Best Video Doorbells of 2018

John Carlsen ·
Smart Home & HVAC Editor
Updated
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Top Ten Reviews has reviewed video doorbells since 2015 and spent over 150 hours researching and testing seven popular models from five manufacturers. To determine the best video doorbells, we looked at a variety of factors such as video quality, usability, installation and features both standard and unique. The Ring Video Doorbell 2 came out on top in these tests, thanks to its easy installation, ability to run off a battery and competitive cloud storage prices.  

Best Overall
Ring Video Doorbell 2
The Ring Video Doorbell 2 has excellent video quality, supports a wide variety of smart home systems and its user-friendly design can be mounted on any surface outside your home.
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Best Value
Ring Video Doorbell
The Ring Video Doorbell is a great smart doorbell with competitive cloud storage pricing, and it can run off battery power alone, so you can install it anywhere.
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Best for Smart Locks & Easiest to Use
August Doorbell Cam Pro
The August Doorbell Cam Pro is the only smart doorbell we looked at with a companion smart lock made by the same company, which makes it easy to get deliveries when you aren't home.
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Product
Price
OVERALL RATING
Video & Audio
Convenience
Design
Price
Video Quality
Audio Quality
Night Vision
Resolution
Field of View
Cloud Video Storage Cost (Monthly)
Cloud Video Availability
Usability
Compatible Smart Locks
Smart Home Platforms
Ease of Installation
Warranty
Connects to Existing Chime
Battery Life
Wireless Connections
$169.99 Micro Center
9.6 9.5 9.1 9.1
94
PASS
IR LEDs
1920 x 1080
160
$3
60 Days
92
Kevo, Lockitron, RemoteLock
Alexa, ADT Pulse, IFTTT, wemo, SmartThings, Wink
97
1 Year
Optional
6 to 12 months
Wi-Fi
$99.99 Amazon
8.9 9.4 8.7 9.9
82
PASS
IR LEDs
1280 x 720
180
$3
60 days
91
Kevo, Lockitron, RemoteLock
Alexa, ADT Pulse, IFTTT, wemo, SmartThings, Wink
89
1 Year
Optional
6 to 12 months
Wi-Fi
$179.99 Amazon Warehouse
9.2 9.5 8.6 9.2
92
PASS
Visible LED
480 x 640
120
$0
24 Hours
95
August
Alexa, Nest, IFTTT, Google Home, Honeywell
90
1 Year
Required
Temporary Backup
Wi-Fi; Bluetooth
$229 Wal-Mart
9.7 9.3 9.1 8.5
95
PASS
IR LEDs
1600 x 1200
160
$5
5 Days
92
Nest x Yale
Nest, IFTTT, Google Home
88
2 Years
Required
N/A
Wi-Fi; Bluetooth; Thread
$195.99 Sears
9.8 9.6 8.5 8.3
97
PASS
IR LEDs
1920 x 1080
160
$3
60 Days
95
Kevo, Lockitron, RemoteLock
Alexa, ADT Pulse, IFTTT, wemo, SmartThings, Wink
92
1 Year
Required
N/A
Wi-Fi
$159.45 Wal-Mart
9.2 9.3 8 9.2
89
PASS
Visible LED
1920 x 1080
180
$0
Last 20 Videos
92
Kevo
Alexa, IFTTT, Nest, iControl, Honeywell Alarm.com, Brinks
84
1 Year
Required
N/A
Wi-Fi
$85 Amazon Marketplace
9.4 6.5 6.8 9.4
95
PASS
IR LEDs
1280 x 720
120
$4
30 Days
74
N/A
Alexa
75
1 Year
N/A
4 Months
N/A
Best Overall
The Ring Video Doorbell 2 improves on its predecessor in almost every way. We especially like that it comes with 1080p HD video, better installation options and two interchangeable faceplates.
While it's not as sleek as the Ring Video Doorbell Pro and lacks the brilliant smart lock controls of the August Doorbell Cam Pro, the Ring Video Doorbell 2 has the best balance of features we've seen in a smart doorbell. Foremost is the doorbell's easy installation, you can install it anywhere if you run it off the battery, but it can also connect it to your existing doorbell chime to keep it powered all the time. Its excellent video quality shows enough detail day and night, even though it didn't perform as well as some competitors in our testing. The removable battery pack is easier to charge than the original Ring's battery, which required removing the entire unit from the wall. Aside from hardware differences between the Ring Video Doorbell 2 and its predecessor, both products work the same on the software side, though the Ring mobile app reacts more quickly to the Ring 2. While there's no free video storage option like the ones from August and SkyBell, Ring's cloud storage prices are the lowest in our comparison, starting at $3 a month per doorbell camera. However, if you choose Ring's most expensive plan, you get a lifetime warranty and can store footage from an unlimited number of cameras. The Ring Video Doorbell 2 doesn't let you silence your doorbell chime like with Ring Pro, August, Nest and SkyBell.
Pros
  • Easier to install than any other smart doorbell
  • Works with many smart home products
  • Excellent video quality
Cons
  • Lifetime warranty requires Ring's most expensive subscription
  • No free video storage option
  • Can't silence doorbell chime
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Best Value
The original Ring Video Doorbell only costs $99, about $100 cheaper than average. You can also install it anywhere thanks to a built-in rechargeable battery, though you can also connect it to your old doorbell's wiring for a constant power source without recharging.
