Video Doorbells

When you look for a video doorbell you need to be thinking about how you intend to use it and the features you will therefore need. Here's a quick checklist of the things you might want and what to take into consideration:

What are your constraints:

Choosing a Video Intercom as a Doorbell Replacement

The advertisments are enticing, fit a video intercom with a few bits and pieces and not only can you talk to anyone from anywhere but you can keep burglars away as well. It sounds too good to be true, right! Well then, it will not surprise you that it probably is (too good to be true). Security and specifically burglary prevention require far more than a simple doorbell to be effective, you will need additional motion sensors, door and window sensors and/or cameras along with a controller of some kind to support this system. This is another project and budget. Alternatively if you already have a smart home automation and/or security system you may be looking to integrate your video doorbell with that system.

Today's systems have many features that may be of interest but they often have limitations as well. Take a look at the functionality checklist and related considerations below and tick off the criteria that are either essential or desirable before choosing your doorbell replacement.

RequirementConsiderations
I want to be able to answer my doorbell and hold a conversation with the caller via an app on my mobile phone. This tends to be the basic requirment that is met by modern video intercom systems
I want video recording for when I am unable to take a call. Most video intercom systems will do this. Some will record only when the bell is pressed others will record when someone approaches the door bell and others continuously record. Most systems record exclusively to the cloud, usually with monthly charges for options such as keeping data longer than 24hrs. Some allow for recording to a local NAS but think about the security aspects here, e.g. you will never see a recording of the burglar who has just stolen your NAS. In the case of continuous recording think about how you would analyse this data. The more data you want recorded then the more likely you will need a mains powered system.
I want to continue using my door chimes, for when I am at home and can easily answer the door. Most systems, but not all, will support this. Some systems provide an option for quiet hours e.g. at night or overday when a baby takes a nap.
I want to use my doorbell as a surveillance camera. Some systems will allow this, think also about recording and mains power. Ensure you will be compliant with national/local privacy rulings.
I have a high contrast entranceway, it's dark by the door but with a very bright background during the day / night (e.g. the sun over day and/or street lamps at night burn the picture). Unfortunately these situations are both common and difficult to cater for. Check for picture quality control features. I have not yet seen a video doorbell that does not support IR enhanced night video but remeber to check the quality if this is applicable to you.
I want to unlock the door remotely from the same app on my phone or I want to activate the alarm. Each phone needs to be checked against your requirement.
I want a rugged system that can take all weathers: sun, rain, heat and ice. Don't forget that the system must be suitable for the environment in which you are going to place it.

Connections

There are a number of connections to consider: