When you think about a doorbell, it’s likely you’re thinking of a wired one that connects to a transformer, chime and push button and requires power to work. On the other hand, wireless doorbells utilize batteries and don’t require any kind of connection to an outlet to work.


How does a wired doorbell camera work?


A wired doorbell gets power via wires that connect to the doorbell’s transformer. The transformer takes the standard electrical output and lowers it to a more manageable (and lower) voltage of about 10 to 24 volts.

The transformer connects to the pushbutton and the doorbell chime, bell or buzzer. If you want to upgrade your home to a new pushbutton or chime, you may need to upgrade your transformer, too. This is especially true if you're going to elevate your traditional doorbell to a smart doorbell or video doorbell since they often need 16-30 volts of power.

Once you push the button, a piece of metal inside the doorbell presses against other wires to complete the electrical circuit to ring the chime. When you take your finger off the button, the electrical circuit is broken and the chime stops ringing. 


Pros of a wired doorbell:

  • If individual components break down, it’s easy to buy replacement parts instead of a new unit.

  • No interference between other wireless connections.

  • It continues to work, even if you have an internet outage.

  • Low to no maintenance.

  • Many different options for the design, especially different colors, shapes or styles.

  • You never need to remember to change or charge the battery.


Cons of a wired doorbell:

  • More complicated to install than wireless doorbells.

  • Older homes may need an upgraded transformer to work with a newer or video doorbell.

  • It may be complicated to install, especially if you don’t have any experience, and setup requires wiring and drilling.

  • It may be difficult to remove once it’s installed, so you’ll have to buy a new one when you move.


How do wireless doorbells work?


A battery-operated, wireless doorbell works in integration with a doorbell transmitter and chime box receiver. Once the pushbutton is pressed, it sends radio signals to the receiver that picks up these signals that trigger the buzzer.

Since wireless doorbells work with a battery, they’re a flexible option for many different types of homes.


Pros of wireless doorbells:

  • A battery-operated doorbell can go with you when you move.

  • You can personalize the chime.

  • Easy integration with other smart devices around your home.

  • Set up motion-activated alerts and receive notifications straight to your phone.

  • Wire-free options offer a sleek design that cuts down on extraneous cords.

  • Because these doorbells connect to the internet, you’ll always have the latest software and operating system. 


Cons of wireless doorbells:

  • Can be more expensive than wired doorbells.

  • Designs for these doorbells are often very simplistic and limited.

  • Must have a working internet connection to view live footage.

  • Because it uses radio signals, there is a chance of radio interference.

  • You’ll need to re-charge the batteries periodically.


Video doorbells vs. smart home security cameras


Video doorbells are just one component of a smart home security system. A complete smart home security system can include a wide array of smart devices, like a smart lock, smart thermostat or smart plug, as well motion-detecting sensors, and indoor and outdoor cameras. Usually, these items integrate with the smart hub or the “brains” of the security system, making it easy for your independent, smart accessories to work together.

Ultimately, what kind of home security system you need is up to you. But we recommend a combination of home security features to help make your home safer, instead of using just a singular device.


Why would you want a video doorbell camera?


At its most basic, a doorbell video camera is a device that is set to record activity at your front door. It helps keep an eye on your front porch and makes it easy to see who is coming and going. These days, video doorbells do more than show you who is at your front door

If you’re not sure if a video doorbell is for you, here are a few questions to ask yourself:

  • Do you want to see what’s happening on your porch after dark?

  • Do you want to communicate with guests at your front door? Either to tell solicitors you’re not interested or to inform a delivery driver where to place a package?

  • Do you want to know if a package arrived on your porch, even after you get a delivery notice? 

  • If your package is stolen, do you want video footage you can give to the police?

  • Do you want to know when the pet sitter or babysitter arrives at your home?

  • Do you want to speak to an unwanted guest, even if you’re not home?

There are a lot of perks to having a video doorbell installed on your home, but the main draw of these doorbells is that you can record and view live footage of whatever is happening on your front porch.


Pros of a video doorbell camera:

  • View your front door anywhere you have an internet connection.

  • Two-way audio makes it easy to speak with people who come to your front door, from solicitors to delivery drivers.

  • Keep an eye on packages and ensure that the delivery driver drops them off.

  • Have video evidence of a porch theft you can give directly to the authorities.

  • Often easy to set up since many are battery-operated.


Cons of a video doorbell camera:

  • You must have an internet connection to view live footage.

  • Has a more limited field of view than an outdoor camera.

  • Internal parts tend to wear out more quickly than other types of doorbells.


Smart doorbell vs. outdoor security camera, which one should I choose?

Using both a smart doorbell and outdoor security camera will give you the best coverage of your home. A doorbell is excellent at capturing anything that gets close to the door, while an outdoor camera provides you with a more complete picture of the surrounding area.

Doorbell Cameras vs Outdoor Cameras

Smart video doorbell

Outdoor camera

Speak with people once they get to your door. See who is approaching your door; many also offer 2-way audio.
View what’s happening on your porch after dark. View what’s happening in your yard after dark.
Monitor your porch while you’re away. Wall-mounted.
Door-mounted. Best for: Monitoring a larger, more general part of your home—the porch, yard and driveway.


Do video doorbells work with other smart home devices?

Since a video doorbell is just one component of a home security setup, it’s often easy to integrate with other smart home security features.

For example, if you also have a smart lock, you can use your video doorbell to see who is at your front door and then let them in if it’s an expected guest.


Let ADT help protect your home—from the front door and beyond.


We hope that you have a better understanding of wired and wireless doorbells and that you know a bit more about video doorbells, too. Whatever doorbell you choose, look no further than ADT.


Frequently Asked Questions about Wired and Wireless Doorbells

Do all wired doorbells need a transformer?

Yes, every wired doorbell needs to connect to a transformer. The transformer converts the typical voltage from an outlet into the lower voltage needed for a doorbell to work correctly.  The transformer powers your doorbell’s pushbutton as well as the chime or buzzer.

Do wired doorbells need a battery?

Your wired doorbell runs off the electricity in your home, so it doesn’t need a battery to function.

Can my doorbell get wet?

Many doorbells are waterproof but may also be snow-, sand-, and heat- and cold-proof, too. You should always make sure that whatever doorbell you get can handle your local weather and climate conditions.

Where is the footage from the smart doorbell stored?

The video footage is often stored in the cloud, including the battery-operated Google Nest doorbell. If your video doorbell disconnects from the internet, the footage is then stored locally to the internal memory until it re-connects back to Nest Wi-Fi.

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