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.
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.

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:


Wow……this is a ton of info. Thank you. I was about to purchase the Blink XT 3 camera system but now I will not based on yours and many reviews. I was stuck on Ring but reading your Arlo review got me thinking….I want wireless, yet compatible for front door area, carport and outdoor bar (all covered with roof). My neighbor has both ring doorbell, and outdoor nest cameras but he says wifi for nest is “iffy”. What is your recommendation for a 3 camera (outdoor/wireless) system for full coverage (not just snippets of video), and reasonably priced service for watching clips if needed. Live feed I assume is available for all; even if cloud service is not purchased? More peace of mind for my family’s safety etc. but love to watch live feed (on phone app) when not home. I have been wanting cameras for 2 years and now with so much available product, it’s getting harder to decide. Thank you for your time.

The Alarm system does not have as many bells and whistles as Nest’s system, nor does it have some of the conveniences Nest provides. But at $199 for the starter bundle, which includes the necessary hub, a keypad, a motion detector, a contact sensor for doors or windows, and a range extender, plus $10 per month for professional monitoring, Ring’s system is significantly cheaper than Nest Secure (which was just recently reduced to $399 for its starter kit) and is one of the least expensive home security systems you can purchase.
This has to be some of the worst customer service I have ever experienced. The web site is very slick, and the pre-sales information is very well prepared. The product does not work, and my Wi-Fi extender (that I bought just for this purpose) didn’t even get a usable signal from 15 feet away with no obstructions. So, after long chats (and waiting a LONG time to get someone on chat in the first place), I convinced them after several conversations to give me a refund… which never came. Three weeks after they received the product back, there was no refund. I went on chat to find out why, and TWO HOURS of chatting later (after their chat system kicked me out for inactivity while THEY looked up my information), they say a refund was issued, but refused to provide any email documentation stating such. This is absolutely unacceptable. I wish I had come to this site to look at these reviews before I wasted time and money on a product that doesn’t work, and which is supported by an incompetent support staff. RUN AWAY from this company! They pretty much stole $500 from me!

Pricing for add-on components is pretty much in line with what you'll pay if you have a SimpliSafe or Abode system. Extra contact sensors are $20 each, another motion sensor will cost you $30, and a range extender goes for $25. Additional devices including a Smoke/CO detector ($40), a Flood/Freeze detector ($35), and a Dome Siren ($30) are not yet available.

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.


A Canary Membership provides 30 days of video history, full-length video clips, social sharing, custom Home mode, two-way audio, desktop streaming, and unlimited downloads for $9.99/month for up to five cameras. It also provides access to a Safety Buton feature backed by Noonlight, formally SafeTrek. If you have more than five cameras, Canary charges an additional $4.99 per camera per month. You can use an unlimited number of cameras in a single location with a Canary Membership.
Just as heads-up, customer support from Ring was top-notch. After a week of use, I had an issue with a sensor that wasn’t communicating properly. Fortunately it didn’t trip the alarm (I say fortunate as I wouldn’t want to local police to show up for faulty sensor). A late night call to the Ring customer service, which appears to be U.S. based, helped to resolve the issue. The rep was professional and patient. All told, I’m glad I chose Ring.
Finally, you can add third-party Z-Wave and Zigbee devices. abode has a list of compatible devices on their site. The list includes products by Aeon, Aeotec, Enerwave, Fibraro, First Alert, FortrezZ, GE, Linear, Kwikset, Leviton, Schlage, Iris, Sensative, ZooZ, and Netvox. abode also sells their own Home Automation Power Outlet & ZigBee Extender. The device will turn any outlet into a smart outlet, allowing you to control plugged-in devices and include them as part of your automation recipes. The switch also acts as a ZigBee range extender.
Hey- just happen to be reading this, and full disclosure I’m one of the canary founders. Our battery is designed to sub – temperatures and i had mine sitting under snow and it still worked (though video was white as it was… well… under the snow). We say it goes to -4 degrees F (-20C). But yea, the battery won’t last as long in that cold, but you can keep it plugged in, or just charge it overnight to get it back up and running. Cheers, Adam

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.

