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.
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.
As far as actually using the Video Doorbell 2, my experience was largely positive. The video that’s streamed live from the doorbell is bright and has decent resolution, and the IR sensors around the camera make it possible to see visitors at night, too. Connecting to the camera through the smartphone app was quick, even if I wasn’t home and had to use LTE, and the two-way microphone and speaker made it possible to talk to visitors directly. I was even able to view the camera’s feed on Amazon’s Echo Show — though it doesn’t support two-way audio, and I had some trouble connecting to the camera at times.
The square wireless base station is the main component of the Ring Alarm system. It's 6.7 x 6.7 x 1.4 inches in size, and though it lay flat on a bookshelf for this review, it can be mounted on a wall. The base station has ZigBee and Z-Wave antennas, and while the latter is available to use with compatible third-party accessories, anything that isn't Ring-certified won't work with security monitoring.
Ring says the battery should last anywhere from six to 12 months between charges, depending on how much activity your doorbell receives. Those claims might be a bit inflated, though. In my experience, the battery drained to under 40 percent in about six weeks of use, which means I’ll be recharging it every three months. For my testing, I had all the features enabled, such as motion detection and quick live view access. Ring says disabling these features will extend the battery life.
The Ring Alarm starter kit is one of the most affordable security systems available. For $200, you get a wireless base station, a keypad for arming and disarming the system, one entry sensor, one motion sensor and a Z-wave range extender. I would have liked the kit to include at least two entry sensors since there's typically more than one point of entry to every dwelling, but you can purchase additional entry sensors for $20 a piece.
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.
The Ring system offers many different types of cameras; which one (or ones) you choose will depend on your unique configuration needs. The Ring Stick Up Cam is a fairly versatile option, letting you monitor both indoor or outdoor areas in 1080p HD video. It can also rest on a flat surface or be mounted to a wall or ceiling. Like the Ring Doorbell, this camera allows two-way talk, so you can see and speak to whoever’s on the other end of the lens using your phone or connected device.
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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.
This is probably the best part about this alarm, that there is no need for a desktop PC to reach any advanced features and that you can configure it from anywhere. From arming the alarm from work (if you forgot to arm it before leaving), to disarming remotely if needed. App is extremely user friendly and very intuitive, so this is probably the best part. Very well organized and all Ring devices can be controlled from within the same app.
The camera's motion sensor worked without a hitch, as did the pre-buffer feature. I always received a push notification, and the camera never failed to record a clip when the sensor was triggered or when the doorbell button was pressed. I created an IFTTT applet to have a D-Link Smart Switch turn on a lamp whenever the doorbell button was pressed, and it worked without fail, as did my Alexa voice command to display the Ring Pro's live stream on my TV using an Amazon Fire TV Stick and Amazon Echo.

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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.
I opened the app, tapped Set Up Device, selected Doorbells, and selected the Pro from the list of choices. I named the device, entered my address (optional), and hit Continue. At this point you can play an instructional video if you're having difficulty. Next I was asked what type of bell my existing doorbell uses (mechanical, digital, none) and was prompted to press and release the button on the side of the Pro, at which point a voice informed me that I was entering setup mode. I hit Continue and was prompted to navigate to my phone's Wi-Fi settings and connect to the Ring network. I returned to the app and selected my home Wi-Fi SSID, entered my password, and waited around 20 seconds before the doorbell was connected. I attached the faceplate and was finished.
You can also disarm the system from the app, but in a break from convention, Ring does not offer a key fob for arming and disarming the system. Geofencing that would automatically arm and disarm when you leave and return isn’t supported either. Harris said those were conscious design decisions. “What it came to was security,” Harris said. People said ‘Hey, I want this to automatically disarm my security system when I get close.’ The question then becomes: How close? And is it really you with your phone? Or did someone pick it up at the park, find your address, drive to your house, and let themselves in?”
“Where we’re going with it is once we know this, we can then do things in our network which include, you know if someone’s walking around your house at 3 AM in the morning and your house is on stay mode, then we can do a different type of alert or sort of raise the alert level on that camera,” explained Siminoff. “And then we do things like deliver presence saying ‘How can I help you, what are you doing?’ and so really taking that presence and that interactivity, and that pre-crime thing that Ring is so good at and take it to the next level by knowing the status.”
Ring lacks third-party integrations. The Base Station communicates with Z-Wave and Zigbee, and I’ve confirmed those protocols were added for a reason, but they haven’t taken advantage of them. The system supports the First Alert Z-Wave Smoke/CO detector which is also compatible with the Ring Response service. Soon, it will also work with the Dome Siren. But that’s it. Ring currently lacks an IFTTT channel and even an Alexa integration, which is odd as Ring is owned by Amazon.
So let’s talk cost for a minute. For $399, Nest includes a Nest Guard which also acts as a keypad, siren, and motion detector, two Nest Detects which are also motion sensors, and two Nest Tags. An equivalent package from abode would cost $479. A comparable package from Ring would cost $279. However, Ring doesn’t sell a key fob, and the kit includes a range extender, so that needs to be factored into the equation.
The Ring system offers many different types of cameras; which one (or ones) you choose will depend on your unique configuration needs. The Ring Stick Up Cam is a fairly versatile option, letting you monitor both indoor or outdoor areas in 1080p HD video. It can also rest on a flat surface or be mounted to a wall or ceiling. Like the Ring Doorbell, this camera allows two-way talk, so you can see and speak to whoever’s on the other end of the lens using your phone or connected device.
If you do have smart lights and want to control them with a contact sensor or motion detector, you will need to install separate ones in addition to Ring’s, which can make your front door look like it’s grown barnacles with all of the sensors installed. Another simple integration would be to set a smart thermostat to its away mode when the Alarm is set to away, and then switch it back to its home mode when the Alarm is disarmed, but that’s currently not possible either.

