After the battery is charged, you can move the camera to a new location, so long as it’s within your WiFi’s range. The camera will work using battery power alone, or you can continue to use it plugged into a power outlet. Since the launch of Canary Flex, Canary has also promised a 4G LTE mount, but they haven’t, and probably won’t deliver. If cellular connectivity is something you’re interested in, I suggest you look into Reolink Go or Arlo Go.
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.
Ring's $199 Z-Wave-enabled Alarm Security Kit is so simple you might overlook it at first. The system includes a base station, a keypad, a door/window sensor, a motion sensor and a Z-Wave range extender. It's all basic hardware with basic functionality -- you won't find any fancy features here -- but the Security Kit is super simple to set up and monitor in the Ring mobile app.
Being a cautious optimist, I first followed the app instructions; this was a mistake. Unfortunately, the app instructions are incomplete and leave out important details. Next, I moved on to the included instruction manual where I learned that the first step of the installation process is to fully charge Spotlight’s battery. Unfortunately for me, it was too late for that. The app also skipped another essential step found in the instruction manual: mounting position.
Biggest problem though is the ‘wake up’ time. You reported on it, but I didn’t really take the time to really consider, “Hey, if I want to catch the kids driving by banging mailboxes, by the time they drive by and the camera wakes up, they’re gone!’ Well, that’s just what I learned as I set everything up, had the ap working and started getting notifications when people drove by. I thought AWESOME! it works! Well, not so much. Unfortunately, the car is never seen on the video, so the purpose is pretty much defeated.
Aside from the obvious value proposition, Ring’s big pitch for the Alarm system is its simplicity. Though it has all of the features necessary for a proper home security system – professional monitoring, battery and cellular backup for the event of a power loss – installing the Ring Alarm in my home took less than 20 minutes and involved following the app’s instructions to get the base station on my Wi-Fi network and register each included piece. Cleverly, Ring presets the included motion detector, contact sensor, and range extender to pair with the hub that’s in the box, so getting them set up is just a matter of pulling the battery tab to wake them up and waiting a moment for the app to find them.
I love the Ring Video Doorbell, but I’m not a huge fan of their other cameras. However, the wired version of Ring Spotlight works in temperatures ranging from -20°F to 120°F, which makes it an interesting choice for you. I also like my Nest Hello. Nest Cam IQ Outdoor can work in temperatures ranging from -40° to 113°F. That said, if you are opening to drilling during your construction project, which I assume you are, I would recommend exploring PoE cameras, which is a category I need to dig into more. If you go this route, you would more than likely have one app for your cameras and another for your doorbell. As a side note, Ring Video Doorbell Elite is a PoE option.
The base price of the Nest Secure will set you back $399. Included in that cost is one alarm, two Nest Detects (a sensor that keeps tabs on doors, windows, and rooms), and 2 Nest Tags (an arming/disarming device that doesn’t require a passcode). As for the Ring Alarm, it will cost you $199, and the price includes one base station, one keypad, one contact sensor, one motion detector, and one range extender. The Ring Alarm is definitely the more affordable option, and you get more components — and thus, flexibility — for the price.
abode uses the abode app. If an event occurs, you will receive a notification on your phone. From the app, you can decide how to respond to events. You can review video footage, notify the police, the monitoring center, or even your family. You can also view sensor history and manage your rules. For example, you can create a “coming home” rule that turns on the lights and unlocks the door. And of course, you can use the app to arm and disarm the system.
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Just as heads-up, customer support from Ring was top-notch. After a week of use, I had an issue with a sensor that wasn’t communicating properly. Fortunately it didn’t trip the alarm (I say fortunate as I wouldn’t want to local police to show up for faulty sensor). A late night call to the Ring customer service, which appears to be U.S. based, helped to resolve the issue. The rep was professional and patient. All told, I’m glad I chose Ring.
A couple of important things to note during setup. First, for the contact sensor, be sure to have the magnets aligned, otherwise it won’t work. We learned this the hard way after spending an hour troubleshooting. Second — and this is really important – depending on where you live, you may need to get a permit for the system from a local government agency. Ring helps you navigate through this process by looking up your address and telling you whether a permit is required.
