Best Video Doorbell Without Subscription: 2021 Buyers Guide
When you buy through links in this article, I may earn an affiliate commission. Learn More.
I’ve reviewed a lot of video doorbell models over the years looking closely at performance, features, and cost of ownership. That latter aspect is always contentious as the best selling video doorbells demand a subscription for cloud storage and smart features.
If you’re like me, you’ll be seeing the number of subscriptions you have for various things increase, so it’s worth looking at options for a great video doorbell without a subscription. To that end I’ve found the eufy Doorbell 2K to be the overall best video doorbell without subscription fees.
Security device maker eufy has been knocking it out of the park lately with the quality of their security camera products and the extra features they pack into them. Being a brand of Anker they also sport really good battery tech, so they’re great options for easy wireless installations. Local encrypted storage, best in class camera quality, and Alexa and Google support pushed it over the top of the competition.
The best of the best isn’t for everyone if you don’t care about some of the included features. To cover those different preferences I’ve also provided video doorbell options in several categories including wired and wireless alternatives, along with decent quality options for those on tighter budgets.
My Top Picks
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you use Ring Doorbell without a subscription?
You can use a Ring Video Doorbell without a subscription, but you’ll have a very limited experience. You’ll receive basic notifications when motion is detected, or the Ring doorbell button is pressed, and you’ll be able to view the live feed from the camera and talk to whoever is there.
You won’t get any recorded videos, though, so if you miss the event you won’t be able to check up on what happened. You’ll also lose virtually all the smart notification features that the Ring doorbell provides which allow you to tailor what you get push notifications about and get only the alerts you care about.
What is the best video doorbell without a subscription?
Ultimately, for the best video doorbell without a subscription I settled on the eufy Doorbell 2K based on features, utility, performance, and customer feedback as the best overall. Eufy is a solid company with a good reputation, decent support, and quality products. The 2K video doorbell offers a good mix of installation options, secure local storage and extensive smart motion features and notifications.
Do I need a subscription for a video doorbell?
There are subscription free video doorbells, and this guide takes a look at what models give you the most bang for the buck without sacrificing any features.
Most premium video doorbells without a subscription do this by using local storage for recorded videos, but there are some that offer free cloud storage instead.
How long does the battery last?
This varies by wireless video doorbell model (wired video doorbells don’t generally have one), and is dependant on temperature extremes, battery capacity, and how much motion detection triggers it. Temperature is a major factor in lithium ion battery performance, especially below freezing.
Battery powered models rate their battery life between 2 and 12 months, but you should get between 2 and 6 months with typical usage.
Will I get notified if I'm not at home?
This is a key benefit of smart video doorbells. You'll receive push notifications on your smart phone, and be able to see, and talk to, whoever is at your front door from anywhere.
Best Video Doorbell Overall
Why this model?
I’ve chosen the eufy Video Doorbell 2K as the best overall Wifi video doorbell camera because it offers the best infrared night vision, has the most comprehensive set of advanced motion detection features and, like the Ring doorbell, offers both wired and battery powered versions which gives it maximum flexibility. I find eufy’s app to be thorough in it’s execution, and offers a lot of control over the smart features and doorbell configuration, although this does make it a bit of a handful to navigate.
That feature set is derived from eufy’s bigger focus on being a comprehensive smart home security system, so they offer a variety of other good quality security cameras and sensors that can tie into this as well. As this video doorbell comes with their Homebase 2 product to use for local storage, you’ll be set if you want to add any of those other products later.
The hardware is well designed and solidly built, with the best quality camera I’ve found in terms of raw image quality, and great infrared night vision ensures clear views after dark.
Keep in mind the actual quality you get in a doorbell video clip will depend on your WiFi connection, as slower performance will force it to downscale as with other wireless cameras. Eufy also has reasonably good support to back up their products compared to some other offerings, all of which adds up to a 90% user feedback rating.
While eufy touts a pretty solid battery life, there are a great many reports of much shorter run times. It’s hard to state this is a definitive issue, as there are so many factors that play into this, from your sensitivity and motion zone settings, to what level of traffic you get in front of the doorbell, to the climate you live in.
Charging the battery requires the video doorbell to be removed. The battery is built-in, so it has to be done on the doorbell itself, just like my first generation Ring doorbell before they updated the design to include removable battery packs. It’s not a deal breaker, but that also depends on how often you need to take it down to charge.
As noted above, folks who have freezing winters are going to struggle with a rechargeable battery outside. Thankfully this model supports wired power as well, so you can go with that option if you have trouble or have existing doorbell wires.
Video recordings are saved on the Homebase, which is good in that it keeps it away from casual theft, but eufy has opted to only include 16GB of video storage, and it can’t be updated. For just the video doorbell that’s not so bad. If you’re like me you’re not concerned about keeping weeks of doorbell footage for posterity, just being able to see what you missed, and it’s plenty for that use case. If you start adding other cameras though it could become a constraint. Eufy offers paid cloud storage as well, but we’re not here to pay a monthly fee.
Seeing as Eufy’s app forms the core of a larger security system, it runs on their back-end servers in order to handle login security across multiple shared users accounts (if you want to set them up). Some of their smart features depend on this service too, which is not ideal as you can have issues with certain functions if there are server issues (which there have been).
Best Video Doorbell without a hub
Why this model?
Nooie is a US startup making fairly good quality smart home products. The Nooie Doorbell is the latest addition to the lineup, and offers something a little different in terms of it’s design. It’s a truly wireless video doorbell, so it’s battery powered packing a massive 10,000mAh removable battery that contains it’s own USB-C port for charging. It also features a dedicated infrared motion sensor, and it connects to the free electronic chime which also houses the Micro SD card for video storage.
As with the eufy video doorbell and several other brands, the 2K night vision doorbell camera is using a 4:3 aspect ratio to give a better vertical more suited to doorbell use as it covers more ground in below your front door instead of to the sides. You can angle it slightly to one side using the included optional angle mounting plate. A nice feature with this video doorbell is a tamper alarm to deter any would be vandals. If contact with the mounting plate is disturbed the alarm will sound from the doorbell itself.
The chime base station includes a wired Ethernet port as well as dual band WiFi (yes it supports 5GHz as well). This is a nice bonus as it gives options to overcome WiFi problems that some people have with these kinds of products.
Nooie’s product support has reportedly been good, and they did have some issues with battery life in one batch that was clearly faulty. Those units were replaced without fuss. Overall I’ve awarded Nooie best video doorbell for wireless users based on their 83% customer feedback rating, which is hurt mostly by their setup process.
The setup process can be a bit finicky. If you follow the instructions precisely you should be fine, but people tend to jump in and figure it out themselves. That’s caused a lot of people some pain getting it going. Once it’s set up it runs well, though.
The design of the Nooie video doorbell is something to consider up front, brown isn’t for everyone after all. It’s also very large, measuring 2.5 inches deep and nearly 2 across. You’re not likely to be mounting this on a door frame, and you don’t want to get fancy with the mounting plate due to the risk of the tamper alarm going off unexpectedly.
As with other models, the Nooie must be removed from the mount in order to charge the battery. The battery itself is removable, but you need to get access to it first. Having a spare would alleviate the fairly long charge time - it can only pull 1A from the USB charger - but they don’t appear to be selling replacement batteries separately, an odd decision.
The claimed 1 year battery life is also, shall we say, optimistic. It’s certainly a generous capacity, and it should last you a good while, but your mileage will absolutely vary with environmental and usage factors. It’s still better than other video doorbells, though.
The only other notable issue to be wary of is the chime. While they offered European versions during their launch, those appear to be sold out so you’ll only be able to find US versions. It’s also not very loud, and probably only useful in the room that it’s installed. You can’t adjust this, so you may be relying on notifications more, and not having any wired option means it can’t use an existing wired chime either.
