Most of the popular video doorbells (also known as a wi-fi doorbell), including market leader Ring, require a subscription in order to get access to recorded footage.
However, there’s a growing demand for video doorbells without a subscription. These are devcies that don’t come with any added strings or monthly fees to access your recordings.
In this guide, I’ll take a look at the best subscription-free video doorbells and answer some frequently asked questions about video doorbells.
In a hurry? Here are my top five recommendations, keep reading for the full list and reviews of each.
How Do Video Doorbells Without a Subscription Work?
Many of the top video doorbells such as Nest and Ring don’t have any built-in memory which forces you to use their cloud subscription to access the basic function of reviewing footage.
However, there’s a growing market for video doorbells without subscription. These devices use local storage which means recordings are saved on the device or a base unit in your home.
By storing the footage locally, you’ll be able to access old recordings without needing to pay any ongoing fees.
However, locally stored footage is harder to review as you will usually need to be in your home to watch it back. The exception to this is Eufy which is why it’s my number one pick below.
Is it safe to store footage locally?
It’s more of a risk to keep your footage on the device as thieves could steal the device and take their snapshots with them. This is especially problematic for battery powered devices which have no cabling at all.
Some brands such as Eufy and Arlo have overcome this by having the local storage on a separate unit inside your house.
Best Video Doorbells Without Subscription
Below are some more details about each device along with the key considerations to help you choose.
Best Overall: Eufy Video Doorbell (available wired or wireless)
As a brand, Eufy are best known for their power banks, but they are making a name for themselves through smart devices such as this Eufy security video doorbell which is the only one on the market to feature 2k video resolution through its professional-grade Sony sensor.
Eufy is the best video doorbell without a subscription thanks to local storage that allows your footage to be saved in your home and still accessed from anywhere in the world. They have also allowed you to access all of the motion detection features without a subscription.
There are two devices
- The wired device uses existing doorbell cables, it doesn’t have a base so all of the footage is stored on the doorbell itself. This means that the wired version is larger.
- The battery-powered version comes with 4-6 months battery life, far longer than any competitors. I recommend this one as it has a base unit in your home which stores the footage. This means that even if someone steals your doorbell, you’ll still have the footage.
Save some money? I’ve shared the 2K options here, but there is a HD version with lower video quality for a cheaper price, the same device can be battery-powered or wired.
It is compatible with both Amazon Echo and Google Home so you can use your Echo or Google Home device as a chime and stream the doorbell footage via a Chromecast. The device also allows you to prerecord a number of messages that you can send when you don’t want to answer.
Runner Up: Amcrest Video Doorbell
Amcrest have been busy building a range of network connected devices for home security geeks and now they’ve added a video doorbell to their line up.
The device is designed to work without relying on the cloud or a subscription thanks to a built in SD card slot. It also works nicely with Amcrest network video recorders and Blue Iris so you can be completely free of any monthly cost or commitment.
Not only does the doorbell look smart with a very ring-esque style. But it lives up to this with 1920x1080p resolution and customisable activity detection zones to select which parts of the camera view to monitor.
There is also the option of cloud storage if you want to remotely view recordings with a one year subscription included for free.
Most Reliable: Arlo Video Doorbell
The Arlo video doorbell has features that rival the most premium devices but at an affordable price. You’ll receive alerts when motion is detected, but once the doorbell has been rang, it will come through just like an incoming call.
A new update has meant the Arlo doorbell is viable without a subscription thanks to local recording, however, there is a catch to this.
To use local recording, you’ll also need an Arlo smart hub (VMB4540 or VMB5000). You can then connect an external SD card or hard drive to keep your footage. It will rewrite over the oldest footage once the device nears capacity. However, you can only review recordings whilst on your home Wi-Fi.
It integrates fully with both Alexa and Google Home or announcements on speakers or live streams on devices with a screen.
Unfortunately, the more premium features do require a subscription such as activity zones, intelligent alerts and cloud storage.
Budget Pick: Blink Video Doorbell
It didn’t take Amazon long to realise that there is a big market for video doorbells without monthly fees. But, rather than offering a Ring without subscription, they opted to introduce a newer budget offering under their Blink brand, and it doesn’t dissapoint.
Keep in mind that you will also need the Sync Module 2 in order to save videos locally and thus keep it completely subscription free so the total cost will be slightly higher. However, the two combined are still one of the cheapest options right now if you dn’t want to be tied to a contract or monthly charge.
