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.
I installed a motion sensor inside a shed in my backyard (shed has a tin metal roof) and I kept getting a false alarm daily usually around 1 or 2pm; Ring informed me that their motion sensors use infrared technology and that excessive heat could cause a false trigger. They told me a contact sensor at the shed’s door should do the job and that’s what I will be doing next.
At 3.2 by 0.9 by 0.9 inches (HWD), the Z-Wave contact sensors for doors and windows are bulkier than the sensors that come with the Vivint Smart Home system (2.5 by 1.0 by 0.5 inches). They're each powered by a CR123 battery that is rated to last three years and can be installed using double-sided tape or with mounting screws. The motion sensor (3.5 by 2.4 by 1.7 inches) also runs on a CR123 battery and uses a Z-Wave radio to communicate with the base station. The range extender (3.1 by 1.8 by 1.1 inches) plugs into a wall outlet and extends the Z-Wave signal by up to 250 feet, so you can place sensors just about anywhere.

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.


Ideally suited for the darker nooks on your property that are susceptible to breach after sundown, it comes in four models: Spotlight Cam Wired ($199), Spotlight Cam Battery ($199 at Amazon), Spotlight Cam Solar ($229), and Spotlight Cam Mount ($249 at Amazon). The cameras in all four models are the same. The Battery and Solar use the same battery; the latter just comes with an included solar panel that can also be purchased independently ($49 at Amazon). 

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).
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Ring is a Wi-Fi connected doorbell and exterior lighting security system that was recently purchased by Amazon. They don’t offer any type of home automation features; however, their system is compatible with many third-party smart home systems. However, Ring has announced that they will soon be adding interior home security and environmental protection features to their current lineup.
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)
Ring lacks third-party integrations. The Base Station communicates with Z-Wave and Zigbee, and I’ve confirmed those protocols were added for a reason, but they haven’t taken advantage of them. The system supports the First Alert Z-Wave Smoke/CO detector which is also compatible with the Ring Response service. Soon, it will also work with the Dome Siren. But that’s it. Ring currently lacks an IFTTT channel and even an Alexa integration, which is odd as Ring is owned by Amazon.
Swann Smart Security Camera is an indoor/outdoor battery powered security camera that works without a base station. It’s most similar to Reolink Argus and Canary Flex. The camera records in 1080p FHD, offers a 120° field of view, night vision, and is IP65 rated for outdoor use. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work with any third-party devices and it lacks intelligent features to reduce false alarms. The camera boasts a feature called True Detect™, but that’s just a fancy marketing term for PIR motion sensor. The camera’s best feature is free local and cloud storage. From the app, you can playback seven days worth footage stored locally. The camera also includes two days of cloud storage.
Finally, at times the app is slow to connect to the system. For the most part, this isn't an issue, but I've run into a few situations where my kid opened the door to help me out and the alarm started sounding and it took up to 30 seconds for the app to connect to the alarm system. Luckily, I have had enough time in my entry delay period to get it disarmed before the monitoring company was notified, but I'd like to see the app delay disappear.
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.
By purchasing this system you’re almost certain that they will come out with upgrades and updates to this product and ways to integrate it with Alexa and smart home devices. If you encounter any kind of issues, they will have someone listen to you and actually give you a solution rather than one of these knock off Chinese products that will give you excuses for faulty behavior but not solutions.
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!
Hi Rose, I’m intrigued that you have a traditional alarm system but also one of these new wireless versions. Are they integrated? Can they be? I haven’t looked at the Ring, abode, and Nest systems because I have am old-fashioned standard system that came wired into my home. I’d love to integrate it with my Ring cameras and doorbell cam, or even get one of the new wireless voice-activated bases or keypads. Can that be done with any system today?

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.
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.

Both systems offer exceptional protection and support, so the choice really comes down to your unique needs. For someone who wants their home to be fully automated and for their devices to talk to one another, Nest is the easy choice. While more expensive, the system offers excellent connectivity and added products like the Nest Tags and connected lock.


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.

Nest, Ring, and abode all sell cameras. Nest works with Nest Cams including the indoor and outdoor cameras, Nest IQ both indoor and outdoor, as well as Nest Hello. When Nest Secure detects an alarm event, it will trigger your Nest cameras to take a snapshot. If you have email alerts turned on, the cameras will email you a snapshot of the event. It can also send a push notification to your phone.

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.
I’ve stayed away from all Ring products as their API is only accessible by large entities they approve of. You are also forced to use the cloud. If they have an outage, it impacts you. In my smart home setup, I’m not reliant on the cloud for many aspects. There are some exceptions, like Nest thermostats and Protects. Alarm system is locally controlled, Z-wave devices are locally controlled as well. If my Internet is down, then remote access and the Nest products is not possible. The rest of the devices continue to work. My video doorbells are locally controlled; no need for the cloud nor their monthly/annual fees. I want to capture images, I can do it locally but also review it remotely.
Using a Family Account, you can share access with nine other people. However, Nest’s sharing feature is problematically one-size-fits-all. All members will have full control over your account, including all cameras and connected devices such as thermostats and smoke alarms. As an example, I gave my family access to a camera placed at my grandmother’s. They can now view the camera at my grandmother’s and also the camera at my house. There is no way to limit their access. Also, they can’t set their own notification preferences, so they either have to put up with all the notifications from my house, or I have to turn off my notifications.
The Spotlight Cam captures video at 1080p and has a 140-degree field of view, but lacks the pre-buffered recording capabilities that you get with Netgear's Arlo Pro 2 camera and the Ring Video Doorbell Pro. It uses four infrared LEDS to provide up to 30 feet of night vision and has a built-in 110dB siren, an 802.11n Wi-Fi radio, and a speaker and microphone for two-way audio. The spotlight itself consists of two strips on either side of the camera, each with four LEDs that provide an overall brightness of 700 lumens with a 4,000K color temperature. The camera comes with one battery pack, a mounting bracket, wall screws and anchors, a screwdriver and drill bit, and a setup guide.
Rose first let me say thanks for the reviews. But just wanted to let you know (and maybe the nest guy you talked with also) that you can choose to only get notifications for people and not motion. This has been available for at least 3 months now. Also have only had one time when it had reported a person and was not. Car lights was what it really saw.
When you arm or disarm the system, the keypad and the base station play a female voice that informs you of the system’s status (the keypad’s speaker is unfortunately subdued). LEDs on both devices provide visual feedback as well, although only the base station gives you a constant visual cue as to the system’s status: Blue for unarmed, red for armed.