Best Wired Only Model
Why this model?
Lorex has been around for a while in the home security space, and this is the newest model of their smart video doorbell camera. This is my pick for best wired doorbell, and as with other wired-only video doorbells it’s quite sleek. Not requiring an internal battery makes it less intrusive to install on your front door, and it features a few things that make it stand out above other wired doorbell models.
The video doorbell camera is a decent 2K 4:3 aspect ratio, again offering better views of the space in front of the door than conventional 16:9 doorbell cameras, but it also features color night vision and full HDR, which is uncommon so far. As an added bonus for night time use, it also sports a LED night light on the bottom edge which can be used to illuminate the door step or act as an extra deterrent to unwelcome visitors.
Video is stored to an internal memory card, and you get one included to get started. This can be upgraded up to 128GB if you wish later. This means there is no separate base station or remote chime to worry about, and it supports existing wired chimes if you need something inside.
All the expected smart features are there, and work well, including person/human detection and motion zones, and support for answering doorbell rings on Amazon Echo and Google smart displays. It does support Lorex’s Fusion system, but full integration into their Home Center product is still ‘coming soon’.
As it’s fairly new to market there’s still some real world experience testing to come, but so far there have been 0 negative reviews so I’m awarding this one the best wired only model for it’s design and camera features.
The lack of a remote chime option may be inconvenient for some installations. It’s nice to be able to add a wireless chime somewhere to ensure doorbell rings get noticed. However, if you’re replacing an existing wired doorbell then you’ll be able to use the existing doorbell wiring and chime, so it’s probably not a big deal.
Not having that internal component, though, does mean the memory card is in the doorbell itself and subject to loss if the doorbell gets stolen. The doorbell is secured to the plastic mounting plate by only a small locking clip that is released using a pin from underneath. It likely wouldn’t take a lot to force it off, so it may not be a great option if you’re too exposed to the street.
Best Value for Money
Why this model?
Coming back to battery powered wireless video doorbell options I’ve chosen another eufy model as the best value for money, their standalone 1080p video doorbell offers a viable video doorbell for those that may not find Nooie’s aesthetic choices to their liking.
There’s a lot to like with this one, as it comes with largely the same features as it’s more expensive 2K sibling. The main difference is the video doorbell camera has a lower 1080p HD video resolution, but still a 4:3 aspect ratio for good views of the door area. Wide dynamic range is still there to help compensate for shadows and back lighting, but it can only do so much as its not full HDR. I find the video quality is still fine unless you need to cover a large area.
The other key difference is the ‘mini homebase’ chime that it must be paired with. The chime provides it’s connectivity to the video doorbell and also holds the memory card that stores the recorded video clips, or you can still opt in to their cloud storage for a fee. This approach is used to avoid having to run full WiFi on the doorbell in order to extend battery life.
You’ll get the benefits of the Eufy apps suit of smart features and integrations, but it’s probably not the best option if you have, or want, a broader eufy security setup as you’ll be doubling up on base stations. The chime on this one only supports this doorbell, and it can’t connect to the normal HomeBase product.
Good build quality, performance, and support net this one a solid 88% customer feedback rating, so it’s certainly worth a look.
Depending on a proprietary chime hub is not always good thing. It helps to protect the memory card from theft, and theoretically extends battery life on the video doorbell, but there have been some issues with it’s own connectivity.
This is going to come down to your own WiFi setup, but there are quite a few people who have had issues with it connecting, or staying connected, and it appears to have issues with some mesh networks. Hopefully for those effected it’s something eufy can sort out with firmware updates.
As with the 2K product, the usual caveats about battery life apply. Usage and environmental factors will impact what you actually get, and there are many reports that it’s not even close to 120 days. A lot of these will be down to cold weather, most likely, but it’s always something to be wary of when choosing a wireless video doorbell model.
