Thanks to smartphones and live streaming, we can check on our pets while we’re at work and the kids are at school. People install security cameras so they can keep an eye on their homes when they aren’t around. Doorbell cameras combine these two benefits into one – who’s at the door without having to go all the way down to answer it.

So you want a doorbell video camera but don’t know where to start? We’ll help you out with this guide! Keep reading for more information about features like:

Night vision

Motion detection

Two-way audio

Cloud Storage

Wired vs wireless

Comparison of options

You’ve probably seen ads for doorbell cams on social media or late-night television commercials for those “hard-to-miss deals” (translation: too good to be true). They promise convenience, security, and peace of mind. Unfortunately, doorbell cams aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. Consider these points before making your purchase:

Doorbell cameras are a great way to keep an eye on your home and who is coming and going. But they can set you back more than $100 depending on how many features you’d like. And some doorbells require paid subscription plans for you to view recorded video or use their cloud storage services. So before you buy one, it’s best to ask yourself these questions:

Is a doorbell cam right for me?

Do I want to remember taking out the trash yesterday?

Do I want to see if someone is breaking in tonight?

Do I want doorbell cam footage to help the police catch an intruder after the fact or do I want to scare someone away before they even ring my doorbell?

How much are doorbell cams, are they out of my price range?

To determine whether or not a doorbell cam is right for you, consider where you live and how secure your home is. People living in high crime areas or homes that have been broken into before might find doorbell cameras very helpful. Others who just want peace of mind when they’re at work during the day can benefit from doorbells as well.

Watching live as someone approaches your door

What doorbell cam features should I look for?

Depending on how you plan on using your doorbell camera, some features may seem more important than others. Here are a few that you’ll want to think about:

Night vision

Does the doorbell cam have night vision so you can see who’s there at any time of day? Some doorbells only work in the daytime and require street lights or porch lights to be turned on when it’s dark outside.

Motion detection

Having motion-activated alerts sent straight to your smartphone or email is a great way to go with a doorbell cam. It lets you know right away if someone is trying to break into your home – even before they ring the doorbell.

Audio

Do you want doorbell cam audio for two-way communication? This is particularly important if your doorbell camera doesn’t have night vision. You don’t want to end up with a doorbell that doesn’t record anything at all.

Cloud storage

Which cloud storage service does it use? Is it secure and encrypted? Check what types of files it stores and for how long, in case you ever need the footage. Does it use a paid subscription plan or require additional equipment like a microSD card or hard drive to store videos locally?

Wired doorbells

Some doorbell cameras use a wired connection while others run on batteries. Batteries can die when you least expect them to, whereas wired doorbells are always plugged in.

If doorbell cam footage will be used as evidence to catch an intruder after the fact, it’s best to wait until someone rings your doorbell or until you know something is wrong.

Do I want doorbell cam to be part of my home security system? Or do I just want a doorbell cam for convenience?

The doorbell you purchase must match what you intend to use it for. If a doorbell cam will be used as a part of your home security system, there are models with motion sensors and built-in floodlights so when someone approaches your door, they’re already being recorded in high definition. Only invest in doorbell cams with this feature if you’ll install them near an exterior door where they can detect motion.

If you only plan on using a doorbell camera for convenience, you might be able to get away with paying less upfront, but may have to pay a subscription fee in the future. Look for doorbells that will store footage locally on an SD card or hard drive.

How much should doorbell cams cost?

Doorbell cameras can be purchased anywhere from $20 – $200 or more depending on features and brand name. You can find doorbell cams starting at under $50, but chances are they won’t have motion detection or night vision capabilities. Higher-end doorbells are available too, starting around $100 which is usually the bare minimum when it comes to doorbell cam features.

If you’re shopping online, be sure you’re buying from a reputable seller with high customer ratings. Even though doorbell cams are relatively inexpensive, scammers prey on unsuspecting buyers looking for “too good to be true” deals online. Make sure you read return policies and warranty information beforehand so there are no surprises after your purchase. And don’t forget about shipping costs!

Which doorbell camera should I buy?

With all the choices out there, comparing doorbell cameras can be a challenge. Look at doorbell cameras from multiple brands and compare to find which doorbell cams offer the most bang for your buck.

How do I install doorbell cameras?

Just like doorbells, doorbell camera installation varies depending on what brand you choose. It should only take a few minutes and usually requires connecting wires and screwing in a light bulb or porch light, if your doorbell cam requires one. Just follow the instructions included with your doorbell cam purchase and make sure to test for functionality once it’s installed!

Are doorbell cams easy to use?

Once installed, doorbell operation is relatively straightforward. You should be able to figure out how doorbell cams work without reading any instructions. Most doorbell cams with two-way audio and motion detection make for hands-off monitoring, but some doorbell cams will require you to access your doorbell cam manually through an app on your smartphone.

Are doorbell cams reliable?

Doorbell cameras aren’t 100% reliable and can fail at the worst possible times. If you’re someone that only wants doorbell camera footage when it matters most, consider home security systems with built-in doorbell cameras. Home security systems offer 24/7 video surveillance, not just when somebody rings the doorbell or comes into view of the camera’s motion sensor.

Doorbell cameras can be used to protect your home and keep an eye on who is coming and going, but the doorbell you purchase needs to match your need. If doorbell cam footage will be used as evidence to catch an intruder after the fact, it’s best to wait until someone rings your doorbell or until you know something is wrong. Make sure to research before making a doorbell camera purchase!