Everything You Need to Know About Video Doorbells

Video doorbells are a convenient part of the smart revolution that’s taking once-humble everyday items by storm. Instead of just offering an audible way to let you know someone’s at the door, a video doorbell can let you see who it is before even getting to the door.

We delve into what a video doorbell does, how much they cost, and other related topics in this guide.

What is a video doorbell?

Video doorbell is a more descriptive name than the basic “smart doorbell” categorisation because it hints at functionality beyond basic chiming. As you might’ve guessed, a video doorbell lets you see who’s at the door, and the best bit is that’s without actually having to be at the door.

More than just a video camera spliced with a doorbell, a video doorbell can also handily provide two-way communication with whoever is at your door, acting as an intercom so you can speak to whoever is near the video doorbell. Smarter video doorbells also liaise with smartphone apps to notify you when someone’s at your door, let you know when a package has been delivered, or flag if someone may be pinching your mail.

How much do video doorbells cost?

Best budget video doorbell
Ring Video Doorbell (2nd gen)

Price is accurate as of post date. Read full disclaimer.

Video doorbell prices start at just over $100 for a wired version. Once you get up to the $200+ price bracket, you can find a video doorbell that’s wireless.

Because video doorbells aren’t exactly new and have had multiple generations, you can save money by opting for, say, an older-gen Ring Video Doorbell over the newer Ring Video Doorbell 4. Brands like Arlo, Eufy, and Google have video doorbell prices that start at around $300.

There are pricier versions of video doorbells that combine functions, like the Lockly Vision, which is both a video doorbell and smart lock.

Do video doorbells record 24/7?

How long a video doorbell records for is determined by the type that you buy. Most video doorbells aren’t designed to be persistent monitoring devices like security cameras. Instead, they’re built to record once the camera is triggered, either from interaction with the video doorbell or based on a person’s proximity movements.

This makes it easier to manage footage in the event that your video doorbell does capture some potentially dodgy activity. Products like the Ring Video Doorbell 4 will handily capture a few seconds of footage before proximity detection to help add context.

Other video doorbells (like the Nest Doorbell) do record all the time, though usually at an extra monthly fee. For the Nest Doorbell, this feature is activated by paying for a subscription plan, which unlocks 24/7 recording and footage is stored for up to 10 days.

Do you need Wi-Fi for a video doorbell to work?

Yes, as smart devices, video doorbells need an internet-connected (and working) Wi-Fi connection to properly operate. Wi-Fi is how all of the smart features work, from two-way audio to video and push notifications.

Aside from Wi-Fi, video doorbells also need some form of power to function. The Wi-Fi part comes from a nearby router or mesh Wi-Fi system; the stronger the signal, the better the chance of seamless video and audio interfacing at the highest available fidelity. Meanwhile, the power part comes from either a rechargeable battery pack, solar panels, or existing doorbell power wires, depending on the brand and what’s available at your home.

In terms of range, video doorbells can see anywhere from a couple of metres in front of them up to 15-or-so metres. A longer range may sound better (bigger numbers are all the rage), but it may also cause privacy issues for your neighbours. Basically, you may run afoul of state or territory laws, so contact the relevant Attorney-General’s Department for more information if you’re concerned about this.

Field of view (FOV) is also worth factoring in, with the better-known brands offering video doorbells with FOVs somewhere between 155 and 180 degrees. While range applies to the distance and depth of what you can see, FOV is all about the width of your view. In fairness, the FOV doesn’t have to be overly wide as video doorbells are designed for people to stand directly in front of them, but larger FOV numbers do offer additional front-of-home security options.

Are video doorbells easy to install?

Thankfully, most video doorbells are built to be incredibly easy to install. You may need basic tools like a screwdriver (some brands handily include these installation tools) but more straightforward video doorbells are designed to be up and going in around 15 minutes.

In saying that, some video doorbells are easier to install than others. If the video doorbell you buy needs to be connected to existing wiring for power, we’d advise contacting a professional to help with installation. On the flip side, wireless doorbells with rechargeable batteries can be self-installed. If you don’t like screwdrivers, you can substitute screws for heavy-duty double-sided tape.

FAQ

Depending on the brand, certain video doorbells like the SwannBuddy Video Doorbell offer night vision so you can see visitors at night.
Absolutely! Video doorbells are a great upgrade for the budding or fully decked-out smart home. They’re easy to install and offer a measurable convenience upgrade compared to typical doorbells.

The best video doorbell is the one that best meets your needs. Consider cost, recording resolution, installation, and how it’s powered when choosing the right video doorbell for your home. To see our top picks, visit our best video doorbell roundup.

Unfortunately, yes, video doorbells are hackable. Like any smart device with Wi-Fi connectivity, there is a risk of hacking. But this risk can be mitigated by buying a video doorbell with great encryption and using security countermeasures like two-factor authentication for accessing video doorbell apps. Strong passwords help, too.

Disclaimer
Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time of publish and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on the retailer’s website at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product. SafeWise Australia utilises paid affiliate links.
Nathan Lawrence
Written by
Nathan Lawrence

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