Smart Video Doorbells – What installers need to know

Perfect for homeowners who want to monitor their homes while they are away and have the peace of mind of an extra layer of security, smart video doorbells have become increasingly popular. However, there’s more to installing them than meets the eye, Installer outlines what needs to be considered:

Smart video doorbells are highly convenient, especially in this age of online shopping when deliveries can take place at any time of the day. They also serve as an effective security measure, monitoring activity and protecting homes from potential criminals. These internet-enabled devices combine a camera, microphone and doorbell function into a single unit, making it possible to see, hear and record visitors. Typically, they connect to Wi-Fi and a smartphone app, allowing for live viewing anytime, anyplace or anywhere.

Form and function

A smart video doorbell must be wired correctly to ensure compliant electrical safety and maximum functionality. First and foremost, it must comply with BS 7671 18th Edition of the Wiring Regulations but, in addition, if the installation involves new wiring or significant changes to the existing electrical system, it must be certified according to Part P of the Building Regulations.

Most smart video doorbells require a low-voltage power supply – 8-24VAC – but if any existing wiring operates on a different voltage, a compatible transformer could need to be installed. If it does, the transformer should be located near the consumer unit and connected to the mains supply using a fused connection unit (FCU) rated at 3A or an appropriate circuit breaker in the consumer unit.

The low-voltage cable should then be run from the transformer to the chime unit and from the chime unit to the push button. It is advisable to use cable clips or conduit to secure the cable and keep it tidy, while the ends of the wires should be stripped and connected to the appropriate terminals on the transformer, chime unit and push button. Typically, there are two wires from the transformer to the chime unit and two wires from the chime unit to the push button.

Point of view

When it comes to fitting a smart video doorbell an electrical contractor will also have other considerations besides safe wiring. To maximise visibility, it will need to be located at an appropriate height to provide a clear view of visitors’ faces, as well as any packages left on the doorstep. Therefore, it is important to test different positions before final installation to ensure it captures the widest possible area without obstruction. Although adequate lighting is important, it is advisable to avoid direct sunlight, which can cause glare. Likewise, if an entryway is dark, consider adding external lighting to enhance nighttime visibility.

A smart video doorbell should be sheltered from extreme weather conditions. Most of them are weather resistant, but prolonged exposure to rain or direct sunlight can still impact performance over time. It is advisable to choose one that is IP65 rated, as this level of protection ensures that the device remains functional even in challenging weather conditions such as heavy rain. Installing the device under an eave or porch, if possible, can provide additional protection.

Giving off signals

Good Wi-Fi connectivity is essential, as smart video doorbells often require significant bandwidth to stream high-definition images. Put simply, the closer a smart video doorbell is to a Wi-Fi router the better in order to ensure a strong and stable connection. If the router is located far from the smart video doorbell where signal strength is lower, a Wi-Fi extender can be used to give it a boost.

It also worth remembering that many modern routers offer quality of service (QoS) settings that make it possible to prioritise signal strength to certain devices. Configure the router to prioritise the smart video doorbell, ensuring it gets the bandwidth it needs for smooth operation. Manufacturers often release updates to improve performance and fix connectivity issues, so homeowners should keep their device updated to ensure it operates at peak efficiency. Many of these set-up functions can be optimised by using the manufacturer’s app, including Wi-Fi configuration and notification settings.

Just the start

Smart video doorbells are quickly becoming a must-have home feature and will evolve quickly to incorporate advanced artificial intelligence based detection and facial recognition functionality. By becoming familiar with this technology, electrical contractors are in a great position to deliver high-quality installations that comply with all necessary regulations and provide homeowners with enhanced security and convenience.