So, is the Ring Alarm for you? If you're looking for a DIY alarm system that provides external monitoring and doesn't cost a fortune, I'd have to say that this is the option to consider. There is no shortage of great options out there from companies like Nest, SimpliSafe, and more, but they all come in much more expensive than this. At under $200 for the base package, it's really hard to beat what Ring is offering here.
Pricing for add-on components is pretty much in line with what you'll pay if you have a SimpliSafe or Abode system. Extra contact sensors are $20 each, another motion sensor will cost you $30, and a range extender goes for $25. Additional devices including a Smoke/CO detector ($40), a Flood/Freeze detector ($35), and a Dome Siren ($30) are not yet available.
It would have been nice to see more smart-home integration between the Ring Alarm and other well-established third-party names, if only because the company has already set such a precedent for itself in this area. Buying it won't introduce any new tricks to an existing Ring doorbell, either, but if you're already in the ecosystem and you're looking to expand, this $200 starter kit is a sure fit.
You set up the Chime Pro, which also adds a chime sound to your motion detection alerts, in a process that’s similar to the camera installation: You plug it in to an AC outlet somewhere between your router and the camera to repeat the wireless signal. I used a spare outlet in my kitchen as that was roughly the halfway point between my living room router and the camera on the front of my house. Once the Chime Pro is plugged in, a voice prompt will tell you it’s ready to set up. You then add the device in the Ring app then follow the voice and app prompts to connect it to your wireless network.
Hi Rose! Thank you for such an informative article. Unfortunately, I’m reading due to the fact that my street was just the victim of car break-ins overnight. I am curious to know what your opinion on the night vision (inside and out) for each of the cameras is. I currently have the older Logitech Alert cameras, but their night vision isn’t the greatest so I really couldn’t make out the burglars or the vehicles they were in. I have been leaning on Ring doorbell/stick ups, but no 24/7 recording is almost scaring me away.

The first step of installation involves simply plugging in the base station and hitting a pairing button on the back to start configuring the system via Bluetooth. The Ring app, which is getting a significant redesign to provide quick access to Ring Alarm and improve functionality for other Ring products, walks you through the entire setup process step-by-step, so it's hard to mess things up. Once the base station starts up, you can connect to your home network via either Wi-Fi or Ethernet, and I elected to use Wi-Fi to minimize wires.
In terms of larger home integration, Nest is the very definition of a smart device. Its Works with Nest program automatically instructs connected products (such as smart lighting and thermostats) to perform their tasks without you having to tell them what to do. It’s an exceptionally hands-off solution, though you can still tweak it with custom preferences.
Ring Alarm hits nearly all the right notes for a basic DIY home security system. I’ve already touched on a couple of its shortcomings—including an absence of support for smart speakers—but tighter integration with Ring’s own cameras would be another welcome development. When an alarm is tripped, the cameras should begin recording to perhaps capture a glimpse of what triggered it—potentially valuable forensic evidence you could provide to the police investigating a break-in. And if Ring Alarm could control your home’s smart lighting, it could turn on all the lights if the alarm is triggered after dark, which might convince an intruder to make a hasty retreat.
One final issue has more to do with software performance than hardware issues, but it’s important to point out. From time-to-time, the snapshot will record a little too late. In the example above, it caught the UPS man’s back. For those without a Nest Aware subscription, this is all you get. Those with a subscription can rewind footage to see the moments before the clip.
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.
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.
Regardless of which model you choose, it’s recommended you connect your Spotlight Cam to your Wi-Fi network before mounting it outside. (In the case of the non-wired Spotlight Cams, you’ll first need to charge the battery using the supplied micro-USB cable.) Once you add the camera to the Ring companion app, the camera’s voice prompts guide you through the connection process.
For a long time, I used my indoor Nest Cam to film through my window. It was a makeshift outdoor camera supplemented by my Ring Video Doorbell. So it should come as no surprise that when Nest Cam Outdoor launched, I jumped at the opportunity to buy it. Since then, my search for an outdoor solution has continued to Canary Flex, Ring Spotlight Cam, Arlo Pro, Arlo Pro 2, Blink XT, Nest Hello, Reolink Argus, Argus 2, and a few that did not make the honorable mention list.
I want to say first this is one of the best reviews I have ever seen. It had me reading and viewing the videos all the way to the bottom. Thanks for doing this. I am a retired policemans wife and wanted a good camera. My only problem is internet, I have,a hotspot for internet. I purchased the ring flood light and Ring customer service told me it wouldn’t work or if it did only for a few days. Well It has been a week now and still working. (not yelling) MY QUESTION IS: Does any of the above work off a hotspot wifi without a router? Since I have no router and Ring does work with hotspot. I did purchases TP Link wifi extender. The device health is Good (RSSI) 46 to 53 range. I am kinda Pretty good with technical issues, but nowhere knowledgeable as lots of people. I do work for a judge he’s an appeal judge and anything goes wrong with the computers phones or anything I take care of all of it although I am his JA which is judicial assistant I put in all the orders in issue writs and stuff like that. Thanks in advance for all your help. Also thanks so much for the review.
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.
haha. Don’t do anything that will make you sad :). I upgraded my internet package and purchased three Google Wifi routers to create a mesh network. Though this upgrade did nothing to improve Flex’s overall performance, it did help with connectivity a touch. Flex’s performance improves when plugged-in and it’s possible that the battery experience will improve over time. Canary has already proven their ability to make a product better – just think about where they started with the original Canary.
Many alarm systems integrate base station and keypad functionalities into a single unit, but Ring has made an interesting decision to separate the two, recognizing that these don't always need to be colocated. The base station serves best located centrally in the home in order to optimize wireless connections to all sensors and to centralize the alarm sound, while the keypad is likely to be placed close to the main point of entry for easy access.
After using Flex unplugged for a little over two weeks, the battery fell critically low before getting to the point where the camera would no longer turn on. I don’t blame this on the weather as much as I do the wind. Continued tests showed a battery life of 2-4 weeks. Per a reader request, I retested the camera in August. The weather is warmer here in August, it’s less windy, and Canary has since made several adjustments to help extend Flex’s battery life. This time, the battery lasted a full seven weeks.
The Ring Doorbell Camera security system was acquired by Amazon. They currently offer doorbell cameras and exterior security lighting cameras. And according to their website product page, Ring will soon be adding indoor security and environmental protection products to their lineup as well. This is great news based on how popular their current products have become.

