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.
Ring Neighborhoods is a service that lets you share videos with other nearby Ring users or anyone who has downloaded the Ring app. The service ties into another feature called Ring Locations. Ring Locations allows you to attribute your different Ring devices to different locations and customize user access for the same. For example, you might have your Ring Doorbell at one location where your kids have Homeowner user status, while you have Ring Alarm at another location and limit their access to Neighbor.
Oco Pro Bullet is weatherproof, has an SD card, cloud storage, night vision, smart motion detection, and records in FHD 1080p. It can also work in a wide range of temperatures, from -22 °F – 140 °F (-30 °C – 60 °C). But it has one massive limitation: viewing angle. Unfortunately, it only offers an 85-degree viewing angle. Also, the indoor version fell flat on many of its promised features. While the outdoor camera uses different hardware, the indoor experience left me feeling leery towards Oco’s ability to build a quality camera.
WINNER Nest, Canary, and Ring all provide excellent tech support experiences, but a general word to the wise: When you self-monitor your home security system, expect to do some troubleshooting from time-to-time. It’s an inevitable part of the process. Most of the outdoor devices I’ve tested have had issues, though Nest appears to be leading the way.
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.
Second, Ring sells a contact sensor. The two-piece sensor can be placed on doors or windows and will notify you of open/close movements. Third, they sell a pet-friendly motion detector. Fourth, they sell a range extender. The range extender is the only sensor that requires AC power, but it also includes 24-hour battery backup. The Range Extender is used to boost the signal emitted by your Base Station to help eliminate dead zones.
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.
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
As far as Ring Alarm, I don’t have an answer for you, but I understand and appreciate the knowledge you’ve shared. I would also agree that if they haven’t advertised jamming detection, that’s probably because it doesn’t exist. A Twitter friend of mine, who works for Underwriters Laboratories (UL), also mentioned that the system is not UL certified. Again, probably not as important to you as this jamming issue, but something interesting to note.
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.
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.
Disclaimer: The information featured in this article is based on our best estimates of pricing, package details, contract stipulations, and service available at the time of writing. All information is subject to change. Pricing will vary based on various factors, including, but not limited to, the customer’s location, package chosen, added features and equipment, the purchaser’s credit score, etc. For the most accurate information, please ask your customer service representative. Clarify all fees and contract details before signing a contract or finalizing your purchase.
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.
With Canary, you can also adjust motion sensitivity, and the camera includes a PIR motion sensor, which works when the camera is plugged in or when running on battery. But even with these added features, Flex has trouble sorting true events from false ones. On windy days, false alerts are common, and sometimes Flex misses events. Worse, if you use Flex as a battery-powered camera, you must wait for it to wake up. I had problems with the camera sleeping through events. In general, the camera performs at a much higher level when plugged in.
I want good coverage of two exterior doors and below a deck, but after seeing that Y1 cameras (not mentioned here) sell their data to third parties and can even share clips of customer video, and with the security concerns that go along with baby monitors being viewed on the web from weak passwords, I’ve realized that my main priority is preventing anyone other than my family from being able to view my footage. It looks like my only option is the Argus since it does not include cloud storage, but I’m wondering if use of the Argus mobile app also means that the company’s employees can view our footage. We’re not doing anything illegal, heh, but I really value privacy. Do you know of any cameras that can only be viewed by the customer?
If you do have smart lights and want to control them with a contact sensor or motion detector, you will need to install separate ones in addition to Ring’s, which can make your front door look like it’s grown barnacles with all of the sensors installed. Another simple integration would be to set a smart thermostat to its away mode when the Alarm is set to away, and then switch it back to its home mode when the Alarm is disarmed, but that’s currently not possible either.
There is currently no support for controlling the system with voice commands, but it should come as no surprise that Ring is developing an Alexa skill. Once you can arm your security system using a voice command, you won’t want to do it any other way (disarming it that way is whole other question). Harris was slightly more circumspect about supporting Google Assistant. “We remain committed to being open to all of the different pieces that are important to our customers. We’ll continue to march down the path of trying to support everything we can.” I got a similar answer when I asked about support for Apple’s HomeKit technology: “We’ve given it a lot of time. Again, we remain focused on bringing HomeKit support across the product line, but it won’t be available at launch with the Alarm products specifically.”
Ring doesn’t have any contracts or other subscription-related requirements, but you do have the option of adding one of the video recording packages mentioned above. However, they do offer exclusive discounts and an extended warranty if you choose to purchase the upper tier package. Ring’s equipment comes with a one-year warranty, and if your doorbell is stolen, Ring will replace it for free.
