Video doorbells are a popular security option, but are they all they’re cracked up to be?
Following are the pros and cons of video doorbells to help you decide if they’re right for you.
Know what’s happening at home when you’re not there
Whether you’re a world traveler or simply spend a lot of time away from home, you can see what’s going on at your front door no matter where you’re at.
Using your tablet or smartphone you can access live feed of what’s happening at home. When a visitor presses the doorbell (or the motion sensor is triggered) you’ll receive an alert.
You can use your app or a secure online portal to interact with the visitor if you choose.
For example, if you’re getting a package delivered, you can tell the driver what to do. In some cases you can even unlock the door remotely and ask him to put the package inside, away from “porch thieves”.
Or, if the person who dropped by is someone you know, you can let them know you’re not at home (or trick suspicious visitors into thinking you are at home).
Most video doorbells have the option of recording.
When someone triggers the motion detector or pushes the doorbell, it will record the event for a defined period of time.
This is a great option for those times when you’re away from your phone because you’ll still know what happened even though you weren’t able to directly interact with the activity.
You can share these recordings with friends, family and even social media if you’d like. In some cases, video doorbell recordings have even helped police solve a crime, making them a useful tool in keeping a neighborhood safe.
A video doorbell will record when it’s triggered, but you also have the option to setting it to record 100 percent of the time, which can add to any other security system you may have in place.
You don’t have to have an existing doorbell to install a video doorbell. It can be installed at any point of entry, provided your home’s wi-fi reaches that location.
Video doorbells are simple to set up, and many kits come with everything you need to do it yourself.
They typically come with a backplate that is screwed into the wall. Then, the doorbell just clicks onto the plate. The remaining part of the installing takes place on your phone.
Download the app and follow the instructions that come with it.
Multiple people can install the app and connect to the feed. So, for example, if the kids come home after school and you’re not home, both you and/or your spouse can be alerted.
Most of the time you’ll be adding people on as “shared users”, giving them access to certain things, however key features such as deleting videos will likely be an “admin” feature that only the primary person can do.
You can temporarily turn off the recording feature of a video doorbell if you want to save Wi-Fi and/or battery power. This is something that you can easily do from your phone, from wherever you are.
Changes to technology
Smart-home technologies – of which video doorbells are a part – are quickly changing, with more and more options becoming available all the time.
This means that any features that are lacking (or which you don’t like) could change at some point in the future.
Compatible with other devices
You can use video doorbells with different smart devices (although some are proprietary, which means you need to be thorough when researching which one you buy).
They can also be used with security cameras, although like “smart” devices, compatibility needs to be considered.
May lower your insurance
Just as they do with security systems, some insurance companies will offer discounts for video doorbells, so keep this in mind when deciding if one is right for you.
Like everything else in life, there are some cons of video doorbells.
Additional monthly cost
In order to access all of your doorbell’s features, you’ll be required to pay a monthly “protection plan”. While the cost is minimal (usually $10 a month or less) it is an additional cost that you wouldn’t otherwise have.
The video doorbell could reduce your internet connection taking up WIFI resources. If you’re paying for recording capabilities, this means that your doorbell is continually uploading data to the cloud through your Wi-Fi.
Depending on your internet speed, this could mean slower times for your regular usage needs.
When compared to other kinds of cameras, a video doorbell can be expensive, costing more than $100 dollars, whereas surveillance cameras can be purchased for less than $30 dollars, and can be set up to record video and watch a live feed without paying a monthly “protection plan”.
This is something to keep in mind if you’re only concerned about surveillance.
Like anything that’s “connected”, video doorbell cameras can be hacked. Once they break in, hackers can see what your camera sees, but even worse, they could gain access to any other devices you have connected to the network.
Some motion-sensing doorbells have been known to send false alerts which can be annoying. Be sure to check reviews for the device you’re considering to see if this is an issue.
Limited field of view
Security cameras have larger lenses and can rotate, giving them a better field of view of around 180 degrees.
Video doorbells, on the other hand, are limited to around 160 degrees or less because of their location, especially if your porch is covered.
Most newer video doorbells come with night vision, however the distance is still low when compared to high-end CCTV and even more affordable cameras.
Easy to steal
If your video doorbell isn’t hard-wired, it’s easy for a thief to simply walk up to the door, remove it from its clip and walk away.
While there are obvious benefits to a video doorbell, only you can determine whether the negatives outweigh them for your situation.
What do you think?
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