No longer just for the rich and famous, the smart video doorbell is now a practical – and increasingly affordable – choice that lets you keep an eye on visitors from wherever you are in the world. Here’s all you need to know to get started…
Need a video doorbell?
Q Why should I get one? Sick of ‘Sorry we missed you’ cards, or want to see who’s at the door? When someone presses a video doorbell, it videos them and connects to your smartphone, so you can see and talk to them, from wherever you are. You can also record images/videos of any dodgy characters hanging about.
Q How do they work? Most smart doorbells connect to your wi-fi then communicate with your smartphone via an app. Some can also connect via ethernet cable. You can choose a wired or battery-powered design mounted on the house using plugs and screws for added security.
Q Should I just get CCTV? Few CCTV systems let you interact like a smart doorbell can. A smart doorbell records faces and alerts you to anything suspicious, like a burglar checking if anyone’s at home. And you have the option not to open the door if you prefer.
Q What’s available and how much will it cost me? Ring, the original smart doorbell firm now owned by Amazon, has two battery options: Video Doorbell (£89) and high-definition Video Doorbell 2 (£179), and advanced wired units, at £229 and £449. Smart home brand Nest has Hello, a wired design (£229). It has face recognition, differentiates between the motion of people and passing cars, records video 24/7, and you can record messages, like ‘Please leave parcel next door!’ Amazon’s options include Konesky’s Wifi (£16.99), and Homscam, Byron and Accfly, among others. You pay for advanced features such as 24/7 video recording, image storage in the cloud, and face recognition. Nest Aware costs from £4 a month, Ring Protect from £2.29.
Q Can I install it myself? Battery models are designed for DIY. For a wired doorbell, unless you have one already, you’ll need to chase electrics back to a junction box, drill through door frames and fit a transformer. Nest offers installation, or call a professional.
Q Will my doorbell work with other smart home gadgets? Ring works with Amazon Alexa and has a partnership with Kwikset locks, while Nest has teamed up with Yale, so you can let people in without keys via the app. The Nest app controls Hello, so it works with brands like LIFX smart lights, Philips Hue and Google Assistant voice control… and can be set up to recognise who comes in and to greet them!
NEST HELLO, FROM £299, NEST.COM