Right now, abode reigns supreme due to the number of integrations they offer, the variety of security sensors, and the fact that it’s an open platform not tied to Google (Nest) or Amazon (Ring). I would give Ring second place due to cost, and it’s bumped iSmart off of my list of recommended self-monitored security systems. My only gripe is that it doesn’t integrate well with its own camera system. Nest takes third, but I would still recommend it. It’s a beautiful system, easy to use, and thoughtfully designed. That said, if Ring raised the bar on their camera integrations, launches an indoor camera, a flood sensor (coming soon), and a glass break sensor, it might just become the system to beat.
We went with SimpliSafe instead. I don't have any experience with their newest version, but their "version 2" which is still for sale has been flawless for the ~4-5 years we have had it. Never a false alarm and more importantly, NEVER a "can't connect to base station ..." error. It is $15/month for monitoring through SimpliSafe, but I'll gladly pay $5 more a month for reliability.
Ring, an Amazon company, also sells several security sensors. First is the keypad. The keypad runs on battery power, and you can wall mount it or place it on a flat surface. In addition to arming and disarming your system, the Keypad Control Panel allows you to choose between Armed Away and Armed Home. When using the keypad to arm your system, it provides a grace period to reduce false alarms. You can customize the grace period using the mobile app. Finally, you can simultaneously press and hold the check and x buttons for three seconds to trigger the panic alarm.
Ring Alarm supports a sensor bypass mode, which allows you to arm the system even if one of the sensors is currently tripped. For example, if you want to arm the alarm but leave a monitored window open, the system will notify you upon arming that one of the sensors is currently faulted. You can choose to close the window to clear the sensor or bypass it, which will arm the system but not monitor that sensor until the next disarm/arm cycle.
The battery version of the camera can only use a battery. You can’t plug it in. According to Ring, the batteries should give you six months of life before needing to be recharged, but that wasn’t my experience. After testing the battery for three weeks, my battery level dropped from 100% to 47%. It was depleted before the two-month mark. If you plan to use a battery, I suggest buying two. As mentioned in the installation guide, Spotlight Cam ships with one battery, but it supports two. This configuration will improve your camera’s uptime. When one battery dies, you can charge it while battery two kicks-in to power your camera. Ring sells additional batteries for $29.
2. I tried to use it to find footage of an event, and it was incredibly difficult. The Wyze Cam history tab uses a generic photo for all alert events. You can’t even see a photo of the event without clicking in. When I use a camera indoors, the ease of finding video evidence is less of an issue, but when you’re trying to pinpoint something that occurred outside, you usually have a longer time frame to sort through. For example, we had someone spray paint the curbs in our neighborhood overnight which means I had to look through several hours worth of footage. It was annoying, and all of the footage was irrelevant so it was time wasted.
Arlo Pro 2 also works with Arlo’s continuous video recording (CVR) plan. The catch is that the camera must remain plugged-in in order for the feature to work, and Arlo’s power cord is not weatherproof. The subscription is per camera and also works with Arlo Q, Q Plus, and Arlo Baby. For $9.99 per month, they will provide 14 days of 24/7 CVR, for $19.99 per month you get 30 days, and for $29.99 per month, you will get 60 days. Arlo provides a discount if you pay for the year upfront and they offer a 50% discount if you have more than one CVR plan on your account.
Aside from the app and the keypad, there isn’t currently another way to set the system. In comparison, Nest’s system can be set via key fobs, which are quicker and easier than punching in PIN codes or opening an app, or voice through the Google Assistant. Ring says that integration with Alexa will come down the road, but it is not available at this time.
The Ring Spotlight Cam Battery is ideal for users who want to monitor what's going on outside but don't want to be bothered with electrical wiring. Installation is a breeze, and with two battery packs installed you can get up to two years of power between charges. The Spotlight's motion sensor shined bright in testing, and the camera's 1080p day and night video was sharp. As with other Ring devices, the Spotlight can be integrated into a Wink or SmartThings home automation environment, and it works with IFTTT and Alexa voice commands as well as several other third-party devices. However, you have to subscribe to a Ring Protect plan to view and share recorded video.
