Video doorbells: how to install them and frequently asked questions about the likely problems you might face.
On the face of it installing a video doorbell should be simple. Theory and actual practice are often never quite the same.
To install a battery-powered video doorbell the process should be straightforward. Charge the batteries, mount the unit next to your front or back door and you are good to go.
If you want to install a hardwired unit, then things are a little more complicated. It’s a job best left to an expert, a competent electrician or someone who understands the workings of electricity.
We’re not aiming to make you an expert or a future video doorbell installer. Just enough installation instructions for you to understand what is involved if you decide to install a video doorbell. After that, you and only you, will have to decide whether to call in an expert.
How to install a video doorbell
Before you buy a video doorbell make sure to check what power source your existing doorbell uses.
Establish whether your home has an existing hardwired doorbell. You can do this by unscrewing your doorbell and see if there are two wired feeding the back of the unit from the house. If there are, then you can replace the unit with a video doorbell and have a continuous power source.
Some hardwired video doorbells have more advanced motion alerts than battery-powered ones – options like specific monitoring zones and 24/7 recording. If you’re considering this level of sophistication, then you may be well advised to hire a professional to install.
If you’d prefer a hardwired video doorbell but don’t have the existing wiring in place, you can either hire an electrician to install a doorbell circuit and chime or buy a plug-in power adapter for the doorbell.
Brands like Ring and Google Nest sell power adapters for their models, and other generic models are also available for retrofitting. But, it’s worth baring in mind that most major brand manufacturers do not recommend using them.
Although battery-powered video doorbells are generally less expensive than wired models, you can still buy a battery-powered unit even if you have existing wiring in place. Some battery-powered models have power terminals so that you can connect them to your home’s existing doorbell wiring.
No matter which model you choose, the one recommendation we would make is to read the instructions before doing anything particularly if you plan on installing it yourself.
Installing a battery-powered video doorbell
Charge the doorbell unit.
Fully charge the unit before you mount it using a micro-USB charger like you get with Ring models and others. A lot of battery powered models need you to remove the unit every time the doorbell needs recharging. But, certain models, like Ring video Doorbell 2 come with removable battery packs. They can be either swapped out or removed without dismounting the doorbell.
How long do batteries last?
Depending on the complexity of the unit, batteries should last anywhere between 1 and 6 months.
Mount the unit to the doorframe or brickwork.
Most battery-powered units come with a mounting bracket to attach to doorframes. If you want to attack to brickwork you may have to source your own mounting bracket or change existing ones.
Once the brackets are attached then you can mount the doorbell. Remember, once completed that you should secure the security screws in the bottom of the doorbell. These are specialist screws that prevent your video doorbell being stolen.
Set up the doorbell App.
To get video footage from the doorbell on your phone, tablet or computer or integrate your smart home, you’ll have to set up the doorbell’s App and set up an account.
Once you’ve installed the App connect the doorbell to your home’s Wi-Fi network. Depending on your Wi-Fi coverage you may need to buy an extender to boost the Wi-Fi signal. Brands like Ring offer extenders that double as chimes for their doorbells.
Once set up and connected you should be able to set up and customize the setting on your unit. With the more advanced video doorbells, you can make customizations for motion sensitivity, person detection and video recording length.
Often units are set to maximum motion detection sensitivity as standard. So, you’ll have to make adjustments unless you want the unit to trigger every tome a car drives down the road.
Also if the unit allows it’s a good idea to set up two-factor authentication at this point. This will make it more difficult for strangers to hack into your account and override the unit.
Plug in and set up the doorbell chime.
If your battery-powered doorbell doesn’t come with a built-in chime, then it’s worth purchasing one. You’ll get alerts on your phone’s doorbell app but a chime lets other people in the house know someone is at the door. Once you plug in the chime, follow the set-up instructions, and connect it to your Wi-Fi.
Installing a hardwired video doorbell
Isolate the power circuit
First, find and isolate the power to your doorbell. You are looking for the existing circuit. You can either isolate the circuit breaker that controls that circuit or switch off the power.
Inspect the doorbell transformer
The first task is to find the transformer. If it is not obvious or inside the doorbell chime box you may need to look elsewhere. Take look in crawl spaces and track the sound back to the chime whilst the circuit breaker is live.
To run, a doorbell transformer needs the correct amount of voltage: typically, between 16 and 24 volts. If the power feed is less than 16 volts, then there will not be enough power to make the doorbell work. If the power feed is higher than this, then it may cause the doorbell unit to fault. If your transformer’s power lies outside the ideal range above, replace it by reconnecting the new unit to the old wiring’s corresponding terminals.
Inspect and rewire your doorbell chime
Take the cover of the existing chime unit to establish whether it is mechanical or digital.
This is an important step, as it will determine what you need to do next to get your new video doorbell to ring your existing chime. Mechanical chimes make use of a small hammer striking the chime once activated. Digital chimes use small speakers that play a tune.
If you have a digital chime, you may need to install a special diode at the wire ends that connects to the doorbell. With units like the Ring Video Doorbell 2 the wire that connects the chime to the doorbell is usually labelled “front” in the chime.
Other video doorbells, like the Google Nest Hello and Ring Doorbell Video Pro have a special adapter installed in the chime itself. regardless of whether the chime is mechanical or digital. It is important to check the instructions to establish what you need for your video doorbell.
Remove the existing doorbell
Unscrew your existing doorbell casing and disconnect the wires from the terminals on the back of the doorbell. If the wires are too short you may have to extend them before fitting to the new unit by adding push-on, crimped or twist-on splices. Reconnect the wires to the new unit.
Mount the new video doorbell
Mount the doorbell in exactly the same way as the battery-powered doorbell.
Attach the mounting bracket or screw the unit to the brickwork. Whatever you do, make sure the two wires pass through the centre of the fixing bracket before securing to the wall or door frame. Then attach the two wires to the terminals at the back of the video doorbell. It does not matter which wire attached to which terminal as this will not affect the unit’s functioning. Finally secure the unit with the security screws to stop theft.
Reconnect the power and set up the doorbell using the smartphone App
Download the doorbell’s smartphone, for example the Ring app. You can download the app on many devices.) create an account, follow the instructions to set up the doorbell.It will connect the doorbell to your Wi-Fi. You may need an extender if your signal is weak.
When you first set up your bell you may find that rustling trees set off the motion detection. You can adjust the motion sensitivity and set up intelligent alerts using the app. Look out for settings such as person detection or package detection.
Last but not least, if it’s available be sure to set up two-factor authentication. It will help protect your account from getting hacked.