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). 
System is very responsive and mobile alerts are sent in real time. If the alarm goes off, you will get a mobile alert from the app with information about the actual sensor tripped; this app alert will be followed a few seconds later by a phone call from a representative checking on your well being. They will ask you for your “safe word” and if you cannot give the correct one they will dispatch a police officer. I also noticed if you cancel quickly enough with the app then they will not call you; I once cancelled after a few seconds through the app and the phone call came in, but before it could be answered it was already disconnected - which was great, no need to explain myself.
Pricing for add-on components is pretty much in line with what you'll pay if you have a SimpliSafe or Abode system. Extra contact sensors are $20 each, another motion sensor will cost you $30, and a range extender goes for $25. Additional devices including a Smoke/CO detector ($40), a Flood/Freeze detector ($35), and a Dome Siren ($30) are not yet available.
Thanks Rose for this update! Not familiar with Kuna and will check them out via your link. Have been continuing to research the best outdoor option. Surprised that none of the major brands in your side-by-side can be used in colder regions – seems like that eliminates a lot of potential customers. Glad I found your review and keep up the great work in this space – very helpful!
haha. Don’t do anything that will make you sad :). I upgraded my internet package and purchased three Google Wifi routers to create a mesh network. Though this upgrade did nothing to improve Flex’s overall performance, it did help with connectivity a touch. Flex’s performance improves when plugged-in and it’s possible that the battery experience will improve over time. Canary has already proven their ability to make a product better – just think about where they started with the original Canary.
1. Correct. Geofencing is a free feature. I’m not sure what abode uses specifically, but generally, geofencing does require GPS or location services to be enabled. I know the system doesn’t use Bluetooth. My dad is using the system right now and he’s had problems with multi-user geofencing. I asked abode about it, but they just wanted to troubleshoot instead of discussing general performance. If I were to guess, I’d guess that it’s only using GPS to detect presence and not a combination of data like GPS and phone presence (Wifi).
The Spotlight Cam employs the common method of using bounding boxes over the camera image to define detection zones, but you can use the box handles to twist it into any kind of geometric shape, not just squares. That allows you to work around outdoor areas where you don’t have as much control over the environment as you do inside your home. There’s also a scheduling option to disable motion alerts during certain times of day.
The Ring Alarm has the electronics required to do all of that now, and Harris said those features will be turned on at some point. “You’ll see all of those things,” he said. “We’ll support color-changing lights, so that in a smoke situation, the lights will turn to a darker color to make it easier to see at night. You’ll see door locks with [Z-Wave’s] S2 security that will disarm the security system when you use the keypad to unlock the door, because we know you’ve done that in a secure way.”
The Ring Alarm system comes with a base station, a keypad, an entry sensor, a motion sensor, and a Z-Wave range extender. Also included in the box are installation kits containing mounting tape and hardware for the keypad and the two sensors, an AC adapter for the base station, a USB power adapter and cable for the keypad, a getting started guide, and an alarm kit security basics guide.
It would have been nice to see more smart-home integration between the Ring Alarm and other well-established third-party names, if only because the company has already set such a precedent for itself in this area. Buying it won't introduce any new tricks to an existing Ring doorbell, either, but if you're already in the ecosystem and you're looking to expand, this $200 starter kit is a sure fit.
When it's time to pair the keypad, the Ring app will have you create a four-digit PIN for arming and disarming the system. If you choose to have professional monitoring, you'll need to also come up with a verbal password to help identify you in case you have to talk to a dispatcher. As a reviewer — and a person who has tripped  countless alarms in the last few months — I also appreciate that there's a seven-day trial period before professional monitoring becomes active, so you can take time to set up the system without worrying about false alarms. It also gives you time to register the alarm so that you do not incur any fees.
I’m in the rocky mountain region where it occasionally gets well below -4 and can verify your reader’s quote about cold weather limitations w Nest outdoor. I asked Nest support about this and they suggested that a different product might make sense. Seems like there really isn’t a good DIY option for users that live in cold weather? Arlo pro battery life is impacted, Flex only rated down to 14F and Nest said I should try a different product in cold weather.
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).
Standalone accessories can be added to your setup in a similar manner to those included in the base kit, although you'll have to scan a QR code on the back of them using the Ring app in order to get them to appear. From there, it's the same process of choosing the sensor type, naming it, assigning it to a room, and testing to make sure it's registering properly.
The system supports the First Alert Z-Wave Smoke/CO detector which is also compatible with the Ring Response service. Soon, it will also work with the Dome Siren. Ring has also added compatibility with several Z-Wave locks including those made by Yale, Schlage, Kwikset, and DanaLock to Ring Alarm’s compatibility list. The locks connect to Ring Alarm’s Base Station and can be controlled using the Ring App. From there, you can lock and unlock your door, share your door’s access with trusted family members and friends, and issue temporary access codes to dog walkers or babysitters.

Ring is a Wi-Fi connected doorbell and exterior lighting security system that was recently purchased by Amazon. They don’t offer any type of home automation features; however, their system is compatible with many third-party smart home systems. However, Ring has announced that they will soon be adding interior home security and environmental protection features to their current lineup.
Speaking of monitoring, there are different modes that you can set when arming the alarm. When you're at home, there are two choices, including Disarmed and Home. With disarmed, there is no 3rd-party monitoring happening, so you can open and close the doors, windows, and more as you please. Home mode is used for times like when you're home alone or going to bed, and there is external monitoring involved. With Home mode, you can opt to change which sensors are active and which aren't, which is great for if you don't want a motion sensor to go off because of your pets or something.
While having a couple of power/connection options already provides flexibility, there is even more flexibility thanks to accessories (sold separately). The first accessory is a Secure Mount that locks your device into place. Replacing the magnetic base, it helps prevent device theft. The second is the Stake Mount: Stick the mount into the ground or a potted plant to give Flex a hidden camera effect. Third is the Twist Mount, which can bend and wrap around an object so that you can hang it virtually anywhere. Canary suggests using it to place Flex on fixtures, railings, or even branches.
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You can also pay $10 per month for professional monitoring, but that’s it. There are no integrated carbon monoxide or fire alarms, and it’s not capable of syncing up with other smart home devices. This means you can’t control your lights, thermostat, locks, etc. The company says these are coming as the system grows and improves, but for now they’ll be missing if you buy the Ring Security System.
I know the doorbell works because I have a rule that runs on the doorbell. I know the alarm does not work with IFTTT. Now I’m questioning my assessment of the Spotlight. I can’t remember if I actually used an IFTTT recipe with it or just assumed there was one. I gave the camera to my dad so I’ll have him check and then update the article if needed. Thanks for the tip!
Ring offers access to a timeline-style feature where you can view events going back six months (if you are subscribed). From the timeline, you can sort through ring events, motion events, starred events, or live view events. From the web app, you can also sort by device so that you can separate your Spotlight Cam footage from footage captured by your other devices. Right now, the feature isn’t very advanced. Soon, Ring plans to completely revamp their mobile app.
Hi and thank you for the exhaustive review. I like the option of Ring Doorbell Pro. However, my existing doorbell is on the side of the house, facing parallel to the door across the front steps. If I mounted the Ring there, the camera would capture a profile of the visitor as they approach the door. It would not capture their face head on, would not (likely) capture them them as they approach the steps, which is where delivery people often leave packages (my interest in Ring, Arlo, etc., came out of the neighborhood social app conversation about a rash of package thefts), and would not capture the car they drive as it would face parallel to the street, not into the street. My question is: what would the installation of Ring look like on or near the front door, where there is no existing wiring? Is my existing setup enough to steer me away from Ring and toward a battery powered option?
Ring also doesn't currently offer any additional security accessories, but it plans to add a leak sensor and other devices at some point. And while your Ring security cameras and video doorbells ($250 at Amazon) live in the same app as your Ring Alarm Security Kit, there aren't any direct integrations between them today. I'd like to see something like, "If the Ring Alarm Security Kit's front door sensor notices that the door is opened in Home or Away mode, then tell my Ring Video Doorbell Pro to record automatically" -- even if the Video Doorbell Pro itself hasn't detected motion yet. 
Other “Family” Devices Arlo Wire-Free, Arlo Q, Arlo Go, Arlo Baby, Arlo Pro 2, Arlo Security Light, Arlo Audio Doorbell (coming soon) Arlo Wire-Free, Arlo Q, Arlo Go, Arlo Baby, Arlo Pro, Arlo Security Light, Arlo Audio Doorbell (coming soon) Stick Up Cam, Solar Panel, Ring Chime, Floodlight, Ring Doorbell, Ring Protect, Ring Beam Solar Panel, Ring Chime, Ring Doorbell, Floodlight, Spotlight, Ring Protect, Ring Beam Nest Cam, Nest Cam IQ, Nest Secure, Hello, Dropcam, Nest Thermostat, Nest Protect Canary, Canary View
The keypad measures 0.91 by 5.87 by 3.94 inches (HWD) and has numeric keypad buttons (0-9). It also has an X button and a button with a check mark on it: pressing and holding both of these buttons puts the system into Panic mode, which sounds the siren and sends an alert to the professional monitoring service so that police can be dispatched. To the right of the numeric keypad is a round dial with three buttons for putting the system in Home, Away, and Disarm mode, but you'll first have to enter your unique access code. Other LEDs include network and battery indicators, and a faulted sensor LED that tells you if a sensor is open before you arm the system.
Thanks!! One other question I have: my wife is due this fall and (in addition to a regular home security camera) I’m seeking a good baby video monitor, the best actually. Do you have a chart or column that compares and reviews baby video monitors? (I searched online and there’s an endless amount of options, and there’s also so many articles each one claiming this one is better or that one is better – but no one is nearly as good or trustworthy as you as far, and as far as breaking down each product and giving us the full truth and clarity there’s no equal to the job you have done! Do you have anything on this (baby video monitors)? If not yet, do you plan to? Thanks!
Having not used any newer systems, I don’t know who much “notifications” will be a bother – maybe the more control of these notifications via setup options is the answer? We are not in a high crime area – an occasional car break in on driveways and stealing a Amazon package at the front door are the most common – but even then not too often. Major break-ins are very rare. My daughter has RingDoorbell and loves it – because we have two teenage Grandkids and a third on his way (just kidding). The few notifications don’t bother her at all.
Thank you so much for your great review! It’s so thorough and really helps with decision-making. My question is, what would you pick between the Ring Cam Battery and the Arlo Pro (not the 2)? I purchased the Ring Spotlight Cam Battery because I liked the idea of the light and the battery power, but as i read my reviews, I see that the video can lag, and it’s quality is highly tied to the WiFi signal. I also bought the Arlo Pro because it was on sale and it seemed to get really top reviews even though it’s only 720p compared to the Ring Cam Battery. I will be mounting these outside. I noticed that the Arlo Pro 2 way talk is really hard to hear compared to the Ring Cam Battery. Thank you again for all your information!
3) contact sensors- people complain they are too large-this is true if you plan to use on windows and most your openings, but thats true for any system that is not hard wired, including Nest ‘s contact sensors which are much more $ and only slightly smaller . And the hard wired ones are set into window/door frame- you can do that yourself and hire at least Hal;f the senior (i have chosen to embed with a little chiseling the large part fo the contact and lead the mangnet small part episode on the door; if you want it save yourself soem work and can tolerate a little more obvious appearances, embed the magnet. If this is a big issue for anyoen, just embed one half fo the contact into the doorframe it yield a very unobtrusive appearance.
The integration with Ring Alarm and upcoming Alexa support are important for Ring. When I tested the Ring Alarm, I lamented that the indoor $120 Amazon Cloud Cam home security camera didn't work with Ring Alarm -- and that the system as a whole didn't work with Alexa (something I'm still waiting for). And since there wasn't an indoor Ring security camera, you didn't really have any options for in-home monitoring. 

