My connectivity issues notwithstanding, I’ve come to appreciate Ring’s motion alert feature, which sends the sound of a wind chime to your phone when someone approaches your door. Once you hear the chime, you can open a video window to talk with the visitor if you’re so inclined. Alternately, you can just let Ring’s cloud-based recording feature ($3 monthly or $30 annually) pick up the video of your visitor, and watch it later.
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?”
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.
All the components in the Ring Alarm system use Z-Wave Plus radios and support Z-Wave’s S2 security framework, but Harris told me there’s also a ZigBee radio onboard as well as some other surprises that aren’t discussed in the user manual. “You’ve got Wi-Fi, you’ve got LTE, you’ve got Z-Wave, you’ve got ZigBee….” Harris said. “I’m sure people will open it up and see there’s another radio in there that’s not turned on yet. There’s an awful lot going on in there.”
When you arm or disarm the system, the keypad and the base station play a female voice that informs you of the system’s status (the keypad’s speaker is unfortunately subdued). LEDs on both devices provide visual feedback as well, although only the base station gives you a constant visual cue as to the system’s status: Blue for unarmed, red for armed.
If you're set to Home and Armed and you trigger an entry sensor that's fitted anywhere but your front door, the base station will sound a piercingly loud 104-decibel alarm until you can get to the keypad, or to your phone to deactivate it. If you're Away, both the motion and the entry sensors will trigger the alarm — unless, again, the entry sensor is affixed to the front door, in which case it will start a 60-second countdown until you enter your PIN (you can adjust the timer as you need).
Even if the power goes out at home, your property will still be protected by the complimentary 24-hour backup battery. And for only $10 a month, you can upgrade to Ring Protect Plus and enjoy 24/7 professional monitoring with cellular backup, unlimited video recording for Ring Doorbells and Cameras at your home. You won’t be locked into any long-term contracts. You don’t need professional installation. You don’t even need any tools. It’s that simple.
As soon as the alarm is tripped you will receive 2 phone calls (one on each registered number), if no one answers they will immediately dispatch the police. The approximate time for the police to be dispatched from the moment your alarm goes off to the time they call a dispatcher is about 4 minutes (that includes the time to complete the 2 call attempts made to you). Police will be dispatched with a description of the zone that triggered the alarm (ex: living room motion).
Setting the Ring to away will trigger a customizable countdown timer (from 30 seconds to 3 minutes), to give you time to cancel the alarm or exit the home. It will then push a notification to your phone when the system is armed, as well as announce audibly through the base station and keypad in the home that it has been armed. The system will also push notifications when the alarm is triggered via motion or through an entryway, as well as when it’s disarmed. In my experience, the push notifications were near instant to my device, but I would not want to rely on them in lieu of the professional monitoring, as they would not reach me if my phone had no service or was otherwise inaccessible. The only thing Ring is missing compared to a system from ADT is the ability to detect when a glass windowpane is broken, though it’s worth noting that Nest’s Secure system doesn’t offer this feature either.
To start I shut off the breaker that powers my existing doorbell before removing it and detaching the two wires. I slid off the Ring Pro's detachable faceplate and attached the two wires to the terminals. I then attached the doorbell to the outside of my house using the included mounting screws. I already had a Ring account from previous reviews but if you haven't created one, now's the time to download the app and do so.
The Ring Alarm has the electronics required to do all of that now, and Harris said those features will be turned on at some point. “You’ll see all of those things,” he said. “We’ll support color-changing lights, so that in a smoke situation, the lights will turn to a darker color to make it easier to see at night. You’ll see door locks with [Z-Wave’s] S2 security that will disarm the security system when you use the keypad to unlock the door, because we know you’ve done that in a secure way.”
In fact, some of my neighbors might testify to this. After Ring sent me the review unit, they also seeded some 20 of my neighbors with Rings of their own. The goal was to turn my neighborhood into something of a test bed for measuring how the doorbell can be deployed to reduce crime (or at least give homeowners more confidence in their own home security). Using the NextDoor social network, I asked neighbors for reviews.
Burglars typically start these capers by ringing the doorbell to determine if anyone’s home. The Ring Video Doorbell, thanks to its built-in video camera with two-way communication, directly addresses this nefarious use case by making the bad guys think you’re always at home. There’s also a motion alert feature that let’s you see who’s come to the door, even if they never press the doorbell button.