Also as with the 2K model, the dependcy on eufy’s servers for the app to function correctly is an unfortunate consideration. It’s not so much that authentication needs this access, as pretty much any doorbell app is going to have this limitation where they support multiple shared users, but that certain smart detection features seem to need server-side processing, even though the video may be stored locally in the end.
Some Alternative No Subscription Video Doorbells
Why this model?
I’m including the Remo+ RemoBell S wired video doorbell because it has a fairly good customer satisfaction score of 74%, even though I’m not personally a fan. It was raved about in the mainstream tech press on launch, but this has left a few of us scratching our heads. This may simply be a case of it having been surpassed by other video doorbells now.
On paper the doorbell camera seems good with a square aspect ratio well above standard HD. That should be plenty for video doorbell use, and the RemoBell has a 180 degree fish eye lens to give you wide coverage of a larger space outside the door. You can adjust the sensitivity and motion zones, and unlike other no subscription offerings, the RemoBell stores in their own cloud storage for free. This gives you a rolling 3 day repository, which should be OK for most video doorbell use.
There’s no remote chime provided, but a wide variety of mechanical and digital chimes are supported through your existing doorbell wiring.
I’m really not a fan of fisheye lenses on video doorbells because, even with the higher video quality, you ultimately end up with an image that squashes everything up that’s not directly in front of the doorbell camera, even though you technically get more in the view. Remo+ gives you the option to correct for this in the live view, but for some reason doesn’t do the same for recordings. You end up with fairly unhelpful circular video images, which is not helped by the lack of HDR to compensate for bright and dark areas.
Using the proprietary free cloud storage can be used without subscription fees, but we have no idea what their security and privacy implementation is like, and you’re completely dependent on a small company staying afloat for this to work at all, so I’d be a bit nervous on this front.
Video quality is good in daylight, but the infrared night vision is quite limited, and there have been a lot of issues with over sensitive motion detection. This is more pronounced as there is no person detection capability here, so all motion will trigger it. You can set motion alerting zones, but for some reason the app makes you do this by blindly placing the zone box in a blank square instead of showing you a snapshot of the camera view like everyone else does.
There is support for Google Assistant and Alexa, and you can view the video doorbell on an Echo show device (but not talk to the person), while the Google integration seems very lacking, with only the ability to ask for some status information and not actually view the stream.
I’ve also seen customer feedback from people outside the US that the app registration process is region locked to North America, even though the product is being sold on many international Amazon stores. If you’re outside the US, it’s probably best to skip this one.
Why this model?
Hikvision is a stalwart brand name in the CCTV security camera market, you see these things everywhere. They also do a range of consumer products, including the new SD-HD1 2K doorbell. Generally they have a good reputation for reliable work horse security gear, so that’s a plus.
You’ll get decent quality from the 2K 4:3 video doorbell camera with a 180 degree wide viewing angle, plus a dedicated motion sensor, custom motion detection areas and two-way audio. Something the other contenders don’t offer is ONVIF supports, which provides the ability to connect it to a DVR/NVR used for your CCTV system as a recording destination without a subscription.
With such an arrangement you can do continuous security recording on top of the doorbell functions, which is a bonus to some people. If that’s not for you, then you can install up to 128GB SD card inside the device for local storage, which should be plenty for most doorbell video use.
It has optional face plates in black, white and silver, and can trigger mechanical chimes via your doorbell wires as no remote chime options are on offer. There’s good control available on how, and how long it rings the bell, which is something not always available with other video doorbells.
If you’re looking for something that can stream to a DVR and have the existing doorbell wiring, this would be a good option.
This is a fairly bare bones unit as it lacks the smart features of the other models, and subsequently can be hard to limit motion notifications to something useful if your video doorbell gets a lot of traffic. It also has no HDR or exposure controls, so if you have strong back lighting you’ll have a very dark image and little definition of the subject you likely want to see.
The 180 degree lens helps to cover the whole space in front of the door, but leads to some distortion. It’s not as bad as the RemoBell and has some degree of correction applied, so it could be useful in placing it to avoid bright back lighting.