The battery version of the camera can only use a battery. You can’t plug it in. According to Ring, the batteries should give you six months of life before needing to be recharged, but that wasn’t my experience. After testing the battery for three weeks, my battery level dropped from 100% to 47%. It was depleted before the two-month mark. If you plan to use a battery, I suggest buying two. As mentioned in the installation guide, Spotlight Cam ships with one battery, but it supports two. This configuration will improve your camera’s uptime. When one battery dies, you can charge it while battery two kicks-in to power your camera. Ring sells additional batteries for $29.


I’ve never tried to live stream continuously. I assume that’s possible, and if you hard wire, that shouldn’t be a problem, but what about bandwidth usage? If I wanted to stream continuously, I would probably look into a CCTV system. I’ve never tested one, but I’ve seen some in action. Of course, this would mean using a TV or monitor as your “monitor.” I know you want to keep the Echo Show, but I haven’t tried to do something like you are trying to do so I’m not sure what to suggest. I’m intrigued though.
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What's also important about Ring Alarm is that it sets the stage for future products and integration. The Ring app already serves as the hub to integrate the alarm system with the company's existing cameras and doorbells, but it's easy to see how the alarm can also become the hardware hub for new capabilities and products from Ring and eventually third-party vendors.

All these new DIY systems pretty much rely on cellular and/or Wi-Fi. It seems that although it makes things more accessible, cheaper and easier to install, that’s where most of the glitches, or inconsistent alarm notifications come from, right? But in general it’s good that these systems have been made available for us all to choose from. Thank you for helping us navigate all the choices.

In addition to sharing camera access, having multiple users will make geofencing even more intelligent. The cameras will arm when everyone is away and disarm when at least one person is home. You can also see who is home and who is away using the mobile app and set up Presence notifications to alert you of the same. Finally, it brings everyone in on the action. If an event is detected, an alert will be sent to all users. If one user responds to the alert, other users will be able to see how that person responded. You can also leave a comment on the event and chat with other users directly within the app.
Pricing for add-on components is pretty much in line with what you'll pay if you have a SimpliSafe or Abode system. Extra contact sensors are $20 each, another motion sensor will cost you $30, and a range extender goes for $25. Additional devices including a Smoke/CO detector ($40), a Flood/Freeze detector ($35), and a Dome Siren ($30) are not yet available.
While you aren’t required to purchase professional monitoring, both Ring and Nest offer you the option of doing so. The purchase of 24/7 monitoring gives you peace of mind that professionals are keeping an eye on your home security on your behalf. The Nest Secure offers professional monitoring for $19 a month if you sign up for a three-year contract, or you can pay month-to-month for $29 a month. The Ring Alarm offers various plans that allow the user to pay by the month or by the year. The Protect Basic Plan is available for $3 a month or $30 a year per camera, while the Protect Plus Plan is $10 a month or $100 a year, and the service can be applied to an unlimited number of security cameras. It also includes professional monitoring.

You can add additional Ring door/window sensors and motion sensors to scale up the system as needed; the kit also works with a FirstAlert smoke and carbon monoxide detector. But that's about it, for now. Ring plans to add additional sensors at a later date and has hinted at upcoming partnerships with major third-party platforms like Alexa and Google Assistant. But considering Amazon bought Ring back in February, this system should really already work with Alexa and the Amazon Cloud Cam (it doesn't).

Think of Smart Alerts as the ability to control alert frequency. You can request to receive more alerts, “standard,” or “light” (fewer alerts) or choose to turn notifications off from the app’s main screen. You can also snooze motion alerts for a set period of time. Once snoozed, you won’t receive motion alerts, but motion events will continue to upload to the cloud. Besides snoozing motion, you can also snooze your Ring Chime or your Chime Pro.


I can see why you’re confused because really any of these three options will do everything you want and more. Is it important to you that your security system and camera use the same app? If so, maybe eliminate abode from the list. You can use the outdoor Nest Camera with abode, but it isn’t a great experience. If you want an outdoor camera that can record continuously and not just based on motion, that would be Nest Cam. If you don’t mind if the camera only records events and as you said, want a system without “big monthly charges,” Ring is probably the best choice for you. They recently launched an indoor camera, you could then add a video doorbell (ideal) or one of their outdoor cameras to your porch. You will need five contact sensors in total. Ring Alarm will include a mobile app for you to review footage and you can expand the system down the road if needed. As it just launched and based on Ring’s history of product support, the chances that it will be outdated soon are very slim.
You can also mount the base station on a wall, and can connect to your wifi network, or you can connect directly to your router with a network cable. The Ring Alarm base station offers a 24-hour battery backup, plus it can connect to LTE if you have an outage, so you have a cellular option if needed; however, you do have to pay for it with a monthly subscription.