Was Ring too quick to announce the launch of this new product? They have launched their security cameras without any bumps but they are being sued by ADT and halted by a judge from selling their security system until the court has reached a verdict (story here). ADT is claiming intellectual property violation. Since they are the largest company in the industry surely they want to slow down Ring anyway they can, and this is sure doing a number on them at the peak of their launch.
There are so many home security systems to choose from; how can you possibly narrow it down and choose just one? There are obviously pros and cons to each system, so you need to think about what’s important to you and what you most value in a home security system. There really isn’t too much known about the Ring security system just yet because it’s very new on the market. The company has made themselves known for their video doorbells, but is just starting to dabble in home security systems. You’ve probably seen the videos of attempted burglars and package stealers caught red handed with Ring doorbells. Clearly, this innovative product has worked well so far. What should you keep in mind, though, when looking at the Ring Security System?
For the backyard camera I also installed the solar panel which is packaged separately with its own mounting kit. Once it’s mounted, you plug the connector wire into the back of the Spotlight Cam and secure it with two screws. It fits flush to keep water out of the port. Ring recommends one to two hours of direct sunlight per day to keep your battery charged, and you can angle the solar panel’s mounting arm to ensure it soaks up as much sun as possible. The days I tested the Spotlight Cam Solar were mostly overcast, but I still saw a 3-4 percent charge increase each day, and I’d expect much more on sunny days.
After testing indoor Nest IQ Indoor and Nest Cam Outdoor, I’ve decided to pass on Nest IQ Outdoor. Plus, it sounds like this version will require drilling, and I’ve found that Nest’s facial recognition feature doesn’t add more value than their face detection feature. I also don’t have a place for Ring Floodlight. However, I will buy Ring Spotlight. I have six devices in my office waiting to test, so I can’t promise that it’s going to happen quickly, but it will happen! 🙂
It's a good replacement for those looking to lower monthly cost for professional monitoring. The system is easy to set up and there are lots of options. I'm not sure the set up could be any easier. Here is what I don't like, but not a deal killer. The sensors for the doors are huge! They are literally twice the size of the previous sensors from my old company. I also don't like that you only get one contact sensor in the base option. I have three doors to my house and 7 first floor windows. So, you have to buy quite a few additional sensors to cover them all. So, the initial cost can add up fast. But, since monitoring is cheap, it pays for itself after a few months. I have integrated a door bell camera and a spotlight camera for the yard. Those are both battery powered. Both are fairly bulky compared to some of the competition. I'm hoping it's durable though. The thing to remember if you get any battery powered devices is to get extra batteries. The batteries take a LONG time to charge. I have 4 batteries and each took about 8-10 hours to charge. If you have an "extra" charged battery or two around, then you don't have to take your cameras offline for a half day to wait for the batteries to charge. Just swap in the extra one and recharge the other and leave it waiting for the next time something dies. All in all, it's a good system, but not cheap to get setup properly initially. The intro price is good, but by no means a complete system. Unless you live in a one door apartment with no windows, you are going to need to buy additional stuff to complete the system. Hopefully, with the money i'm no longer paying to my old monitoring company, I can make up the upfront cost of setting this up.
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.
You can monitor the system yourself using the mobile app and web app, but that means you'll have to alert the police or fire department when there's a break-in or fire. Or, you can subscribe to the Ring Protect Plus monitoring plan. For $10 per month or $100 a year, you get 24/7 professional monitoring that includes police and fire department dispatch and push and email alerts. It also includes unlimited cloud recording for all Ring cameras, which makes it one of the best monitoring deals around.
The Nest Secure and Ring Alarm each clearly have their advantages. The Nest comes out ahead in certain factors, most notably its Works with Nest program that provides easy integration with the broader smart home. But the price point of the Ring system is far more attractive, particularly for those who are just starting to build their smart home. If your priority is smart home integration, Nest may be the better option. But if a more affordable base price — and more components included in that base price — is what you’re after, you can’t beat the Ring.
