Video Doorbells are among the best smarthome devices you can own. And these days, there are more choices than ever, each with different benefits and shortcomings. Whether it’s a locally-recording doorbell or one that can identify grandma, there’s a video doorbell for you.
What to Look for in a Video Doorbell
It seems like every company in the smarthome game has a video doorbell for your consideration. But video doorbells call for more than slapping a camera and a button together and calling it a day. You’ll want to make sure the doorbell is compatible with your home and works well for your particular needs.
- Power Source: There are two ways to power a video doorbell: your home’s existing doorbell wiring or battery power. Battery-powered video doorbells are easier to install, but require charging. Some (but not all) doorbells that run off existing wiring can make use of your home’s chime. If your wiring doesn’t work, then you’ll either want to choose a battery-powered doorbell or run a plug-in transformer from inside your home.
- Resolution: Like any other camera, resolution matters. Most video bells offer 720p, 1080p, or 2K resolutions when recording video. While the higher resolution does provide better quality, it also requires more bandwidth and storage space. It’s best to aim for at least 1080p for a good quality video.
- Chime Options: Most (but not all) wired doorbells can ring your home’s chime. But if it can’t (or you chose a battery-powered doorbell), you’ll need an external plug-in chime. Some doorbells include them, but for others, it’s an extra cost to factor in.
- Cloud Subscriptions: Nearly every doorbell offers a cloud subscription. For many, like Ring and Nest, it’s a requirement for advanced features like facial recognition and motion zones. You may also need a cloud subscription to review past videos—and the more history you want, the more it will cost. If you don’t want to pay monthly fees, look for a local capture doorbell.
The Best Overall Doorbell: Eufy Video Doorbell
You might be surprised to see a doorbell other than Nest Hello listed here, but Eufy earns the top spot thanks to a few smart design decisions. To start, unlike Nest Hello or Ring, you don’t need a cloud subscription.
The Eufy doorbell records videos locally and provides advanced features like motion zones and facial recognition without cloud processing. The wired doorbell records 2K video (like the Nest Hello), and while it can’t ring your home’s chime, it comes with a plug-in chime (unlike Ring). All-in-all it provides 90% of Nest Hello’s features for about 65% of the cost, and that’s before cloud subscriptions.
You won’t get tight integration with Google or Alexa, but the company is working on implementing those APIs. The other main feature missing is Nest Hello’s ability to recognize identities. Eufy’s notifications will show a person’s face specifically, but not identify who they are (like your brother or spouse). And unfortunately, if your doorbell wiring doesn’t work, you’ll need to buy a plug-in transformer. Otherwise, you’ll have to pick one of the battery-powered options we recommend instead of the Eufy 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)
Don't want the cloud? The Eufy video doorbell doesn't require it. It still gives you 2K video, motion zones, and basic facial recognition for less than the cost of a Nest Hello.
The Premium Pick: Nest Hello
If you don’t mind cloud subscriptions, Nest Hello is the absolute best video doorbell you can buy. Thanks to cloud processing, it does a better job of correctly identifying human movement (as opposed to a cat or sunlight) than the Eufy doorbell does.
It also records continuously, works with your home’s existing chime, and remembers who people are so it can identify them by name. Because Google makes it, Nest Hello has better integration with Google Home than any other doorbell. If you have a Nest Hub or Nest Hub Max, the video will appear nearly instantly on those devices when someone rings the doorbell.
Just keep in mind that Google locked Nest Hello’s best features behind the Nest Aware subscription. You can only get facial recognition, video history, and motion zones when you subscribe. If you don’t, it’s the equivalent of a digital peephole—only useful when you’re looking at it.
Best Battery Powered Doorbell: Ring Video Doorbell 2
If your home’s doorbell wiring doesn’t work or you don’t want to mess with electricity, then a battery-powered option might be the way to go. While Ring 2 can use your home’s wiring, you can skip that and use the included battery pack instead. You’ll just need to recharge it once in a while.
The Ring 2 records 1080p video and much like the Nest requires a subscription to view previous footage. If you don’t wire the doorbell into your home, you’ll need to buy a separate chime to hear when someone rings the doorbell. Ring does have Alexa integration, which includes doorbell announcements. That could negate the need for the separate chime purchase.
Ring Video Doorbell 2 with HD Video, Motion Activated Alerts, Easy Installation
Ring 2 is the best option if your doorbell wiring doesn't work (or doesn't exist). You'll get close Alexa integration, 1080p video, and the ability to view previous video recordings with a subscription.
Best for Renters: Ring Peephole Camera
If you’re not allowed to make changes to your doorbell or other hardware, the Ring Peephole Camera is your best pick. Instead of replacing your existing doorbell, the Ring Peephole goes on your door. As the name suggests, it replaces the door’s peephole.
You can still use your peephole as you usually would, but it also doubles as a camera that can notify you of visitors. As a bonus, if someone knocks on the door, the camera will detect that and notify you.
Like the Ring 2, the Peephole camera records in 1080p resolution, uses a rechargeable battery, and features close integration with Alexa. Best of all, it comes with the necessary tools to install it. Since it doesn’t have a wiring option, you’ll have to buy a plug-in chime if you don’t want to rely on Alexa or phone notifications.
Ring Peephole Cam - Smart video doorbell, HD video, 2-way talk, easy installation
If you live in an apartment or rent your home, you may not be allowed to change the doorbell hardware. In that case, the Ring Peephole is perfect, as it replaces your existing peephole. You get 1080p video and a rechargeable battery.