The next step is camera placement, and Arlo Pro offers a few options. It can sit on a flat surface, stick directly to a metal surface (magnetic), or you can use the included plate to mount it to a wall. While you can place Arlo inside or out, the camera’s power cord that ships with the package is not weatherproof so plan to use battery power when placing the camera outside. If you’re willing to spend an extra $25, you can also buy the weather-resistant outdoor power adapter (VMA4900) that works with Arlo Pro, Arlo Pro 2, and Arlo Go. Finally, they also sell an $80 solar panel. The panel works with Arlo Pro, Pro 2, and Go, and can power one camera continuously. Keep in mind, however, that the solar panel only powers the camera. It does not charge the camera’s battery.
The most useful product offered by Nest that the Ring system does not have is a connected lock. This tamper‑proof, key‑free deadbolt connects to the Nest app, letting you lock and unlock your door remotely. Users can also create passcodes for family, guests and people they trust, or give them a Nest Tag programmed to let them in only at certain times of the day.
I’ve heard others say Arlo is the perfect outdoor camera. I disagree. The original Wire-Free camera had more latency than Arlo Pro. Also, Pro includes a wider field of view, a rechargeable battery, a siren (built into the hub), and it adds sound with two-way audio, all features the original Arlo lacked. Arlo Pro 2 bumps up the resolution to 1080p and adds three features if the camera is plugged-in: CVR, Motion Zones, and Look Back.
Thinking of your situation only….More than likely, you will need to buy an additional piece of hardware to upgrade your wired system to support newer technology, but it’s hard to say without more details. You might want to look into a device called Konnected. This would allow you to integrate your wired system with SmartThings which supports Ring cameras. You can read about that here. In my situation, they are not integrated, although most major home security companies now work with at least some third-party devices like Ring, Amazon Alexa, Google Home, August, etc.

Nest, Canary, Ring, and Arlo all have advantages and disadvantages. Nest has an advantage in that it can capture footage 24/7. Canary has an advantage in that it offers person detection for free. Arlo Pro and Ring Spotlight have an advantage in that the cameras can run on battery power and they wake up for both motion and live streaming faster than Canary Flex. If I were to rank them, I would rank Nest and Arlo Pro the highest and also add that a video doorbell is a must. You can read my video doorbell compare here.


If a monitored door or window is left open when you arm the system, Ring Alarm will warn you, but give you the opportunity to push an illuminated button on the keypad to bypass that sensor. You’ll get a similar warning and opportunity when using the app to arm the system. The sensor will remain bypassed until you disarm the system again. It’s a convenient feature: If you left the upstairs window open, for example, but are in too much of a rush to run up and close it, you can take a calculated risk and secure the rest of the home.
So, where does the professional monitoring come in? When the alarm is triggered, the Ring Alarm central monitoring system calls you and asks for the verbal security code you’ve set up. If Ring doesn’t reach you, they’ll call your emergency contact and ask for the same thing. If either of you forget the code (better choose something you’ll remember!) or if they’re unable to reach either person, then they’ll dispatch emergency responders to your house.
After receiving Arlo Pro 2, I completed a second battery test in a lower traffic environment. With the same settings, I ran Arlo Pro and Pro 2 side-by-side to see if Pro 2, with its higher resolution, drained the battery faster. It did not. In fact, it held a slightly better charge than Arlo Pro. Of course, I’m assuming this has more to do with the fact that the camera’s battery is newer and less to do with the fact that it’s a different camera. During the second test, both cameras lasted 5 months on a single charge, and it took 2 hours and 30 minutes to recharge the batteries.
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.
Ring’s Alarm, which is finally shipping to customers starting today, is the latest in these new, do-it-yourself home security systems. It’s most similar to the Secure system that Nest released last year, and uses a variety of motion, entryway, and fire / carbon monoxide sensors, along with Ring’s other home security cameras to monitor your home for emergencies and intrusions.
It was 20*F outside when I installed the cam. I didn't want to be running up and down a ladder if I had problems connecting to the network. I wired the cam up with a plug (from an old, grounded extension cord) and ran the wifi setup routine at my kitchen table. I verified everything was working (including the app, motion detection, etc.) before I installed it outside.
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