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.
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’ve never tried to live stream continuously. I assume that’s possible, and if you hard wire, that shouldn’t be a problem, but what about bandwidth usage? If I wanted to stream continuously, I would probably look into a CCTV system. I’ve never tested one, but I’ve seen some in action. Of course, this would mean using a TV or monitor as your “monitor.” I know you want to keep the Echo Show, but I haven’t tried to do something like you are trying to do so I’m not sure what to suggest. I’m intrigued though.
The learning curve was pretty quick once I started playing around with it. Immediately following activation, Ring puts you in a seven day trial period, which is great because I set off the alarm a handful of times because I wasn't used to having it. The trial period lets you use everything the way it's intended, except that when the alarm goes off it won't alert the monitoring company. You can end the trial mode at any point if you prefer to just get right into the full monitoring services.
Once you're logged in, follow the straightforward prompts to connect each accessory. This was one of the easiest security system setups I've ever encountered; literally pull the battery tab on the battery-powered door/window sensor and motion sensor and plug in the base station, the keypad and the Z-Wave range extender, and they automatically connect to the app.
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:

As a Contributing Editor for PCMag, John Delaney has been testing and reviewing monitors, TVs, PCs, networking and smart home gear, and other assorted hardware and peripherals for almost 20 years. A 13-year veteran of PC Magazine's Labs (most recently as Director of Operations), John was responsible for the recruitment, training and management of t... See Full Bio


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.
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.
3) a brand with the best wifi connectivity record (I HATE when it loses connectivity), this is actually the most important thing to me – the wifi connectivity must be seamless, I’ve had terrible experience with bad wifi connectivity. I want to be able to pull out my phone anytime and instantly be able to see live video. zero tolerance for bad wifi connection:)
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.
Ring cameras will work without a monthly fee, but Ring doesn’t offer any form of free storage beyond a free 30-day trial. Their first plan is Basic which is $3 per month per camera. This plan includes 60 days of cloud storage, video review, and video sharing. Their second plan, Protect Plus, is $10 per month. It covers unlimited cameras including both doorbell and security cameras. This plan also includes coverage for your Base Station. The same $10 per month that provides unlimited cloud storage also provides Ring Response (24/7 professional monitoring) and Cellular Backup.

Thinking of battery-powered original Ring, I don’t think opening up the mount and recharging a battery every 3-6 months would faze me. Having two doorbells (the “real” one on the side and the Ring on the door frame) probably would bug me more than a little. It did not occur to me to move the existing doorbell, just to install the Ring in the new location on or near the door.
I’ve settled on continuous video for my outdoor cameras too. Obviously, I use Nest for that. For indoor cameras, Arlo Q is also an option. For $9.99/month, you can add continuous cloud recording. SpotCam also has continuous cloud recording, but we haven’t tried it. Of course, there are other options where you store the footage locally, but then the trouble becomes finding usable footage when you need it!
As a Contributing Editor for PCMag, John Delaney has been testing and reviewing monitors, TVs, PCs, networking and smart home gear, and other assorted hardware and peripherals for almost 20 years. A 13-year veteran of PC Magazine's Labs (most recently as Director of Operations), John was responsible for the recruitment, training and management of t... See Full Bio
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.
Ring cameras will work without a monthly fee, but Ring doesn’t offer any form of free storage beyond a free 30-day trial. Their first plan is Basic which is $3 per month per camera. This plan includes 60 days of cloud storage, video review, and video sharing. Their second plan, Protect Plus, is $10 per month. It covers unlimited cameras including both doorbell and security cameras. This plan also includes coverage for your Base Station. The same $10 per month that provides unlimited cloud storage also provides Ring Response (24/7 professional monitoring) and Cellular Backup.

Use the Device Health button to view signal strength, firmware version, and the current Wi-Fi network you are connected to, and the Linked Chimes button lets you enable motion settings for any Ring Chime devices you may have installed. Motion Settings lets you adjust sensitivity using the slider, create detection zones, and set up schedules for enabling/disabling motion alerts, and Motion Snooze lets you temporarily turn off alerts. Tap the Shared Users button to invite friends and family to view video clips, and the App Alerts Tones button to assign one of a dozen sounds to play when motion is detected.


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