We don’t have a peephole, but instead a peep door. Now there is nothing more conspicuous than opening up a freaking door to look out on the porch to see who rang your doorbell. I have literally never used it unless I was making fun of it when we first moved in because I feel like somebody pretending to live in a castle. “Hark! Guests have arrived! Lower the draw bridge!” So rather than feeling like a moron with a peep door, I’d always just answer the door when somebody came knocking.
But then a lady rang my doorbell and when I answered she kind of sort of wigged out on me. She lowered the pamphlet she was going to hand to me down to her side and then looked at me and then behind me and then around and said “you never open the door when you’re at home alone.” Um, what? “YOU NEVER OPEN THE DOOR WHEN YOU’RE HOME ALONE. OKAY?” She stressed to me that I should be far more careful who I open my door to in the future and left without ever handing over that pamphlet. You’d think I’d take the hint and not just blindly open the door again, but you’d think wrong…
I did it again. The doorbell rang and I pushed it open to see a young man with a clipboard trying to sell me something. We talk, I say no, he tries to convince me, I say no again, he leaves. But then he comes back just a few minutes later. I’m frustrated. I haven’t changed my mind. But when I open the door he says “you really shouldn’t open the door when you’re here alone. And your purse is right there and your car keys are hanging beside it. I don’t want to scare you but you should really be more careful than that.” After Rob and I talked it out when he got home later I moved the coat rack.
You’d think at this point that I’d stop answering the door when I’m home alone, wouldn’t you? But I didn’t. I opened the door to a man who was visibly very upset.I tried to shut the door when he jammed his foot in the way so I couldn’t close it. He eventually walked off in a huff but I was well and truly scared.
After this happened I didn’t answer the door a single time again. Even when I literally watched the mailman walk to the door I would listen to him ring the bell and then I’d just sit there silent as the dead, still and waiting for him to leave. It was ridiculous but I kept thinking about that foot being shoved in my door. And so one day my Mimmie called and told me that it wasn’t okay to be scared in my own home that way. And so she got a Ring Doorbell for Rob and me for Christmas. (This is not a sponsored review. We received our unit as a Christmas gift from my grandmother, but there are affiliate links within this post.)
Mimmie had seen this thing on TV, probably Dr. Oz or Dr. Phil because she just loves those fake TV doctors :) It turns out it is a security type doorbell with a working camera and microphone that lets you see and hear who is at your door.
This WIFI video doorbell sells for around $200. Mine came straight from Ring.com but you can also purchase them online on Amazon to get faster shipping. Now that we know what it is, we’ve also seen them for sale at brick and mortar stores like Walmart if you would prefer to buy in store.
The kit comes with pretty much everything you need to get your doorbell up and running including tools. The only thing we wound up needing in addition to the kit was a power drill to get through the stucco.
You have 2 options when installing your Ring Doorbell. You can hard wire it to an existing doorbell system or you can run the unit on batteries. Because I’m terrible at keeping batteries on hand, it just made sense to hard wire our unit.
Installation itself was really very simple. Be sure to turn off the power when working with electricity and install according to the directions in the packaging. There are also really great and easy to follow help videos if you’re having trouble.
You’ll need to get the Ring app on your phone and get everything connected with your wifi, set up a ring account and all of that business. Again, it’s all really pretty easy but when I couldn’t get my WiFi set up the Ring customer service had me patched up within minutes.
Once your doorbell is working it connects with your WiFi to send messages to your phone when somebody rings your doorbell. You can open to view the live streaming video of what is happening in front of the doorbell and see and hear what is going on. There is a button to push on the screen if you’d like to turn on the microphone and speak with whoever is on your porch. They cannot see you, but you can see them. They cannot hear you unless you choose to activate the microphone.
This doorbell also has a range that you set for motion detection. Because we are near the street we chose to have a very short range of motion for our doorbell to pick up on. If it is within 4 feet and moves it’s supposed to activate the doorbell, sending a message to the app in my phone that there is motion detected at the door. This is helpful because I’m noticing lots of people knock on the door rather than ring the bell.
These interactions, whether triggered by a doorbell ring or motion detection, can be recorded and stored online for you to reference later should you need to. There are Ring Video Recording Plans that cost a monthly or yearly subscription fee that are on top of the cost of the doorbell which will work with or without a plan (it just won’t store your videos online for you to reference later). Since we only have one camera we currently pay $30 a year for recording. At $2.50 a month the cost isn’t bad at all.
