One question I get on a fairly regular basis is “How do I secure a camera on a drop ceiling tile?” The answer is, it depends on your camera. Let’s face it; drop ceiling tiles are not the sturdiest surface to attach anything of any significant weight to. The big fear is mounting a camera, taking a step back to admire your handy work as falls to the floor and smashes into a dozen no longer covered under warranty pieces.
Choose the Proper Location
First things first. Choose the proper location for the camera. When choosing which tile to attach the camera to, consider using a whole tile. That way if it ever becomes necessary to move the camera it’s as easy as swapping that tile for another whole one. Next, make a hole for the cable in the space the camera will cover. Now you are ready to mount the camera.
For a lightweight camera the answer is quick and simple. I have found that plastic wall anchors work great for giving the screw something to hold on to without the need for modification or additional work. Traditionally, the anchor would be placed into a hole in the wall and when the screw is inserted the anchor expands and you have a secure mount. For brick, concrete, drywall… great. For a drop ceiling tile, not so much. For this application, instead of putting in the ceiling tile use it above the tile. The best option is to use a 2″ to 2 1/2″ drywall screw and mount the camera base directly to the tile. When the screw penetrates the back side of the tile, place the anchor over it and thread it on. It may be necessary to use a pair of pliers to hold it. Allow the anchor to tighten just enough to sink into the tile and move to the next one.
For a heavier camera such as the armor domes you will want to reinforce the tile. There are different options but the easiest is using 2 pieces of one inch by half inch wood cut to the same length as the tile itself. By doing this you are essentially able to rely less on the tile and more on the grid. Position the camera on the tile. Mark the screw holes by pushing a small screwdriver through until it’s exposed on the back of the tile for each hole. Place the wood slats across the tile ensuring they cover the holes. When lined up correctly the two slats will cover 4 holes. Thread the 2″ to 2 1/2″ drywall screws into the wood.
Make sure you use all of the screw holes provided. That’s it. Replace the tile and admire your handy work as it does not fall to the ground and maintains its warranty.
For more on drop ceiling installations view our four part video tutorial series Security Camera Ceiling Mount Installation.