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How Do Doorbell Cameras Work?

Jan 20, 2023|

Having a doorbell camera — also called a video doorbell — is becoming as much a necessity in today’s security-conscious world as having a lock on your front door.

Along with giving homeowners a stronger sense of safety, doorbell security cameras have also become a convenience. Many even allow you to answer or even open your door from anywhere, as well as see and speak with a visitor remotely. So, more and more people expect to have them as part of their smart home system.

If you’re tired of looking through your door’s peephole to see who’s there, you might want to consider purchasing a smart doorbell camera. This guide explains how a smart video doorbell works and answers all your doorbell cam questions.

Woman ringing a Vivint doorbell camera.

What are doorbell cameras, and how do they work?

Generally speaking, a doorbell camera is a doorbell that’s been enhanced with a motion detector, a built-in video camera, and a speaker. When activated, the smart doorbell records activities outside your door and parts of your front yard and the surrounding area.

Doorbell cameras are Wi-Fi-enabled devices that can connect with your smartphone through an app like the Vivint app, allowing you to:

  • Receive alerts when someone is at your door
  • Talk to people standing just outside your home
  • Watch what’s happening in real time
  • Watch recordings of previous activity on your front porch or entryway

Here’s how it works.

The doorbell camera connects to your house’s existing doorbell system and your home’s Wi-Fi connection. When someone pushes the doorbell, a chime goes off, just like with a regular doorbell.

But even before they reach the doorway to ring the bell, the person is recorded. The motion detector connected to the video doorbell is triggered by their approach.

You’re then alerted to their presence, and you can open the doorbell camera app on your phone or smart hub (like the Vivint Smart Hub) and see a live video feed of the person standing outside your door.

Even if you miss the alert, you can rest assured that the doorbell camera has recorded their presence on your property, allowing you to review it later.

Let’s be neighbors.

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Do doorbell cameras record all the time?

Doorbell cameras — like the Vivint Doorbell Camera Pro (Gen 2)— begin recording as soon as the cameras detect a visitor. If you prefer to customize your cameras, you can set them to record when doors are opened, when someone locks or unlocks doors with the keypad, when motion inside is detected, or if the alarm is triggered.

Usually, videos captured by the system will stay in cloud storage for up to 10 hours.

How long do doorbell cameras record?

Since they use motion sensors, most doorbell cameras’ video recording functions continue as long as the device detects motion. Once the motion stops, the video doorbell camera will stop recording.

How are doorbell cameras powered?

Video doorbells have one of three types of power sources. Some get their power through the home’s existing doorbell hardwiring. Wired doorbells, like Vivint’s Doorbell Camera Pro, are preferred by people who want the peace of mind that comes with knowing that the doorbell camera is going to be working when you need it.

As an alternative to hardwired doorbells, some people choose wireless doorbells, as they don’t have to be hardwired to the existing doorbell system’s power. These systems are powered through a rechargeable battery pack. This type of system is often chosen by renters who may not want to seek their landlord’s permission to install a hardwired device.

And the rest come with solar panels that can be used to automatically recharge the batteries. If you’re not sure which works best for you, a video doorbell pro can make a recommendation.

Do doorbell cameras need Wi-Fi?

Most doorbell cameras need Wi-Fi to function fully. For example, with the Vivint Doorbell Camera Pro, you’ll need Wi-Fi to use the device’s two-way talk feature, record and save video, and get notifications on your phone after motion detection.

Children ringing a Vivint doorbell.

Why should I add a doorbell camera to my home?

Not only do the best video doorbells protect your privacy, your possessions, your home, and your family, but they can also provide a load of convenience.

You can choose whether you want to answer the door

There are plenty of times you might not want to answer the door. Maybe you’re still in your pajamas and don’t really feel like getting dressed to welcome uninvited guests.

You might be looking to avoid a salesperson, a political canvasser, or a visit from your ex. Maybe your next-door neighbor’s kid is a girl scout trying to peddle cookies, and you already have a freezer full of Thin Mints.

Whatever the reason you don’t feel like answering the doorbell, a doorbell camera lets you see a live video of who’s at your door — so you can make an informed decision about whether to answer the door.

