Over the past few years, doorbell cameras have become more and more popular. The ability to see and communicate with whoever is at your door from almost any location makes contact-free deliveries that much easier.
Having live video feed of your front door provides a great boost to your home security, offering peace of mind by letting you know exactly who is calling before you’ve even opened the door.
But how exactly do doorbell cameras work? And which one is right for you?
What is a Doorbell Camera?
Doorbell cameras (sometimes called video doorbells) are a type of doorbell with a built-in camera that provides a video feed to a suitable monitor (such as a smartphone) when pressed.
With certain doorbell cameras, you can communicate via a speaker on the doorbell. This can be useful when advising couriers attempting to make a delivery while you’re away, as well as allowing you to identify who is ringing your doorbell and what their intentions are, which can provide an extra sense of security before opening your door.
How do Doorbell Cameras Work?
Doorbell cameras use either Wi-Fi or wireless data connectivity to relay a video feed from the camera to a paired monitoring device, usually a smartphone. When the doorbell is pressed, a notification will be sent to your phone, and once opened will allow you to view the video feed from the camera.
Some cameras will start recording as soon as they detect motion; obviously this is not ideal for homes with pedestrian traffic nearby, e.g. apartment buildings, as you can end up with a ton of unwanted recordings.
You can typically start and stop recordings from your phone which are then usually saved onto a cloud storage service, although these often require you to pay for a subscription.
If you want to save recordings and review them at a later time without a cloud subscription, many doorbell cameras are compatible with SD cards.
Why should I use a Doorbell Camera?
A doorbell camera works in a very similar way to caller ID on a phone, giving you the chance to ignore (or even dismiss, if your doorbell has a speaker) unwanted callers.
Our Top 5 Doorbell Cameras
Google Nest Doorbell
Best all-round doorbell camera
From $179.99. Available from Google.
There’s a reason that Google’s home security products are so popular: they offer excellent compatibility with other devices, allowing for a seamlessly connected home camera suite – and all at very reasonable price points. They offer wired and battery-powered options, and look absolutely fantastic, with an incredibly sleek design and easy installation. They are equipped with vertical viewing angles, allowing you to see whoever’s ringing your doorbell in full, and HDR enabled night-vision.
· Smart notifications which alert you to the nature of the call, such as package deliveries and vehicle detection
· Menu of pre-set responses, so that even if you can’t talk, you can still answer the door from afar
· Simple installation
· Not the most affordable option
· Requires subscription for certain features
· Poor integration with systems outside of Google
Ring Video Doorbell
Best budget doorbell camera
From $99.00 ($51.99 Wired). Available from Ring.
If you’re searching for a video doorbell on a budget, you can’t do much better than this wired doorbell. Unlike Google, Ring offers various doorbells at different price points; if your needs are more basic, the standard Ring Video Doorbell should suit them perfectly. It even boasts better video recording quality than the Nest doorbell, and is compatible with Amazon Alexa-enabled devices.
· Very low price point
· Compatible with Amazon products
· Customizable options with extra features
· Missing some key features, such as a built-in chime.
What Users Say
Honestly, the audio and video quality is very good. I absolutely don’t regret this purchase. At the price, it is really competitive. – From amazon.com
Arlo Essential Wireless Video Doorbell
Best for video quality
From $124.97. Available from Arlo.
The Arlo Essential offers similar features to our other cameras on this list, but for its slightly higher price-point, you get an improved video resolution of 1080p.
· Sleek design
· Higher recording quality
· Requires a chime to be bought separately
· Short battery life
· Requires subscription
What Users Say
Very pleased with this doorbell. Excellent quality pictures. I would certainly recommend this product, as it gives peace of mind. Easy to fit and connect to WiFi.
eufy Security Video Doorbell Camera
Best subscription free option
From $199.99. Available from Amazon.
This doorbell is proud to boast local storage, meaning you won’t need to pay for a subscription in order to save recordings. Eufy have quite a few options available, and the more expensive ones can offer an extraordinary 2K resolution, all with a 180-day battery life.
