It's time to open up another new area of our Smart Home project - security. After having thought a lot about where to start, we decided to give our humble doorbell a bit of a makeover. Read on to discover more about our plans.
Smart Home Security has to build of the foundations of good practice. There's little point installing fancy technology if you don't have good doorlocks, or leave your windows open when you're out.
Assuming though that the basics are covered, there are a number of ways that technology can help. You can install cameras, motion sensors, and you can even have your smart lighting come on at random times when you're out to deter would-be criminals.
I plan to get into all of these areas and more over time, but to my partner and I, it seemed logical to start at the front door. Well, in our case the front gate, but we'll get to that!
What I'm talking about in particular, is the idea of a smart doorbell. Or, perhaps more appropriately a smart intercom. The idea of a regular intercom is that you can of course talk to someone at your front door or gate, and -depending on the system you have- see them too. Regular intercoms are of course hardwired systems, and it's not hard to imagine a 21st century upgrade to this.
With a smart doorbell, when someone pushes the button at your front door, it's actually your smartphone that 'rings' by way of a notification. 'Answering' this, would launch an app, letting you see and speak to the person calling. Suspicious character? Just make up a story to convince them someone's home, even if you're actually at work or on holiday.
There are other reasons why this sort of system might be desirable. Someone calls to delvier a package? You can direct them where to leave it or which neighbour to pass it to for safekeeping. Maybe someone is snooping around your driveway. With systems like this it's possible to get motion alerts.
Having looked around the market, seemingly the most well known and popular smart doorbell, is the 'Ring' product.
Ring make several smart doorbells. There's the original 'Ring Video Doorbell'. Then there's the recently released upgrade; the 'Ring Video Doorbell 2', and finally there's the 'Ring Video Doorbell Pro'.
All the products feature HD, but the original is 720, whereas the '2' and 'Pro' are 1080. Only the 2 and Pro feature interchangeable faceplates (see below), and only the Pro features 2.4GHz and 5GHz WiFi support, along with advanced motion detection. Which you choose will depend on what features you want, and your budget.
An additional consideration is how you're planning to power the doorbell. With the original and the Doorbell 2, you can use either hardwired or battery power. For the Pro, it's hardwire only. Regardless of how you power these devices, you'll always be using WiFi for communication.
I opted for the Pro, and an additional Chime Pro - more on that below.
In the box, there's everything you need. Installation manuals in various languages, a retrofit kit if you're upgrading from an original Ring Video doorbell, a sticker to put in your window to show that your home is protected. There's the doorbell itself, a standard Ring Chime that you can plugin to an electrical outlet anywhere in your home.
You get a DIN rail power transformer (24V AC), all the installation screws and cables, three additional faceplates, a screwdriver and they even give you a drill bit!
Yes, some DIY is going to be required here. If you're not confident doing the installation, best find a professional who can install it for you.
The inclusion of additional faceplates is a nice touch. The doorbell is pre-installed with a silver faceplate. You also get a cream-white, a dark brown, and a standard black faceplate.
The doorbell unit itself is certainly a bit larger than a standard doorbell, but that's probably to be expected. It's smaller than the standard Ring Doorbell and Doorbell 2, since it does not incorporate a battery.
I also ordered a Chime Pro. This little unit not only acts as a Ring Chime for the doorbell, but also as a WiFi range extender. The idea here is that if the location you want to install the doorbell, doesn't get sufficient WiFi coverage, you can use this to boost.
Once installed, we'll effectively have a remote wireless intercom for our home. We'll be able to see and speak to visitors at our house from anywhere in the world. I feel it's a good start to our smart home security journey.
Next steps are to of course get this installed! Once done I'll produce more videos and posts on our setup experience, and how the system works in practice.