Electronic Door Bells, Are They For You?

One of the cool electronic gadgets available to you now is an electronic front door bell because you can see and talk to the caller before you answer the door. If you are away from the home when a person rings your bell, you can still see and hear them and have a conversation.

The new electronic door bells have built in video and audio so one can monitor who’s at the door before you open it. The quality of the audio/video is usually adequate to identify the caller and audio is good if you need to speak to them or hear what they want to say.

Choose the right product, such as Ring, Door Phone, Smart Wireless DoorBell [sic] (Walmart) and a few others and you will be pleased at the results. Of course there are “cheap” products available but they aren’t very good.

There is a caveat, however, when you buy one of these doorbell things. Don’t expect to install it without too much trouble. The ads tell you how amazingly simple it is and it’s done in an instant. It practically installs itself. Well, what would you expect them to say?

Have you ever setup a wireless printer? For the typical user setting up a wireless device may not be easy. The setup can be frustrating and you know they frequently just lose their settings and need to be reinstalled. Doorbell audio/video is even more cumbersome and it requires the right “support” equipment, such as fast Internet and WiFi (home wireless network).

Your WiFi network must be strong, at least 3-4 bars at the point of the doorbell device. To test your WiFi signal strength take your cell phone outside to the front door. Wait a minute or two and then check the number of bars you are getting there. If you have 3+ bars the install will work. If less than 3+ bars at the point where the doorbell is to be installed, you are in for a new setup treat. The first thing you will need to do is boost your WiFi signal by using a device like an extender or signal repeater.

You must have a strong WiFi signal and a fast Internet connection. If your Internet service is 10 megabits (mps) or above, then you will likely have a decent installation. The typical home Internet connection is three megabit (3mps) and that’s simply not enough. At 10mps you should expect a frame rate (fps), the speed of video, to be 10-15 fps. It will look choppy but image quality will be ok. A faster Internet, say 50 mps will give you about 30 fps (normal video), good audio and quality images.

What’s frame rate? Think of frames per second (fps). The typical home theater (TV) is in the 30 fps, also known as full video.

Remember, the way these devices work is to take an image at the front door, send it over WiFi to your router, then to a central office, which routs it to your phone network, like Verizon, and then it is displayed on your cell phone. That trip can be a typical 2-3 seconds and more or less depending on the speed of your Internet, WiFi for both your network and the telephone network service. So some delays in your conversation will occur.

To summarize the doorbell device is a nice idea but not as simple as advertised, it depends upon a host of other services you need, such as fast Internet and un-throttled phone service and a WiFi pumping out four or five bars. If you don’t have these things but still want the service get ready to upgrade your Internet service.