The abode Gateway is responsible for communicating with and controlling all connected devices. Compared to Nest Secure, abode offers a wider array of equipment. Unfortunately, their equipment isn’t as modern looking as Nest’s nor do they offer any multi-purpose devices. However, they do sell everything you need to secure your home. Each Gateway can support up to 150 connected devices and up to six IP Streaming Cameras.
You can set motion zones for the lights, too. In this case, the app shows a graphic representation off the motion sensor’s 270-degree range, and you can define where you want movement to turn on the lights by tapping up to three preset zones and then expanding or reducing coverage in those zones using a slider. Depending on your settings, the light will stay on for one to 15 minutes.
The Ring Alarm is controlled using the same mobile (Android and iOS) and web app as other Ring devices, such as the Ring Video Doorbell Pro, the Ring Floodlight Cam, and the Ring Spotlight Cam, but at the time of this review, the Alarm system does not interact with these (or any) Ring devices, nor can you pair it with just any Z-Wave or Zigbee device unless it is part of the Ring network, which is quite limited at this point.
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.
I got my new Ring security system yesterday and installed the panel, door sensor, and motion sensor yesterday. I have had a security system with a major national monitoring company for nearly six years. I am not new to this. I got the new Ring system to replace the current system I have due to the price of the monitoring. I like the idea of having $10 a month for all of my cameras and security system combined. By switching, I am able to save $55 a month by cancelling my previous monitoring from the companies that did so for my security system and cameras.

The Alarm system does not have as many bells and whistles as Nest’s system, nor does it have some of the conveniences Nest provides. But at $199 for the starter bundle, which includes the necessary hub, a keypad, a motion detector, a contact sensor for doors or windows, and a range extender, plus $10 per month for professional monitoring, Ring’s system is significantly cheaper than Nest Secure (which was just recently reduced to $399 for its starter kit) and is one of the least expensive home security systems you can purchase.
Aside from the obvious value proposition, Ring’s big pitch for the Alarm system is its simplicity. Though it has all of the features necessary for a proper home security system – professional monitoring, battery and cellular backup for the event of a power loss – installing the Ring Alarm in my home took less than 20 minutes and involved following the app’s instructions to get the base station on my Wi-Fi network and register each included piece. Cleverly, Ring presets the included motion detector, contact sensor, and range extender to pair with the hub that’s in the box, so getting them set up is just a matter of pulling the battery tab to wake them up and waiting a moment for the app to find them.
For a long time, I used my indoor Nest Cam to film through my window. It was a makeshift outdoor camera supplemented by my Ring Video Doorbell. So it should come as no surprise that when Nest Cam Outdoor launched, I jumped at the opportunity to buy it. Since then, my search for an outdoor solution has continued to Canary Flex, Ring Spotlight Cam, Arlo Pro, Arlo Pro 2, Blink XT, Nest Hello, Reolink Argus, Argus 2, and a few that did not make the honorable mention list.
If you're set to Home and Armed and you trigger an entry sensor that's fitted anywhere but your front door, the base station will sound a piercingly loud 104-decibel alarm until you can get to the keypad, or to your phone to deactivate it. If you're Away, both the motion and the entry sensors will trigger the alarm — unless, again, the entry sensor is affixed to the front door, in which case it will start a 60-second countdown until you enter your PIN (you can adjust the timer as you need).
Hey- just happen to be reading this, and full disclosure I’m one of the canary founders. Our battery is designed to sub – temperatures and i had mine sitting under snow and it still worked (though video was white as it was… well… under the snow). We say it goes to -4 degrees F (-20C). But yea, the battery won’t last as long in that cold, but you can keep it plugged in, or just charge it overnight to get it back up and running. Cheers, Adam
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.

