But let’s go over what it can do today, first. The very affordable ($199) starter kit includes a wireless base station, a keypad for arming and disarming the system, one door/window sensor, one passive infrared motion sensor, and a Z-Wave range extender. You can monitor the system yourself, but at the price Ring is charging for professional monitoring—just $10 per month ($100 per year if paid annually) with no long-term contract—it would be foolish not to sign up for it. That goes double for people who already have other Ring devices, because it includes video storage in the cloud for an unlimited number of Ring cameras.

You can place the keypad on a flat surface like a table or shelf, or you can mount it on the wall. Just remember that it needs a Micro USB cable for power, but that doesn’t mean it needs to be placed close to an outlet. Ring says its internal battery will last six to twelve months depending on usage. As a result, you could potentially place the keypad anywhere in your home and charge it every so often.


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).
I bought this system to replace the ADT system I had for years. This system along with four Contact Sensors replaced what I had from ADT. The cost of the Ring system and year of monitoring was less than six months of monitoring from ADT. The system comes packaged nice a secure, which I am thankful for since the deliver person wasn't gentle dropping the box on my porch. I had downloaded the app and registered before the system arrived, so that part was taken care of. The included instructions and phone app walk you through the setup. It was painless and completed in about 10 minutes. I set up everything on my dining room table to go through the registration process. Once done, I installed the components where the old hardware was. Ring includes everything you need to mount (double sided tape and/or screws) all the components. Registering for monitoring was very simple too. One thing I learned that I want to pass on. do not remove the little battery tabs until the app tells you to. If you do, just open the cover, pull the battery and reinstall the tab. Just pulling the battery and reinstalling it doesn't reset the device.

First of all, I live in a very cold winter climate. (Sometime up to – 35) Also, I’m looking for a outside cam with great night vision. I wan’t to be able to get alerts on my phone. I’m not interested to pay for cloud. I want to be able to save motion detected video on my computer or phone. A plus would be be able to talk to the person outside and an alarm would be a plus. (looking for Wi/Fi and battery operated.)
While other smart security systems let you arm the alarm through key fobs, unfortunately, the Ring Alarm system does not have this capability at this time. Using a fob makes things quicker and easier than opening an app or punching in a code; however, Ring does have plans to make its system compatible with Alexa in the future, so that will make things a little easier.

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.
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.
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 base station is also wall-mountable and can be installed on a Wi-Fi network or connected directly to your internet router over Ethernet. It has a 24-hour battery backup plus the ability to connect to an LTE network in the event of a power outage. (The LTE connectivity is available when you subscribe to Ring’s Protect Plus monitoring service and uses AT&T’s network.) Both the keypad and the base station feature colored LED rings to signify if the system is armed or disarmed and have built-in speakers to sound the alarm in the event of an emergency or intrusion.
Once these motion-activated cameras pick up on movement, they’ll turn on their built-in floodlights, start recording, and send an alert to your connected mobile app. From there, you’ll be able to see and hear what’s going on via the camera feed, as well as speak through the cameras to whoever is on the property. You can also customize alert zones to narrow in on the most important areas for motion detection. All of this can be done from anywhere, which means you can keep an eye on your home even while you’re away.
I'm a Ring user, with a Video Doorbell 2 and a Floodlight Cam already installed at my house, but I don't have any prior experience with home security systems. That made for a bit of a learning curve just in terms of figuring out how I wanted to set things up and remembering to arm/disarm the system at the appropriate times. But Ring Alarm is intended as a simple do-it-yourself system that makes it easy for even novice users to get up and running, so perhaps I'm an ideal candidate for testing things out. 

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.


The white base station is the brains of the system. It measures 1.4 by 6.6 by 6.6 inches (HWD) and has a 1.5-inch LED ring and a speaker on top, and a USB port and a LAN port around back, joined by a pairing button, a reset button, and Wi-Fi and power indicators. The base contains circuitry that supports numerous wireless protocols including dual-band 802.11n Wi-Fi, Z-Wave, Zigbee, Bluetooth 4.1, and LTE cellular as a backup if you subscribe to the Ring Protect Plus plan (more on this later). It also has an internal backup battery that will provide up to 24 hours of power in the event of a power loss, and a loud 105dB internal siren.
Motion detection was responsive and accurate with the default settings, which placed the sensitivity midway on a scale between “people only” and “all motion.” You can adjust this to your liking with the slider, or use it in combination with customizable motion zones.  With each alert, Chime Pro simultaneously emitted a digital Ring. This ensured I was kept aware of detected activity even when I was home, as I don’t usually carry my phone around the house. You can change the chime’s sound and volume and “snooze” it for periods of time in the Ring app.
How far away would the two doors be from an available Ethernet outlet? My thought is that you could use a system where the cameras actually talk to the base station, not the internet. Arlo, for example, uses cameras that talk to the base station directly. When the base station is plugged into Ethernet, it creates its own WiFi network which the cameras connect to directly versus connecting to your home network. The hard part would be that the base station needs to be in a central location between the two doors and, as I stated, connected using Ethernet. In a perfect world, you can place the Arlo cameras up to 300 feet away from the base station, but lots of things can obstruct their ability to talk to the base like walls and doors.

Just one final question if I can, I was looking around a little more at some of your articles and YouTube videos (they are awesome! short and sweet and to the point!), and it seems like the Blink XT would also meet my criteria (the 9 pointers above), is that right? The thing I liked was that it’s much cheaper and apparently I’m getting the same, no? Is there anything I’d be missing out from my list if I go with the Blink camera (and overall do you recommend it)?
Using a Family Account, you can share access with nine other people. However, Nest’s sharing feature is problematically one-size-fits-all. All members will have full control over your account, including all cameras and connected devices such as thermostats and smoke alarms. As an example, I gave my family access to a camera placed at my grandmother’s. They can now view the camera at my grandmother’s and also the camera at my house. There is no way to limit their access. Also, they can’t set their own notification preferences, so they either have to put up with all the notifications from my house, or I have to turn off my notifications.
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.
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.
Finally, unlike abode’s base station (iota does not require Ethernet), Ethernet is not required to use Nest Secure. Nest likes to make things easy and they send everything you need, including batteries, to get your device up and running. Nest Guard ships with a 6-foot cable with a power adapter and CR123 batteries for the sensors. My system already had the batteries installed which made setup even easier.
Ring is a Wi-Fi connected doorbell and exterior lighting security system that was recently purchased by Amazon. They don’t offer any type of home automation features; however, their system is compatible with many third-party smart home systems. However, Ring has announced that they will soon be adding interior home security and environmental protection features to their current lineup.
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