The app is not as slick as the more consumer focused brands above, and setup can be a bit of a chore. It’s definitely not tailored to the layman to get it up and running, but once it is it should be stable. Don’t count on much help from support though. This is the biggest complaint I see for this one, and Hikvision in general. I guess they’re used to servicing professional installers.
Why this model?
There’s always a cheaper option, and here it is. This video doorbell is branded under Conico, but it’s a mass market device sold under a dozen names such as KAMEP, XTU, Lefun, GeeKee, and many others. They’re all identical apart from the label.
I’ve chosen this as a budget option due to a good range of features and because it gets fair user rating, coming in at an impressive 83%, better than many other video doorbells on the cheap end of the scale.
It’s a pretty standard low cost video doorbell camera, a basic 1080p HD video sensor without HDR, backed up by a PIR motion sensor. It uses standard 18650 Lithium Ion batteries, so these can be replaced without too much trouble, and recharged in place thanks to a micro USB port on the bottom of the unit (with a rubber weather plug). You can also opt for using existing doorbell wiring to avoid the charging entirely.
Local storage for video is on the internal SD card (located inside the battery compartment for security), a 32GB card is included, which is a nice cost saving. You can increase this to 128GB if needed. The mounting bracket is actually pretty solid, better than some higher end models, in fact. It’s a nice bonus that it serves as a shade for the lens to help stave off sun glare.
For indoor audibility the device has a free electronic chime included, and that’s the only one you can use. It doesn’t support the use of wired chimes, even though it supports doorbell wiring for power.
There’s some person detection capability and two-way talk, which I’d expect as a minimum, and it has an infra-red sensor for enhanced motion detection. If you’re not after anything too fancy, and don’t mind average video quality, this could be enough for you.
The camera is nothing fancy, and there’s no exposure compensation, so it will suffer from strong contrast situations. No camera is perfect with the sun behind your subject, but without HDR you’ll need to be more careful with placement to avoid strong light and shadow combinations. The night vision performance is also pretty substandard, so you might want to have some light outside at night if you’re expecting to capture anything useful. Using a LIFX+ smart bulb or other IR source will help for this.
Battery life is claimed to be 3-4 months. Everyone overstates their battery life, but this one will not realistically give you more than 1 month under normal use. The external charge port makes this a bit more bearable as you can use a portable charger to top it up, or you can use existing doorbell wiring instead.
As with any cheap no-name smart device, you’re going to taking a gamble on how long it’s going to last, and it’s going to be hit and miss. Still, there’s plenty of positive customer feedback on this one, so if you want to keep the costs down it could be worth a shot.
Considerations Before Buying
Video Doorbell Recording Options
Subscription offerings like the Ring doorbell usually provide for cloud storage and processing, but video doorbells without a subscription still need to store those videos somewhere. Cloud storage gives you some obvious convenience benefits, and provides protection in the event an intruder is savvy enough to steal the device that is recording them. Third party cloud services are also prone to questionable security and privacy practices, and this is a much greater risk with lesser known brands that don’t get the scrutiny of security experts, especially those few that offer free cloud storage.
The alternative is generally to use local storage on a memory card in the device itself, and many options without subscription do it this way. Some provide an additional base station, though, and that takes care of the storage keeping those videos safely inside the house. Not being exposed to direct theft from the outside, and in a less obvious location where an intruder isn’t likely to find them, comes close to the same thing as cloud storage.
Doorbell Camera Viewing Angle and Resolution
Bigger is always better, right? Not necessarily when it comes to viewing angle. A wider angle lens covers more area, sure, but it also means detail is lost as the number of pixels covering any particular feature is necessarily smaller.
Like security cameras, larger resolution video doorbell cameras can help with this, but you need to look at the actual resolution. The usage of the moniker ‘2K’ is highly misleading, and becomes even more so when we move away from 16:9 aspect ratios, as some cameras do. The 1080p HD video cameras are a standard 1920x1080 16:9 resolution, but 2K cameras could be various different resolutions. I’ll note those on the feature list in the reviews below.
