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.
Standalone accessories can be added to your setup in a similar manner to those included in the base kit, although you'll have to scan a QR code on the back of them using the Ring app in order to get them to appear. From there, it's the same process of choosing the sensor type, naming it, assigning it to a room, and testing to make sure it's registering properly.
Right now, abode reigns supreme due to the number of integrations they offer, the variety of security sensors, and the fact that it’s an open platform not tied to Google (Nest) or Amazon (Ring). I would give Ring second place due to cost, and it’s bumped iSmart off of my list of recommended self-monitored security systems. My only gripe is that it doesn’t integrate well with its own camera system. Nest takes third, but I would still recommend it. It’s a beautiful system, easy to use, and thoughtfully designed. That said, if Ring raised the bar on their camera integrations, launches an indoor camera, a flood sensor (coming soon), and a glass break sensor, it might just become the system to beat.
Check out this video at second 0:19 vs. 1:13 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YdM9HV1PoUs&lc=UgzO67pS8VXEX-xurdh4AaABAg. I took this video in January and compared the indoor Nest Cam to Arlo Q, which would be similar to Nest Outdoor and Arlo Pro 2. All-in-all Nest is better, especially at night (skip to minute 1:46 and 2:11). Nest also performs better in mixed lighting environments.
An update on the outdoor charger for the Arlo Pro/Pro 2: Amazon has been informing buyers that “NETGEAR has informed us that the product Arlo Outdoor Power Adapters (Model No. VMA4700) may have an issue with the connection between the adapter and Arlo Pro cameras may allow water to enter the camera.” This can result in the camera short-circuiting, overheating, and burning. (It’s hard to find out about this, and Netgear has failed to issue a recall.)
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.
Do it yourself can be a really good option, but you need to make sure this is right for you before you jump in. There won’t be any technicians or professional installers to make sure everything is installed and working correctly. Ring does claim that the system is effortless to install but that obviously doesn’t guarantee that you won’t run into issues, especially if you don’t have experience with security systems. In this case, you just need to know yourself to know if this type of installation and maintenance is right for you. If you tend to hire out for most of your home projects, this extremely important project probably isn’t the one you want to start with trying on your own.
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.
Quiet Open allows you to bypass an armed sensor simply by touching it. For example, if your system is armed, but you want to check the weather outside, you can press the sensor, and open your door. While I’ve heard only praise for this feature, my initial reaction was that it seems like a security flaw. Your teenagers, for example, can press the sensor and sneak out. Furthermore, there is no identification tied to using the feature. For example, it won’t say, “Rose bypassed the sensor.” Fortunately, you can turn this feature off if you’re concerned.
Ring's Neighborhood is a cool feature that lets you share recorded events with neighbors who have joined the Neighborhood. You'll receive alerts when a neighbor posts a video and when there's fire and police activity in your neighborhood. The Events tab takes you to a screen where you can view a list of all camera and alarm events including sensor activity, arming and disarming times, and motion detection. Below the Neighbors and Events tabs are windows with live views of each installed Ring video doorbell and camera.