Nice article. I see from your disclaimer at the top of this article that the site participate in the program that can get fees from linking to Amazon purchases. And I know not every security system is available from Amazon. But could you still review the latest Simplisafe system please? I’m trying to decide what to get, and I have three friends that have the old Simplisafe. The new one looks so much better. I really don’t care about Geo fencing or whether or not I can chat with google or Siri. I’m just interested in getting a security system that works and doesn’t cost way too much. Thank you!
Friend access allows users to view live streams, view recorded clips, and favorite clips. If you want to share more, grant access rights. In addition to the rights already discussed, those with access rights will be able to record video footage, mute the speaker, enter full-screen view, zoom and drag video footage, access and change modes, manually record, take snapshots, favorite, and share or delete video footage. Finally, Arlo does allow you to control which camera or cameras other users can access. For example, you can give them access to your outdoor camera, but not your indoor camera.
Ring Alarm hits nearly all the right notes for a basic DIY home security system. I’ve already touched on a couple of its shortcomings—including an absence of support for smart speakers—but tighter integration with Ring’s own cameras would be another welcome development. When an alarm is tripped, the cameras should begin recording to perhaps capture a glimpse of what triggered it—potentially valuable forensic evidence you could provide to the police investigating a break-in. And if Ring Alarm could control your home’s smart lighting, it could turn on all the lights if the alarm is triggered after dark, which might convince an intruder to make a hasty retreat.
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.
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!
The Nest Aware 5 day is $50 per year. If you add a second camera, it would be $75 per year for both so the difference isn’t as vast since you get 50% off subsequent subscriptions. My suggestion is that you dig in deeper as there are pros and cons to both so pick the one which has features that best align with your goals. A couple of bonus tips, which you may already know…1. I’ve owned both combos (Ring + a Nest Thermostat) and (Nest Hello + Nest Thermostat). To me, the only advantage is one app, and using two apps wasn’t a big deal IMO. If you use Nest’s Home Away/Assist, you might feel differently, but I don’t take advantage of that feature. 2. I’ve also tried Ring Spotlight and Ring Doorbell together. Again, the only advantage is that you will have one app. You can’t use them to trigger each other. For example, you can’t say, “When someone rings my doorbell, tell Spotlight to record.” I thought that was kind of interesting…
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.
One final issue has more to do with software performance than hardware issues, but it’s important to point out. From time-to-time, the snapshot will record a little too late. In the example above, it caught the UPS man’s back. For those without a Nest Aware subscription, this is all you get. Those with a subscription can rewind footage to see the moments before the clip.
Put whole-home security in your hands with Ring Alarm. When the system is armed, it sends instant alerts to your phone and tablet whenever doors or windows are opened and when motion is detected at home, so you can monitor your property from anywhere. Ring Alarm is fully customizable and expands to fit any home or apartment. And with Ring Video Doorbells and Security Cameras, it lets you control your entire home security system from one simple app. Even if the power goes out at home, your property will still be protected by the complimentary 24-hour backup battery. And for only $10 a month, you can upgrade to Ring Protect Plus and enjoy 24/7 professional monitoring with cellular backup, unlimited video recording for Ring Doorbells and Cameras at your home, extended warranties, exclusive discounts and more! The Ring Alarm Security Kit includes one Base Station, Keypad, Contact Sensor, Motion Detector and Range Extender. You won't be locked into any long-term contracts. You don't need professional installation. You don't even need any tools. It's that simple.
Hi Rose, thanks for the reviews. I am about to send a Vivint system back due to the doorbell camera. It does not capture motion events. I am curious as to why you did not review them (or the camera). They are complaining about my upload speed of my WiFi, which makes me ask, where are the motion detection algorithms processed? Are they run on the doorbell, the panel or only after it is uploaded? Did you look into that?
The Ring Video Doorbell 2 and Ring Stick Up Cam provide easy and effective ways to set up a pretty strong security perimeter around the outside of your home, but it could be made considerably stronger with the addition of the now-Amazon-owned company’s Spotlight Cam. This outdoor camera/porch-light hybrid, illuminates the area and records video when its motion sensor is tripped.

