The Complete Guide to Doorbell Cameras
Doorbell cameras have become a popular choice for homes all across the United Kingdom. These handy devices, which allow you to monitor who is at your doorstep, communicate with them in real time, and deter potential burglars, also happen to be pretty easy to install.
However, there are a few considerations you will need to keep in mind when picking the perfect system. For example, whether you want cloud storage for the captured video and how you can integrate the camera within other devices in your home.
The purpose of this guide is to help you understand doorbell cameras. We will first show you how they work, how you can install them, and a few important choices in terms of features. Then, we will suggest the best four brands for 2023 and explain what makes them a good option for your home’s security.
Why Have a Doorbell Camera?
The first question potential buyers ask themselves is: Do I really need a camera in my doorbell?
Well, there are many excellent reasons why choosing this type of device can be a great idea - especially as doorbell cameras become a very affordable option. So, let’s take a look at the benefits of doorbell cameras and camera ecosystems in a little more detail.
One of the main advantages of having a doorbell with a camera is that you can see who is ringing before you open the door. This, of course, reduces the risk of unexpected or potentially dangerous encounters. You can identify who’s at your door without physically opening it, which can be especially beneficial for elderly or more vulnerable people. What’s more, doorbell cameras act as a powerful deterrent to potential intruders. The presence of a visible camera tends to discourage burglars, thus making your home less appealing as a target for break-ins!
Doorbell cameras can also help protect the delivery of packages. You can actually monitor them in real-time, receive alerts when packages arrive, and even instruct delivery personnel on where to place them (which is ideal if you are a busy parent and need to pop out to do school pickups or shopping). With package theft on the rise, doorbell cameras can also help deter any ‘porch pirates’ and capture video evidence if someone does approach your property and tries to steal your belongings.
Many doorbell cameras come with two-way audio. This means you can communicate with visitors without having to open the door. This can be useful for greeting guests but also for providing instructions to delivery personnel or discourage potential intruders. Most doorbell cameras can be accessed via mobile apps, smart speakers, or other devices, making it easy to see who's at your door and communicate with them.
Cameras that record video footage of all doorstep activity can also be invaluable for documenting incidents. So, they can provide evidence in case of disputes, or even assist law enforcement in the event of a crime. Plus, with motion detection parameters, you can watch over your driveway and cars from the comfort of your home.
How to Install a Doorbell Camera
Although there are different doorbell camera models, most of them share the same basic steps when it comes to installation. So, let’s quickly see what setting up your new camera tends to look like.
The first step is checking what’s in the box - and whether you’re missing any components. Typically, your camera will come with a wall mounting bracket, wall screws, anchors, and sometimes a drill bit. The second step is to make sure you have Wi-Fi at the door. Most cameras require at least 2.5 Mbps upload speed to work.
In most cases, you will need to place your mounting bracket in the desired location, mark the screw holes, and insert the doorbell wires into the bracket grooves. But let’s talk briefly about the difference between wired and non-wires cameras, and how the battery works.
Wi-Fi Version vs Wired Doorbell Cameras
Doorbell cameras come in two main versions: Wi-Fi and wired (which uses the existing doorbell wiring).
Wi-Fi doorbell cameras are typically easier to install because they don't require any wiring. You place them somewhere with good Wi-Fi and a power source (more on this in the next section) and you can then access them remotely through, for example, an app. Wired doorbell cameras are powered directly by the existing doorbell wiring and operate continuously. These cameras often integrate with your existing doorbell system and chime, and tend to be more stable as they don’t get affected by the occasional Wi-Fi signal issues.
Doorbell Camera’s Battery Life
Most Wi-Fi doorbell cameras are battery-powered, which means they can continue functioning during power outages (or if someone were to cut your doorbell wiring). With wired doorbell cameras, though, you don't have to worry about recharging or replacing batteries.
