A video intercom is just a regular doorbell with a built-in video camera. But is it worth the price tag in the end? Here are some things to keep in mind if you are looking to buy a doorbell like Ring or SkyBell HD.
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They can act as a digital peephole
While you might just walk up to your front door and look through the peephole to see who rang the doorbell, a video doorbell can act as a glorified, Wi-Fi peephole of sorts. When someone rings the doorbell, you can simply pick up the phone to find out who is there, all without leaving your couch. This way you can see if you really need to open the door or if it’s just UPS with Amazon’s fifth pack this week.
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You can also receive notifications and see it in real time when you are away from home. You can even talk on the phone and communicate with the person on the other side through the speaker in the doorbell. So if the guy from UPS comes by when you’re not at home, you can tell him to just leave the package at the door.
They double as a security camera
While video doorbells can be handy to use, they are also great for keeping your home secure and identifying any bad guys.
The ring doorbell and SkyBell HD can start recording when someone approaches the door with their built-in motion sensors. This way, if someone with bad intentions approaches your house — even without ringing the doorbell — you will get a notification and see their face on camera. Although, to be honest, having an explicit camera at your door can also scare them away.
You need a decent Wi-Fi signal
Because video intercoms like the Ring and SkyBell HD don’t have an Ethernet port, they must connect to your Wi-Fi network. It doesn’t really matter, but there are more caveats than you might think.
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First, you need to make sure the video intercom is close enough to your router, especially since your doorbell is on the outside perimeter of your home. Usually, the ideal location for your router is in the middle of your house, which means your doorbell might be on the outskirts of its coverage area.
Secondly, external walls can cause great harm to Wi-Fi signals. These walls are made from a variety of different materials to keep internal insulation such as metal, stucco, dense fiberboard, etc. Just stepping outside my front door instantly drops my Wi-Fi connection speed by about two-thirds. Thus, the closer your router is to compensating for the lost signal, the better.
Installation Difficulty — Crapshoot
The ring doorbell is really easy to install as it can be battery powered and does not need to be connected to an existing system. You simply screw in the mounting plate and stick the ring on it.
However, you can also connect your existing doorbell wires to a video intercom, which is a bit more complicated. Some doorbells even require it, such as the Ring Pro or SkyBell HD, as they don’t have an internal battery. This doesn’t seem like a big deal since you’re only connecting two small wires, but if your existing doorbell is in a location where the video doorbell won’t fit, you’ll need to reroute those wires to a spot on the wall where the new doorbell will fit. that sometimes there can be pain in the back.
They are not cheap
It’s actually not that hard to decide if you want a video doorbell — I’m sure most people would love to have one, but the biggest barrier to entry, like most SmartHome products, is the cost.
For example, both the Ring Doorbell and the SkyBell HD cost $200, which isn’t cheap enough to buy without a second thought.
However, if it’s a device that you’ll get a lot of use out of and people will always come to it, or if you just want a security camera to constantly look at your front door, a video intercom can really be a worthy investment.
And, of course, you can purchase standalone security cameras that don’t have a doorbell component, like the Nest Outdoor Cam, but you’ll still pay the same price. You might also get a doorbell as part of the deal, too.