The keypad includes a reversible mount that can be attached to a wall as a bracket or flipped over and used as a tabletop stand at a slight incline. Ring includes a micro-USB cable and an adapter to power the keypad, but it also has an internal rechargeable battery that can last up to a year depending on your settings, so it's handy to be able to set it up wirelessly on a table or mounted to the wall, only recharging periodically as needed.
Expand Security With Other Devices Nest Cam, Nest Protect, Nest Thermostat, Nest Secure, Nest Hello, Nest Cam IQ Ring Stick Up, Solar Panel, Chime, Chime Pro, Ring Floodlight Cam, Ring Spotlight Cam, Ring Protect, Video Doorbell, Ring Beams Canary, Canary View Arlo Wire-Free, Arlo Q, Arlo Go, Arlo Baby, Arlo Pro 2, Arlo Security Light, Arlo Audio Doorbell (coming soon)
Hey- just happen to be reading this, and full disclosure I’m one of the canary founders. Our battery is designed to sub – temperatures and i had mine sitting under snow and it still worked (though video was white as it was… well… under the snow). We say it goes to -4 degrees F (-20C). But yea, the battery won’t last as long in that cold, but you can keep it plugged in, or just charge it overnight to get it back up and running. Cheers, Adam
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.
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.

And that is its job, to keep the camera charged. However, I noticed during testing that it does charge the battery too. When I installed the camera, the battery level was at 40%. Soon after connecting the solar panel, that percentage jumped to 50%. The next day it rained, and the percentage climbed from 50 to 52%. Day three was overcast, and yet the battery level crept up to 56%. Day 4 was a beautiful sunny day, and the battery level jumped to 78%. By the end of day 4, I was at 100%.

You have 2 alarm modes: home and away. Using the app you get to chose which sensors will trip home mode and away mode; to be a little more specific, in the app you can select a sensor and check a box next to away and a box next to home if you want it to trip the alarm even if your alarm is active in “home mode” such as when you’re sleeping at night, where motion sensors inside won’t trip the alarm, but doors or windows opening will do so. You can also select a motion sensor and select a lower sensitivity level in case you have pets. You can do all this from the app even away from home.


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).
Quiet Open allows you to bypass an armed sensor simply by touching it. For example, if your system is armed, but you want to check the weather outside, you can press the sensor, and open your door. While I’ve heard only praise for this feature, my initial reaction was that it seems like a security flaw. Your teenagers, for example, can press the sensor and sneak out. Furthermore, there is no identification tied to using the feature. For example, it won’t say, “Rose bypassed the sensor.” Fortunately, you can turn this feature off if you’re concerned.
The video doorbell is what Ring is known for. This smart doorbell and home security camera lets you answer people at your door remotely and keep an eye on what’s going on at your house. You get alerts whenever someone pushes the doorbell or when the motion sensor registers activity. The live view shows you what’s going on and two-way talk lets you communicate through the device. It holds up well in many conditions with its weather-resistant design. Ring’s video doorbells are also equipped with night vision.
Away mode enables a countdown timer which you can set from anywhere between 30 seconds to 3 minutes. This gives you time to exit your home or cancel the alarm if need be. Once the timer reaches zero, a notification is pushed to your phone letting you know the system is armed. You’ll also hear an announcement (if you’re still in your house) through the base station that the house is now armed.
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.
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.
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?
However, traditional home systems typically require the assistance of a professional installer. They also mean monthly subscription fees and long-term agreements that keep you locked into their service for a certain period of time. Additionally, if you move, it’s nearly impossible to take your home security system with you, and they don’t make much sense in an apartment complex.
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.
Unfortunately, though I purchased the Solar Panel version, the camera did not ship with Solar Panel installation instructions. The Solar Panel itself had an instruction pamphlet, but it’s picture book style, which is not my favorite. I decided to ignore all instructions and guess at the install, which wasn’t a good idea. After installation, the camera’s video feed kept flickering in and out (a problem which I have yet to resolve) so I went back through my install steps to see if I had messed up along the way. I had. I found Solar Panel installation instructions online which I recommend and followed step-by-step.

