Technology has helped improve our lives in many ways in the 21st century. Inventions like the internet have allowed us to more easily shop, communicate and discover things about the world that we may have never known before. Smartphones put the world at our fingertips. Home voice-activated assistants allow us to order groceries, play our favorite music, even operate the lights in our homes.
One of the other astonishing recent developments in technology is the video doorbell. First developed around 2012, it has created a level of convenience and security for our homes that did not exist in the past.
What Is a Video Doorbell?
A video doorbell, also known as a smart doorbell, connects to the internet and notifies the owner’s smartphone, tablet or computer that someone has come to the door.
Video doorbells consist of a ringer and an internet-connected camera. This device is either battery-operated or connected to the wiring a traditional doorbell uses. The camera activates every time someone pushes the doorbell. If you’re home, you’ll hear the doorbell sound. Meanwhile, the camera transmits a signal connected to an app on your phone, tablet or computer that allows you to see who’s at your door.
Since the device is internet-enabled, you can be miles away from your home and you’ll still know when someone comes to the door. For that matter, you could be in a completely different country. If you combine a video doorbell with a smart lock, you can allow the person at the door to enter your home without having to get off the couch, travel all the way home from downtown or leave a key with the next-door neighbor if you are out of town.
Security Uses for a Smart Doorbell
A video doorbell offers two primary features: convenience and security. We briefly touched on the convenience aspect above. You can answer your doorbell from anywhere, without having to get off the couch or hurry home to let in a visitor or pick up a valuable package.
Many homeowners, however, like smart doorbells because of the extra level of security they provide.
1. You Don’t Have to Go to Your Front Door to Answer It
When a stranger greets you when you open your door, it is always a little unnerving. It may be someone as innocent as a Girl Scout selling cookies, or it might be someone trying to scam you into buying something you don’t need. For instance, in July 2018, police in Washington, D.C., arrested two men who went door to door offering dead tree removal services, for which they charged exorbitant prices and often left the job unfinished. They often targeted vulnerable seniors during their scam.
Having a video doorbell means you can keep a safe distance between yourself and an unknown person at your door. It allows you to feel more comfortable to decide whether or not to admit them.
2. You’ll Always Know Who’s at Your Front Door
If you are home and you don’t have a video doorbell, the only way you’ll know who is at your front door is if you have a peephole, which is about as low-tech as you can get. It gets the job done — to a point — and is inexpensive to install. However, if it is difficult to get to the front door or if you don’t want anybody to know there’s someone home, a peephole is not much help.
A smart doorbell shows you who’s at the front door regardless of where you are. If it’s a friend or neighbor, you can tell them you’ll be down in just a moment. If it’s someone you don’t want to see, like a salesperson or someone stumping for a political candidate, you can tell them you’re too busy at the moment and that they should come back later.
If you buy a camera that includes infrared night vision technology, you’ll also get a clear picture of who’s at your front door in the nighttime.
3. You’ll Always Know When Someone Is Snooping Around Your Home
If your smart doorbell includes motion detection sensors, a person snooping around your home doesn’t have to ring the doorbell to let you know they are in your yard. Motion detectors can help you keep an eye on the outdoor areas of your property, even if you’re away on vacation. You can also connect your doorbell to your porch light, so anytime someone comes around in the evening, the light will automatically turn on.
If you see someone snooping around your home who shouldn’t be there, you can call the police to let them know. Even better, a video doorbell app allows you to record what the camera is seeing, so you’ll have evidence if needed.
4. Deterring Porch Pirates
People stealing packages off front doorsteps across the country, more commonly known as porch pirates, have become a real problem. One 2017 survey found more than 11 million Americans had a package stolen off their front steps. Video doorbells are one of the best ways to combat this problem.
When a package gets delivered to your home, you can instruct the delivery person to either leave it on the front porch or in a more protected area. If you have a smart lock, you can also allow the delivery person to enter your home or smart mailbox and place the package inside, after showing their credentials. The survey we cited above also found almost 70% of respondents preferred to unlock the front door to a delivery person. Smart locks and smart mailboxes are becoming a valuable companion to video doorbells.
5. You Can Record Suspicious Activity
Statistics show residential homes are the primary targets of burglars in the United States. They preferred to come in through the front door, most often between the hours of 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. when they believe people are either at work or at school. Video doorbells not only alert you to the fact that someone may be trying to break into your home, and thus you can notify the police, but they also allow you to record those attempts. Police and prosecutors can use recorded security footage to help them make arrests, and they can be useful if you need to file homeowner’s insurance claims.
Even if the thieves are smart and try to damage or steal the video doorbell, your smartphone’s mobile app will record those attempts and store all the video leading up to that moment.
Other Video Doorbell Benefits
While convenience and security may be the main reasons to install this technology, there are several other advantages of a smart doorbell.
1. Keep an Eye on the Kids
If both parents work and can’t be home when the kids arrive from school, your video doorbell gives you the peace of mind of knowing everybody is home in one piece. Your children don’t even need to ring the video doorbell, since its motion detection sensors will send you a notice when they arrive. It will also give you an idea if they brought home any friends from school and when those friends leave.
If you’re worried about your son or daughter being out late at night, your video doorbell will also let you know when they get home. Your video doorbell can also alert you if someone is trying to sneak late into the home past curfew. Your children may not always appreciate it, but as a parent, it provides you with a level of tranquility.
2. Sleep or Nap Peacefully
Who doesn’t enjoy a nice nap in the middle of the day? How often do those naps get disturbed by someone ringing the doorbell? Your video doorbell will often have a “do not disturb” function that turns off the chime, but still lets you know when somebody comes to the front door. That way, you can decide whether you want to end your nap or decide to quietly remain where you are and let them come back later.
The same is true of the night. If you have an early bedtime, you can set the alarm to do not disturb. If someone comes to your front door late at night, it notifies you, allowing you to choose whether to get up and answer the door.