After installation, you connect this doorbell to your Wi-Fi network using the Ring smartphone app, which lets you take calls, speak to visitors and give instructions to delivery people using the doorbell’s built-in speaker and microphone. You can also connect it to other smart home products such as Amazon Alexa, SmartThings and Wink. While you can view your Ring's live video anytime without a subscription, you can expect to pay between $3 and $10 a month to record video. The $3 cloud storage plan is the most affordable compared to paid plans we looked at, but the $10 plan includes a lifetime warranty for your Ring products and records video from unlimited Ring doorbells and security cameras. As with most smart doorbells, the Ring only works with mechanical doorbell chimes, though you can buy the Ring Chime for an extra $29. This doorbell camera's video quality isn't as good as other products we tested, though certainly good enough for most people considering the price. Unlike the Ring Video Doorbell 2, this unit doesn't come with angled brackets for mounting in tight corners.
Pros
  • Installs anywhere
  • Works with many smart home products
  • $10 video storage plan includes lifetime warranty
Cons
  • Lowest video quality in our tests
  • Doesn't come with angled mounting brackets
  • Lifetime warranty requires Ring's most expensive subscription
$131.97Amazon
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Best for Smart Locks & Easiest to Use
When you connect the Doorbell Cam Pro to the August Smart Lock, you can let people into your home without leaving the call, it's the only smart doorbell we tested that does this while others require you to leave the call or the app to unlock a companion smart lock.
This doorbell camera has excellent video quality, despite having the lowest resolution in our comparison. We like its innovative call format that shows a video on your phone's lock screen rather than a simple notification like other smart doorbells we tested. August's basic cloud video storage is free, but there's also a paid plan that costs around $5 a month, which is competitive with similar offerings from other video doorbells. As with similar products, it records video when it detects motion, but it also saves 30 seconds of footage from before the sensor was triggered to give you more context into what happened, provided you pay for a cloud storage plan. To install the August Doorbell Cam Pro, you need a mechanical doorbell chime since it doesn't work with digital chimes. Unlike SkyBell and Ring, it doesn't have an adapter or add-on for digital chime functionality. As with most video doorbells, this one has a built-in battery, but it can't run off the battery for very long, less than a day in our experience. August covers this product with a one-year warranty.
Pros
  • Uses same app as August Smart Lock
  • Free video storage option
  • Answer calls from your phone's lock screen
Cons
  • Only works with mechanical chimes
  • Short battery life
  • One-year warranty
$199.99Amazon
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Most Advanced Features
Nest Hello comes with the most advanced features we've seen in a smart doorbell: facial recognition, people detection and pre-recorded responses you can use to relay information to visitors without answering a call.
Our favorite feature was the pre-recorded responses that inform visitors to leave a package, wait for someone to come to the door or saying no-one is available. During our tests, we found that the Nest Hello produced the second-best video quality, tying with RemoBell, only Ring Pro had better video. Nest Hello has a slim form factor that fits on most doorframes and is the only video doorbell we reviewed with a two-year warranty. It's a great option if you have other Nest devices in your smart home but has limited smart home functionality otherwise. If you want to record video, you can pay $5 a month, which is more expensive than other video doorbell storage plans in our comparison. The Nest Hello costs around $230, making it more expensive than average, but still more affordable than Ring Video Doorbell Pro.
Pros
  • Pre-recorded responses and advanced detection features
Cons
  • Most expensive video storage subscription
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Best Premium Video Doorbell
The Ring Video Doorbell Pro looks more like a traditional doorbell button than other video doorbells we tested. Its attractive, slim design and interchangeable faceplates let you customize it to match your tastes.
Ring Pro is very easy to install, though a little more complicated than Ring Video Doorbell 2. It's the only Ring doorbell we tested with people detection features and fully-customizable motion detection zones. It also has the best video quality of the smart doorbells we tested, though it's not so much better than the competition that it's worth the higher price. This is the most expensive smart doorbell we tested, costing around $250, about $75 more than average. Unlike Ring's cheaper doorbells, the Ring Video Doorbell Pro doesn't have a battery backup, which means you need to connect it to a traditional doorbell or other compatible power source within your home. As with Ring's other doorbells, you can get excellent smart home options and cloud video storage for as low as $3 a month.
Pros
  • Slim design with interchangeable faceplates
Cons
  • No battery backup
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Read the full review

