2. If you want monitoring of video, check out SimpliSafe. They won’t monitor your motion events, but rather your sensors. If your sensors show an alarm event, they can log into your camera to gather video evidence. They offer what’s called ‘video verification.’ The downside to SimpliSafe, when compared to the options presented in this article, is that it lacks home automation. The system does support Nest Thermostats, Alexa, Google Assistant, and the August Smart Lock Pro, but it doesn’t offer an automation engine. Also, integrations are not free, which is in contrast to what abode, Ring, and Nest offer. Finally, SimpliSafe does not have an outdoor camera though they did recently release a video doorbell and have plans to launch an outdoor camera. abode, Nest, and Ring all lack professional monitoring of video and the cameras are not tied to the alarm as motion sensors. Camera motion activated events are self-monitored.
How far away would the two doors be from an available Ethernet outlet? My thought is that you could use a system where the cameras actually talk to the base station, not the internet. Arlo, for example, uses cameras that talk to the base station directly. When the base station is plugged into Ethernet, it creates its own WiFi network which the cameras connect to directly versus connecting to your home network. The hard part would be that the base station needs to be in a central location between the two doors and, as I stated, connected using Ethernet. In a perfect world, you can place the Arlo cameras up to 300 feet away from the base station, but lots of things can obstruct their ability to talk to the base like walls and doors.
At 3.2 by 0.9 by 0.9 inches (HWD), the Z-Wave contact sensors for doors and windows are bulkier than the sensors that come with the Vivint Smart Home system (2.5 by 1.0 by 0.5 inches). They're each powered by a CR123 battery that is rated to last three years and can be installed using double-sided tape or with mounting screws. The motion sensor (3.5 by 2.4 by 1.7 inches) also runs on a CR123 battery and uses a Z-Wave radio to communicate with the base station. The range extender (3.1 by 1.8 by 1.1 inches) plugs into a wall outlet and extends the Z-Wave signal by up to 250 feet, so you can place sensors just about anywhere.
In addition to sharing camera access, having multiple users will make geofencing even more intelligent. The cameras will arm when everyone is away and disarm when at least one person is home. You can also see who is home and who is away using the mobile app and set up Presence notifications to alert you of the same. Finally, it brings everyone in on the action. If an event is detected, an alert will be sent to all users. If one user responds to the alert, other users will be able to see how that person responded. You can also leave a comment on the event and chat with other users directly within the app.
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 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.
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.”
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.
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.
While setting the system up, my motion sensor got hung up and wouldn't stop detecting motion. I had to reset it, which I did through the app, but since it was part of the kit, the process was a little different than the app stated. This was a minor annoyance, but worth noting that if you ever run into an issue with any of the pieces that come with the kit, you'll need to do a full reset of that piece so that the base station can see it again.
Disclaimer: The information featured in this article is based on our best estimates of pricing, package details, contract stipulations, and service available at the time of writing. All information is subject to change. Pricing will vary based on various factors, including, but not limited to, the customer’s location, package chosen, added features and equipment, the purchaser’s credit score, etc. For the most accurate information, please ask your customer service representative. Clarify all fees and contract details before signing a contract or finalizing your purchase.
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Stick Up Cams will also integrate with Ring Alarm and Alexa in the coming months. When Ring Alarm is disarmed, Stick Up Cams inside the home will stop recording and detecting motion. When Ring Alarm is triggered and the siren sounds, it can be programmed to also prompt the Stick Up Cams to start recording. Neighbors with Alexa devices will be able to access their Stick Up Cam feed (i.e. “Alexa, show the living room camera”) and view the most recent motion event (i.e. “Alexa, show me the latest event from my backyard”). Additional Alexa functions and Ring integrations will be added to Stick Up Cams later this year.
The Nest Guard motion sensor can detect motion within a 90° field of view up to 10 feet away. It also includes tamper detection as well as a proximity sensor (wakes on approach) and will let you know if it’s moved or if someone tries to jam your signal. However, in testing, I found that none of the promised tamper sensors worked. I did not test jamming detection.
Like most security systems, Ring Alarm has two armed modes: Home activates the door/window sensors, but leaves the motion sensor turned off. This allows you to walk around inside your secured home without triggering the alarm. Away mode arms all the sensors, so if intruders break in through an entry point that isn’t protected by a sensor, the motion sensor will trigger the alarm when they walk within its range. One motion sensor can do the work of many door/window sensors.
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.
We installed two new Floodlight Cams, one over the garage, and one in the backyard. Easy installation into existing Floodlight box. After installation, we had a problem connecting. We just call up support and they walk us through it within minutes. Great compliment to our Ring Video Doorbell Pro. We love it so much, our daughter got one, and we monitor their house too.