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.
Update 1/24/16 - I have found a fantastic use for the Ring Doorbell and Chime. My mother-in-law, now in her 90s, lives by herself. She has become hard-of-hearing and often does not hear the doorbell. By installing the Ring on her door, she now is bothered much less (solicitors tend to recognize it and don't seem to like it) and when someone rings the bell, the Chime, placed by her favorite chair, gives her a better chance of hearing someone at the door.
Disclosure: This post is brought to you by the Insider Picks team. We highlight products and services you might find interesting. If you buy them, we get a small share of the revenue from the sale from our commerce partners. We frequently receive products free of charge from manufacturers to test. This does not drive our decision as to whether or not a product is featured or recommended. We operate independently from our advertising sales team. We welcome your feedback. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I started with the extra power pack that gets installed inside and connected to your door chime. It was the more complex part of the installation and involved a very tall ladder but it went well. I was impressed that the ring doorbell came with everything you need to install it – including the drill bit AND a screw driver. It even has extra bits you MIGHT need (like extensions wires and extra screws). I also really appreciated how everything was in separate baggies for which part of the install you were doing and was very well labeled (extras were labeled as extras, pro kit wires in one bag, doorbell wires and screws in another). I was unable to fit the power kit inside my chime housing but it doesn’t look bad attached to the wall just outside the chime housing (see picture). It’s just a bit larger than a matchbox.
Nest Secure’s monitoring service is provided by Brinks Security. Originally, service was offered by MONI before MONI, LiveWatch, and Brinks merged to form the Brinks brand. Monitoring of Nest equipment through Brinks is $29.00 per month plus the cost of equipment. If purchased through Brinks, equipment is only $299 for Nest Guard, two Nest Tags, and two Nest Detect Sensors. If you want a discount on Nest Secure services, your only option is to sign a contract. With a three-year contract, you’ll pay $19.00 per month; equipment remains at $299.
Like most security systems, Ring Alarm has two armed modes: Home activates the door/window sensors, but leaves the motion sensor turned off. This allows you to walk around inside your secured home without triggering the alarm. Away mode arms all the sensors, so if intruders break in through an entry point that isn’t protected by a sensor, the motion sensor will trigger the alarm when they walk within its range. One motion sensor can do the work of many door/window sensors.
Quiet Open allows you to bypass an armed sensor simply by touching it. For example, if your system is armed, but you want to check the weather outside, you can press the sensor, and open your door. While I’ve heard only praise for this feature, my initial reaction was that it seems like a security flaw. Your teenagers, for example, can press the sensor and sneak out. Furthermore, there is no identification tied to using the feature. For example, it won’t say, “Rose bypassed the sensor.” Fortunately, you can turn this feature off if you’re concerned.
So far my experience with this system has been good. I am giving this product 5 stars because of the customer service experience I had when my alarm went off and the future potential I see for the whole Ring product line. However, I would like to see a couple things addressed. 1) The app needs to be easier to use, especially the cancel option, that cancel option should be there immediately and very easy to find. 2) With my old 42$ a month system I was able to control my lights, door lock and thermostat. Please please Mr. Siminoff, can we get this feature added to the system? I think adding in those features will take this from a very good low cost option to a GREAT overall option for security and home automation.
Never wonder who’s knocking at your door again. With the Ring Doorbell, you’ll receive alerts when your doorbell is pressed or motion is detected, allowing you to hear and interact with visitors. In addition to acting as a two-way communication device for your front door, it works as a security system; you can set motion detection zones from five to 30 feet outside your door. The sensor is quite sensitive, so it’s probably best to set its range and awareness levels as low as you’re comfortable with. If you’re willing to venture off Amazon (and pay a little more), the Nest Hello doorbell is another favorite option that works with Alexa.
Ring’s Alarm, which is finally shipping to customers starting today, is the latest in these new, do-it-yourself home security systems. It’s most similar to the Secure system that Nest released last year, and uses a variety of motion, entryway, and fire / carbon monoxide sensors, along with Ring’s other home security cameras to monitor your home for emergencies and intrusions.
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 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.
When I contacted customer service about this, they were friendly and helpful, but ultimately only gave me one extra month free trial, which has since expired and doesn't fix the problem. This is a product flaw. Be aware that if you want this to work properly, you're going to need to sign up for an ongoing subscription. To work as advertised, this is really a $200 doorbell with a $30 yearly subscription fee.