All these new DIY systems pretty much rely on cellular and/or Wi-Fi. It seems that although it makes things more accessible, cheaper and easier to install, that’s where most of the glitches, or inconsistent alarm notifications come from, right? But in general it’s good that these systems have been made available for us all to choose from. Thank you for helping us navigate all the choices.
Other “Family” Devices Arlo Wire-Free, Arlo Q, Arlo Go, Arlo Baby, Arlo Pro 2, Arlo Security Light, Arlo Audio Doorbell (coming soon) Arlo Wire-Free, Arlo Q, Arlo Go, Arlo Baby, Arlo Pro, Arlo Security Light, Arlo Audio Doorbell (coming soon) Stick Up Cam, Solar Panel, Ring Chime, Floodlight, Ring Doorbell, Ring Protect, Ring Beam Solar Panel, Ring Chime, Ring Doorbell, Floodlight, Spotlight, Ring Protect, Ring Beam Nest Cam, Nest Cam IQ, Nest Secure, Hello, Dropcam, Nest Thermostat, Nest Protect Canary, Canary View
The Spotlight Cam comes with 30-day free trial of Ring’s cloud storage for recorded video. At the end of the period, you have the option of upgrading to one of a pair of Ring Protect plans: Protect Basic allows you to store, review, and share video for up to 60 days for $3 per month or $30 a year per camera. Protect Plus provides the same for unlimited Ring cameras—including the Ring Video Doorbell—and adds a lifetime warranty and discounts on Ring products for $10 per month or $100 a year.
We put these products side by side to give you a comparison of what each one offers, along with a rundown of their similarities and differences. Read on for Ring Alarm vs. Nest Secure: an in-depth look at two of the best home alarm systems on the market. And for a close look at each system one by one, be sure to check out our full review of the Ring Alarm, as well as our full review of the Nest Secure.
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.

At two months, Arlo’s battery lasted longer than Canary’s. Arlo also sent both an email and push notification encouraging me to charge the camera. I tried to time how long it took to recharge the battery, but it took five hours to reach 87% and then stopped. Even the next day, the camera’s battery did not charge beyond 87%. Also, like Canary, Arlo’s battery life was impacted by activity more than weather. The camera I placed in a lower traffic zone had 37% battery life remaining after two months and several sub-zero days.
The Spotlight Cam comes with 30-day free trial of Ring’s cloud storage for recorded video. At the end of the period, you have the option of upgrading to one of a pair of Ring Protect plans: Protect Basic allows you to store, review, and share video for up to 60 days for $3 per month or $30 a year per camera. Protect Plus provides the same for unlimited Ring cameras—including the Ring Video Doorbell—and adds a lifetime warranty and discounts on Ring products for $10 per month or $100 a year.

On another note, I really like this article. It has a lot of good information that I’ve added to my personal research. One thing I like about Abode is that the Chris Carney (a founder) has many years of experience in the security industry. It is open source and seems like it protects user data better. After Google purchased Nest, one can only imagine how they are combining all of that personal data with all of the other personal data they have on us. The on-demand monitoring seems really valuable–I only really need 3rd party monitoring when I’m out of town.
Ring's $199 Z-Wave-enabled Alarm Security Kit is so simple you might overlook it at first. The system includes a base station, a keypad, a door/window sensor, a motion sensor and a Z-Wave range extender. It's all basic hardware with basic functionality -- you won't find any fancy features here -- but the Security Kit is super simple to set up and monitor in the Ring mobile app. 

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
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You can monitor the system yourself using the mobile app and web app, but that means you'll have to alert the police or fire department when there's a break-in or fire. Or, you can subscribe to the Ring Protect Plus monitoring plan. For $10 per month or $100 a year, you get 24/7 professional monitoring that includes police and fire department dispatch and push and email alerts. It also includes unlimited cloud recording for all Ring cameras, which makes it one of the best monitoring deals around.

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.


