31 October 2021
Debbie and I hit a milestone this week as we finalized the front elevation of our home plan. One of the areas we’ve understandably focused a lot of our time is the front entry as it’s the gateway to our home. Other than wanting it to be welcoming, it also needs to be protected. We’re not so much worried about trouble-makers but monitoring for package deliveries or waiting for family and friends to visit, video doorbells are a great way to help us keep an eye out.
Fortunately there are plenty of options out there depending on infrastructure, budget and technical proficiency for your smart home. If your house has existing low-voltage doorbell wiring you can take advantage of it for uninterrupted service. If it doesn’t or you need location flexibility, there are battery-powered solutions.
In our case, since our project is a new build, we have the luxury of getting the best option for a wired solution. I really like this as though the battery-powered solutions are more than adequate, I’m not a fan of creating future work for myself in either replacing or recharging batteries. I replaced the standard low-voltage doorbell at my parents house a couple years ago with a Ring Doorbell Pro. They’ve enjoyed the benefits of the automation it provides through visitor alerts since without the hassle of batteries. So this is definitely the way I’m going.
Most video doorbells come with motion detection, night vision and smartphone alert features. Many also require a monthly subscription to store video in the cloud, so factor a few years of service into the price if that’s the case before you make a decision.
And if you’re also thinking of adding outdoor security cameras to your smart home network, or just integrating a video doorbell into your smart home system, explore your compatibility options so you don’t end up juggling multiple hubs or apps.
As we’re going with a wired solution and it seems many people have existing standard low-voltage doorbells, that’s where I’m going to start …
The Vivint Doorbell Camera Pro isn’t the least-expensive video doorbell on the market, but it may be the best, offering unique features you won’t find on competing products. It delivers very high resolution (1664 x 1664 pixels), possesses 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 alerting potential porch pirates that they’re being monitored. There’s an optional cloud-storage plan ($4.99 per month) to get maximum benefit — providing video storage for review later if desired. Otherwise you’ll only 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.
For all you Apple HomeKit users out there, there’s a wired doorbell solution for you as well. I’m not a HomeKit user (yet) but Apple has been making enormous strides in their smart home integrations and with the popularity of their iPhone and iPad products it may be just a matter of time before they are a significant player. But for now, everyone not in the Apple ecosystem should ignore it.
The Logitech Circle View Doorbell will appeal to Apple people thanks to the camera and the long list of privacy and image-processing features it has to offer. Logitech has capitalized on HomeKit’s best features to deliver the Circle View Doorbell which features Logitech TrueView head-to-toe HD video video with 160° field of view, Face Recognition, color night vision up to 6 feet, 2-way audio, end-to-end encryption, package detection, rich notifications and custom Activity Zones. But it does require an iCloud+ plan and a home hub device.
Another good wired option comes from the Ring smart home ecosystem where one of their biggest selling points are budget-priced video doorbells. The Ring Video Doorbell Wired is an inexpensive but strong video doorbell that can be integrated with the company’s increasingly diverse smart home ecosystem. Some drawbacks may be it’s a single-band 2.4 GHz wifi device and it can’t ring your existing chime despite being wired to it. But it delivers pretty good 1080p HD video in daylight and very good black-and-white night vision along with two-way talk, advanced motion detection and customizable privacy settings.
With a Ring Protect Plan subscription — sold separately — you can record all your videos and review what you missed for up to 60 days, and share videos and photos. Maybe my favorite feature is it integrates with Alexa to hear alerts on any compatible Echo device or see a Live View with an Echo device with screen. You can simply talk to visitors by saying, “Alexa, talk to the front door.”
The Arlo Essential Wired Video Doorbell is a final wired option I’ll mention. Arlo’s wired security doorbell camera lets you see a person from head to toe or a package on the ground with 180-degree view. HD with HDR quality footage from the video camera ensures you see the details on your devices even in low light or bright conditions. It also enables you to hear and speak to visitors with clear two way audio or respond with pre-recorded quick reply messages when you are busy.
The Arlo Secure plan for your security cameras allows you to receive notifications for people, vehicles and packages so you can react in real time from your phone. You can also see who triggered a motion before anyone tries ringing the doorbell. With Arlo Foresight, the security camera captures video prior to every motion-triggered video recording so you don’t miss anything.
Setting the built-in siren to trigger manually or automatically during an event makes your smart doorbell a great addition to your home security system. Connectivity gives flexibility with routing either via directly to wifi or pair with select Arlo SmartHubs or Base Stations.
For those of you out there looking for great battery-powered video doorbell options, there are also plenty to choose from …
The Nest Video Doorbell (battery) is one of the best video doorbells as it’s easy to set up and accurate in use. Despite its name, this video doorbell can operate on either battery power or your home’s existing low-voltage wiring that powers your current doorbell. It delivered crisp and clear video recordings, and is consistently accurate with its alerts and notifications. HDR helps with bright, high-contrast light at all times, and night vision gives you a clear image, even in low light and darkness.
