What's also important about Ring Alarm is that it sets the stage for future products and integration. The Ring app already serves as the hub to integrate the alarm system with the company's existing cameras and doorbells, but it's easy to see how the alarm can also become the hardware hub for new capabilities and products from Ring and eventually third-party vendors.
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.
As for the base station, you can hardwire it to your router or connect to it via Wi-Fi. I opted to hardwire it, in hopes that it would provide a more stable connection, considering the importance of it. There is an AT&T SIM card inside of it as well, which is what the system uses as a backup for when your internet connection goes down. The cost of this SIM card and its service is covered in the monitoring plan. Once the base station is powered on and hooked up to your router, you can add it your account.
As of this writing, there are only a handful of add-on devices available that will work with the system, and for now, it doesn't support integrations with other Ring devices or third-party Z-Wave and Zigbee devices. That said, integration with Ring doorbells and cameras is on the way, and interoperability with third-party devices is also in the works.

The caller from the monitoring service will identify themselves as being from Ring, since that’s who your business relationship is with, but they actually work for a third-party company that Ring contracts with: Rapid Response Monitoring Services. This is a common arrangement for home security systems. Nest, for example, contracts with MONI Smart Security (which is now doing business as Brinks Home Security). Alarm.com is another major third-party monitoring service.
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.
Most companies will include a statement that says that recorded footage is only viewable by the customer. Regarding privacy, Nest, Ring, Canary, and Arlo all do a great job. Recently, I looked into where the cameras were sending data, including Argus. You can read about that here. If privacy is your top priority, Argus is a good option because it doesn’t have to send anything to the cloud. Though I’m not a huge fan of Netatmo cameras, they would also be a good option for you. Finally, CleverLoop. You can read more about how those two cameras work with/without the cloud here.

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.
You have 2 alarm modes: home and away. Using the app you get to chose which sensors will trip home mode and away mode; to be a little more specific, in the app you can select a sensor and check a box next to away and a box next to home if you want it to trip the alarm even if your alarm is active in “home mode” such as when you’re sleeping at night, where motion sensors inside won’t trip the alarm, but doors or windows opening will do so. You can also select a motion sensor and select a lower sensitivity level in case you have pets. You can do all this from the app even away from home.
All plans, including the freemium plan, offer access to the same security features and provide a semi-decent way of sorting through historical footage. Through the app’s “Library” section, you will have access to a timeline feature. You can view all recorded events by day. You will also be able to favorite an event, download, or share it. You can also filter recorded footage by favorites, motion events, audio events, manual recordings, or recordings triggered by IFTTT.

Away mode enables a countdown timer which you can set from anywhere between 30 seconds to 3 minutes. This gives you time to exit your home or cancel the alarm if need be. Once the timer reaches zero, a notification is pushed to your phone letting you know the system is armed. You’ll also hear an announcement (if you’re still in your house) through the base station that the house is now armed.
Never wonder who’s knocking at your door again. With the Ring Doorbell, you’ll receive alerts when your doorbell is pressed or motion is detected, allowing you to hear and interact with visitors. In addition to acting as a two-way communication device for your front door, it works as a security system; you can set motion detection zones from five to 30 feet outside your door. The sensor is quite sensitive, so it’s probably best to set its range and awareness levels as low as you’re comfortable with. If you’re willing to venture off Amazon (and pay a little more), the Nest Hello doorbell is another favorite option that works with Alexa.
We set up the base station in our office, the contact sensor on the front door, the keypad on the front table, the motion detector in the hallway, and the range extender in our laundry room. You can add additional motion sensors and contact sensors to the system for additional coverage. We added a couple of sensors to windows on the first floor of our home for added security.
When it comes to integrating your home alarms with the rest of your smart home, both Nest and Ring offer the option to purchase extenders. It may take a bit of time to figure out if you need one, since the size, layout, and materials in your home can all make a difference in creating dead zones on your property. Nest’s extender will set you back $70, while Ring’s is just $25.
So what happens if an Alarm is triggered? If an event is detected, you will get an email and an instant push notification to your phone which you can swipe to open the Nest App. From the Nest App, you can see which sensor triggered the alarm, and you will be presented with two options: call the police or turn the alarm off. If you have a Nest Cam, you will be able to view footage from the event simultaneously. If you have multiple Nest Cams, you can swipe through to a view a live feed from all of your cameras. If you’re subscribed to Nest Aware, the Sightline feature will bookmark the event so next time you access your camera’s timeline, you’ll see a red bar. Tap on the red bar to review the footage of the event. Of course, while all of this is happening, your siren will sound.
So let’s talk cost for a minute. For $399, Nest includes a Nest Guard which also acts as a keypad, siren, and motion detector, two Nest Detects which are also motion sensors, and two Nest Tags. An equivalent package from abode would cost $479. A comparable package from Ring would cost $279. However, Ring doesn’t sell a key fob, and the kit includes a range extender, so that needs to be factored into the equation.
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?
I’ve been considering the Nest Cam IQ outdoor. I see that you did not think the price justified the upgrades. I do agree that it is quite pricey. However, I’m looking for an outdoor camera that has good zoom capabilities. I want to place a camera on my front porch that would show most of the front yard, front door, kitchen door, & the driveway. The driveway is long and mostly shaded during the day and quite dark at night. Someone could park their car in our drive and still be far from the house. If the car was in the line of sight from the camera, say 75 feet, do you know if the Supersight 4k would be better at zooming in on a license plate than the regular 1080p? Any input on cameras for a scenario like this would be great. Thanks!