· No subscription required
· Stunning 2K resolution
· Good battery life
· Slight delays reported between motion detection and notifications.
aosu Video Doorbell
Best with chime included
From $149.99. Available from Amazon.
While the products listed above are all excellent, not all of them come with an indoor chime. The aosu video doorbell offers 1080p resolution, 166° viewing angles, and comes with an indoor chime included to boot, all at an incredibly low price point.
· A lot included for the cost.
· Camera is every bit as good as many of its more expensive peers.
· Motion detection needs improvements – occasionally gets triggered by changes in lighting.
What Users Say
Audio is fantastic; once triggered, you can hear audio 30 meters away.
How to Install a Video Doorbell
How you install your video doorbell will depend on whether it is wireless or not, but the process is similar for both. We’ll walk you through the basic steps below:
- Choose where to mount your doorbell. If your new doorbell is wired, you will need to mount it in the same place as your previous doorbell. Otherwise, we recommend either side of your doorframe where there is good visibility toward the entrance of your property.
- Be sure to follow your manufacturers instructions when fixing your mount, as instructions may vary depending on what material you’re screwing into. You may also use a wedge plate, which angles the doorbell downward slightly, giving a better view.
- Install the corresponding monitoring application with your doorbell. Most doorbells will have a dedicated app that you must use. Follow the in-app instructions to pair your doorbell with your smartphone.
- If your doorbell comes with a chime, follow the instructions to pair it, and then plug it in somewhere fairly central in your home.
Video Doorbell vs. Security Camera – Which Should I Choose?
With video doorbells offering very similar features to a home security camera, you might wonder which suits your needs better, and whether you really need both. But video doorbells lack certain features unique to home security cameras, and vice versa.
Video doorbells offer all the practical benefits we’ve listed above, and can make your life easier for a few reasons. That said, they don’t possess the enhanced viewing angles that home security cameras do, and also don’t tend to be as effective as a deterrent to intruders.
Still, a video doorbell does provide some peace of mind, and is better than having no surveillance at all. The motion detection they offer can be pivotal in catching intruders in the act and being able to call the police in time.
Using AlfredCamera as a DIY Doorbell Option
Even the more affordable doorbell camera options require parting with a pretty penny, but that doesn’t mean you have to go without.
I have it positioned in a small peephole pan of glass in the front door so when the camera is flipped to the rear, I can check who comes to my front door! Like a smart doorbell & pet monitor in one … I make minimum wage so I could never afford this kind of thing if it wasn’t for you guys!
I use my camera to see who’s ringing my doorbell since I live on the 3rd floor.
I like to set my camera up by the front door so I can be notified if anyone tries to break in.
Do doorbell cameras record all the time?
While some doorbell cameras may have the option to record at all times, this can be intensive on any available storage space. As most video doorbells will start recording whenever motion is detected, 24/7 recording is not usually needed.
Can I use a doorbell camera without service?
Even if you have no Wi-Fi, or no signal with which to use data, your doorbell camera will still record any presence at your home. While you may not be able to view the footage live, you will be able to review it at a later time when you have signal.
How do doorbell cameras get power?
Doorbell cameras can be powered via wiring as per a normal doorbell, however some models use a rechargeable battery pack instead.
Is there a monthly charge for a doorbell camera?
Most doorbell cameras are free to use, and a lot of monitoring apps only require a single purchase; however, if you want to store the camera’s recordings and don’t have access to an SD card, you will often have to pay for a cloud storage service on a monthly basis.
How far can a video doorbell see?
This varies, and is entirely dependent on the quality of the doorbell camera you choose. Typically, though, a doorbell camera won’t be able to detect motion further than 50 feet away – more than enough for most users.
With quite a few doorbells on the market, it can be hard to discern exactly which is right for you. Once you know which features are most important to you, you’ll be able to select a video doorbell that caters to your needs exactly, and never miss a delivery again. As improving your home security goes, buying a video doorbell is an excellent place to start, giving you peace of mind whether at home or away.