The keypad measures 0.91 by 5.87 by 3.94 inches (HWD) and has numeric keypad buttons (0-9). It also has an X button and a button with a check mark on it: pressing and holding both of these buttons puts the system into Panic mode, which sounds the siren and sends an alert to the professional monitoring service so that police can be dispatched. To the right of the numeric keypad is a round dial with three buttons for putting the system in Home, Away, and Disarm mode, but you'll first have to enter your unique access code. Other LEDs include network and battery indicators, and a faulted sensor LED that tells you if a sensor is open before you arm the system.
Second, you can take it to the next level with Ring Locations. The Locations feature lets you assign your different devices to different locations under one account. You can then decide who has access to each location. For example, this could theoretically solve the challenge I described above. If I had a camera at my grandmother’s, I could give access to my family, but exclude them from viewing footage from cameras located at my home. When the new app launches, you will also be able to view location-based grouping backed by a multi-camera view.
Do it yourself can be a really good option, but you need to make sure this is right for you before you jump in. There won’t be any technicians or professional installers to make sure everything is installed and working correctly. Ring does claim that the system is effortless to install but that obviously doesn’t guarantee that you won’t run into issues, especially if you don’t have experience with security systems. In this case, you just need to know yourself to know if this type of installation and maintenance is right for you. If you tend to hire out for most of your home projects, this extremely important project probably isn’t the one you want to start with trying on your own.
Installing Spotlight Cam Solar wasn’t that simple, which I expected since it requires drilling, but the process was made even more complicated by two issues. First, the box design would have Steve Jobs rolling over in his grave. In fact, I’m not one for exaggerations so know that when I say it’s one of the worst box designs I’ve ever opened, I mean it. On a more serious note, there’s a discrepancy between the instructions found on the app, those printed on the included quick start guide, and those found online.

Ring Alarm doesn’t support smart lighting controls, door locks, thermostats, garage-door openers, or other common smart home products today, and there’s a very short list of supported third-party products. But it lacks nothing needed to support those and similar devices down the road. And in an interview with Ring Solutions president Mike Harris earlier this week, I learned that’s exactly what Ring intends to do.


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.
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.

The rest of the kit remains relatively standard. The Ring Alarm entry sensors are about a quarter-of-an-inch bigger than SimpliSafe's sensors and don't perform double duty like Nest's large sensors, which also sense motion. They're easy to install with the included mounting hardware and 3M-branded sticky tape, but they seem unnecessarily large and were hard to place so that the magnets would meet each other on both my front door and the back sliding door.
When we tested out the accuracy of the motion and contact sensors, we were impressed with how quickly our app registered movement. Opening the door meant that our app automatically showed the “faulted” icon indicating movement – in fact, it was almost instantaneous. Same for the motion detection sensor – the notification on both the hub and the app appeared almost immediately. This was the case whether we were in the house or not. With some devices we’ve tested, particularly with security cameras, there’s often a lapse with notifications. It doesn’t appear to be the case here.
You can also mount the base station on a wall, and can connect to your wifi network, or you can connect directly to your router with a network cable. The Ring Alarm base station offers a 24-hour battery backup, plus it can connect to LTE if you have an outage, so you have a cellular option if needed; however, you do have to pay for it with a monthly subscription.

Unlike the other options, Ring cameras don’t integrate with the security system. Sure you can monitor them all using a single mobile app, but there is no “if this, then that” relationship. If your alarm sounds, your cameras will not record. If your cameras detect motion, they won’t trigger your alarm. However, there is one major benefit to using Ring cameras: If you pay $10 per month, you will gain access to cloud storage and professional monitoring with cellular backup.


Rose, thanks for the great review! Paul, I have a Video Doorbell Pro and a Floodlight Cam — both are hardwired. Both lag at least seven seconds behind real time and sometimes even longer. During the lag, the would-be burglar is gone or could be in your house. Ring’s ads suggest you see things in real time which is not the case for me. The signal strength and wifi speed both test excellent. I hope this helps you. Nick

The one thing Apple fans might miss is HomeKit support, which isn't included in Ring Alarm and still has yet to come several other Ring products for which HomeKit support was promised long ago. Ring declined to offer any new details on its HomeKit plans, but acknowledged that customers continue to request it and promised the company is still working on it.

