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Smart doorbells look cool and seem really handy, but are they really worth it? Maybe you’ve seen some neighbors rocking it or just wondered how they work well with a smart home.
I also wondered about the same things as you, so I took some time to do up some deep research on this topic and to just share the definite answer I came to.
Here’s what I found:
Smart doorbells are worth it. Smart doorbells are great tools that provide the functionality of a smart home by enabling seamless connectivity with other smart devices, providing convenient live video feeds, enabling 2-way voice communication with people at the door, and seamless integration with other smart cameras.
There’s so much to cover about smart doorbells to demonstrate their worth! I will try to unpack all the value of owning a smart doorbell in this article. Read on for more!
What Is A Smart Doorbell?
A smart doorbell is a doorbell that has multiple capabilities that enable it to be controlled remotely, primarily by a Wi-Fi connection.
These capabilities include highly convenient functions such as:
- Holding voice conversations
- Live feed capture
- Capturing movements outside the door
- Providing security alerts
All of which are accessible through a smartphone or a Google Nest Hub or Amazon Echo Show.
The most prominent part of a smart doorbell that differentiates it from a normal doorbell is its ability to link to any smart devices you have in your home.
For example, if you were to use the Google Home ecosystem, you would easily be notified when someone approaches your door through your smartphone, especially if you’re out in your yard and can’t hear the doorbell.
If you’re living in a large house, smart doorbells can also enable all the smart speakers in your home to chime, so you’ll be able to hear it from any room in your house!
Here’s a quick video introduction to one of the many smart doorbells out there: Google’s Nest Doorbell!
Got a rough idea of what a smart doorbell is already? Now let’s look at how they work and how you can possibly include them in your smart home!
How Do Smart Doorbells Work?
Now that you roughly know what smart doorbells are, let’s dive into how they work because we need to know their functions before we can truly know what they’re worth!
Smart Connectivity Via Wi-Fi
Smart doorbells work through connection to your Wi-Fi to connect to the other smart devices you have in your home. This can typically be set up in the Google Home ecosystem.
Notifications will be sent from your smart doorbell to your mobile phone, which will prompt you to view a live view of what’s outside your home through an app. From there, you can then decide if it’s worth it to attend to the door or to just leave an automated voice message.
This requires your mobile phone to be able to access the internet.
Many will choose to view the live footage through a smart device in specific rooms such as a Google Nest Hub or an Amazon Echo Show, for convenience sake and easy viewing!
Live Footage Recordings
Certain smart doorbells are able to capture footage that will be stored on the device or cloud for a certain period of time before they are deleted forever.
During this period of time, you will be able to view the footage history, and depending on the doorbell you purchase, they may provide object and human detection so you have specific events highlighted in the footage!
Live 2-way Voice Communication
Beyond just video footage viewing, it also provides highly convenient 2-way voice communication. This is also something that normal doorbells cannot mimic.
This means the smart doorbells are equipped with a microphone and a speaker with which someone outside your door can hear you!
This works really well because it enables you to quickly communicate with others outside the door. Great for lazy people (like me!)
For example, if a delivery man were to come to your door and ring it, you would immediately be able to respond by either leaving an automated message to just leave it at the door or to speak a little more with them.
2-way voice communication is a great way to speak to someone without actually being present at the door. This definitely provides some security benefit because you never know if any suspicious characters decide to invade your home.
Connectivity With Other Smart Cameras
Beyond just looking at what the smart doorbells see at the front door, smart doorbells work well with smart cameras that you may have installed around the house.
Depending on how well your smart doorbells integrate with your smart cameras, you may be able to monitor the outside surroundings of your house all through the same app.
Sometimes, when there are suspicious people showing up at your door, there may other threats that linger to the sides or to the back of your house.
At times like these, it’s important to know what’s going on at all locations at once.
Depending on your smart outdoor cameras, you’ll be able to receive footage that you can piece together with your smart doorbell to ensure a smart security system for your home!