If you choose a Wi-Fi doorbell camera, the battery life can be an important consideration, as it varies significantly between different models and brands. Some models, for example, can last for several months with just a single charge, while others need more frequent recharging. Some of the factors to keep in mind when picking your next camera are usage (continuous streaming or frequent alerts will drain the battery more quickly), climate (extreme temperatures, whether hot or cold, affect battery performance, too!), and the Wi-Fi signal strength (a weak Wi-Fi signal forces the camera to use more power to maintain a connection).
Here's the good news, though: Many doorbell cameras provide status alerts, notifying you when the battery is running low. And a few others can connect with extended power sources like solar panels!
Choosing the Right Doorbell Camera
We’ve covered some of the ways in which doorbell cameras work. Now, let’s talk about features! In this section, we'll dive into crucial factors like subscription plans and how your new doorbell camera can integrate with your smart home. Plus, a few privacy considerations for yours and your neighbours peace of mind.
Subscription Cameras & Cloud Storage
Many doorbell cameras require a subscription to function. The cost depends on the manufacturer, but there will be considerable discounts if you choose an annual plan over monthly billing. Subscriptions also tend to include more advanced features like motion detection, customizable zones, and person detection. Just keep in mind that some can be cancelled at any time without penalties, while others require you to commit to a longer plan.
The price of the subscription usually correlates with the amount of cloud storage you get with your purchase. For example, the Ring camera can only store footage in the cloud (or online) and not locally, while Google’s Nest supports local storage if you have a Google Home/Nest ecosystem.
Ultimately, it all depends on what you require. If you want to keep a longer history of recorded footage (and you want to access it remotely), cloud storage can be very valuable. If this is not a priority, then local storage and real-time alerts might do the trick.
Smart home integrations
One of the best things about modern doorbell cameras is that they can integrate with various smart home devices.
For example, your camera can work alongside smart locks. You can get a notification when someone enters your house and you can lock or unlock your door from your smartphone. So, you can remotely grant access to family members or service providers but keep your door locked the rest of the time.
Doorbells can also integrate with your smart lighting system. For example, it can activate porch lights when it detects motion or when the doorbell rings, making it easier to see visitors in low-light conditions.
Lastly, doorbell cameras can also integrate with your security system or alarm to trigger alerts in case of suspicious activity or when the doorbell is pressed. So, you get an immediate response to potential threats or security breaches.
Doorbell cameras provide you with some pretty valuable security features, but they also raise important privacy concerns. A common one is the field of view of your doorbell camera and whether it inadvertently captures your neighbours' property or activities. You can address this by adjusting the camera's angle and motion detection zones to focus only on your property. It's usually enough to void capturing areas where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy, such as other people’s windows or gardens.
Another privacy concern is the potential for unauthorised access to your doorbell camera or the data it collects. This can also be mitigated by choosing a manufacturer that has a proven record of good security updates, enabling two-factor authentication (so you are required to verify with your phone to see your recordings), and using a strong and unique password.
Top 4 Brands of Doorbell Cameras 2023
- 1080p Resolution
- Infrared night vision
- Outdoor Cam
- Complete Control From The Ring App
- Connected Devices
- Customizable Privacy Zones
- Motion detection
- Security LED lights
- Smart home integrations
Best Wireless Camera: Arlo Ultra 2
The Arlo Ultra 2 is the best wireless home security camera on the market, with 4K colour video recording, excellent night vision, and improved wireless range.
The Arlo Ultra 2 is also available in a supersized XL version with a 12-month battery life, and it comes with a three-month free trial of Arlo's cloud storage subscription, which includes accurate motion detection.
- 180-degree field of view
- Two-way audio
- 3840 x 2160 recording resolution
- Colour night vision
Arlo Ultra 2 starts at £627 for two cameras and smart hub, excluding a storage subscription.
Best Night Vision Camera: Google Nest Indoor
The Nest Cam Indoor is a popular, highly-rated security camera with various features, including two-way audio, facial and object recognition, and 1080p video resolution. It is compatible with Alexa, Assistant, Hue, Nest, and Wink and offers a 3-hour history viewing after activity has been detected.
