Our favorite security system for do-it-yourself monitoring and home automation is the $280 Abode Essentials Starter Kit, because not only does it add professional monitoring to your home, but it also works as a smart hub for third-party devices and helps facilitate home automation. But if you're looking for something a little more affordable and dead-simple to set up, Ring Alarm is worth  a look.

Ring’s Alarm, which is finally shipping to customers starting today, is the latest in these new, do-it-yourself home security systems. It’s most similar to the Secure system that Nest released last year, and uses a variety of motion, entryway, and fire / carbon monoxide sensors, along with Ring’s other home security cameras to monitor your home for emergencies and intrusions.
Thanks for the all the info and reviews. I have a Ring Doorbell and a Nest Thermostat. It seems as a stand alone the nest cam is a better choice. But at $100/year seems a bit steep. Adding a Ring Spotlight cam will put me at $60/year (doorbell and cam). Seems like the Ring cam is a no brainer for my situation. Am I missing something? I dont mind upgrading my doorbell (Ring or Nest), but even with the new 5 day plan from Nest Aware, Ring just makes more financial sense.
Unlike the other options, Ring cameras don’t integrate with the security system. Sure you can monitor them all using a single mobile app, but there is no “if this, then that” relationship. If your alarm sounds, your cameras will not record. If your cameras detect motion, they won’t trigger your alarm. However, there is one major benefit to using Ring cameras: If you pay $10 per month, you will gain access to cloud storage and professional monitoring with cellular backup.
Multi-Camera Discount Price Includes Shared Storage for 10 Cameras (Free Plan Supports 5.) Price Includes Shared Storage for 10 Cameras (Free Plan Supports 5.) $10/month or $100/year for Unlimited Ring Cameras $10/month or $100/year for Unlimited Ring Cameras Each Additional Camera Costs $2.50/month or $25/year Price Includes Shared Storage for 5 Cameras (Free Plan Supports 4)
Ha! That’s funny. Anywho, Arlo. Yes, Arlo needs the base station. The cameras only talk to the base station which creates its own network. The max range is stated at 300ft between base station and camera, which I assume is direct line of sight. If I had to guesstimate the distance between my base station and camera I would say 50 feet max? I haven’t tested beyond that.
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Some jurisdictions require permits for monitored alarm systems, and Ring will guide you based on the address where you're using Ring Alarm. In some areas, Ring can obtain the permit on your behalf once you pay required fees, but in other jurisdictions you'll need to handle it on your own. Either way, once you have your permit, you can enter the permit number and expiration date in the Ring app to make all parties aware that your system is properly registered. My town does not require permits, so I did not need to go through this step.
There’s not much that can match Ring’s price point and quality. Nest Secure is an excellent system, but will set you back $399. The Abode Starter Kit is cheaper than Nest at $299, but still lacks the finesse and quality of Ring. Samsung SmartThings and ADT have partnered on a home monitoring system, but it costs $389, and several features are missing to make it an integrated, comprehensive system.
Setup of Ring Alarm is quite simple, and the whole process only took me about half an hour, although I used the included adhesive strips to mount sensors and didn't mount the base station and keypad to my walls, so it would have taken a bit longer if I'd gone all-in with hardware mounting options. I may yet do that once I've decided for sure where I want to put the various components.
The Ring Alarm starter kit is one of the most affordable security systems available. For $200, you get a wireless base station, a keypad for arming and disarming the system, one entry sensor, one motion sensor and a Z-wave range extender. I would have liked the kit to include at least two entry sensors since there's typically more than one point of entry to every dwelling, but you can purchase additional entry sensors for $20 a piece.

The Ring Alarm Home Security System offers an easy and relatively affordable way to make sure your home is safe and secure. The system can be installed in as little as 20 minutes and can be self-monitored using your mobile device or desktop system. Or, you have it professionally monitored by subscribing to the very affordable Ring Protect Plus Plan, which also includes unlimited cloud storage for any Ring camera you may own.
Whether you opt for one of the wired or battery-powered Ring Spotlight Cams, you’ll get an impressive camera that effectively fills a necessary niche: providing security for yards, carports, and other spots around the perimeter of homes that become particularly vulnerable after dark. While it will work great as a standalone camera, it will shine as part of more comprehensive security set up with other Ring devices—I used it in conjunction with the Ring Doorbell and a Stick Up Cam—for seamless 360-degree surveillance of your property.
I’ve had 2 Arlo Pro cams for a few months now. They both work very well, although the false motion trips by wind or in my case a train that comes by is a bit annoying. But what I have found is that I really want a camera that is on 24/7, that I can go back and scan thru in case there’s an issue. The other thing is the delay. I had a person enter my property and the Arlo caught him just as he was almost out of the camera. A friend of mine told me to check out a FLIR camera. I don’t have a good home security system, so I would like to have something that can expand as far as needed. I can always take my Arlo to my office and use it there if I decide to switch.

Both the Ring Alarm and Nest Secure are easy to install by yourself. You don’t need to purchase professional installation, but both offer that option for an additional charge. Neither platform requires a contract, so you won’t be forced to pay monthly ongoing subscription fees. Both Ring and Nest also offer the ability to control your home security devices via a user-friendly app on your smartphone or tablet, making it simple to check in on things at home when you’re out and about. You’ll also get a notification on your device if the system detects anything out of the ordinary, so you’re always in the know about what’s going on at home.


If you have signed up for 24/7 professional monitoring, you may need a permit to dispatch emergency services. After signing up for Ring Protect Plus, you’ll get an email from our dedicated Permits Team so you can have everything you need to apply for your permit. In some cases, our team will handle the entire permitting process, but for others, we’ll walk you through every step to help you get your permit as quickly as possible.
Ring, an Amazon company, also sells several security sensors. First is the keypad. The keypad runs on battery power, and you can wall mount it or place it on a flat surface. In addition to arming and disarming your system, the Keypad Control Panel allows you to choose between Armed Away and Armed Home. When using the keypad to arm your system, it provides a grace period to reduce false alarms. You can customize the grace period using the mobile app. Finally, you can simultaneously press and hold the check and x buttons for three seconds to trigger the panic alarm.
Ring, maker of one of the original (and still likely the best) connected video doorbell, has launched a comprehensive home security system called Protect, which retails for $199 and includes a base station, keypad (for arming and disarming) a contact sensor for a window or door, a passive infrared sensor for detecting motion and a Z-Wave extender for adding range to smart home devices that use the standard.
If you think about it, all of these cameras are magnetic meaning that anyone can steal them or knock them offline. The only way to stop this is to mount the camera high enough that an average person cannot reach them. In doing this, it means the battery cameras require you to get out a tall ladder to replace or recharge the battery where with the nest, once you run the power cord and its plugged in, you for a lack of a better phrase, “you set it and forget it.”
Ring doesn’t offer free storage. While you will be able to see missed alerts, you won’t be able to view missed events without subscribing. The good news is that cloud storage is cheap. For $3 a month per device, you will be able to view and download up to six months of events. You will also be able to share clips, which is of vital importance if you want to use your video as evidence. If you have several Ring Cameras, you can subscribe to their Protect plan for $10 per month or $100 per year. This plan covers an unlimited number of Ring cameras and adds a lifetime product warranty. Beyond storage, all Ring features are free.
Hi and thank you for the exhaustive review. I like the option of Ring Doorbell Pro. However, my existing doorbell is on the side of the house, facing parallel to the door across the front steps. If I mounted the Ring there, the camera would capture a profile of the visitor as they approach the door. It would not capture their face head on, would not (likely) capture them them as they approach the steps, which is where delivery people often leave packages (my interest in Ring, Arlo, etc., came out of the neighborhood social app conversation about a rash of package thefts), and would not capture the car they drive as it would face parallel to the street, not into the street. My question is: what would the installation of Ring look like on or near the front door, where there is no existing wiring? Is my existing setup enough to steer me away from Ring and toward a battery powered option?
Unlike the other options, Ring cameras don’t integrate with the security system. Sure you can monitor them all using a single mobile app, but there is no “if this, then that” relationship. If your alarm sounds, your cameras will not record. If your cameras detect motion, they won’t trigger your alarm. However, there is one major benefit to using Ring cameras: If you pay $10 per month, you will gain access to cloud storage and professional monitoring with cellular backup.
Outdoor security cameras provide a line of defense for your home, and smart capabilities elevate that by adding control and peace-of-mind to your home security system. Today, one of the best on the market, Ring’s floodlight camera, is $314 for a two-pack from Home Depot, a big drop from a list price of $448. And you’ll also get a free $50 Chime Pro Wi-Fi extender and speaker with your purchase.

Ring Protect retails for $199 for the basic hardware, which is also less than Nest Secure’s $399 entry price. The system also works with all of Ring’s existing products, and will be rolling out support for third-party connected devices over time, too. On its own, it operates as a self-monitored connected security system, sending you alerts while you’re away. The Protect plans starting at $10 monthly include 24/7 monitoring by professionals, as well as unlimited cloud storage for recording from an unlimited number of Ring devices, as well as a 10 percent discount on future Ring hardware purchases.


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.

While you aren’t required to purchase professional monitoring, both Ring and Nest offer you the option of doing so. The purchase of 24/7 monitoring gives you peace of mind that professionals are keeping an eye on your home security on your behalf. The Nest Secure offers professional monitoring for $19 a month if you sign up for a three-year contract, or you can pay month-to-month for $29 a month. The Ring Alarm offers various plans that allow the user to pay by the month or by the year. The Protect Basic Plan is available for $3 a month or $30 a year per camera, while the Protect Plus Plan is $10 a month or $100 a year, and the service can be applied to an unlimited number of security cameras. It also includes professional monitoring.
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.
WINNER Nest. While Nest Aware is a more expensive service, advanced features like person detection combined with the ability for the camera to record 24/7 make it a better overall home security camera. However, Arlo with Arlo Smart is also a contender as the service is less expensive and the camera includes free storage. You can also add continuous video recording to Arlo Pro 2, but only if using the camera plugged-in indoors. You can compare Arlo and Nest’s CVR plans here. Ring will also soon add continuous recording, but only if you have a wired Ring camera.
The base station connects to Ring Alarm devices using Z-Wave Plus. In theory, it could also connect to third-party devices using the same as well as Zigbee, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth; however, it cannot currently connect to other devices besides the First Alert Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm. Like abode and Nest, Ring’s Base Station includes battery backup, an integrated siren (104db), and a cellular chip which you can activate by paying just $10 per month. Finally, while you can connect to the Base Station via Ethernet, it’s not required.

The keypad has 12 backlit buttons on the left-hand side and three in a circle on the right. You create a four-digit PIN during setup, which you’ll tap into the keypad when you arm and disarm the system (you can also do this from the Ring app, which is available for Android and iOS devices. It’s the same app used for Ring’s video doorbell and security cameras, although there’s currently little integration between the cameras and the security system.)
Second, Ring sells a contact sensor. The two-piece sensor can be placed on doors or windows and will notify you of open/close movements. Third, they sell a pet-friendly motion detector. Fourth, they sell a range extender. The range extender is the only sensor that requires AC power, but it also includes 24-hour battery backup. The Range Extender is used to boost the signal emitted by your Base Station to help eliminate dead zones.
The Home mode monitors only sensors installed at entry points into the home but will ignore any motion or movement that occurs within the house itself. The home mode works great for a night setting, especially if people in your family are prone to moving throughout your home at night. Typically this movement would trip the sensors, but not in Home mode.
Once the base station is online and your account set up for monitoring, the rest of the devices in your starter kit are automatically identified in the Ring app and you can set them up one by one. With each one, you can provide a name and room location to help identify the accessories in notifications and the app. With the keypad, you'll set up an access code that lets you arm and disarm the alarm, and you can set up different codes for different people. As you set up each motion detector and contact sensor, the app will have you test each one to ensure that they're probably detecting events.
Friend access allows users to view live streams, view recorded clips, and favorite clips. If you want to share more, grant access rights. In addition to the rights already discussed, those with access rights will be able to record video footage, mute the speaker, enter full-screen view, zoom and drag video footage, access and change modes, manually record, take snapshots, favorite, and share or delete video footage. Finally, Arlo does allow you to control which camera or cameras other users can access. For example, you can give them access to your outdoor camera, but not your indoor camera.
What happens if your home Wi-Fi goes out? Luckily, both the Ring and Nest systems offer cellular connectivity, so your alarm will stay online even if there’s a power outage or your Wi-Fi disconnects. Nest charges an additional $5 per month or $50 per year for cellular connectivity, while Ring offers the feature when you purchase the Protect Plus plan. Both systems also incorporate battery backup. While the Nest device will continue running for 12 hours without an external power source, the Ring will last for 24 hours.
Hi Rose, I’m intrigued that you have a traditional alarm system but also one of these new wireless versions. Are they integrated? Can they be? I haven’t looked at the Ring, abode, and Nest systems because I have am old-fashioned standard system that came wired into my home. I’d love to integrate it with my Ring cameras and doorbell cam, or even get one of the new wireless voice-activated bases or keypads. Can that be done with any system today?
Put whole-home security in your hands with Ring Alarm. When the system is armed, it sends instant alerts to your phone and tablet whenever doors or windows are opened and when motion is detected at home, so you can monitor your property from anywhere.  Ring Alarm is fully customizable and expands to fit any home or apartment. And with Ring Video Doorbells and Security Cameras, it lets you control your entire home security system from one simple app.
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