Our Top Picks
Best Overall: Ring Video Doorbell 2 at Amazon
"Whenever the doorbell rings or is triggered by motion, you will receive an instant alert."
Best Splurge: Ring Video Doorbell Pro at Amazon
"This wired doorbell streams HD video 24 hours a day."
Best Security: Nest Hello Smart Wi-Fi Video Doorbell at Walmart
"This wired doorbell streams HD video 24 hours a day."
Best Wireless: RemoBell Wi-Fi Wireless Video Doorbell at Amazon
"Runs on AA batteries, so there is no messing with wires."
Best Budget: Zmodo Greet Wi-Fi Video Doorbell at Amazon
"Loaded with features found in more expensive Wi-Fi doorbell cameras."
01 of 05
Best Overall: Ring Video Doorbell 2What We Like
What We Don't Like
Easily installed anywhere
Reliable motion sensing
Strong video quality
Bulkier design than wired doorbells
Subscription fee for core features
Whether you're on the couch or at the beach, this Wi-Fi doorbell camera by Ring makes it possible to answer your door from virtually anywhere using your smartphone, computer, or tablet. How does it work? Ring sends users an instant alert when anyone presses its button or triggers its built-in motion sensors. The app, which is free, lets you see and talk to who's at your door using 1080p HD video and two-way audio. This device also has infrared night vision. Our tester was impressed with its consistent performance: "We didn't see any false positives during our testing," he said. "It diligently recognized every entrance and exit from the door—including those from a dog." Each kit also includes a free 30-day trial to Ring's cloud video recording platform so you can save, review, and share captured videos. It's compatible with standard operating systems (iOS, Android, Mac, and Windows) and it comes with two faceplates in different metallic colors (Satin Nickel and Venetian).
02 of 05
Best Splurge: Ring Video Doorbell ProWhat We Like
What We Don't Like
Sleek, stylish design
Great video quality
Alexa, IFTTT, and other smart home hooks
Monthly fee for key features
Just like the Ring Video Doorbell 2, the Pro option outputs 1080p HD video and is compatible with IOS, Android, and Windows devices—plus, it works with Amazon Alexa. The device is also weather-resistant and comes with four sleek interchangeable faceplates (Satin Black, Satin Nickel, Dark Bronze, and Satin White). Its setup process does, however, require hard wiring; while this is simple enough for novice DIYers, you can also opt for professional installation for an extra fee. After the doorbell is connected, you'll be able to keep an eye on your entrance and chat with visitors from anywhere. Whenever the doorbell rings or is triggered by motion, you'll receive an instant alert. Plus, as our tester points out, its a big bonus is that you can customizable its motion detection: "It's as easy as dragging and dropping points on the screen to create a map of your yard or property," he explained. "It did wonders to cut down on unnecessary notifications on our end." If you opt for Ring's cloud recording service (there's a 30-day free trial) you'll be able to save and share any video the doorbell recorded.
03 of 05
Best Security: Nest Hello Smart Wi-Fi Video DoorbellWhat We Like
What We Don't Like
Great security features
Subscription fee unlocks best features
If you're looking for a video doorbell with standout home security features, try the Nest Hello. In addition to alerting you to any movement at your door via its free accompanying app, this wired doorbell streams HD video 24 hours a day, so you can check in on what's happening at any moment. Also, this device—whose camera is designed to show people head to toe—allows you to go back and look at a three-hour snapshot history. Plus, if you pay extra for a Nest Aware subscription, there are even more features, like 24/7 video recording (stored in the cloud) and an alert that detects familiar faces or strangers. This product is compatible with both iOS and Android devices; it has night vision and is IPX4-rated for water-resistance.
04 of 05
Best Wireless: RemoBell Wi-Fi Wireless Video DoorbellWhat We Like
What We Don't Like
Simple setup process
Intuitive smartphone app
Good-quality video and audio
Batteries don't last very long
Skip the hassle that comes with hard wiring an electric doorbell camera with RemoBell by Olive & Dove. The device runs on AA batteries, so there's no messing with wires in your exterior wall when connecting. To install, set up the smartphone app and mount the device on any vertical surface using the enclosed screws. You'll get a push notification and live video feed when anyone rings the bell or activates the motion sensor. Afterward, you can interact with who's there via two-way audio. You'll also be able to look at the recorded video later without paying for cloud storage. Up to five people can be invited to your account for viewer access. While this doorbell is weather-resistant, it's not a good fit for areas where the temperature drops below zero degrees. Some online reviewers also felt that its build quality felt slightly cheap.Continue to 5 of 5 below.
