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What's This?

When it’s late at night and someone rings your doorbell, it can be concerning…particularly if you’re home alone and not expecting any visitors. Without actually getting up and going to the door, you have no way of knowing who’s there. A smart doorbell is a worthwhile investment to keep you and your family safe. They allow you to see who is at your door from your smartphone, and with certain models, communicate with the person at the door using your phone’s microphone as an intercom. The live video feature is activated either by someone ringing the doorbell or through motion detection. It is a well known fact that thieves will ring your doorbell and if nobody answers, they’ll assume the house is empty and proceed to break in. With a smart doorbell, no one will ever know whether your home or not again. You can make it appear as though you’re at home by answering your door from virtually anywhere. Whether you’re upstairs, at the office, or away on vacation, you’ll have peace of mind knowing that you can keep an eye on things at home.

So which smart doorbell is right for your home? It’s ultimately up to the consumer to decide which features they want in a smart doorbell, as well as what level of security they need. Some require a little more skill than others to install, and some don’t work as well if they’re too far away from your home’s wireless router. You will need a strong Wi-Fi network within a reasonable distance of your front door, and an Apple or Android smartphone for everyone who might want to monitor the video feed. Also, keep in mind that these smart doorbells are larger in size than your regular doorbell. Whichever model you decide on, be sure to check the size and specifications before you purchase to ensure that it will fit.

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One of the very first smart doorbells we heard about was the Ring Video Doorbell. The unit retails for about $200 and features a 180 degree 720p HD camera. It also has the motion sensing feature, meaning it will alert your phone when any movement near your door is detected. It also records video as well as audio each time it is activated, and the video clips are stored in the cloud for you to view later (additional fees apply for cloud video storage). When Ring is activated, either by someone ringing your doorbell or through motion detection, you receive a notification on your smartphone. Upon opening the Ring app, you can see who’s at your door and talk to the person in a two-way conversation using your phone’s microphone as an intercom. Ring comes standard with everything you need to install it on any surface, including wood, stucco, and cement. You can connect the Ring Video Doorbell to your existing doorbell’s wiring, but it can also be installed wirelessly if necessary. The device has an internal battery that can be charged with a USB cable. According to the website, Ring comes standard with a mounting bracket and level, screwdriver, screwdriver bit, drill bit, wood screws, masonry screws/anchors, and weather sealant.

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SkyBell is a smart video doorbell that also retails for $199. The device allows you to see, hear, and speak to whoever comes to your door whether you’re at work, at home, or out and about. Like the Ring Video Doorbell, SkyBell also features motion detection technology, alerting you when someone approaches your door. The built in camera allows you to see your visitor in 1080p HD with full color night vision and 5x zoom. You can also snap a photo of your visitor with one click. This model boasts a “quiet mode” that allows you to completely silence your doorbell for privacy. On demand video is also available with this unit, allowing you to check your SkyBell camera in real time, without the doorbell being pressed or motion detection being activated. SkyBell comes with a mounting plate, screwdriver, a masonry drill bit, wire sleeve, wall screws, and screw anchors. Their website states that you may also need outdoor adhesive, wire strippers, pliers, crimpers, and a power drill for installation (not included).

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The August Doorbell Cam is a WiFi-connected streaming video camera which also allows you to keep an eye on the front door. This model also retails for $199 and is a fairly large 2.7 x 2.7 inch square.  Everything is managed through the August app. Once the Doorbell Cam is registered, you can start the video stream to see what’s going on at your front door, or review the photos the camera snaps periodically as the day goes on. When the button is pressed, you’ll receive a push-notification on your iOS or Android device, which gives you the option to accept or decline the video call. The one-way HD camera provides a clear view of your visitors while still ensuring your privacy. Unlike Ring and SkyBell, August requires an existing, wired doorbell connection that has an analog chime. According to their website, the Doorbell Cam comes with mounting hardware, and professional installer services are available.