Arlo Essential Video Doorbell Wire-Free review: a great value, hassle-free video doorbell
Keep your home safe and secure with the Arlo Essential Video Doorbell Wire-Free, which is also a breeze to install
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The battery-powered Arlo Essential Video Doorbell Wire-Free is super easy to install and boasts brilliant HD video and crystal-clear talkback. It's one of the only wire-free video doorbells on the market that will call your phone or smart speaker when somebody is at the door. We love the 180-degree view, too.
Can be installed wire-free
Excellent two-way talkback
Good quality night vision
Easy to charge
Battery lasts up to six months
Calls your phone or smart speaker when somebody is at the door
Needs an Arlo subscription after three months
Chime not included
Won't suit all house styles
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If you're looking for a video doorbell, then the Arlo Essential Video Doorbell Wire-Free is a safe bet. As the name suggests, it doesn't need to be wired in, making it really easy to install and use. Instead, you simply attach the doorbell to your house with a couple of screws and then pop off the camera and plug it in whenever the battery needs charging.
This is Arlo's first wire-free video doorbell but you'd never know it isn't connected to mains electricity thanks to the crystal-clear video and excellent quality two-way talkback, which means you can talk to whoever is at your door using your mobile phone or smart speaker. It also has a handy built-in siren, which you can set off from anywhere in the world as long as you're connected to the internet – perfect for keeping your home safe when you're away.
The doorbell has a 180-degree field of vision, meaning you can capture footage of as much of the front of your property as possible. You can also use the doorbell as a CCTV camera, allowing you to view live footage of your home using the Arlo app, although you need to pay a monthly subscription for this service.
We think this is a great-value option if you're looking for a video doorbell but don't want the commitment of wiring one in (although you can have it wired in if you like). Take a look at our full review and today's best prices below, or head to our guide to the best wireless doorbells for our favorite alternatives.
Arlo Essential Video Doorbell Wire-Free: Specs & features
- Video: 1080p full HD
- Field of view: 180-degree horizontal view
- Weatherproof? Yes
- Night vision? Yes
- Zoom? Yes, x12
- Alert options: Will call your mobile phone or smart speaker; activate your current doorbell chime; or link in with the Arlo Chime 2
- Operating temperatures: -20 to 45 degrees Celsius
- Doorbell dimensions: W47xH143xD37mm
- Requirements: High-speed internet connection – 2.4Ghz WiFi network needed
If you live in a rented house or simply don't want to commit to a wired-in video doorbell, then a wire-free option is the perfect solution. The Arlo Essential Video Doorbell Wire-Free connects to your home's WiFi and is powered by a battery. It means there's no need for a mains electricity supply. Arlo claims the battery will last up to an impressive six months on one charge, although we found two months was more realistic if you have lots of notifications (aka The White Company deliveries).
For us, the best feature of this doorbell is the quality of the video footage and talkback. We've tested doorbells in the past where we've ended up shouting into our phones like idiots trying to get a delivery driver to hear us, but that isn't the case with the Arlo Essential. The 1080p HD video can be viewed live from your phone, tablet, or smart display. And the two-way audio means you can speak with any visitors or delivery people.
The Arlo app (which you pay a small monthly subscription for) lets you customize what the doorbell alerts you to, and also select the field of detection. This is especially useful if you live close to other houses and don't want alerts going off every time your neighbor comes in or out.
If somebody is at your front door and presses the button on the Arlo, you can choose for it to alert you in one of four ways. We set it to call our mobile phone, but it can also call a smart speaker; activate your current doorbell chime; or link in with the Arlo Chime 2. Our reviewer works from home and found it super handy having calls sent to her mobile as she could see somebody was waiting without the hassle of the doorbell chime going off.
You get three months of free access to the Arlo app when you buy the doorbell. After that, there are four packages you can subscribe to, depending on the number of devices you have and the quality of video playback you need. Prices start at $2.99 / £2.49 per month.
Arlo Essential Video Doorbell Wire-Free: Installation
Inside the box is the doorbell unit, rechargeable battery, charging cable, wall mounting screw kit, battery release pin, and quick-start guide. You also get a choice of flat or angled mounting plates, to help you get the best possible view of the front of your house.
Although the doorbell is wireless, we still felt like drilling it into our brand-new wooden door was a bit of a commitment. Instead, we decided to locate it on some wooden cladding to the right of the door, which is easier to repair or replace.
In terms of setup and installation, the Arlo Essential Video Doorbell Wire-Free is a breeze. You simply plug in the battery using the cable provided and leave it to charge. We found the first full charge took about six hours. You then use a drill to create two holes in your chosen surface and attach the doorbell unit. There are rawl plugs included if you're drilling into brick, or you can simply screw straight into timber.
Arlo Essential Video Doorbell Wire-Free: Video quality
We already have an Arlo Pro 3 Floodlight Security Camera installed at our review property, so chose to select a different view of the front of the house with the doorbell. We found that the doorbell has better quality talkback than the security camera and that the daytime video footage is also much clearer.
The quality of the video footage (below) is excellent both day and night. You're also notified instantly when somebody presses the doorbell button – a vast improvement on some other video security products we've tested where there's been a lag before you're notified. For our ranking, take a look at our guide to the best wireless security cameras.
Arlo Essential Video Doorbell Wire-Free: Design
Let's be honest, video doorbells aren't the most stylish products on the market. In fact, we've yet to find one that would complement a period property. However, the Arlo Essential Video Doorbell Wire-Free in white worked well with our reviewer's 1960s property, which is rendered white with aluminum windows. It's also available in an all-black finish.
The design is simple and modern, with a large circular button for visitors to press and the camera located above. In terms of dimensions, it's W47xH143xD37mm, which we thought was a little deep. The wire-free Ring Video Doorbell 4, which is probably the most well-known battery-powered doorbell, measures in at slightly shorter but wider at W62xH128xD28mm.
It's really simple to remove the battery from the Arlo Essential for charging. You can use the tool included with the doorbell (or just use a pin if you lose it). You have to take the front of the camera and the battery indoors when you're charging as the camera isn't waterproof with the battery removed. We found subsequent charges took around five hours.
Arlo Essential Video Doorbell Wire-Free: Competitors
The RRP for the Arlo Essential Video Doorbell Wire-Free is the same as for its wired-in model, at $199.99 / £179.99. If you want the doorbell to sound a chime within the house and don't already have one, you'll also need the Arlo Chime 2, $29.99 / £49.99.
It's fair to say that Ring still dominates the video doorbell market, and its most comparable option is the Arlo Doorbell 4, which comes in at a very similar $199.99 / £179. This doorbell is also wire-free and boasts similar features.
If you're looking for a budget wireless doorbell, we recommend the EZVIZ DB1C, which retails at $129 / £129.99, including a chime.
And for a no-strings-attached option, you'll want to check out the Eufy Video Doorbell 2k, which doesn't require any kind of monthly subscription. It currently costs $199.99 / £159.99.
Arlo Essential Video Doorbell Wire-Free: Our Verdict
Taking into account the cost, list of features, and ease of installation, we love the Arlo Essential Video Doorbell Wire-Free. The video quality is excellent, as is the two-way talkback. Yes, it's a bit of a pain having to pay a monthly subscription to the Arlo app, but the features you get for your money are worth it. The only downside is that the doorbell unit itself is deeper than we'd like and it would stick out like a sore thumb on a period property. Other than that, it's a sound investment.
About this review
Review samples of the Arlo Essential Video Doorbell Wire-Free and Arlo Chime 2 were tested by Laura Crombie, our Content Director. She's tested dozens of smart home products over the years, from electric car chargers to smart coffee machines. She currently uses Amazon Alexa to control her smart home products and has an Arlo Pro 3 Floodlight Security Camera.
Laura Crombie is Content Director for Future Homes, which includes Livingetc, Homes and Gardens, Ideal Home and Real Homes. She has been writing about homes and interiors for almost 15 years and has reviewed all kinds of products, from vacuum cleaners to cookware. She is currently renovating a 1960s property in Worcestershire.
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