Whether you are trying to beef up your home security or make your home as “smart” as possible, WIFI-enabled doorbells are becoming increasingly popular. These video doorbells allow you to monitor the entry points to your home and not only record but also interact with individuals at your doorstep, and you can do this while you are miles away from your home.
Of course, every new technology has its ups and downs, and the following explores the many pros and cons of these new types of doorbells.
Pros of Video Doorbells
1. You Can View Your Front Door From Anywhere in the World
Not only will you have a video feed of what’s going on at your front door, but you’ll also be able to watch that feed from virtually anywhere.
As smart devices, most of these doorbell cameras sync up to your smartphone or tablet, enabling you to view and even interact with people who are at your doorstep. You’ll receive alerts on your phone whenever a visitor presses the doorbell or triggers the motion sensor, and from there, you’ll get a live feed of what’s going on. Innocent visitors can, of course, be ignored, but if you are away from home, the doorbell ensures you can still react to suspicious activity.
2. Two-Way Communication with Your Front Door
When you open the app to check out the video feed, you’ll also be able to speak with whoever is at your front door with your doorbell’s built-in microphone and speaker.
For example, if somebody is delivering a package, you can tell the delivery driver what to do. If you have a smart-lock system attached to your doorbell, you can simply unlock the door and tell him to stick the package inside so that it’s not exposed. Otherwise, you can simply inform familiar visitors that you aren’t home or even trick suspicious visitors into thinking you are home.
3. Recorded Events
When somebody rings your doorbell or triggers the motion detector, your doorbell usually goes into record mode, and it will record activity for a predetermined amount of time. You will still receive an alert when the device is triggered, but this doesn’t do much good if you aren’t near your phone. So, having your doorbell record these events means that you can view them later on.
4. Shareable with Friends, Family, and Neighbors
The events that your video doorbell captures are shareable, so you can quickly send the footage to family or friends. You can even upload the footage to social media.
Sometimes, this is just an interesting or funny clip that you happened to get on tape, but other times, you might be looking at criminal activity or a potential threat. If you are away from home, you could send that footage to somebody that’s in the area and ask them to watch your house or get a hold of the police. You could even upload the footage to social media so that other people become aware of the situation.
5. Can Record 24 Hours a Day, 7 Days a Week
Your doorbell will record whenever the camera gets triggered, but if you wanted to, you could make it record 100% of the time.
Some people may want this for added peace of mind or insurance benefits, and others may actually require this level of surveillance. If you do choose this option, your device will likely be uploading footage to the cloud, where you will be able to access it and delete it as necessary.
If your doorbell came from an actual security company, they may offer off-site monitoring services that would also be 24/7.
6. Can Be Installed Almost Anywhere
There doesn’t need to be an existing doorbell for you to install a video doorbell, and you can install it at any point of entry as long as the WIFI reaches.
Ring doorbells, for example, are battery-powered, so you don’t need to run any wires unless you still want the indoor doorbell sounds. All you need to do is mount the doorbell, which will require a couple of screws and tools, and many of these doorbells will come with everything you need to install. You can install them wherever you need to install them so that you get the best angle.
7. Easy Installation and Setup
Most video doorbells are extremely simple to set up, and many of them will come with the tools and supplies that you need to install.
Installing a doorbell camera is similar to installing a thermostat in your home, but without all the wires and connections. Typically, there will be a backplate that you screw onto the wall. You may need a drill for this. After that, the doorbell simply clicks on, and the rest of the set up takes place on your phone. Download the app, and there should be a step-by-step guide that tells you what to do from there.
8. Can Be Used by Multiple People Within the Home
Anybody in your home can download the doorbell’s app and connect to the video feed, so multiple people will be able to see what’s going on. So, if your kids are home alone while you are away, you both will be able to see what’s going on at the front door if somebody comes by. Both you and your spouse could also check on the kids coming home from school.
In most cases, you are just adding people as “shared users,” and while they will be able to do certain things, there are other things (such as deleting videos) that they won’t have access to.
9. Can Be Turned Off Temporarily
If you don’t need to be recording, there’s no sense in taking up the WIFI or using up the battery power. Luckily, you can disable your doorbell whenever you want, and this should be as simple as an on/off switch in your application. Some people only have their doorbells on while they are away from home, but other people may be even more selective. It’s totally up to you, but with the ability to turn your doorbell off temporarily, you can conserve battery power, WIFI, and storage.
10. Technology Is Still New and Evolving
Video doorbells, along with all of these smart-home technologies, are still fairly new, and they’re rapidly evolving. The essential features continue to see improvements, and new features keep getting added, so any issues that you have with the technology are likely to be resolved in the future. Since these devices are “connected,” you’ll get firmware updates that not only improve performance, but also enhance security.
11. Works with Other Smart Devices
Video doorbells are just one of the many smart devices that you can connect to your home, and you can also connect your doorbell to other smart devices.
The Amazon-controlled Ring doorbells will obviously connect to the Amazon Alexa if you have one, but some doorbells can also connect to the Google Hub and other smart speakers and screens. Smart locks for the front door are a common one, and you’d be able to unlock the door from your doorbell app.
Many of these doorbells are also compatible with the IFTTT (If This, Then That) service, which allows you to do more with your doorbells. You can connect devices using this service and make your doorbell work with your email and your porch lights, among other things.
12. Works with Security Cameras
A lot of the time, you’ll also be able to connect your doorbell cameras to your actual security system. If you work with a security company, everything will come together, and all of these devices will be connected, but if your security cameras aren’t from the same place as your doorbell, there is usually a way to connect the two.
After all, the doorbell is essentially an extension of your security system, so it makes sense that you’d be able to integrate with your other cameras.
13. May Reduce Insurance Costs
Insurance companies often give discounts to those with security systems on their property, and many of them will extend these discounts to homeowners with video doorbells. Once you get your doorbell, don’t hesitate to do your research or contact your insurance company directly to find out if they have any sort of discount.
Cons of Video Doorbells
Of course, there are some drawbacks to these types of cameras, some of which will be deal breakers for certain people. They include all of the following
1. May Result in Additional Monthly Cost
To access all of the features with your video doorbell, you’ll have to pay for a “protection plan” a lot of the time. Paid features often include video recording, video sharing, and monitoring services, among other things, and the monthly fee isn’t all that expensive (usually $10 or less). But, this is still an inconvenience, especially when you consider how expensive some of these cameras are in the first place.
2. May Take up WIFI Resources
As long as your cameras are on, they are connected to the WIFI, and it’s possible that the doorbell could slow your Internet connection, especially if you don’t have great Internet in the first place. If you’ve paid for recording capabilities, that means your camera is constantly uploading clips to the cloud, which will use up even more of your WIFI resources. If this really becomes a problem, you’d have to disable these features or the camera altogether to improve your Internet speeds.
3. Expensive When Compared to Other Types of Cameras
Depending on which doorbell camera you buy, the initial cost is often quite excessive, with several of these doorbells costing over $100 dollars. The Ring Video Doorbell Pro is $250, but the reality is that you can get surveillance cameras for considerably less than this. Wyze cameras, for example, are under $30 and allow you to record video and watch a live feed without a monthly protection plan.
Granted, the doorbell cameras serve a more specific purpose and offer a few more capabilities, but if your only goal is surveillance, this isn’t the most affordable option.
4. Can Be Hacked, Opening Your Network for Additional Vulnerabilities
Like any “connected” device, the doorbell camera can be hacked. Hackers would be able to see what your camera sees, but that’s not the scary part. Once they have access to your doorbell, they can likely gain access to the rest of your network and its connected devices.
Obviously, this is a huge negative, but know that this is the risk you are taking with any connected device, whether it’s a doorbell, a security camera, or a smart speaker.
5. Doorbell May Send False Alerts
Some motion-sensing doorbells, the Ring doorbells
This isn’t an issue with every doorbell, and if it happens to you, it’s probably more bad luck than anything else. However, it’s still a major annoyance.
6. Cannot Use Mobile Data as a Connection Type
Some people want to use their mobile data or create a hotspot to connect to their video doorbell, but this isn’t usually possible.
Not only is this not possible, but the doorbell would likely eat through your data as well, and many “unlimited” plans aren’t truly unlimited. Also, if you connect with a WIFI hotspot, you could only use the doorbell when you are home. Besides, for your doorbell to be effective, you want a reliable connection, and WIFI is more reliable than mobile data.
7. Limited Field of View When Compared to Other Camera Types
Other security cameras have bigger lenses, and they are also able to rotate, so your field of view is often a lot wider.
Your view is limited, simply due to location, especially if your porch is partially or fully enclosed. In that case, you wouldn’t be able to see much further than the porch itself. Field of view, however, refers to how wide the camera is able to see. Most doorbell cameras are 160 degrees or less, while other security cameras can see a full 180 degrees. When you are talking about surveillance and cameras, a wider field of view is always preferable.
8. Limited Motion Distance When Compared to Other Camera Types
These cameras also have limited motion detection, which can be a good thing or a bad thing. For example, if your door is extremely close to a street, a short motion distance is good because you don’t want to pick up all the cars that go by. If that’s not the case, however, it’s nice to have a far-reaching motion detector.
Distance will vary from
9. Limited Night Viewing Distance When Compared to other Camera Types
These days, many of the video doorbells are equipped with night vision so that you can see better at night, but the viewing distance is still low compared to high-end CCTV and even some other, more affordable cameras. Night vision is also most effective when you are close up, so activity that happens further away from your porch will be harder to see. It’s not necessarily a deal breaker, but it is something to consider if you are more concerned about nighttime activity than daytime activity.
10. Technology Is Still New and Evolving
Doorbell security cameras are still rather new, and the technology is evolving, and this is sort of a pro and a con.
On one hand, companies are working hard to make the best products, and you’ll always get firmware updates and improvements. You also get to enjoy
On the other hand, the doorbells are probably more hackable now than they will be in a couple of years, and the doorbell camera you buy now might not be nearly as sophisticated as one that you’ll be able to buy in a couple of years. The technology is still evolving, so it’s possible that these doorbells will be more advanced in the future, which might force you to replace yours.
11. Shiny Object for Potential Criminals
These doorbells are shiny, and if they aren’t hardwired into your door, they are extremely easy to steal. All a criminal would have to do is unclip the device from its mount and walk off, since the shininess might draw a criminal to it.
Of course, if the criminal rings the doorbell before stealing it or if you have 24/7 recording, you are likely to capture the theft itself, which could be helpful.