If you opt for the rechargeable battery, you have to either disable the device every time it needs a charge or buy an extra battery. The battery is also a pain in the you-know-what to get out. Ring uses special screws that require a specific screwdriver head to remove. It comes in the package with the camera, but even so, you have to track down that one specific screwdriver every time you need to remove the cam.
After the hardware itself is set up, you can pretty much forget it's there, except for the keypad. You won't need to adjust the sensors regularly or clear alerts on them, everything you do from here on out is done via the app or keypad. It's worth noting that since the sensors aren't hardwired, you will need to change the battery at some point, though Ring says that the included batteries should last for up to three years with normal usage.
If you think about it, all of these cameras are magnetic meaning that anyone can steal them or knock them offline. The only way to stop this is to mount the camera high enough that an average person cannot reach them. In doing this, it means the battery cameras require you to get out a tall ladder to replace or recharge the battery where with the nest, once you run the power cord and its plugged in, you for a lack of a better phrase, “you set it and forget it.”
Where Nest Wins: Nest has a better design, fantastic cameras, and cheaper cellular backup. Their multi-purpose sensors may cut down on the number of sensors you need, though they are more expensive than abode and Ring sensors. Also, Nest Guard is the most intuitive with LED lights, a keypad, and voice feedback. Finally, Nest Secure offers a 2-year warranty where abode and Ring offer 1-year warranties. However, there are areas where abode and Ring win too.
Along the bottom of the screen are buttons for Event History, Device Health, Linked Chimes, Motion Settings, Motion Snooze, App Alert Tones, and Shared Users. The Event History screen offers a list of recorded activity. Tap any event to play a clip and share it with friends and family or with your neighbors by pressing the Ring Neighborhoods button. Ring Neighborhoods is a feature that lets you share recorded events with neighbors who have downloaded the app and signed up to participate. It is based on the location data entered during setup and allows you to add a comment along with your clip.
The kit comes with a base station, keypad, contact sensor, motion detector, and range extender. Since Ring is pre-packaging all of this, all of the pieces are designed to automatically talk to each other, which makes setting them up easier, but could lead to some confusion when things go wrong. You won't be able to take any of these parts and integrate them with another Ring Alarm system, just the one they come with.
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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.
If that’s not possible, or if the floodlight feature is really important to you, I recommend either the Ring Floodlight (not tested but I have heard good things about it) or Ring Spotlight. Ring launched a new indoor camera at CES, so that might be an option. I need to dig into it more before I say yay or nay of course. Currently, Nest, Arlo Q, Arlo Pro, and Amazon Cloud Cam are my top recommended indoor cameras.
Continuous Recording No. Records based on event. Yes, but the camera must be plugged-in which requires that you leave it inside. 14 days of 24/7 CVR starts at $9.99/month/camera Coming soon (Spring 2019). Will require a Ring Protect subscription. Coming soon (Spring 2019). Will require a Ring Protect subscription. Yes, will record 24/7 with paid Nest Aware plan. No. Records based on event.
The Ring Alarm system comes in an attractively packaged box that includes a square base station, a keypad, contact sensor, motion detector, and range extender. Unlike the Nest Secure home monitoring system, Ring created the hub and keypad as separate devices to give homeowners more control over where to place them. The products are both lightweight and durable, although the keypad digits do feel a bit antiquated when you press them.
The latest addition to Ring's home security platform, the Ring Alarm Security Kit ($199), contains everything you need to protect and keep tabs on your home. As with other DIY smart home security systems, installation is quick and easy, and you can either self-monitor or pay a modest fee for a professional monitoring service. The system worked well in our tests, but we were surprised to find that it offers limited support for third-party devices, and although it uses the same app, it doesn't interact with other Ring cameras or doorbells, at least not yet. For the time being, we continue to recommend SimpliSafe as our Editors' Choice.
