Mair, I installed the Spotlight Cam and have been running it for a few days. I updated the content above, and I’m working on a separate review (which I will publish after Thanksgiving). So far it’s fine. There are some limitations with the Solar version, which is the same as the Battery version. One, you can’t create Activity Zones, that is limited to the Wired version only. Two, you can’t schedule the lights. The lights will turn on when motion is detected and you can trigger them manually, but that’s it. I’d say that the motion detector performance is on par with the Ring Video Doorbell. It includes the same feature that allows you to adjust motion sensitivity. There is no way to weed out false alarms, and sometimes I get alerts if the wind blows too hard. The camera wakes up fast, faster than my doorbell. The video quality is just okay. It doesn’t look like 1080p to me, it looks like 720p. Two-way talk works well. I was surprised that the cameras don’t play together. For example, if my doorbell detects an alert, I can’t trigger Spotlight to record. Spotlight doesn’t work with IFTTT so it’s not possible through their service, and though it works with Stringify, you can’t create this sort of relationship between cameras using Stringify. What else do you want to know?
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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.
What happens if your home Wi-Fi goes out? Luckily, both the Ring and Nest systems offer cellular connectivity, so your alarm will stay online even if there’s a power outage or your Wi-Fi disconnects. Nest charges an additional $5 per month or $50 per year for cellular connectivity, while Ring offers the feature when you purchase the Protect Plus plan. Both systems also incorporate battery backup. While the Nest device will continue running for 12 hours without an external power source, the Ring will last for 24 hours.
There are many great brands out there that make it easy for you to find the security products that fit your unique needs. Two such options are the Ring and Nest systems. These popular brands have developed a range of products to help you easily build and customize your home security ecosystem. In order to help you choose the right system for you, we’ve broken down the pros and cons of each. Here’s a quick rundown of the main features you should keep in mind when deciding between the two:
Multi-Camera Discount Price Includes Shared Storage for 10 Cameras (Free Plan Supports 5.) Price Includes Shared Storage for 10 Cameras (Free Plan Supports 5.) $10/month or $100/year for Unlimited Ring Cameras $10/month or $100/year for Unlimited Ring Cameras Each Additional Camera Costs $2.50/month or $25/year Price Includes Shared Storage for 5 Cameras (Free Plan Supports 4)
A Canary Membership provides 30 days of video history, full-length video clips, social sharing, custom Home mode, two-way audio, desktop streaming, and unlimited downloads for $9.99/month for up to five cameras. It also provides access to a Safety Buton feature backed by Noonlight, formally SafeTrek. If you have more than five cameras, Canary charges an additional $4.99 per camera per month. You can use an unlimited number of cameras in a single location with a Canary Membership.
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!
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.
Hi Rose, AMAZING review! I’ve been struggling with the decision making process with all the options out there. I had purchased an Arlo indoor camera a year ago and faced it out the window but got glare that blocked the view outside occasionally as the sun moved throughout the day. You said you turned off night vision when facing camera out the window but did you have any glare issues or ideas on how to resolve? (perhaps the newer models are better now) I returned the Arlo because if this but need to buy something and would consider Arlo for other benefits if glare can be reduced. I’m concerned about short battery life due to cold winter temps (Colorado) but I love the idea of solar option on the Arlo Pro outdoor. Advice?
When you add the keypad, you’re asked to come up with a four-digit PIN that you’ll use to arm and disarm the system. If you opt in to professional monitoring, you’ll also need to come up with a verbal passcode that you’ll use to identify yourself as an authorized user when the monitoring service calls (so be sure to provide this information to your secondary contact, as they’ll need it as well).

I have tested Reolink Argus and Argus 2. Both are indoor/outdoor, hubless, battery-powered cameras. The cameras do not offer cloud storage. Instead, you can purchase and add an SD card. The cameras record in FHD 1080p, offer night vision, live streaming, mobile app access, and a 130° field of view. However, they lack other features offered by Canary, Arlo, and Nest including geofencing and the ability to connect to third-party devices.
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.

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!


The base station is also wall-mountable and can be installed on a Wi-Fi network or connected directly to your internet router over Ethernet. It has a 24-hour battery backup plus the ability to connect to an LTE network in the event of a power outage. (The LTE connectivity is available when you subscribe to Ring’s Protect Plus monitoring service and uses AT&T’s network.) Both the keypad and the base station feature colored LED rings to signify if the system is armed or disarmed and have built-in speakers to sound the alarm in the event of an emergency or intrusion.

