What’s the Best Video Doorbell for Your Smart Home?
4 July 2021
While most people are out at the lake or barbequing with family, Debbie and I are working on more house plans. We’ll still be seeing family but as lumber prices continue to drop for an 8th straight week — and they’re down more than 50% from highs as record-setting demand slows — things are looking very encouraging for us to begin construction soon. We have yet to completely finalize our work with the architect as there are some final floor plan tweaks we need to make and complete our exterior elevation planning. So we are dedicating the long weekend to getting those things accomplished which should position us to start interviewing prospective builders soon and getting bids on construction. That will take some time but it’ll still leave us enough window to potentially get the foundation poured, house framed and closed in before the winter sets in.
As we work on that, I continue to plan for the smart home integration. I addressed how to protect your home with the latest in smart home tech back in January but it covered a broad range — security cameras to locks to smoke detectors. Today, I want to do a more comprehensive deep dive on video doorbells as they are a pretty popular early smart home accessory and generally have many use cases.
Most video doorbells come with motion detection, night vision and smartphone alert features, so be sure to do your homework on the different capabilities to get the best fit for you (and your family’s) needs and lifestyle. Many also require a monthly subscription to store video in the cloud, so factor a few years of service into the price before you make a decision. And if you’re also thinking of adding outdoor security cameras to your solution or integrating a video doorbell into a comprehensive smart home system, explore your compatibility options so you don’t find yourself juggling between a variety of different apps.
If your house has existing low-voltage doorbell wiring, take advantage of it for uninterrupted service. If it doesn’t, there are battery-powered solutions that offer more flexibility when it comes to location. And if you’re renting and can’t mount anything to the wall — or you’d just prefer not to — there are alternatives for that too.
The Vivint Doorbell Camera Pro isn’t cheap at $249, but it’s more elegant looking and sophisticated than the similarly priced Ring Video Doorbell Pro 2 and the Nest Hello. Vivint offers one of the best professionally installed and monitored smart home/home security solutions on the market, but you don’t necessarily need to buy the entire system to deploy this doorbell.
What makes the Vivint Doorbell Camera Pro the best option is its unique offering of features you won’t find on competing products. It delivers very high resolution (1664 x 1664 pixels), has a 180 x 180-degree field of view that shows visitors from head to toe and it flashes a light and sounds a tone when visitors approach, helping them locate the doorbell button while putting potential porch pirates on notice that they’re being monitored. You may want to sign up for the optional cloud-storage plan for $4.99/mo. to get the maximum benefit otherwise you’ll get only a live stream from the camera without it, but its selling price includes professional installation, even if your home doesn’t have the low-voltage wiring it requires for power.
Ring has a wide variety of security products depending on your need, preferences and budget. They allow you to get notifications when your cameras detect motion, check in on your home anytime with live view and speak to anyone there with two-way talk. I installed a Ring doorbell camera at my parents house so they can be alerted when they have visitors or as packages are delivered. They really like the ability to configure zones in areas around their front door to pick up activity in their driveway, walkway and front yard.
If your house isn’t wired for a low-voltage doorbell, battery-powered solutions are available but be prepared to change batteries. And that could be frequent if you live in a highly urban environment or there’s a lot of foot traffic near your front door.
The Ring Video Doorbell 3 Plus is a very good battery-powered doorbell, especially for all of you out there who’ve invested deeply in the Ring ecosystem. But for my money, Eufy makes a better battery-powered doorbell camera for most people. The Eufy Video Doorbell 2K delivers higher resolution with its professional-grade lens to allow you to view activity and see visitors in sharp detail as they approach your door. The increased 4:3 aspect ratio ensures you get a head-to-toe view of anyone at our door and gives you the perfect viewing angle every time. You also have total control over what is detected through the use of the motion sensor, smart human detection and activity zones and you’ll receive real-time alerts about activity. And video is stored locally so you don’t need to pay for a subscription just to see recorded video. On the downside, it can connect only to 2.4GHz wifi networks.
Ring does win the best budget priced video doorbell category with its Ring Video Doorbell Wired. Its an inexpensive doorbell that can be integrated with the company’s smart home ecosystem. It’s a single-band wifi device and it can’t ring your existing chime despite being wired to it. But it does deliver pretty good 1080p video in daylight and very good black-and-white night vision when it gets dark. And all at a price point of $60.
I’ve become more impressed with Apple’s HomeKit smart home development, especially since their recent annual World Wide Developer Conference (WWDC 2021). I was primarily focused on Apple’s plans around smart home and Matter. I posted a blog in May regarding Matter and the efforts around standardization in smart home.
Logitech has capitalized on HomeKit’s best features to deliver the Circle View Doorbell, which has to be the top pick in video doorbells for Apple users using HomeKit as the foundation for their smart home. Plus it features Face Recognition, head-to-toe HD video, color night vision, and more, with notifications sent directly to your Apple devices.
For those looking for another video doorbell alternative or for renters who don’t always have the ability to change or install a doorbell, you should check out the Remo+ DoorCam 2. It has a clever design that puts the unit over the top of your door, so you can keep watch via the Full HD camera with 2 built-in motion sensors and enhanced night vision. It doesn’t have a doorbell function, but it will alert you to anyone at your door. Two-way audio allows you to chat with people on the other side of the door without opening it. The DoorCam 2 can be mounted in seconds and lasts up to 4 months before batteries have to be replaced.
As you can see, there are plenty of ways to skin the smart home video doorbell cat. The really neat thing is there are so many good options depending on your specific circumstances and needs. Outside of the security elements around protecting yourself and your family or preventing porch pirates from stealing your deliveries, there are a lot of other interesting applications and “happy accidents” from capturing video at your front door. I’ve read stories of mischief being recorded later used by police to capture and convict vandals and thieves. Conversely, there have also been a lot of fun incidents documented of nocturnal wildlife visits or automation integrations for visitors with lighting to celebrate Holidays.
No matter your reason, these are all great solutions, come in a variety of price points and generally easy to install. I’d encourage anyone to invest in a video doorbell as they are a good first step into the smart home world. There’s no telling where it will lead from there.
Which is your favorite? If you already have a video doorbell, is it one of these mentioned above or something different? How do you like it? How are you leveraging it with other smart home tech? Or how would you like to? Let Debbie and I know as we love hearing from you in the comments, DMs and email. Until next week …
In full disclosure, I’m not an affiliate marketer with links to any online retailer on my website. When people read what I’ve written about a particular product and then click on those links and buy something from the retailer, I earn nothing from the retailer. The links are strictly a convenience for my readers.