Home security systems are by no means a recent invention, but smart technology has changed the way we approach protecting our home. Traditional home security solutions have required professional installation, expensive subscriptions, and long-term contracts that force you to continue paying for years at a time — making them a poor option for many homeowners.
However, there are more options than ever before, and there are a number of brands that are redefining the idea of home security and monitoring. One such company is Ring.
Ring got their start selling video doorbells, with small, always connected cameras that were triggered by motion detection. With motion detection tech already in place, it only makes sense that the company could easily make the transition to a home security system protected by sensors. Thus began development of the Ring Alarm system.
Ring Alarm is a complete home alarm system with a starter kit that has everything you need to get started, including a keypad, base station, a contact sensor for use on doors or windows, a motion sensor and a range extender.
With no contracts and a low monthly fee for monitoring, this security solution is taking the industry by storm. Let’s dive into our Ring Alarm review and cover everything you need to know about this exciting new solution for keeping your home protected.
Ring Alarm Review — Installation
We’ll kick things off with a discussion on the Ring Alarm installation process. Ring Alarm is designed to be self-installed with very little effort. From start to finish, you should have your security system up and running in around 30 minutes.
Basically, you start by plugging in the base station, adding it into your Ring Account, connecting it to your WiFi network, and then adding the keypad and various sensors in within the Ring app.
The main component that handles the actual monitoring of your home is the sensors, and adding those to the app is as simple as pulling a tab to activate the battery and scanning a QR code to add them into the app. Once the battery is activated and the code is scanned, your Ring app and base will handle the rest.
The physical connection of the sensors is handled with an adhesive to connect them to a wall or door frame. This is the perfect solution for renters, as it doesn’t require any drilling and is easily removable without any damage to the walls.
The base station is mounted on the wall and can be connected to your network either an ethernet cable or WiFi. It also includes a SIM card for cellular backup in the event that your WiFi down, and the cell service is covered by the price of your subscription plan, and the battery backup will kick in and keep your system running for up to 24 hours in the event that your home loses power. The station and keypad include colored LED rings that allow you to easily recognize at a glance whether the system is armed or disarmed, and have built-in speakers to sound the alarm if a sensor is triggered.
While the starter kit only comes with one keypad, you can add as many extra as you please to make sure your entire home has easy access for arming and disarming the security.
All components in the Ring Alarm system use Z-Wave Plus radios, which is one of the most common frequencies used in smart technology. This means that the system has the potential to integrate with a wide range of other products (although the brand doesn’t exactly take advantage of that tech — more on that below!)
Ring Alarm Review — How it Works
When a Ring sensor is tripped, a 105db siren in the base station will go off and you’ll be instantly alerted on your smartphone. Through the Ring app, you’ll be able to tell which sensor triggered the alarm, and if you have Ring cameras you can navigate to that part of the app to see if you can determine the nature of the problem. At that point, you can call the police or deactivate the sensors in the event of a false alarm.
However, if you activate a professional monitoring subscription for $10 per month, a security monitoring specialist will contact you or your designated secondary contact in the event that an alarm is triggered. They will dispatch the authorities in the event that you need help or they can’t reach you to check if everything is okay. With how inexpensive the monitoring is when compared to competitors, we think it’s a great value for the extra peace of mind it offers to your home.
One thing we want to mention is that Ring monitoring isn’t actually handled in-house. When someone from the monitoring service calls you, they will identify themselves as being associated with Ring, but the security services are actually contracted out to a third party known as Rapid Response Monitoring services. This doesn’t really change anything for you from a practical standpoint, but it’s worth mentioning since Rapid Response is the company you’ll be trusting your day-to-day monitoring with.
The Ring mobile app is your center for controlling all the settings and viewing the status of your system while on the go, and it recently received a refresh to make it look better and be easier to use efficiently. The controls for your alarm are at the top of the main “Dashboard” screen, which give you the options to activate “Disarmed,” Home,” and “Away” buttons. Below that is a list and status of all your sensors, as well as tabs for viewing Neighbors posts and Events History.
The Ring Neighborhood feature is actually pretty unique, and it allows you to share recorded events with neighbors that have joined the group. You’ll receive alerts when neighbors post video to the timeline and when there is fire and police activity in your area. It’s a great way for a neighborhood to work together to make sure everyone stays safe. Events are pretty self-explanatory and you’ll have your main tab for viewing any activity in your system.
Ring Alarm Review — Subscriptions
Summing up the Ring Alarm subscriptions is pretty easy. There’s a single plan called Ring Protect Plus with 24/7 Professional Monitoring. This plan costs $10 a month and is only necessary if you want the monitoring services. Unlike some of their competitors, Ring doesn’t lock any of their features behind a subscription fee with the only exceptions being the cellular service and unlimited video recording for Ring doorbells and cameras.
