Ring Alarm doesn’t support smart lighting controls, door locks, thermostats, garage-door openers, or other common smart home products today, and there’s a very short list of supported third-party products. But it lacks nothing needed to support those and similar devices down the road. And in an interview with Ring Solutions president Mike Harris earlier this week, I learned that’s exactly what Ring intends to do.
Since I’m assuming you will want to live stream often to check on your kids, I would recommend a wired security camera. The original Canary is a good option as is Arlo Q. Both will allow you to live stream from anywhere. Original Canary does not offer two-way audio for free, Arlo Q does, something to consider if you want to be able to talk to your childcare provider or children using the camera. Both cameras include free cloud storage.
The device’s design causes another issue. In theory, each clip cable needs to be screwed in. I’ve heard others claim this is for security reasons, making the device harder to steal. But I don’t see how this could be true. It’s not hard to walk up and unscrew the camera from the cord and walk away with it. The camera attaches to the base using a magnet, and it connects to the power adapter using a cord that you simply push and twist to disconnect.
Ring Doorbell cameras are some of the most popular options on the market today. But, it can be confusing to determine which one is right for your needs (there are quite a few to select from). However, these doorbells are designed to be very reliable, easy to install, and simple to use. They allow you to see, hear, and speak to those people who come to your door. You can access the doorbell camera from your computer, tablet, or through an app on your mobile phone. Here is a look at some of the options.
The kit comes with a base station, keypad, contact sensor, motion detector, and range extender. Since Ring is pre-packaging all of this, all of the pieces are designed to automatically talk to each other, which makes setting them up easier, but could lead to some confusion when things go wrong. You won't be able to take any of these parts and integrate them with another Ring Alarm system, just the one they come with.
Ideally suited for the darker nooks on your property that are susceptible to breach after sundown, it comes in four models: Spotlight Cam Wired ($199), Spotlight Cam Battery ($199 at Amazon), Spotlight Cam Solar ($229), and Spotlight Cam Mount ($249 at Amazon). The cameras in all four models are the same. The Battery and Solar use the same battery; the latter just comes with an included solar panel that can also be purchased independently ($49 at Amazon).
Where Nest Wins: Nest has a better design, fantastic cameras, and cheaper cellular backup. Their multi-purpose sensors may cut down on the number of sensors you need, though they are more expensive than abode and Ring sensors. Also, Nest Guard is the most intuitive with LED lights, a keypad, and voice feedback. Finally, Nest Secure offers a 2-year warranty where abode and Ring offer 1-year warranties. However, there are areas where abode and Ring win too.
I would go beyond resolution and consider what you want the camera to do. My favorite outdoor camera is Arlo Pro, but a battery-powered outdoor camera will come with its own challenges. In my front yard, I need 24/7 continuous recording which is Nest, but I can’t deal with the way the giant wire looks on Nest Outdoor so I used Nest Cam Indoor filming through a window for a couple of years, which also has its own challenges, until I swapped out my Ring Doorbell for Nest Hello. Nest Hello is Nest’s video doorbell and it can record continuously.
Contact sensors come in two pieces, a large sensor part and a smaller magnet part, and both pieces must be aligned within 1/4 inch of each other when the door or window is closed. One piece goes on the door or window while the second part goes on the frame, but it doesn't matter which part goes on which side. When the door or window is opened, the two parts are separated, and the sensor triggers.
The Base Station keeps your Alarm system online and connected to your mobile devices. It connects to your home network via ethernet or wi-fi and links to all your Alarm components and select third-party devices via Z-Wave. Also included are a built-in 110-decibel siren, 24-hour backup battery and optional cellular backup (with a Ring Protect Plus subscription).
If that’s not possible, or if the floodlight feature is really important to you, I recommend either the Ring Floodlight (not tested but I have heard good things about it) or Ring Spotlight. Ring launched a new indoor camera at CES, so that might be an option. I need to dig into it more before I say yay or nay of course. Currently, Nest, Arlo Q, Arlo Pro, and Amazon Cloud Cam are my top recommended indoor cameras.
You can also disarm the system from the app, but in a break from convention, Ring does not offer a key fob for arming and disarming the system. Geofencing that would automatically arm and disarm when you leave and return isn’t supported either. Harris said those were conscious design decisions. “What it came to was security,” Harris said. People said ‘Hey, I want this to automatically disarm my security system when I get close.’ The question then becomes: How close? And is it really you with your phone? Or did someone pick it up at the park, find your address, drive to your house, and let themselves in?”
As you set up each piece, you're able to give it a name (like Front Door, Office Window, Main Hallway, etc), and then a location of where it is in your home, as well. Within the app, the devices are grouped by type, and the names that you give each piece is displayed to help you know what is what. While setting up the keypad you'll be asked to create a PIN number that you'll use to engage and disengage. If you have additional family members, once you share the new equipment with them in the app, you can set PIN numbers for them as well.
Getting this much capable home security hardware for $199 is an absolute bargain (the system became available for purchase today). Adding door/window sensors for $20 each and motion sensors for $30 is an absolute bargain. Paying $10 a month for professional monitoring and video storage in the cloud for an unlimited number of Ring security cameras is an absolute bargain. Ring Alarm will be a huge hit with people looking for a straightforward, easy-to-use home security system.
Arlo Go is yet another Arlo camera. It’s an Arlo Pro plus 4G. The big catch is that a cellular plan via Verizon is needed as it doesn’t work with WiFi. It does come with 15 data minutes to send 15 minutes worth of video to the cloud for free. Once you’ve used those minutes, you’ll need to buy more time. Data plans start at $4.99/month for 15 data minutes and go up to $32.99/month for 225 data minutes. Arlo Go sells for $429.99 on Amazon or 399.99 from Verizon ($349.99 if you sign a 2-year contract).
The decision to separate the system’s brains—the base station—from the keypad is smart: It allows you to place the larger base station somewhere out of the way and put the smaller keypad near an entry door, where it’s easy to access. You can also deploy more than one keypad—one at the front door, one at the back, and one on your bedside table, for instance. Putting the base station somewhere other than near an entry door also enhances the system’s overall security: If burglars can’t find it quickly, they can’t disable the system.
Spotlight Cam also works with Ring Neighborhoods. With this feature, you can quickly share video clips with those nearby. You don’t have to invite your neighbors. Instead, Ring uses your set geolocation to find other nearby users. You can even customize your location by creating a smaller or larger shape around your home. By tapping on the Ring Neighborhood icon when viewing a call or recording, you can share that event with those nearby regardless of whether or not they own a Ring device. So long as your neighbor has the Ring app, you can share events with them. You can also choose to share events to Facebook and NextDoor.
Some jurisdictions require permits for monitored alarm systems, and Ring will guide you based on the address where you're using Ring Alarm. In some areas, Ring can obtain the permit on your behalf once you pay required fees, but in other jurisdictions you'll need to handle it on your own. Either way, once you have your permit, you can enter the permit number and expiration date in the Ring app to make all parties aware that your system is properly registered. My town does not require permits, so I did not need to go through this step.
Both the Ring Alarm and Nest Secure are easy to install by yourself. You don’t need to purchase professional installation, but both offer that option for an additional charge. Neither platform requires a contract, so you won’t be forced to pay monthly ongoing subscription fees. Both Ring and Nest also offer the ability to control your home security devices via a user-friendly app on your smartphone or tablet, making it simple to check in on things at home when you’re out and about. You’ll also get a notification on your device if the system detects anything out of the ordinary, so you’re always in the know about what’s going on at home.
After I finished installing this device I found myself having issues with it for the first 3 days where sensors will go offline for no reason almost every day; suddenly after day 4 maybe, all of the issues disappeared and the system was now working like a well-oiled machine. I reached out to Ring support team and they informed me that there was an automatic update that the brain device was going to perform on its own and that would solve all of the issues I was experiencing. They were indeed 100% correct, after just a few days the system was doing exactly what it was supposed to be doing all along. No issues, no dropped devices, a happy customer here now. If you end up choosing this system and experience issues during the first 3-4 days, please wait a few days for your system to automatically update itself to the latest software and you’ll see the issues magically go away.
The system was quite easy to install. Having six sensors to place seems like a lot, until you realize you can’t cover everything though you can certainly cover enough. I found the system to be very responsive whenever it was armed or a sensor was set off (both the app and e-mail notifications were received mere seconds after an event). This is in marked contrast to a non-Ring security camera I use to monitor the entrance that can take several minutes or longer to send me notifications. The siren too was fairly loud, as I found out one early weekend during testing.
By purchasing this system you’re almost certain that they will come out with upgrades and updates to this product and ways to integrate it with Alexa and smart home devices. If you encounter any kind of issues, they will have someone listen to you and actually give you a solution rather than one of these knock off Chinese products that will give you excuses for faulty behavior but not solutions.
The Nest Secure and Ring Alarm each clearly have their advantages. The Nest comes out ahead in certain factors, most notably its Works with Nest program that provides easy integration with the broader smart home. But the price point of the Ring system is far more attractive, particularly for those who are just starting to build their smart home. If your priority is smart home integration, Nest may be the better option. But if a more affordable base price — and more components included in that base price — is what you’re after, you can’t beat the Ring.
Rose, thanks for the great review! Paul, I have a Video Doorbell Pro and a Floodlight Cam — both are hardwired. Both lag at least seven seconds behind real time and sometimes even longer. During the lag, the would-be burglar is gone or could be in your house. Ring’s ads suggest you see things in real time which is not the case for me. The signal strength and wifi speed both test excellent. I hope this helps you. Nick
Yes, I’m looking for an ecosystem that provides cloud-based mobile access to security video in a reasonably low cost package. However, I don’t want WiFi cameras, because I don’t want the bandwidth burden on the WiFi when I already have CAT6 cables to each camera location and I already have a POE switch. I don’t need a doorbell at all, just the cameras.
Before we get ahead of ourselves, how did Ring become a giant in home security now worth over $1 Billion? They started out as 'Doorbot' and failed getting an investor on Shark Tank. While this could have been a low blow to the company, they pursued the smart doorbell camera and became the leader of it (Vivint to follow in 2nd). Richard Branson chimed in with a large investment and that really got the company going. Fast forward some years and now they are in thousands of stores and in neighborhoods across the nation.
Installing Spotlight Cam Solar wasn’t that simple, which I expected since it requires drilling, but the process was made even more complicated by two issues. First, the box design would have Steve Jobs rolling over in his grave. In fact, I’m not one for exaggerations so know that when I say it’s one of the worst box designs I’ve ever opened, I mean it. On a more serious note, there’s a discrepancy between the instructions found on the app, those printed on the included quick start guide, and those found online.