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How Does a Doorbell Camera Work? The Interesting Answer!

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man using door bell

Do you spend most of your day out and often miss deliveries? If so, a doorbell camera can be the best solution to your problem. There is a reason why more than 20 million households in the US now use doorbell cameras, a number that is still growing fast.1

Smarter and more effective than traditional doorbells, the doorbell camera alerts you about visitors and packages arriving at your door. In fact, a doorbell camera can even allow you to talk to the visitor through the speaker.

A doorbell camera also records all the happenings around your house. You can watch these videos comfortably and stay updated on all the missed deliveries and guests. A wireless doorbell camera works through Wi-Fi. You can integrate them with other smart devices and automate your home. On the other hand, wired doorbell cameras don’t require a Wi-Fi connection.

How do video doorbell cameras actually work? Are they costly? Let’s explore everything about doorbell cameras and how they can add convenience and safety to your home.

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What Are Doorbell Cameras?

A doorbell camera is also known as a video doorbell. It is a smart device that works with a Wi-Fi connection and gives you a wide outside view of your home. Video doorbells or doorbell cameras are also an integral part of smart homes.

As smarter homes are becoming more and more popular, the use of doorbell cameras is also becoming more common for all the right reasons. For example, quality doorbell cameras can detect motion, record videos, and allow you to communicate with the person at the door even if you are not at home.

It looks just like a standard doorbell but a smarter version with a camera.

hand pressing doorbell
Image Credit: Forgem, Shutterstock

How Does It Work?

A doorbell camera works by connecting to the existing doorbell wiring of your home. It also needs a robust Wi-Fi network to connect with your smart devices.

Once connected to the internet connection, the modern smart models stream and store live video on a cloud service accessible on multiple devices (mobiles, laptops, tablets, etc.).

Here is how it works:

  • When a person rings the doorbell, it chimes like a usual doorbell.
  • If someone arrives at your door and doesn’t push the button, a doorbell camera can still alert you about movement on your front porch. Most modern models come with motion detectors that sense moving objects and start recording.
  • The doorbell camera sends a notification to your smartphone through the wireless connection, informing you that someone is at your door.
  • You can watch live video from the camera in the doorbell camera’s official app. Almost all video doorbell models record videos automatically after sensing motion or when the button is pressed. You can watch these videos at your convenience. Since these recordings are saved for offline streaming, you can use online cloud storage services or connect removable storage.
  • The doorbell camera lets you talk to the person at the door through a speaker. You would need to use the app for communication. This two-way talk feature allows you to interact with the guest using your mobile device even if you’re not at home.
video doorbel
Image Credit: Patryk Kosmider, Shutterstock

What Are the Different Types of Doorbell Cameras?

There are typically two types of video doorbells: wired and wireless. If you thought that wired doorbells have become outdated now, you might be wrong. They are still popular and offer multiple features.

Let’s understand the difference between both:

Wired Doorbell Cameras

Wired doorbells are easy to install as every home already has a wiring system. The electrical wiring must run through your home’s walls to connect the device to the doorbell system.

You’d need to install a transformer next to the doorbell’s circuit breaker box and then connect the wires. This will ensure that the voltage reaches the doorbell properly.

However, these wires may get tangled, making the doorbell hard to maintain and use. So, it’s better to get professional help to ensure everything works well.

Unlike wireless doorbells that work with a Wi-Fi connection, wired doorbell cameras don’t transfer radio frequency (RF) signals via air. Instead, the signals transmit through cables and wires without signal interference.

hand pressing door bell
Image Credit: aomas, Shutterstock
  • Practical and high functionality
  • Produces high-quality tune
  • Connects directly to the doorbell system, ensuring maximum stability and consistency.
  • Offers no signal interference
  • It can be hard to maintain and install
  • Limited working range

Wireless Doorbell Cameras

Just like other wireless devices, wireless doorbell cameras are also trending nowadays. These models work without any wires or cables, so offer more convenience to users. They are highly adaptable and can be installed at any convenient place.

A wireless doorbell camera eliminates the need to change your home’s existing wiring. You just have to mount the transmitter on any wall with simple screws or other fastening devices.

The best part is that you don’t have to drill holes in the walls to install a wireless doorbell camera.

The indoor receiver can be plugged into a wall or placed anywhere in the house where it is easily audible. You can also use batteries to power the receiver. If you’re always on the go and don’t want to install the receiver inside your home, you can opt for portable receivers.

When it comes to maintenance, wireless doorbell cameras require less effort than wired doorbells.

The signal range of wireless doorbell cameras varies from 150–1,000 feet. This allows the radio signals to travel from the doorbell button to the indoor receiver.

One amazing feature of wireless doorbell cameras is the multiple-channel operation. It prevents your neighbor’s doorbell from interfering with yours. If you experience this issue, you can change your doorbell’s frequency to another channel.

delivery man using door bell
Image Credit: Monkey Business Images, Shutterstock
  • Easy to set up
  • Several chimes
  • Wide doorbell range
  • Multiple channel operation for no frequency disturbance
  • Numerous features, such as night vision, LED indicators, video and audio recording, etc
  • High-end wireless models are expensive.

Where Are Doorbell Cameras Used?

You can use doorbell cameras for homes, offices, and any place you want to secure from intruders. These devices serve as the caller ID for your door. You can also know about the visitors who had previously arrived when you were out.

Nowadays, many people prefer to know who is at their door without peeking through the peephole. Doorbell cameras allow you to do that.

If you have a stable Wi-Fi connection at your home or office, doorbell cameras are your best bet. However, you must know how to install them properly, or else they won’t work as you want them to.

Advantages of Doorbell Cameras

Doorbell cameras are super-effective in ensuring the security of your property regardless of your location. You can see and interact with your visitors from the comfort of your couch. Here are the top advantages of installing doorbell cameras:

1. Decide Whether You Want to Answer the Door or Not

A doorbell camera offers peace of mind to those homeowners who don’t like walking toward the door every time the bell rings. Plus, the doorbell camera eliminates all the guesswork related to who is at the door by offering you a sneak peek through the live video feature.

This way, you can decide whether you want to open the door for the visitors or ignore them – all by sitting in your bedroom.

man using door bell
Image Credit: ranz12, Shutterstock

2. Speak With Visitors

If you spend most of the day outside your home, you will likely encounter missed deliveries and important guests.

Previously, it was practically impossible for people to know, see, or answer the guests from anywhere else. But with doorbell cameras, you can also speak to the visitor easily just by logging in to your smartphone app.

3. Know When Orders Arrive at Your Door

People living alone mostly miss packages just because they were out at the delivery time. Not only that, but many online buyers also face stolen orders right from their front porch.

A doorbell camera keeps you aware of packages and orders arriving at your door. So, you can protect them from potential theft by communicating with the delivery man. You can tell them to put the package somewhere safe, such as inside the garage or at the neighbor’s house.

If your package gets stolen, the doorbell camera will record the video. You can use the recording to track the thief with the help of the police.

4. Keep an Eye on Your Front Porch

Traditional peepholes come with a limited view angle. Contrastingly, a doorbell camera gives you wider views of your entire front porch, allowing you to keep an eye on who comes near your house and doorstep. This enables you to identify intruders and report them to the authorities before they cause any harm.

hand pressing door bell
Image Credit: Patryk Kosmider, Shutterstock

5. Track Suspicious Movement at Night

Most doorbell cameras come with a night vision feature that allows you to view movement on your porch even at night. This means you can still see people at your doorstep even if you have not switched on the porch light.

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Disadvantages of Doorbell Cameras

Doorbell cameras indeed have lots of advanced features that make your life easier. However, everything that glitters is not gold. So, you may encounter a few downsides of doorbell cameras, such as:

1. A Wi-Fi Connection Is Mandatory to Send Notifications

A wireless connection may not be necessary for most doorbell cameras to function correctly. However, they need a stable internet connection to connect with smart home devices and smartphones.

Without an internet connection, your doorbell camera loses the ability to send alerts or live video to your smartphone. This means you can’t see or talk to the visitor from anywhere else. Yes, some doorbell cameras record videos, but that’s only possible for models with a backup memory.

woman ringing door bell
Image Credit: New Africa, Shutterstock

2. False Alarms

Although many doorbell cameras have high-functional facial recognition, some models may have this feature in poor quality. For example, they may pick the faces printed on a poster or the visitor’s shirt instead of tracking the human face and send you an alert.

Also, some doorbell cameras detect false motion on your front porch even if no one is there. As a result, you receive false alarms on your smartphone, causing worry.

3.   Quality Comes With Higher Prices

Because of the advanced features, doorbell cameras are often high-priced than traditional doorbells. In addition, you may also come across a great price variation among different models.

Remember that every video camera has different features, so their price range varies. If you go for high-quality ones, you may have to pay a hefty amount. This is not good for people who want to enhance their security with a tight budget.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Here are some frequently asked questions about doorbell cameras:

1. What Are the Features of a Doorbell Camera?

A doorbell camera allows you to see the visitor without walking toward the door and peeking through the peephole. It also enables you to talk to visitors and ask them to come later through the two-way communication feature. In addition, the device detects motion even if you’ve switched off your porch’s light at night.

You’ll receive instant notifications on your smartphone about any suspicious activity on your porch front, no matter where you are.

door phone access
Image Credit: AOF750, Shutterstock

2. Are Video Doorbells Better Than Traditional Security Cameras?

Video doorbells and security cameras both keep you aware of movement on your front porch and doorstep. However, both have some distinctive features that make them unique.

For example, video doorbells allow you to see and interact with the visitor, but they don’t offer enhanced viewing angles like security cameras. Nevertheless, they are a great option to detect movement and keep an eye on your house.

3. What Are the Top 5 Doorbell Cameras?

The top 5 doorbell cameras are Google Nest Doorbell, Ring Video Doorbell, Arlo Essential Wireless Video Doorbell, eufy Security Video Doorbell Camera, and aosu Video Doorbell.

4. Do Doorbell Cameras Only Work With Wi-Fi?

No, a Wi-Fi connection is not a requirement for doorbell cameras to work properly. Instead, a wireless connection enhances the device’s efficacy and lets it send you on-time alerts and show live video on your smartphone. A video doorbell can perform its basic functions without a wireless connection.

woman's hand pressing door bell
Image By: voronaman, Shutterstock

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Doorbell cameras can be an excellent addition to your home security system. They come with several advanced features, allowing you to watch over your home no matter where you are. You can see the visitor through the live video feature and even talk to them through the speaker.

If you spend most of the day away from home, doorbell cameras are the best way to stay connected to the happenings around your property. The doorbell camera instantly sends alerts on your smartphone whenever there is any suspicious activity. Also, by installing a doorbell camera, you can’t miss your deliveries.

Featured Image Credit: New Africa, Shutterstock

About the Author Jeff Weishaupt

Jeff is a tech professional by day, writer, and amateur photographer by night. He's had the privilege of leading software teams for startups to the Fortune 100 over the past two decades. He currently works in the data privacy space. Jeff's amateur photography interests started in 2008 when he got his first DSLR camera, the Canon Rebel. Since then, he's taken tens of thousands of photos. His favorite handheld camera these days is his Google Pixel 6 XL. He loves taking photos of nature and his kids. In 2016, he bought his first drone, the Mavic Pro. Taking photos from the air is an amazing perspective, and he loves to take his drone while traveling.