The Alarm system performed flawlessly. The base station chimed whenever a sensor was triggered while in Disarmed mode, and the event was added to my history log within seconds of the event. I promptly received push and email notifications whenever there was a mode change or when the base station was unplugged and switched to the cellular network while running on battery power. However, the Alarm system does not send push or email notifications when a sensor is triggered while in disarmed mode like the Vivint Smart Home system does. This may not seem like a big deal, but it's nice to know when windows and doors are being opened if you're away while other family members are home with the system disarmed.
For the backyard camera I also installed the solar panel which is packaged separately with its own mounting kit. Once it’s mounted, you plug the connector wire into the back of the Spotlight Cam and secure it with two screws. It fits flush to keep water out of the port. Ring recommends one to two hours of direct sunlight per day to keep your battery charged, and you can angle the solar panel’s mounting arm to ensure it soaks up as much sun as possible. The days I tested the Spotlight Cam Solar were mostly overcast, but I still saw a 3-4 percent charge increase each day, and I’d expect much more on sunny days.
Ring offers a wide variety of doorbell and exterior security lighting features that range in price from $99.99 to $499.00, as well as plenty of accessories for them that range in price from $10.00 to $49.00. These accessories include options such as a solar panel, ring chime, quick release battery pack and more. And, they have two monthly video recording packages that range from $3.00 per month ($30 annually) to $10.00 per month ($100 annually).
The Ring app will automatically detect the rest of the items that came pre-packaged with the base station once its initial set up is complete. You'll need to pull plastic tabs on each piece so that they can power up, and you'll want to do this one at a time. If you pull all the tabs at the same time, the system tries to connect to multiple devices at once and slows down the setup process.
Installing the sensors was similarly easy: I used the included double sided tape to mount the contact sensor to my front door and the motion sensor to the corner of the downstairs living room in my home. Ring also includes the necessary screws and wall fasteners for a more permanent installation, but the double sided tape was sufficient for my needs. For this review, I added two extra contact sensors (available as $20 add ons) and mounted them on a window and second door in my home. Syncing these with the existing system was just a matter of scanning a QR code on the back of the sensor, which triggered the app to search for it. Ring says that it will preset any additional devices you order at the same time as the Alarm starting kit, which would make setting them up as seamless as the in-box sensors.
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.
UPDATE 16FEB2018: After two weeks, I must downgrade my review... it's become obvious that the Ring Floodlight Cam only detects motion during the day. At night, I can walk through the center of my defined motion zone, but the cam won't record until I'm within 10 feet of it. The defined zone is my driveway which is about 40 feet long and we have 3 cars. As long as the ne'er-do-wells only break into the car parked closest to the Ring cam, they will be recorded. A quick Google search for "ring cam won't detect motion at night" will yield many stories of the Ring product line failing to work in darkness. Apparently, the problem has been documented since September 2017 and Ring has failed to fix it. I must say that I'm beyond disappointed. At least I discovered this in enough time to send the cam back to Amazon for a refund.