It all sounds too good to be true, right? Well there are some drawbacks to the cheaper video doorbell, for example, there are very limited customisations for the motion detection. You can’t set custom zones to monitor which might be a real pain in the backside if your camera faces a busy street or directly at a neighbour. There;’s also a reduced field of vision and it lacks integration with Google Home or Google Assistant (no surprises from Amazon there).
Best for parcels: Eufy Dual Video Doorbell
Next up is another doorbell from Eufy, their newest Eufy Dual Video Doorbell which has two cameras and motion detection sensors. The benefit of this is improved parcel protection which is something Eufy had previously been lacking compared to the subscription-required alternatives such as Nest and Ring.
The downward-facing camera is also moveable which, according to Eufy, gives you an ‘unlimited view’ of your porch. Both cameras are also 2k so the video quality is very high.
In addition, it has both radar and infrared sensors which give it significantly improved motion detector abilities. The use of radar in a video doorbell was pioneered by Ring in their top-of-the-line Ring Video Doorbell Pro 2, but it didn’t take long for Eufy to realise the benefits and include radar as well as PIR.
Most of the other features are similar to the standard Eufy devices that I shared in the top spot earlier, including the homebase for storing the footage securely inside the home. However, the downside of the dual cam is that the device is more expensive and also slightly larger than these devices.
With Internal Screen: Brinno Peephole Camera
If none of the above devices did it for you, I’ve included this Brinno as an alternative style doorbell without a subscription.
This Brinno doesn’t have remote live view and two-way audio as the others do, instead, it focuses on giving those at home a quick peek of who’s at the door and keeping a security backup.
The device fits to a peephole with the main camera on the inside, making it very inconspicuous and impossible to steal. When the doorbell rings or it detects a knock, the indoor screen displays who’s at the door and it records the interaction to send a record to your inbox.
The video quality leaves a lot to be desired, but it’s adequate for its purpose and is a sincere upgrade on the traditional peep hole method, especially for elderly relatives or younger people who can’t reach the peephole.
For more devices along this line, see my guide to the best video doorbells with a monitor.
Video Doorbell Buyers Guide (Without Subscription)
If you’re still struggling to decide, here is a run down of some key things to look out for when buying a subscription-free video doorbell:
Battery vs WIred
If you have an existing doorbell or are happy to install cables yourself, then a wired doorbell offers a hassle-free experience.
However, for a simple installation (or if you are renting), a wireless battery powered doorbell is best. Be sure to check the battery life as some are much longer than others.
If opting for battery powered, check whether it uses a removeable rechargeable battery or if you need to take the doorbell down for charging.
See my full guide to battery-powered video doorbells for more recommendations.
Where is the Footage Stored?
Most video doorbells without a subscription will use local storage to get around the use of the cloud.
If this is on the doorbell itself, remember that it can be problematic if a thief steals the doorbell.
Look for devices with a hub inside your home that stores the footage for added protection.
Motion Detection and Alerts
All video doorbells will have motion detection, but they will all have varying levels of sensitivity and accuracy.
Also, beware that some doorbells (such as the Arlo) have advanced motion detection behind a paywall so you’ll have to subscribe to access it.
Video doorbells aren’t just for fun, they also serve a purpose as a serious security device.
For this reason, you want to be able to trust the device to do it’s job properly. Cheaper doorbells from unrecognised brands may be less reliable and have less accountability.
Smart Assistant Integration
If you have a favourite voice assistant (most likely Google Home or Alexa) make sure that the video doorbell can integrate with it.
This will unlock extra benefits such as using smart speakers as chimes or viewing the doorstep with your voice.
Can You Use Ring or Nest Doorbell Without Subscription?
Unfortunately, the very best devices on the market do require a subscription to get the full use of them.
Whilst Amazon say you can use Ring doorbells without any monthly commitment, you will forego key features such as actually being able to go back and see your recordings so I wouldn’t advise it.
The Nest Hello doorbell is slightly better as it saves a screen shot of any activity detected for 3 hours.
However, this is still very limited in comparison to Eufy and the other options recommended above so the Nest Hello isn’t worthwhile without a Nest Aware plan.
Congratulations, you’re now an expert on subscription-free video doorbells.
As you can see the feature sets and pricing varies greatly between the devices but overall, the Eufy battery powered doorbell is the best video doorbell without subscription and doesn’t cost the Earth either.
Anker are continually updating the device too, so I look forward to seeing what features are released in future and fingers crossed for better integration with Google Home to make this device really excel.