This bundle is a pretty comprehensive home security system, but the one thing it doesn't include is a camera. You can add Ring Video Doorbell or Ring Spotlight Cam to it, and both will integrate seamlessly with the pieces in this kit. The motion sensors in Ring's cameras will trigger the alarm in the base station, while also giving you video evidence in case of a break-in.
The decision to separate the system’s brains—the base station—from the keypad is smart: It allows you to place the larger base station somewhere out of the way and put the smaller keypad near an entry door, where it’s easy to access. You can also deploy more than one keypad—one at the front door, one at the back, and one on your bedside table, for instance. Putting the base station somewhere other than near an entry door also enhances the system’s overall security: If burglars can’t find it quickly, they can’t disable the system.
The other major part of the Ring Alarm kit is the 5.9 x 3.9 x 0.9-inch keypad, which can also be laid flat or hung on the wall. The keypad has 12 backlit number buttons, as well as three other buttons for quickly arming and disarming the system (though it's also possible to do so from the Ring app for iOS and Android). The buttons are plastic and easy to clean, and by default, they chime when pressed. I like that the keypad is handheld, but I still much prefer the rubberized remote keypad offered by SimpliSafe.
Once devices are added, you can create rules through abode’s built-in automation engine which they call CUE. CUE works similarly to IFTTT in that you can create rules in an ‘If This Then That’ format, but it takes things a step further by allowing you to create an optional condition. For example, if the front door is closed, lock the front door, but only if it’s dark outside.
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.
Though the Ring Alarm system covers the bases for a home security setup, there’s a lot of room for integration with other smart home products that Ring has left on the table. For example, it’s not possible to use the Ring’s motion or contact sensors to trigger lights or adjust a smart thermostat when you leave or come back home. This is despite the fact that the Ring Alarm sensors are based on Z-Wave technology, which is a widely used smart home standard.
I would go beyond resolution and consider what you want the camera to do. My favorite outdoor camera is Arlo Pro, but a battery-powered outdoor camera will come with its own challenges. In my front yard, I need 24/7 continuous recording which is Nest, but I can’t deal with the way the giant wire looks on Nest Outdoor so I used Nest Cam Indoor filming through a window for a couple of years, which also has its own challenges, until I swapped out my Ring Doorbell for Nest Hello. Nest Hello is Nest’s video doorbell and it can record continuously.
All three systems require that you purchase the hardware upfront, and they all offer some services for free including free app access as well as third-party integrations (though many of Nest’s and Ring’s integrations have yet to launch). However, they all offer paid plans too. Nest and abode have three options: self-monitoring, self-monitoring with cellular backup, and police dispatch with cellular backup. Ring has two options: self-monitoring and police dispatch with cellular backup.
The Z-Wave range extender and the sensors in the kit are pre-paired with the base station, so you just need to enroll them into the app. Ring also sent me a couple of add-on door/window sensors so I could experience the full onboarding process. This simply involves scanning a QR code on the device, verifying that the PIN printed below the QR code matches what’s displayed in the app, and then pulling the battery tab.
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.