The motion and door/window sensors can be mounted with screws or with Velcro strips (provided). I’m happy the sensors didn’t come from the factory with the strips already attached. I’ve never seen an adhesive strip that didn’t eventually fail, so I prefer to use screws—and peeling those strips off so you can use screws is a major pain. The sensor batteries come preinstalled, so you just pull out a plastic tab when the app tells you to. This enables the battery to touch the electrical contact inside the sensor, powering it up.
Once devices are added, you can create rules through abode’s built-in automation engine which they call CUE. CUE works similarly to IFTTT in that you can create rules in an ‘If This Then That’ format, but it takes things a step further by allowing you to create an optional condition. For example, if the front door is closed, lock the front door, but only if it’s dark outside.
As of this writing, there are only a handful of add-on devices available that will work with the system, and for now, it doesn't support integrations with other Ring devices or third-party Z-Wave and Zigbee devices. That said, integration with Ring doorbells and cameras is on the way, and interoperability with third-party devices is also in the works.
It would have been convenient to have a device like a key fob for the Ring Alarm, as running to find the keypad or navigating the app to turn off the alarm takes a few seconds too long, but one does not currently exist. However, arming and disarming the system is relatively straightforward. I just had to dig through the paper manual to figure out how to correctly enter my PIN to change modes.
Nest Cam IQ Outdoor will offer most of the same features as the indoor IQ (less the Google Assistant integration). The only difference between IQ and the original Nest Cam is the power cord. Unlike the original Nest Cam Outdoor, you will have to drill a hole to install the IP66-rated Nest Cam IQ Outdoor, unless you happen to have an existing opening. Nest Cam IQ Outdoor will start at $349. And this, my friends, is why I won’t be purchasing Nest Cam IQ. Not only is person detection sufficient and offered via the less expensive Nest Cam Outdoor, but I don’t have an existing opening, and I’m not going to drill. Plus, Nest Hello offers facial recognition and a pretty sweet Google Home integration.
If you already have a Ring doorbell or security camera, the integration is quite seamless, and the value becomes even better on the annual costs. Ring charges $30 a year per camera on the regular subscription, so if you've been holding out on adding to your system, this may push you over the edge. The company has plans to offer additional sensors in the future, like smoke and CO sensors, water sensors, and more, which will only help make it even more robust.
If you have signed up for 24/7 professional monitoring, you may need a permit to dispatch emergency services. After signing up for Ring Protect Plus, you’ll get an email from our dedicated Permits Team so you can have everything you need to apply for your permit. In some cases, our team will handle the entire permitting process, but for others, we’ll walk you through every step to help you get your permit as quickly as possible.
Thanks to advances in sensors and other smart home technology, the landscape of home security systems is changing dramatically. It’s now possible to install a professionally monitored system in your home yourself in just a matter of minutes. You can even bring the system along with you when you move to another house or apartment. And the cost for these new systems is far less than traditional home security plans.
If you already own or are considering investing in any of Ring's security cameras or doorbells, the Ring Alarm will eventually tie all of your devices together in a seamless home security solution. For now though, if you want a DIY home security system that offers lots of add-on devices, including an indoor camera, the SimpliSafe Home Security System is your best bet and remains our Editors' Choice for DIY security systems. If you want a system that is big on home automation, check out the Abode Home Security Starter Kit, another Editors' Choice winner. As with the Ring Alarm system, it offers multiple wireless radios, but it already works with plenty of third-party devices, has its own IFTTT channel, and supports Alexa voice commands.
Blink is also a battery-powered outdoor camera. It’s built around a unique chip that should provide an amazing battery life. However, while my indoor cameras are almost at the two-year mark using the original AA batteries, my Blink XT batteries usually last between 1.5 and 2 months. While I love my Blink indoor cameras, I would not recommend Blink for outdoor use. You can read my Blink XT review and comparison to Arlo Pro here.
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.