Ring offers access to a timeline-style feature where you can view events going back six months (if you are subscribed). From the timeline, you can sort through ring events, motion events, starred events, or live view events. From the web app, you can also sort by device so that you can separate your Spotlight Cam footage from footage captured by your other devices. Right now, the feature isn’t very advanced. Soon, Ring plans to completely revamp their mobile app.
Post launch of Nest Cam IQ Indoor, Nest has announced that they are making an outdoor version of IQ. I’ve tested the indoor IQ and it is one of a few cameras that I’ve returned. In my opinion, the extra features (Person Recognition, Supersight, 4K Image Sensor, HD Talk and Listen, 12x Zoom, and HDR) don’t justify a price tag that is nearly double the original Nest Cam.
I agree! This was a great comparison article for me and timely. A neighbor of ours just recently got robbed and led us to upgrade our basic home security features. I am curious if this article will be updated once Abode Iota is launched. I like the al a carte of monitoring with Abode and may end up getting nest outdoor camera with Abode. Thank you again!
Even so, it would be pretty easy to get all alarmist about Ring's security. But, the Internet of Things is full of connected devices -- Wi-Fi-enabled or otherwise -- that also have some degree of hackability. We've seen it in everything from security cameras to locks and more. A good rule of thumb to help protect yourself, and this applies to products in any tech category, is to check often to make sure your software is current.
New, unopened Ring Spotlight Cam wired uses motion sensing to detect intruders! Plug it in, and then it picks up movement, the spotlight turns on, and it begins recording in 1080p with infrared night vision and two-way audio. It connects to WiFi, allowing u to monitor surveillance straight from your phone! It also contains an alarm that u can activate if needed. It is weather resistant and the perfect device to keep your home safe!
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.

I agree! This was a great comparison article for me and timely. A neighbor of ours just recently got robbed and led us to upgrade our basic home security features. I am curious if this article will be updated once Abode Iota is launched. I like the al a carte of monitoring with Abode and may end up getting nest outdoor camera with Abode. Thank you again!
The next step is camera placement, and Arlo Pro offers a few options. It can sit on a flat surface, stick directly to a metal surface (magnetic), or you can use the included plate to mount it to a wall. While you can place Arlo inside or out, the camera’s power cord that ships with the package is not weatherproof so plan to use battery power when placing the camera outside. If you’re willing to spend an extra $25, you can also buy the weather-resistant outdoor power adapter (VMA4900) that works with Arlo Pro, Arlo Pro 2, and Arlo Go. Finally, they also sell an $80 solar panel. The panel works with Arlo Pro, Pro 2, and Go, and can power one camera continuously. Keep in mind, however, that the solar panel only powers the camera. It does not charge the camera’s battery.
One major issue that I have is that I don't believe there is a duress code for this system. A duress code will disarm the system but also secretly send a notification that there is a problem to the monitoring company, who will send the police. The Ring system has a way of doing this that would make it obvious to an intruder that you're letting the police know there is a problem. The panel has two buttons with red dots on them. By pressing both buttons at the same time, the system will notify the Ring monitoring center that you need assistance. The problem is that the intruder will definitely see you do this instead of entering your code to disarm the panel. I can see where this may upset the intruder. I feel like Ring needs to step up and add a duress code feature so that you can be discreet about needing help.
The Ring Alarm system comes with a base station, a keypad, an entry sensor, a motion sensor, and a Z-Wave range extender. Also included in the box are installation kits containing mounting tape and hardware for the keypad and the two sensors, an AC adapter for the base station, a USB power adapter and cable for the keypad, a getting started guide, and an alarm kit security basics guide.
The Nest Guard motion sensor can detect motion within a 90° field of view up to 10 feet away. It also includes tamper detection as well as a proximity sensor (wakes on approach) and will let you know if it’s moved or if someone tries to jam your signal. However, in testing, I found that none of the promised tamper sensors worked. I did not test jamming detection.
Since I’m assuming you will want to live stream often to check on your kids, I would recommend a wired security camera. The original Canary is a good option as is Arlo Q. Both will allow you to live stream from anywhere. Original Canary does not offer two-way audio for free, Arlo Q does, something to consider if you want to be able to talk to your childcare provider or children using the camera. Both cameras include free cloud storage.

My final issue with Canary Flex has less to do with the device itself and more to do with the company behind the camera. Over the years, Canary has made a lot of changes to their cameras, and the changes don’t always benefit the customer. For example, they promised free two-way audio, but then started charging for it, and for a long time they provided free cloud storage, now they offer what they call “digestible Video Previews.” Changes such as these are concerning.
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