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.
However, traditional home systems typically require the assistance of a professional installer. They also mean monthly subscription fees and long-term agreements that keep you locked into their service for a certain period of time. Additionally, if you move, it’s nearly impossible to take your home security system with you, and they don’t make much sense in an apartment complex.
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.
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.
I’ve never tried to live stream continuously. I assume that’s possible, and if you hard wire, that shouldn’t be a problem, but what about bandwidth usage? If I wanted to stream continuously, I would probably look into a CCTV system. I’ve never tested one, but I’ve seen some in action. Of course, this would mean using a TV or monitor as your “monitor.” I know you want to keep the Echo Show, but I haven’t tried to do something like you are trying to do so I’m not sure what to suggest. I’m intrigued though.
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.
Both the Ring Alarm and Nest Secure are easy to install by yourself. You don’t need to purchase professional installation, but both offer that option for an additional charge. Neither platform requires a contract, so you won’t be forced to pay monthly ongoing subscription fees. Both Ring and Nest also offer the ability to control your home security devices via a user-friendly app on your smartphone or tablet, making it simple to check in on things at home when you’re out and about. You’ll also get a notification on your device if the system detects anything out of the ordinary, so you’re always in the know about what’s going on at home.
Ideally suited for the darker nooks on your property that are susceptible to breach after sundown, it comes in four models: Spotlight Cam Wired ($199), Spotlight Cam Battery ($199 at Amazon), Spotlight Cam Solar ($229), and Spotlight Cam Mount ($249 at Amazon). The cameras in all four models are the same. The Battery and Solar use the same battery; the latter just comes with an included solar panel that can also be purchased independently ($49 at Amazon).
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.
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.
The Spotlight Cam performed well in our tests. Daytime video was highly detailed with rich colors, while black-and-white night video showed good contrast and appeared sharp out to around 25 feet. The motion sensor always generated a push alert and followed my schedule without issue. Recorded video was just as sharp as the live feed, and two-way audio communications were distortion-free. The internal siren was certainly loud enough to scare away any would-be intruders, and the spotlight did a great job of lighting up an otherwise dark area in my backyard.
There are many great brands out there that make it easy for you to find the security products that fit your unique needs. Two such options are the Ring and Nest systems. These popular brands have developed a range of products to help you easily build and customize your home security ecosystem. In order to help you choose the right system for you, we’ve broken down the pros and cons of each. Here’s a quick rundown of the main features you should keep in mind when deciding between the two:
Well, not long after the training mode came to an end, I made a bonehead mistake. I forgot to get my girlfriend set up with the App and when she came over when I wasn’t home, the alarm went off. Unfortunately, I was not able to cancel her mistake due to me fumbling with a rather clunky app interface on my phone. Luckily the Ring representative from the monitoring team called very quickly and I was able to avoid a cop showing up and a possible charge$$. My interaction with the Ring rep was fantastic. They called very quickly and the person I spoke with was extremely professional, kind and knowledgeable! They made me feel like a valued customer for sure.
I installed the Spotlight Cam Wired at the front of my home, where there’s an outdoor outlet within the power cord’s 20-foot range. I put the Spotlight Cam Solar in the backyard, where there’s more unobstructed sunlight. Each camera comes with its own mounting tools, including a screwdriver, drill bit, mounting bracket and screw set with wall anchors.
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.
The spotlight is provided by LED light strips on either side of a 140-degree wide-angle lens, which activate when motion is detected. The motion sensor, encased in a dome on the bottom of the camera, has a 270-degree detection range. The camera streams and records video in up to 1080p resolution and supports two-way talk with noise cancellation and night vision up to 30 feet.
The door/window sensors (also called contact sensors) work pretty well, but the same cannot be said about the motion sensors; they will detect motion after there’s been plenty of movement (if I walk the hallway and enter a room it will not detect, but if I sit for a few seconds moving in the hallway it will detect it then). This is still not a show stopper for me, as I have a dog and don’t plan on buying any more motion sensors, it will be all contact sensors.
The Spotlight Cam Battery has an IP55 waterproof rating, comes in white or black, and measures 4.9 by 2.7 by 2.9 inches (HWD). It has a short removable mounting arm with a ball on the end that can be clamped on to the included mounting bracket. The bracket can be mounted on a wall or upside down on a soffit. There's a setup button on the top of the enclosure and a 160-degree (horizontal) motion sensor on the bottom that covers the battery compartment.
Where abode Wins: abode offers free cloud storage, and they offer the widest range of equipment including glass break and flood sensors which are viewed as essential home security devices. Also, abode uses an open platform allowing more third-party integrations via Z-Wave and Zigbee backed by their CUE automation engine. It’s true that Ring offers Z-Wave and Zigbee too, but details on compatible products are still scarce. Fourth, abode has more home security experience than Nest and Ring.
With Canary, you can also adjust motion sensitivity, and the camera includes a PIR motion sensor, which works when the camera is plugged in or when running on battery. But even with these added features, Flex has trouble sorting true events from false ones. On windy days, false alerts are common, and sometimes Flex misses events. Worse, if you use Flex as a battery-powered camera, you must wait for it to wake up. I had problems with the camera sleeping through events. In general, the camera performs at a much higher level when plugged in.
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.
EverCam is a newer option made by a Chinese company who has never made a security camera before. That said, despite their Kickstarter success, I’m hesitant to recommend the camera even though it boasts an impressive feature list. For one, they refused to answer my in-depth questions about the camera which makes me a little suspicious. Two, they are promising many AI-rich features without a monthly fee. As a consumer, I know that’s tempting, but I also know it’s unsustainable. Facial recognition, for example, does not live on the camera itself. The feature is cloud-based which is expensive to maintain; hence why you see companies like Nest charge a fee to access features that are heavy on AI.
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.
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.
An update on the outdoor charger for the Arlo Pro/Pro 2: Amazon has been informing buyers that “NETGEAR has informed us that the product Arlo Outdoor Power Adapters (Model No. VMA4700) may have an issue with the connection between the adapter and Arlo Pro cameras may allow water to enter the camera.” This can result in the camera short-circuiting, overheating, and burning. (It’s hard to find out about this, and Netgear has failed to issue a recall.)
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.
We gave the Ring Floodlight Cam 3.5 stars out of 5, noting that it’s a great addition to the Ring system and that its strong video quality and personalized motion zones make it a solid pick for outdoor security. Speaking of the Ring ecosystem, Home Depot has also slashed prices on its Ring Doorbell bundles. You can get a Ring Video Doorbell Pro with a Chime Pro Wi-Fi extender and speaker for $199 or the standard Ring Video Doorbell 2 with a Chime Pro for $169.
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.