Smart Doorbell, G4 Doorbell from Ubiquiti

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Smart Doorbell, G4 Doorbell from Ubiquiti

For the last ten years I have happily lived with my old but not old looking doorbell. It has served me well, but being 2021 I decided it was time that I add a smart doorbell to my house. That being said I won’t be getting rid of my old doorbell, I like the look way too much.

My old but not old bell… yes I installed it too low and have hit my head several times.

I decided to get the Ubiquiti G4 Doorbell, for me The G4 Doorbell was really the only one on my list, but not just because I am a UniFi fanboy. Because I already have multiple Ubiquiti Cameras and I liked to keep things simple, since the G4 Doorbell can also be a normal camera and alert on motion it made sense for me to stick with the UniFi Protect ecosystem.

It arrived! Getting tech in 2021 is always exciting due to shortages!

There are hundreds if not thousands of doorbells you can pick from when looking for a smart doorbell. You firstly need to weight up your options as to want features you want. For me the Ubiquiti G4 Doorbell ticks the right boxes;

  1. As I’ve already said, I have Ubiquiti cameras around my house and UniFi Protect running. It just made sense to stick with Ubiquiti.
  2. I wanted a WiFi one that didn’t require POE or battery. I don’t have network cables running to my front door. And in terms of cabling I wanted a really thin and easy to run cable. And I know with batteries I would forget to replace them making it pointless.
  3. I didn’t want to buy a chime box, I already have Alexa speakers all around my house.
  4. No monthly fee’s! I can’t understate that, I hate subscriptions.
  5. I’m a Ubiquiti Fanboy… so it just made sense.
Glamour shot! You can see my bell wire to the side.

Setup
I had to wait weeks (I wasn’t really counting the days), the issue was not those selling them but just COVID-19 getting in the way and causing a shortage in tech. So when it arrived I jumped into installing it.

The doorbell comes with some fancy cable clips to easily add your bell wire to the Ubiquiti G4 Doorbell. And I like that they are smart enough that it doesn’t matter which one you plug into which side, the doorbell figures out which is negative or positive and it just works. I’m not sure if others do this as well but the G4 Doorbell does.

In Australia it does come with a power supply that can be loaded in your power board, however I am in NSW Greater Sydney lockdown at the moment when it arrived so I couldn’t/didn’t want to wait to get an Electrican in, and there is no way that I would consider doing power work myself. So I did a click and collect for my Jay Car for a compatibility power supply and some bell wire.

I’m the first to attempt this is not a professional install. I know IT, thought I am not good at running cables, so this is the best I can do. I’ll most likely get it fixed when lockdowns end and I can get an installer in.

A horrible bell wire install, but best a non-cable guy can do.

That said, running from a powerpoint, it has now been running for 4 weeks without an issue. And I wanted to have it running for more than a day when I wrote this in case it broke the next day. It’s now been a few weeks later without any issues.

The Doorbell connects to my network, a nearby UniFi Mesh WiFi 5 AP. And it works without any issue. The setup was easy, and I won’t go too much into it as there are a a ton of reviews out there that go through those steps.

iOS App
I do love the iOS app, it allows me to easily swipe up and speak to whoever is there. This is great, especially since it works even when I am out of house, you can see a video of it below. Though I would love 2 additional features added.

  1. I wish I could action it from my Apple Watch and not just the iPhone. The alert comes up on my Apple Watch, but I can’t speak to the person there from my watch.
  2. CarPlay, when driving around I would love to be able to have it come up on my CarPlay and let me talk to whoever is at the door. I get not bringing up the video stream, but audio would be great.

UniFi Protect

While there are plenty of people that don’t like Protect I do. I’ve been using it since it first came out and have never had an issue that stopped me from using it. And with a growing number of cameras around I liked that the doorbell integrates with it.

You can see here it gives me a great view of all my cameras at once.

UniFi Protect site 6 feed screen.

Why didn’t I want POE
I get it, POE for a doorbell if you have heaps of over gear around would be great. And I would love it if this was an option that could be used, however for me cabling to my door isn’t easy, and I would rather have a thin bell wire there instead of an ethernet cable. Granted this may change if I decide to get my house professional cabled.

The only thing I don’t like is that in this views there isn’t an option to set the doorbell camera to crop the top and bottom slightly so it doesn’t letter box the image when in this grid view. I get the camera is a different aspect ratio, but for Protect it would be good if I could force it to fit the above grid.

Alexa… oh I love you
For me I looked at different chime boxes, but again that came with install options, and how could I hear it everywhere when I might be upstairs or downstairs, or inside or outside. So for me I looked at Alexa to fill this need. And it works amazingly.

I use Home Assistant, and this is how I achieved it. There may be other ways but for me I used Home Assistant, in there I use the Alexa Media Player plugin and have scripts that when my Doorbell button is pushed it triggers an automation on my some of my Alexa’s that achieve the following.

  1. Turn the Alexa volume up.
  2. Play doorbell chime.
  3. Turn Alexa volume back down.

I manually trigger this example, hence why the feed doesn’t show anyone there.

And I run these on multiple Alexa’s depending on the time of day. For example between 8am and 9am around the house they play in the Lounge-room, Kitchen, Outside, Playroom and Master Bedroom. If it is in other times it runs in the Lounge-room, Kitchen and Master Bedroom and at a much lower volume.

Nightlight

Up until I installed the G4 Pro last year, I used to get a monthly visit from some young arseholes who would go up the street checking cars to see if they were unlocked. Since installing the G4 Pro with its prominent blue ring that spins when it detects movement that has stopped.

And the way the G4 Doorbell has a blue ring, and a LED white light that come’s on when it detects movement is just as awesome. If nothing else it helps me to not step on my elderly cat who likes to sleep on the doormat.

Ironically, my cat was inside the night I took this photo.

No monthly fees
I hate monthly fees on things. I looked at difference options but ones that require me to spend X amount a month just to see who is at my door. And while other bells might cost less, if I then end up spending $5 to $10 a month just to use it eventually that $60 to $120 a year will add up to the other costs.

I’m also a fan of keeping data local, I like that any footage I system saves is stored on my UNVR Pro and not on someones cloud where others can access it.

So am I happy with the G4 Doorbell? Yes, it may cost some more than others but if you are already in the UniFi Protect ecosystem and don’t mind it not having POE then it is a great device. If I was to give it a percentage I would say 95% happy… give me an ability to talk via my watch and in the car then I would be 100% happy.

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