You can also mount the base station on a wall, and can connect to your wifi network, or you can connect directly to your router with a network cable. The Ring Alarm base station offers a 24-hour battery backup, plus it can connect to LTE if you have an outage, so you have a cellular option if needed; however, you do have to pay for it with a monthly subscription.

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.
Just one final question if I can, I was looking around a little more at some of your articles and YouTube videos (they are awesome! short and sweet and to the point!), and it seems like the Blink XT would also meet my criteria (the 9 pointers above), is that right? The thing I liked was that it’s much cheaper and apparently I’m getting the same, no? Is there anything I’d be missing out from my list if I go with the Blink camera (and overall do you recommend it)?
Outdoor security cameras provide a line of defense for your home, and smart capabilities elevate that by adding control and peace-of-mind to your home security system. Today, one of the best on the market, Ring’s floodlight camera, is $314 for a two-pack from Home Depot, a big drop from a list price of $448. And you’ll also get a free $50 Chime Pro Wi-Fi extender and speaker with your purchase.
Arlo Pro 2 also works with Arlo’s continuous video recording (CVR) plan. The catch is that the camera must remain plugged-in in order for the feature to work, and Arlo’s power cord is not weatherproof. The subscription is per camera and also works with Arlo Q, Q Plus, and Arlo Baby. For $9.99 per month, they will provide 14 days of 24/7 CVR, for $19.99 per month you get 30 days, and for $29.99 per month, you will get 60 days. Arlo provides a discount if you pay for the year upfront and they offer a 50% discount if you have more than one CVR plan on your account.
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.

Second, you can take it to the next level with Ring Locations. The Locations feature lets you assign your different devices to different locations under one account. You can then decide who has access to each location. For example, this could theoretically solve the challenge I described above. If I had a camera at my grandmother’s, I could give access to my family, but exclude them from viewing footage from cameras located at my home. When the new app launches, you will also be able to view location-based grouping backed by a multi-camera view.
I’m leaning towards Arlo Pro 2 over the Arlo Q, due to the portability – however, since the portability is only a plus for me and not a must, is there any advantage that the Q has over the Pro 2 that I may want to consider before making my final decision. [I tried finding differences between the Arlo Q and Arlo Pro 2, and, aside from the design & portability, I was unable to find any.] If you know of any can you please share with me, and then I’ll be 100% certain in my decision:)
By default, Ring Alarm offers three modes: Unarmed, Home and Armed, and Away and Armed. You can use the keypad to change modes, or use the mobile app, which also offers access to any Ring cameras you might have set up in your home. The app also provides status updates on any connected devices you have in the house, a separate history log for the alarm system and the cameras,  a settings panel for configuring professional monitoring and what each mode does when activated.
It’s not ideal, but it’s not terrible. I just went out there and stood sideways to the camera and you could still see me. The farther back I stood, the better the picture. Take a look at the article and scroll all the way to the bottom. I put two pictures up temporarily. Let me know once you see them as I’m going to take them down. I suggest buying it and testing it out using the battery by placing it where your current doorbell is BEFORE you actually install it. If you think it will work, go for it. If not, send it back.
From the app, you can control and manage your Nest Secure system. Of course, you can arm and disarm your system, but you can also see sensor status as well as sensor history. For example, you can see if your door is open or closed and you can see when it was last opened and last closed. You can also use the app’s Remind Me feature to remind you to arm your system if you forget to do so.
Since I’m assuming you will want to live stream often to check on your kids, I would recommend a wired security camera. The original Canary is a good option as is Arlo Q. Both will allow you to live stream from anywhere. Original Canary does not offer two-way audio for free, Arlo Q does, something to consider if you want to be able to talk to your childcare provider or children using the camera. Both cameras include free cloud storage.
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.
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're set to Home and Armed and you trigger an entry sensor that's fitted anywhere but your front door, the base station will sound a piercingly loud 104-decibel alarm until you can get to the keypad, or to your phone to deactivate it. If you're Away, both the motion and the entry sensors will trigger the alarm — unless, again, the entry sensor is affixed to the front door, in which case it will start a 60-second countdown until you enter your PIN (you can adjust the timer as you need).
At two months, Arlo’s battery lasted longer than Canary’s. Arlo also sent both an email and push notification encouraging me to charge the camera. I tried to time how long it took to recharge the battery, but it took five hours to reach 87% and then stopped. Even the next day, the camera’s battery did not charge beyond 87%. Also, like Canary, Arlo’s battery life was impacted by activity more than weather. The camera I placed in a lower traffic zone had 37% battery life remaining after two months and several sub-zero days.
Canary also allows you to share access with other users. Through the Canary app, all users will have full control over your cameras. If you want to limit other users’ access, you can choose who has access to what camera through the use of multiple locations. For example, you can give person A access to location 1 but not location 2. Better still, locations can be at the same address so your location 1 and location 2 can both include cameras in your home.
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. 
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