Doorbell cameras- chances are you’ve heard of them, maybe you’ve even used one, but if you’re reading this you may not own one yet. So you might not know a lot about them yet, and that’s what we’re here to rectify. We’re going to take a general overview of doorbell cameras, look at some of the features that the top of the line models should have, and see what is out there on the market for consumers who won’t settle for less.
What is a doorbell camera & what can they do?
Briefly, it is probably important to establish exactly what we’re talking about. In short, a doorbell camera is exactly what it sounds like, a fully functional doorbell that also has a camera built into it. It usually replaces your existing doorbell and more often than not looks more or less indistinguishable from a regular one. They have become popular in recent years with the rise in ecommerce and as a security feature, to identify who is at your door before you open it. But that’s just the beginning of what’s possible with doorbell cameras.
Imagine Answering Your Door From Two States Away
As ridiculous as that sounds, it’s more than possible, it’s happening today.
All doorbell cameras are similar in their function and abilities with variations depending on brand, but there are a few similarities you can count on. The camera will be either hard-wired or battery powered and usually replaces your existing doorbell. It can be mounted anywhere you like, but most often customers want them at or near their front door. To be able to access your camera feed, your doorbell camera must be connected to some sort of wifi, usually your home wifi. Depending on which doorbell camera and the company you use, you may be able to get alerts when your camera detects someone at the door as well.
So what’s the big deal?
You can probably think of a lot of benefits to having a door cam- It doesn’t take much imagination to come up with tons of good reasons. Do you have young children or teenagers who might have to be home by themselves from time to time, or maybe on a regular basis? A doorbell camera can help you keep them safe. They’ll never have to answer the door blind- you (or they) can see who is at the door before they ever come to it, meaning they’ll never have to wonder if that stranger is supposed to be there or not. The same goes for elderly family members you may care for; as a matter of fact, they can even give you permission to see the camera feed at their house, so you can help watch out for the senior citizens in your life even when you can’t be there.
What about porch piracy?
Package theft is an increasing threat in our modern age and thousands of people fall victim to it every day. But with a doorbell camera with the right features, such as one from Vivint, you can not only observe, monitor, and record who approaches your door, but you can communicate with anyone on your porch, possibly even scaring a potential thief away before they do something they’ll regret.
And hey, sometimes you might need to let someone into your house- How did we do it in the old days? Leave a key under the doormat? Ask a neighbor to unlock it for them when they arrive? Take off work to sit home and wait for the cable guy to get there sometime between 9:30 and 6? No longer necessary. With a door cam from a company like Vivint which also offers full home automation, you can see who’s there, unlock the door remotely and lock it back up when they leave. How’s THAT for convenience?
Features to look for in a Doorbell Camera
So what should your doorbell camera be able to do, ideally?
Live Streaming and Recorded Video:
Obviously, you want streaming video. Not only do you want a live feed so you can see who’s at the door in real time, but you also want to be able to go back through your recorded footage in case you need to show something to someone else, like the police if you have a package stolen. The more storage the better, and the more intelligent the recording, the fewer hours of footage you’ll have to pore through to find what you’re looking for. Some companies, such as Vivint, offer advanced analytics that can differentiate between shadows, birds, or other random occurrences and actual people approaching your door. This is doubly good because for one you’ll get fewer ghost notifications to annoy you in the middle of the day and for two you’ll waste very little of your recording space.
So obviously all doorbell cameras are… well, cameras. But all cameras are not created equal are they? Resolutions in doorbell cameras range all over from 480p to 1080p and of course the higher the resolution, the better the picture quality. Companies like Vivint who offer the highest quality cameras usually will have the best resolution, along with HDR (high dynamic range) capabilities. Furthermore, I think it’s well established that most home intruders do their work at night, so if your home is burglarized and your camera isn’t equipped with night vision, that’s not going to be super helpful.
Picture this: you’re home alone, it’s late, very dark outside, and there’s a knock at the door. The first thing you do is jump up and fling the door open and invite whoever it is into your house, right? Of course not. You have to play 20 questions- “Who’s there?”, “What do you want?”, “What’s that axe for?” etc. And even if you have a doorbell camera, if it isn’t equipped with night vision capability, it isn’t going to do you much good after sundown.
Field of View: Most doorbell cameras can see what’s in front of them and that’s about it. And usually, that’s ok. Most people with good intentions aren’t hiding to the side of your doorbell camera to avoid being seen. But what if you become the victim of porch piracy- anyone who is mildly clever can avoid being directly in front of your doorbell camera if they know it’s there. That’s why doorcams like Vivint’s Doorbell Camera Pro are some of the best in the industry, with a 180-degree field of view, it’s impossible to hide.