Sightline is accessed from the mobile app. From the app, you can see your video history marked with color-coded activities. The colors represent different zones set by you. For example, a green dot might be driveway activity whereas an orange dot is an activity from your porch. If you own a Nest Secure security system, events triggered by the system will also show up in the Sightline as red dots or bars. You will also be able to see a “snapshot” of the event. Finally, using Sightline, you can swipe to fast forward through several days’ worth of footage.

There are so many home security systems to choose from; how can you possibly narrow it down and choose just one? There are obviously pros and cons to each system, so you need to think about what’s important to you and what you most value in a home security system. There really isn’t too much known about the Ring security system just yet because it’s very new on the market. The company has made themselves known for their video doorbells, but is just starting to dabble in home security systems. You’ve probably seen the videos of attempted burglars and package stealers caught red handed with Ring doorbells. Clearly, this innovative product has worked well so far. What should you keep in mind, though, when looking at the Ring Security System?

Our favorite security system for do-it-yourself monitoring and home automation is the $280 Abode Essentials Starter Kit, because not only does it add professional monitoring to your home, but it also works as a smart hub for third-party devices and helps facilitate home automation. But if you're looking for something a little more affordable and dead-simple to set up, Ring Alarm is worth  a look.
Most of my setup time was spent testing the position of the three contact sensors I received. The magnetic sensors consist of two parts. One part goes on a door or window frame, the other part goes opposite it so that when the door or window is opened, the magnetic connection is broken. If the two pieces aren't close enough, roughly half an inch, the sensor doesn't work.
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.
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.
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?”
From what I understand, it’s not so much a matter of just buying a device, but also programming it to the exact frequency that matches your alarm system. (Which makes an interesting case for not using a security sign, but that’s another debate.) That said, a really good signal jammer can cost upwards of $1,000, and as CNET pointed out, they would still have to smash a window or break down your door. The guy who wants money for his addiction isn’t going to spend the money and effort needed to pull off a jamming heist. Of course, if you are a public figure or might be the target of a more complex attack, I would suggest looking into a wired alarm system.

I bought this system to replace the ADT system I had for years. This system along with four Contact Sensors replaced what I had from ADT. The cost of the Ring system and year of monitoring was less than six months of monitoring from ADT. The system comes packaged nice a secure, which I am thankful for since the deliver person wasn't gentle dropping the box on my porch. I had downloaded the app and registered before the system arrived, so that part was taken care of. The included instructions and phone app walk you through the setup. It was painless and completed in about 10 minutes. I set up everything on my dining room table to go through the registration process. Once done, I installed the components where the old hardware was. Ring includes everything you need to mount (double sided tape and/or screws) all the components. Registering for monitoring was very simple too. One thing I learned that I want to pass on. do not remove the little battery tabs until the app tells you to. If you do, just open the cover, pull the battery and reinstall the tab. Just pulling the battery and reinstalling it doesn't reset the device.
Home security systems have been around for decades, providing a way to have your home monitored for intrusions and emergencies while you’re away or sleeping. But traditional home security systems have required professional installation, costly subscription plans, and long-term contracts that lock you in to the service. They’ve not been practical to move from home to home or for use in apartments.
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.
For doors especially, I much prefer sensors that can be embedded into the door and doorframe, so they’re completely hidden. As I mentioned earlier, Nest really innovated on this front, embedding pathway lights and secondary motion sensors into its Nest Detect sensors. Ring sensors have an LED that lights up when activated, and the base station (but not the keypad) will chirp when a sensor is activated, but that’s about it. But it’s worth noting that a basic Nest Secure system costs $499 to the Ring Alarm’s $199, and Nest Detect sensors cost $59 each where Ring’s cost just $20 (extra Ring motion sensors are priced at $30 each).
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.
As is the case with the Nest Secure system, the Ring Alarm does not support IFTTT applets or react to Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant voice commands. A Ring spokesperson has confirmed that support for voice commands and many other third-party devices is in the pipeline, and will include support for the soon-to-be-released new Ring Stick Up Cam, as well interoperability with other Ring devices.
My wife and I plan to hire a nurse at night for our new baby, but due to the many stories we’ve heard, we want to set up a camera (indoor of course) to surveil her and check up on her at any given time. (we will let her know she’s on camera – it will not be a secret at all.) I read your article but I still want your advice because I’m unsure. Which camera do you suggest for me? The main qualities I need is:
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.

4) Motion detector- again people say they are large ; but they are SMALLER than hard wired motion detectors I have - the differenc is the hard wired ones are embeddded itnot the drywall (but you can do this with the smaller ring detectors Too if you want. You can buy a plate to finish off the drywall edge of the small “cubby:” you create OR just buy some trim at Home Depot that matches your current baseboard or ceiling/door trim , buy a plastic miter box for $10 and make 45 degree cuts and you have your custom tight frame ready to paint (ANYONE can do this !) and you can locate the motion detectors anywhere you have a drywall wall ! Compared to any wireless motion detector than nest they arent that large -nest ones are 50% more $ and they are nots o small as to go un noticed anyway !

