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Technology.

Updated: 30 Jun 2022

10 genuinely useful things you can do with a smart doorbell

From welcoming visitors to syncing up with your smart home, smart doorbells can supercharge the humble doorbell in more ways than one
Andrew Laughlin

Smart doorbells may seem like a straightforward enough smart device, helping you to manage visitors and deliveries from the comfort of your smartphone, but there are other strings to their bow you may not have considered.

Features such as customisable motion detection zones, car, face and animal detection, and the fact that you can program notification alerts mean there are a range of other security benefits around the home, as well as innovative ways to hook them up to other smart devices. Read on for some ideas.

Smart doorbell reviews – see models from Ring, Arlo, Nest and more all expertly tested for how well they perform.

1. Answering the door

The primary advantage of a smart doorbell is that when someone presses the bell, you can see who they are from your smartphone app.

You can speak to the visitor and they can talk to you, and then you can decide whether you should climb off the sofa to greet them in person. If you’re away on holiday, you can also manage visitors remotely with a smart doorbell so you never miss an important caller.

Some video doorbells, like the Google Nest, include face detection, which allows them to learn certain faces and tailor alerts, such as ‘Dad has just arrived’. 

Check the tech specs on all our smart doorbell reviews to see which models include features like face, car, animal and people detection.

Answering the door from your smartphone

2. Managing deliveries

As well as greeting visitors, you can also use a smart doorbell to manage the many deliveries we all receive from online shopping.

Instead of the delivery person dumping your parcel in a wheelie bin or under a hedge, you can direct them to put the item somewhere more useful. Or, if you are out of the house for a short while, you could ask them to come back when you’re home.

Delivery worker using smart doorbell

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3. Home security

Wireless security cameras are excellent at keeping a constant watch on your home in case of suspicious activity outside.

A smart doorbell does exactly the same for your front door, which is often a key place for spotting anyone doing something they shouldn’t. All doorbells have motion detection and so can alert you if they see anything. They also all have night vision so that you can still see what is going on in the dark.

We suggest you go for a model with a high resolution and good picture quality in case you need to rely on the footage later – aim for Full HD (otherwise known as 1080p, or 1920×1080) or higher.

See also: Wireless security camera reviews

Burglar breaking into house

4. Monitoring animals and pets

Whether it’s your cat patrolling your garden, or a neighbour’s pet that should better understand boundaries, a smart doorbell can keep an eye out for animal activity.

Some doorbells even have dedicated animal detection modes, such as the Arlo doorbells, which can spot a cat or dog from other types of movement.

Alongside pets, you might also capture some interesting creatures on your doorbell camera, such as birds, hedgehogs, foxes and even spiders if one ventures over the camera lens.

Dog looking out of window

5. Keep an eye on your car

If your driveway is next to your front door, a smart doorbell could also have a good view of your car as well.

Some models also allow you to set motion detection zones so that the camera particularly looks out for motion in specific area, such as where your car is parked. You can then get a notification if anything is detected – especially helpful if you’re away.

Read our guide to the best cars for 2022 to see which models impressed us the most.

Electric car charging at home

6. Use your TV to see who's at the door

Depending on what type of television you have, you might be able to sync it up to your smart doorbell and then see visitors on the big screen.

For example, Ring doorbells can be used on a TV that’s connected to a Fire TV stick, or the Ring Doorbell Pro can be integrated directly with selected Samsung smart televisions.

You can also check on a Google Nest doorbell using a television that has a Chromecast dongle or functionality built into the TV.

Changing settings on TV

7. Set lights to turn on when motion is detected

Just like wireless security cameras, smart doorbells can be incorporated into your smart home automation routine for various uses.

For example, you could set your system so that when you are away and someone rings the doorbell, a light in the hall is activated so that it appears someone is home.

There are various automation systems you can use, such as If This Then That and voice assistants like Alexa and Google Assistant, but do bear in mind that not all gadgets from different brands will work with each other.

House in snow

8. Have Alexa announce your visitors

If you have an Amazon Alexa device and a Ring doorbell, you can have Amazon’s voice assistant announce that there is someone at the door.

You simply link your Ring app to your Amazon account and then enable the Alexa skill that makes the connection work.

If you have an Amazon Echo Show you can also view your doorbell feed on the device’s screen and see who has come calling.

Read our guide on how to buy the best smart speaker to get started with a voice assistant.

Alexa

9. Neighbourhood watch

Be a good neighbour and use your smart doorbell to keep a look out for any suspicious activity in your area.

Go for a model with video storage either locally or online in the cloud (bear in mind that this could require a separate subscription) and the device can then work like CCTV.

The camera will look out for anything of note and record video clips in case you or someone else needs them later.

Before you do so, it’s worth brushing up on the legalities of recording video at your home.

Row of houses

10. Video evidence

Following on from the above, you might want to use footage captured on your doorbell to post on social media and see if anyone could identify a criminal, warn others about a possible scam, or resolve issues with parcel deliveries.

However, not everything you record on your smart doorbell is going to have a serious edge.

Ring Video Doorbell

Whether it’s a funny clip of a curious animal coming to your door, or a You’ve Been Framed-style blooper, your doorbell might just have recorded the next viral video sensation. 

For more on how to buy the perfect smart doorbell, read our guide to the best smart doorbells for 2022.