You can answer your door in real time or I really like the ability to leave pre-set messages. And you can add a Nest Aware subscription to get up to 60 days of event-based video history. Unlike other video doorbells, the Nest Doorbell is designed with a vertical field of view. A 3:4 ratio allows you can see people from head to toe, and parcels left on the ground.
If you’re firmly in the Alexa camp of smart speakers and displays, however, you’ll want to stick with Ring or another competitor, as this one works much better with Google Home products.
I’ve talked about Wyze products in previous posts. They have a a bit of an eclectic collection of smart home products ranging from smart bulbs to robot vacuums. Their Wyze Video Doorbell Pro is another option if your solution will require batteries but it can also be hardwired. They’re currently on preorder as they’re the newest Wyze product to be introduced recently.
On average you get up to 6 months of battery life or you can hardwire for continuous power. The camera lets you see everything with a 150°x150° view angle with Head-to-Toe + Ultrawide Viewing and 2-way audio so you can talk with your visitor, either home or away via the app. No subscription is required for 12-second motion-activated videos as Wyze provides free cloud storage with rolling 14 day access. Package and person detection is available through an upgrade to Cam Plus for $1.99/month to receive real-time alerts when packages and people are detected.
Dual band wifi capabilities offer flexibility around faster speeds and stronger connection with 2.4GHz/5GHz wifi. One differentiator with this video doorbell is the included chime which gives you audible options that include the standard chime, a chirp or bark with 20 tunes and 8 sound levels. I really like these options as you can set routines for home, away, traveling, etc.
Arlo offers a wireless option as well — the Arlo Essential Wireless Video Doorbell. Like the other battery-operated options it’s simple to set up and easy to recharge. The battery will last up to 6 months on a single charge. The camera allows you to see a person from head to toe or a package on the ground with 180-degree wide field view in HD with HDR, even in low light or bright conditions. You can see what triggered a motion before anyone tries to ring the doorbell with Arlo Foresight, like its wired twin, as the camera captures video prior to every motion-triggered video recording.
You can receive a video call from your wireless doorbell camera to your phone to hear and speak to visitors at your door bell with clear, two-way audio. Or respond with pre-recorded quick reply messages when you are busy. It also offers integration options for connecting to Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant and Samsung SmartThings. And with an Arlo Secure plan, you’ll receive notifications from the security camera for people, vehicles and packages. And all the video can be securely stored directly to your Arlo SmartHub or Base Station to view anytime anywhere. (station sold separately)
This weather resistant outdoor security camera is built and certified to withstand the heat, cold, rain or sun as well.
The Ring Video Doorbell 4 is their latest upgraded 1080p HD video doorbell camera with improved color video previews that works on any home. It features enhanced dual-band (2.4 or 5.0 GHz) wifi and Quick Replies when you’re busy. With Quick Replies you can choose from preset responses, or save time and ask visitors to leave a message with just a few taps. It’s like an answering machine for your front door. And with color Pre-Roll video previews of all motion events, you’ll never miss a moment at your front door.
You can set customizable privacy zones and audio privacy through the enhanced wifi connectivity. And improved motion detection provides you mobile notifications when anyone presses your doorbell or triggers your built-in motion sensors.
Its powered by a quick-release battery for easy recharging or connects to existing doorbell wires for constant power, allowing operation on any home.
With a Ring Protect Plan (subscription sold separately), you can record all your videos and review content for up to 60 days — and share videos and photos.
I highlighted another wireless option last week in my Smart Home Gift Ideas for the Holidays post’ The Eufy Security Doorbell has an incredibly clear 2K image along with special HDR and distortion correction technology. Basically, this device produces better imaging than most people can see with their own eyes.
Eufy’s doorbell also has a built-in speaker, which is perfect if a package is at the door. The doorbell camera can also distinguish different shapes, which means it won’t alert anyone if a cat walks around the front door. That’s really important with a smart doorbell, as false alerts can quickly make a video doorbell an annoyance.
As you can see there are many wired and wireless options to choose from. And if can’t mount anything to the wall — or you’d just prefer not to — there are a couple of alternatives for that scenario as well.
Video doorbells seem to be another smart entry device, much like smart bulbs. I’d imagine at least some of you out there have one — maybe even one I’ve highlighted here. If you do we’d love to hear your thoughts on it. Would you recommend it to others? Does it have an easy to use app interface? How easy was it to set up? Does it integrate well with your other smart technology or voice assistants?
I mentioned earlier I had set up a Ring Doorbell Pro and it was a breeze to install and set up. And operations since have gone flawlessly. So *assuming* all the Ring devices are similar I’d certainly recommend one of there models.
This wraps this week’s post but as always, Debbie and I appreciate your comments, questions and feedback so keep them coming. Let us know about your video doorbell experiences — good, bad, ugly. Or anything else smart home you may be thinking about. 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.