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.
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.
True. I do feel like I touched on most of my “what’s best” thoughts in the Final Thoughts section. I would take from abode the free and vast integrations which extend to its ability to work with so many security-related devices (glass break sensors, flood sensors, freeze sensors, key fobs, etc.). I would also take their optional on-demand monitoring plans, free cloud storage, and geofencing. I would take from Nest their fabulous camera technology, design, and overall experience (voice prompts, clean app experience, etc.). From Ring, I would take pricing and extended battery backup.
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What happens if your home Wi-Fi goes out? Luckily, both the Ring and Nest systems offer cellular connectivity, so your alarm will stay online even if there’s a power outage or your Wi-Fi disconnects. Nest charges an additional $5 per month or $50 per year for cellular connectivity, while Ring offers the feature when you purchase the Protect Plus plan. Both systems also incorporate battery backup. While the Nest device will continue running for 12 hours without an external power source, the Ring will last for 24 hours.
What sets Nest Guard apart from the abode and Ring’s base station is its intuitive nature. First of all, the integrated keypad is a smart choice because let’s face it; phones get lost. In addition to a keypad which accepts a numeric passcode, Guard has several buttons. You can press a button to quickly swap between modes (alarm off, home and guarding, and away and guarding) or you can press for immediate help using the panic button which is found on the back of the device.
There is a problem with the Alexa skill if it requires the user to say “(whispers) Alexa, show me the front door” when someone is at the front door. As is, without Alexa – people already try to hide, turn the lights off, etc. – lol. “ALEXA!!! SHOW ME WHO IS AT THE FRONT DOOR. OH THAT PERSON I DO NOT WANT TO OPEN IT, I DO NOT LIKE THAT PERSON THEY ARE NOT HOLDING PIZZA! SO I WILL NOT OPEN IT. I HOPE THEY DID NOT HEAR ME.”
Through Works with Nest, abode works with Nest Protect, Nest Thermostat, and Nest Cam. Using this integration, you have the option to sync your abode modes with Nest modes or keep them separate. The abode system also offers deep integration with the Nest Thermostats. From the abode app, you can access and control your home’s temperature and create temperature thresholds. The same is true for ecobee users.
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.
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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.
Installing the Ring Alarm system is easy thanks to the well-written getting started guide. I already had a Ring account, but if this is your first ring device, start by downloading the Ring app and creating one. I opened the app and tapped Add a Ring Product, selected Alarm from the list, and confirmed my location. I plugged in the base station and pressed the pairing button, which started the blue LEDs spinning, indicating that the station was in pairing mode. I tapped Find My Base Station in the app and selected Wi-Fi as my internet connection method (you can connect via Ethernet or Wi-Fi), selected my router's SSID, and entered my Wi-Fi password. The LEDs flashed white momentarily before turning solid blue and the Wi-Fi indicator turned green, indicating a successful pairing. The app also confirmed the connection.
Ring’s smart home security system does not include carbon monoxide monitoring. If you want to add this feature to your home, you can purchase either Ring’s Alarm Smoke and CO listener or First Alert’s Z-Wave Smoke/CO alarm. These are installed next to your current smoke alarms and will hear when either go off which triggers your security system and lets you know there is an emergency at home.
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.
Ring's mission is to reduce crime in neighborhoods by creating a Ring of Security around homes and communities with its suite of home security products. The Ring product line, along with the Ring Neighbors app, enable Ring to offer affordable, complete, proactive home and neighborhood security in a way no other company has before. In fact, one Los Angeles neighborhood saw a 55 percent decrease in home break-ins after Ring Doorbells were installed on just ten percent of homes. Ring is an Amazon company. For more information, visit www.ring.com. With Ring, you’re always home.
The other major part of the Ring Alarm kit is the 5.9 x 3.9 x 0.9-inch keypad, which can also be laid flat or hung on the wall. The keypad has 12 backlit number buttons, as well as three other buttons for quickly arming and disarming the system (though it's also possible to do so from the Ring app for iOS and Android). The buttons are plastic and easy to clean, and by default, they chime when pressed. I like that the keypad is handheld, but I still much prefer the rubberized remote keypad offered by SimpliSafe.
Check out this video at second 0:19 vs. 1:13 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YdM9HV1PoUs&lc=UgzO67pS8VXEX-xurdh4AaABAg. I took this video in January and compared the indoor Nest Cam to Arlo Q, which would be similar to Nest Outdoor and Arlo Pro 2. All-in-all Nest is better, especially at night (skip to minute 1:46 and 2:11). Nest also performs better in mixed lighting environments.
You have 2 alarm modes: home and away. Using the app you get to chose which sensors will trip home mode and away mode; to be a little more specific, in the app you can select a sensor and check a box next to away and a box next to home if you want it to trip the alarm even if your alarm is active in “home mode” such as when you’re sleeping at night, where motion sensors inside won’t trip the alarm, but doors or windows opening will do so. You can also select a motion sensor and select a lower sensitivity level in case you have pets. You can do all this from the app even away from home.
In fact, just this week I had the power go out at my home, which is also where my office is. I had deadlines to meet, so I decided to go to a coffee shop where I could work and fill up on caffeine. It wasn't until I walked into my garage that I remembered I had to manually open the garage door, disconnecting the door from the chain drive. My particular garage door opener wouldn't let me reconnect the door and the chain drive, locking it in place, so I was stuck with a garage door that anyone could lift open with ease.
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.
That said, using abode with a Nest Cam is my recommended solution, and integrating the two provides one major advantage: more free storage for your Nest Cams. The major disadvantage is that even if you are a Nest Aware subscriber, abode can only store snapshots. If you want video clips or continuous cloud access, you will need to pay for Nest Aware to access your footage via the Nest app.
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 other thing of note is its lack of smart home partners. Despite being owned by Amazon, Ring's system doesn't work with Alexa or any other major smart home platforms. If you want to arm and otherwise get the status of your home security system via voice commands, the Ring Alarm Security Kit isn't the right option for you. Ring does specify in its support section that it's working on these integrations for a future release.