Smart Doorbells Buying Guide

Posted by Alex Wells on

You don’t have to look far to find evidence of crimes around your home seeming to be on the rise. From scammers knocking the door to thieves hijacking your keyless entry car, many people are choosing to enhance their home security with the help of a smart doorbell. In this article we’ll look at everything you need to know when buying a smart doorbell.

Image demonstarting the picture a smart doorbell would display n your phone with a delivery driver at the door with a parcel

What is a smart doorbell?

Let’s take it back to basics. A smart doorbell is a doorbell with a camera and Wi-Fi functionality. You can view what’s happening in front of your house in real time and talk to anyone that comes to the door. They can either be battery powered or hardwired into the mains supply.

They work in the same way as security cameras in that they capture video day or night. However, they have the added functionality of allowing you to talk to people using a speaker and microphone. When a visitor approaches the doorbell you’ll get a notification through the app. Some cameras even have landline backup which means they still work during a power cut.  

Benefit of a smart doorbell

You can’t be home all day to ward off burglars. Even if you’re lucky enough to work from home, your home is left vulnerable while you do the food shop or go on holiday. The benefit of smart doorbells is that you can make it seem like you’re home when you’re not. Tell the postman to put your parcel behind the bin, or the suspicious person in the hoodie that you’re just upstairs.

What to look for in a smart doorbell

Resolution

Smart cameras typically reach up to 1080p resolution, but can be as low as 480p. The higher the resolution, the sharper the image. This means that you’ll be more able to see who’s at the door and, should anything happen, you’ll have a better image to send to the authorities.

Night vision

A high resolution won’t be very useful if your camera can’t adjust to varying light levels. Night vision capabilities will allow you to see clearly even when it’s dark out, giving you 24/7 security.

Field of view

The field of view is how much the camera can see. 180° means that it can see everything in front and to the sides, whereas 90° can only see in front of it. A wider field of view will help you to see everything that’s happening.

Motion detection

Many smart doorbells have motion sensors in them which will alert you when someone is approaching your door, not just when they press your bell. They may also have advanced features like specific zones to monitor. This will help you to only get useful notifications, rather than for every car.

Power source

Smart doorbells are either battery powered or hardwired into the mains supply. If you already have a mains supply doorbell it’s a simple as switching them out. However, if you don’t, you will need to employ a qualified electrician to install this for you.

Audio features

One of the biggest benefits of doorbell cameras is the ability to talk to the person on your doorstep. One way audio means you can hear what they’re saying, whereas two-way audio will let you talk back.

Cloud storage

Cloud storage can be helpful for security, as it means you can store and access motion alerts for up to 30 days. This means if someone does commit a crime on your camera, or there is other footage you wish to keep, you will have this available.

Pros and Cons of smart doorbells

Pros:

  • Increased security on the front of your home
  • Ability to talk to guests, delivery drivers, and intruders
  • 24/7 view of activity around your home
  • Can be customised with specific actions based on detected motion or activity

Cons :

  • Need to be installed on your door, sometimes by a professional
  • Can be susceptible to hackers if proper steps aren’t taken

Smart doorbell hacking

Many major publications, including the BBC, have published scary reports of people having their smart doorbells hacked. However, this can be easily avoided by simply using the right security.

Change the password

You should regularly change the passwords of all your accounts and devices, including your smart devices. The default password that your device comes with is likely to be weak, and this should be changed as soon as possible.

Stay on top of all software updates

A lot of software updates, especially smaller ones, are improving the security of your device rather than adding new features. If you can turn on auto-update you should do so, or check regularly for updates if you can’t. This is not just for the device itself. Make sure you keep any apps updated too.

Use two-factor authentication

Every additional layer of security is something for a hacker to overcome, so the more you can add the better. Two-factor authentication means a one-time code is sent to you, normally to your phone, to use when you want to log in. It’s a great way to ensure that even if someone gets your password, they can’t access your account.

Delete your storage

If you don’t need the videos that are stored on your account, delete them. The same goes for any kept on a cloud server or similar.