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.
Tapping the Spotlight Cam icon in the Ring app opens a dedicated screen with all the camera’s controls laid out. The Ring app is one of the best in this regard, as it doesn’t require you to go hunting through nested settings menus to find what you need. At the top are on/off toggles for the camera’s lights and motion alerts. Using a selection of buttons below these, you can open the camera’s streaming feed, event history light settings, and more.
Regardless of which model you choose, it’s recommended you connect your Spotlight Cam to your Wi-Fi network before mounting it outside. (In the case of the non-wired Spotlight Cams, you’ll first need to charge the battery using the supplied micro-USB cable.) Once you add the camera to the Ring companion app, the camera’s voice prompts guide you through the connection process.
The camera is powered by the same quick release battery pack used on the Ring Video Doorbell 2. It contains a mini USB charging port and is rated to last for six to twelve months between charges depending on camera and spotlight activity. The camera can hold two battery packs and will automatically switch over to the secondary battery when one runs out of juice. Additional battery packs are available for $29 each. If you prefer a wired solution, Ring sells a Spotlight Cam Wired model for $199.
Finally, I wouldn’t put too much weight into the Amazon review from 2015. Things have really changed since then, including the Nest app. The Nest app was a little slow going when first launched, but they’ve really improved it and added back features that were initially missing, though found within the Dropcam app, plus added new features like person detection.
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.
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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 system has three different modes, which can be set via the keypad or through the iOS and Android apps. There’s the standard disarmed mode that turns off all of the monitoring; an away mode that watches all of the installed sensors for intrusions; and then a “Home” mode, which by default will monitor sensors installed on entryways, but ignores motion inside the house. I’ve used the latter mode as basically a night or sleep setting, since during the day my family moves in and out of the house a lot and would constantly trip the door sensors.
There is currently no support for controlling the system with voice commands, but it should come as no surprise that Ring is developing an Alexa skill. Once you can arm your security system using a voice command, you won’t want to do it any other way (disarming it that way is whole other question). Harris was slightly more circumspect about supporting Google Assistant. “We remain committed to being open to all of the different pieces that are important to our customers. We’ll continue to march down the path of trying to support everything we can.” I got a similar answer when I asked about support for Apple’s HomeKit technology: “We’ve given it a lot of time. Again, we remain focused on bringing HomeKit support across the product line, but it won’t be available at launch with the Alarm products specifically.”
Arlo Go is yet another Arlo camera. It’s an Arlo Pro plus 4G. The big catch is that a cellular plan via Verizon is needed as it doesn’t work with WiFi. It does come with 15 data minutes to send 15 minutes worth of video to the cloud for free. Once you’ve used those minutes, you’ll need to buy more time. Data plans start at $4.99/month for 15 data minutes and go up to $32.99/month for 225 data minutes. Arlo Go sells for $429.99 on Amazon or 399.99 from Verizon ($349.99 if you sign a 2-year contract).
I haven’t had that problem, and as you said, I’m running it hardwired. My clips include a front facing image of guests. That said, I’ve recently had issues with wake up times when I’m away from home. As an example, I answered a ring alert yesterday, but it just kept spinning. I had to hard close the app, open it back up, and then check the alert. By then, the guest was gone.
I’m in the rocky mountain region where it occasionally gets well below -4 and can verify your reader’s quote about cold weather limitations w Nest outdoor. I asked Nest support about this and they suggested that a different product might make sense. Seems like there really isn’t a good DIY option for users that live in cold weather? Arlo pro battery life is impacted, Flex only rated down to 14F and Nest said I should try a different product in cold weather.
Ring lacks third-party integrations. The Base Station communicates with Z-Wave and Zigbee, and I’ve confirmed those protocols were added for a reason, but they haven’t taken advantage of them. The system supports the First Alert Z-Wave Smoke/CO detector which is also compatible with the Ring Response service. Soon, it will also work with the Dome Siren. But that’s it. Ring currently lacks an IFTTT channel and even an Alexa integration, which is odd as Ring is owned by Amazon.
The spotlight is provided by LED light strips on either side of a 140-degree wide-angle lens, which activate when motion is detected. The motion sensor, encased in a dome on the bottom of the camera, has a 270-degree detection range. The camera streams and records video in up to 1080p resolution and supports two-way talk with noise cancellation and night vision up to 30 feet.
I tested the Spotlight Cam Wired and the Spotlight Cam Solar separately. The Wired is a great option if you have easily accessible outdoor power outlets. The 4.96-inch-by-2.72-inch-by-2.99-inch camera has a 20-foot power cable attached at the back as well as a built-in wall mount, and unlike with the battery powered models, you won’t have to worry about dead batteries or too many overcast days interrupting your surveillance. I’m guessing, however, most folks will need one of the battery-powered cameras.
I am using Wyze Cam on my front porch right now in addition to Nest Hello. I actually have all push notifications turned off, I just use it to check in on things. I’ve had it out there since June I believe, and it’s still kicking. Of course, my porch does provide added protection. I have a friend who mounted his under an eave using the same casing and his is still kicking too, even though it’s more exposed.
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.
Nice article. I see from your disclaimer at the top of this article that the site participate in the program that can get fees from linking to Amazon purchases. And I know not every security system is available from Amazon. But could you still review the latest Simplisafe system please? I’m trying to decide what to get, and I have three friends that have the old Simplisafe. The new one looks so much better. I really don’t care about Geo fencing or whether or not I can chat with google or Siri. I’m just interested in getting a security system that works and doesn’t cost way too much. Thank you!
Thank you so much for your great review! It’s so thorough and really helps with decision-making. My question is, what would you pick between the Ring Cam Battery and the Arlo Pro (not the 2)? I purchased the Ring Spotlight Cam Battery because I liked the idea of the light and the battery power, but as i read my reviews, I see that the video can lag, and it’s quality is highly tied to the WiFi signal. I also bought the Arlo Pro because it was on sale and it seemed to get really top reviews even though it’s only 720p compared to the Ring Cam Battery. I will be mounting these outside. I noticed that the Arlo Pro 2 way talk is really hard to hear compared to the Ring Cam Battery. Thank you again for all your information!
Nest, Canary, Ring, and Arlo all have advantages and disadvantages. Nest has an advantage in that it can capture footage 24/7. Canary has an advantage in that it offers person detection for free. Arlo Pro and Ring Spotlight have an advantage in that the cameras can run on battery power and they wake up for both motion and live streaming faster than Canary Flex. If I were to rank them, I would rank Nest and Arlo Pro the highest and also add that a video doorbell is a must. You can read my video doorbell compare here.
Arlo Smart also adds the ability to use Activity Zones even when your cameras are unplugged; however, if you choose to keep your Arlo Pro 2 indoors and plugged-in, you will have Activity Zones for free. Either way, you can select up to three zones for Arlo to monitor. If activity is detected in one of your zones, you’ll receive an alert. Activity that occurs outside of your set zone will be ignored.
2) many users have not come up to speed on the functionality fo this system. thats not their fault.its really easy to set up quickly and with basic functioning, But the more you fool around/experimenter/learn about the system the more functionality it has. Ring really needs to come out with a comprehensive instruction manual and/or video-once you understand take keypad you will grasp it actually has more functionality and is easier to use than most legacy hard wired systems people are replacing.
And that is its job, to keep the camera charged. However, I noticed during testing that it does charge the battery too. When I installed the camera, the battery level was at 40%. Soon after connecting the solar panel, that percentage jumped to 50%. The next day it rained, and the percentage climbed from 50 to 52%. Day three was overcast, and yet the battery level crept up to 56%. Day 4 was a beautiful sunny day, and the battery level jumped to 78%. By the end of day 4, I was at 100%.
The Spotlight Cam employs the common method of using bounding boxes over the camera image to define detection zones, but you can use the box handles to twist it into any kind of geometric shape, not just squares. That allows you to work around outdoor areas where you don’t have as much control over the environment as you do inside your home. There’s also a scheduling option to disable motion alerts during certain times of day.
Where Nest Wins: Nest has a better design, fantastic cameras, and cheaper cellular backup. Their multi-purpose sensors may cut down on the number of sensors you need, though they are more expensive than abode and Ring sensors. Also, Nest Guard is the most intuitive with LED lights, a keypad, and voice feedback. Finally, Nest Secure offers a 2-year warranty where abode and Ring offer 1-year warranties. However, there are areas where abode and Ring win too.
I bought this system to replace the ADT system I had for years. This system along with four Contact Sensors replaced what I had from ADT. The cost of the Ring system and year of monitoring was less than six months of monitoring from ADT. The system comes packaged nice a secure, which I am thankful for since the deliver person wasn't gentle dropping the box on my porch. I had downloaded the app and registered before the system arrived, so that part was taken care of. The included instructions and phone app walk you through the setup. It was painless and completed in about 10 minutes. I set up everything on my dining room table to go through the registration process. Once done, I installed the components where the old hardware was. Ring includes everything you need to mount (double sided tape and/or screws) all the components. Registering for monitoring was very simple too. One thing I learned that I want to pass on. do not remove the little battery tabs until the app tells you to. If you do, just open the cover, pull the battery and reinstall the tab. Just pulling the battery and reinstalling it doesn't reset the device.
The Ring Floodlight Cam gives you the maximum amount of illumination when activity is detected. You can purchase this device at $249 for 1, $448 for 2, $649 for 3 and $849 for 4. The two LED floodlights make it impossible for someone to sneak around without getting a clear view of them. The Floodlight Cam uses two sensors for detecting people and objects, with an ultra-wide angle field. You can zoom and pan with the camera for a closer look if you’re not sure what you’re seeing.