Thanks to advances in sensors and other smart home technology, the landscape of home security systems is changing dramatically. It’s now possible to install a professionally monitored system in your home yourself in just a matter of minutes. You can even bring the system along with you when you move to another house or apartment. And the cost for these new systems is far less than traditional home security plans.

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.


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.
When you say “full coverage” I’m assuming you mean continuous recording, is that right? Arlo and Nest can record continuously, but only if they are plugged in. Also, the outdoor power cord for Arlo is new and it’s on a pretty long lead time right now. It’s sold separately from the camera. If you could confirm that your new is continuous recording, I’ll dig in a little more, but I don’t want to assume anything before making a recommendation.
In terms of larger home integration, Nest is the very definition of a smart device. Its Works with Nest program automatically instructs connected products (such as smart lighting and thermostats) to perform their tasks without you having to tell them what to do. It’s an exceptionally hands-off solution, though you can still tweak it with custom preferences.
EverCam is a newer option made by a Chinese company who has never made a security camera before. That said, despite their Kickstarter success, I’m hesitant to recommend the camera even though it boasts an impressive feature list. For one, they refused to answer my in-depth questions about the camera which makes me a little suspicious. Two, they are promising many AI-rich features without a monthly fee. As a consumer, I know that’s tempting, but I also know it’s unsustainable. Facial recognition, for example, does not live on the camera itself. The feature is cloud-based which is expensive to maintain; hence why you see companies like Nest charge a fee to access features that are heavy on AI.
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.
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.
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.
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.
My goal with a security camera is to help protect my neighborhood, not my house. (My house is protected as much as any house can be, trust me.) That said, to do my part, I need a camera that can record 24/7 (Stick Up Battery can’t, although the option will soon be available to wired Stick Up Cam users). I also need a camera that can capture a wide angle (Stick Up Battery can’t), and I need a camera that will allow me to quickly sift through footage when my neighbor’s request help (Stick Up can’t).
So, where does the professional monitoring come in? When the alarm is triggered, the Ring Alarm central monitoring system calls you and asks for the verbal security code you’ve set up. If Ring doesn’t reach you, they’ll call your emergency contact and ask for the same thing. If either of you forget the code (better choose something you’ll remember!) or if they’re unable to reach either person, then they’ll dispatch emergency responders to your house.
With Password Protected Sharing, you can share access to your video stream with up to ten people who have both the link and the password. Public Sharing is self-explanatory; it’s access to your live stream without a password. Both Public and Password Sharing allow others to view a live stream of your video, but they cannot view your video history, receive alerts, control cameras, or your other connected devices.
When you arm or disarm the system, the keypad and the base station play a female voice that informs you of the system’s status (the keypad’s speaker is unfortunately subdued). LEDs on both devices provide visual feedback as well, although only the base station gives you a constant visual cue as to the system’s status: Blue for unarmed, red for armed.

Is the Nest Outdoor can really secure? If you have to run the cable to a power outlet, outside and clearly visible, it seems to me that more than an eye sore it’s simply insecure. Anyone could walk up and unplug it. Sure it may catch a snap of the person prior to that, or it may not if they person makes the right approach. Either way, it seems insecure to have an outdoor camera that anyone could easily take offline. Thus I wonder if the extra $ for the IQ are worth it, just for that reason vs any of the other enhancements that they market, as I agree with you those feature do not seem to be worth the large price increases (which is more than doubled).

Finally, I wouldn’t put too much weight into the Amazon review from 2015. Things have really changed since then, including the Nest app. The Nest app was a little slow going when first launched, but they’ve really improved it and added back features that were initially missing, though found within the Dropcam app, plus added new features like person detection.


The Z-Wave range extender and the sensors in the kit are pre-paired with the base station, so you just need to enroll them into the app. Ring also sent me a couple of add-on door/window sensors so I could experience the full onboarding process. This simply involves scanning a QR code on the device, verifying that the PIN printed below the QR code matches what’s displayed in the app, and then pulling the battery tab.
I tested the Spotlight Cam Wired and the Spotlight Cam Solar separately. The Wired is a great option if you have easily accessible outdoor power outlets. The 4.96-inch-by-2.72-inch-by-2.99-inch camera has a 20-foot power cable attached at the back as well as a built-in wall mount, and unlike with the battery powered models, you won’t have to worry about dead batteries or too many overcast days interrupting your surveillance. I’m guessing, however, most folks will need one of the battery-powered cameras.
Once devices are added, you can create rules through abode’s built-in automation engine which they call CUE. CUE works similarly to IFTTT in that you can create rules in an ‘If This Then That’ format, but it takes things a step further by allowing you to create an optional condition. For example, if the front door is closed, lock the front door, but only if it’s dark outside.
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.
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.
The first step of installation involves simply plugging in the base station and hitting a pairing button on the back to start configuring the system via Bluetooth. The Ring app, which is getting a significant redesign to provide quick access to Ring Alarm and improve functionality for other Ring products, walks you through the entire setup process step-by-step, so it's hard to mess things up. Once the base station starts up, you can connect to your home network via either Wi-Fi or Ethernet, and I elected to use Wi-Fi to minimize wires.

For doors especially, I much prefer sensors that can be embedded into the door and doorframe, so they’re completely hidden. As I mentioned earlier, Nest really innovated on this front, embedding pathway lights and secondary motion sensors into its Nest Detect sensors. Ring sensors have an LED that lights up when activated, and the base station (but not the keypad) will chirp when a sensor is activated, but that’s about it. But it’s worth noting that a basic Nest Secure system costs $499 to the Ring Alarm’s $199, and Nest Detect sensors cost $59 each where Ring’s cost just $20 (extra Ring motion sensors are priced at $30 each).


Ring offers access to a timeline-style feature where you can view events going back six months (if you are subscribed). From the timeline, you can sort through ring events, motion events, starred events, or live view events. From the web app, you can also sort by device so that you can separate your Spotlight Cam footage from footage captured by your other devices. Right now, the feature isn’t very advanced. Soon, Ring plans to completely revamp their mobile app.
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 set up the new system with ease. It Took about 45 minutes! I have to give props to Mr. Siminoff for adding in this 7 day training period which allowed me to learn the new equipment without the fear of having the authorities show up. Thank God someone is thinking outside the box. My last alarm system that was much more expensive and hardwired, came with no training at all and no grace period for learning. As a result, I set it off multiple times by mistake and actually got a fine from my town because the cops showed up to the false alarm. That said, this was a much better initial experience.
“We had this pretty much set out, but because we got sued by ADT, because we’re doing something so competitive to them that they had to try to step in our way, which I think is a complement, it released a lot of information about this. I believe that’s why you saw a half-baked announcement that came from a competitor that didn’t even have full pricing and shipping dates on everything. I think it was kind of the opposite; it’s amazing that a competitor that size is reacting to us, and I’ll take that as a complement, too.”
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.
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.

For doors especially, I much prefer sensors that can be embedded into the door and doorframe, so they’re completely hidden. As I mentioned earlier, Nest really innovated on this front, embedding pathway lights and secondary motion sensors into its Nest Detect sensors. Ring sensors have an LED that lights up when activated, and the base station (but not the keypad) will chirp when a sensor is activated, but that’s about it. But it’s worth noting that a basic Nest Secure system costs $499 to the Ring Alarm’s $199, and Nest Detect sensors cost $59 each where Ring’s cost just $20 (extra Ring motion sensors are priced at $30 each).
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.
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.
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.
I want to say first this is one of the best reviews I have ever seen. It had me reading and viewing the videos all the way to the bottom. Thanks for doing this. I am a retired policemans wife and wanted a good camera. My only problem is internet, I have,a hotspot for internet. I purchased the ring flood light and Ring customer service told me it wouldn’t work or if it did only for a few days. Well It has been a week now and still working. (not yelling) MY QUESTION IS: Does any of the above work off a hotspot wifi without a router? Since I have no router and Ring does work with hotspot. I did purchases TP Link wifi extender. The device health is Good (RSSI) 46 to 53 range. I am kinda Pretty good with technical issues, but nowhere knowledgeable as lots of people. I do work for a judge he’s an appeal judge and anything goes wrong with the computers phones or anything I take care of all of it although I am his JA which is judicial assistant I put in all the orders in issue writs and stuff like that. Thanks in advance for all your help. Also thanks so much for the review.
There’s not much that can match Ring’s price point and quality. Nest Secure is an excellent system, but will set you back $399. The Abode Starter Kit is cheaper than Nest at $299, but still lacks the finesse and quality of Ring. Samsung SmartThings and ADT have partnered on a home monitoring system, but it costs $389, and several features are missing to make it an integrated, comprehensive system.
I'll be the first to admit, the thought of installing the alarm system on my own was a bit scary, and I didn't know that I would be able to get it done. I'm not exactly the handiest person, and my wife doesn't like things to be messy in our brand new house. Ring does an incredible job at making the unboxing experience extremely easy by labeling everything so you exactly what goes with what. In just under 90 minutes I was able to get everything out of the box and set up, including mounting the hardware.
Spotlight Cam also works with Ring Neighborhoods. With this feature, you can quickly share video clips with those nearby. You don’t have to invite your neighbors. Instead, Ring uses your set geolocation to find other nearby users. You can even customize your location by creating a smaller or larger shape around your home. By tapping on the Ring Neighborhood icon when viewing a call or recording, you can share that event with those nearby regardless of whether or not they own a Ring device. So long as your neighbor has the Ring app, you can share events with them. You can also choose to share events to Facebook and NextDoor.

Ring Chime Pro: For $49, you get a Wi-Fi extender and an indoor chime that lets you know when you have Ring notifications. This accessory is particularly useful if you have a lot of Ring devices in a larger home, as it helps you eliminate Wi-Fi dead spots that could prevent important notifications. You can change the alert tone, adjust the volume and put it on a Do Not Disturb mode. If you just want the chime capability without a Wi-Fi extender, the Ring Chime is $29.


You can also disarm the system from the app, but in a break from convention, Ring does not offer a key fob for arming and disarming the system. Geofencing that would automatically arm and disarm when you leave and return isn’t supported either. Harris said those were conscious design decisions. “What it came to was security,” Harris said. People said ‘Hey, I want this to automatically disarm my security system when I get close.’ The question then becomes: How close? And is it really you with your phone? Or did someone pick it up at the park, find your address, drive to your house, and let themselves in?”

Nest will intelligently alert you, within reason. For example, you can have the street set as a zone, but turn off notifications for the street. Nest can also tell you when it sees a person or thinks it sees a person. In fact, you can choose to only receive alerts when it sees a person, which virtually eliminates false alarms. Better still, you can turn on person detection for the entire frame or from select activity zones.

If you have signed up for 24/7 professional monitoring, you may need a permit to dispatch emergency services. After signing up for Ring Protect Plus, you’ll get an email from our dedicated Permits Team so you can have everything you need to apply for your permit. In some cases, our team will handle the entire permitting process, but for others, we’ll walk you through every step to help you get your permit as quickly as possible.
I had a sufficiently strong signal from my router to each camera, but results will vary depending on the layout of your home. If you do see streaming issues, such as resolution deterioration or loss of signal, you might need to install the camera closer to your router or use a Wi-Fi range extender, such as the Ring Chime Pro Wi-Fi range extender ($49 at Amazon). Like its cameras, Ring’s range extender is an 802.11n device that operates on the 2.4GHz frequency band only.
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