So you expect video, that’s a given. It’s a doorbell camera, after all. But how about communication? Being able to communicate with whoever is within earshot of your doorbell is surprisingly helpful. Not only does it let you talk to your expected visitors- “Oh hi Grandma, hold on one second”- but it also lets you talk to unexpected guests- “Hey you- I just want you to know you’re being recorded, and if you steal my ceramic gnome I just got from Ebay I swear I’ll hunt you down”. You can imagine all kinds of scenarios where this function would be applicable, from the cable guy finally showing up (sometime between 12 and eternity) to ANOTHER vacuum salesman (“sorry, can’t let you in today, we all have covid”).
Some doorbell cameras are just that- they’re doorbells with a camera in them. They don’t have a lot of bells and whistles and they don’t do a lot except give you the ability to see what’s happening at your door at a given time. And frankly, that’s not enough. You want to know when something is actually happening, and you want it recorded in case you need to show it to someone (the police, for example, or the people from “Finding Bigfoot”). And furthermore, you don’t want to parse through hundreds of hours of footage to find what you’re looking for. This is where motion detection comes in- top of the line cameras like those offered by Vivint have advanced analytics that know the difference between a shadow or a passing dog and an actual person coming to your door and will begin recording automatically when something happens.
Obviously you don’t want to be glued to your phone, staring at it non-stop to make sure your packages stay safe or waiting on the plumber to get there. That’s why companies like Vivint which have smartphone apps that give you instant notifications when your doorcam detects someone nearby are your best bet. You don’t have to pay any attention to your camera until you get a notification letting you know something is going on. Otherwise, you can trust that everything is as it should be.
So there are two options when it comes to powering your doorcam: battery-powered ones and hardwired ones. Battery-powered is a little easier to install, generally speaking, because they require no special wiring or access to your home electrical grid. On the other hand, a hardwired camera must be wired in. Hardwired cameras are more reliable and less prone to failure, as batteries will fail over time. Also, hardwired cameras are just more convenient, as you won’t have to constantly go through the added pain and expense of replacing the batteries.
Weather Proofing: Anything that’s intended for outdoor use had better be able to deal with anything mother nature throws at it (and if you live in a place as I do, that can be a lot). Therefore it is essential that you check on the equipment you’re buying before you put it out to face the elements. Don’t “hope for the best”, make sure your technology is weather tested and approved for outdoor use or you might make a very expensive mistake.
Essentially this boils down to DIY (do it yourself) or professional installation. DIY is more convenient for some people who are good at working with this sort of thing and don’t mind fooling with some simple electrical wiring, but there’s those among us who would rather not take the chance of electrocuting ourselves. Professional installation, on the other hand, is the better route for some people, so make sure whatever company you use offers professional installation if that’s important to you.
So which Doorbell Camera is Best?
There are lots of doorcams out there. Some come in very cheap- around $20 or so- while others can range into the $500 range. Obviously, the cheaper the camera the less you’re going to get: lower resolution lenses, fewer capabilities, less durability, etc. And while there are a lot of cameras out there on the market and many of them have lots of great features, one company stands out above the rest. The Vivint Doorbell Pro offers all of the features discussed above and then some.
Vivint doorbell cameras can help deter package theft not only by notifying you when someone is at the door and letting you warn them away, it also can be programmed to emit a loud (85 decibel) squeal or whistle, plenty loud enough to let anyone and everyone within hearing range that something is up. And we all know how much criminals love to attract attention while they’re doing wrong.
Vivint doorbell cameras provide some of the clearest views available on the market, with 1080p high-definition camera feeds, coupled with nightvision capability to ensure you will never be left wondering what’s out there.
Vivint cameras have motion sensing abilities above and beyond those offered by other companies, with customizable settings, face recognition technology, and other great features that will make sure you don’t get hundreds of ghost notifications every time the wind blows or a bird passes by.
Vivint also offers the ability to record everything your camera sees when it detects motion as well as cloud storage that will allow you to check your footage as far back as you want to.
Vivint’s two-way audio is among the best in the industry, as it gives you the ability to talk to someone at the door whether you’re anywhere nearby or not. It’s as simple as having a phone conversation, you simply answer the notification on your phone the same way you would a phone call. And with two-way communication, it’s even easier for the person at the door to talk to you, as they don’t even need a phone!
Vivint offers free professional home installation as well, which is a clutch for those of us who aren’t mechanically or electrically gifted. I can’t tell you how nice it is to not have to worry about whether you did everything right or if the system is working the way it should- You just trust the pros to come to get it hooked up, and it doesn’t cost you one thin dime extra. This is doubly important if your doorcam is being integrated into a bigger home security or home automation system. You’re going to want to be 100% sure that everything is interacting correctly or your whole system might get thrown off.
And your whole doorcam experience- your audio communication, your sensitivity settings, even your doorbell chime- can be controlled through the convenient Vivint app as easily as anything else you can do with your smartphone or tablet.
And that’s not all. Vivint offers an entire array of home security and home automation devices, all easily controllable from that same Vivint app, everything from garage door openers to smart light switches to thermostats, you name it, Vivint can do it. So when you get right down to it, Vivint may be the only company in the industry that can do everything you can possibly imagine when it comes to home security and automation. So why not take a minute today and see what else Vivint can do for you.