Curiously almost all of the above video doorbell cameras have better resolutions than the Ring Video Doorbell, but that goes to show that resolution isn’t everything with one of these devices.
Consider where you’re going to put the video doorbell, and what you actually need it to watch. If you only need to cover the porch, a narrower view is going to give better clarity of what’s important, but go wide angle if you want to watch the whole front yard.
Wired or Battery Powered
A truly wireless video doorbell requires batteries, but this one comes down to whether you have existing doorbell wiring or not, and your local climate. Generally there are a few different voltages that doorbell transformers deliver, and these smart video doorbells will support those. It still pays to check the voltage you have is supported by the doorbell you’re looking at, just to be sure.
Using the doorbell wiring option provides less maintenance, since you won’t be worrying about battery life. Even so, if you don’t have existing doorbell wiring available then the batteries on these devices should last for a month or more so long as you don’t have very cold weather. Lithium Ion batteries used in video doorbells are very susceptible to cold weather, and will significantly reduce battery life. If you have freezing winters, you’d be safer with a wired model.
In some cases you can swap out the rechargeable batteries if you have a spare set, but in many cases the battery is built in and can’t be changed easily. I find it’s not a huge burden to charge the video doorbell now and then, and the better smartphone apps will alert you when it’s time.
Advanced Motion Detection Features
Smart video doorbell features are becoming more common, but cheaper models are still lacking in this area a lot of the time. These features cover advanced motion detection technology and include things like smart human detection, customizable motion detection areas, quick responses, and presence detection, all driven by AI technology.
These features help to ensure you only get motion detection notifications that you care about, and you can respond in a realistic time frame. Tons of useless notifications just mean you’ll start ignoring them, or even turn them off, which defeats the purpose of having a video doorbell. The more of these features, the better off you’ll be in the long term.
Infra Red Motion Sensors
You’ll notice some video doorbells contain an infra red sensor as well as the camera. Does this make it a better doorbell? Not necessarily, but it does help to reduce battery usage and improve response time.
It does this because a dedicated motion detector can be used to trigger the camera immediately rather than the camera itself having to be watching for movement, which consumes much more power.
Smart Home Integration
If you have a smart home, you might want to get a smart video doorbell that integrates with it. However, the smart home features this provides can be quite limited. Usually you’ll only be able to answer the doorbell using a smart display, maybe via your voice assistants, have your smart speakers act as doorbell chimes, and possibly be able to use the doorbell as a motion sensor to trigger automation rules.
If you don’t have a smart display, that’s one benefit gone already, and the others may not be very compelling considering you’ll need the maker’s app installed on your phone regardless. It’s probably worth going with a better doorbell than compromising for one with support for your smart home.
The Wrap Up
There are so many smart video doorbells hitting the market, and many of the cheaper ones offer subscription free local storage. But those are also the ones that tend to suck. Whether it be poor camera quality, poor motion detection features, amateurish apps, or lax security, there’s plenty of reasons to stay away. There are some good ones though, but it was surprisingly difficult to narrow it down to the top 3.
Ultimately, for the best video doorbell without subscription I settled on the eufy Doorbell 2K based on features, utility, performance, and customer feedback as the best overall. Eufy is a solid company with a good reputation, decent support, and quality products. The 2K video doorbell offers a good mix of installation options, secure local storage and extensive smart motion features and notifications.
Looking at pure wireless options, and a very different aesthetic, the Nooie Cam Doorbell delivers a quality product that ticks all the boxes apart from their somewhat finicky setup process. As that’s a one off task I didn’t mark them down too badly given everything else is great.
Likewise, for a pure wired option, the new Lorex 2K Wired Doorbell is a quality product from an established company that has excellent camera performance and a sleek design. While feedback in the wild is still limited for this one, what is available is all positive, so I chose this over other more chequered models. However, I’ve included those in the review list as options if you want to look at something with a bit more history.