Wired and Battery-Powered Smart Doorbells
Smart doorbells can typically be powered in two ways: through a wired power supply or through a rechargeable battery pack. Though, not all smart doorbells have both methods for you to choose from.
The Google Nest Doorbell allows for both, so I’ll use that as an example.
The Nest Doorbell can be connected to a wired power supply or transformer for its power. This means that you’ll never need to charge it periodically. It is recommended to get an electrician to do this for you if you’re not much of a handyman.
The Nest Doorbell can also be simply mounted to the wall through a wall plate and run on the power from its battery pack. Based on my research, many people have claimed the battery to last 1 month before it required charging again.
The battery pack is rechargeable and can be charged through a USB-C cable. A notification will be sent to smart devices to indicate a low battery percentage.
Are Smart Doorbells Worth It?
By now, you should be semi-convinced or at least open to the idea that smart doorbells may be worth it after all!
This question may be now popping into your mind: “Are smart doorbells worth it?”
Here’s my answer:
Smart doorbells are definitely worth it in a smart home. Smart doorbells are great tools to add to a smart home to ensure seamless connectivity with other smart devices, provide convenient live video feeds, 2-way voice communication, and seamless integration with other smart cameras.
Through my research on what type of smart doorbell I should purchase for my new home, I stumbled upon this video from Alex Teo on YouTube to be really useful.
He explains the functionality of smart doorbells simply and effectively. (Great for beginners!)
Check the video out below:
In his video, he mentions that smart doorbells are one of the essentials when you’re considering building up a smart home.
I wholly agree with this statement!
With a reliable smart doorbell, you no longer need to entertain people that you don’t wish to speak to at the door.
It’s also extremely convenient to view and speak with who’s at the door without being at the door!
What Are Some Examples of Smart Doorbells?
Now you’re kinda convinced that smart doorbells are worth it. But what options are out there? Which ones are recommended?
Let’s look at some recommended smart doorbell options:
Recommendation 1: Google Nest Doorbell
The Google Nest Doorbell was previously known as the Google Hello Video Doorbell, but it’s just a rebranding and refresh of its look. For the most part, the product works the same way.
There’s a reason why I keep mentioning this smart doorbell throughout the entirety of this post. It’s really the doorbell that provides for all your needs and doesn’t fall short like the rest.
It’s not like the rest. After using other smart doorbells, you would always find they were in some ways lacking, and eventually upgrade to this doorbell anyways.
So I thought to recommend this straight so you don’t have to go through that!
Google Device Interoperability
The best part about the Nest Doorbell is its interoperability with Google devices. Things like the Nest Hub, Nest Cam, Nest Speakers, and any other device that uses the Google Assistant can be seamlessly connected to one another in the Google Home ecosystem.
Not only is it easy to set up with the Google Home app, but you’ll also be able to respond with the Google Assistant easily and issue automated voice messages by selecting from your Nest Hub.
If you have multiple Nest Speakers and Nest Hubs set up around the house, you’ll also do away with the need to purchase an extra device: a chime!
If you purchase other doorbells, you need 2 devices for the smart doorbell to work: the doorbell and a chime. When you use Nest Speakers (Nest Mini/Nest Audio) in your home, they will play a chime whenever there is an alert or someone at your door.
Here’s a video from Google explaining how it works:
Great Video and Voice Features
There are many cameras out there that are really bad. This is mostly because of poor lighting. Doors are always facing outwards and so there’s always the problem of backlit faces from the sun.
The shadows cast by the sun make it difficult for other doorbells to pick up facial features.
This isn’t a problem with the Nest Doorbell!
It has an extremely decent camera that has a 3-megapixel color sensor, 8x digital zoom, and has an HDR, 30 frames/sec video recording function.
These allow for the Nest Doorbell to pick up on backlit faces and shadows. This helps the Nest Doorbell recognize familiar faces through its facial detection algorithm and labels them within the app.