05 of 05
Best Budget: Zmodo Greet Wi-Fi Video DoorbellWhat We Like
What We Don't Like
Lots of features for the price
Includes smart hub
Some reviewers reported dropped Wi-Fi connection
Mounting bracket could be sturdier
Our budget pick comes loaded with features found in more expensive Wi-Fi doorbell cameras—so you can view, hear, and speak to visitors on your smartphone or computer for less than $100. Each Zmodo Greet package includes a Zmodo Beam, a smart hub that connects your Zmodo accessories (including door and window sensors) and boosts your Wi-Fi range. What can you expect? You'll receive a push notification when someone presses the doorbell or activates the motion sensor. You'll also get on-demand access to live 720p HD video. This device is also weatherproof and comes with built-in night vision. Best of all, when you aren't around to answer the door, it can be set to play a personalized voice message. Do note that when you're installing it, you’ll need to wire it to a power source. In terms of negatives, some online reviewers reported that its Wi-Fi connection dropped occasionally and that its mounting bracket wasn't very sturdy.
How do doorbell cameras work?
When a person comes up to your door or rings the bell, a doorbell camera senses their motion and sends an alert to your smartphone. You can either respond or ignore the alert, but the goal is that it allows you to answer your door from wherever you are at that moment.
What types of doorbell cameras are there?
Doorbell cameras come in a few different styles. There are battery-operated models, which are easier to install, or more integrated options that require hard wiring. Most doorbell cameras activate their recording via motion sensor, but some can stream or record everything that happens within their field of view.
How do you install a doorbell camera?
Wireless doorbell cameras are the most straightforward to install because they don't require electrical wiring, transformers, or other parts of hardwired installation. You just need to mount the unit's baseplate and follow the manufacturer’s directions to position the camera securely. Wired doorbell cameras are a little more complex. If you plan to install yours yourself, some electrical knowledge is helpful. If you have any trouble, you may need to enlist an electrician to help get it up and running.
How much does a doorbell camera cost?
Basic wireless doorbell cameras start at around $50, while you may pay more than $200 for a more advanced system. Wired doorbells can cost anywhere from $75 to $250, depending on their special features. Lastly, doorbell cameras that have the ability to record continuously can set you back more than $200—in addition to monthly cloud storage fees.
The Ultimate Doorbell Cameras Buying Guide
Doorbell cameras are the modern way to screen guests. They offer you peace of mind with live transmission from your front porch, the ability to respond via voice, and, in some cases, recorded footage of everything that happens at your front door. These cameras are equipped with Wi-Fi, sensors, speaker-microphone combos, and a power source—either battery-operated or hardwired.
Here's how they work: When someone approaches and rings the doorbell, the camera transmits the activity to your smartphone (or another compatible device) and presents you with the opportunity to respond or ignore the activity. Of course, you could also walk over and open the door, but the point is that you can virtually answer the door from anywhere—including your couch, desk, or vacation home.
Your options for a doorbell camera include easy-to-install, battery-operated models and more integrated models that need to be hardwired into your home’s electrical system. Most doorbell cameras rely on sensors to activate recording, but a few will continuously record everything that happens within their field of view. You can expect to spend anywhere from $50 for the most basic doorbell camera to $200 or more for a sophisticated system.
There are a number of factors to consider when shopping for a doorbell camera. Read on to learn more about each one.
Battery-operated doorbells offer quick, simple installations but will require you to recharge or replace the batteries regularly—which is both a hassle and an added expense. For cameras with more frequent motion detection or doorbell activity, battery life may be significantly shorter. However, taking advantage of a quick setup process and minimal damage to your door frame may be ideal if you’re an apartment dweller or a renter.
Hardwired video doorbells, which draw on your home’s electrical power supply, are an alternative to the problem of limited battery life. The downside is that they'll stop working in the event of a power failure. These doorbells can also be tricky to install if you have very little electrical experience or if you don't already have an existing hardwired doorbell.
While some doorbells just have an alert when someone presses the doorbell button, many others are equipped with motion detection. These sensors will activate the system and alert you when someone approaches your door. Motion detection features can help you keep an eye out for unannounced visitors or any suspicious activity on your front porch.
Motion is usually captured by either camera or infrared sensors. Camera sensors give more false positives than infrared sensors because they may detect inanimate objects like passing cars. However, some models include the ability to set activity zones for surveillance, allowing you to exclude busy sidewalks or streets.
Infrared sensors pick up on body heat and are generally considered to have more reliable alerts. However, infrared technology isn’t foolproof either, and these motion detection systems sometimes fail to detect a person at all.
The higher the camera's resolution, the easier it'll be to identify someone at your door. A clear picture will not only make it easier to decide whether or not you'll answer, but it could also be useful if you ever needed the surveillance as evidence in the event of a break-in.
Low-resolution doorbell cameras are the most affordable, but they can have a resolution of as little as 480p. To put that number in perspective, it means you're seeing images in standard definition and not HD. That may be fine if you primarily want a doorbell camera as an added alert for door activity. If you're using your camera as a security feed, definitely opt for a resolution of 720p or above. HD resolution will give you a clearer picture of who's at your front door and may provide more peace of mind if you frequently have unfamiliar faces stopping by.
Field of View
The camera’s field of view (FOV) will determine how much of the activity around your front door is captured. A narrower FOV will reduce what activity the camera can see at any given time.
Look for a FOV of at least 120 degrees; models with a 180-degree FOV are best. Some of the most basic video doorbells on the market have a 90-degree FOV, which will only show the area immediately in front of the doorbell. You won't be able to see a visitor standing to the left or right of the camera.
Additionally, some cameras offer a more vertical FOV designed to capture the head-to-toe image of the person at your door rather than a wide-angle view. Each approach has its advantages, but a larger wide-angle FOV is currently the more popular approach.
What happens with all the footage your video doorbell collects? Many models upload it to a server in the cloud, where you can access it from your smartphone, tablet, or computer. How much footage is stored varies depending on the specific doorbell you choose, and some companies charge a monthly or yearly cloud storage fee.
The alternative is a doorbell camera with internal storage. Some models have a built-in SD card where video footage is stored. This avoids monthly storage fees, but also means that if the video doorbell is stolen or destroyed, the footage is lost.
Since you can’t only expect visitors (wanted or not) to show up in the daylight, it makes sense to look for a camera equipped with night vision. This will help you make out faces and figures in the camera’s alerts no matter what time of day it is. Most doorbell cameras are equipped with night vision and perform reasonably well for the conditions.
Since infrared night vision doesn’t always produce the best video feed, some manufacturers have added spotlights to their doorbell cameras that illuminate the subject when the doorbell is activated at night. This gives you a brighter, clearer picture of who's at the door.
Smart Home Integrations
Adding to the functionality of doorbell cameras is the fact that many models integrate with other popular smart home platforms. If you use Google Home, Amazon Alexa, Nest, Samsung SmartThings, or other smart home applications, you may be able to find a video doorbell that works with these platforms to give you more features and conveniences.
For instance, some video doorbells integrate with smart home locks, allowing you to unlock the door for the person standing on your porch. This is handy if you’re busy prepping dinner and want to let a friend in, or if you need to give temporary access to someone like a dog sitter or house cleaner but don’t want to give out a key to your home.
Since a doorbell camera is mounted outside your home, you’ll need to think about what type of weather the unit will be exposed to. While most models are fairly precipitation-resistant, there can be a wide variety in the temperatures that the unit will operate in.
Some video doorbells are rated for the coldest of winters, with the ability to operate in -40 degrees Fahrenheit. Other units can’t be relied upon if the temperature dips into the single digits.
If you live in a warmer climate, you won’t need to worry unless temperatures climb above 100 degrees Fahrenheit. If that's a regular occurrence where you live, look for a unit with a higher warm weather rating.
Just about every doorbell camera relies on Wi-Fi to keep you in the loop on front door activity. When possible, your router should be in relatively close proximity to your doorbell camera so that the unit can receive a strong signal from your network.
Having an internet connection means you’ll be able to receive alerts from your doorbell camera and see a live feed of your front door wherever you are. If the signal is weak, you may need to look into relocating your router or purchasing a Wi-Fi extender.
There are three main types of doorbell cameras; each has different advantages and drawbacks.
Wired Doorbell Cameras
Wired doorbell cameras tap into your home’s power supply, ensuring that your virtual doorman will never be off-duty due to dead batteries. Some basic electrical knowledge is helpful when you're installing one of these models though, or you'll need to consult with an electrician to get your doorbell operating properly.
Many wired doorbell cameras offer higher resolutions of 780p—or even 1080p—for a clearer picture of what's happening outside your door. And they're more likely to have a continuous recording feature. You can expect to spend anywhere from $75 to $250 for a wired model.
Wireless Doorbell Cameras
Wireless doorbell cameras are generally the simplest options on the market and the easiest to install. They're a good choice if you want a straightforward installation process that skips over electrical wiring, transformers, and other aspects of hardwired installation. Instead, just mount the baseplate of the unit on the exterior of your home with several screws then follow the manufacturer’s directions to affix the doorbell camera securely.
If your home lacks a pre-existing doorbell and you want to avoid paying an electrician to run the wiring, a wireless doorbell camera is a perfect solution. It's also great for renters in apartments that lack external doorbells.
The biggest limitation of wireless doorbell cameras is that they may forgo certain features and functionality to conserve battery life. For instance, they typically have lower resolutions than wired models. Wireless models are generally the most affordable doorbell cameras, though—average prices range between $60 and $100.