So what happens if an Alarm is triggered? If an event is detected, you will get an email and an instant push notification to your phone which you can swipe to open the Nest App. From the Nest App, you can see which sensor triggered the alarm, and you will be presented with two options: call the police or turn the alarm off. If you have a Nest Cam, you will be able to view footage from the event simultaneously. If you have multiple Nest Cams, you can swipe through to a view a live feed from all of your cameras. If you’re subscribed to Nest Aware, the Sightline feature will bookmark the event so next time you access your camera’s timeline, you’ll see a red bar. Tap on the red bar to review the footage of the event. Of course, while all of this is happening, your siren will sound.
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.
Aside from the app and the keypad, there isn’t currently another way to set the system. In comparison, Nest’s system can be set via key fobs, which are quicker and easier than punching in PIN codes or opening an app, or voice through the Google Assistant. Ring says that integration with Alexa will come down the road, but it is not available at this time.
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.
Rose, thanks for the great review! Paul, I have a Video Doorbell Pro and a Floodlight Cam — both are hardwired. Both lag at least seven seconds behind real time and sometimes even longer. During the lag, the would-be burglar is gone or could be in your house. Ring’s ads suggest you see things in real time which is not the case for me. The signal strength and wifi speed both test excellent. I hope this helps you. Nick
Ring does include a practice mode with its professional monitoring, and by default for the first seven days after activating your account authorities will not be contacted if the alarm is triggered. This gives you time to learn how your system works without burdening authorities with false alarms. If you wish to exit practice mode before the seven-day period is up, you can do that, but Ring will warn you in the app about the importance of making sure everything is working properly before you do that.
So, is the Ring Alarm for you? If you're looking for a DIY alarm system that provides external monitoring and doesn't cost a fortune, I'd have to say that this is the option to consider. There is no shortage of great options out there from companies like Nest, SimpliSafe, and more, but they all come in much more expensive than this. At under $200 for the base package, it's really hard to beat what Ring is offering here.
For the Ring Alarm to function properly, you'll need to subscribe to Ring's Protect Plus plan, which is $10 a month or $100 if you prepay for the year. It includes 24/7 professional monitoring, video recording, reviewing, and sharing for unlimited cameras, 10% off purchases made at Ring.com, and an extended warranty on all of your items as long as your subscribed.
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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.
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Once these motion-activated cameras pick up on movement, they’ll turn on their built-in floodlights, start recording, and send an alert to your connected mobile app. From there, you’ll be able to see and hear what’s going on via the camera feed, as well as speak through the cameras to whoever is on the property. You can also customize alert zones to narrow in on the most important areas for motion detection. All of this can be done from anywhere, which means you can keep an eye on your home even while you’re away.
Right now, abode reigns supreme due to the number of integrations they offer, the variety of security sensors, and the fact that it’s an open platform not tied to Google (Nest) or Amazon (Ring). I would give Ring second place due to cost, and it’s bumped iSmart off of my list of recommended self-monitored security systems. My only gripe is that it doesn’t integrate well with its own camera system. Nest takes third, but I would still recommend it. It’s a beautiful system, easy to use, and thoughtfully designed. That said, if Ring raised the bar on their camera integrations, launches an indoor camera, a flood sensor (coming soon), and a glass break sensor, it might just become the system to beat.
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.
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.
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.
The caller from the monitoring service will identify themselves as being from Ring, since that’s who your business relationship is with, but they actually work for a third-party company that Ring contracts with: Rapid Response Monitoring Services. This is a common arrangement for home security systems. Nest, for example, contracts with MONI Smart Security (which is now doing business as Brinks Home Security). Alarm.com is another major third-party monitoring service.
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.
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.
Ring’s sensors operate on battery power, the keypad and base station come with AC adapters, and the Z-Wave range extender plugs directly into an AC outlet. All three of those components have battery backup, so the system will continue to operate in the event of a power outage. The base station connects to your home network via hardwired ethernet or Wi-Fi. A Ring Protect subscription activates an LTE module in the base station that will keep the system connected to the internet if your broadband connection goes down. You can even run the keypad on battery power full time if you choose, since most homes don’t have AC outlets right next to doors. An LED will tell you when the battery needs to be charged.
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.
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.
Before we get ahead of ourselves, how did Ring become a giant in home security now worth over $1 Billion? They started out as 'Doorbot' and failed getting an investor on Shark Tank. While this could have been a low blow to the company, they pursued the smart doorbell camera and became the leader of it (Vivint to follow in 2nd). Richard Branson chimed in with a large investment and that really got the company going. Fast forward some years and now they are in thousands of stores and in neighborhoods across the nation.
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.