Smart doorbells and viewers function like a normal doorbell or a standard peephole viewer but have the ability to connect to your mobile device via Bluetooth or your home wifi network. Many smart doorbells are equipped with an integrated camera so you can record video or still images, and 2-way audio so you can talk to whoever is at the door. If connected to your home wifi service you can receive alerts when someone is at your door, regardless of where you’re located. You’ll also be able to remotely access your doorbell’s camera to see who it is and communicate with your visitor from your mobile device via a compatible app. It’s a convenient and safe way to answer the doorbell, especially for children, the elderly or disabled.
Some models replace an existing doorbell and can be powered by AC current or batteries, while others fit over a door peephole. Common features include wide-angle view cameras, infrared night vision cameras, speakers, and motion detectors.
While there are quite a few models on the market, we’ve selected five that are widely available across Canada, reasonably easy for the DIYer to install, and priced under $325.
Notifi consists of an LED light bulb with an integrated speaker and 720p camera, a wireless push button, and a wireless chime (that installs inside the house). The LED bulb is installed in an outdoor light socket, which provides the power for the Notify system, but the chime requires a battery. The camera is tethered to the bulb via a 22″ power/video cord. Additional Notifi bulbs (without the speaker and camera) can be mounted on the outside of the house, within 50′ of the Notifi system. It may require a wifi extender, depending on the strength of your wifi signal. Features include dimmable light levels, motion sensor, 2-way audio, still photo and video recording and 24-hour cloud storage (extended storage available for a monthly fee). Android and iOS compatible.
The August Doorbell Cam connects to an existing wired doorbell that has an analog chime. It’s not compatible with digital chimes. Your router needs to be within 10–15′ of the device, otherwise you’ll need to purchase a wifi extender. It works with the August Smart Lock. Features include a 720p low-light (not night vision) camera, motion detection, video recording and two-way audio. Comes in four colours. Android and iOS compatible.
There are two versions of this model, and both are Android and iOS compatible. The basic model connects either to an existing wired doorbell that uses a low-voltage transformer, or it runs off a rechargeable battery (that runs from 6 to 12 months before needing to be recharged via a micro-USB charging cable). It operates though wifi, not Bluetooth. Features include a 720p resolution night vision camera, two-way audio, cloud recording (a monthly fee applies), motion detection up to 30′, customizable motion zones, and it comes in four finishes. The Pro model has these same features except it only runs off an existing hardwired doorbell, and provides 1080p resolution video quality. May require a wifi extender. Compatible with smart locks from LockState, Kisi and Lockitron. An optional chime is available, which plugs into any standard power outlet, to let you know when you have a visitor even if your phone is in the other room.
SkyBell is a compact unit that measures about 1″ by 3″. It’s compatible with mechanical and digital doorbell chimes – a digital doorbell adapter accessory is required for digital doorbell chimes. This unit won’t work with intercom systems. Can also be installed if you don’t have a doorbell chime, in which case you need to install a 10 ohm/10 watt resistor and a low-voltage transformer. May require a wifi extender. Features 1080p resolution night vision camera with 5x zoom, motion sensor, 2-way audio, still photo and video recording, multiple user accounts, activity logging, and free cloud video storage with unlimited free downloads and no subscription fees. Android and iOS compatible. Works with Nest. Available in two colours.
The Yale doorbell viewer consists of a camera that mounts over a door peephole and an LCD monitor that attaches to the inside of the door. The monitor is powered by four AA batteries, and has an integrated 80-decibel door chime. Images and video are stored on an internal SM memory card. Features include a wide viewing angle, night vision (via built-in infrared LEDs), motion detection (up to 6′), two-way audio, up to 50 still images or 5- to 10-second video clips, and a micro SD card slot. Can be integrated into a Z-Wave or ZigBee connected home system. Available in two finishes. Android and iOS compatible.
Carl Duguay - [email protected]
Carl is a Victoria-based furniture maker and the web editor at Canadian Woodworking & Home Improvement.