Installing the sensors was similarly easy: I used the included double sided tape to mount the contact sensor to my front door and the motion sensor to the corner of the downstairs living room in my home. Ring also includes the necessary screws and wall fasteners for a more permanent installation, but the double sided tape was sufficient for my needs. For this review, I added two extra contact sensors (available as $20 add ons) and mounted them on a window and second door in my home. Syncing these with the existing system was just a matter of scanning a QR code on the back of the sensor, which triggered the app to search for it. Ring says that it will preset any additional devices you order at the same time as the Alarm starting kit, which would make setting them up as seamless as the in-box sensors.
If you do have smart lights and want to control them with a contact sensor or motion detector, you will need to install separate ones in addition to Ring’s, which can make your front door look like it’s grown barnacles with all of the sensors installed. Another simple integration would be to set a smart thermostat to its away mode when the Alarm is set to away, and then switch it back to its home mode when the Alarm is disarmed, but that’s currently not possible either.
The Spotlight Cam comes with 30-day free trial of Ring’s cloud storage for recorded video. At the end of the period, you have the option of upgrading to one of a pair of Ring Protect plans: Protect Basic allows you to store, review, and share video for up to 60 days for $3 per month or $30 a year per camera. Protect Plus provides the same for unlimited Ring cameras—including the Ring Video Doorbell—and adds a lifetime warranty and discounts on Ring products for $10 per month or $100 a year.
I’ve stayed away from all Ring products as their API is only accessible by large entities they approve of. You are also forced to use the cloud. If they have an outage, it impacts you. In my smart home setup, I’m not reliant on the cloud for many aspects. There are some exceptions, like Nest thermostats and Protects. Alarm system is locally controlled, Z-wave devices are locally controlled as well. If my Internet is down, then remote access and the Nest products is not possible. The rest of the devices continue to work. My video doorbells are locally controlled; no need for the cloud nor their monthly/annual fees. I want to capture images, I can do it locally but also review it remotely.
My indoor Canary is self-sufficient, and that is exactly what I want in a home security camera. Flex has yet to provide that same experience. I’ve had to physically interact with the device multiple times to get it to reconnect to my internet. Also, the geofencing feature is inaccurate, often marking me away while home and vice versa. As for power loss notifications? They’re hit or miss.

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.
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.
Device Theft Optional Wall Mount Optional Wall Mount Screwed in using proprietary screws, Ring will replace stolen devices. Depends on the Mount – Quick Mount easier to steal, Security Mount is a more permanent solution. Easier to steal. The power adapter twists off and the Nest Cam can be removed from the magnetic base by pulling. Secure Mount (Sold Separately)
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.
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.
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.
Jamie Siminoff, Chief Inventor and Founder of Ring, said: “We’re excited to continue expanding the Ring of Security with Ring’s first indoor/outdoor cameras. Ring Stick Up Cams give neighbors maximum flexibility to position the cameras anywhere, regardless of power availability, to secure every corner of their property. Every decision Ring makes is driven by our mission to reduce crime in neighborhoods; it’s important to have multiple layers of home security, and the Stick Up Cam line offers affordable, easy-to-install security for both inside and outside of the home.”
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.
Though the Ring Alarm system covers the bases for a home security setup, there’s a lot of room for integration with other smart home products that Ring has left on the table. For example, it’s not possible to use the Ring’s motion or contact sensors to trigger lights or adjust a smart thermostat when you leave or come back home. This is despite the fact that the Ring Alarm sensors are based on Z-Wave technology, which is a widely used smart home standard.

