Answer the Door Without Opening the Door

You can add all the deadbolts you want, but the second you open your front door to greet an unexpected visitor you expose yourself and your family to some risk.

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Of course, you can view the visitor through a peep-hole and decide not to answer the door. But that just sends the message that no one’s home. Some criminals track those “no answer” homes and mark them for return “visits.” So it’s always best to answer the door, but to do it remotely. Here are three ways to do that.

Several companies sell front door video intercom systems. Some require a dedicated cable from the front door camera/doorbell to a base station. The base station includes a video screen and handset or handsfree speakerphone. Others styles operate wirelessly between the camera and base station. I’m not a big fan of these systems because you can only answer the door and see the video from the base station. So you have to run to the base station every time someone rings your doorbell.

Thankfully there’s a better option—a cordless phone system with wireless door video. The system, made by cordless phone manufacturer VTECH, includes a wireless video camera/doorbell unit and two cordless phones. When a visitor presses the doorbell, the cordless phones emit a chime tone to differentiate the door call from a phone call. The phone then displays a color snapshot of the visitor. You can talk to the visitor and view live video at the same time. If you’re not home, the camera stores a still photo of the visitor so you can see who came to your door while you were away.

The #IS17121-2 VTECH kit is reasonably priced at $120 (from VTECH sells additional handsets and cameras so you can expand the system. Place a handset in every room and you can answer the door without running.

Installation is easy. Just plug the main unit into any phone jack and mount the camera/doorbell at the front door. Run the camera unit with batteries or hardwire it to a power adapter (included).

This third option is for techno-geeks with lots of spare change who want to answer the door and view video from their smartphone. It’s pricey ($700), complicated to install, and even more complicated to program. But it gives you full time door answering capabilities, whether you’re home or away.

Install a wireless video camera (around $100 from any electronics store) at the door. Then install a separate door box and call forwarding controller ($600). The controller calls your smartphone over your existing home phone line when a visitor presses the doorbell button. To answer the door, just open your smartphone’s browser or a video app and stream front door audio and video.

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