We gave the Ring Floodlight Cam 3.5 stars out of 5, noting that it’s a great addition to the Ring system and that its strong video quality and personalized motion zones make it a solid pick for outdoor security. Speaking of the Ring ecosystem, Home Depot has also slashed prices on its Ring Doorbell bundles. You can get a Ring Video Doorbell Pro with a Chime Pro Wi-Fi extender and speaker for $199 or the standard Ring Video Doorbell 2 with a Chime Pro for $169.
2. I tried to use it to find footage of an event, and it was incredibly difficult. The Wyze Cam history tab uses a generic photo for all alert events. You can’t even see a photo of the event without clicking in. When I use a camera indoors, the ease of finding video evidence is less of an issue, but when you’re trying to pinpoint something that occurred outside, you usually have a longer time frame to sort through. For example, we had someone spray paint the curbs in our neighborhood overnight which means I had to look through several hours worth of footage. It was annoying, and all of the footage was irrelevant so it was time wasted.
Pricing for add-on components is pretty much in line with what you'll pay if you have a SimpliSafe or Abode system. Extra contact sensors are $20 each, another motion sensor will cost you $30, and a range extender goes for $25. Additional devices including a Smoke/CO detector ($40), a Flood/Freeze detector ($35), and a Dome Siren ($30) are not yet available.
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.
If you already have a Ring doorbell or security camera, the integration is quite seamless, and the value becomes even better on the annual costs. Ring charges $30 a year per camera on the regular subscription, so if you've been holding out on adding to your system, this may push you over the edge. The company has plans to offer additional sensors in the future, like smoke and CO sensors, water sensors, and more, which will only help make it even more robust.
It would have been convenient to have a device like a key fob for the Ring Alarm, as running to find the keypad or navigating the app to turn off the alarm takes a few seconds too long, but one does not currently exist. However, arming and disarming the system is relatively straightforward. I just had to dig through the paper manual to figure out how to correctly enter my PIN to change modes.
True. I do feel like I touched on most of my “what’s best” thoughts in the Final Thoughts section. I would take from abode the free and vast integrations which extend to its ability to work with so many security-related devices (glass break sensors, flood sensors, freeze sensors, key fobs, etc.). I would also take their optional on-demand monitoring plans, free cloud storage, and geofencing. I would take from Nest their fabulous camera technology, design, and overall experience (voice prompts, clean app experience, etc.). From Ring, I would take pricing and extended battery backup.
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.
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.
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.
The Spotlight Cam employs the common method of using bounding boxes over the camera image to define detection zones, but you can use the box handles to twist it into any kind of geometric shape, not just squares. That allows you to work around outdoor areas where you don’t have as much control over the environment as you do inside your home. There’s also a scheduling option to disable motion alerts during certain times of day.
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.
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).
After shipping later than expected, is the Ring Alarm still worth your time? There are a bunch of alarm systems available that you can buy and install yourself these days, but there are a few key points that make the Ring Alarm stand out. From the ease of installation to the low monthly costs, the Ring Alarm system ticks a lot of boxes on paper that people will be looking for, but how does that on-paper experience compare to the real-life one?
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)
The motion and door/window sensors can be mounted with screws or with Velcro strips (provided). I’m happy the sensors didn’t come from the factory with the strips already attached. I’ve never seen an adhesive strip that didn’t eventually fail, so I prefer to use screws—and peeling those strips off so you can use screws is a major pain. The sensor batteries come preinstalled, so you just pull out a plastic tab when the app tells you to. This enables the battery to touch the electrical contact inside the sensor, powering it up.
WINNER Nest. While Nest Aware is a more expensive service, advanced features like person detection combined with the ability for the camera to record 24/7 make it a better overall home security camera. However, Arlo with Arlo Smart is also a contender as the service is less expensive and the camera includes free storage. You can also add continuous video recording to Arlo Pro 2, but only if using the camera plugged-in indoors. You can compare Arlo and Nest’s CVR plans here. Ring will also soon add continuous recording, but only if you have a wired Ring camera.
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.
With the Spotlight Cam Battery ($199), Ring continues to grow to its already impressive stable of home security devices. This battery-powered outdoor security camera is completely wireless and offers motion detection with triggered recording and compatibility with IFTTT and other smart home devices. As with other Ring products such as the Video Doorbell Pro and Floodlight Cam, you have to subscribe to one of the company's cloud plans to view recorded video, and it doesn't offer pre-buffered recording. But it's very easy to install and offers sharp 1080p video, making it a strong option for outdoor security cameras.
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.