Nest Cam Outdoor’s temperature range is limited to -4° to 104°F. In the same breath, the Nest team warns of placing the camera in direct sunlight to avoid overheating the device. So if the device can only handle 104° and it might heat up in the sun, is it really ready to live outside? Perhaps it’s not that the device isn’t ready to live outside, but that it’s more suited for temperate zones.

Oco Pro Bullet is weatherproof, has an SD card, cloud storage, night vision, smart motion detection, and records in FHD 1080p. It can also work in a wide range of temperatures, from -22 °F – 140 °F (-30 °C – 60 °C). But it has one massive limitation: viewing angle. Unfortunately, it only offers an 85-degree viewing angle. Also, the indoor version fell flat on many of its promised features. While the outdoor camera uses different hardware, the indoor experience left me feeling leery towards Oco’s ability to build a quality camera.


Even if the power goes out at home, your property will still be protected by the complimentary 24-hour backup battery. And for only $10 a month, you can upgrade to Ring Protect Plus and enjoy 24/7 professional monitoring with cellular backup, unlimited video recording for Ring Doorbells and Cameras at your home. You won’t be locked into any long-term contracts. You don’t need professional installation. You don’t even need any tools. It’s that simple.
My wife and I plan to hire a nurse at night for our new baby, but due to the many stories we’ve heard, we want to set up a camera (indoor of course) to surveil her and check up on her at any given time. (we will let her know she’s on camera – it will not be a secret at all.) I read your article but I still want your advice because I’m unsure. Which camera do you suggest for me? The main qualities I need is:
Ring's mission is to reduce crime in neighborhoods by creating a Ring of Security around homes and communities with its suite of home security products. The Ring product line, along with the Ring Neighbors app, enable Ring to offer affordable, complete, proactive home and neighborhood security in a way no other company has before. In fact, one Los Angeles neighborhood saw a 55 percent decrease in home break-ins after Ring Doorbells were installed on just ten percent of homes. Ring is an Amazon company. For more information, visit www.ring.com. With Ring, you’re always home.

While fairly similar to the Ring Stick Up Cam, the Spotlight Cam is built for the outdoors. That means it comes with a few added security features, such as a siren that you can activate remotely to scare away anyone who triggers its motion detector. The camera is also built with infrared night vision, meaning you’ll be able to check in on your home and your surroundings when you need to the most.

I’ve only tested one cloud-less camera this year (Reolink Argus) and it’s battery-powered. And if you’re asking about systems like Amcrest and Swann, I don’t have anything similar. I mainly focus on cloud cameras for now, but who knows what the future holds! Currently, I’m working on an updated indoor camera version of this article, but all the cameras I’m testing use cloud storage.
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.
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.
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.

Never wonder who’s knocking at your door again. With the Ring Doorbell, you’ll receive alerts when your doorbell is pressed or motion is detected, allowing you to hear and interact with visitors. In addition to acting as a two-way communication device for your front door, it works as a security system; you can set motion detection zones from five to 30 feet outside your door. The sensor is quite sensitive, so it’s probably best to set its range and awareness levels as low as you’re comfortable with. If you’re willing to venture off Amazon (and pay a little more), the Nest Hello doorbell is another favorite option that works with Alexa.


All of these limitations make the Ring Alarm feel less like a cohesive part of an integrated smart home and more like a bolt-on appendage that requires its own app and accessories. For its part, Ring says that smart home integrations are coming, but it wanted to make sure that it had nailed down the security aspect of the system before adding to it. The company says it plans to add integrations with lighting, door locks, and other smart home gadgets down the road, but it wouldn’t provide a timeline for these options when I asked.
Thinking of your situation only….More than likely, you will need to buy an additional piece of hardware to upgrade your wired system to support newer technology, but it’s hard to say without more details. You might want to look into a device called Konnected. This would allow you to integrate your wired system with SmartThings which supports Ring cameras. You can read about that here. In my situation, they are not integrated, although most major home security companies now work with at least some third-party devices like Ring, Amazon Alexa, Google Home, August, etc.
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