As with all Ring products, the Spotlight Cam is easy to install. Start by charging the battery, downloading the Ring app, and creating an account. Make sure you're close to your router, select Set Up Device in the app, and choose Spotlight Cam Battery from the list of Security Cams. You'll be asked to name the camera, confirm your address, and insert the fully charged battery in the compartment. The LED will flash blue and white for a few seconds and then go dark.
However, traditional home systems typically require the assistance of a professional installer. They also mean monthly subscription fees and long-term agreements that keep you locked into their service for a certain period of time. Additionally, if you move, it’s nearly impossible to take your home security system with you, and they don’t make much sense in an apartment complex.
Ring’s sensors operate on battery power, the keypad and base station come with AC adapters, and the Z-Wave range extender plugs directly into an AC outlet. All three of those components have battery backup, so the system will continue to operate in the event of a power outage. The base station connects to your home network via hardwired ethernet or Wi-Fi. A Ring Protect subscription activates an LTE module in the base station that will keep the system connected to the internet if your broadband connection goes down. You can even run the keypad on battery power full time if you choose, since most homes don’t have AC outlets right next to doors. An LED will tell you when the battery needs to be charged.
The Spotlight Cam performed well in our tests. Daytime video was highly detailed with rich colors, while black-and-white night video showed good contrast and appeared sharp out to around 25 feet. The motion sensor always generated a push alert and followed my schedule without issue. Recorded video was just as sharp as the live feed, and two-way audio communications were distortion-free. The internal siren was certainly loud enough to scare away any would-be intruders, and the spotlight did a great job of lighting up an otherwise dark area in my backyard.
The Spotlight Cam Battery has an IP55 waterproof rating, comes in white or black, and measures 4.9 by 2.7 by 2.9 inches (HWD). It has a short removable mounting arm with a ball on the end that can be clamped on to the included mounting bracket. The bracket can be mounted on a wall or upside down on a soffit. There's a setup button on the top of the enclosure and a 160-degree (horizontal) motion sensor on the bottom that covers the battery compartment.
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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When you add the keypad, you’re asked to come up with a four-digit PIN that you’ll use to arm and disarm the system. If you opt in to professional monitoring, you’ll also need to come up with a verbal passcode that you’ll use to identify yourself as an authorized user when the monitoring service calls (so be sure to provide this information to your secondary contact, as they’ll need it as well).
Expand Security With Other Devices Nest Cam, Nest Protect, Nest Thermostat, Nest Secure, Nest Hello, Nest Cam IQ Ring Stick Up, Solar Panel, Chime, Chime Pro, Ring Floodlight Cam, Ring Spotlight Cam, Ring Protect, Video Doorbell, Ring Beams Canary, Canary View Arlo Wire-Free, Arlo Q, Arlo Go, Arlo Baby, Arlo Pro 2, Arlo Security Light, Arlo Audio Doorbell (coming soon)

Hey Scott, sorry about your car. Under shortcuts, you will find the video reviews. For Nest, night vision is shared at minute 1:43 and keep playing for just a moment to see night vision from Ring. During the Arlo vs. Canary video (the third video shown), skip to minute :54 to see night vision from Canary and keep playing to see a side by side comparing it to Arlo. To me, they are all about the same. I’ve found that the best night vision comes when you leave the lights on. I actually have automated lights on my porch, and they turn on at sunset and back off at sunrise. Integrating the cameras with a smart home system: I’ve tested Arlo Pro with SmartThings, I wasn’t a fan of that. It actually changes the mode to a new mode called SmartThings. I prefer geofencing mode. Ring I’ve tested using IFTTT, but I haven’t tested it with SmartThings.


For free, you have access to Basic which includes 7 days of free cloud recordings (up to 1GB), supports up to 5 cameras, and 3 months of phone support. Premier is $9.99 per month or $99.00 per year. It includes Arlo Smart, e911, 30 days of cloud recordings (up to 10GB), support for up to 10 cameras, and provides unlimited phone support. Finally, Elite is $14.99 per month or $149.00 per year and includes 60 days of cloud recordings (up to 100GB), support for 15 cameras, and unlimited support.

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.

Sightline is accessed from the mobile app. From the app, you can see your video history marked with color-coded activities. The colors represent different zones set by you. For example, a green dot might be driveway activity whereas an orange dot is an activity from your porch. If you own a Nest Secure security system, events triggered by the system will also show up in the Sightline as red dots or bars. You will also be able to see a “snapshot” of the event. Finally, using Sightline, you can swipe to fast forward through several days’ worth of footage.
Hi Rose, thanks for the reviews. I am about to send a Vivint system back due to the doorbell camera. It does not capture motion events. I am curious as to why you did not review them (or the camera). They are complaining about my upload speed of my WiFi, which makes me ask, where are the motion detection algorithms processed? Are they run on the doorbell, the panel or only after it is uploaded? Did you look into that?
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.
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