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.
As of this writing, there are only a handful of add-on devices available that will work with the system, and for now, it doesn't support integrations with other Ring devices or third-party Z-Wave and Zigbee devices. That said, integration with Ring doorbells and cameras is on the way, and interoperability with third-party devices is also in the works.
Once the base station is online and your account set up for monitoring, the rest of the devices in your starter kit are automatically identified in the Ring app and you can set them up one by one. With each one, you can provide a name and room location to help identify the accessories in notifications and the app. With the keypad, you'll set up an access code that lets you arm and disarm the alarm, and you can set up different codes for different people. As you set up each motion detector and contact sensor, the app will have you test each one to ensure that they're probably detecting events.
The other thing of note is its lack of smart home partners. Despite being owned by Amazon, Ring's system doesn't work with Alexa or any other major smart home platforms. If you want to arm and otherwise get the status of your home security system via voice commands, the Ring Alarm Security Kit isn't the right option for you. Ring does specify in its support section that it's working on these integrations for a future release.
Ring, an Amazon company, also sells several security sensors. First is the keypad. The keypad runs on battery power, and you can wall mount it or place it on a flat surface. In addition to arming and disarming your system, the Keypad Control Panel allows you to choose between Armed Away and Armed Home. When using the keypad to arm your system, it provides a grace period to reduce false alarms. You can customize the grace period using the mobile app. Finally, you can simultaneously press and hold the check and x buttons for three seconds to trigger the panic alarm.
Speaking of monitoring, there are different modes that you can set when arming the alarm. When you're at home, there are two choices, including Disarmed and Home. With disarmed, there is no 3rd-party monitoring happening, so you can open and close the doors, windows, and more as you please. Home mode is used for times like when you're home alone or going to bed, and there is external monitoring involved. With Home mode, you can opt to change which sensors are active and which aren't, which is great for if you don't want a motion sensor to go off because of your pets or something.
This is something we remind our four-year-old son of often, as he’s prone to leaving doors open because, well, he’s four. That means that the Disarmed mode comes in handy when he’s awake and running in and out of the house. It’s nice to have three options instead of just the typical “armed” or “disarmed” features that don’t take into account movement that is occurring just by living in the house.
The Spotlight Cam performed well in our tests. Daytime video was highly detailed with rich colors, while black-and-white night video showed good contrast and appeared sharp out to around 25 feet. The motion sensor always generated a push alert and followed my schedule without issue. Recorded video was just as sharp as the live feed, and two-way audio communications were distortion-free. The internal siren was certainly loud enough to scare away any would-be intruders, and the spotlight did a great job of lighting up an otherwise dark area in my backyard.
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.
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?
Hi Rose! Thank you for such an informative article. Unfortunately, I’m reading due to the fact that my street was just the victim of car break-ins overnight. I am curious to know what your opinion on the night vision (inside and out) for each of the cameras is. I currently have the older Logitech Alert cameras, but their night vision isn’t the greatest so I really couldn’t make out the burglars or the vehicles they were in. I have been leaning on Ring doorbell/stick ups, but no 24/7 recording is almost scaring me away.
The aesthetic result of two devices mounted and connected by a wire isn’t overly pleasing. Thankfully, my setup is installed in a spot where it isn’t publicly visible. If it were on my porch, I would probably return the solar panel to use two batteries. That’s right, two! During the install, I was most surprised to find that though Spotlight Cam ships with one battery, it has room for two.
The system was quite easy to install. Having six sensors to place seems like a lot, until you realize you can’t cover everything though you can certainly cover enough. I found the system to be very responsive whenever it was armed or a sensor was set off (both the app and e-mail notifications were received mere seconds after an event). This is in marked contrast to a non-Ring security camera I use to monitor the entrance that can take several minutes or longer to send me notifications. The siren too was fairly loud, as I found out one early weekend during testing.
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.
I own and use 4 Ring devices at my primary and secondary home. Until last night, I have been very pleased with the product. Last night, we had a heavy storm at our second home and the electricity was off for a period of time. My Nest devices automatically reconnected to my wifi as soon as the power was reestablished; not so with the Ring devices. Ring required my to physically be close to the devices with my iPhone in hand to reestablish the connection. This is a serious flaw for users like myself and one that Ring needs to correct if I am going to continue using their product. The electricity, and thus the wifi, at our mountain home loses power several times a year. I don't want to travel 700 miles just to reconnect a Ring device or two.