By allowing you to monitor the entry points of your home (and even interact with them!), video doorbells are a great way to keep track of deliveries and visitors.
Whether you’re an early adopter of the video doorbell or still trying to figure them out, this quick list of pros and cons can help ensure you’re informed about the latest features and aware of privacy concerns about surveillance technology.
THE PROS AND CONS OF VIDEO DOORBELLS
PRO: In general, doorbell cameras improve home security. They can also act as a deterrent, improving both the safety of your home and your neighborhood.
CON: The hardware can be expensive. Ring is the biggest doorbell brand in the world, having sold 1.4 million video doorbells globally in 2021. Some Ring cameras, however, cost more than $250. And while there are plenty of cheaper alternatives, some lack intelligent recognition features (i.e., the ability to distinguish a delivery from an animal) that you might want for your home’s security.
PRO: They’re easy to set up. Doorbell cameras connect to your home’s WiFi system and your home’s existing doorbell wiring and chimes. It activates when the visitor presses the button of the doorbell or when the doorbell senses an object or action.
CON: Subscription fees add up. While monthly subscription fees aren’t much (usually less than $10), they can easily surpass the cost of the hardware in just a couple years. The fee mostly covers the cost of cloud storage for the video captured by the doorbell. Cameras that store video locally (usually on either a microSD card or internal memory card) let you skip the monthly fee, but doing so may mean you have to forgo certain features—features that happen on the company’s servers rather than the doorbell itself.
PRO: Two-way communication lets you answer the door from anywhere. If your camera model is outfitted with a speaker, you can use the app to engage with the person at your door.
CON: Doorbell cameras can be hacked. Just like any other device connected to the internet, doorbell cameras can be hacked if you don’t take proper security measures. Strengthen your network by creating strong, unique passwords for your devices. Use two-factor authentication for additional protection; a firewall and antivirus software to protect your home network from strangers, and always keep your doorbell software up to date.
PRO: Recording capabilities may prove useful. In the event that yourproperty is stolen or damaged, your doorbell recordings could prove useful.
CON: Your data may not be secure. Doorbell companies are tracking things about their paying customers (e.g., IP address, device and carrier data, real-time data on user interactions with the app, etc.) What’s more, Amazon-owned Ring has partnered with hundreds of police stations across the country through its Neighbors app. While some users feel better knowing the police can access their doorbell footage, there is significant concern that police can currently access users’ footage without a warrant.
PRO: They work with other smart devices. It’s easy to connect your doorbell to other smart devices in your home. Smart locks for the front door are a common one, allowing you to unlock the door from the doorbell app.
Doorbell security cameras are still pretty new, and the technology is evolving quickly. Weigh the benefits and potential risks carefully before investing in a doorbell camera.