Video bells are among the best smart home devices you can own. And today there are more choices than ever, each with different advantages and disadvantages. Whether it’s a locally registered doorbell or one that can identify grandmother, there is a video doorbell for you.
What to look for in a video doorbell
It seems like every smarthome game company has a video doorbell at your disposal. But video doorbells require more than slapping a camera and a button together and calling it a day. You will want to make sure that the doorbell is compatible with your home and works well for your particular needs.
- Energy source: There are two ways to power a video doorbell: existing house doorbell wiring or battery power. Battery-powered video doorbells are easier to install, but require a charge. Some (but not all) of the doorbells that drain from existing wiring can use your house chime. If your wiring is not working, you will need to either choose a battery powered doorbell or run a plug-in transformer from inside your house.
- Resolution: Like any other camera, resolution is important. Most video ringtones offer 720p, 1080p or 2K resolutions when recording video. Although the higher resolution provides better quality, it also requires more bandwidth and storage space. It is better to aim for at least 1080p for good quality video.
- Chime options: Most (but not all) wired doorbells can ring at home. But if not (or if you’ve chosen a battery-powered doorbell), you’ll need an external plug-in chime. Some bells include them, but for others it is an additional cost to consider.
- Cloud subscriptions: Almost all doorbells have a cloud subscription. For many, like Ring and Nest, it’s a advanced functionality requirement like facial recognition and movement zones. You may also need a cloud subscription to view past videos. The more history you want, the more it will cost you. If you don’t want to pay a monthly fee, look for a local catch bell.
The best general doorbell: Eufy video doorbell
You might be surprised to see a doorbell other than Nest Hello listed here, but Eufy wins first place with a few smart choices. First of all, unlike Nest Hello or Ring, you don’t need a cloud subscription.
The Eufy doorbell records video locally and provides advanced features such as motion zones and facial recognition without cloud processing. The doorbell records a 2K video (like Nest Hello), and while it can’t sound the chime in your home, it comes with a HomeBase that acts like a chime. This HomeBase also stores your videos on a 16 GB hard drive using AES-256 data encryption.
You can either wire it or discharge it on batteries. Overall, it provides 90% of the functionality of Nest Hello for around 65% of the cost, and that’s before cloud subscriptions.
The Premium Choice: Nest Hello
If cloud subscriptions don’t bother you, Nest Hello is the best video doorbell you can buy. Thanks to cloud processing, it identifies human movement better (as opposed to a cat or sunlight) than the Eufy doorbell.
It also records continuously, works with your existing house chime and remembers who the people are so you can identify them by name. Because Google does, Nest Hello has better integration with Google Home than any other doorbell. If you have a Nest Hub or Nest Hub Max, video will appear almost instantly on these devices when someone rings the doorbell.
Remember that Google has locked out the best features of Nest Hello Nest Aware subscription. You can only get facial recognition, video history and motion zones when you subscribe. If you don’t, it’s the equivalent of a digital peephole – useful only when you look at it.
Best Battery Powered Doorbell: Ring Video Doorbell 3
If your house doorbell wiring isn’t working or you don’t want to play with electricity, then a battery-powered option might be the answer. The life of Eufy battery doorbell, Ring 3 can use your home wiring or you can ignore this and use the included battery instead. You will only have to recharge it from time to time.
Ring 3 records 1080p video and, like the Nest, requires a subscription to view previous footage. If you do not wire the doorbell in your home, you will need to purchase a separate chime to hear when someone rings the doorbell. The latest model includes improved area detection and 5 GHz Wi-Fi support. Ring has Alexa integration, which includes doorbell announcements. This could negate the need to purchase a separate chime.
If you prefer to keep your videos stored locally, the Eufy battery doorbell is another great option.
The best economical doorbell: Eufy video doorbell
The Eufy battery powered video doorbell is great, but what if you want to save some money? If you don’t mind giving up storage space and you can wire your video doorbell, you can.
The original Eufy video doorbell was our old best overall choice, and for good reason. You still have local storage, no subscription feeds and no-one detection on the device. It does not use HomeBase and cannot be powered by battery. But it comes with a chime.
Watch for sales and coupons, which can often drive the price down by more than $ 50 on the new Eufy battery-powered doorbell.
Ideal for tenants: Ring Peephole Camera
If you are not authorized to make changes to your doorbell or other equipment, the Ring Peephole camera is your best choice. Instead of replacing your existing doorbell, the Ring Peephole goes to your door. As its name suggests, it replaces the door peephole.
You can still use your peephole as you normally would, but it also doubles as a camera that can keep you informed of visitors. As a bonus, if someone knocks on the door, the camera will detect it and warn you.
Like the Ring 2, the Peephole camera records in 1080p resolution, uses a rechargeable battery and has tight integration with Alexa. Best of all, it comes with the tools to install it. Since it has no wiring option, you will need to purchase a plug-in chime if you don’t want to rely on Alexa or phone notifications.