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.
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.
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.
Ring suggests that the motion detector should be placed in a location with a good view of a high-traffic area likely to be passed by any intruders, with the detector placed about seven feet off the floor. Motion detection sensitivity can be adjusted in the app if you find you're getting too many false alerts such as from a pet. The detector can be mounted using either adhesive or included screws that attach a bracket to the wall for easy removal of the detector itself.
Ring finally unveiled its brand new security system in July and while their doorbell is tried and tested, the same can’t be said about their security system. Everything has to start somewhere, but it might not be worth risking your home security on a system that is bound to have some bugs and kinks to be worked out. When it comes to the safety of your family and home, you don’t want to take any chances. One great thing about this system is that they do offer monitored security, which is extremely important. It’s nice to be able to check up on things yourself, but it’s not your full time job to monitor your home. Leave it to pros who can monitor your home full time and who can immediately contact the authorities in the event of an emergency. Any home security system without this feature is honestly pretty worthless. Protect America also offers 24/7 professional monitoring.
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.
Person Detection was the first feature launched under the Canary Vision project, a project that aims to add AI-powered intelligence to Canary devices. The second Canary Vision feature is Package Detection, which lets users set up notifications for when packages are delivered to their homes. This feature is exclusive to Canary Flex, and it can only be accessed if you have a Canary Membership.
The picture isn’t quite as rosy if you’re also looking for a full-fledged smart home system. Ring Alarm is positively capable of being a great smart home controller. But it’s not that today. And to be fair, Ring isn’t promising that it ever will be—at least not officially. But they wouldn’t have built in Z-Wave, ZigBee, and whatever that third mystery radio is if they didn’t intend to go down that path.
My wife and I plan to hire a nurse at night for our new baby, but due to the many stories we’ve heard, we want to set up a camera (indoor of course) to surveil her and check up on her at any given time. (we will let her know she’s on camera – it will not be a secret at all.) I read your article but I still want your advice because I’m unsure. Which camera do you suggest for me? The main qualities I need is:
The picture isn’t quite as rosy if you’re also looking for a full-fledged smart home system. Ring Alarm is positively capable of being a great smart home controller. But it’s not that today. And to be fair, Ring isn’t promising that it ever will be—at least not officially. But they wouldn’t have built in Z-Wave, ZigBee, and whatever that third mystery radio is if they didn’t intend to go down that path.
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.
Installing the sensors was similarly easy: I used the included double sided tape to mount the contact sensor to my front door and the motion sensor to the corner of the downstairs living room in my home. Ring also includes the necessary screws and wall fasteners for a more permanent installation, but the double sided tape was sufficient for my needs. For this review, I added two extra contact sensors (available as $20 add ons) and mounted them on a window and second door in my home. Syncing these with the existing system was just a matter of scanning a QR code on the back of the sensor, which triggered the app to search for it. Ring says that it will preset any additional devices you order at the same time as the Alarm starting kit, which would make setting them up as seamless as the in-box sensors.
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’ve only tested one cloud-less camera this year (Reolink Argus) and it’s battery-powered. And if you’re asking about systems like Amcrest and Swann, I don’t have anything similar. I mainly focus on cloud cameras for now, but who knows what the future holds! Currently, I’m working on an updated indoor camera version of this article, but all the cameras I’m testing use cloud storage.

Nest Indoor or Nest Outdoor? There are pros and cons to both. The Nest Cam Outdoor might be slightly more accurate, but that’s probably more to do with positioning – it has a better vantage point. The fact that it is more accurate, has sound, and night vision made me want to switch, but I could not deal with the way it looked once installed. In the end, Nest Hello provides CVR with the clean aesthetic that’s important to me.
The picture isn’t quite as rosy if you’re also looking for a full-fledged smart home system. Ring Alarm is positively capable of being a great smart home controller. But it’s not that today. And to be fair, Ring isn’t promising that it ever will be—at least not officially. But they wouldn’t have built in Z-Wave, ZigBee, and whatever that third mystery radio is if they didn’t intend to go down that path.
The door/window sensors (also called contact sensors) work pretty well, but the same cannot be said about the motion sensors; they will detect motion after there’s been plenty of movement (if I walk the hallway and enter a room it will not detect, but if I sit for a few seconds moving in the hallway it will detect it then). This is still not a show stopper for me, as I have a dog and don’t plan on buying any more motion sensors, it will be all contact sensors.
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.
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