The Best Peephole Cameras to Secure Your Front Door
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Security cameras and video doorbells can really help with security at the front of your home, but what if you have an apartment or rental? You can’t drill holes or run wires in these cases, and that’s where peephole cameras come in handy.
These devices fit right into the existing peephole in your front door, so they’re really easy to install and don’t require and modifications to the building. There aren’t many products targeting this segment yet, and the clear winner is Ring’s Peephole Cam. This is the only offering with a full smartphone app, configurable motion settings, smart notifications, and lots of video storage (even though it is in the cloud).
There are, however, some other use cases that don’t require all these features, so we’ll take a look at those as well.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a peephole camera?
A peephole camera is a video camera designed to fit into the peephole in your front door. It can be used to provide better visibility than a typical peephole lens by using a wide angle camera with night vision, paired with either a smartphone app or an indoor display screen.
Do peephole cameras run on batteries?
Yes, because there is no easy way to run power cabling to the peephole. Batteries are installed on the inside part of the device for easy access and to prevent tampering. Most devices will last between 3 and 6 months on a charge.
Can I use a peephole camera in a rental?
Yes, this is one of the best use cases for these types of devices. All of these cameras can be installed into an existing peephole without needing to screw anything into the door. The simply attach an external and internal component through the hole and lock into place.
The Best Peephole Camera Overall
Ring Peephole Cam
1080p video camera with nightvision
Remote wireless chime included
60 day storage on cloud plan
Smart motion notifications
The Ring Peephole Cam offers the best solution in this category with a well made product that’s easy to install and benefits from Ring’s easy to use smartphone app. This camera is actually a full video doorbell and comes with a remote doorbell chime in the package. The chime simply plugs into a free power outlet anywhere you need it and communicates with the Peephole cam via WiFi.
As with other Ring products, you can have Alexa announce events at your door, and you can bring up the video feed on any Echo Show screen or Fire TV. The Ring app provides a host of useful features including account sharing, a scroll-able timeline view of recorded events, and a range of smart notification features to help you filter out unwanted motion events and just zero in on what matters to you.
The biggest downside of the Peephole cam is the requirement for a subscription. You can use it without, but you’ll lose many of the smart features and won’t be able to record video. Ring, does however, provide a unique Theft Protection Guarantee which ensures free replacement if someone tries to steal it.
If the subscription is an issue but you want something smarter than the other products in this list, see my recommendations for video doorbells that don’t need one.
Best Concealed Peephole Camera
Brinno Peephole Camera SHC500
2.7” LCD screen (inside)
Door knock sensor included
Brinno’s base peephole camera, the SHC500, offers a different take by focusing on in-person visibility at the door. By including an LCD screen inside the door you get a better view of the outside than using a peephole lens. This is great for kids or the elderly, as they can more easily see what’s going on without the need to look through the hole.
Unlike many alternatives, the SHC500 does not feature a button or sensor on the outside of the door. The camera is disguised as a normal peephole for a much more discrete installation. This not only conceals the presence of the camera, but also ensures there is nothing to vandalize on the outside.
You can view the camera live, but it doesn’t record video. Instead it will capture a series of still photos when an event is detected. A log of the events is stored on the device, and can be emailed to an address of your choice as well. The photos are stored on an internal MicroSD card which comes with the device.
The software features are not in the same league as the Ring Peephole Cam, but having the outside view shown on the screen gives a much clearer view of the outside, and covers are wider angle than you’d normally see through the hole.
Best Peephole Camera for Seniors
Sonew has a similar offering with a much larger 5” screen. This one ranks slightly lower, though, due to not having any smartphone connectivity. Instead the device will capture events on it’s internal memory card (not included) automatically that can be viewed later from the screen directly. The doorbell will similarly ring a chime on the inside unit, although it’s not very loud which may be an issue in a larger apartment.
The large screen and better quality camera (Over the Brinno model) would be a benefit for older residents that want the added security of being able to clearly see who is outside, and talk to them, without having to open the door. You won’t have any smart features or remote access, but for those users that’s probably a good thing by keeping it simple to use and operate.
Alternative Peephole Camera
The Digital Door Viewer from UK company Simpled Tech is another internal screen option. This one gives a good view of the outside thanks to a 170 degree wide angle lens, the widest in it’s class. The outside unit includes a doorbell button for extra functionality, and any motion events are recorded automatically on the internal memory and can be viewed later from the screen using simple button controls on the bezel.
The device is powered by an internal lithium-ion battery that needs to be recharged via the included micro USB cable. This can be done using a portable powerbank instead of having to remove the unit to plug it in.
Obviously without WiFi connectivity or a smartphone app you won’t be getting any fancy features, but with a decent camera it’s a good option if you want simple way to to record video from any motion events without needing a subscription plan or cloud storage.
Considerations before buying
Video quality and viewing angle
A higher quality camera is always going to give you better results, but you may not need full HD for your situation. Cheaper options can still provide sufficient clarity to identify people and see what is going on in front of the door.
A bigger consideration may be the viewing angle. 170 degree viewing angle will provide the best coverage, but will also compress the image towards the edges which can make it harder to see details. If you have an open space outside the door and want to ensure you see well to the sides, this is still useful. If you’re looking at a more constrained area, though, a narrower field of view can provide clearer details and less distortion.
Many of these peephole cameras have a larger housing on the outside of the door, usually to accommodate a doorbell button. You might not need that, in which case going with a more discrete model could be preferable. These models completely conceal the presence of a video camera, and just look like a normal peephole. Not only is this less obvious, but it also ensures there nothing for vandals to target, and likely blends into your home better.
This is a feature common to video doorbells, and basically means you can talk to the person outside the door from the inside, or even from the smartphone app(if there is one). After all, there isn’t much point being able to see the person outside if you have to open the door to talk to them anyway.
Many peephole cameras will detect motion and capture either photos or video of the event. This is handy, but of limited usefulness if you can’t be notified about it as well. Better models will include some sort of notification when motion is detected, which may be as simple as a beep on the internal screen.
More advanced models with smartphone apps will be able to alert you wherever you are, and may offer advanced notification controls to limit where motion will trigger a notification, and what types of motion you’re interested in (only people for example).
Video storage location
Storing videos locally provides the best solution from a privacy perspective, but often limits the usefulness of the device. In these cases you may only be able to access the video from your local network, or possible only on the device itself. Cloud storage often requires a subscription fee, but also ensures the videos can’t be stolen by a home intruder, and can be accessed from anywhere that you have your phone.
The Wrap Up
While there are a number of peephole cameras on the market now, almost all of them are fairly limited in capabilities. That doesn’t make them useless, and indeed these can offer a simple upgrade for a standard peephole by adding a wider viewing angle and night vision, along with some form of event recording without needing to use a cloud service.
For the best peephole camera, though, it’s hard to go past Ring’s Peephole Cam. This is a high quality product that will go the distance, and is backed by Ring’s theft protection guarantee. If you have other Ring products and go for the higher tier subscription you’ll also get an extended warranty along with up to 60 days of video storage.
More than that are the wealth of smart features provided by the Ring app. Features such as customizable motion zones, person detection, notification schedules, and sensitivity settings give you a greater degree of control over what you get notifications about, and when, than any of the competition. The ability to see an talk to whoever is at the door even when you’re away from home is also a bonus that these other products can’t provide.