Fully Offline Video Doorbell for Home Assistant

Today I am sharing my setup for a fully offline video doorbell in Home Assistant. The camera, motion sensor, and doorbell are all integrated over local IP.

Fully Offline Video Doorbell for Home Assistant

Today I am sharing my setup for a fully offline video doorbell in Home Assistant. The live video feed, motion sensor, and doorbell button are all integrated into Home Assistant over local IP. This allows me to view the feed and create automations, securely, without exposing my camera to the outside world and without relying on a cloud-connected service.

The Doorbell

I am using an Amcrest AD110 video doorbell, which is based around a Dahua camera.

Amazon.com : Amcrest 1080P Video Doorbell Camera Pro, Outdoor Smart Home 2.4GHz WiFi Doorbell Camera (Wired Power), MicroSD Card, PIR Motion Detect, RTSP, IP55 Weatherproof, 2-Way Audio, 140º Wide-Angle AD110 : Electronics
Amazon.com : Amcrest 1080P Video Doorbell Camera Pro, Outdoor Smart Home 2.4GHz WiFi Doorbell Camera (Wired Power), MicroSD Card, PIR Motion Detect, RTSP, IP55 Weatherproof, 2-Way Audio, 140º Wide-Angle AD110 : Electronics
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The Amcrest has two critical features for the offline build. First, it has an RTSP feed for recording locally with home NVR software. Second, it has a local API to get motion sensor and doorbell events.

Amcrest AD110 Video Doorbell Installed

I installed the AD110 over my existing doorbell according to the manufacturer, using the official Amcrest app to set everything up. The installation was no different from any other video doorbell.

24/7 Recording and Live Monitoring

The AD110 exposes its RTSP stream by default, so the first thing I did was wire it up in Blue Iris. I use Blue Iris to record and monitor all of my home security cameras.

Blue Iris - Add Camera

To add the camera, just enter the rstp address using the doorbell's IP, and enter the username and password from the Amcrest app. The Find/inspect button will fill in the rest of the details.

Video tab

Record tab

On the Record tab, tick Video and select Continuous recording. Under "video file format and compression", choose Direct-to-disc (again, this is to reduce CPU usage).

Now the AD110's video feed is continuously recording in Blue Iris completely over local IP. I can also securely view the live feed from anywhere using UI3 web player from BI.

Doorbell and Motion Sensors

Next, I set up my sensors in Home Assistant. Using dchesterton/amcrest2mqtt, you can easily generate MQTT sensors for the doorbell button and motion sensor. This all works over local IP using the Amcrest python module to access the Dahua API.

If you have not previously set up MQTT, follow this guide to set up your broker. Also, make sure your configuration.yaml contains "mqtt:" to enable device discovery.

amcrest2mqtt is a Docker image, so we will install Portainer in Home Assistant to run it.

1. Install Portainer

Install the Portainer add-on and start it up. Once it is running, open the web UI.

2. Add the Container

Select the primary endpoint. In the side menu, select Containers. Use the +Add Container button to add a new container.

Adding the container

For Name enter amcrest2mqtt and for Image enter dchesterton/amcrest2mqtt:latest. Under Advanced > Env add the environment variables specified in the README.

Setting the container's environment variables

Finally, under Advanced > Restart policy choose Unless stopped. Deploy the container and ensure that it is running. The container logs should spit out some information about your camera, so check there to make sure the API is responding correctly.

02/05/2021 03:35:49 [INFO] Fetching camera details...
02/05/2021 03:35:52 [INFO] Device type: AD110
02/05/2021 03:35:52 [INFO] Serial number: ##############
02/05/2021 03:35:52 [INFO] Software version: 1.000.00AC006.0.R
02/05/2021 03:35:52 [INFO] Device name: Front Door
02/05/2021 03:35:52 [INFO] Writing Home Assistant discovery config...
02/05/2021 03:35:52 [INFO] Fetching storage sensors...
02/05/2021 03:35:54 [INFO] Listening for events...
Container logs

With the HOME_ASSISTANT flag set to true, the container will publish discovery messages over MQTT to create several new entities. The container also publishes state changes whenever the doorbell is pressed or motion is detected. As soon as the container is running, you should see the new doorbell device in Home Assistant. Note that the Storage sensors don't work unless you install an SD card in the doorbell.

MQTT Device config in Home Assistant

Now you can test the binary_sensor entities by triggering the motion sensor or the doorbell button. In my experience, the sensors are very responsive – they are usually as fast, or faster, than the actual Amcrest app. The sensors also continue work when disconnected from the internet.

Optional: Block Internet Access

At this point, I had everything I needed from the doorbell – a live feed, continuous recording, and hardware events – and I decided to take my doorbell completely offline. I did this using my router to block that IP from the internet. This way I don't have to worry about security vulnerabilities which might allow someone to snoop on my camera.

The trade-off is that the Amcrest app no longer works for answering the doorbell, but that is a feature which I can live without. I always have the option to disable the block if I want those features again temporarily.

Automation Example #1 - Virtual Peepholes

I have several kiosk tablets around the house running Fully Kiosk, so the first automation I set up was to bring up the live feed on each tablet when the doorbell is pressed.

Doorbell Live Feed

First, I added a view in Lovelace to show the live feed. This new view will be loaded up by my automation when the doorbell is pressed. The code here would depend on how you choose to integrate camera feeds into Home Assistant. I kept it very simple by using an iframe to pull up the Blue Iris web player.

title: Doorbell
path: doorbell-cameras
panel: true
- type: iframe
  url: !secret doorbell_480p_url
  aspect_ratio: '16:9'
Home Assistant - Better Blue Iris Integration using Lovelace iframes
In this post, I will show how I greatly improved the performance of my Blue Iris cameras in Home Assistant. Rather than using the camera component, I am using iframes to directly embed the UI3 interface into Lovelace.

Next, I set up my automations to load up the view when the doorbell button is pressed. This was very easy to do because I already have REST services set up in Home Assistant to control each kiosk.

Fully Kiosk Rest API Integration in Home Assistant
10/25/20 Update - The isScreenOn property has been changed to screenOn in laterversions of Fully Kiosk. Check your JSON output for the correct name In this post I’ll show how I exposed the backlight of my crappy old Androidtablet as a Light in Home Assistant using the Fully Kiosk Rest API. Next, …

I used Node-RED for the automation, but this could very easily be scripted out in YAML. It consists of three service calls:

  1. Turn on the screen, in case it was turned off for some reason
  2. Bring the Fully Kiosk app to the front, in case it had been minimized
  3. Navigate to the new doorbell view
Node-RED flow using the Fully Kiosk REST service
[{"id":"741d75fd.e0135c","type":"trigger-state","z":"2ef67aae.d4bfe6","name":"Doorbell Rung","server":"a86c4410.e2a568","exposeToHomeAssistant":false,"haConfig":[{"property":"name","value":""},{"property":"icon","value":""}],"entityid":"binary_sensor.front_door_doorbell","entityidfiltertype":"exact","debugenabled":false,"constraints":[{"targetType":"this_entity","targetValue":"","propertyType":"current_state","comparatorType":"is","comparatorValueDatatype":"str","comparatorValue":"on","propertyValue":"new_state.state"}],"outputs":2,"customoutputs":[],"outputinitially":false,"state_type":"str","x":220,"y":3000,"wires":[["b0291746.cff2c8"],[]]},{"id":"b0291746.cff2c8","type":"api-call-service","z":"2ef67aae.d4bfe6","name":"Turn on screen","server":"a86c4410.e2a568","version":1,"debugenabled":false,"service_domain":"rest_command","service":"wall_tablet_kiosk_command","entityId":"","data":"{\"cmd\":\"screenOn\"}","dataType":"json","mergecontext":"","output_location":"","output_location_type":"none","mustacheAltTags":false,"x":410,"y":3000,"wires":[["b8514a52.6e3fd8"]]},{"id":"b8514a52.6e3fd8","type":"api-call-service","z":"2ef67aae.d4bfe6","name":"Bring app to foreground","server":"a86c4410.e2a568","version":1,"debugenabled":false,"service_domain":"rest_command","service":"wall_tablet_kiosk_command","entityId":"","data":"{\"cmd\":\"toForeground\"}","dataType":"json","mergecontext":"","output_location":"","output_location_type":"none","mustacheAltTags":false,"x":620,"y":2980,"wires":[["4cbd748a.3d9d9c"]]},{"id":"4cbd748a.3d9d9c","type":"api-call-service","z":"2ef67aae.d4bfe6","name":"Navigate to view","server":"a86c4410.e2a568","version":1,"debugenabled":false,"service_domain":"rest_command","service":"wall_tablet_kiosk_command","entityId":"","data":"{\"cmd\":\"loadURL\", \"url\":\"\"}","dataType":"json","mergecontext":"","output_location":"","output_location_type":"none","mustacheAltTags":false,"x":830,"y":2960,"wires":[[]]},{"id":"4c31f2b2.94f04c","type":"inject","z":"2ef67aae.d4bfe6","name":"test","props":[{"p":"payload"},{"p":"topic","vt":"str"}],"repeat":"","crontab":"","once":false,"onceDelay":0.1,"topic":"","payload":"","payloadType":"date","x":240,"y":2960,"wires":[["b0291746.cff2c8"]]},{"id":"a86c4410.e2a568","type":"server","name":"Home Assistant","legacy":false,"addon":true,"rejectUnauthorizedCerts":true,"ha_boolean":"y|yes|true|on|home|open","connectionDelay":true,"cacheJson":true}]
Node-RED flow

I repeated this flow for each of my kiosks. Now when the doorbell is rung, the live feed pops up on all of my tablets giving me a virtual peephole for the front door no matter where I am in the house.

Automation Example #2 - AI Enhanced Push Notifications

The next automation I set up was mobile push notifications which trigger when someone is at the front door. At first, I used the doorbell press as my trigger, but I was missing a lot of events because my local delivery drivers usually do not press the doorbell. I decided to instead use motion events to trigger the notifications, with AI to filter out only the events which actually contain people.

Doorbell Person Alert Notification

This automation relies on a bunch of tools which I have already set up – Blue Iris, Last Watch AI, Samba sharing, Android/iOS notifications, and Node-RED. It was easy for me to add this automation, but to show all of the prerequisite setup would take a whole post. Here is just a summary of how it works:

  1. Blue Iris triggers motion events when a person approaches the doorbell. The motion detection is fine tuned to only trigger on very large objects (otherwise it will trigger when the person is far away and hard to identify).
  2. Last Watch AI checks the event snapshot for humans. If a person is in the event, the snapshot is sent over to Home Assistant.
  3. A Node-RED flow is triggered when the new event comes in to Home Assistant. The flow publishes push notifications containing the event snapshot to each mobile device.
  4. The Node-RED flow then blocks itself until the person has cleared the area. I already have AI sensors that turn on whenever a person is in the driveway, so I just wait for those to turn off. This is important because we only want to generate one notification per "approach".

The result is a push notification that consistently shows every approach to the doorbell. The notifications almost always show the person when they are close to and facing the camera, which is perfect for package deliveries because you can see the driver holding the package.

Tapping the notification also brings up the full size image along with the live feed.

Doorbell view in Home Assistant mobile app

Other Automations

Here are the other automations I am working on:

  • Push notifications for doorbell button presses
  • Record and play back video clips of recent doorbell approaches
  • Turn on lights inside the house if a person approaches while nobody is home to make it look like someone is home
  • Automatically unlock doors with AI face detection

Thanks for reading!