Speak with visitors from anywhere with two-way talk

With two-way audio capabilities, you can speak to someone at your door even if you’re not home. Say you’re running late to meet a houseguest, or you want to tell that neighborhood kid with the Girl Scout cookies to return later — a doorbell camera lets you speak to visitors in real-time from anywhere.

Find out when packages arrive so you can keep them safe

You can set your app so that you receive motion alerts if there’s any activity in front of your house. That way, you’ll know if a package has arrived, and you can take steps to secure it.

Vivint Doorbell Camera Pro even has a Smart Deter feature to catch porch pirates — people who lay in wait to steal packages delivered to unoccupied homes — and scare them away. The Doorbell Camera Pro intuitively detects when someone is trying to take a package. It then activates a bright LED ring around the doorbell and a 90 dB speaker, letting the potential thief know they’ve been caught on camera.

Track your family coming and going

Doorbell cameras offer working parents peace of mind by letting them know when their kids enter or leave the house. The motion alerts you to anyone coming or going and also allows parents to know who else is entering the house.

And if you don’t want the kids answering the door without your permission, you can look at who’s at the door and then let your kids know whether it’s safe to open up.

View movement at night

Most doorbell cameras like the Vivint Doorbell Camera Pro have night vision, which means that any suspicious movements outside your front door can be detected and recorded, even if it’s pitch black out.

Deter intruders

Most home burglaries happen from mid-morning to mid-afternoon when houses are most likely to be empty. Often, intruders will ring a house’s doorbell before they try to make illegal entry to verify that nobody is home.

With a doorbell camera, you’ll be notified that someone is ringing the doorbell, will be able to see who it is, and can answer them through the microphone and act like you’re home, scaring the would-be burglars away.


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Doorbell cameras from Vivint

Vivint, a recognized leader in home security, offers advanced and user-friendly doorbell cameras. For example, the Vivint Doorbell Camera Pro (Gen 2) takes video doorbell technology to the next level with these enhanced features:

  • A bright LED ring and 90 dB speaker that activate the second someone tries to remove an item from outside your door
  • A wired and constantly connected camera with a 180° x 180° field of view — the tallest and widest of any doorbell camera — that also features powerful infrared night vision and crystal-clear 1080p HDR resolution
  • Customizable surveillance zones that allow the Doorbell Camera Pro to protect your entire porch or just a specific part of it, eliminating false alarms triggered by pets and pedestrians
  • An easy-to-use notification system that can be set to your specifications so that you only receive notifications that matter

Whether you choose professional installation or prefer to DIY, a Vivint video doorbell can be a good solution for your home.

Discover the ultimate home security solutions from Vivint

A doorbell camera from Vivint can offer your family a new level of convenience, heightened security, and some precious peace of mind.

If you’re interested in learning more about doorbell cameras and seeing what other Vivint smart home technologies can make your life even easier, contact one of our Vivint pros at 855.822.1220 today.

Get a free quote today.

A Vivint Smart Home Pro will contact you within 24 hours. Or skip the form and call now: 844.481.8630.

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*Offer Details

Qualifying system purchase requires minimum $599.99 expenditure on equipment after all discounts have been applied, professional installation, and execution of Vivint monitoring services agreement. Click here for monthly service plan prices. DIY system purchases and reactivations of previously-installed systems not eligible for offer. Offer not available in all states or provinces. Equipment purchase may be financed separately subject to an agreement with one of Vivint's third-party financing partners. Monthly $1.48 cellular network maintenance fee applies. Taxes and local permit fees may apply.

Third-Party Financing Options Available

Financing eligibility and terms subject to credit approval by one of Vivint's third-party financing partners. Qualified customers may finance equipment purchase at 0% APR for up to 60 months. Month-to-month service agreement available when equipment is purchased upfront.

Vivint Systems & Services

System supports up to six cameras subject to sufficient WiFi speeds. Without a Vivint services plan, product and system functionality is limited (including loss of remote connectivity). Speak to a Vivint representative at the phone number in this offer for complete equipment, services, and package details, including pricing and financing details. Products and services in Louisiana provided by Vivint Louisiana Commercial Certificate #58280. See Vivint license numbers here.