What sets Nest Guard apart from the abode and Ring’s base station is its intuitive nature. First of all, the integrated keypad is a smart choice because let’s face it; phones get lost. In addition to a keypad which accepts a numeric passcode, Guard has several buttons. You can press a button to quickly swap between modes (alarm off, home and guarding, and away and guarding) or you can press for immediate help using the panic button which is found on the back of the device.
Also, Ring thinks it can do more than others in this space because of its overarching mission, which has focused much of its product development to date: Creating a so-called “Ring of security” that extends across the home and into the neighbourhood. Protect is a big part of that plan, because it deepens the relationship that Ring has with its customers, and allows it to gather data to help truly hone and personalize its alert system and monitoring services.
What I like is the ease of setup. Very user friendly and quality components. The battery powered cameras offer a level of flexibility that our old wired cameras did not. Video is generally good to excellent (if you have a strong wifi router) and quite simple to customize the system to your particular needs (I don’t mind lack of 3rd party integration). And the $10 monthly price for monitoring and video storage is AMAZING (was paying almost $50/mo before).
Wow! I’m impressed that you read the whole thing. A mobile hotspot, right? I think they would all tell you that it’s possible, but not something they recommend. The signal isn’t going to be as reliable as connecting to a WiFi network. Arlo sells a 4G camera called Arlo Go, but it’s more expensive upfront and the monthly fee is higher as you’re paying for cellular connectivity.
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.
This is something we remind our four-year-old son of often, as he’s prone to leaving doors open because, well, he’s four. That means that the Disarmed mode comes in handy when he’s awake and running in and out of the house. It’s nice to have three options instead of just the typical “armed” or “disarmed” features that don’t take into account movement that is occurring just by living in the house.
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You can set motion zones for the lights, too. In this case, the app shows a graphic representation off the motion sensor’s 270-degree range, and you can define where you want movement to turn on the lights by tapping up to three preset zones and then expanding or reducing coverage in those zones using a slider. Depending on your settings, the light will stay on for one to 15 minutes.
3. Both Arlo and Nest have a lag from time to time. There are moments when I pull out my phone to stream Nest and it just spins and spins. I have to hard close it and then reopen the app. When it’s working, I can usually access footage in about 4 seconds. Arlo takes about 8 seconds to wake. There is also a 4 second difference between what you see on your phone and what’s happening in real life. WiFi will really depend on the speed and quality of your internet connection at home. I would suggest performing a quick test to see your current upload/download speeds.
As part of the Ring Protect Plus plan priced at $10 per month or $100 per year, you'll get 24/7 professional monitoring on your Ring Alarm. When your sensors trip and the base station sounds an alarm, after 30 seconds it also sends a signal to Ring's central monitoring system. A support agent will attempt to call you to see if everything is okay, and then tries your emergency contacts if you can't be reached.
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.
I can see why you’re confused because really any of these three options will do everything you want and more. Is it important to you that your security system and camera use the same app? If so, maybe eliminate abode from the list. You can use the outdoor Nest Camera with abode, but it isn’t a great experience. If you want an outdoor camera that can record continuously and not just based on motion, that would be Nest Cam. If you don’t mind if the camera only records events and as you said, want a system without “big monthly charges,” Ring is probably the best choice for you. They recently launched an indoor camera, you could then add a video doorbell (ideal) or one of their outdoor cameras to your porch. You will need five contact sensors in total. Ring Alarm will include a mobile app for you to review footage and you can expand the system down the road if needed. As it just launched and based on Ring’s history of product support, the chances that it will be outdated soon are very slim.
Put whole-home security in your hands with Ring Alarm. When the system is armed, it sends instant alerts to your phone and tablet whenever doors or windows are opened and when motion is detected at home, so you can monitor your property from anywhere. Ring Alarm is fully customizable and expands to fit any home or apartment. And with Ring Video Doorbells and Security Cameras, it lets you control your entire home security system from one simple app.