One thing to note though: the Nest Doorbell only stores footage up to the previous 3 hours. So you’ll never know the culprit who stole your package while you were at work.
To have more footage history, you’ll need to purchase a Nest Aware or Nest Aware Plus subscription. They cost about $6/month and $12/month.
Rechargeable Battery or Wired Powered
With the Nest Doorbell, you can choose either to power it through its rechargeable battery or wired power.
This means that you can choose how involved you want to be with the electric circuitry and also whether you would mind charging it every month or so.
To check the battery level, simply open up the Google Home app and click the Nest Doorbell to see it. You’ll also receive notifications when it gets low.
Google Nest Doorbell Video Review
Enough descriptions for now! Let’s look at a video review of how it works and looks. Check out this video below for a helpful overview:
Recommendation 2: Ring Video Doorbell 4
Another highly recommended smart doorbell is the Video Doorbell 4 by Ring!
The Video Doorbell 4 is well-endowed with the latest features that can compete with the Nest Doorbell, but in some small ways are better.
Here are some features the Ring Video Doorbell 4 has:
Integration With Smart Devices In Google Home Ecosystem
Similar to the Nest Doorbell, the Ring Video Doorbell 4 is able to connect as a smart device to the Google Home Ecosystem well. This means that it can push notifications to any other smart device listed under the same home in the Google Home app.
The Google Nest Hub and Amazon Echo Show will work well to receive alerts when someone is at your door or when someone has pressed the doorbell.
The Video Doorbell 4 has the ability to give quick replies that are read aloud by its speakers so the person at the door can hear them.
It can issue simple commands like: “Please leave the package outside” or “Sorry we’re not interested”.
This has really helped when you’re either too lazy or busy to attend to the door. Maybe you’re just shy. But it’s all good because you don’t have to say a single word.
Rechargeable Battery or Wired Powered
The Video Doorbell 4 offers the option to be installed via a rechargeable battery or through a wired power through the wall.
The Video Doorbell 4 trumps the Nest Doorbell in this aspect because if its ability to switch out a replaceable battery for a new one while the used battery is charging.
This means that your Ring Video Doorbell 4 will not have any downtime while charging.
You can even opt to go for a wired power connection, so you don’t have to worry about charging ever.
Full-Color Pre-Roll Footage
An interesting feature about the Video Doorbell 4 is that it displays a few seconds of full-color pre-roll footage during the live video broadcast on your smart devices.
For example, if you receive a notification on your Google Nest Hub that someone is at your door, you can have a preview of a few seconds before the motion was detection.
This allow you to fully know the few frames you missed before! Cool right?
Harder To Steal
Compared to the Nest Doorbell, which focuses a lot on software integration with other Google products and functionality, the Ring Video Doorbell 4 is a tough one to nick!
If mounted correctly, it is much more difficult to steal this than the Google Nest Doorbell, which comes off pretty easily. This is because it is secured more firmly, which may discourage potential thieves.
Comparison Between Nest Doorbell and Ring Video Doorbell 4
After looking at the very two good smart doorbells, you may then be thinking about which would be best for you.
No worries, I compiled a comparison table so you can make the most informed decision.
Here’s a table comparing the features of the Nest Doorbell and Ring 4 Video Doorbell:
|Features||Google Nest Doorbell||Ring 4 Video Doorbell|
|Power Requirements||Wired/rechargeable battery options||Wired/quick-release rechargeable battery pack options|
|Camera||1/3-inch, 3-MP color sensor, 8x digital zoom||1080p HD|
|Video||HD UXGA 1600 x 1200, up to 30 frames/sec, H.264 encoding, HDR||1080 HD Live view|
|Field of View||160° diagonal||160° horizontal, 84° vertical|
|Weather Resistance||IPx4 rating||Unrated|
|Night Vision||850 nm infrared LEDs||Night vision available|
|Smart Device Compatibility||Good with Google products and apps||Works with Google Home app, less functions|
|Object and Facial Recognition||Facial recognition and ignores non-human movement||Customisable motion detection and motion zones|
|Colored Pre-roll Footage||No pre-roll footage||Colored pre-roll footage|
|Chimes||Uses Nest speakers as chimes||Requires a chime from Ring|
Hopefully, that table was enough of a comparison for the two smart doorbells.