That said, using abode with a Nest Cam is my recommended solution, and integrating the two provides one major advantage: more free storage for your Nest Cams. The major disadvantage is that even if you are a Nest Aware subscriber, abode can only store snapshots. If you want video clips or continuous cloud access, you will need to pay for Nest Aware to access your footage via the Nest app.

As soon as the alarm is tripped you will receive 2 phone calls (one on each registered number), if no one answers they will immediately dispatch the police. The approximate time for the police to be dispatched from the moment your alarm goes off to the time they call a dispatcher is about 4 minutes (that includes the time to complete the 2 call attempts made to you). Police will be dispatched with a description of the zone that triggered the alarm (ex: living room motion).

Even if you experience a power outage, both security systems will continue to work thanks to cellular connectivity. This feature is available from Nest for an additional $5 per month or $50 for the year. Ring includes this feature as part of their Protect Plus plan. Nest’s backup battery will last for 12 hours, while Ring’s will last for 24. With a longer battery life and an included cost, Ring is the clear winner here.
Ring doesn’t offer free storage. While you will be able to see missed alerts, you won’t be able to view missed events without subscribing. The good news is that cloud storage is cheap. For $3 a month per device, you will be able to view and download up to six months of events. You will also be able to share clips, which is of vital importance if you want to use your video as evidence. If you have several Ring Cameras, you can subscribe to their Protect plan for $10 per month or $100 per year. This plan covers an unlimited number of Ring cameras and adds a lifetime product warranty. Beyond storage, all Ring features are free.
On the downside there is no way to enable/disable video motion detection clips in sync with the armed status. I only want certain cameras to record when armed stay or away. They really need the option to tell the cameras when to record and when not to record. Other than that the 2-way camera communication is spotty at best, but not really a feature that’s important to me. Adding live video to the online access would be a BIG plus too (currently you can only access the cameras through the app).
I’ve settled on continuous video for my outdoor cameras too. Obviously, I use Nest for that. For indoor cameras, Arlo Q is also an option. For $9.99/month, you can add continuous cloud recording. SpotCam also has continuous cloud recording, but we haven’t tried it. Of course, there are other options where you store the footage locally, but then the trouble becomes finding usable footage when you need it!
The Ring Alarm system has three different modes, which can be set via the keypad or through the iOS and Android apps. There’s the standard disarmed mode that turns off all of the monitoring; an away mode that watches all of the installed sensors for intrusions; and then a “Home” mode, which by default will monitor sensors installed on entryways, but ignores motion inside the house. I’ve used the latter mode as basically a night or sleep setting, since during the day my family moves in and out of the house a lot and would constantly trip the door sensors.
My indoor Canary is self-sufficient, and that is exactly what I want in a home security camera. Flex has yet to provide that same experience. I’ve had to physically interact with the device multiple times to get it to reconnect to my internet. Also, the geofencing feature is inaccurate, often marking me away while home and vice versa. As for power loss notifications? They’re hit or miss.
If you feel comfortable with your wiring skills and you’re somewhat concerned about WiFi strength, I suggest that you buy a Nest Hello with Nest Aware to record continuously (adding a Nest thermostat later) and supplement it with a wired camera system that records locally. Now here’s the catch: I only suggest a wired camera system if you don’t care about getting push notifications to your phone as I do not suggest accessing such a system using the internet. Instead, everything will be kept within the walls of your home. You will wire the cameras to a NVR which will store footage. If alerts to your phone are important to you, we may need to reassess, but also keep in mind that your Nest Hello will send alerts to your phone.
The abode Gateway also supports limited local functionality. This is in part thanks to the Gateway’s ability to communicate using its own proprietary protocol called abodeRF. If your internet is down, your automated rules will continue to run, assuming that the devices involved are connected to the Gateway directly and not through a third-party service like IFTTT.
Away mode enables a countdown timer which you can set from anywhere between 30 seconds to 3 minutes. This gives you time to exit your home or cancel the alarm if need be. Once the timer reaches zero, a notification is pushed to your phone letting you know the system is armed. You’ll also hear an announcement (if you’re still in your house) through the base station that the house is now armed.
You have 2 alarm modes: home and away. Using the app you get to chose which sensors will trip home mode and away mode; to be a little more specific, in the app you can select a sensor and check a box next to away and a box next to home if you want it to trip the alarm even if your alarm is active in “home mode” such as when you’re sleeping at night, where motion sensors inside won’t trip the alarm, but doors or windows opening will do so. You can also select a motion sensor and select a lower sensitivity level in case you have pets. You can do all this from the app even away from home.
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.
Ring cameras will work without a monthly fee, but Ring doesn’t offer any form of free storage beyond a free 30-day trial. Their first plan is Basic which is $3 per month per camera. This plan includes 60 days of cloud storage, video review, and video sharing. Their second plan, Protect Plus, is $10 per month. It covers unlimited cameras including both doorbell and security cameras. This plan also includes coverage for your Base Station. The same $10 per month that provides unlimited cloud storage also provides Ring Response (24/7 professional monitoring) and Cellular Backup.
Ring's Neighborhood is a cool feature that lets you share recorded events with neighbors who have joined the Neighborhood. You'll receive alerts when a neighbor posts a video and when there's fire and police activity in your neighborhood. The Events tab takes you to a screen where you can view a list of all camera and alarm events including sensor activity, arming and disarming times, and motion detection. Below the Neighbors and Events tabs are windows with live views of each installed Ring video doorbell and camera.
Tap the three-bar icon in the upper left corner of the Dashboard to access the Alarm settings where you can enable/disable email and push notifications, change your location, enable/disable specific sensors while in Home and Away mode, change the Entry and Exit delay timers (30 to 180 seconds), and allow additional users to control the Alarm and other Ring devices.

