We’re in the middle of a smart home technology boom. Everyone is racing to bring new products to the market. Not all of these are just cut-cost clones of name brand products.
Companies are releasing products designed to fill both high-end and emerging markets. Ethernet connected doorbells, that may or may not offer the simplicity of Power over Ethernet, are starting to show up on the market. The Ring Elite has a reputation for being the best (and maybe the only) Ethernet connected smart doorbell on the market, but is it?
The Ring Elite isn’t the only Ethernet connected doorbell on the market. Ring products might also be pretty far from the best depending on what your goals and needs are. There are compelling reasons to ditch Wi-Fi for Ethernet and investigate more options than just the Ring.
The Arguments Against Wi-Fi Doorbells
Wi-Fi has made our lives so much easier to connect to. Maybe too much easier.
With the ease of access that Wi-Fi provides, comes new dangers and threats that need to be addressed. One way to handle these issues is to leave Wi-Fi for laptops, phones, and tablets while using Ethernet to connect our smart home devices.
Why leave Wi-Fi behind when it comes to your smart doorbells? Let’s look at some compelling reasons.
When it comes to Wi-Fi enabled doorbells, jamming is a serious threat.
This is a type of cyber security threat that is incredibly easy to create. Wi-Fi jammers are commercially available and cost as little as $10. An enterprising thief would only need to fire up a jammer to shut down a key part of your main external security.
On a technical level, Wi-Fi is just a radio signal that carries data and there is a limit to both how strong that radio signal is and how much data it can handle. Wi-Fi jamming technology can gum up the works leaving your Wi-Fi cameras and access control in the dark.
Hacking is front and center when it comes to conversations about the Internet of Things.
If you are relying on everything from a smart fridge to smart doorbells, you could be leaving yourself wide open for attack. These attacks could do everything from push notification spam to your devices, to peeping on anyone your cameras can observe.
Ethernet is much safer than Wi-Fi when it comes to hacking. The core of this issue is how easy it is to access Wi-Fi. In order to hack an Ethernet system, on the other hand, a hacker has to have physical access to your devices.
Speaking of safety, we tend to rely on smart doorbells for more than just convenience.
These devices are also part of our smart home security ecosystems. Wi-Fi is very easy to interrupt.
Even more than hackers and jammers, your Wi-Fi could be compromised by your own devices. Even an otherwise friendly neighbor can accidentally take down your Wi-Fi doorbell by switching the Wi-Fi channel on their router. Wi-Fi comes with this as an inherent trade-off. This usually isn’t an issue, but the risk goes up as we have more devices broadcasting and connecting to Wi-Fi signals.
If you’ve read this and you’re now looking for something a little safer and more reliable, there are options you can consider.
Are There Ethernet Alternatives?
The short answer is a resounding yes.
There are Ethernet connected doorbells that can fit into any budget. Let’s take a look at some of these options that come in at a variety of price points.
Yoosee Smart Doorbell Camera Models SD-M3 and SD-M4
The most affordable option is the Yoosee Smart Doorbell which has an RJ45 (Ethernet) port that can be seen in the below video:
This doorbell is fully functional and features everything you would expect from a smart doorbell.
You get streaming HD video, up to 128 gigs of onboard storage, and integration with the Yoosee app for Android and iOS. This system also has some advanced features that might interest more tech-savvy users including RFID chip detection.
The lower price-point is achieved by just hitting all the basics with only a few frills like the RFID chip technology. The HD video is lower than on other models and, maybe worst of all, this unit requires external power. This means you will need to plug this doorbell into an outlet to be able to make use out of it. PoE is optional, but only at higher price points.
Ring Doorbell Elite
Let’s talk about the most well known Ethernet connected smart doorbell.
This doorbell has everything you need to make a smart home entryway complete, but there are a few serious concerns.
First, the specs. This doorbell is surprisingly similar to the Yoosee model, but the overall quality is much higher. A large part of this advancement is the Ring app which is available for both Android and iOS. This doorbell also features PoE as a standard option – meaning that you solely need to run (powered) CAT5-7 cable to it, no other power source is required.
While the price tag is noticeably higher than other models, you’re getting a secure smart doorbell connected by Ethernet right out of the box.
The biggest drawback is the company that owns Ring: Amazon. It’s not just hackers that might be snooping on your Ring doorbell, it could be the company that sells it to you. According to a BBC article from January 2021, Amazon is selling Ring data to Google, Facebook, and a few other companies. If you have concerns over how Amazon is using your data, this might rule out the Ring Doorbell Elite.
Doorbird makes a high-end product for a high-end audience. Their smart doorbells are probably closer to fully functional intercom systems than they are your out of the box doorbell.
You have your choice of options though. You can go for a smart doorbell that makes an elegant statement or transform your entryway into a compound James Bond would think twice about.
The specs leave little to be desired. Night vision, HD video, and an app for iOS and Android are just the tip of the packages available. It goes without saying that they have PoE options available as well, via their PoE injector – although they have tested third party PoE injectors too.
They also design custom systems.
All of this comes at a cost that might leave most home users looking elsewhere: some of their more advanced units cost more than $1,000. If none of these options are knocking on your door, why not try DIY?
Ringing the DIY Doorbell
The world of smart homes and IoT has always been a playground for people with a DIY spirit. When there are gaps in the market and no readily available pre-packaged solutions to be found, you bet there are DIY options that solve these problems.
There are two basic ways to tackle this problem. You can either build an Ethernet-based smart doorbell or rig one together using other technology. There are plans out there for either path that can be adjusted based on your skill and your needs. Each path has different obstacles and rewards.
Building Your Own
This can be far and away the most affordable options. One set of plans for a DIY smart doorbell only costs two dollars. The build in question creates a Wi-Fi doorbell, but parts can be swapped to make one that connects through Ethernet – an Ethernet adapter can often be cheaper than a WiFi adapter.
This is only one way to go about this, but the basic plans stay the same. You are essentially adding an internet connection to your existing doorbell. This can be programmed to send texts and other messages as well as control how and when your doorbell’s chime rings.
If you like to tinker and aren’t afraid of learning some new technologies, this is the right option for you. This system has less odds of being able to be fueled by Power over Ethernet as you are connecting existing systems into smart technology.
And besides, when you build your smart systems yourself, you know exactly what is happening with your information.
Piecing a System Together
If you’re less technologically inclined or just can’t be bothered to solder together a smart doorbell, you can always rig together the equivalent of an Ethernet smart doorbell system.
What is a smart doorbell anyway if not just a dressed up security camera that can send push notifications to your phone?
There are countless ways to complete this project, but we’re just going to quickly look at two common options.
First and foremost is to simply create a backup for your Wi-Fi smart doorbell. This will give you an inner calm even if some tech-savvy burglar comes your way. All you need to do for this work around is to add an Ethernet security camera to your system. Most home improvement shops and online tech retailers have whole categories for Ethernet cameras – they are sometimes labelled as “professional grade” cameras. Some of these can even stream a live feed to your device of choice.
The next path is one example of how to tackle a fully Ethernet driven system. To get the video feed, simply setup a security camera that runs on an Ethernet connection. Then add an Ethernet enabled intercom and you have yourself a complete Ethernet doorbell at your disposal.
You can find Power over Ethernet options for both of these devices and the setup will be much simpler than more hardcore DIY routes. The only downside is, of course, that you now have two separate systems to manage – which either requires additional software or smart hubs to bring them together, or you just have to learn to live with this fact.
This is where the Ring Doorbell Elite shines: it offers simple Ethernet-based connectivity and power, providing video and audio (intercom) all in one app.