Ring provides 24 / 7 professional monitoring of the Alarm system through its Protect Plus service, which will automatically notify authorities and emergency services if there’s an intrusion or crisis detected. The service will alert you and other emergency contacts you set via phone and then dispatch emergency personnel as needed. Though the Ring Alarm will provide push notifications to your mobile device without the additional monitoring service, having the service ensures that emergency services are deployed automatically whether you see the push notifications or not.


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.
The Ring Pro uses the same Android and iOS mobile app as other Ring devices. It opens to a My Devices screen that has a button for each installed Ring device at the top, as well as a Neighborhood button. Like the Floodlight Cam, the Ring Pro offers a Neighborhood feature that lets you share recorded events with neighbors who have downloaded the Ring app and joined the Neighborhood. You'll receive an alert when a neighbor posts a video, as well as for activities such as fire and police action in your neighborhood.
This, according to Siminoff, is one of Ring’s key differentiators over home security industry stalwarts like ADT. He repeatedly called ADT and its ilk “marketing companies” on our call, whereas Ring is a product and “mission” company. The goal of most home security providers is to market safety and security and sell that marketing as a product with a lucrative recurring subscription, is the implication, whereas Ring is focused on an overall goal of making neighbourhoods more secure, per Siminoff.

Ring Protect retails for $199 for the basic hardware, which is also less than Nest Secure’s $399 entry price. The system also works with all of Ring’s existing products, and will be rolling out support for third-party connected devices over time, too. On its own, it operates as a self-monitored connected security system, sending you alerts while you’re away. The Protect plans starting at $10 monthly include 24/7 monitoring by professionals, as well as unlimited cloud storage for recording from an unlimited number of Ring devices, as well as a 10 percent discount on future Ring hardware purchases.


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.
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.

The motion detection provided a better experience than I saw with Nest’s Cam IQ, and it would only alert me if someone was actually in front of my doorway, not down the driveway. The Ring app lets you control the motion detection’s range and set up schedules to disable the alerts. The motion alerts were useful when a delivery person would come and not bother to ring the fancy new doorbell I installed, but I ended up turning them off during the day so that I wouldn’t get a ping each time my family went in and out of the house. The scheduling system reenabled the motion alerts for nighttime so I would be alerted to an unwanted visitor at odd hours.

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You’ll need to connect the Pro to a doorbell transformer that supplies 16- to 24 volts of AC power. If your home already has a wired doorbell, it’s probably at this voltage, but you’ll need to check. And not every home has doorbell wiring. If yours doesn’t then you’ll need to install power at your porch (or get an electrician to do it) if you want to use this.
There's also a Motion Snooze button that lets you temporarily disable motion alerts for 15 or 30 minutes or for 1 or 2 hours. The App Alert Tones button lets you select one of 20 sounds to play when the doorbell is pressed, or one of 16 sounds to play when motion is detected, and the Shared Users button lets you add users who can view video and receive alerts. Use the Ring+ button to link the Ring app to one of Ring's partners such as Wink, Kevo, LockState, and Wemo. Once linked, you can access a partner app from within the Ring app.
Once you're logged in, follow the straightforward prompts to connect each accessory. This was one of the easiest security system setups I've ever encountered; literally pull the battery tab on the battery-powered door/window sensor and motion sensor and plug in the base station, the keypad and the Z-Wave range extender, and they automatically connect to the app.
Ring cameras will work without a monthly fee, but Ring doesn’t offer any form of free storage beyond a free 30-day trial. Their first plan is Basic which is $3 per month per camera. This plan includes 60 days of cloud storage, video review, and video sharing. Their second plan, Protect Plus, is $10 per month. It covers unlimited cameras including both doorbell and security cameras. This plan also includes coverage for your Base Station. The same $10 per month that provides unlimited cloud storage also provides Ring Response (24/7 professional monitoring) and Cellular Backup.
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There is currently no support for controlling the system with voice commands, but it should come as no surprise that Ring is developing an Alexa skill. Once you can arm your security system using a voice command, you won’t want to do it any other way (disarming it that way is whole other question). Harris was slightly more circumspect about supporting Google Assistant. “We remain committed to being open to all of the different pieces that are important to our customers. We’ll continue to march down the path of trying to support everything we can.” I got a similar answer when I asked about support for Apple’s HomeKit technology: “We’ve given it a lot of time. Again, we remain focused on bringing HomeKit support across the product line, but it won’t be available at launch with the Alarm products specifically.”
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.
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