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.
One major issue that I have is that I don't believe there is a duress code for this system. A duress code will disarm the system but also secretly send a notification that there is a problem to the monitoring company, who will send the police. The Ring system has a way of doing this that would make it obvious to an intruder that you're letting the police know there is a problem. The panel has two buttons with red dots on them. By pressing both buttons at the same time, the system will notify the Ring monitoring center that you need assistance. The problem is that the intruder will definitely see you do this instead of entering your code to disarm the panel. I can see where this may upset the intruder. I feel like Ring needs to step up and add a duress code feature so that you can be discreet about needing help.
A Ring home security system can get pricey, as you need to pay upfront for the devices. The plans are straightforward, so you won’t run into any confusion there. The low monthly cost of the plans makes the premium features accessible for any budget, especially if you only have one or two Ring devices. The real question is whether Ring offers enough value compared to the other systems on the market. If you’re willing to take a more DIY approach with installation and you don’t mind a lack of home automation features, then the Ring is a contender.
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.
Ring doesn’t have any contracts or other subscription-related requirements, but you do have the option of adding one of the video recording packages mentioned above. However, they do offer exclusive discounts and an extended warranty if you choose to purchase the upper tier package. Ring’s equipment comes with a one-year warranty, and if your doorbell is stolen, Ring will replace it for free.
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).
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.
Third, Nest Guard has a voice. Of course, it’s no Google Home, but it will provide useful information. For example, when you arm your system, there is an arm delay which allows you to exit your home without setting off the alarm. Instead of an annoying beep that continues until the system arms, Nest Guard uses a friendly voice to tell you how much time you have left.
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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.
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.
Speaking of monitoring, there are different modes that you can set when arming the alarm. When you're at home, there are two choices, including Disarmed and Home. With disarmed, there is no 3rd-party monitoring happening, so you can open and close the doors, windows, and more as you please. Home mode is used for times like when you're home alone or going to bed, and there is external monitoring involved. With Home mode, you can opt to change which sensors are active and which aren't, which is great for if you don't want a motion sensor to go off because of your pets or something.
A couple of important things to note during setup. First, for the contact sensor, be sure to have the magnets aligned, otherwise it won’t work. We learned this the hard way after spending an hour troubleshooting. Second — and this is really important – depending on where you live, you may need to get a permit for the system from a local government agency. Ring helps you navigate through this process by looking up your address and telling you whether a permit is required.
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.
Nest Secure’s monitoring service is provided by Brinks Security. Originally, service was offered by MONI before MONI, LiveWatch, and Brinks merged to form the Brinks brand. Monitoring of Nest equipment through Brinks is $29.00 per month plus the cost of equipment. If purchased through Brinks, equipment is only $299 for Nest Guard, two Nest Tags, and two Nest Detect Sensors. If you want a discount on Nest Secure services, your only option is to sign a contract. With a three-year contract, you’ll pay $19.00 per month; equipment remains at $299.
We went with SimpliSafe instead. I don't have any experience with their newest version, but their "version 2" which is still for sale has been flawless for the ~4-5 years we have had it. Never a false alarm and more importantly, NEVER a "can't connect to base station ..." error. It is $15/month for monitoring through SimpliSafe, but I'll gladly pay $5 more a month for reliability.
Unfortunately, Ring doesn’t offer any professional monitoring services at this time; however, they do offer two video recording packages without a contract and they don’t have any other subscription requirements. Additionally, they are not currently offering any deals or discounts other than the 10% discount you will receive on all future purchases if you are a Protect Plus member, which is their premium unlimited video recording service. They also have a one year warranty on all their equipment unless you are a Protect Plus Plan member which entitles you to a lifetime warranty on all your equipment, as long as you remain a Protect Plus member. Check out the full review of Ring Doorbell here.
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.
If you already have a Ring doorbell or security camera, the integration is quite seamless, and the value becomes even better on the annual costs. Ring charges $30 a year per camera on the regular subscription, so if you've been holding out on adding to your system, this may push you over the edge. The company has plans to offer additional sensors in the future, like smoke and CO sensors, water sensors, and more, which will only help make it even more robust.
Ring cameras will work without a monthly fee, but Ring doesn’t offer any form of free storage beyond a free 30-day trial. Their first plan is Basic which is $3 per month per camera. This plan includes 60 days of cloud storage, video review, and video sharing. Their second plan, Protect Plus, is $10 per month. It covers unlimited cameras including both doorbell and security cameras. This plan also includes coverage for your Base Station. The same $10 per month that provides unlimited cloud storage also provides Ring Response (24/7 professional monitoring) and Cellular Backup.
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.
The Ring Spotlight Cam Battery is ideal for users who want to monitor what's going on outside but don't want to be bothered with electrical wiring. Installation is a breeze, and with two battery packs installed you can get up to two years of power between charges. The Spotlight's motion sensor shined bright in testing, and the camera's 1080p day and night video was sharp. As with other Ring devices, the Spotlight can be integrated into a Wink or SmartThings home automation environment, and it works with IFTTT and Alexa voice commands as well as several other third-party devices. However, you have to subscribe to a Ring Protect plan to view and share recorded video.
Installing Spotlight Cam Solar wasn’t that simple, which I expected since it requires drilling, but the process was made even more complicated by two issues. First, the box design would have Steve Jobs rolling over in his grave. In fact, I’m not one for exaggerations so know that when I say it’s one of the worst box designs I’ve ever opened, I mean it. On a more serious note, there’s a discrepancy between the instructions found on the app, those printed on the included quick start guide, and those found online.
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.
That all changed when smart home technologies and devices came into play. The landscape of how home security systems behave and how they are used continues to evolve. For instance, you no longer need the help of a professional installer, as most smart home security systems are easy to set up and monitor. Most can be fully functional in a matter of minutes.
The Ring Alarm has the electronics required to do all of that now, and Harris said those features will be turned on at some point. “You’ll see all of those things,” he said. “We’ll support color-changing lights, so that in a smoke situation, the lights will turn to a darker color to make it easier to see at night. You’ll see door locks with [Z-Wave’s] S2 security that will disarm the security system when you use the keypad to unlock the door, because we know you’ve done that in a secure way.”
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