I’m trying to set my mom up with a constant live feed of their front door. I bought a cloud cam and echo show, before realizing their house isn’t set up to get much of a front door view from the inside. Think a hard wired ring pro with echo show always displaying the live feed would work, or drain the rings battery even though it’s hard wired? Any other ideas? I’d like to keep the echo show, but will probably return the cloud cam.
The square wireless base station is the main component of the Ring Alarm system. It's 6.7 x 6.7 x 1.4 inches in size, and though it lay flat on a bookshelf for this review, it can be mounted on a wall. The base station has ZigBee and Z-Wave antennas, and while the latter is available to use with compatible third-party accessories, anything that isn't Ring-certified won't work with security monitoring.
There’s not much that can match Ring’s price point and quality. Nest Secure is an excellent system, but will set you back $399. The Abode Starter Kit is cheaper than Nest at $299, but still lacks the finesse and quality of Ring. Samsung SmartThings and ADT have partnered on a home monitoring system, but it costs $389, and several features are missing to make it an integrated, comprehensive system.
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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).
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.
If a monitored door or window is left open when you arm the system, Ring Alarm will warn you, but give you the opportunity to push an illuminated button on the keypad to bypass that sensor. You’ll get a similar warning and opportunity when using the app to arm the system. The sensor will remain bypassed until you disarm the system again. It’s a convenient feature: If you left the upstairs window open, for example, but are in too much of a rush to run up and close it, you can take a calculated risk and secure the rest of the home.
We set up the base station in our office, the contact sensor on the front door, the keypad on the front table, the motion detector in the hallway, and the range extender in our laundry room. You can add additional motion sensors and contact sensors to the system for additional coverage. We added a couple of sensors to windows on the first floor of our home for added security.
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The Ring Alarm has the electronics required to do all of that now, and Harris said those features will be turned on at some point. “You’ll see all of those things,” he said. “We’ll support color-changing lights, so that in a smoke situation, the lights will turn to a darker color to make it easier to see at night. You’ll see door locks with [Z-Wave’s] S2 security that will disarm the security system when you use the keypad to unlock the door, because we know you’ve done that in a secure way.”
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…
All plans, including the freemium plan, offer access to the same security features and provide a semi-decent way of sorting through historical footage. Through the app’s “Library” section, you will have access to a timeline feature. You can view all recorded events by day. You will also be able to favorite an event, download, or share it. You can also filter recorded footage by favorites, motion events, audio events, manual recordings, or recordings triggered by IFTTT.
Do it yourself can be a really good option, but you need to make sure this is right for you before you jump in. There won’t be any technicians or professional installers to make sure everything is installed and working correctly. Ring does claim that the system is effortless to install but that obviously doesn’t guarantee that you won’t run into issues, especially if you don’t have experience with security systems. In this case, you just need to know yourself to know if this type of installation and maintenance is right for you. If you tend to hire out for most of your home projects, this extremely important project probably isn’t the one you want to start with trying on your own.
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.
So let’s talk cost for a minute. For $399, Nest includes a Nest Guard which also acts as a keypad, siren, and motion detector, two Nest Detects which are also motion sensors, and two Nest Tags. An equivalent package from abode would cost $479. A comparable package from Ring would cost $279. However, Ring doesn’t sell a key fob, and the kit includes a range extender, so that needs to be factored into the equation.
If you can live without the spotlight feature, consider our Editors' Choice for outdoor security cameras, the Netgear Arlo Pro 2. It costs more, but it delivers pre-buffered recording so you can see what happened just before a triggered event. It also comes with free and subscription-based cloud storage and offers continuous recording capabilities.
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.
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.
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 camera connects to the included wall mount using a ball socket. If you’re installing on brick or another hard surface, you’ll need to drill and insert wall anchors. If you’re installing your camera onto a wooden surface, you can use the included screws and screwdriver to secure the mount. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to keep Spotlight Cam so both options seemed like rather permanent solutions. I decided to create the most unattractive, temporary solution.
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.
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 Rign 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.
Ring Alarm doesn’t support smart lighting controls, door locks, thermostats, garage-door openers, or other common smart home products today, and there’s a very short list of supported third-party products. But it lacks nothing needed to support those and similar devices down the road. And in an interview with Ring Solutions president Mike Harris earlier this week, I learned that’s exactly what Ring intends to do.
Ring's professional monitoring isthrough Rapid Response Monitoring Services, and it's one of the more affordable services available. For $10 a month (or $100 a year if paid up front), you get the benefits of dispatchers on standby, and this includes video storage for any Ring cameras you might have. There's no long-term contract, either, so you can cancel any time you don't need it through the Ring website.
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.
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