The picture isn’t quite as rosy if you’re also looking for a full-fledged smart home system. Ring Alarm is positively capable of being a great smart home controller. But it’s not that today. And to be fair, Ring isn’t promising that it ever will be—at least not officially. But they wouldn’t have built in Z-Wave, ZigBee, and whatever that third mystery radio is if they didn’t intend to go down that path.
Getting this much capable home security hardware for $199 is an absolute bargain (the system became available for purchase today). Adding door/window sensors for $20 each and motion sensors for $30 is an absolute bargain. Paying $10 a month for professional monitoring and video storage in the cloud for an unlimited number of Ring security cameras is an absolute bargain. Ring Alarm will be a huge hit with people looking for a straightforward, easy-to-use home security system.
The Ring Pro uses the same Android and iOS mobile app as other Ring devices. It opens to a My Devices screen that has a button for each installed Ring device at the top, as well as a Neighborhood button. Like the Floodlight Cam, the Ring Pro offers a Neighborhood feature that lets you share recorded events with neighbors who have downloaded the Ring app and joined the Neighborhood. You'll receive an alert when a neighbor posts a video, as well as for activities such as fire and police action in your neighborhood.
If the base station is the control center for your Ring devices, then the Amazon Echo Show is the main stage. This 10.1-inch HD screen with built-in speakers was practically made to complement your home security system. Set it up in the kitchen or living room, and you’ll be instantly connected to video and notifications from around your home. Someone at the door but you’re making dinner? Use the Amazon Echo Show to see who’s arrived. In addition to syncing with cameras and alarms, it can even listen for the sound of smoke detectors or broken glass. Talk about a smart security product.
This is the first project in Our One Hour Smart Home Project Of The Week Series and we teach you everything you how to wire the Ring Floodlight, and tips to help you set up the Ring Floodlight. We also teach you how you can connect your Ring Floodlight to Amazon Alexa. We cover the smart features of the Ring Floodlight and how it can help you secure your home.
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.
Ring is a Wi-Fi connected doorbell and exterior lighting security system that was recently purchased by Amazon. They don’t offer any type of home automation features; however, their system is compatible with many third-party smart home systems. However, Ring has announced that they will soon be adding interior home security and environmental protection features to their current lineup.
Sometimes you can't find your doorbell transformer, or it's inaccessible, or the engraving on the side of the transformer has worn off and there is no way inspect the transformer and determine how much voltage it is putting out. In those cases, go ahead and try and install the Ring Pro Doorbell, follow all of the instructions in the Ring app and the worst case scenario is that your Ring doesn't have enough power. Your Ring doorbell will indicate that it does not have enough power by either not working or once you install it you can go to the settings menu and check the "device health" tab and it will show you the amount of power the doorbell is receiving. . If our Ring Pro Doorbell does not have enough power you will need to upgrade your transformer to one of the two transformers we have recommended above or you can find them at the links below:
All of these limitations make the Ring Alarm feel less like a cohesive part of an integrated smart home and more like a bolt-on appendage that requires its own app and accessories. For its part, Ring says that smart home integrations are coming, but it wanted to make sure that it had nailed down the security aspect of the system before adding to it. The company says it plans to add integrations with lighting, door locks, and other smart home gadgets down the road, but it wouldn’t provide a timeline for these options when I asked.
When Ring worked as advertised, it delivered on all its promises. I never had any suspicious characters press the button, but I blew my neighbor’s mind when I communicated with her—quite easily, through the doorbell—while I was on vacation in wine country, 80 miles away. Unfortunately, I couldn’t help her get into her house (she had locked herself out), but it was a striking illustration of what Ring can do.
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.”
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:
The beauty of all Ring products is that they’re free of long-term contracts and completely integrated with the user’s everyday tech. In other words, this ain’t your grandpa’s home security system. For no additional cost, the online home base will alert any selected users and devices when there’s unwanted movement in and around the house. For an additional $10/month, Ring users are upgraded to unlimited video recording (should they add a Ring doorbell or floodlight cam) and 24/7 professional monitoring from the Ring HQ.
The Ring Video Doorbell Pro improves on the Ring Video Doorbell 2 and is well worth considering if your porch faces an area that’s likely to have lots of traffic, people walking by, or trees swaying in the wind. The extra $50 could make you a much happier owner, even if you need to bring power to that location. But if the area around your front door is calm and quiet, save the cash and go with the excellent Video Doorbell 2 instead.
The square wireless base station is the main component of the Ring Alarm system. It's 6.7 x 6.7 x 1.4 inches in size, and though it lay flat on a bookshelf for this review, it can be mounted on a wall. The base station has ZigBee and Z-Wave antennas, and while the latter is available to use with compatible third-party accessories, anything that isn't Ring-certified won't work with security monitoring.
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.
If it's an entry sensor you're installing, Ring will ask what kind of door it is to apply the right sort of security to it — if it's your front door, for instance, it will use an entry countdown when you open the door while the base station is in Home and armed mode. If it’s the back door that's opened in this mode, the alarm will sound immediately.
But those were only best-case scenarios. Throughout real-world testing with visiting strangers as well as staged testing with friends, I oftentimes experienced very long latencies between the button press and a phone notification. Sometimes the lag would last up to three or four seconds. And sometimes I wouldn’t receive any smartphone notification at all. Case in point: the hapless pizza delivery guy who pressed the Ring button two times before giving up, and calling my phone.