Six Things You Need to Know About Door Viewers 4

I talk a lot about door security on this site and for good reason. A lot of house break-ins occur through the entrance doors into a residential property. Oftentimes, a burglar gets to walk in through an unlocked door or one where it’s easy to pick the lock. In other cases they are able to force entry when the door and/or its frame are inadequate. If you’ve read our other articles you will know that quite often it’s possible to make weak doors strong with very little effort and money. In this piece our focus is on the benefits of door viewers and peepholes.[1]

Watch the short video below to see how easy it is to install a new door viewer peephole:

The rest of this article answers the six frequently asked questions about door viewers.

#1 What Is a Door Viewer?

A door viewer is a small opening drilled through your entrance door and fitted with a fisheye (wide-angle) type lens. Sometimes, opportunistic intruders force their way in once someone has opened the door. The most important thing to know about door viewers and peepholes is that they allow you to see who’s on your doorstep without opening the door. If you don’t recognize the person on the other side, you can decide whether to open it or not.

The simple glass peephole has been around for a very long time. Despite it being low tech, the peephole is a valuable added layer of residential safety and security for the occupants. The more sophisticated digital peephole viewer has the added benefit of a display screen and certain functions.

#2 Why Use a Digital Door Viewer?

One of the oldest tricks in the book is for burglars to knock on the door or ring the bell to see if anyone’s home. If you are in, then it’s better to let the stranger on the other side of the door know it. It’s also wise not to open the door until you know who’s on the other side. This is where the digital door viewer comes in really useful.

The new generation of peepholes offers digital solutions with large display screens. Seeing the caller on a nice brightly lit screen is much better than pressing one eye against a tiny peephole. It also means you get a much clearer, live image of who’s standing on your doorstep. Needless to say, the digital door viewer is a step up from the old style peephole. It adds that all-important extra layer of home security for you and your loved ones.

#3 How Does a Digital-Peephole Viewer Work?

Digital peephole viewers come in all shapes, sizes, and price ranges. Most of the residential door viewers function in a similar way. Once you’ve attached the viewer (display screen) to the inside of your door, you’re good to go. From the door’s exterior it just looks like a regular peephole. When there’s someone at the door, all you do is press the power button to see who it is—that’s it.

Some viewers have pause and zoom functions. This can be handy if the person stands some distance from the doorstep and you need to get a closer look. Most of the newer models will store the recording (including any zoom-in events) on the viewer’s MicroSD card. You can then play the interaction back later if you need to. It’s similar to a smartphone camera, which also lets you playback video or scroll through images stored on the device. You can remove the MicroSD card at any time if you want to save or transfer recordings to your computer or other electronic device.

When it gets dark, your digital peephole viewer has an invaluable night mode option. If your doorstep is dark even during the day, you can still use night view mode to increase the brightness. Also like a smartphone, you will have a settings panel. When you first setup your peephole viewer, you can set and save the correct date and time. This is useful if you need to show the police a disturbing interaction on your doorstep.

Some digital peephole viewers have a feature called a knocking sensor. How this works is by recording the callers image automatically, as soon as a knock at the door occurs. By the time you get to the door you can already see who’s on your doorstep. However, the most valuable thing about the knocking sensor is that you can see anyone who has called at your home while you were out. Different digital peephole viewers will have their own distinct features. Still, the description above covers the basic functions on how most of the newer models work.

#4 Where Should You Use Door Viewers?

Crime prevention organizations recommend fitting door viewers in combination with a door chains or door restrictors to the main doors. If you have more than one door that callers use, then it’s a good idea to secure both doors equally. For the majority of apartments there is only one entrance door so the decision is easy. Some houses, though, have side doors and back entrances where callers also go to. Only you can know, but the point is to make all your doors as secure as possible, and especially the main entrance into your property.[2]

#5 When Should You Use the Door Viewer?

When it comes to home security, it’s a good idea to form some good safety habits. Get into the routine of using your door viewer every single time someone comes to the door, at any time day or night. It only takes a couple of seconds to check who’s on the other side. Even if you’re expecting someone, still have a quick look before opening the door. All too often people install extra layers of safety and security and then fail to use them, or they don’t use them properly.

#6 Who’s the Ideal Candidate for Digital Door Viewers?

Every one of us is vulnerable to home intrusion, at least to some degree. For many people, a stranger forcing their way in through a slightly opened door is something that only happens to other people or in the movies. In reality, it can happen to anybody wherever they happen to live. This is not something we like to think about, but it’s something we all should. Today, the digital door viewers for homes are affordable, simple to install and very easy to use.

The usual vulnerable groups should certainly have digital door viewers fitted. This typically includes seniors and people living alone. There are also different types of burglar who target different groups. Understanding the minds of common crooks helps to make you more alert and security conscious.[3]



About Mark Bickmore

Hi, my name is Mark Bickmore. I'm an Engineer, who has a keen interest in home security and keeping my family, property and valuables safe from burglars. This website was set up to help me explore the research, facts and myths about burglars and burglary. Please feel free to contact me should you have any questions, comments or suggestions.

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4 thoughts on “Six Things You Need to Know About Door Viewers

  • Jim Alchediak

    Mark, I appreciate your site and this article. I want to install a low-tech peephole, but have a unique situation. My front door is mostly glass. It opens to a small(think 4ft by 4ft) antechamber with a second solid interior door separating the antechamber from the rest of the house. The interior door has a panel at the right height for a peephole that is only about one-quarter of in inch thick. I’ve seen no peephole hardware for such a thin door panel.
    So I’m trying to re-purpose some other kind of peephole framing device but haven’t found anything that would work. I probably don’t even need a bit of glass, but want to do a clean job of it outside of simply drilling a hole in our rather nice door. Any suggestions?


    • Mark Bickmore Post author

      Hi Jim,

      I understand your problem. However, I do not know of a peep hole that will fit a door that narrow. You could change tack completely and have a door bell/intercom with a camera built in.

      Let me know what solution you settle upon.


  • CampingGrammy

    I have a steel interior door and a glass storm door. My digital viewer works great for daytime. At night, the IR reflection back from the glass is an issue. Would it work to apply an laptop anti-glare screen or some anti-glare window film to the storm door?