If you're looking for a doorbell camera that does double-duty as a security camera, then a model with continuous surveillance may be right for you.
These doorbell cameras will record what happens outside your front door 24/7, giving you a chance to review anyone or anything that passes by. Of course, you’ll still get activity alerts and notifications if your doorbell rings. But the surveillance footage can be useful if you ever need to look back on the moments before someone entered the motion detection field.
Continuous surveillance doorbell cameras aren’t as common but make a great 2-in-1 solution for people that want a home security camera and smart doorbell in one device. Be aware that these types of doorbells will often incur additional monthly or yearly cloud storage fees—all that surveillance footage has to be stored somewhere!
Count on paying over $100 for a doorbell camera that has the ability to record continuously—and even more than $200 for a leading brand in the space. Then, plan on monthly cloud storage fees of up to $30, though some models offer 24 hours of free playback.
There's an increasing number of competitors in the video doorbell market, but several manufacturers are leading the way in terms of reliability, technology, home integrations, and support.
The first to bring a video doorbell to mass market, Ring has become synonymous with the concept of a doorbell camera. The app is easy to use, the products are well supported, and the technology supports a wide range of smart home integrations.
The product lineup includes both wireless and wired models and features quality materials and leading technology, including the ability to set motion detection zones and resolutions of 780-1080p.
Several Ring models also offer the option for interchangeable faceplates. It’s a small detail, but many people prefer to be able to coordinate the look of their doorbell to their home’s exterior.
While Ring isn’t the only choice to consider for a video doorbell, it is one of the most reliable with a reasonable price point and a well-rounded set of features.
Always expanding the concept of a connected home, Nest is known for creating a suite of home technology products that work together to automate your home and keep you in the loop through the Nest app.
Hello is Nest’s single-model entrance into the smart home doorbell market and is a wired doorbell. As expected from a smart home giant like Nest, the Hello doorbell is packed with features and integrated technology options. The biggest differentiator from other video doorbells is Hello’s facial recognition system, which can learn to recognize residents and frequent guests. However, the technology isn’t foolproof and may not be as reliable as you’d like for a doorbell that costs over $200.
Other advantages to the Hello include the ability to capture surveillance footage 24/7—but to take advantage of this feature, you’ll need to sign up for Nest Aware for a monthly fee. You can also pre-record messages for playback when someone rings the doorbell, which could come in handy if you aren’t in a position to answer the door personally.
If you’re already a user of the Nest ecosystem, then this video doorbell may be a good choice for your home. Otherwise, you’ll need to weigh the benefits offered by this doorbell against the associated costs.
Putting their own spin on the video doorbell, August—which started in the field of smart home security with door locks—adds the Doorbell Pro Cam to their lineup.
This square hardwired video doorbell offers advantages in the areas of video playback, with free cloud storage that gives you quick access to any event video within the last 24 hours. It also takes motion alerts one step further by recording events leading up to a motion alert. Where other doorbell cameras sometimes only capture half the action, August does a good job of showing you the whole sequence that triggered a motion alert. Additionally, a spotlight activates when the doorbell is pressed at night, which gives you a clearer image of who’s at the door even when it’s dark outside.
However, August products can be a little clunky and it’s not readily apparent to everyone where the doorbell button is on this product. Still, these doorbells are worth considering for their advantages in video capture and playback.
Another early innovator in the video doorbell market, SkyBell is known for making hardy products that can withstand a wide range of temperatures—everything from -40 degrees Fahrenheit to 140 degrees Fahrenheit.
Angled as a cross between a virtual doorman and a home security device, SkyBell relies heavily upon the promise that this device will help you to feel more secure at home and keep a watchful eye on your property while away. However, it only offers 780p video and the connection can be spotty at times.
This is a good video doorbell to consider if you live in a climate prone to extreme temperatures, but otherwise, there may be a more advanced model that fits your needs.
Accessories and Warranties
If you make the investment in a video doorbell, there are some additional accessories that may help you get the most from these devices or overcome potential shortcomings with the device.
- Wi-Fi extenders can give your doorbell a boost if it's having trouble connecting to your router due to its location inside the house.
- Indoor chimes may be a necessary add-on for some models of video doorbell that offer app alerts only—meaning you’ll only hear the doorbell on your phone or tablet unless you install a separate chime box.
- Floodlights and security cameras can boost the watchful eye of your doorbell camera and enhance its usefulness as a home protection device.
Many of the major manufacturers of video doorbells offer a 1- or 2-year limited warranty that covers defects in workmanship or materials. Some video doorbells are also protected by a theft replacement policy. If someone goes through the trouble to steal your doorbell, it’s covered and you’ll receive a new one, free of charge.
Obviously, the details of warranty and theft protection vary by manufacturer, so it's best to read the fine print before making a decision based on offered warranties.