Setup of Ring Alarm is quite simple, and the whole process only took me about half an hour, although I used the included adhesive strips to mount sensors and didn't mount the base station and keypad to my walls, so it would have taken a bit longer if I'd gone all-in with hardware mounting options. I may yet do that once I've decided for sure where I want to put the various components.
First, people have complained about the larger size of the door sensors and magnets. I didn't really think this was a problem until I tried to install them on my windows. The size of the sensor itself isn't really the issue. Its the size of the magnet. IF YOU HAVE DOUBLE HUNG WINDOWS, LISTEN UP!!! If you aren't sure what a double hung window is, it is a window in which both the top and bottom panes can be opened. You can slide the top pane down or the bottom pane up independently of each other. Why is this a problem? If you do not modify the magnets for the sensors, you will need to buy two sensors for each window that you have. With my last security system, the sensor was mounted to the bottom pane and the magnet was mounted to glass on the top pane. This was done so that if either pane was moved, the sensor would trip. With the Ring window sensors, the magnet is too big to place on the glass so that the bottom panel can be moved. If you try to open the bottom panel, the window will hit the magnet and knock it off, causing it to sit on the panel in front of the sensor and not trip it. Not all windows are made the same, so this may not be the case for you, but it is worth considering. The only way I have found to get around this is to order two sensors per window or to remove the magnet from the casing and attach it to the glass. The second option doesn't look aesthetically pleasing at all. If I figure out another way, I will update this review.
Other Devices Image Sensor, Smart Switch, Extra Siren, Temperature, Humidity & Light Sensor, Water Leak Sensor, iota Smart Doorbell, Range Extender, Smart Deadbolt Lock (Nest x Yale) Video Doorbell (Pro, Elite, 2), Spotlight Cam, Floodlight Cam, Stick Up Cam, Chime, Chime Pro, Solar Panel, Solar Sign, Ring Beams, Smoke & CO Listener, First Alert Smoke/CO Alarm, Flood and Freeze Sensor, Third-Party Z-Wave Locks Satellite Siren, Smart Switch, Yard Sign
There’s not much that can match Ring’s price point and quality. Nest Secure is an excellent system, but will set you back $399. The Abode Starter Kit is cheaper than Nest at $299, but still lacks the finesse and quality of Ring. Samsung SmartThings and ADT have partnered on a home monitoring system, but it costs $389, and several features are missing to make it an integrated, comprehensive system.
The Ring Alarm system does not include fire or carbon monoxide monitoring – for those features, you’ll need to add a First Alert Z-Wave Smoke/CO alarm ($40) or Ring’s Alarm Smoke and CO listener ($35) that gets installed next to your existing smoke alarms and “hears” when they go off to trigger the system. I was not able to test these products for this review.
How far away would the two doors be from an available Ethernet outlet? My thought is that you could use a system where the cameras actually talk to the base station, not the internet. Arlo, for example, uses cameras that talk to the base station directly. When the base station is plugged into Ethernet, it creates its own WiFi network which the cameras connect to directly versus connecting to your home network. The hard part would be that the base station needs to be in a central location between the two doors and, as I stated, connected using Ethernet. In a perfect world, you can place the Arlo cameras up to 300 feet away from the base station, but lots of things can obstruct their ability to talk to the base like walls and doors.
Even so, it would be pretty easy to get all alarmist about Ring's security. But, the Internet of Things is full of connected devices -- Wi-Fi-enabled or otherwise -- that also have some degree of hackability. We've seen it in everything from security cameras to locks and more. A good rule of thumb to help protect yourself, and this applies to products in any tech category, is to check often to make sure your software is current.
For the backyard camera I also installed the solar panel which is packaged separately with its own mounting kit. Once it’s mounted, you plug the connector wire into the back of the Spotlight Cam and secure it with two screws. It fits flush to keep water out of the port. Ring recommends one to two hours of direct sunlight per day to keep your battery charged, and you can angle the solar panel’s mounting arm to ensure it soaks up as much sun as possible. The days I tested the Spotlight Cam Solar were mostly overcast, but I still saw a 3-4 percent charge increase each day, and I’d expect much more on sunny days.