The Ring Alarm Security Kit should be every buyer’s first purchase when organizing their security system. It comes with a base station, which is like the central command hub for your Ring devices. The base station connects to your internet to keep your alarm system online; it can also activate sensors and receive notifications from your connected devices.
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.
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.
Below the Live View button is a series of feature buttons. Event History takes you to the same events list that you'll see in the My Devices screen; Device Health lets you check voltage, Wi-Fi signal strength, and system status; Linked Chimes is where you go to pair the doorbell with an external plug-in Ring Chime ($29) or Chime Pro ($49); and Motion Settings lets you adjust motion sensitivity, set up motion zones, and create a motion schedule that determines when motion alerts are active.
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.
If you're set to Home and Armed and you trigger an entry sensor that's fitted anywhere but your front door, the base station will sound a piercingly loud 104-decibel alarm until you can get to the keypad, or to your phone to deactivate it. If you're Away, both the motion and the entry sensors will trigger the alarm — unless, again, the entry sensor is affixed to the front door, in which case it will start a 60-second countdown until you enter your PIN (you can adjust the timer as you need).
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.
The upshot: When that sketchy person comes to your door asking for “charitable donations,” you can compliment his appearance—nice prison tats!—and tell him you’re too busy to talk right now. Who knows, maybe you’re feeding your Belgian Malinois attack dogs. Or are you? The robber will never know that you’re actually speaking to him from a restaurant. In another state.
That said, using abode with a Nest Cam is my recommended solution, and integrating the two provides one major advantage: more free storage for your Nest Cams. The major disadvantage is that even if you are a Nest Aware subscriber, abode can only store snapshots. If you want video clips or continuous cloud access, you will need to pay for Nest Aware to access your footage via the Nest app.
The Alarm system does not have as many bells and whistles as Nest’s system, nor does it have some of the conveniences Nest provides. But at $199 for the starter bundle, which includes the necessary hub, a keypad, a motion detector, a contact sensor for doors or windows, and a range extender, plus $10 per month for professional monitoring, Ring’s system is significantly cheaper than Nest Secure (which was just recently reduced to $399 for its starter kit) and is one of the least expensive home security systems you can purchase.
Finally, unlike abode’s base station (iota does not require Ethernet), Ethernet is not required to use Nest Secure. Nest likes to make things easy and they send everything you need, including batteries, to get your device up and running. Nest Guard ships with a 6-foot cable with a power adapter and CR123 batteries for the sensors. My system already had the batteries installed which made setup even easier.
Finally, you can add third-party Z-Wave and Zigbee devices. abode has a list of compatible devices on their site. The list includes products by Aeon, Aeotec, Enerwave, Fibraro, First Alert, FortrezZ, GE, Linear, Kwikset, Leviton, Schlage, Iris, Sensative, ZooZ, and Netvox. abode also sells their own Home Automation Power Outlet & ZigBee Extender. The device will turn any outlet into a smart outlet, allowing you to control plugged-in devices and include them as part of your automation recipes. The switch also acts as a ZigBee range extender.
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.