I Got a Video Doorbell and Now I Can’t Live Without It

A Nest Hello Video doorbell, next to a smart lock.
Josh Hendrickson

One of the newest smarthome devices I installed in my house is a video doorbell. And now I wish I had installed it much sooner. Video doorbells are fantastic, and now I can’t live without one. Here’s why.

What Is a Video Doorbell?

A Nest Hello and Ring Video doorbell side by side.
Google, Amazon

Video Doorbells vary in shape, size, and positioning, but they all have a few things in common. Just as the name suggests, they act as doorbells that someone can ring. And they serve as a security camera, recording video of anyone who approaches the door. And as a bonus, typically you can speak to a person who rang your doorbell without opening your door—or better yet, even when you aren’t home. The rest of the details change from doorbell to doorbell.

You can power some video doorbells—like Ringwith batteries, which is helpful if you don’t have doorbell wiring or the wiring doesn’t work. In other cases, you have to connect some video doorbells, like the Nest Hello and Eufy Video Doorbell, to your doorbell wires for electricity. Without it, they won’t work.

All video doorbells use an app to let you view a video stream, and most have optional subscriptions with extra features. In most cases, a subscription is required to view previously recorded video. Without it, you can only see live video.

Why I Love My Video Doorbell

Video doorbells are a game-changer for your house. And I adore mine. I work from home and spend most of my day in the office. I don’t have a clear view of my front door, and I’m far enough from the street that I can’t hear when cars pull up.

My Packages Are Safe

A video still showing a Fedex delivery person walking away from the door, a package is on the porch.
Yet another package delivered without so much as a knock.

As a reviewer, I’m sent packages frequently, often without a tracking number. Before I got a video doorbell, deliveries often sat out on my porch all day—even though I was home. Because for some reason, four out of five delivery people wouldn’t ring my doorbell or knock. They drop the delivery on the porch (or worse yet, I suspect occasionally threw the box to my porch), and leave. I have a covered porch, and on occasion, I’ve found packages left in my driveway (which is infuriating). Sometimes that left me with rain-soaked boxes. Other times, I was unaware that a shipment I desperately needed was on my porch hours ago.

Now my doorbell notifies me when someone approaches the door. I take a quick look, see it’s a delivery person, and get my package right away. And the delivery people ring my doorbell more frequently now, though not every time.

One thing I watch for is how they put the box down. I haven’t spotted anyone tossing a package yet, but at the same time, I haven’t found any damaged boxes either. I suspect they notice my video doorbell and think better of it.

I Can Easily Ignore Solicitors

Working from home means needing an uninterrupted environment. Sadly, working from home means nobody respects that fact. While I can control what happens in my house, I can’t stop other people from ringing the doorbell or knocking on the door. Sometimes it’s an important message from a neighbor that I need to answer, but most of the time it’s a solicitor.

With the Nest Hello, when someone rings the doorbell, my Google Home announces any familiar faces I’ve taught it. Sometimes I know who is at the door before I’ve even looked at the video. I can also let them know I’m on the way to the door.

Without a video doorbell, I wouldn’t know who it is until I walked to my door and looked through the peephole. And I had to hope they didn’t hear me. Now, when someone rings the doorbell, I can see who it is, and inevitably when it’s a solicitor, I can close the video and go back to work. I don’t answer the door; I don’t even leave my office. They think I’m not home and move on to the next house, and I get my work done.

I Control My Doorbell (And My Door)

The Nest app, with Vidoe doorbell chime on/off togle.

Thanks to my video doorbell’s chime controls, I can turn off the doorbell chime entirely. As a parent, I sincerely wish I had that feature when my children were babies. I could have avoided the pain of finally getting them to sleep only to have the doorbell ring.

And on one occasion, I had an extended family member check on my dog while I was out of town. I programmed a smart lock code so she could enter the house, but for some reason, that didn’t work. She texted me, and thanks to my video doorbell, I was able to confirm it was her and grant access to my home. My dog was thankful for the video doorbell and smart lock that day.

Video Doorbells Aren’t Just for Smarthomes

If you’re thinking to yourself, “that sounds great, but I don’t want a smarthome” I have good news for you: video doorbells aren’t just for smarthomes. Even if you don’t install any other smarthome item in your house, a video doorbell will still work great for you.

