Post By Simon Montford on March 20, 2017
Unlike most people, I recently purchased a wireless doorbell for my home-office instead of for my front door in order to avoid interruptions when I'm working. When a family member needs me they simply press a doorbell in the hallway. Using a wireless doorbell in this way would have saved Prof Robert Kelly the embarrassment of this hilarious interruption that took place during a live BBC interview. He and his family are now social media superstars after it went viral, but in a subsequent interview he said that after the mishap he never expected to hear from the BBC again!
A wireless doorbell, therefore, can be a great addition to your home. Unlike me, if you want to use it in a more conventional way, performance is key, particularly if you live in a large property. Previous generations of wireless doorbells lacked range, so didn't meet customer expectations, but today most on offer provide a viable alternative to conventional doorbells. Let's take a look, therefore, at why you should consider a wireless doorbell for your smarthome.
Firstly, a wireless doorbell can be a great option for people who own a mobile home, or like the freedom of not being tethered to a fixed location. In my case, I lived on a houseboat for many years, which was great fun.
The second reason for opting for a wireless device is the convenience of moving into temporary or rented accommodation. Perhaps you live in student digs, affordable housing, or you rent an apartment. In all these cases, you may wish to avoid physical wiring or may be prohibited from doing so. In most cases the budget wireless devices work very well in small spaces where range is less of an issue. The best thing of all is that when you decide to leave the property, you can take the system with you!
The third reason for going wireless is it makes an ideal replacement. Examples include elderly residents who require a louder bell as their hearing deteriorates, and properties that need a replacement due to poor installation or faulty wiring. Going wireless avoids the need to call on the services of a professional electrician, or in the case of DIY enthusiasts meddle with wiring, which can be a total nightmare, particularly in older properties. Not only could you start an electrical fire, but you could run the risk of electrocution.
Most wireless versions have signal strength of between 75 and 150 feet. This is sufficient for most small homes. However, if you need something with a longer range, some products are capable of extending to a range of over 300 feet. Another way to extend the range is to opt for a range amplifier. One thing to bear in mind is that if a property has metal walls or multiple storeys this may affect the range and performance of the system.
For all the reasons previously mentioned, an increasing number of people are deciding to go wireless, but there are a few things you should know before you purchase a system. As with most products, you get what your pay for and not all wireless doorbells are created equal. Generally speaking, cheaper versions should be avoided, because they lack features and signal strength. Don't waste your money on these devices, instead start by exploring what the moderately priced options offer in terms of features and range, and work your way up from there. If you need all the bells and whistles and you need the maximum range available (300+ feet), then expect to pay over $50.
You will also need to take into account that some things in the home may cause signal interference. In addition to metal walls or multiple floors, you may need a product that allows you to adjust to different frequencies. This is because the airways are becoming increasingly crowded. For example, your wireless doorbell may experience interference from connected gadgets owned by your neighbours. Examples of things that can operate on the same frequency are garage door openers and car alarm clickers. By being able to adjust to different frequencies you can easily solve this problem. In most cases, cheaper options will lack this feature.
Another thing you will want to make sure is included is the ability to select from a large number of different chimes. Being stuck with a budget doorbell that offers only a limited number of annoying tunes will lead to acute irritation in the long run, so do yourself a favour and make sure this doesn't happen!
Hopefully you will now have a better understanding of why you should get a wireless doorbell for your smarthome, and to help you make the right decision, here is a summary of our recommendations:
1. Wireless Range
The normal range for most wireless doorbells is between 75 (23m) and 150 (46m) feet. This will provide the appropriate range for a small home. Bear in mind obstructions such as metal walls will affect performance. The very best product can extend to a maximum of approx 450 feet (140m). Range can be boosted via amplifiers, but they must be purchased at additional cost.
2. Energy Source
Devices can be either battery or mains powered. The type of batteries will depending on the form factor of each device.
3. Chime Options
Some devices allow you to record your own custom chimes. You can therefore create themed chimes throughout the year, perhaps a ho ho ho during the festive season and soothing bird song in spring. This feature isn't for everyone, but it's bound to be a hit with young kids.
4. Price Range
Superior products will start at around $50, but you'll get a superior device that offers better build quality, more features, and greater range than budget models costing less.
Hopefully you will now have a better understanding of why you should get a wireless doorbell for your smarthome. Good luck, and post your comments, product reviews, tips and recommendations below.
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