How to Make the Smart Move Installing a Video Doorbell

It’s a tempting DIY project, but there are benefits to having it installed by a professional!

If your grandfather is the kind of fella who always has his tool belt handy and never meets a project he can’t tackle, don’t tell him you’re reading this; he’d never understand why you need to research the installation of a doorbell. Why? A couple of wires, a transformer, a chime mechanism, and a few twists of the screwdriver then…done! Right? We don’t have the heart to tell him that, in the case of doorbells at least, his expertise is borderline obsolete.

Video doorbells, such as Ring, Nest, and Simplisafe, were considered “frontier” technology just a few years ago. Now, tens of millions of American homes have them, with builders installing them as a standard feature. According to SafeHome.org, Strategy Analytics studied the skyrocketing trend of “smart security” in homes and found that in 2020 alone, nearly 45% of American homes had smart doorbells. In 2021, the top selling smart doorbell brands reported sales in the hundreds of thousands of units a month. Strategy Analytics projects that by 2025, over 50 billion connected devices will be used by homeowners everywhere, with smart doorbells ranking fourth on that list.

That’s a lot of new technology that goes well beyond a couple of wires and a few screws.

Your local electrical experts at On Time Electrical want to be sure your installation is done properly so you get maximum safety and service out of your new smart doorbell.

Here are the 4 Top Benefits of having a professional install your video doorbell:

1. Fast, efficient installation; Our electrical experts do this every day and can quickly (and safely) navigate just about every single existing electrical system and doorbell setup out there. We dive right in versus a DIY project that may require research and watching video tutorials online to get started.

2. Placement is critical and doing it right the first time matters: Sounds simple, but you’d be surprised at how many DIY attempts end in a phone call to us. You want to ensure you’re getting maximum visual coverage of your front door area (or wherever you’re placing your video doorbell). We do security assessments at our customers’ homes all the time and we can find the little “blind spots” that a DIYer might miss.

3. Electricity is dangerous: If you’re going to be working with anything connected to your home’s electrical system, you are taking on a potentially deadly risk. Safety steps, such as cutting power at your home’s main electrical panel before you work, are second nature for us.

4. Less post-installation repair: By this, we mean we will measure twice, drill a hole once, and move on. Many DIY projects end up with multiple attempts at placement and drilling screws, so there are repairs after the fact that can range from spackle and repaint to replacement of trim pieces, masonry repair, or extensive rewiring. (Additionally, in the rare event our On Time Electrical expert does need to reposition a video doorbell and leaves an exposed hole, we will fix it at no cost to you. Accountability and responsibility are two important advantages to having a professional install any technology in your home.)

In fairness to your Grandfather’s DIY legacy, we will layout the basic steps below to installing a battery-powered or hard-wired video doorbell.

Things to consider going in:

  • Is your home currently hardwired with a doorbell? One way to check is to unscrew your current non-video doorbell and see if it’s hardwired. If it is, you already have a power source to which the video doorbell can connect.
  • Do video doorbells have to be hardwired? No, there are battery-powered models, but they usually offer less motion alert options. Plus, batteries, unlike wires, can eventually die. If cost is the decision point, you will save a little on upfront cost with battery-powered versus hardwired. In some cases, battery-powered models have power terminals that can be connected to existing doorbell wiring.

How to Install a Battery-Powered Video Doorbell:

Step 1: Charge the doorbell's battery: Read your particular model’s instructions on the optimum length of time required to get a full charge.


Step 2: Mount the doorbell: Most models come with a mounting bracket, but not necessarily the required hardware (screws, drill bits, etc.). We recommend that you inspect the packaging and collect all of the items you will need before you begin so that you do not lose momentum by having to stop mid-installation to hunt down needed items.

Step 3: Set up the doorbell app: In theory, this should be as easy as downloading any other app on your smartphone, tablet, or computer. Once downloaded, you’ll need to follow the prompts to create your account and pair the device with your particular doorbell. You’ll need to be connected to your home’s network via WiFi or cable. Some people opt to get what’s called a “WiFi extender” which is a piece of equipment that boosts your network’s signal to be stronger at the doorbell for optimal video viewing and monitoring. In the app, you’ll also tweak the various program settings, such as motion sensitivity, video recording length, etc.


Step 4: Plug in and set up the doorbell chime: Some video doorbells come with a chime option, others do not. You may have to purchase a chime component separately and install. The app on your phone sends an alert when someone comes near your door, but a separate chime feature lets you know when you have visitors waiting at the front door (versus a delivery person dropping off a package or a passing pedestrian).

How to Install a Wired Video Doorbell:

Step 1: Turn off power at the breaker box: Here is that “potentially lethal danger” point we referenced earlier. You need to make sure you don’t electrocute yourself during the wired installation. Hopefully, you know where in your home your main electrical panel is located and which breaker inside controls your doorbell power. If your circuits are not clearly marked, you will lose some time methodically testing each breaker to see which zone in your home is affected. On the upside, if you take time to mark your breakers during this evolution, you’ll know what’s what the next time you need to cut power to a certain area of your home. You might also have to go around resetting your clocks. The fun of DIY! **IMPORTANT: If you are unsure of how to turn off power to your work area, STOP this project and call On Time Electrical for a professional service call immediately.

Step 2: Locate your existing doorbell’s chime: This is a box inside your home, often located high on a wall relatively close to the front door. Once you do, remove the old chime’s cover (it should pull off easily).

Step 3: Connect the new video doorbell’s chime component: Loosen the screws on your chime’s housing but keep the existing wires in place. These wires will connect to your new video doorbell’s chime component. You’ll connect one end to the existing doorbell’s front terminal and the other to the “trans” (or transformer) terminal. It does not matter which wire goes where, just one to each end. Tighten the terminal screws and replace the cover.

Step 4: Uninstall your old doorbell: Time to head outside! Unscrew your old doorbell button from the wall or door frame and remove gently. Disconnect the wires from the back of that button and carefully ensure that they do NOT fall into the hole that they are sticking out of (you may want to have a piece of tape handy and secure them to the wall or trim until you come back). If they seem too short to connect to the new video doorbell, you will want to add wire extenders.

Step 5: Prep the video doorbell for installation: Use the bracket template that came with your doorbell to mark where the mounting hardware will go.

Step 6: Prep the mounting area: Depending on the type of wall or door frame you are drilling into (stone, brick, etc.), you may need to add anchors to your screws and use a masonry bit to make the holes.

Step 7: Connect the doorbell wires and video doorbell: Remember those wires we had you tape? This is when you will connect the wires from the back of your new video doorbell to those existing wires. Loop one existing doorbell wire to a screw terminal on the back of your video doorbell and tighten the terminal to hold the wires tightly. Mount your doorbell with the two included mounting screws. Hold off on reattaching the face place until you’ve checked the connection.

Step 8: Restore power to test the new doorbell: Go back to your electrical panel and restore power to the doorbell by putting that breaker back in the “on” position. Go back and test your doorbell. Did you hear a chime? It’s powered and working, replace and secure the faceplate.

Step 9: Download the app and set up your account: Follow the prompts of your particular model’s app and you can adjust video and monitoring settings to your liking.

This project may go very smoothly for you as a DIY and we absolutely applaud everyone out there taking on their own home improvement upgrades. Especially your tool-savvy Grandfather!

At On Time Electrical, our experienced technicians can provide a free consultation on how to maximize your budget with the best smart home security equipment available. We’ll also help you safely install and test your components to ensure you’re compliant with all local, state, and federal regulations.

On Time Electrical customer service is available 24/7 at (704) 820-4803. You can also visit us online anytime at www.itselectriccharlotte.com. Check out our weekly and monthly specials, plus we waive the service call fee on ANY repair! Locally owned and operated, we’re On Time Electrical. It’s electric!

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