Do Doorbell Cameras Record All the TIme?

Another common question that is asked when I am showing off my doorbell is “does your doorbell camera record all the time?”

In short, no, doorbell cameras do not record all the time. Doorbell cameras, like most WIFI cameras, they record for short periods of time, called events. Events occur when they are triggered, and stop when the event is over, or when the previously configured time has completed.

Continue reading to see what triggers thee events, how long the recording time is, and many other features o doorbell cameras and its recordings.

What Triggers an Event?

Events can be triggered in one of three ways: motion detection, doorbell ring, or by live viewing. In this section, I will discuss how each of these events can trigger a recording.

Motion Detection

Like other security cameras, video doorbells have infrared sensors included in the device. These sensors are used to determine motion detection and to trigger events. Also, like security cameras, each video doorbell has a different amount of IR sensors included in the device.

In general, the more IR sensors included in the video doorbell, the further your device will be able to detect motion. While other facts do come into play, this is usually a good guide to follow. Motion detection is also impacted by time of day, and light source in and around the camera.

Once motion Is detected, a notification is sent to begin recording the event. At the same time, a notification is sent to the system server, which sends a push notification to your mobile device or desktop application.

A few video doorbells can adjust the sensitivity and distance of the motion detection function. The higher the sensitivity. The more recorded events you will receive and the more false positives and lower battery life.

Motion detection is also important because it has an impact on battery life and storage. For example, if you have the motion detection set to the most sensitive setting, you will have more events (more space, bandwidth usage) and shorter battery life. However, if you have a very low sensitivity setting, you may miss important events.

Doorbell “Ring”

The second way an event begins is by the push of the doorbell. Like the motion detection function, the push of the doorbell notifies both the server to send a notification and to begin recording. The length of the event will vary based on if the homeowner answers the ring.

If the homeowner answers the ring, then the camera will continue to record until the homeowner presses the end button. If the homeowner does not answer the ring, then the event is recorded for the standard length of time. The Ring Video Doorbell 1, for example, only records for 30 seconds. At this time, I am unable to change that setting.

The doorbell ring has a bigger impact on the battery live than the motion detection feature. The doorbell ring can shorten battery life because of the ring sound that accompanies that push of the doorbell, and the unknown length of the event. Also, if configured correctly, motion detection will occur before someone rings the doorbell.

Live Viewing

The third type of recorded event is called live viewing. As the name implies, this event occurs when the homeowner opens the mobile app and takes a live look through the doorbell camera. When the homeowner presses the live look option, he is sending a notification to the server that he wants to keep an option connection between his device and the video doorbell.

The live viewing option has the greatest impact on battery life. Because there is an open connection between your device and the video doorbell, it consumes a lot of the battery life. The live viewing has such a big impact on battery life, that some manufacturers will disable live viewing if your battery is less than a preconfigured percent.

Living viewing also has a negative impact on bandwidth usage because it is using your WIFI to send and receive data. The video doorbell is sending data in the form of audio and video, while the homeowner is sending back audio (if possible).

Now that we know what triggers and event, let’s look at how long video doorbells record.

What is the Length of the Recorded Events?

The length of time an event is recorded depends on a few factors including the event trigger, the manufacturer, and the video doorbell type. Let’s look at each of these factors.

Event Trigger

As previously mentioned, the length of the recorded event is based on the trigger type. If the event is triggered by motion, then the preset length is used. This preset can by anywhere between 10 seconds, and 1 minute. The most common length of an event is 3 0seconds. At the time of these post, users are unable to change this setting.

The recording can also vary based on what happens after a guest rings the doorbell. If the homework does not answer the ring, then the default recording time is used. However, if the homeowner does answer the ring, then the recording will last until the homeowner hangs up the phone, or closes the app. Personally, I’ve never had a recorded event last longer than 2 minutes.

Video Doorbell Type

The length of the recording is also affected by the type of video doorbell. There are two types of video doorbells wired and wireless. While most video doorbells are wireless (send and receive data over a WIFI network) there are a few that use a wired connection (Power over Ethernet connection).

Wired video doorbells send and receive data over an ethernet cord. Usually, these cords are connected to a router, switch, or hub. In addition, to send and receiving information, the ethernet cord also sends electricity to the device. Because these video doorbells have constant reliable power, they can record for a longer length of time.

If possible, I recommend buying a POE video doorbell as they provide a stable, connection, and constant power. While wireless connections are very good, nothing beats a wired connection.

Now that we understand what triggers an event, and how long they record, let’s look at where they are stored.

Where are Events Stored?

While other types of security cameras can store in the cloud, on a DVR/ NVR, or a local SD card, most video doorbells are only able to store in the cloud or to a local SD card. In this section, we will look at the cloud and SD storage options.

The cloud

Cloud storage simply means storage, not on your computer. Events that are recorded to the cloud are stored somewhere else, usually a professionally managed server.

There are a few benefits to using cloud storage for your events. These benefits include highly accessible, highly sharable, and less hardware.

Because the events are stored in the cloud, the events can be viewed from anywhere if there is an internet connection. In addition, cloud events are easy to send to friends, family, your neighborhood, or the authorities. Finally, cloud storage reduces the amount of hardware in your home. Little hardware means little can break or be stolen if someone breaks in your home.

While there are a few benefits, there are is also one big downside to cloud storage. In most cases, cloud storage includes an additional monthly fee. Most homeowners have to pay this fee because they have no other way to access their events.

A monthly fee for your video doorbell can add thousands of dollars to the cost of your video doorbell.

For example, the Ring Video Doorbell cloud subscription is $10 per month. If I have the video doorbell for 10 years, I will have paid $1,200 for cloud storage. This cost may increase if Ring (Amazon) decides to change their pricing structure.

Another drawback of cloud storage is most storage options aren’t “forever.” Many companies limit the length of time your event is stored in the cloud. Many companies storage limit has a range between 6 months and 1 year.

Local Storage

The second option is local storage via an SD card. These cards removable devices installed on the video doorbell. Like cloud storage, there are pros and cons to using local storage.

The benefits of using local storage include cheaper over the long run and forever storage. SD cards are a fixed cost that you pay upfront and any time you need a new card. The cost of SD cards has steadily decreased as they have been replaced by other storage options. With SD cards, there is no subscription costs.

In addition, you can keep the stored events forever. Once the SD card is filled, simply remove it, and install a new one. Installation can be completed in less than 10 minutes.

In addition to the benefits, there are a few drawbacks as well. These drawbacks include physical hardware, decreasing usage/ need, and eventual failure.

The major concern with all physical hardware is eventually it will become obsolete. As more things move to cloud storage, the demand for SD cards will continue to decrease. At what point will manufacturers stop making these SD cards?

Also, all physical devices will break, and where your SD breaks (becomes corrupted, gets lost, etc) all of your events will be lost. To prevent losing everything you will need to save the events to another type of storage.

Finally, physical hardware can be stolen. If a criminal commits a crime, they may attempt to take the video doorbell as well. Because the SD card is stored on the video doorbell, the SD card will be gone as well.

Personally, I recommend using a video doorbell with cloud storage.

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