General Question

Jeruba's avatar

What do I need to know before doorbell shopping?

Asked by Jeruba (55823points) 3 months ago
22 responses
“Great Question” (2points)

Our old chime doorbell has failed. Time to get a new one.

Considering some kind of security installation while I’m at it.

I need some basic advice. What do I need to know before I shop?

1. Do doorbell and camera come as one unit?
2. Are they DIY-installable? (by my son, not by me)
3. What is a good, down-to-earth brand and model that’ll do the job without a lot of frills?
4. I want to hear the chime before I buy. Can I do that online?
5. Best to go to my nearest Home Depot, or can I do okay on Amazon?
6. What is a ballpark price range?

Thank you very much.

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snowberry's avatar

I am no expert, but i’d want one with battery backup in case the electricity goes out.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

Is it the door bell? Transformer ? Wires ? Or the chimes ?

elbanditoroso's avatar

Some of the camera-ready doorbells automatically send images to the local police. Is this something you want?

filmfann's avatar

The Ring doorbells are not the chime, but the button. My daughter loves hers.

Smashley's avatar

Beware cheap brands with bad encryption. A hacked doorbell camera can be the access point to your whole Wi-Fi network.

JLeslie's avatar

If you get Nest or Ring or something similar it has a doorbell camera and other security options.

I think Nest is google and ring is Amazon.

Previously, I’ve had security systems snd never paid for monitoring. I’m not sure of the options with Nest or Ring, but a lot of my friends where I live have one or the other and can see the camera feed on their phone.

ADT is another security system. That’s one of the brands that used to hard wire the house, and I don’t know if they now have wireless like the others or phone app? They are more like car salesmen to deal with probably.

Blackwater_Park's avatar

Here is my advice. A new doorbell kit with buttons, housing, wire, and transformer is about $30 at your local hardware store. Very simple drop-in replacement. Getting security cameras is tougher. You have to mount them as well as figure out how to power them. Anyone handy can do this but if you pay someone, it will cost more than you probably realize. That’s not the main issue, though. You want to separate out a wifi network just for your cameras. I use a separate router for “smart devices” like cameras. Use 2.4GHz for range, and don’t connect any of your smartphones or computers to it. If your wifi network does get compromised through a smart device, there won’t be much a hacker can do other than look out into your yard. Stick with the big brands, Nest, Ring etc..

SnipSnip's avatar

I opted for solid brass manual doorbell. I love it. No battery, no bothersome warm transformer, no electricity. Just twist a knob and a bell rings. So cool!

janbb's avatar

It don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that ding!

canidmajor's avatar

My daughter recently bought this one ( and installed it herself. She doesn’t have a history of handyman skills. It works off of her regular wi-fi, and works off of local storage, so the information isn’t accessible to all and sundry, if you don’t want.

It comes with an app, and you can choose your favorite chime.

If you have an existing doorbell, it can be hooked into that, and won’t need charging. If not, it will need to be unmounted and charged separately.

She is sitting in my house right now, looking at the feed from her front door 20 miles away.

I would look into this.

RocketGuy's avatar

I just swapped in a Ring Battery Doorbell Plus. It patches to my 24V mechanical doorbell system so it can ring my old-school doorbell, plus charge its battery. It needs 2.4GHz WiFi. It is a lot better than the original Ring – higher res cam and much faster response. I still have to pay $39.99 a year, which is annoying.

Pandora's avatar

You can the ring camera for your doorbell, but check to see if the reason your doorbell failed isn’t because the transformer blew out. I had replaced mine with a ring doorbell camera when we first moved in and then the camera failed after a few months. Turned out the transformer to my doorbell blew out only we can’t locate it. It is usually behind the door indoor chime or nearby but sometimes it’s attached behind the breaker box. Because we fear that may be too big a job for us, we just bought a ring that has rechargeable batteries that we replace. Usually last us a solid 2 to weeks depending on the settings. It can last a few days longer but it’s easy to change out. Both are easy to do but the hard wire one is easy if you know and are comfortable to deal with hard wiring .

Pandora's avatar

@RocketGuy I had the same issue but now I don’t. It is usually a problem with your wifi. I have fast internet speed but my router sucked. My daughter told me to change it for a better one with the antennas. We tried extenders and that didn’t work. We were using the one from verizon that hides the antennas inside making it useless to reach tough spots. Changed it out and got rid of all my extenders and it reaches every room in my home. No more dropping connections or slow response time.

RocketGuy's avatar

@Pandora – our doorbell button was on the exterior wall of our garage, next to our front door. The transformer is mounted on the opposite side of that wall (in the garage). It looks quite non-descript, all by itself on the wall with 2 wires going into the drywall. I guess the contractor wanted the wires to the button to be really short. I had to guess its function when I was replacing my doorbell button with the original Ring. I had thought it should have near the mechanical bell, but no transformer nearby.

And I’ve gone through several routers. None improved response of the old Ring. It was just early technology.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

Just remember Nest is Google and Ring is Amazon and both collect data like who comes the front door !!!

janbb's avatar

Personally, I’ve never felt the need of a door monitor. I either look out the window or open the door a bit and answer it or not. I can’t stand all the posts on NextDoor about the Ring seeing a man walk across a driveway. But I am privileged to live in a safe neighborhood. And if it’s not, I’ll take my chances.

RocketGuy's avatar

My new Ring is fast enough to answer before the door-to-door salesmen leave. Then I can ask what they want and hang up when I’ve heard enough. No need to see them give me their sad face.

canidmajor's avatar

My door bell and security system are 75 pounds of floofy LOUD. Very effective, so far.

elbanditoroso's avatar

They all look and act very similar to each other. In fact, they could be dead ringers.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

I C what you did ! @elbanditoroso

RocketGuy's avatar

@canidmajor – my Lab mix was really good at detecting skeezy visitors. He’d be eager to sniff visitors but I’d hold him back by the collar. Most strangers thought he was wanting to attack, so no one ever over-stayed their welcome.

canidmajor's avatar

@RocketGuy I live in a blue collar neighborhood, the bad guys just figure that the really loud house isn’t the best target, the whole risk/reward thing.

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