The only other device you need is a smartphone or tablet, and chances are you already have one (maybe even both). You’ll benefit even more from a video doorbell if you have a voice assistant display, like Nest Hub or Echo Show, and a smart lock. But they’re not necessary.

Even without other smarthome tech, you’ll benefit from a video doorbell. You still get notifications when someone approaches your door, and you can see and talk with those people. All the essential benefits of video doorbells don’t require a smarthome. Instead, smarthome technology enhances video doorbell features.

If the idea of knowing when packages arrive or knowing when the person at your door is a solicitor or the pizza you ordered sounds like something you’d enjoy, then you should get a video doorbell. If answering the door without opening the door sounds like a safety feature you could use, you should get a video doorbell.

And if you have small children who take naps and dread the doorbell ringing, you should get a video doorbell that connects to your chime. Yes, you can manually silence your chime, but that’s more effort than tapping a button in an app.

The Best Video Doorbells

If you’re wondering what doorbell to get, here are some recommendations based on various needs. When you’re deciding on a doorbell, you should ask yourself a few questions. Will it fit in the space you have? Does it require wiring, and if so do you have working doorbell wiring?  Are you willing to subscribe for extra features? And are you willing to upload your video to the cloud? That should help narrow down which doorbell is best for you.

The Best Wired Video Doorbell: Hello Nest

A Nest Hello video doorbell.
Google

If your doorbell wiring works, we highly recommend the Nest Hello. It’s the only doorbell we’re aware of that offers 24/7 continuous recording. Other doorbells only record when triggered by people or motion.

It provides high-quality video, control of your chime, and paired with a Nest Hub you’ll get nearly instant video when someone rings the doorbell. If you have facial recognition turned on, your Nest Hub will even announce who the visitor is. Nest Hello is also one of the smallest video doorbells, so if your space is tight Nest is a good option. The main downside is, some of the best features, like previous recordings, require a Nest Aware subscription, but we think those features are worth the cost.

The Best Battery-Powered Video Doorbell: Ring 2

A Ring 2 Video doorbell
Amazon

If you don’t have doorbell wiring (or you do, but it doesn’t work), then the Ring 2 video doorbell is a great option. This doorbell is battery powered and integrates with Alexa products. The doorbell only records when motion or people are detected, but that may be all you need.

You can wire the Ring 2 into your home, and if you do it will control your home’s chime. Otherwise, you’ll either need to buy battery-powered chime or settle for smartphone and tablet notifications.

The Best Battery-Powered Doorbell

Ring Video Doorbell 2 with HD Video, Motion Activated Alerts, Easy Installation

The Ring 2 is a great option if you can't wire a video doorbell to your home. You get HD video, the ability to talk with anyone that rings the doorbell, and Alexa integration.

The Best Cloud-less Video Doorbell: eufy Security Wi-Fi Video Doorbell

A eufy video doorbell and wireless chime.
eufy

Most video doorbells require a cloud subscription if you want to view previously recorded video and enable other features. The Eufy video doorbell bucks that trend by recording your video locally. And all of its features are present without a subscription. Like Ring, it only records when triggered events occur, but even without the cloud events include motion and human detection. Which means it won’t trigger from a cat. You also get Alexa and Google Assistant integration.

eufy does offer an optional cloud storage subscription for $3.99 a month with unlimited storage if you need it, but the local storage provides enough for most people. It can hold approximately a month of videos if your doorbell records 30 videos, each 30 seconds long, every day. That’s more than most people need. And as a bonus, the eufy doorbell comes with a wireless chime; you have to buy that separately with the battery-powered Ring doorbells.

Best Cloud-less Video doorbell

eufy Security Wi-Fi Video Doorbell, 2K Resolution, Real-Time Response, No Monthly Fees, Secure Local Storage, Free Wireless Chime (Requires Existing Doorbell Wires, 16-24 VAC, 30 VA or above)

Eufy Video Doorbell is the only cloud-less video doorbell we're aware of, and doesn't require a subscription for any of its features. The doorbell records in 2K resolution, and has Alexa and Google Assistant integration.

Josh Hendrickson Josh Hendrickson
Josh Hendrickson has worked in IT for nearly a decade, including four years spent repairing and servicing computers for Microsoft. He’s also a smarthome enthusiast who built his own smart mirror with just a frame, some electronics, a Raspberry Pi, and open-source code. Read Full Bio »

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