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 Home mode monitors only sensors installed at entry points into the home but will ignore any motion or movement that occurs within the house itself. The home mode works great for a night setting, especially if people in your family are prone to moving throughout your home at night. Typically this movement would trip the sensors, but not in Home mode.
Wow, thanks for putting such a great article together. I knew about Ring – for some reason their marketing got to me, and started to consider, which lead me to this article. But, after reading this I might have to revisit purchasing it. Looks like some people are thinking Nest after reading it, but it’s leaning me toward Adobe. Thanks again for all the details!
It doesn't work with the Amazon Cloud Cam indoor home security camera, either. Here's what a Ring spokesperson had to say about it: "Ring Alarm does not work with Amazon Cloud Cam at this time. While I can't comment on the roadmap at this time, what I can tell you is that we will make product decisions based on what will best empower Neighbors with an affordable, effective way to monitor their homes."
Like most security systems, Ring Alarm has two armed modes: Home activates the door/window sensors, but leaves the motion sensor turned off. This allows you to walk around inside your secured home without triggering the alarm. Away mode arms all the sensors, so if intruders break in through an entry point that isn’t protected by a sensor, the motion sensor will trigger the alarm when they walk within its range. One motion sensor can do the work of many door/window sensors.
I don’t think I mentioned the answer in this article, but I know I’ve talked about this elsewhere. Unfortunately, all I can remember is abode and Ring. I can’t remember anything about Nest. All abode devices and sensors use the abode RF encrypted protocol to talk to the gateway. They also encrypt all communication between the gateway and the cloud. Ring uses Z-Wave Security 2 and Z-Wave SmartStart technology which encrypts the signal between the base and cloud as well as the base and sensors.
Oco Pro Cloud Video Surveillance Camera is easy Oco Pro Cloud Video Surveillance Camera is easy to use HD Wi-Fi camera with Cloud and SD card Recording for monitoring everything you care about: business home children pets elderly parents etc. No Monthly Fees required to access all camera features. Self-learning motion detection system helps Oco understand motion and ...  More + Product Details Close
×