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These are essential items for controlling access at your door if you don’t have clear glass. It’s so much better to be able to see the caller before you speak to them, let alone answering the door to them. However, I really wish that more door manufacturers would offer secure vision panels as an option for their doors, because they offer some advantages over door viewers. However, until that time arrives let’s see what is available at the moment. (See Personal Security, Bogus callers (Distraction burglary)
The common spyhole viewer uses a ‘fish eye’ lens to provide a very wide angle of view of the area outside your front door. They come in various designs and offer fields of view from 160° to more than 200°, so you could be looking behind yourself in some instances! They are perfectly good for people with good eyesight, but not so easy to use if you wear glasses. Most are designed to fit doors up to 50mm thick and so that covers just about all of the domestic door market. These devices come in two parts that screw into each other from the opposite side of the door. The bulging lens is the bit that goes on the outside of the door, otherwise the caller could be looking at you before you open the door, which in my case would not be a bad thing!
These viewers collect reflected light from the callers face outside, which then goes through a prism lens and onto a viewing screen. This means that you don’t have to put your eye up to it. Manufacturers claim that you can see a useful image from about 2 metres away. I think that these are much easier to use that the conventional spyhole and are especially good for people who wear glasses and for children who might struggle to reach the normal peephole that tends to be fitted at about 1.5 metres high off the floor. At night you must use these in conjunction with an outside light as otherwise they don’t work very well.
Electronic door viewers
These devices use a digital camera to capture a live image of the caller which is then viewed on a monitor about 65mm square. The field of view is about 90°, but you can view the image from several metres away. The whole device is installed onto the door and the only part outside is the lens of the camera, so it looks rather like a peephole viewer. Some of them allow you to record images and the time at which they were filmed, even if you are out. You can even zoom in and out. A built in LED provides extra light at night to ensure that you get a sharp image. If you like gadgets then this is the door viewer for you.
Secure vision panels
Secure vision panels consist of three panes of glass. The outer and inner panes are 6.4mm thick laminated glass and the sliding inner pane is 4mm thick annealed glass. On the back of the door is an easy to use handle, which when turned causes the inner sliding pane of glass to move up and down. A variety of neat designs on the outer and sliding pane allows you to control the amount of vision through the panel. Pardon the unintended pun, but in my view secure vision panels are the best device for checking callers at the door, because they are extremely easy to use by everybody and provide a more natural view of the caller. It is a great shame that not more domestic door manufacturers offer them as an option.