Person Detection was the first feature launched under the Canary Vision project, a project that aims to add AI-powered intelligence to Canary devices. The second Canary Vision feature is Package Detection, which lets users set up notifications for when packages are delivered to their homes. This feature is exclusive to Canary Flex, and it can only be accessed if you have a Canary Membership.
This, according to Siminoff, is one of Ring’s key differentiators over home security industry stalwarts like ADT. He repeatedly called ADT and its ilk “marketing companies” on our call, whereas Ring is a product and “mission” company. The goal of most home security providers is to market safety and security and sell that marketing as a product with a lucrative recurring subscription, is the implication, whereas Ring is focused on an overall goal of making neighbourhoods more secure, per Siminoff.

The aesthetic result of two devices mounted and connected by a wire isn’t overly pleasing. Thankfully, my setup is installed in a spot where it isn’t publicly visible. If it were on my porch, I would probably return the solar panel to use two batteries. That’s right, two! During the install, I was most surprised to find that though Spotlight Cam ships with one battery, it has room for two.


Yes, I’m looking for an ecosystem that provides cloud-based mobile access to security video in a reasonably low cost package. However, I don’t want WiFi cameras, because I don’t want the bandwidth burden on the WiFi when I already have CAT6 cables to each camera location and I already have a POE switch. I don’t need a doorbell at all, just the cameras.

Thanks, Abe. I have a chart that compares Canary and Flex here: https://homealarmreport.com/canary-flex-security-camera-review/. I still prefer Canary All-in-One over Flex. Of course, it’s an indoor only camera so that might be a dealbreaker for you depending on how you want to use it. It has a better picture, already offers two-way audio (if you’re a Canary Member), has motion zones, and multiple air quality sensors.


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.

Great article with lots of useful information. Very comprehensive comparison that really helps people make a wise decision based on their particular needs. FYI, I chose abode for my home security needs because it’s a proven shipping product and it integrates well with other systems. Although the camera quality might not be as good as others, it will suffice for my needs.
What I like is the ease of setup. Very user friendly and quality components. The battery powered cameras offer a level of flexibility that our old wired cameras did not. Video is generally good to excellent (if you have a strong wifi router) and quite simple to customize the system to your particular needs (I don’t mind lack of 3rd party integration). And the $10 monthly price for monitoring and video storage is AMAZING (was paying almost $50/mo before).

The picture isn’t quite as rosy if you’re also looking for a full-fledged smart home system. Ring Alarm is positively capable of being a great smart home controller. But it’s not that today. And to be fair, Ring isn’t promising that it ever will be—at least not officially. But they wouldn’t have built in Z-Wave, ZigBee, and whatever that third mystery radio is if they didn’t intend to go down that path.
There are so many home security systems to choose from; how can you possibly narrow it down and choose just one? There are obviously pros and cons to each system, so you need to think about what’s important to you and what you most value in a home security system. There really isn’t too much known about the Ring security system just yet because it’s very new on the market. The company has made themselves known for their video doorbells, but is just starting to dabble in home security systems. You’ve probably seen the videos of attempted burglars and package stealers caught red handed with Ring doorbells. Clearly, this innovative product has worked well so far. What should you keep in mind, though, when looking at the Ring Security System?

The Ring Alarm system comes with a base station, a keypad, an entry sensor, a motion sensor, and a Z-Wave range extender. Also included in the box are installation kits containing mounting tape and hardware for the keypad and the two sensors, an AC adapter for the base station, a USB power adapter and cable for the keypad, a getting started guide, and an alarm kit security basics guide.
While having a couple of power/connection options already provides flexibility, there is even more flexibility thanks to accessories (sold separately). The first accessory is a Secure Mount that locks your device into place. Replacing the magnetic base, it helps prevent device theft. The second is the Stake Mount: Stick the mount into the ground or a potted plant to give Flex a hidden camera effect. Third is the Twist Mount, which can bend and wrap around an object so that you can hang it virtually anywhere. Canary suggests using it to place Flex on fixtures, railings, or even branches.
Nest Cam’s software (Nest Aware) can’t be beat. Better yet, they continuously launch improvements to the software for all users. One of their more recent updates granted a limited amount of free snapshot access for both Nest Cam AND Dropcam users and recently, they dropped the entry price of Nest Aware. Nest Aware comes in three flavors: 5-days for $5 a month, 10-days for $10 a month, and 30-days for $30 a month.
My gate is too far from my router so I would prefer to hardwire the doorbell. I would rather not use an extender. I ran CAT5 when I installed my old doorbell (which is now outdated and does not have software to use on my iphone). Is my only option the Ring Elite? I have the Arlo set up indoor, but I was not sure if Arlo was going to make a doorbell. Any thoughts?