Okay, so the Ring Doorbell installs easily, sets up easily and has good customer service if you run into issues with either of these instances. But does it work?
Let’s rip the bandage off quickly and talk about the bad things, first.
One of the things you have to remember that this camera works with WIFI. If your internet is down it’s not going to send you notifications or show you who is at the door. You’ll just hear the bell like any regular joe with a regular doorbell. If your wifi is working but being all slow and awful your video might still work, but chances are it will be so pixilated that you won’t know what is going on when you view the video. Bad internet service = bad Ring video performance.
Remember that the internet performance on your cell phone will also affect video and how good of use you get out of your Ring doorbell. My iPhone does this thing where it randomly disconnects from wifi and then goes on cellular data, which is poor at my house. So when the wifi is off and the doorbell notifies my phone, sometimes the video I see is just big, huge pixels and blocks. And sometimes I can’t get it to even get the video to appear at all. It will time out. When we were visiting a local museum we knew that a package was going to be delivered but we figured we could talk to the delivery woman via the Ring to let her know to leave the package, but by the time we could get the video to start up she was long gone with the package.
But let’s go back to this motion detection. Though the range of motion is set for pretty much the edge of our porch we still regularly get false detection from a car driving down the road. Since we live on a busy street, this can get immensely frustrating. It also discourages checking the app every time of a notification because half the time you figure it’s just a big vehicle heading to the stop sign, again. Example.
Sometimes the notifications and video lag. Because of the motion detection the doorbell documents our comings and goings from the house I can literally see how often this hapens. There will be times that the Ring doesn’t start recording until we’ve gotten the dogs out the door, locked it and are heading to the car already. We’re slow on the best of days and with the dogs we’re way slower meaning it can take longer to activate the camera than it takes for somebody to pop up at your door, steal a package and take off.
How about video at night? In all honesty I’m not terribly happy with the night video when it uses the night-vision. It often blows the image out to where you can’t make out any sort of facial features on a person. So if you need that video to show who broke into your home, well, you’re out of luck. Example.
What about the good things, do they make buying a Ring Doorbell worth it?
We do have a few problems with the device but they are far overshadowed by the sense of security the Ring provides. If I can’t see who is at the door I don’t answer it, period. It’s been that way for a while so if the video won’t activate and I can’t see who it is I just go back to that old rule of thumb. And it’s pretty great that I can keep any video online that I might want to reference again for some reason.
I can be at my parents house and talk to the UPS lady when she has a package for me. I can ask who the sender is to determine if it’s something I want for her to go ahead and leave or if it’s too valuable to sit on the porch until I return in a few days. That’s pretty darn awesome since I work from home and get a TON of packages delivered.
If we are out of town I also know when the lawn man comes and takes care of the yard to know to pay for that instance when we get back. If things are very busy in the house, say I’m up to my elbows in glitter, I can tape the check to the door and it will record him grabbing the check before he leaves. This way I know for a fact he is the one that got paid and not somebody that just walked by.
Though we have trouble with the unit in full dark at night the Ring Doorbell works perfectly well if the porch light is left on. I prefer not to have the light on all of the time but there is definitely a marked difference in the video quality when I do and do not remember to turn the light on. Because of that, I feel that if I get bad video, it’s kind of on me rather than the device. Example.
While video is sometimes pixilated on your phone, it more often than not records much more clearly for you to review the footage at the ring site. This problem is because of the internet quality on your mobile device. Because of this I’m strongly considering switching cell phone providers to someone who can handle data in my new zip code better to improve this. So, again, this is a user issue rather than a device problem.
In the end I say NO to my peep door and YES to the Ring Doorbell.
All in all, I feel like the Ring Doorbell is absolutely worth $199 for the device and $30 a year for video storage services. Rather than locking up and hiding out every time the doorbell rings, I check my phone and then make the call if I want to answer the door or not. Sometimes I do and sometimes I go completely still, stay totally quiet and pretend to not be home so the person (normally a salesman) leaves without getting his feelings hurt that I wouldn’t answer the door. :)
The Ring Video Doorbell super easy to install and the people at Ring will replace it if some neighborhood kids decide to be jerks and steal it. More often than not it works really well and if you have great internet service I think the Ring would work like a dream pretty much all of the time.
Have any questions? I know when seeing things I’d like to have with a big price tag I want to know somebody who has it to ask questions to make sure it’s worth my money. Let me know if you have any questions in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer them!