If not, here’s a video comparing the two side by side in detail:
Also, Ring doorbells work really well with eeros! Read this article to find out more about eeros:
How Much Do Smart Doorbells Cost?
When checking if a smart doorbell is worth it, it’s always important to compare their costs. It’s not about buying the cheapest or buying the most expensive, but buying the one that has the most value!
In my opinion, the smart doorbell that has the most value is the one you will keep using and don’t see yourself replacing within the next year.
Smart Doorbell Pricing
Here’s a table comparing the prices of some smart doorbells at the time of writing:
|Google Nest Doorbell||$179.99|
|Ring Video Doorbell 4||$199.99|
|Arlo Essential Wireless Video Doorbell||$199|
As seen in the table below, most of the smart doorbells that have video functions are well above $100 dollars.
It’s certainly not too cheap, as I don’t want to recommend lousy smart doorbells that you end up replacing with anyway.
Smart Doorbell Chime Pricing
For certain smart doorbells, it works much better with a chime because you wouldn’t have your phone with you at all times, and sometimes it’s easier to get alerts from a chime when someone’s at the door.
You’ll see that the chimes that work with these smart doorbell brands are about the same price, with the Ring Chime being the cheapest.
However, you’ll also have to look at the functionality of each of them to compare them fairly.
The Ring Chime Pro has more functions than the Ring Chime, so it may not be as cheap as you think it is.
For my personal preference, I’ll use the Google Nest Mini because it has a ton more functions due to the in-built powerful Google Assistant which I can use to control other smart devices in my home like my fans and lights.
Of course, you can do away with chimes and install a Google Nest Hub or Amazon Echo Show instead. With these, you can easily view the live feed from your smart doorbell on their screens and select actions to take appropriately.
Smart Doorbell Subscriptions
Beyond just smart doorbells, the subscriptions are a big part of how much they cost. Subscriptions to their services can provide cloud storage of video footage and other enhanced features such as image recognition.
|Smart Chimes||Monthly Pricing|
|Google Nest Aware||Nest Aware: $6, Nest Aware Plus: $12|
|Ring Protect||Basic: $3, Plus: $10, Pro: $20|
|Arlo Secure||Arlo Secure: $9.99, Arlo Secure Plus: $14.99|
Of course, the prices vary a lot between these monthly subscriptions, so you’ll need to dig deeper into which one has the most bang for your buck for their features.
For newly purchased Google Nest Doorbells, you’ll get a complimentary 30-day Nest Aware trial to test it out!
Pros and Cons of Owning A Smart Doorbell
While owning a smart doorbell, there are definitely pros and cons to owning one!
To put it simply, I’ll place it all in this table:
|Able to view live video feed of front door||May be able to be stolen easily|
|Able to have 2-way communication with whoever is at the front door, from any location via a smartphone||Heavily reliant on Wi-Fi network to receive alerts, will not work during blackouts, but still records videos|
|Able to capture important events at the porch 24/7||Costly compared to normal doorbells|
If you’re interested in smart doorbells that work well with other smart home hubs like Apple’s HomeKit, read these 2 blog posts on HomeKit Secure video:
Now that you know all this information about smart doorbells, do you think it is worth it? I definitely think smart doorbells are super worth it!
This is especially so if you’re looking to commit to building a smart home that is connected to multiple smart devices.
This is the future, so let’s embrace it, starting with smart doorbells.
Justin is the founder and author of Justjooz. He is a Nanyang Technological University (NTU) alumni and a former data analyst.
Now, Justin runs the Justjooz blog full-time, hoping to share his deep knowledge of business, tech, web3, and analytics with others.
To unwind, Justin enjoys gaming and reading.