A Video Doorbell Is Today’s Home Security
Video doorbells have become the “killer app” of the household security world. That’s partly because being able to see who’s coming to the front door is sensible, but it’s also a result of all that online shopping that ends up having package after package ending up on the porch. And thanks to the overkill of smartphones, a homeowner no longer has to buy a dedicated video screen to use with the doorbell (or jury rig it to work with a TV). About the only negative being associated with installing one of these video devices is just that — installation. Many feel put off (or scared) about the idea of having to remove an existing doorbell to access the wires that cause a chime to sound when the doorbell’s button is pressed. Of course if there’s no doorbell in the first place then that’s an added negative. So Spotcam’s Video Doorbell 2 has to be lauded for making it easy to physically install because it allows a choice between a “hard” wiring and a battery-driven wire free install.
Where The Video Doorbell Gets It Power
The Video Doorbell 2 doesn’t appear so different than other models to the naked eye — being a vertical black rod with a lens, night-vision LEDs and a ”lit” ring button to press (which can be dimmed). Mounting hardware gives a choice between attaching wires from an existing doorbell and a firm installation (a level is needed because the mount does not allow for easy positioning), and a put on/pull off system for those instead using the rechargeable battery. So before anything else the back panel tab is pulled back so that the micro-USB input can accept enough electricity to full charge it. Now one must decide if local storage is desired, in which case a micro-SD card will be inserted into a slot on the back — Spotcam provides limited free online storage (7 days), but also gives a choice of a number of options through a subscription basis as well as enhanced services.
Installing the doorbell now requires another choice: will the power needed to make the doorbell function come from an existing wired doorbell or, if there is no doorbell or desire to use one, come from the interior rechargeable battery. If the battery, then the same backside where the SD card was inserted will be used with a USB cable to charge the battery. This means that the installation must be done so that the doorbell can be removed. Which it can but it wont be all that often, since the battery should run for about 20-30 days (this depends on the actual use and over the course of a month over 20 days went by (during this time the doorbell was left in a window so it could provide a live view through the app during the day — night vision doesn’t work at all well when having to go through glass as all you see is glare).
What About The Chime?
In the other instance, the power will come from the wired doorbell (that’s what we ended up doing). Once power is cut, wires are attached to the video doorbell and its positioned on the mount that was put on earlier. Unlike where the battery is used, and assuming that cloud storage is being used, the video doorbell can now be permanently affixed using the included mounting supplies.
Another consideration is the WiFi enabled doorbell chime. Spotcam provides a self-contained doorbell which pairs easily to the video doorbell and is plugged into an electrical outlet. It has a test button so you can hear the chime, along with a button for changing the tone. To instead continue to use the existing chime, an accessory must be inserted into the chime’s wiring. We went with that option, and for safety disabled the electrical wiring first (similarly to what was done when the old doorbell was first removed).
The Set Up and App
Now it’s time to make the video doorbell usable — and should you want to set it up prior to mounting it, go ahead because the battery makes that possible. Using the iOS/Android app, an account is set up and the app then makes the doorbell active using Bluetooth and the WiFi network. This took less than 15 minutes to accomplish and obviously relies on having a reasonably fast WiFi home network (2.4GHz) The app is sensible and simple and provides control over sight and sound and notifications — it’s feature rich but does take a bit of time to get used to. Best part of the app could well be on an iPhone (which is what we have) is that if you leave it suspended, then going to it will have it auto-register so you don’t have to re-enter your name/password. What the app allows for is viewing live video or snapping a picture, getting notifications (email or text or both), triggering motion detection should someone enter into the camera’s field of vision, among others such as voice (two-way audio) and playback of recorded video. Besides the app, a web browser can also be used.
A recent firmware update has sped up the reaction of the doorbell as to sending out a text notice, along with an enhanced audio (full-duplex two-way), voice changing ability (not quite Darth Vader but close) and a voice message function. These all add to enhancing the overall value of having a video doorbell.
The Video Doorbell 2 doesn’t assume the owner has or wants to have a wired doorbell, which is why the battery power is such a positive addition. Add on all the other features and what you get is a well designed and well functioning alternative to the boring audio-only doorbell. For more details go to https://www.myspotcam.com/en
Dianne Ribecca from North Versailles, PA on April 13, 2021: