Lights, thermostats, door locks, and smoke detectors have smartened up, and now doorbells are getting a boost.

These smart doorbells incorporate Wi-Fi, a video camera to stream live video to your smartphone, and a two-way intercom so you can speak through your smartphone to the person at the door. With a smart doorbell, you don’t have to walk to the door to answer the door, nor do you have to be at home to answer the door.

In a second-quarter 2016 survey of on-line households, found that 50 percent of smart-doorbell owners use the devices to see who’s at the door when they’re not home, and 48 percent use them to see who’s at the door without letting the visitor know if they’re home or not.

What’s inside

Here’s how smart doorbells work:

Smart doorbells connect to your home’s existing doorbell wiring to get power and connect to your home’s existing doorbell chimes. When the doorbell’s button is pressed, the chimes ring as they normally would, and the doorbell’s Wi-Fi radio sends an alert to one or more smartphones.

Then you can use the phone to stream the doorbell camera’s live HD video up to 1080p with viewing angles of 110 to 180 degrees. The cameras come with night vision so you can see who’s there in the dark. If you choose, the doorbells also send alerts when motion is detected.

You can monitor multiple doorbells from a single phone even if the doorbells are installed in separate locations, such as your main home and a vacation home.

Although the doorbells get power from a home’s existing doorbell wires, some run only on internal batteries without a wired connection. These doorbells are intended for homes that lack doorbell wiring, homes with wired doorbells only by select exterior doors, or homes whose doorbell wiring is damaged.

Beyond security cameras

Like dedicated IP security cameras, smart doorbells keep watch on the comings and goings of people around an entry door. Security cameras and smart doorbells alike send alerts when they detect motion and stream live video to a smartphone if you’re not home. Both types of products also let you capture the video on the phone or in a Cloud-based server to identify the miscreant to the police.

Unlike security cameras, however, smart doorbells also send alerts whenever the doorbell is pressed, and exterior security cameras don’t let you speak with someone at the door in real time via the doorbell’s intercom.

The intercom could also deter a burglary. Burglars often ring the front doorbell to see if you’re home before going around back to break in. With a smart wireless doorbell, however, you could answer the door without letting the thief know you’re away.

Another advantage over exterior security cameras: For power, you don’t have to run a low-voltage power wire through a home’s exterior walls or overhang to a power outlet. Just connect the doorbell to your existing doorbells’ low-voltage wires. Smart doorbells work with most doorbell systems installed in homes today, though there are exceptions.

Convenience features

Though safety and security are the prime reasons to buy a smart doorbell, consumers also use them for the little conveniences they provide.

In its second-quarter survey, found that 43 percent of owners use their smart doorbells to see who’s at the door when they’re at home and don’t want to get off the couch. Thirty-seven percent use them to see if a package has been delivered while they’re away.

The ways to use a smart doorbell don’t stop there. If you’re in the back yard and are too far away to hear the doorbell chime, you’ll get an alert on your smartphone. If you’re disabled or infirm, you can see who’s ringing without getting up. And while you’re at work, you can ask a delivery person to leave a package in back in an enclosed area to protect it from the rain.

If you’re just curious, most smart doorbells stream live video on demand at any time, not just when the doorbell is pressed or motion is detected.

With a smart doorbell and a hub-connected smart lock, you can buzz in the cleaning-service crew or other service providers after they ring the doorbell and you confirm their identity through the doorbell camera. Buzz in health care aides to assist elderly parents, or program the hub to automatically lock a door if the smart doorbell’s button is pressed or the doorbell senses motion.

Contact a BSG Expert today 855-MYSMARTHOME to learn more about Video Doorbells and Smart Locks.  FREE Video doorbell still available until December 24th with any new Smart View Pkg.