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.
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.
Some jurisdictions require permits for monitored alarm systems, and Ring will guide you based on the address where you're using Ring Alarm. In some areas, Ring can obtain the permit on your behalf once you pay required fees, but in other jurisdictions you'll need to handle it on your own. Either way, once you have your permit, you can enter the permit number and expiration date in the Ring app to make all parties aware that your system is properly registered. My town does not require permits, so I did not need to go through this step.
abode also sells their own line of cameras. They sell an image sensor, which will take three snapshots if it detects motion, and two streaming cameras. I’ve tested two of the three. The two cameras I tested were unfortunately unimpressive, and I found Nest cameras to be vastly superior. abode’s newest camera, not tested, offers two major benefits: FHD 1080P resolution and two-way audio. Of course, there’s also abode iota which offers the same camera specs as the newest abode streaming camera. The benefit of using abode cameras over Nest cameras is free cloud and local storage. abode’s streaming cameras support a microSD card and include three days of free cloud storage. Nest supplies just 3 hours of snapshot storage for free. As described above, if you want more Nest storage, you will need to pay for Nest Aware.
After receiving Arlo Pro 2, I completed a second battery test in a lower traffic environment. With the same settings, I ran Arlo Pro and Pro 2 side-by-side to see if Pro 2, with its higher resolution, drained the battery faster. It did not. In fact, it held a slightly better charge than Arlo Pro. Of course, I’m assuming this has more to do with the fact that the camera’s battery is newer and less to do with the fact that it’s a different camera. During the second test, both cameras lasted 5 months on a single charge, and it took 2 hours and 30 minutes to recharge the batteries.
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.
Wow……this is a ton of info. Thank you. I was about to purchase the Blink XT 3 camera system but now I will not based on yours and many reviews. I was stuck on Ring but reading your Arlo review got me thinking….I want wireless, yet compatible for front door area, carport and outdoor bar (all covered with roof). My neighbor has both ring doorbell, and outdoor nest cameras but he says wifi for nest is “iffy”. What is your recommendation for a 3 camera (outdoor/wireless) system for full coverage (not just snippets of video), and reasonably priced service for watching clips if needed. Live feed I assume is available for all; even if cloud service is not purchased? More peace of mind for my family’s safety etc. but love to watch live feed (on phone app) when not home. I have been wanting cameras for 2 years and now with so much available product, it’s getting harder to decide. Thank you for your time.
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.
Installing the sensors was similarly easy: I used the included double sided tape to mount the contact sensor to my front door and the motion sensor to the corner of the downstairs living room in my home. Ring also includes the necessary screws and wall fasteners for a more permanent installation, but the double sided tape was sufficient for my needs. For this review, I added two extra contact sensors (available as $20 add ons) and mounted them on a window and second door in my home. Syncing these with the existing system was just a matter of scanning a QR code on the back of the sensor, which triggered the app to search for it. Ring says that it will preset any additional devices you order at the same time as the Alarm starting kit, which would make setting them up as seamless as the in-box sensors.
Arlo Pro is preprogrammed with four modes: Armed, Disarmed, Schedule, and Geofencing. Most of the modes are customizable, and you have the option of adding your own customized mode. You can even create different rules for different cameras. For example, armed mode on camera A might mean that if it detects motion or audio, it will record, while armed mode on camera B might mean that if motion is detected, it sounds the siren, but doesn’t record. You can also decide if you would like push alerts, email alerts, or no alerts.
The white base station is the brains of the system. It measures 1.4 by 6.6 by 6.6 inches (HWD) and has a 1.5-inch LED ring and a speaker on top, and a USB port and a LAN port around back, joined by a pairing button, a reset button, and Wi-Fi and power indicators. The base contains circuitry that supports numerous wireless protocols including dual-band 802.11n Wi-Fi, Z-Wave, Zigbee, Bluetooth 4.1, and LTE cellular as a backup if you subscribe to the Ring Protect Plus plan (more on this later). It also has an internal backup battery that will provide up to 24 hours of power in the event of a power loss, and a loud 105dB internal siren.
Installing the keypad was simply a matter of plugging it in and waiting a few seconds for it to be recognized. I gave it a name and a location, used the included mounting screws to hang the mounting plate on a wall, snapped the keypad into place, created an Access Code for arming and disarming the system, and was done. Installing the motion sensor was just as easy: I removed the battery tape and waited a few seconds for it to be added to the app. I gave it a location and a name, used the double-sided tape to mount it to a wall, and tested the sensor. To install the Z-Wave range extender, I plugged it into a wall outlet between the base station and the motion sensor (the farthest device from the base station), named it, and assigned it to a room. The entire installation took around 20 minutes.
As with all Ring products, the Spotlight Cam is easy to install. Start by charging the battery, downloading the Ring app, and creating an account. Make sure you're close to your router, select Set Up Device in the app, and choose Spotlight Cam Battery from the list of Security Cams. You'll be asked to name the camera, confirm your address, and insert the fully charged battery in the compartment. The LED will flash blue and white for a few seconds and then go dark.
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.
But let’s go over what it can do today, first. The very affordable ($199) starter kit includes a wireless base station, a keypad for arming and disarming the system, one door/window sensor, one passive infrared motion sensor, and a Z-Wave range extender. You can monitor the system yourself, but at the price Ring is charging for professional monitoring—just $10 per month ($100 per year if paid annually) with no long-term contract—it would be foolish not to sign up for it. That goes double for people who already have other Ring devices, because it includes video storage in the cloud for an unlimited number of Ring cameras.
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.
You have 2 alarm modes: home and away. Using the app you get to chose which sensors will trip home mode and away mode; to be a little more specific, in the app you can select a sensor and check a box next to away and a box next to home if you want it to trip the alarm even if your alarm is active in “home mode” such as when you’re sleeping at night, where motion sensors inside won’t trip the alarm, but doors or windows opening will do so. You can also select a motion sensor and select a lower sensitivity level in case you have pets. You can do all this from the app even away from home.
The Nest Secure and Ring Alarm each clearly have their advantages. The Nest comes out ahead in certain factors, most notably its Works with Nest program that provides easy integration with the broader smart home. But the price point of the Ring system is far more attractive, particularly for those who are just starting to build their smart home. If your priority is smart home integration, Nest may be the better option. But if a more affordable base price — and more components included in that base price — is what you’re after, you can’t beat the Ring.
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.
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.