Smart doorbells, which are doorbells with added features like Wi-Fi connectivity, video streaming capability, two-way audio and more, are becoming increasingly popular. In fact, the smart doorbell market is expected to grow by $1.19 billion from 2020-2024.
Much like other smart home devices, smart doorbells offer homeowners peace of mind, enhanced safety and the confidence that comes with best-of-breed technology enhancements. Connected devices can also increase your home’s value, meaning that upgrades like smart doorbells could pay off if you sell your home in the future.
From flexibility to crime deterrence, smart doorbells offer a range of benefits. If you’re considering a smart doorbell for your home, it’s vital to understand all of the security features that come with it.
Key Features of a Smart Doorbell Camera
While there are a range of smart doorbells on the market, they work pretty similarly.
First, you install them on the outside of your house, near the main entrance. If you have an existing doorbell, you’d uninstall that one and put the smart doorbell in its place. In many cases, the smart doorbell will use existing wiring.
Once it’s installed and connected to Wi-Fi and any associated applications, you’ll be able to take advantage of its many features, which typically include:
- Connection to the doorbell itself, which sounds throughout your home when someone is at the door—just like a traditional doorbell.
- One-way video via controllable cameras, where you can see live video streams, recorded clips or captured images when someone rings your doorbell.
- Motion alerts to your mobile device when someone comes within range of your doorbell, even if they don’t ring it.
- Night-vision camera features, which provide clear images even when it’s dark out.
- Two-way audio via high-quality microphones and speakers, where you can speak with the person at your front door from your mobile device. You can use this feature from anywhere, which can make unexpected visitors believe that you’re home even when the house is empty.
- Integration with other smart devices, such as lights, so you can set up rules like automatically turning on porch lights when motion is detected.
The most important feature of a smart doorbell is its connection to a mobile app. This capability enables you to see who is on the other side of your door from the palm of your hand—and from anywhere in the world.
Types of Smart Doorbell Cameras
Smart doorbell cameras can be battery powered, hardwired or both.
Battery-powered doorbell cameras are simply mounted directly to the wall or door. The location is flexible, since you don’t need to worry about existing wiring.
On the other hand, if your video doorbell camera must be hardwired into your electrical system, it’s best to contact a professional to ensure proper setup.
No matter the type of video doorbell camera you choose, it will need to be connected to a secure Internet network and a mobile app. Using a secure network to access recordings and manage your smart doorbell mitigates the risk of data theft and hacking.
Be aware that doorbell cameras can be easy to steal. Smart doorbells cost hundreds of dollars, and thieves have been known to steal these valuable devices right off of peoples’ homes (luckily, any footage captured in the midst of a doorbell theft would be saved to the cloud).
You can protect your smart doorbell from theft and harsh elements by utilizing a protective case. If you purchase a weather- and tamper-proof case, choose one that’s specially designed for your device. Poorly designed cases can alter footage recorded if it obstructs the camera’s view, or cause lens damage.
Prevent Theft and Break Ins
Most people are drawn to smart doorbells for the security benefits. Like other methods of outdoor security cameras, they allow for surveillance of your property, provide peace of mind and can prevent crime.
How? By installing your doorbell camera in plain sight, the presence of the camera warns burglars that an alarm and security system is in place and could prevent them from even trying to break in or attempt a theft.
Additionally, you can use a connected app to maintain a watchful eye over your property by viewing a live feed of what your doorbell camera is capturing. When paired with mobile alerts triggered by motion near your doorway, your doorbell camera can alert you to any suspicious activity so you can take action right away.
Collect Valuable Evidence With a Doorbell Camera
If a crime does occur, your smart doorbell can offer helpful evidence. Most cameras include critical features like high-definition resolution and saved images, which can help law enforcement identify suspects.
If your doorbell camera records evidence of a crime, such as a break-in or theft, contact the police immediately. This video and/or images can help authorities during their investigation. They will likely ask you and any other possible witnesses for a first-person account of what you saw or heard. Supplement your truthful account of the events with the footage from your doorbell camera, which you can usually download from the cloud.
At this point, it may be tempting to share the footage on social media. However, you should never widely distribute footage like this until you clear it with the authorities on the case. Posting footage online can complicate investigations by causing incorrect assumptions, increasing the risk of retaliation and inviting lawsuits.
Protect Home Deliveries
As e-commerce continues to rise in popularity, it’s extremely common for most people to have packages piling up at their doorsteps when they aren’t home to retrieve them right away.
This occurrence is a dream for porch pirates, who prey on homes to steal deliveries off porches. Luckily, your smart doorbell can help you prevent theft and catch criminals in the act.
Because your doorbell camera will be triggered by any movement on your porch, you can see if someone suspicious is lurking near your deliveries. You can speak to them through the speaker on the doorbell, and if that doesn’t scare them off, you’ll have recorded footage of them to share with the police.
Offer Flexibility and Ease
Another top reason people opt for smart doorbells over the traditional alternative is the flexibility it offers to busy homeowners.
