A smart doorbell, also known as a video doorbell, is akin to a digital receptionist for your home. Alongside ringing like a normal doorbell, these internet-connected doorbells let you see who’s on your doorstep via a built-in camera, and talk directly to them from your smartphone.
As well as letting you greet visitors, smart doorbells can help increase security at your home. They detect motion in front of your house, from wandering pets to possible burglars, and alert you to take action if required.
While it might seem like a fancy tech gadget, and therefore an expensive one, prices of video doorbells have dropped dramatically. You could pay as little as £30 – but be wary, models this cheap can be poor quality. You should also be careful shopping for video doorbells on online marketplaces like Amazon and eBay, especially if it's a model from a brand you haven't heard of. We tested 11 different .
Well known brands are a safer bet with video doorbells, or in fact any other smart device. are relatively expensive – expect to pay around £200, though there are well scoring and importantly, secure models in our for under £100.
You can pay more than £200 for a smart doorbell, but you also often have to sign up to a subscription to get the most out of it.
As well as being able to record and store video clips to access online, subscription services also often unlock extra features in the doorbell, such as customisable motion detection zones and more detailed notifications.
Ahead, we explain what you get when you sign up to Ring Protect, available on all Ring doorbells, and with Nest Aware for the Nest Hello.
With every Ring doorbell, the basic functionality lets you see the live video and respond to motion alerts. To record and store video clips of events if you need them later, you’ll need a Ring Protect subscription. It breaks down into two options, with most Ring doorbells offering a 30-day free trial to try it out.
With the Nest Hello, featured overleaf, you can store up to three hours of ‘event history’ video clips online for free to access remotely. That’s pretty meagre, so most people will feel the need to sign up to Nest Aware. There are two tiers and both cover unlimited Nest devices. They also enable more sophisticated controls to alerts and activity zones.
All smart doorbells will need to be installed either on your door, or next to it. With a wired doorbell, such as the Ring Pro or Nest Hello, we’d advise you hire an electrician to do the installation.
Wired doorbells require existing doorbell wiring, along with a standard 18-volt AC supply to power the camera. Installation requires turning all power off at the fuse board, wiring in the door-chime unit adaptor and then connecting everything up.
While you do get all the kit included in the box, it’s complicated and also dangerous for the novice. Plus, the instructions can often be rather hard to follow. An electrician should be able to install a smart doorbell for between £50-£80.If you’re fairly comfortable at DIY, you can install a battery powered doorbell yourself. Below is typically what you’ll need to do - the approach might different slightly for each doorbell brand or type. For example, the Ring Door View Cam fits into an existing door peephole.
Some battery-powered doorbells have removable batteries, and it’s advisable to have a fully charged spare battery ready to go if you need it. Others, such as the Ring Doorbell (2nd gen), have built-in batteries, so you’ll need to remove the entire doorbell to charge it. You can connect battery doorbells to the mains so that the battery is ‘trickle charged’ to keep it topped up. Again, we’d advise you get a professional in instead of attempting this yourself.
As well as how easy doorbells are to install, set up and use, we also assess whether their video quality is crisp and clear, both in bright daytime conditions and at night. We test whether the doorbells accurately detect when someone is arriving and send you easy-to-follow alert messages.
We also put smart doorbells and their associated apps through an in-depth security assessment, covering aspects such as password policies, data encryption and more. In addition, we also check whether a criminal can physically detach the doorbell from your home and steal it.