The best doorbell
As older wired doorbell systems start to fail, many homeowners are now investing in easy-to-install wireless models that provide the same level of service. Some of these modern doorbell sets include security features, such as video recording, two-way communications, and remote operation through smartphone apps.
Even the chimes have been upgraded, and users can now choose a ringtone that meets their particular needs. Installation is also much easier thanks to a wireless design and improved range.
If you're interested in replacing an older wired doorbell system or upgrading your home surveillance capabilities, read our buying guide. Our top pick is Ring's Video Doorbell Pro, a video-enhanced wireless system with smart technology that's surprisingly easy to install.
Considerations when choosing doorbells
Hardwired vs. wireless
Many homes still have a wired doorbell system that may have been installed decades ago. When those systems age out, some homeowners replace them with another hardwired doorbell and chime. This option often requires professional installation and can limit the location of the chimes inside the home. Repairing a hardwired doorbell system can also be challenging.
Many contractors and homeowners now prefer to install wireless doorbells because the connection between the button and the chime is much more reliable. A wireless system does not require an electric power source, and the chimes can be placed anywhere in the home. The chime tones can also be modified on many wireless systems.
Ease of installation
Installing a basic wireless doorbell system should be fairly straightforward. The battery-powered doorbell button can be attached with adhesive to the door frame or installed with basic screws. The chime unit is essentially a receiver and can be installed on a wall or placed on a shelf or table. Some chime units rely on electrical power, however, so they need to be located near an outlet or be hardwired into the home's electrical system.
Doorbell systems equipped with smart technology require a little more work to install. The video doorbell unit is usually wireless and should be mounted at a standard height for maximum coverage. The home's WiFi system should deliver the signal to a chime box, along with any apps or monitors tuned into that bandwidth. Signal strength and compatibility can be issues when dealing with a WiFi-enabled doorbell system.
Video and audio surveillance
The most basic wireless doorbell systems only provide a sonic alert whenever the doorbell button is pressed, but advanced models with smart technology and WiFi capability can do much more. A video camera on the doorbell button can feed a real-time signal to an app or monitor, allowing homeowners to identify visitors. This camera can also be activated by a motion sensor, and the images can be stored for later viewing.
Some doorbell systems also allow users to have two-way communication with visitors, even from remote locations. This can be a very useful feature for homeowners who need to interact with visitors while at work or on vacation.
Chime and speaker options
The least expensive wireless doorbell systems offer a limited number of standard chime tones, which should still work well enough for most spaces. Higher-grade models offer the user a larger selection of pre-programmed chime tones or an option to add customized tones. Two-way speakers can also be installed in a centralized location, or smaller speakers can be placed throughout the home and connect wirelessly to the doorbell system.
The price of a doorbell system is primarily driven by technology. A basic mechanical or electronic chime box can cost as little as $10, while a higher-end smart system with video capability typically costs $150 or more.
Q. Can I customize the chime sound of my new wireless doorbell system?
A. It depends on the brand, but there are some doorbell systems that offer customizable chime sounds. Others offer dozens of pre-programmed chimes, so you may be satisfied with one of those selections.
Q. My home office is very isolated and far from the front door. Can I set up an additional chime so I can hear the doorbell?
A. Some wireless doorbell systems are considered expandable, meaning you can add a new doorbell button or new chime to the existing system. You may also be able to raise the volume of an existing chime or invest in a system designed for the hearing or sight-impaired.
Doorbells we recommend
Best of the best: Ring's Video Doorbell Pro
Our take: The Ring video doorbell system provides every type of front door coverage most homeowners seek. Convenient wireless and smart communication.
What we like: Provides a high-definition image with night vision capability. Includes two-way communication. Video system is easy to install.
What we dislike: Motion sensor may react to departing visitors, not approaching visitors. Some concerns about firmware reliability.
Best bang for your buck: PHYSEN's Wireless Door Chime
Our take: This bargain-priced doorbell set is extremely easy to set up without tools, making it ideal for older or physically challenged users.
What we like: Set includes two buttons and three chimes for whole house coverage. Ready for mounting straight out of the box. Buttons resist outdoor weather conditions.
What we dislike: Many chime/alarm choices can be grating, ineffective, or annoying to homeowners. Chimes require a dedicated power source.
Our take: This wireless doorbell system's expandability means homeowners with multiple entry points can add doorbells to all of them.
What we like: Contains two heavy-duty buttons and two chime units for whole-house coverage. Easy to install with basic tools. Additional buttons and chimes can be added.
What we dislike: Buttons must be positioned away from potential rain exposure. Chimes require dedicated electrical power, which can limit location.
Michael Pollick is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds
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