FAQ: Networked Doorbells as of August 2015 (deprecated--see 2016 FAQ instead)

FThere are always a lot of questions about the possibility of a networked doorbell. Right now, April 2015, ring is running a lot of television commercials, and that is generating a lot of forum discussion.

So here’s a FAQ on what’s currently available. I expect many things will change going forward so this FAQ will have to be either updated or may eventually just get out of date. But for August 2015, it’s current.

THE BIG PROBLEM: WEATHER

The biggest problem for any doorbell system is the part that outside. Obviously this is less of a problem if you live in an area with temperate climate. But if you live in an area that gets very cold or very hot, many sensors will have difficulty. So just keep that in mind when looking at the options.

OPTION 1: PURPOSE BUILT ALL IN ONE UNITS LIKE SKYBELL. TYPICAL COST $200 AND UP

Right now, the networked doorbell units you can buy include video, probably to help justify their high cost. Unfortunately the video doesn’t work great. Also these will not integrate out of the box with smart things, although you might eventually be able to get a web service connection, or IFTTT.

Discussion in the following topic:

OPTION 2: PURPOSE BUILT TWO PIECE UNITS LIKE EVERSPRING. TYPICAL COST $150 AND UP.

One zwave device company, everspring, has been making a two-piece Zwave doorbell for several years. The problem is weather. They are normally a maker of inexpensive devices, and they just haven’t been able to come up with a weatherproof casing for the outside button that meets the price range they are trying to hit.

You used to be able to buy this doorbell in the United States, but it has since been withdrawn because of too many returns. The picture is still on the manufacturer’s site, but is no longer sold in the US.

You can still buy it in Europe, but of course it operates on European zwave frequencies, so if you buy one from a German site it will not integrate with smartthings in the US. They seem to mostly be in use by people who have an atrium entrance where the button is outside the unit but still inside the building.

The failure of this device, which was on the market for several years, is probably why there aren’t a lot of other similar devices available now.

http://www.everspringamerica.com/products-page/automation/z-wave-door-bell-set-utse03a/

OPTION 3: PURPOSE BUILT BUTTON ONLY 2GIG DOORBELL ? (Probably won’t work with smartthings)

The CONTROL 4 Version has been around for a while, is nicely weatherproof, is very expensive, and uses a proprietary dialect which only works with control four. So you will see them available, but I don’t know of anyone who has one working with smartthings.

However 2gig has just released an under $40 version for their GoControl panel. The GoControl panel uses zwave, but I suspect the doorbell itself does not. If anyone has tried it, let us know.

Also, some retailers are just describing it as a Z wave device, while others say that it talks to the go control panel and it is the panel that issues the Z wave commands. I have been unable to find a zwave conformance statement for this. If anyone has one, let us know if it’s actually zwave or if it’s a proprietary panel communication.

edited to add after further research it looks more and more to me like this doorbell is not a Z wave device, in spite of some retailers saying that it is. I think it transmits on the Honeywell/aDemco frequency, and so likely cannot be used with smartthings. But if anyone knows differently, let us know.

OPTION 4: AEOTEC SIREN?

when Aeon Labs first announced their new siren, they said it might be used as a doorbell when set to very low volume, and they promised an add on pushbutton. However when the siren was actually released to market, no add button was available. My own guess, and it’s purely a guess, is that they ran into the weatherproofing issues for the outdoor piece.

They’re now promising a separate doorbell device to be sold in the summer of 2015. A few early units were available for sale in May 2015, but then it was withdrawn again. So we’ll have to wait to see what that looks like.

More discussion in the following topic:

OPTION 5: A SMART WELCOME MAT. TYPICAL COST UNDER $100

Boats docked at a marina often use a smart pressure Mat as a doorbell. These mats are made to be weatherproof although you still need to wire them to a contact sensor that includes the actual zwave antenna. (So typically you spend around $40 for the mat and another $40 for the device with the antenna.) You could even put the antenna inside a plastic relay box, or run the cable all the way inside the house. It just gives you a lot of options.

Once the contact is closed by someone standing on the mat, you then need to do something to create a chime. This might be through networked connection to a sound system, or even sending a text to a phone.

So essentially this approach gives you the weatherproofed outside piece, and then you need to do something programmatically to create The chime.

More details in the following topic:

OPTION 6: HACKING THE INDOOR PIECE BY ADDING A NETWORKED SENSOR. TYPICAL COST UNDER $100

Over the years, many people have hacked the indoor piece of A two piece doorbell by adding some kind of sensor that was attached to a Z wave antenna. This might be a contact sensor, it might be a magnetic sensor, it might even be a sensor that simply detected the vibration from the chime sounding.

A vibration sensor can probably be put on the outside case of the chime and work. The other methods would require opening up the case of the chime to get close to the internals.

Because I am always concerned about electrical fires, I personally would be fine with a vibration sensor on the outside of the case. As soon as you open the case and put a battery operated device very close to the wiring of the chime, I get nervous. But that’s just me.

There are many threads in the forum and videos on the Internet showing different hacks of this type. So if you look around you should be able to find a lot to consider.

Or just try a vibration sensor. That would certainly be the easiest for this option. Here’s a very simple, no wiring required example using a vibration sensor:

OPTION 6B: USE AN ACOUSTIC SENSOR

This is the same basic idea as 6. There are very few acoustic sensors on the market because of all the false alarms, except for the ones that listen for a very specific pattern, like glass break detectors. Quirky has announced one, but never released it.

