Hats off to Ring for the smooth-as-silk installation process. This system was easier to set up than anything in my experience. Although there are no installation videos integrated into the app, as Ring provides with its other products, I didn’t miss them at all. The app takes you through each step with pictures and a brief explanation, just enough information so you don’t feel like you’re learning the system by rote. A printed instruction manual is also provided.
Most of my setup time was spent testing the position of the three contact sensors I received. The magnetic sensors consist of two parts. One part goes on a door or window frame, the other part goes opposite it so that when the door or window is opened, the magnetic connection is broken. If the two pieces aren't close enough, roughly half an inch, the sensor doesn't work.
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.
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.
If it's an entry sensor you're installing, Ring will ask what kind of door it is to apply the right sort of security to it — if it's your front door, for instance, it will use an entry countdown when you open the door while the base station is in Home and armed mode. If it’s the back door that's opened in this mode, the alarm will sound immediately.
The Ring Alarm system has three different modes, which can be set via the keypad or through the iOS and Android apps. There’s the standard disarmed mode that turns off all of the monitoring; an away mode that watches all of the installed sensors for intrusions; and then a “Home” mode, which by default will monitor sensors installed on entryways, but ignores motion inside the house. I’ve used the latter mode as basically a night or sleep setting, since during the day my family moves in and out of the house a lot and would constantly trip the door sensors.
Unlike the other options, Ring cameras don’t integrate with the security system. Sure you can monitor them all using a single mobile app, but there is no “if this, then that” relationship. If your alarm sounds, your cameras will not record. If your cameras detect motion, they won’t trigger your alarm. However, there is one major benefit to using Ring cameras: If you pay $10 per month, you will gain access to cloud storage and professional monitoring with cellular backup.
For all the things that the Ring Alarm system does well, there are still some areas in which it can be improved. One of my biggest annoyances with the system is that there is an audible alert for when a contact sensor is opened, but there is no alert for when it's closed. I have a sensor on each of the three doors that lead into my house and while it's great to hear a noise that they've been opened, it would be awesome to hear a confirmation that they've been closed as well.
The Ring Alarm is equipped with the hardware to serve as a smart hub, though it's not quite there yet. While the base station contains both ZigBee and Z-Wave radios, only the latter is user- accessible, and any noncertified third-party devices that are paired won't trigger the alarm. You can pair Z-Wave products through the Ring app, but they'll only use the base station as a bridge.
Nest Cam’s software (Nest Aware) can’t be beat. Better yet, they continuously launch improvements to the software for all users. One of their more recent updates granted a limited amount of free snapshot access for both Nest Cam AND Dropcam users and recently, they dropped the entry price of Nest Aware. Nest Aware comes in three flavors: 5-days for $5 a month, 10-days for $10 a month, and 30-days for $30 a month.
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.
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.