If you’re working from home, busy with children or engaged in a task like cooking dinner, doorbell cameras make your life simpler by enabling you to see who’s at the door before you answer it. If it’s a known guest you can step away to let them in, but if it’s a salesperson or someone else you’re not expecting, you can simply choose not to answer the door.
But perhaps you want to speak with your visitor, even though you can’t get to the door right away. Your smart doorbell’s two-way audio function allows you to speak to them in real time, which means you can direct a delivery person to leave a package in an inconspicuous spot near the door or communicate with a neighbor from within the house. And, when utilizing the mobile app, you can talk to the person on your doorstep even when you’re away from home.
Speaking of being away from home, let’s say you’re expecting a visitor but you’re finishing up some errands. When they ring your doorbell, you can communicate with them from afar to let them know you’ll be home shortly. (Keep reading for tips on pairing smart home devices to even unlock the door and turn on the heat for your guest remotely.)
Imagine you’re home alone, and you hear a sound near your front door late in the evening. You can simply check in on your doorbell camera’s live feed without getting out of bed to determine if it’s a real threat.
Specs of an Ideal Smart Doorbell
Are you ready to start shopping for your smart doorbell? Below, we list the specs you should compare when you’re determining which version of doorbell camera to purchase.
- Video camera: Choose a doorbell camera with a 180° view, auto-scaling function, full-color capability, and at least 720p images.
- Night vision: Your camera should have night vision with either infrared or full-color capabilities.
- Audio: Look for a loud, high-quality speaker and omni-directional microphone.
- Motion sensor: The sensor should detect motion anywhere near your front door, which usually means five to eight feet of coverage.
- Wi-Fi: Ensure that the doorbell connects to Wi-Fi automatically and includes safety functions that prevent hacking.
- Battery life: If your smart doorbell runs on battery power, the batteries included should last multiple years before needing replacement.
- Installation: Look for an easy-to-install model that mounts on a flat surface.
- Power: If your doorbell must be wired to an in-home mechanical or digital doorbell chime, ensure the voltage and operation range are appropriate for your needs.
- Size and style: Choose a doorbell that compliments the look of your home and whose dimensions fit in the space you plan to install it.
Connect Your Doorbell to a Fully Automated Home Security Ecosystem
Home security is an evolving investment. Even if your smart doorbell is your first connected device, it probably won’t be your last. As you add devices, be sure they integrate with one another to achieve a cohesive smart home ecosystem.
Most importantly, if you have a home security system already, ensure the video doorbell camera you purchase will pair with your current system. To confirm that seamless integration is an option, contact your security provider to confirm compatibility before buying.
There are new smart home devices introduced to the market every day. For starters, think about how you can connect your smart doorbell to smart home devices and security system features like the following:
- Wireless control panel: Control and modify the settings on your entire home and security system, including the smart doorbell, from a central control panel.
- Door and window sensors: Pair sensors with your doorbell camera for a holistic view and safeguarding of your front door.
- Motion or image sensors: While most doorbell cameras include motion detectors, having them elsewhere in your house can alert you if a potential robber moves from the front porch to somewhere else.
- Smart door lock: If a known visitor shows up to your door when you’re not available to let them in, you can greet them with your doorbell camera and then control your smart lock from afar to unlock the door for them.
- Smart thermostat: Similarly, manage energy remotely to turn up the heat for your guest once you’ve greeted them with your doorbell camera.
- Indoor cameras: It doesn't make sense for safety to stop at your front porch. Wireless security cameras installed throughout your house can help you maintain a watchful eye.
- Professional monitoring: Should an emergency occur in your smart home, enjoy the peace of mind that comes with a 24/7 professional monitoring center. For example, if a criminal is captured in the act on your doorbell camera and then triggers the alarm, the trained employees can contact you immediately to verify the threat, and dispatch authorities if needed.
Control Your Smart Home Through a Security App
We’ve talked a lot about how you can control your smart doorbell remotely using a mobile app. But what else can your mobile app do? The options are nearly endless, especially if you keep adding smart devices to your home.
With the Vector Security App, for example, you can do the following tasks from anywhere, using just your mobile device:
- Arm and disarm your full security system.
- Look in on video camera feeds anytime. You can even get alerts on your mobile device for events you specify.
- Access recorded footage from any cameras in your home.
- Enable automatic rules and alerts based on your phone’s location with geo-services.
- Open or close your garage door from your smartphone, or connect it to your geo-fence.
- Look like you’re home even when you’re not by setting your lights on a schedule automatically, or turning on or off when you’re on the go.
- Manage your notifications by selecting events you’d like to be notified for (e.g., alarms, arming, system events, etc.), and enable text, email or push notifications for specific contacts.
Improve Your Home Security With a Free Doorbell Camera
If you’ve been thinking about enhancing the safety features in your home, a doorbell camera is a natural choice. And right now, Vector Security is offering a free video doorbell camera—professional installation included—with any home security package.
Don’t miss this $250 value. Join hundreds of thousands of people who chose a safer home with the confidence of Vector Security products and services.