Why Trust Us

Top Ten Reviews started reviewing video doorbells in 2015, but this update is the first time we've conducted extensive side-by-side testing. We obtained seven video doorbells from five companies: August, Nest, Remo+, Ring and SkyBell. We conducted tests in three categories: usability, video and audio quality, and ease of installation. We also used this opportunity to test more smart locks and see how well the two kinds of devices work together.

As we researched for this review, we learned how to install traditional doorbells to help us prepare to test smart doorbells in our lab. We emailed Dale Pistilli, vice president of sales and marketing at August Home for insights into video doorbells.

When we asked about the most important things to look for in a video doorbell, Pistilli suggested that consumers focus on nighttime video quality, video storage fees, smart lock integration and unique features like August's HindSight, which captures video before people approach, even if they don't press the doorbell.

We also emailed a Ring spokesperson, who explained some of the technical differences between mechanical and digital doorbell chimes, which you'll find later in our guide.

How We Tested

For our video doorbell testing, we installed each unit in our smart home lab, which allowed us to test six of seven smart doorbells simultaneously. This wasn't easy since we also needed to connect most of the doorbells to a Heath Zenith SL-2796-02 Basic Series Wired Door Chime and a 16.5-volt power source to simulate conditions you might face in your home.


Usability
The best video doorbells are user-friendly and come with an array of features that make them convenient while improving security around your door. We examined 20 factors that affect what happens when someone rings the doorbell, accepting a call, in-call controls and motion detection settings.

We found August Doorbell Cam Pro and Ring Video Doorbell Pro easier to use than other smart doorbells. August's call notification was unique, acting more like a traditional phone call than a standard smartphone notification as with the other six doorbells we tested. The Ring Pro shines in a different way with some of the best motion detection options on the market.

In general, the other products were all very easy to use, though RemoBell had fewer options for motion detection, smart home compatibility and was the only video doorbell we tested that must be rung to show live video. You can't look in on a live video stream because the unit goes into hibernation when nobody's around.


Video & Audio Quality
When someone calls at your door, the video doorbell is only as good as the video and audio in the call. For video, we used a video test chart to evaluate clarity in daytime and nighttime conditions, giving scores based on which portions of the chart were easy to read. Every unit we tested produced great results, though the Ring Doorbell Pro had the best video quality overall.

To a lesser extent, we also examined effective field of view and whether the video filled the screen. For example, the video doorbells from Ring each have a wide field of view, but the video has a fish-eye effect that doesn't fill the whole screen and distorts the image around the edge. While it's not a huge problem for most people, some users, including us, might prefer fullscreen video.

For audio quality, we gave pass/fail scores based on how clear and loud a call was on the mobile app as well as the built-in speaker on each unit. Although there were small differences in audio quality, we found each unit sufficient for brief conversations with someone at the door.


Ease of Installation
More than anything else, easy installation relies on what comes in the box with the smart doorbell. We gave higher scores to products that come with printed instructions, screwdrivers, masonry drill bits, levels, battery chargers and extra parts where applicable. Ring is the only company that met all of these requirements, setting a high standard for the competition.

We found that it takes between 10 and 20 minutes to install most video doorbells, though it can take longer if you're not experienced with electrical work. In most cases, you only need a screwdriver to install a video doorbell, though you may need to drill some holes beforehand. If you're installing it on a doorframe, make sure there's enough space since video doorbells aren’t as slim as normal doorbell buttons.

If the prospect of finding your doorbell transformer, turning off the power and manipulating electrical wiring to set up a smart doorbell is too much for you, some retailers offer installation services. Another option is to hire a licensed electrician to do the work.

How Much do Video Doorbells Cost?

You can expect to spend between $100 and $250 on a video doorbell, with most units costing around $200. Professional-grade video doorbells can cost up to $500, like the Ring Video Doorbell Elite. If you get a video doorbell as part of a security system, such as the Vivint Doorbell Camera, you'll need to sign up for professional security monitoring.

Cloud Video Storage
You do not need a subscription to view live video, get notifications or speak with visitors. However, you need one if you want to record your video to the cloud, so you can review and download clips. You can expect to pay between $3 and $30 a month for cloud storage, depending on how long you want access to older videos. Two companies, August and SkyBell, don't require paid subscriptions, but these are more limited than other plans.

What to Expect from Video Doorbells

Battery vs. Wired
Most smart doorbells replace your home's existing doorbell, so you can expect them to have similar power requirements. This means your doorbell needs 12 to 36 volts of AC electricity to run properly. If your home doesn't meet these requirements, you or an electrician may need to install a new doorbell transformer.

While we found battery-powered units such as RemoBell quicker to install, doorbells like the Ring Video Doorbell 2 that also connect to your existing doorbell wiring are superior in almost every way. However, batteries mean units are much larger than a traditional doorbell button. In contrast, doorbells that only use a hardwired connection, like the Nest Hello and Ring Video Doorbell Pro, are slimmer and usually look nicer.

Chimes
Although video doorbells replace the button on your doorbell, some still need the chime already installed in your home. There are two types of doorbell chimes on the market: mechanical and digital.

A Ring spokesperson said the main difference is that "Mechanical doorbells make your generic "ding-dong" sound, whereas a digital doorbell has a speaker, and can make various sounds, including playing MP3’s and pre-recorded sounds. Having one chime or the other does not affect doorbell performance, so it’s ultimately user preference."

According to our research, most smart doorbells work best with mechanical chimes, though many companies sell an adapter or a have list of compatible digital chimes. Likewise, some companies, such as Ring, sell a wireless chime add-on that pairs with your doorbell camera.


Standard Features
Each doorbell camera has a Wi-Fi connection and a mobile app that let you see the video feed and speak with visitors on your doorstep. Video doorbells also use motion detection to track events, which means they don’t record continuously like a security camera, with the notable exception of the Nest Hello. Most doorbell cameras record subjects in both daytime and nighttime conditions, usually at an HD video resolution of 720p or greater.

Smart Lock Pairing
One of the most exciting features of video doorbells is that you can pair most of them with a smart lock such as the Kwikset Kevo and August Smart Lock to let guests in when you're unable to come to the door. However, the level of integration between a doorbell and lock really depends on the company. This is something we discovered when we linked the doorbells to smart locks we were also testing.

The biggest difference comes from doorbells and locks designed to work together. August and Nest make both smart locks and video doorbells, which let you unlock the door without leaving the app, though August is the only smart doorbell that lets you unlock the door from within the call. However, Ring and SkyBell don't make smart locks, but give you a shortcut to partner apps instead.

Other Smart Home Devices
Aside from smart locks, you can connect the video doorbell to voice assistants and smart speakers, such as Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, to get notifications and sometimes speak with people at the door. As part of a security system, the unit can help protect your home by detecting motion outside.