The camera uses the same Android and iOS mobile app as the Ring Floodlight Cam and all of the Ring doorbells, and you can access it from a PC using the web console. The Spotlight Cam appears in the list of installed Ring devices in the app: tap it to access its dashboard screen where you can turn motion alerts on and off and check the battery level. Tapping the Live View button launches a live video stream in landscape mode with buttons for turning the spotlight on and off, sounding the siren, recording and sharing a clip with neighbors, push-to-talk (two-way audio), muting the sound, and ending the stream.
Blink is also a battery-powered outdoor camera. It’s built around a unique chip that should provide an amazing battery life. However, while my indoor cameras are almost at the two-year mark using the original AA batteries, my Blink XT batteries usually last between 1.5 and 2 months. While I love my Blink indoor cameras, I would not recommend Blink for outdoor use. You can read my Blink XT review and comparison to Arlo Pro here.
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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.
For all the things that the Ring Alarm system does well, there are still some areas in which it can be improved. One of my biggest annoyances with the system is that there is an audible alert for when a contact sensor is opened, but there is no alert for when it's closed. I have a sensor on each of the three doors that lead into my house and while it's great to hear a noise that they've been opened, it would be awesome to hear a confirmation that they've been closed as well.

The aesthetic result of two devices mounted and connected by a wire isn’t overly pleasing. Thankfully, my setup is installed in a spot where it isn’t publicly visible. If it were on my porch, I would probably return the solar panel to use two batteries. That’s right, two! During the install, I was most surprised to find that though Spotlight Cam ships with one battery, it has room for two.

This has to be some of the worst customer service I have ever experienced. The web site is very slick, and the pre-sales information is very well prepared. The product does not work, and my Wi-Fi extender (that I bought just for this purpose) didn’t even get a usable signal from 15 feet away with no obstructions. So, after long chats (and waiting a LONG time to get someone on chat in the first place), I convinced them after several conversations to give me a refund… which never came. Three weeks after they received the product back, there was no refund. I went on chat to find out why, and TWO HOURS of chatting later (after their chat system kicked me out for inactivity while THEY looked up my information), they say a refund was issued, but refused to provide any email documentation stating such. This is absolutely unacceptable. I wish I had come to this site to look at these reviews before I wasted time and money on a product that doesn’t work, and which is supported by an incompetent support staff. RUN AWAY from this company! They pretty much stole $500 from me!
Ring Alarm hits nearly all the right notes for a basic DIY home security system. I’ve already touched on a couple of its shortcomings—including an absence of support for smart speakers—but tighter integration with Ring’s own cameras would be another welcome development. When an alarm is tripped, the cameras should begin recording to perhaps capture a glimpse of what triggered it—potentially valuable forensic evidence you could provide to the police investigating a break-in. And if Ring Alarm could control your home’s smart lighting, it could turn on all the lights if the alarm is triggered after dark, which might convince an intruder to make a hasty retreat.
Home security systems have been around for decades, providing a way to have your home monitored for intrusions and emergencies while you’re away or sleeping. But traditional home security systems have required professional installation, costly subscription plans, and long-term contracts that lock you in to the service. They’ve not been practical to move from home to home or for use in apartments.
With the base station up and running, I was able to verify the address associated with my Ring account, enter my closest cross street to assist emergency responders, and add emergency contacts to be notified if the alarm trips. Adding a verbal password to authenticate my account when Ring calls due to an alarm event was the last step, and I was good to go with the 30-day free trial of professional monitoring. After the free trial, professional monitoring costs $10 per month or $100 per year, and it also includes cloud video storage for any other Ring camera and doorbell products you have in your home. 

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.
Contact sensors come in two pieces, a large sensor part and a smaller magnet part, and both pieces must be aligned within 1/4 inch of each other when the door or window is closed. One piece goes on the door or window while the second part goes on the frame, but it doesn't matter which part goes on which side. When the door or window is opened, the two parts are separated, and the sensor triggers.
The biggest disadvantage to many IoT/smart systems is the lack of an API. They are closed source and in reality are designed to lock you in to their products and offerings. If you’re happy with only buying say Ring products for everything and areas that they don’t have an offering you can’t integrate other products in, then you stuck with only what they offer.
After the battery is charged, you can move the camera to a new location, so long as it’s within your WiFi’s range. The camera will work using battery power alone, or you can continue to use it plugged into a power outlet. Since the launch of Canary Flex, Canary has also promised a 4G LTE mount, but they haven’t, and probably won’t deliver. If cellular connectivity is something you’re interested in, I suggest you look into Reolink Go or Arlo Go.

You can set your system to “Away,” which means that all the sensors connected to the system are monitored for activity. “Home” mode means that all exterior and perimeter sensors are monitored, but not inside your home. “Disarmed” mode means that all monitoring is off, and is useful if you’re having a barbecue and people are coming in and out of the house frequently. You can change modes by hitting the corresponding button on the keypad and the access code you’ve created for the system.
Hats off to Ring for the smooth-as-silk installation process. This system was easier to set up than anything in my experience. Although there are no installation videos integrated into the app, as Ring provides with its other products, I didn’t miss them at all. The app takes you through each step with pictures and a brief explanation, just enough information so you don’t feel like you’re learning the system by rote. A printed instruction manual is also provided.
Finally, you can add third-party Z-Wave and Zigbee devices. abode has a list of compatible devices on their site. The list includes products by Aeon, Aeotec, Enerwave, Fibraro, First Alert, FortrezZ, GE, Linear, Kwikset, Leviton, Schlage, Iris, Sensative, ZooZ, and Netvox. abode also sells their own Home Automation Power Outlet & ZigBee Extender. The device will turn any outlet into a smart outlet, allowing you to control plugged-in devices and include them as part of your automation recipes. The switch also acts as a ZigBee range extender.
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.
The biggest disadvantage to many IoT/smart systems is the lack of an API. They are closed source and in reality are designed to lock you in to their products and offerings. If you’re happy with only buying say Ring products for everything and areas that they don’t have an offering you can’t integrate other products in, then you stuck with only what they offer.
Ring Alarm supports a sensor bypass mode, which allows you to arm the system even if one of the sensors is currently tripped. For example, if you want to arm the alarm but leave a monitored window open, the system will notify you upon arming that one of the sensors is currently faulted. You can choose to close the window to clear the sensor or bypass it, which will arm the system but not monitor that sensor until the next disarm/arm cycle.
I installed a motion sensor inside a shed in my backyard (shed has a tin metal roof) and I kept getting a false alarm daily usually around 1 or 2pm; Ring informed me that their motion sensors use infrared technology and that excessive heat could cause a false trigger. They told me a contact sensor at the shed’s door should do the job and that’s what I will be doing next.
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 works with IFTTT , applets so you can have it work with other IFTTT-enabled smart home devices such as sirens, smart switches, and lights. It also works with Kwikset Kevo and Lockitron locks, the Wink Hub, and Wemo devices, and you can use Amazon Alexa voice commands to view video on an Echo Show display or other compatible device.
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.

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As part of the Ring Protect Plus plan priced at $10 per month or $100 per year, you'll get 24/7 professional monitoring on your Ring Alarm. When your sensors trip and the base station sounds an alarm, after 30 seconds it also sends a signal to Ring's central monitoring system. A support agent will attempt to call you to see if everything is okay, and then tries your emergency contacts if you can't be reached.
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.
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