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.
In home mode, the default setup is for motion sensors to be ignored while door/window sensors will trigger the alarm to activate. This mode is obviously intended for when you're moving around inside your home but want to be protected if someone enters the house through a monitored door or window. Finally, away mode arms all sensors so that any opened monitored door or window or movement within the house will set off the alarm.
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!
Ring’s motion sensors and contact sensors are much more traditional than Nest’s, which cleverly combine the two into a single device that also adds a nightlight. Nest’s base station also combines the keypad with it and adds even more motion detection sensors – Ring’s separate base station and keypad approach is almost clumsy in comparison. But it is possible to add multiple keypads to the Ring system, so you can have one at each entry way or in your bedroom if that’s a more convenient place for it. The keypad can be placed flat on a table or mounted to the wall, and uses a simple MicroUSB cable for power. Its internal battery lasts between six and twelve months, according to Ring, so it’s possible to install it in a location that doesn’t have an accessible power outlet and just charge it occasionally.
Device Theft Optional Wall Mount Optional Wall Mount Screwed in using proprietary screws, Ring will replace stolen devices. Depends on the Mount – Quick Mount easier to steal, Security Mount is a more permanent solution. Easier to steal. The power adapter twists off and the Nest Cam can be removed from the magnetic base by pulling. Secure Mount (Sold Separately)
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.
Thanks for the all the info and reviews. I have a Ring Doorbell and a Nest Thermostat. It seems as a stand alone the nest cam is a better choice. But at $100/year seems a bit steep. Adding a Ring Spotlight cam will put me at $60/year (doorbell and cam). Seems like the Ring cam is a no brainer for my situation. Am I missing something? I dont mind upgrading my doorbell (Ring or Nest), but even with the new 5 day plan from Nest Aware, Ring just makes more financial sense.
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.
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.
Spotlight Cam also works with Ring Neighborhoods. With this feature, you can quickly share video clips with those nearby. You don’t have to invite your neighbors. Instead, Ring uses your set geolocation to find other nearby users. You can even customize your location by creating a smaller or larger shape around your home. By tapping on the Ring Neighborhood icon when viewing a call or recording, you can share that event with those nearby regardless of whether or not they own a Ring device. So long as your neighbor has the Ring app, you can share events with them. You can also choose to share events to Facebook and NextDoor.
Finally, unlike abode’s base station (iota does not require Ethernet), Ethernet is not required to use Nest Secure. Nest likes to make things easy and they send everything you need, including batteries, to get your device up and running. Nest Guard ships with a 6-foot cable with a power adapter and CR123 batteries for the sensors. My system already had the batteries installed which made setup even easier.
The second issue I have for the system is that there is no quick exit feature. For the entire six years that I've had a security system, I have been used to being able to press a button that will give me one minute to quietly exit the house. This is important when I am leaving for work a few hours before my family wakes up for their day. The Ring system doesn't have this feature at all. When the system is armed, it has to be disarmed (which it announces) and rearmed before exiting with a delay that can be set up with your phone (it will announce this as well and will make a sound while it counts down) or can be armed from your phone after you leave (again, it will announce this with the countdown sound). You either have to chose if you want the system to count down or not. Not counting down will immediately arm it and you will have to arm from your phone if you leave and arm it on the "Home" setting while others are still there. You can adjust the sound that is emitted from the panel so that it isn't loud, but it will also make your door and window chimes use the same volume all of the time. If you have your system armed while you’re home, and the volume is down, you might not hear the system telling you that it needs to be disarmed if you forget and open a door. There is no in-between here. If you have to leave while others are still sleeping, this may be a problem for you.
Ring was acquired by Amazon earlier this year, filling out the online shopping giant’s increasingly large smart home selection. Though there aren’t any obvious signs of Ring’s place within Amazon changing this service — it doesn’t integrate with Amazon’s in-home delivery service, and Amazon’s own security camera isn't compatible — it’s easy to imagine where it could in the future. For now, all we’ve really seen is a price drop on Ring’s entry-level doorbell cam.
Download the Ring app (available for both iOS and Android) and connect the Alarm with your existing Ring devices, or, if this is your first Ring product, follow the instructions and advice on how to get started. Both the app and written materials in the box provides helpful suggestions on how and where to set up your motion sensors and contact sensors.
Spotlight Cam’s star feature is its light. The camera is equipped with two lights that automatically trigger when motion is detected. The lights aren’t very bright. At 700 lumens, they’re about as bright as a 60-watt light bulb. It’s not enough to scare someone away, but does improve the camera’s ability to see at night. And nighttime is the only time when the lights will automatically turn on, though you can turn the lights on manually at any time. When triggered, the light stays on for about 30 seconds. When turned on manually, it stays on until you end the live stream (required to access light feature).
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.
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.
Third, Nest Guard has a voice. Of course, it’s no Google Home, but it will provide useful information. For example, when you arm your system, there is an arm delay which allows you to exit your home without setting off the alarm. Instead of an annoying beep that continues until the system arms, Nest Guard uses a friendly voice to tell you how much time you have left.
The Z-Wave range extender and the sensors in the kit are pre-paired with the base station, so you just need to enroll them into the app. Ring also sent me a couple of add-on door/window sensors so I could experience the full onboarding process. This simply involves scanning a QR code on the device, verifying that the PIN printed below the QR code matches what’s displayed in the app, and then pulling the battery tab.
I had a sufficiently strong signal from my router to each camera, but results will vary depending on the layout of your home. If you do see streaming issues, such as resolution deterioration or loss of signal, you might need to install the camera closer to your router or use a Wi-Fi range extender, such as the Ring Chime Pro Wi-Fi range extender ($49 at Amazon). Like its cameras, Ring’s range extender is an 802.11n device that operates on the 2.4GHz frequency band only.
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.
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