Ring’s motion sensors and contact sensors are much more traditional than Nest’s, which cleverly combine the two into a single device that also adds a nightlight. Nest’s base station also combines the keypad with it and adds even more motion detection sensors – Ring’s separate base station and keypad approach is almost clumsy in comparison. But it is possible to add multiple keypads to the Ring system, so you can have one at each entry way or in your bedroom if that’s a more convenient place for it. The keypad can be placed flat on a table or mounted to the wall, and uses a simple MicroUSB cable for power. Its internal battery lasts between six and twelve months, according to Ring, so it’s possible to install it in a location that doesn’t have an accessible power outlet and just charge it occasionally.
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.
Like the hardware, Ring’s Protect Plus service is significantly less expensive than other options. It costs $10 per month and has no long term contract commitments. Nest offers a similar service, but it starts at $19.99 per month with a three-year contract and jumps to $29.99 per month if you opt for no commitment. ADT, one of the largest traditional home security services, has plans that start at $28.99 per month and requires a three-year commitment.
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.
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 caller from the monitoring service will identify themselves as being from Ring, since that’s who your business relationship is with, but they actually work for a third-party company that Ring contracts with: Rapid Response Monitoring Services. This is a common arrangement for home security systems. Nest, for example, contracts with MONI Smart Security (which is now doing business as Brinks Home Security). Alarm.com is another major third-party monitoring service.
All that said, the biggest flaw with price is that purchasing Nest’s multi-purpose sensors may be forcing you to purchase more equipment than you need. Most homes don’t need three motion sensors, especially if the sensors have a decent range. Remember, Nest’s motion detectors only detect movement within a 10-foot range, the abode motion sensor has a 120° field of view and can detect motion within a 34-foot range so you would need at least two Nest motion-enabled devices for every one abode motion sensor. Ring’s motion sensor’s range is unlisted, but I tested it at 35 feet, and it worked perfectly.
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.
The motion and door/window sensors can be mounted with screws or with Velcro strips (provided). I’m happy the sensors didn’t come from the factory with the strips already attached. I’ve never seen an adhesive strip that didn’t eventually fail, so I prefer to use screws—and peeling those strips off so you can use screws is a major pain. The sensor batteries come preinstalled, so you just pull out a plastic tab when the app tells you to. This enables the battery to touch the electrical contact inside the sensor, powering it up.
The camera connects to the included wall mount using a ball socket. If you’re installing on brick or another hard surface, you’ll need to drill and insert wall anchors. If you’re installing your camera onto a wooden surface, you can use the included screws and screwdriver to secure the mount. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to keep Spotlight Cam so both options seemed like rather permanent solutions. I decided to create the most unattractive, temporary solution.

When you say “full coverage” I’m assuming you mean continuous recording, is that right? Arlo and Nest can record continuously, but only if they are plugged in. Also, the outdoor power cord for Arlo is new and it’s on a pretty long lead time right now. It’s sold separately from the camera. If you could confirm that your new is continuous recording, I’ll dig in a little more, but I don’t want to assume anything before making a recommendation.


If you’ve been following along, you know that when I face wire management issues or I have to use a power drill, I call my dad. Drilling into brick isn’t easy. Even for dads, apparently. In the end, I wasn’t sure I wanted to keep the camera anyway. What if I don’t like the camera? Do I want holes in my brick? With that in mind, we decided to use a piece of industrial strength 3M adhesive on the power adapter (the power adapter weighs about 4.5 oz) and a regular 3M strip on the camera wall plate. Everything seemed fine at first. At about 10 o’clock that night, I heard a loud crash. Thankfully, the camera was fine, but the power adapter proved to be too heavy for the adhesive.
I’ve settled on continuous video for my outdoor cameras too. Obviously, I use Nest for that. For indoor cameras, Arlo Q is also an option. For $9.99/month, you can add continuous cloud recording. SpotCam also has continuous cloud recording, but we haven’t tried it. Of course, there are other options where you store the footage locally, but then the trouble becomes finding usable footage when you need it!
Most companies will include a statement that says that recorded footage is only viewable by the customer. Regarding privacy, Nest, Ring, Canary, and Arlo all do a great job. Recently, I looked into where the cameras were sending data, including Argus. You can read about that here. If privacy is your top priority, Argus is a good option because it doesn’t have to send anything to the cloud. Though I’m not a huge fan of Netatmo cameras, they would also be a good option for you. Finally, CleverLoop. You can read more about how those two cameras work with/without the cloud here.
Ring Alarm doesn’t support smart lighting controls, door locks, thermostats, garage-door openers, or other common smart home products today, and there’s a very short list of supported third-party products. But it lacks nothing needed to support those and similar devices down the road. And in an interview with Ring Solutions president Mike Harris earlier this week, I learned that’s exactly what Ring intends to do.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Ring's $199 Z-Wave-enabled Alarm Security Kit is so simple you might overlook it at first. The system includes a base station, a keypad, a door/window sensor, a motion sensor and a Z-Wave range extender. It's all basic hardware with basic functionality -- you won't find any fancy features here -- but the Security Kit is super simple to set up and monitor in the Ring mobile app. 
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