For one $10 monthly fee with no contracts or commitments, you’ll have access to everything that Ring has to offer — no different tiers to worry about. It’s a no-nonsense system and we’re big fans of the way that the company has approached their subscriptions since it’s leagues better than some notoriously expensive competitors like ADT that charge more than $50 per month if you want to access your security through your phone.
For such a low price, Ring’s subscription price is a real steal. Even SimpliSafe, one of our more or less favorite brands for home security, costs $30 per month if you’d like access to all of their features — more than 3 times what you’d pay for a Ring Protect Plus plan.
Long story short, while many companies are held back by their pricing, the subscription model is actually one of the biggest highlights of what Ring Alarm has to offer.
Ring Alarm Review — Smart Home Integration
The Ring Base is equipped with pretty much anything you’d need for smart home integration: Z-Wave, Zigbee, and WiFi. In reality, however, it does a really poor job of actually using that technology.
Ring works well with the First Alert Smoke and Carbon Monoxide alarm, a flood and freeze sensor, and a dome siren. When connected, these systems will trigger the Ring alarm when activated.
And that’s pretty much it. You can connect other devices to the Ring system, but they will not activate the alarm or really integrate with the Ring system in any way. Ring does a good job of providing affordable, no strings attached security, but it’s not so great at the “smart” part of smart security.
One thing we want to mention, however, is that Ring was recently acquired by Amazon. So, with Amazon’s resources and investment in smart tech like the Amazon Echo line, we will likely soon see a change in their smart home integrations.
Already we’ve seen progress since Amazon bought the brand, with the development of the which can be used alongside the Ring Alarm security system to provide easy access to video monitoring. They are the first cameras introduced with the Ring line outside of the doorbells, and include motion detection, 1080p HD resolution, night vision, two-way talk, a siren, and a wide viewing angle. You can pretty easily make them start recording when the security system is triggered — collecting valuable video evidence of a home invasion.
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Amazon has also announced that it will be adding access control in the future for Ring Alarm, meaning those with a Z-Wave smart lock from the likes of Schlage, Yale, Kwikset, or Danalock will be able to lock or unlock their doors through the Ring Alarm app. Support for voice control via Amazon Alexa is also in the pipeline.
So, is Ring a good choice for smart home control? Not yet. But the future looks bright, and Amazon certainly seems interested in beefing up the technology and adding new features.
Why Ring Alarm is a Good Choice?
No Contract – Unlike some other brands that lock you in for 3 years — or in some cases, even longer — Ring doesn’t require any sort of long-term commitment. Subscribe when you want and cancel at any time — no questions asked.
Portable – Since Ring is a DIY installation with no wiring or drilling required, you can pick it up with you and move it at will, making it the perfect choice for renters or people who see themselves moving in near future.
Quality Hardware – While Ring might be significantly cheaper than a lot of competitors, that doesn’t mean that their equipment is low quality! The hardware is attractive and is built to last, so you won’t have to worry about shoddy materials compromising the integrity of your home’s security.
Battery and Cellular Backup – In the event of a power outage, your system’s battery backup will kick in and keep your security up and running for up to 24 hours. Also, when you opt for a subscription plan, a cellular backup will kick in in the event that WiFi drops off — allowing you to keep an eye on your system at all times and easily call for help in the event of an emergency.
Price – The Ring base and sensors aren’t very expensive to begin with, but where Ring really becomes an excellent value is in the very low monthly fee for monitoring. For just $10 per month or $100 per year, you’ll have continuous protection for your home.
What can be Better?
Key Fobs – Many security systems we’ve reviewed include key fobs that allow you to easily arm or disarm your system with the simple press of a button. These are very convenient and are easy to share with a friend, or even a dog walker or housekeeper to make it easy for them to get inside without tripping the alarm. This isn’t included with Ring, so you’ll have to use the app or keypad to arm or disarm your system.
Smart Home Integration – The smart home integration is really poor with Ring Alarm. There’s a silver lining to that, as having your security isolated does leave it less valuable to hacking, but we’re definitely missing some of the convenience features that systems like Vivint, that focus more on home automation, have to offer. Amazon may be expanding the functionality in the future, however, so it’s possible that this poor integration might not be too much of an issue in the future.
If you’d like an affordable option that plays nice with your existing smart tech, check out abode instead.
Ring Alarm Review — Our Thoughts
Getting comprehensive home protection for less than $200 is an absolute steal, and you don’t even have to pay for a subscription plan if you plan to self-monitor. With that said, the monitoring plan is also extremely affordable at just $10 per month. This fee also adds in video storage in the cloud for as many Ring cameras as you please, making the value even more extreme.
The cost of door and window sensors along with motion sensors will surprise you in a good way too, which makes expanding your security system in the future incredibly easy. Plus, Amazon seems to be expanding the Ring lineup with options like the gen 2 to give more options for smart home security control.
All in all, we feel like Ring Alarm is one of the best options out there for people looking for an easy and straightforward security system. Is it the most fully-featured system out there? No. But for the price, you get great protection with a lot of future potential.
Last update on 2019-12-06 at 09:19 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API