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Video doorbell vs. security camera

When creating your smart home and considering increasing its security, cameras are one of the first things that come to mind. The two most significant categories of cameras to improve security include video doorbells and security cameras. The trouble comes when figuring out which will be a better choice for you.

There are various things to consider when choosing between video doorbells and security cameras. Things to evaluate include installation, which will have better video coverage, and ultimately which is better for your wallet, short and long term. We’ll cover all of these considerations below to help you decide which option or maybe both is better for your security needs.


The Arlo Pro 4 home security camera installed outdoors.

When it comes to video doorbells, the installation process is pretty straightforward. You install them on the front of your home, where your doorbell is (or would be), and there are wired and wireless models. The wired versions attach to your existing doorbell wires. They are low-static, so you don’t have to worry about getting shocked.

The best thing about video doorbells besides their easy installation. Unfortunately, they only show you what’s happening in the front of your home, which may be perfect for apartments but not ideal for standalone houses. Their easy installation also means they are easier to steal if someone has ill intent in mind.

Security cameras are on the opposite end of the spectrum in regards to installation because you can virtually put them anywhere inside or outside of your home. If you’re creative enough, one well-placed camera can view the inside and outside of your home.

So with the ability to place security cameras anywhere being their main pro, the con is that they can be more challenging to install. This issue occurs more when deviating from new-age smart cameras to old school NVR style cameras. Wiring and power cables can require professional installation.

Verdict: When it comes to installation, we recommend security cameras. They have much better customization in terms of where you place them, and depending on which models you get, they can be easy to install.

Video Coverage

Finger pressing the Eufy Security Video Doorbell Dual.

The main thing you’ll want with either option is video coverage with decent resolution. Video doorbells have a wide-angle lens that provides a pretty decent field of view of the front of your house. Most models nowadays have unique, innovative features to detect particular objects and people’s faces. That said, they may not be the best to see things farther away from the front door — like someone standing on the curb.

Security cameras are offering higher quality throughout and seeing objects farther away. They can be set to view all different angles around your house and many can even adjust their angles. The night vision is typically better as well, with security cameras to protect your home day or night.

Verdict: Once again, security cameras take the win because they have better quality resolution and a wider area of coverage.


The cost of smart home items is always hard to judge when they belong to popular categories. For example, security cameras can come in DVR and NVR versions, as well as smart or basic models. In general, security cameras tend to cost more than their doorbell counterparts — especially if you get outside cameras or dual-purpose ones.

Video doorbells typically won’t cost more than $200 MSRP. You can lessen the load on your wallet when you stray away from the more prominent name brands or specific features. Choosing battery-powered over wireless is one way to lower the price of a video doorbell. Also, due to its nature, you’ll usually only buy one doorbell, whereas you may end up choosing multiple security cameras.

Verdict: Video doorbells are the clear winner in the price category, and if your main worry is price, choose small brand names.


Overall, choosing between a security camera and a video doorbell comes down to answering a few questions. If you’re looking at cost over everything and mainly only need to monitor the front of your home, then a video doorbell is the answer. On the other hand, if you have a different area of your home you want to cover or enjoy a better view of the front of your house, possibly from a different angle, then a security camera is better.

In some cases, companies offer both video doorbells and security cameras, such as Nest or Ring. You could then essentially use a security camera as your video doorbell without the ringing functionality. The argument and comparison are still the same and will give you a pricier, better-quality front door camera.

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