To Hide Your Security Camera

Separate purchase necessary. Although they cost about $10. 

[3] On a Cluttered Shelf

This is another location that uses the plain sight principle.

Most of us have a shelf in one of the main rooms of the house.

These shelves tend to be crammed objects and we often tell ourselves to tidy up but their higgledy piggledy nature in this instance can help us. 

As long as you can place your security camera in such a way that it will be able to “see” the most important parts of the room, just add your camera onto the shelf.

It will easily get lost.

People may briefly glance at the shelf but because it has so many objects to look at, they should not detect the presence of a camera

Advantages of Shelves To Hide Your Security Camera

Most of us have a cluttered shelf somewhere!

No separate purchase necessary.

Disadvantages of Using Shelves To Hide Your Security Camera

Do you have access to an electrical outlet if needed?

[4] On a Bookcase

This is really very similar to using a shelf but for this you really want to place a camera within a book.

This video takes us step by step through how to make a book with a secret compartment. 

You can modify it slightly for a security camera. 

Make sure that you have a big enough book for the size of the camera and that you have a few of these books so that they don’t look out of place on your shelf.

And if you don’t have the right book, then look in your local second hand book store, charity shop or antique shop.

You should be able to buy a couple of books for very little money.

This would make an ideal weekend or “rainy day project”.

Advantages of Using a Bookshelf To Hide Your Security Camera

If you like creative projects, this would be really cool…

The finished article could look amazing.

Disadvantages of Using a Bookshelf To Hide Your Security Camera

Is there an electrical outlet close by?

To carry this off”like a pro” involves quite a bit of extra work

[5] Amongst your Gadgets

Most of us have a laptop or desktop computer or a TV (with a set top box and router) which are positioned in some of the busiest rooms of our house.

Why not place your camera in amongst some of these.

To the casual eye it is just another gadget in amongst a whole pile of electronic stuff. 

Advantages of Hiding Your Security Camera Amongst Your Gadgets

The camera would be in an ideal position if you needed to physically touch it.

If you need power, you are bound to be close to an outlet.

Disadvantages of Hiding Your Security Camera Amongst Your Gadgets

Would this be the first place that a potential intruder might look?

[6] Plant Pots

My third method of hiding indoor cameras is to place one amongst the foliage of a house plant, which will provide enough camouflage.

Also, because people don’t expect to see a camera in a plant pot, they probably won’t notice it even if they were staring at the plant.  

Advantages of Using Plants To Hide Your Security Camera

Most of us have a houseplant, so there is no need to buy anything

The level of natural camouflage offered by a plant is incredible.

Disadvantages of Using Plants To Hide Your Security Camera

Will the lens be obscured as the plant grows?

Will you remember to move the camera before you water the plant?!

[7] An old phone jack socket.

As part of my research for this article, I watched a cool video about hiding places that most of us have in our homes but we just don’t think about. 

And the first place that is mentioned are redundant phone jacks.

How many of us have house phones any more?

If you care to watch the video, it will automatically start in the correct place. 

Just press play. 

As the video makes perfectly clear, do not try this with electrical outlets- only phone sockets. 

Advantages of Using a Phone Socket To Hide Your Security Camera

This is so secret it is amazing.

Disadvantages of Using a Phone Socket To Hide Your Security Camera

Like the bookshelf, this is a bit of a project.

You would need a small camera that is battery operated. 

[8] Stuffed animal or toy

My penultimate idea for a place to hide a security camera within a house is within a stuffed animal. Although the camera would need to be quite small and battery operated. 

This would be most appropriate in a house where there are children although since lots of adults have cuddly toys, it would not be that out of place in a home where there are no children. 

[9] Box of Tissues

My final idea for hiding a security camera is to hide it within a box of tissues.

Now to me, using a proper box of tissues seems a bit corny perhaps because of how flimsy the box really is.

After all it is only made of cardboard.

But this video shows a more sophisticated type of tissue box to use…

A spy tissue box

Now that I have listed nine ideas for how you can hide or camouflage standard security cameras in the next section I will look at the emerging role of spy cameras, which are cameras that have been created for the sole intention of being hidden.

Hiding Spy and Hidden Cameras Indoors

Did you know that the first spy camera was designed and built in 1936 by a German called Walter Zapp? 

It is called the Minolta Riga and that its dimensions were 8 cm x 2.7 cm x 1.6 cm?

Now that is cool. 

The market for spy cameras is growing all the time.

In this post, I will look at eight types of hidden cameras which regularly appear in the best selling lists on Amazon.

It is important to say that there are many, many more objects with built in spy cameras.

Now, let me give you a quick of some of the various types of hidden cameras that there are, starting with the most established. 

I have split these cameras into three sections to make it easier to understand how effective each camera is

[A] The Reliable

[1] Cube cameras

I was struggling for an appropriate name to describe spy cameras that aren’t built into another device but are spy cameras by virtue of how small they are. 

These cameras are cubed shaped and they are truly tiny.

One of the best sellers at the moment is only 2.5 cm x 2.5 cm and although they aren’t built into another device, by virtue of their size they can be successfully hidden almost anywhere.

[2] USB Chargers

These are the chargers that we use for our phones and tablets- what have you. 

These are some of the most highly rated of all spy cameras. 

I think perhaps that one of the reasons is that these chargers don’t rely on batteries for power, which can be a bit unreliable. 

The camera is at the front of the charger above the USB port and it is very well hidden. 

And they are the perfect disguise. USB chargers are two a penny in our homes and so they won’t arouse any suspicions.. 

They work as USB chargers

[3] Power banks

Power banks are portable batteries that we plug our phones into when we are on the move and it recharges them. 

Only power banks with hidden cameras in them can also film people. 

They work as power banks and for a spy camera they are highly unusual as they have an enormous battery life- as you might expect

[4] Pens

Spy pens are the most James Bond of all of the gadgets in this list. 

They are battery powered and have resolution up to 1080p. They include features such as motion tracking. 

Pen cameras are an incredible disguise but you need to make sure that the pen is in the right position, which can be a bit of a give away. 

Also, they don’t work as pens. 

[5] Lightbulb Cameras

You can buy a light bulb camera that fits into any screw fix light fitting and gives you a bird’s eye view of what is happening in the room. 

They function as a light bulb and a camera. 

The Not So Reliable

[6] Smoke detectors

With smoke detectors we are beginning to move into the realms of spy cameras where the ratings are poor and individual products don’t seem to be available for long periods. 

Like the light bulb cameras, detectors are positioned on the ceiling and provide a panoramic view of a room. 

Unlike light bulbs, they are not working smoke detectors. 

But because they are mounted on the ceiling, they stay largely unnoticed and are a perfect disguise. 

[7] Hidden camera clock

Do you remember those digital clicks with the time in large numbers in red or blue? 

These hidden camera clocks are exactly the same but with the addition of a camera. 

Although these clocks are best suited for sitting on a desk in a study, they won’t be too out of place sitting on a shelf in a living room. 

[8] Picture Frames

Our final type of spy camera are those that are hidden within picture frames. 

This disguise is perfect. Can you imagine glancing at a shelf with a few picture frames on it and try to identify if any of them has a hidden camera within it. 

Plain illegal

Earlier, we discussed the laws that surround the use of spy cameras and although there are some grey areas, they are some lines that legally should never be crossed.

Spy cameras cannot be legally used in any bathroom or bedroom.

And yet there are a few products on the market which can only be used for illegal purposes.

Two such devices are cameras which are built into a shower head and a camera which is built into a waterproof radio- meant to be used in showers.

Before I finish this article, I want to just do a quick comparison between standard security cameras and spy cameras

Standard Security Cameras vs Hidden Cameras

Apart from the obvious difference in size between these two types of security camera, there are some other differences which as a potential buyer, you need to bear in mind.

In fact, I want to concentrate on three. 

Firstly, is the issue of familiarity. 

“Traditional” security cameras are made by companies which in the smart home world are household brands and they are American : Arlo, Nest and Wyze.

These brands are trusted and offer reliable guarantees and technical support. 

Secondly, these cameras tend to be feature rich- they come with all the technical bells and whistles.

The flip side of this is that these cameras are relatively expensive. 

In contrast, are the spy cameras. 

All of these cameras are made by small Chinese or Asian start up companies that hardly any of us know.

At the moment, many of these brands can’t possibly have our trust and instead require a leap of faith. 

Although marketplaces such as Amazon are full to bursting with different types of spy cameras, very few individual products are still for sale a year later. 

In return for this uncertainty buyers get cutting edge gadgets at bargain prices. 

Final Thoughts

I hope that you have enjoyed my 17 ideas to hide a security camera indoors. I have really enjoyed writing the post. 

I hope that you take two things away from this article.

Firstly some great and fun ideas of how to hide a security camera (and I would encourage you to be as creative as possible and come up with your own “locations”)  

Secondly, please remember to use hidden cameras in a very responsible way. 

I look forward to hearing from you.