Do I Need a Video Doorbell and How to Choose One

Did you ever want to know who was at your door before you opened it? And did you ever want the convenience of knowing who might drop by your house while you were at work? If you didn’t know that was possible, then you can stop what you’re doing and be in the know about what a video doorbell is.

Protect Yourself And Your Family From Potential Intruders

A Video doorbell also known as smart doorbells are modern doorbells that have cameras, speaker and a microphone that allows you to speak to and see who is at your door before you open it. Most video doorbells connect to the Internet and allow you to answer your door while you are out of your house. The innovation on home automation systems is endless, and video doorbells are proof of this.

Don’t mistake this for a smart door look, the two are separate. While you can connect remotely and have a full on conversation with the visitor at your door when they buzz, that is the extend of what you can do with a smart video doorbell.

To unlock the door remotely, you will need a smart door lock. See our post on smart door locks on our article, Smart Locks – secure your home with the best keyless connected locks. Both smart video doorbells and smart locks work hand in hand but may mean that you need to access two separate apps.

A video doorbell can be both a home security system as you can remotely monitor the outside of your door and a home surveillance system as it proactively tells you when there is movement or activity beyond the front door, say your car porch or driveway. It gives you peace of mind against potential home intruders both while inside your home or out of it.

Ye’old Door Bell

The original doorbell was a key-like mechanism that strikes a bell alerting the homeowner of a guest. Today, doorbells can both be wireless or wired to your electric circuit at home. A totally wire-free doorbell uses rechargeable batteries that last for two and up to six months. It may seem tedious to recharge, but wireless doorbells are also easier to install as it only uses an adhesive or mounting plate to place it on your wall or door.

On the other hand, a wired doorbell usually requires professional installation to attach it to your door and to install the wiring correctly, not to mention ensuring the right transformer to use, drilling holes on the door and wall. However, once installed, you never have to worry about replacing or charging any batteries as it is permanently wired and powered.

A hardwired video doorbell will have WiFi connectivity too for remote access via the mobile app but uses the existing chime bell wiring to connect to existing mechanical chime and for its power source.

Both wired and wireless video doorbells will go down when there is a power cut. And, if you live in an area where the winters are extra cold, you might need to check the working temperature range for your chosen video doorbell be it wired or wireless. Chances are it may stop working.

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Ring Video Doorbell 2 on Amazon

The Doorbells Of The Future

Today’s video doorbells boast a wide array of selection which you can see with a quick Google search. If you are on a budget, you can choose a cheaper model with basic features and simple design. On the flip side, more expensive video doorbells are well designed and visually appealing with its sleek and sturdy look. Most importantly, it will be packed with many useful features.

The top of the line video doorbell models blend in with your home’s overall architecture and are slim and inconspicuous. It resembles a modern intercom with video capability so one knows to buzz and communicate with the person on the other side, be it in the house or remotely if you are out. For the latter, the doorbell will buzz you on your mobile app so you can answer the door from virtually anywhere in the world (where there is Internet connection of course).

Wait… There is More

Manufacturers have also introduced motion sensor technology, wherein an alert can be sent to your phone, notifying you of activity outside your door, making it the perfect home security system. Most video doorbells let you set activity area or motion zones to differentiate between passing cars and communal paths. This stops the unit from sending false alerts.

Other more advanced units comes with AI technology that recognises and differentiates shapes like a person or parcel. Some goes further to pick up faces and if you identified your friends and family on the app, it can be programmed to send you familiar face alerts to let you know who has arrived home. You can choose to disable these alerts and only send sends a notification when there is a stranger at the door.

Buying Guide: How To Choose A Video Doorbell

When looking for the perfect video doorbell for you and your family, you should choose one capable of capturing at least 1080p video. While that sounds a bit over the top, being able to see a person’s face before they enter your home will pay for itself one day if your footage is used to apprehend petty crime.

Video aspect ratio is another consideration. Wide angle footage at 16:9 are not very good at showing a complete picture of who is at the door. A more suitable ratio would be 4:3 or 1:1. These will have a bigger viewport and show a person at the door, head to toe.

You will also need intercom capabilities to speak to the person at the door before opening it or to give him or her instructions if you are away. Face recognition to identify the visitor by name, motion sensor that avoid dubious notifications, and night vision video capabilities are all nice to have.

With night vision and infrared lights built-in it continues to work for you even at night when you are asleep. When used this way, it doubles as a security camera picking up and recording images of suspicious persons near your house at night and alerting you of them.

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Ring Video Doorbell Pro on Amazon

Some video doorbells store recorded footage on an SD card (optional) in a secure slot internally, while the more expensive ones need you to purchase a monthly subscription to a cloud-based service for a minimal $3 per month or a more expensive plan to store longer than 30 days worth of footage.

The advantage of having a larger cloud space to save your video recordings means you help enhance your neighbourhood’s security. If there is ever suspicious activity going on, you can present good quality videos to the authorities, and your video might help apprehend potential threats.

Most of the modern video doorbells can be integrated with voice activated services like Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa. If you already have one of these smart assistants at home, it is worth choosing the video doorbell that supports it. The video doorbell can then be operated via voice command when configured. For example, you can tell your Google Assistant to turn on the video to your doorbell on the smart display and see a live feed of what’s going on out there.

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Video Doorbell with Alexa

Search Video Doorbell with Alexa Support

Integrate Your Video Doorbell With Your Home Network

There are many kinds of video doorbells available in the market today, most of these are a part of a more extensive home security system that works with your other devices such as door locks, alarm systems, and lighting.

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Nest Hello Doorbell on Amazon

You can also choose a video doorbell that supports the IFTTT (If This Then That) Internet service. With IFTTT, you can create commands called applets, that enable it to interact with other devices that you connect to your network.

If your doorbell doesn’t have wifi capabilities, you can purchase a device called a Wifi Doorbell Sensor to turn your existing wired doorbell into a smart doorbell and connect it via IFTTT. It may be a good option for apartment dwellers who don’t have the liberty or permission to change anything in their apartment or run the chance of losing their security deposit. All you have to do is connect the sensor to the chime box, and you’re all set.

Alternatively, you can choose video doorbell from the same manufacturer that supplies your security camera, smart door look or other smart home appliances for that matter. That way, you only need to access a single app to control the different devices and with luck, be able to create recipes or a list of event triggered actions similar to IFTTT.

Finally, there is the support for voice commands and live view on smart display. Two main voice activated assistances come to mind, Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. If you already use smart speaker or smart display from either of these companies, then you might consider video doorbells that support them to make the most of the integration.

With all things considered above, you are now ready to check the market for the best video doorbells available. Here are a few that we recommend: Top 8 Best Smart Video Doorbells for Your Front Door

RELATED: Top 8 Best Smart Video Doorbells for Your Front Door: remote intercom, face recognition & more

Writer: Irish Andrade is a passionate Writer and Content Creator. When not engrossed with work, she juggles her training of Brazilian Jiujitsu, love of Cooking and Food, and taking care of her active 3-year-old daughter.