The Nest Cam Indoor has two high-power infrared LEDs providing 15 feet of clear night vision. This means you'll be able to see what's happening in your home, even in low-light or no-light conditions.
The night vision feature is automatically enabled when the camera senses low light and can be turned on or off manually through the Nest app.
- 24/7 live stream video in full 1080p HD over Wi-Fi.
- Three-hour snapshot history
- Night vision featuring 8 high-power infrared LEDs
- Free 30-day Nest Aware trial
- 2-year Limited Warranty
The 1st generation version starts at £75 for a single camera at leading retailers.
Best Entry-level Camera: SimpliSafe SimpliCam
If you're seeking an affordable and user-friendly indoor security camera, look no further than the SimpliSafe SimpliCam. This wired security camera offers a quick and hassle-free setup process, making it a perfect choice for beginners. It has versatile features and compatibility with Android and iPhone devices through the SimpliSafe app.
- HD Video Quality with a 120-degree field of view
- Intelligent Motion Detection
- 24/7 Live Streaming
- Professional Monitoring Subscription Plans
- Free Motion Alerts
- High-Power Infrared LED
- 1 Year Limited Warranty
The SimpliSafe SimpliCam is reasonably priced at £139.99. Please note that to unlock its full potential, you will need a subscription plan of £4.99 per month in the UK for standard recording and monitoring.
Best Burglar Deterrent: Yale Front Door Wi-Fi Camera Light and Siren
The Yale Front Door Wi-Fi Camera Light and Siren is a robust outdoor camera that bolsters your property's security. Its standout feature is a potent built-in light and alarm siren that detects motion within, combining vigilance with deterrence. The camera includes a Full HD 1080p lens, a circular PIR (passive infrared) detector for motion capture, a microphone slot for two-way audio communication, and a powerful 160-lumen horizontal light.
The camera also includes a speaker for audio feedback, a QR code for easy smartphone app setup, and a microSD card slot for video storage.
- Local Video Storage on MicroSD
- Solid Mounting
- Light and Siren Deterrent
- Customizable Settings in the App
- Full HD Video Quality
The Yale Front Door Wi-Fi Camera Light and Siren is the premium model among Yale's home security cameras, priced at £76.49.
Most Versatile: Wyze Cam v3
Wyze may be one of the most affordable camera companies in the market, but it doesn't mean it can't compete in terms of quality. The company provides the same features expected from high-end security cameras, all at a fraction of the cost. We recommend the Wyze Cam for most users due to its cost-effectiveness and excellent performance.
It provides the same features as the other models and offers impressive colour night vision through its Starlight Sensors. The Wyze Cam v3 is a versatile option designed for both indoor and outdoor environments, making it an attractive choice for various applications.
- 32 GB MicroSD card sold separately
- Motion and Sound detection and alerts
- Starlight Sensor Colour Night Vision
- IP65 rated
- Smart sound recognition
You can find the Wyze Cam v3 at retailers like Amazon for £70.00.
Indoor security cameras are a critical part of any home security system. They offer peace of mind by deterring intruders, allowing you to monitor your loved ones, pets, and belongings, and providing valuable evidence in a security breach.
Ultimately, your choice should align with your budget, monitoring requirements, and specific needs. If you aren't sure which one to choose, ask an expert! We can provide impartial advice and guidance to make an informed decision.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best indoor security camera for recording video clips?
The Google Nest Cam is a popular choice for recording high-quality video clips, but there are several others that offer a similar option.
How does the video quality of indoor cameras compare to outdoor security cameras?
Indoor cameras tend to offer superior video quality when compared to outdoor security cameras.
Can I set up an entire room for continuous recording with just one camera?
You may need multiple cameras to cover an entire room effectively, as one camera's focus is typically limited.
Are there any security practices to consider when setting up a home security system with multiple cameras?
It's important to carefully position cameras, monitor motion zones, and ensure they don't intrude on privacy for the best results.
What kind of video history can I access with most indoor security cameras?
Many indoor cameras offer the option to review video recordings through online storage and may have a free service with limited storage.