I Installed a Doorbell Camera Inside the House

“The Call is Coming from Inside the House”

Doorbell Camera in Hallway — Image by author

One-Click Communication

I installed a Blink Doorbell Camera (available on Amazon) inside my parents’ home. Of this writing, with Amazon Prime Day around the corner on July 12–13, this nifty little device is only $34.99!

This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Affiliate, the author may earn a small commission, at no additional cost to you, when you make qualifying purchases by clicking on the links.

But why inside the house?! It serves as an easy one-click communication tool for my technology-challenged folks.

Installation was a breeze. In less than 15 minutes, I had the device unpacked, mounted on the wall and connected to my phone via the Blink Home Monitor app which is available on Apple iOS and Google Android. With Blink being owned by Amazon, the app is also available on Amazon’s App Store.

In very short order, the doorbell was on the wall in their front foyer, and I gave my elderly parents a 5-minute demo and walkthrough. Even for my parents who are usually intimidated by technology, the one-button interface was a no-brainer.

My parents got additional peace of mind that I was reachable with a single click. I also made sure to place the device in the most accessible and most central part of the house.

Being on a fixed income, their other concern was cost. I easily would have sprung for any fees or costs, but that’s the best part about this whole setup. Once installed, there are no recurring fees to worry about. At least, for my purposes, I could skip the Blink Subscription plans that offer motion detection and live recording from the camera.

I didn’t need or want the camera to record or send me alerts every time they walked down the hallway.

Here’s what the packaging looks like before I cracked open the box:

Product packaging — Image by author
Package with scale comparison — Image by author

Opening the box:

Removing the outer sleeve — Image by author

First view of the doorbell camera:

The camera inside the box — Image by author

The camera with its backplate:

With protective wrapping and with mounting plate — Image by author

The back view with battery cover and back mounting plate:

Battery powered, battery cover and mounting plate — Image by author

Finally, installed at my elderly parents’ hallway wall, just inside the doorway:

Ready for action — Image by author

Here it is again, as it sits in the most central location of their house:

Easily accessible from any part of the house — Image by author

What’s Good

  • Price — Regularly priced at $45, the Blink Doorbell Camera (on Amazon) is currently discounted to $34.99 just in time for Amazon Prime Day.
  • Ease of use — Hard to beat a single button press that turns on both audio and video communication at once
  • Recurring Fees — None. As a simple communication device, there are no monthly or annual fees. You do get a free 30-day trial of the Blink Subscription Plus Plan with the purchase.
  • Ease of Installation — In my setup, I chose to install it wire-free (not wired to the existing doorbell). This allowed me to install it virtually anywhere in my folks’ home. This option to install it wire-free is presented in the app.
  • Blink Home Monitor App — Super easy to use and have the device added. Even with my parents’ mediocre DSL speeds (50MBps) at their home, both audio and video transmission were super clear.
  • It can record and detect motion (if needed) — From Amazon’s product page, “Blink Video Doorbell Standalone does not include Sync Module 2. Without a Sync Module, live-view and two-way audio are available only in response to a doorbell press or motion event. With a Sync Module or Sync Module 2 get these features anytime on-demand.” The Sync Module 2 also does allow local recording to a USB device plugged into it — this approach also bypasses the need to pay for the subscription plan.

The subscription plans do seem reasonably priced, if I were to decide to use the additional capabilities of the Blink Doorbell and its services:

  • The Basic Plan — $3/month per device ($30/year), or
  • The Plus Plan — $10/month for unlimited devices ($100/year)

What’s Not So Good

  • Loud — It does have a loud chime when pressed. After all, the camera is designed to be installed outside.
  • Power Source — In my setup, it is fully battery operated — I’m not sure how long the two AA batteries will last. Though it can be powered by the AC wiring from the real doorbell, I went with the wire-free installation.
  • Blink Home Monitor App — I wanted to include screenshots of the installation process on the app, but the app prevents screenshotting. I did try a couple of “hacks” and workarounds to capture some screens for inclusion in this post but was not successful. I stopped short of trying some very questionable methods. I assure you the app was easy to use, and I didn’t encounter any problems. Pro tip: Use the app to scan the QR code at the back of the device to easily have the app recognize it.

From Dry Run to Actual Use

In less than a week of installing the indoor camera, my mom (the less tech savvy of the two) ding-donged me to let me know that my dad needed a ride to urgent care. It worked perfectly!

Yes, I gave them strict instructions to use the doorbell for emergencies, but not to forget that 911 is always available for those situations where even I can’t get there fast enough or won’t have the ability to help (extreme life-threatening situations).

Knowing my parents, they will probably use it to let me know when they need groceries or other errands taken care of.

Compared to Other Technologies

I don’t mean for this installation to fully replace any other technologies designed for elders and their safety.

My folks already have their bracelets, but this doorbell adds just that extra bit of peace of mind for them, as well as personalization (the calls go directly to me, not emergency services). Medic Alert memberships are as follows:

  • Basic — $25/year
  • Advantage — $50/year
  • Advantage Plus — $75/year

Blink is not the only doorbell camera on the block. The Ring Video Doorbell (also available on Amazon) is a solid option to use as well.

I opted for Blink only because it was slightly cheaper than Ring. For comparison, here are Ring’s subscription plans:

  • Basic — $3.99/month for one doorbell or camera ($39.99 / year)
  • Plus — $10/month for all devices ($100/year)
  • Pro — $20/month for all devices ($200/year) — Pro. Includes Ring Alarm professional monitoring

Success

So far, I’m pretty pleased how this experiment worked out. My folks got over their initial trepidation quite quickly and have embraced its usage completely.

I don’t see any reason I couldn’t install additional doorbell cameras in other parts of the house to cut down their walking distance and accessibility even more.

When it comes to keeping connected with my folks, more options tend to be better. They have cell phones and Medic Alert bracelets. They even still have their landlines! Adding the Blink Doorbell Camera has already proven to be a win.

--

--

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Jesse Bramani

I write about software, technology, satire, personal experiences and a mixed bag of randomness.