There is one that has been on the market for about two years. Quality is supposed to be good, but it’s very expensive:$150 for the multisensor. There’s an API, but I don’t know if anyone’s integrated it with SmartThings yet. You might be able to use the text to IFTTT method.

Not perfect, but still interesting, especially for a no wire solution.

OPTION 7: KUNA LANTERN. $199

If you’re truly just looking for the ability to see who is at your door, the Kuna lantern ($199 at Amazon) is an interesting option. This is what I ended up going with.

The Kuna replaces your existing porch light. It is a Wi-Fi device, right now no direct integration with smartthings although some community members are looking into it.

The Kuna combines a porch light, motion triggered camera, one way intercom, and a panic button siren.

When someone approaches the light, you get a little chime sound notification in the app on your phone or tablet. You can then open the app and see live video. You can speak to the person through the speaker, although you cannot hear what they say. You can also push a panic button icon and a very annoying siren starts.

In my case, this is perfect. Since I’m in a wheelchair, I can be slow to get to the door. This way, I get the sound alert, I see who’s there. I can tell them through the speaker to wait just a minute and I’m on my way. Or if it’s a package delivery I can tell them to just leave it by the door. If by chance I was away from home and it looked like someone trying to break in, I could hit the siren to scare them off before they ever got the door open.

They offer cloud recording for a fee; I haven’t tried that. You can do a screen capture and get a still that way if you’re looking at the app. Or you could set it up at home with an iPad running the app and reflector on a mac and use airplay to actually record the video, but that would probably only be worth it if you already had the devices. Like I say I haven’t looked into their cloud recording. I have a separate security system so don’t really need it for that.

But as a substitute for a video door bell, I like it a lot. The position of the camera in the porch light is actually better, I think then one at doorbell height.

Anyway just one more option. Further discussion of the Kuna here:

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Option 7: Z-Wave Doorbell from a Wireless Doorbell + Door/Window Sensor

Your option 7 is one example of the option 6 in the FAQS, hacking the indoor piece by adding a networked sensor. :wink: Thanks for adding it, I didn’t have an in forum link and I’m sure people will be interested.

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Option 8: Doorbell
This thread includes 2 methods of hacking the indoor piece. Neither one should cause concern about messing with the original wiring. All the added stuff can stay outside the original doorbell box in the relay example. And the second option just adds a magnetic reed switch inside the doorbell…enjoy.

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“Alternative Method” Let’s invent our own device. Community brainstorm session? How much could is possibly cost to fund the design of a product that we all want to work with ST as well as just work in general!? Ideas? I’m open to tinkering and purchasing items to do so. What are we really talking here for just a simple trial and error project?

Option 9: The wackware-bell with MIMOlite. It’s been perfect for me for six months or so with instant notifications. I already have a cam on the porch area. Also works well with a Homeboy if your porch is protected from the elements.

Note, will cause MIMOlite “device failed to update mesh info” message during Z-wave network repairs since the device only powers up for a second when someone rings the doorbell. So that slows down your Z-wave network repairs by a few minutes. No big deal though.

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, I’m going to fork this to a new topic so we don’t clutter the FAQ. :wink:

Please continue the project discussion in the following topic:

I implemented Option 5 above and it works great. I didn’t even need to add an audible bell since I just use my connected Sonos to make the doorbell sound when someone stands on the mat. The only quirky thing about this solution is the default state when nobody is on the mat is open and the state when someone steps on it is closed, which is opposite of how most door trigger activities are written. This is easily solved by writing your own to play a sound when the pseudo door closes. Another quirk is our dog likes to sit outside our front door on the porch and when she does the bell rings constantly. I’m thinking of writing a version of the code that will detect this and eliminate false alarms but I haven’t figured out how to avoid the first ring without getting a smaller/lighter dog - LOL.

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Any updates on which (if any) networked doorbells can integrate with ST? Looks like Ring seems to be a solid choice, but not sure if it can integrate with ST…

No one has yet integrated Ring with SmartThings that I know of, although a number of community members have it. See the FAQ post above under Option 1.

Hi,

Anyone tried to integarte Ring with ST v2 which has the video monitoring feature?

Regards,

Lots of community members have them, but no integration with SmartThings as yet.

The ST V2 video monitoring feature is limited to only a very few specific camera models for some technical reasons. See the following topic for discussion:

What about an android app that uses the camera, screen as the button, two way audio etc?

Are you talking about wanting to mount an android device outside your house? I’ve thought about this. If you can find a way to enclose it to protect from weather, I would just have it face backwards with the back camera facing out. Place a smart button like the Iris Smart button outside so that when it’s pushed, you get a notification on your cell phone. Then you just use skype to call the phone outside. On Android, you can have skype set up to auto answer. They can’t see you, but you can see them.

An android outside could be super-useful, with an app. As I’d imagine it, it could
– potentially watch for motion, and say/show a greeting when detected
– offer a PIN pad for arming/dis-arming (changing ST modes or running routines)
– channel two-way audio and video with anyone on the “host list”
– detect license plates or faces and automatically trigger ST rules based on that.

Where do we post and crowdfund some bounties for such? :smile:

how about this for weather proofing it

I can’t edit the first post of this thread anymore, but there is now a newer FAQ that covers several new devices that came out in 2016: