Ring Alarm Review

The gold standard for low-cost, DIY home security and automation

Aliza Vigderman Gabe TurnerChief Editor
Last Updated on Jul 3, 2020
7.7
/10
Editor's Rating
Amazon's take on home security is one of the most affordable options on the market. Easy to install, we could livestream footage, receive motion notifications and control our system remotely for no additional fees.

If there’s one security company that calls for your attention whenever you’re in the market, it’s Ring. With Amazon as their parent company, Ring grew from selling only video doorbells to a product line that’s chock-full of security cameras, smart lighting and two generations of alarm security systems. We reviewed the original first-generation Ring Alarm a while back, but after hearing that Ring had already released the next generation, we jumped at the opportunity to test it out and see how it improved. So, what’s new with the second generation of Ring Alarm? Here’s what went down during our testing of the Ring Alarm security kit.

Video Review of Ring Alarm

More of a visual learner? Check out our video review below, which goes over the same details as our written review.

The Good and the Bad

Giving out gold stars for reliable home security systems sounds ideal, but our team at Security.org knows fully well that nothing is perfect. Here’s a quick look at where Ring Alarm shined and where it still struggles.

What We Like
  • Low-cost professional monitoring: We might sound like a broken record here, but it’s true that Ring offers some of the lowest rates around for 24/7 professional monitoring at just $10 per month or $100 a year. We also liked that we had the option to self-monitor whereas some companies require pricier professional monitoring.
  • Smart home integrations: It’s no surprise that, as an Amazon-owned company, Ring is compatible with Alexa, Amazon’s voice assistant. We found out that Ring also works with Google Assistant and a slew of third-party brands.
  • Robust Ring ecosystem: We were able to mix and match other Ring devices such as our Ring Stick Up Cam Wired and Ring Video Doorbell 2 to fortify our Ring Alarm security system. This ended up saving us a lot of money.
  • DIY installation: Like many security brands that we’ve reviewed, Ring provided easy setup that didn’t require a toolbox. It was as quick and simple as peeling and sticking for many of the components.
What We Don’t Like
  • Privacy concerns: With smart security systems can come hackers. Ring is no stranger to security breaches1 but has incorporated two-step authentication into the Ring— Alarm app in an effort to reduce the number of hacked devices.
  • Connectivity issues: During our initial setup of Ring Alarm’s base station, we had trouble connecting it to our Wi-Fi. But after a few tries, the connection went through and, thankfully, we didn’t encounter this issue again.

Piecing Ring Alarm Together

DIY installation is the name of the game among security companies these days, so when we finally got our hands on the Ring Alarm five-piece security kit with all the components in one box, we went straight to work. Much like its predecessor, Ring Alarm was quick and easy to set up and took less than half an hour. While we already had the Ring — Always Home mobile app installed, we recommend that this be the first step before installing anything else.

When we took out the base station, it looked more or less the same as the first gen. We plugged it into a power outlet and connected it to our Wi-Fi. This took a few tries, much to our chagrin, but it didn’t waste too much of our time. Most of the components — keypad, motion detector, contact sensor and range extender — were peel-and-stick, so we pulled the tabs and placed them in the desired areas of our apartment. Once that was complete, we connected each component on the mobile app. While we were at it, we decided to rename some of them; for example, we named the contact sensor “Front Window.”

Overall, we had a pleasant experience setting up our Ring Alarm security system and appreciated that the easy installation process remained the same. Plus, if we experienced any issues, we could access a number of helpful guides on Ring’s website.

FYI: Ring Alarm 2nd Gen components are noticeably sleeker in design than the first generation, so you can place them in tighter areas of your home.

Our Reunion With Ring’s Customer Support

Like we mentioned earlier, Ring offers a ton of guides, video tutorials and FAQs on their website, but those who need more hands-on help can give their customer support a call, send an email or use their live chat feature. While we’re not fans of calling customer service, we found that it’s a tried-and-true way of getting a direct response rather than waiting for a representative to respond to an email that was most likely ignored. This time around, we decided to chat it up with a Ring customer service representative over the phone about the base station’s connectivity issues during our setup. The representative, Alex, was patient with our questions and helped us troubleshoot the issue until we could get connected. We’d recommend calling Ring rather than emailing, as most of our emails to Ring have gone unanswered.

The Ring — Always Home App Experience Part 2

We saw an improvement with the Ring — Always Home mobile app as ratings are now 4.1 for iPhone and four for Android.

Ring - Always Home App
Ring – Always Home App

During our testing, we synced the app on our iPhones with the Ring Alarm security system and noticed the disarmed, home and away options at the top of the home page. Each time we tapped any of the three options, we received phone notifications. This was super helpful since we had multiple users on one account who could arm or disarm the apartment, so we appreciated the heads up. We also jumped into the history and saw the most recent disarming activity along with changes made to the security system. What’s more, we could check a specific device’s history such as the contact sensor and see when the front window was opened.

With our motion detector, we could change it to low, medium or high detection — high being the level that’s designed for spaces with no pets. There were other features that we could play around with on the mobile app such as changing the name or placement of the devices, customizing notifications that we wanted to receive and linking Ring cameras. If our phones died, we could still access our account through Ring’s online portal. With so much ease and control on the Ring — Always Home mobile app, our experience with the Ring Alarm was stress-free.

What’s in the Ring Alarm Box?

Like we mentioned before, we ordered and tested out the five-piece kit, but Ring also offers 10-piece and 14-piece kits. What we liked about Ring Alarm as a whole is that you can mix and match sensors from the first and second generations while adding cameras and video doorbells for a more well-rounded home security system.

Ring Alarm Security System (2nd Gen)
Ring Alarm Security System (2nd Gen)

Similar to our testing of the first gen, we paired our Ring Alarm with the Ring Stick Up Cam Wired and Ring Video Doorbell 2 to see if our Ring ecosystem was as cohesive as the first time. Let’s get right into what was included in our five-piece security kit and the components’ features.

Base Station

As the brains of our entire security system, Ring Alarm’s base station didn’t undergo significant changes but still connected all components on the mobile app as well as the professional monitoring team.

LED Light on Ring Alarm Base Station (2nd Gen)
LED Light on Ring Alarm Base Station (2nd Gen)

In the event that there was a power outage, our base station would still be up and running thanks to the 24-hour backup battery. Coupled with cellular backup, there was minimal room for lost connection with our Ring Alarm, so that was very reassuring. It was also nice to see that the built-in, 104-decibel siren remained in the base station and was still loud enough for us to hear from all our rooms — though our neighbors, who heard the siren go off one too many times, may not be just as happy as we are about the siren’s volume.

Keypad

One of the first noticeable changes in the Ring Alarm that we came across was the size of the keypad. Smaller than the previous generation, the keypad also incorporated three separate buttons that put us into direct contact with the authorities: police, fire and medical. All we had to do was hold the button down for three seconds and the appropriate authorities would be notified immediately.

Ring Alarm Keypad (2nd Gen)
Ring Alarm Keypad (2nd Gen)

If we didn’t feel like using the mobile app, we could arm and disarm Ring Alarm on the keypad. We also shared access to our apartment with our visiting relatives by creating temporary guest codes. No more sliding the apartment key under the doormat!

Motion Detector

Like the keypad, Ring Alarm’s motion detector has a slimmer profile but with a button and indicator light this time. We saw the motion detector as our second line of defense and stuck it up in one corner of our living room.

Ring Alarm Motion Sensor (2nd Gen)
Ring Alarm Motion Sensor (2nd Gen)

If you’re like us and despise useless notifications about pet activity, then great news: the motion detector can ignore pets 50 pounds or less under low detection or pets 30 pounds or less under medium detection. This is all thanks to patented motion detection technology, which allows the component to focus solely on human intruders and ignore animals. While we don’t have pets personally, when we were cat-sitting for a friend, this feature definitely came in handy.

Contact Sensor

Ring Alarm’s contact sensor has an indicator light and is powered by two coin cell batteries that last up to three years. We placed our contact sensor above our front window, as windows are the most common spots for forcible entry.2

Ring Alarm Contact Sensors (2nd Gen)
Ring Alarm Contact Sensors (2nd Gen)

We remembered from our testing of the first generation that the contact sensor needed to be within 250 feet of the base station or else it wouldn’t connect. Even though we avoided that rookie mistake this time around, we still tested the contact sensor and received notifications on the app whenever one of us opened or closed the window.

Range Extender

Following suit with the slim profile, button and light indicator is the range extender, which amplifies the distance between the sensors and the base station by another 250 feet.

Ring Alarm Range Extender (2nd Gen)
Ring Alarm Range Extender (2nd Gen)

While we didn’t use the range extender, we definitely recommend it for larger homes that need a stronger connection among Ring devices.

Ring Stick Up Cam Wired

Ring has a variety of camera options, from indoor cameras to outdoor cameras to video doorbells.

Ring Stickup Cam Wired
Ring Stickup Cam Wired

We used the Ring Stick Up Cam Wired with our Ring Alarm security system, a plug-in indoor/outdoor camera. Let’s see how it performed during our testing.

  • Video: The Ring Stick Up Cam Wired has 1080p HD video, the current industry standard, plus a wide, 150 degree field of view. While we couldn’t zoom in at all, we were still happy with the clear video image produced, which, as you can see, is very easy to see. But if you’re looking for a higher-quality security camera in terms of video, we prefer the Nest Cam IQ Outdoor, which has 4K sensors, twice the amount of pixels as 1080p HD. We really enjoyed a unique feature called Supersight which made the camera automatically zoom in when it detected a person. However, this more advanced camera cost us $399, compared to the $180 we paid for the Ring Stick Up Cam Wired, so it’s not a great option for those on a budget.
Ring Stickup Cam Wired Video Display
Ring Stickup Cam Wired Video Display
  • Audio: The camera has a speaker and microphone enabling two-way audio so that we could speak to whoever’s in front of the camera and they could answer. This isn’t just a great way to stop intruders in their tracks; it’s also useful for telling family members that dinner is ready, which we preferred to do as opposed to yelling across the house like normal.
  • Night vision: The Ring Stick Up Cam Wired has infrared night vision producing a black and white image in the dark. As you can see, it’s pretty clear, even in the dark, windowless room we tested it in.
Ring Stickup Cam Wired Night Vision
Ring Stickup Cam Wired Night Vision
  • Storage: One disadvantage of the Ring Stick Up Cam Wired is it’s lack of local storage. The only option is cloud storage. This may or may not be a problem for you if you want continuous recording or if you want to use your camera without Wi-Fi for whatever reason. However, for our purposes, we were able to get 60 days of cloud storage for a very affordable price, as it’s built into the Ring Protect Plus plan and the less-expensive Protect Basic plan. Once we had recorded some footage, we simply downloaded it from our cloud storage onto a hard drive so we could have a backup. While this process isn’t exactly arduous, we do wish that it occurred automatically.
  • Artificial intelligence: Now, with a Ring Protect Basic or Plus plan, we were notified only when the camera detected a person, resulting in much fewer false notifications. However, without a plan, you’ll only get motion-activated notifications and recording.

Ring Video Doorbell 2

Finally, there’s the Ring Video Doorbell 2, a doorbell camera that can either be hardwired into your home or battery-operated, although we chose to hardwire it into our existing doorbell setup so it wouldn’t be dependent on a battery.

Ring Video Doorbell 2
Ring Video Doorbell 2

Here at Security.org we love doorbell cameras because they let us greet our guests whether we’re just upstairs or across the globe, even speaking to them through the Ring app.

  • Video: Like the Stick Up Cam Wired, the Ring Video Doorbell 2 has that 1080p HD video we look for in a camera, plus an even wider 160 degree field of view. While we weren’t able to zoom in, it definitely wasn’t super necessary as our guests stood right in front of it. As you can see from the picture, we were able to see our visitors and front stoop clearly.
Ring Video Doorbell 2 Video Display
Ring Video Doorbell 2 Video Display
  • Audio: Every video doorbell we’ve tested out has a speaker and microphone, allowing us to have conversations through our camera and its respective app, and the Ring Video Doorbell 2 was no exception. Now, when we tested it out from our apartment in Brooklyn, we found it super helpful in regards to home deliveries. We get a lot delivered, so it was really nice to be able to communicate with the delivery people and tell them any special instructions.
  • Night vision: As you can see, the Ring Video Doorbell 2’s night vision lights up even the darkest of nights via infrared LED sensors, which really helped us greet friends!
Ring Video Doorbell 2 Night Vision
Ring Video Doorbell 2 Night Vision
  • Storage: The same storage options apply to the Ring Video Doorbell 2; no local storage and cloud storage available through a Ring Protect Plan. Again, we wish that the Ring Video Doorbell 2 had a slot for a micro-SD card, but it wasn’t hard to download the cloud storage from the Ring app onto a local hard drive.
  • Artificial intelligence: Since the Ring Video Doorbell 2 lacks person detection, we received a lot of false notifications, like we mentioned earlier. Most of the video doorbells we review have person detection, which is even more important outside because of cars and animals like squirrels, and living in Brooklyn, there’s a lot that passes our camera everyday, so this was a pretty big drawback for us. However, if you live in a more rural area, it may not be as much of a problem.

Ring doesn’t just stop at alarms, cameras and video doorbells — you can add their Alarm Flood & Freeze Sensors or Alarm Smoke & CO Listeners to reinforce your home’s protection. In our case, we didn’t incorporate any of these accessories into our security system but we tip our hats at Ring’s dedication to expanding their ever-growing product line.

A Day in Our Lives With Ring Alarm

What improved with Ring Alarm 2nd Gen was the overall design of the components; the slimmer profiles made it easier for us to install each component in the tight spaces of our apartment. We mentioned in our review of the first generation that the sensors were brittle, but from what we experienced with the new generation of sensors, they were more durable. Navigating with the Ring — Always Home app felt much better than the first time.

We’re always in and out of the apartment, so it was no surprise that when we checked the history of our devices on the mobile app, there was a long list of activities. Luckily, nothing out of the ordinary occurred and that left us wondering if the professional monitoring team ever got bored because of it. They did give us a call every time we were too busy to respond to a notification, so at the very least we knew that they existed and were vigilant.

Ring Alarm’s Monitoring Options

Because we want to say it louder for the people in the back: Ring offers some of the most affordable monitoring subscriptions in the home security market. Of the Ring Protect plans offered, we chose the Protect Plus because we could never say no to inexpensive professional monitoring services. Also, cellular backup because we could never be too sure when circumstances knock our base station offline. You can hop on over to our Ring monitoring and pricing page for more details or glance at the chart below which sums everything up:

Ring Alarm Monitoring Overview

FreeProtect Basic PlanProtect Plus Plan
CoveragexOne Ring Doorbell or Security CameraAll Ring devices at one address
Ring and Motion Alerts
Custom motion detection
Person only modex
Interact with visitors remotely
Livestream
Warranty1 year1 yearExtended warranty
Length of cloud storage (in days)x6060
Review, share, and save Ring videosx
Cellular backupxx
Professional Monitoring for Ring Alarmxx
Exclusive discounts at ring.comxx10% off Ring products
Monthly Price$0$3$10
Annual Price$0$30$100
Annual Savings$0$6$20

All in all, we paid for our Protect Plus monthly rather than annually but we’re suckers for contract-free plans because we can cancel at any time — no strings (or fees) attached.

Money Saving Tip: If you think you’ll stay in a long-term relationship with Ring, we recommend paying annually so you can save either $6 on the Basic plan or $20 on the Plus plan.

Our Smart Home, Now With Ring Alarm

Something else that we’ve been repeating is that Ring is owned by Amazon, which meant that we could have a field day with their voice assistant, Alexa. Don’t worry, Ring didn’t forget about Google Assistant either, although the Alexa integration allowed us to issue a lot more commands. Here’s what we commanded Alexa to do:

  • Arm or disarm our security system and ask for status updates
  • Show live footage on our Echo Show devices or Fire TV
  • Disable motion alerts
  • Adjust our cameras’ motion sensitivity
  • Lock or unlock our doors (if we had compatible smart locks installed) and ask for status updates
  • Review recent video clips from our cameras.

Google Assistant couldn’t match up to Alexa in terms of commands, but these were tasks that it could do:

  • Start a new recording on our cameras
  • Receive health updates on our devices
  • Review previous notifications.

Other than voice assistants, here are some third-party devices that are compatible with Ring:

  • Dome Siren
  • Leviton Decora In-Wall Switch
  • GE Plug-In Dimmer
  • Schlage Connect Smart Deadbolt
  • Kwikset Z-Wave Deadbolt
  • Yale Touchscreen Deadbolt

We have a Dome Siren in our apartment because our grandparents, who are hard of hearing, often visit. When we integrated it with our Ring Alarm, we had to test how loud we wanted the siren to be. All we needed to do was adjust the Dome Siren’s volume on the app and see if our grandparents could hear it from the guest room. Any time the Ring Alarm was triggered, the Siren would go off and alert our grandparents whenever we weren’t home.

Pro Tip: While the Ring Alarm’s base station has a built-in siren, you can add a Dome Siren which works perfectly well with the security system.

Does Ring Alarm 2nd Gen Outpace the Original?

When it comes to Ring’s products, there’s a second generation for almost everything. What that tells us is that Ring listens to customer feedback and tries to improve user experience. Ring Alarm 2nd Gen exemplified this for us with its newer, sleeker design and the clearer separate buttons for authorities on the keypad. We also liked the fact that placing each component around our apartment was easier than the first time, and the components weren’t as fragile when we constantly moved them around. And, last of all, we loved that the cost for professional monitoring remained affordable.

Who We’d Recommend Ring Alarm For…
  • Anyone on a budget: The five-piece kit costs $199.99 plus $10 per month for optional professional monitoring, which was a bargain we couldn’t pass up on.
  • Someone that wants a robust security system: Ring’s selection of cameras, video doorbells, smart lighting and sensors supplement Ring Alarm 2nd Gen, including components from the first generation.
  • Amazon aficionados: If you own an Echo Show device or a Fire TV, Alexa is your go-to voice assistant since there are more commands than Google Assistant.
  • Someone who prefers DIY installation: No need to bust out the toolbox or handbooks when setting up Ring Alarm.
Who We Wouldn’t Recommend Ring Alarm For…
  • Someone who’s looking for glass break sensors: Until Ring offers glass break sensors, we recommend looking to SimpliSafe for one.
  • Team Google: Voice commands were limited with Google Assistant, so you’ll have better luck if you’re already in the Amazon smart home ecosystem.

As a household name in the industry, Ring has come a long way to providing a multitude of security products that are as affordable as they are effective in protecting homes. With contract-free plans and low-cost monitoring subscriptions, our wallets didn’t hurt too much, allowing us to entertain the thought of ordering more Ring accessories to add to our Ring Alarm security system. Beyond the minor hiccup with connecting our base station to our Wi-Fi, we recognized the improvements from the first gen. Ring really took customers’ feedback to heart!

Ring Alarm FAQs

  • How much is Ring Alarm monthly?

    Ring Alarm doesn’t require monthly fees. However, it can cost either $3 or $10 monthly with a Ring Protect Plan. The Ring Protect Basic Plan gives users 60 days of cloud storage for one Ring video doorbell or camera, while the more expensive Protect Plus plan adds on an extended warranty, professional monitoring, cellular backup and 10% Ring products from their website.

  • Does Ring Alarm work with Ring doorbells?

    The Ring Alarm security system works with all of Ring’s video doorbells. Users can integrate them with each other on the Ring— Always Home app.

  • Is Ring Alarm worth it?

    Ring Alarm is definitely worth it. It’s one of the most affordable DIY home security systems on the market in terms of both equipment and professional monitoring costs. Plus, users can avoid monthly fees by self-monitoring, which will still allow them remote control of their system, livestreaming and notifications. With Ring, 24/7 professional monitoring and cellular backup cost only $10 a month or $100 a year, while other companies charge up to $60 for the same services. Plus, Ring’s contracts are monthly, making them even more flexible for users.

  • Do Ring doorbells get stolen?

    Ring doorbells can be stolen but it’s much harder to steal one powered by battery, like the Ring Video Doorbell 2 and the Ring Peephole Cam. However, a hardwired Ring Video Doorbell 2 or Ring Video Doorbell Pro is less likely to be stolen. In any case, Ring has a policy that if any of their devices are stolen, they will replace it for free within two weeks.

  • Can Ring doorbells be hacked?

    Like any electrical device connected to the Internet, Ring doorbells can be hacked. That’s why Ring recommends that users sign up for two-factor authentication which sends a passcode to their devices to make sure it’s the authorized user accessing the account. Recently, some Ring cameras and doorbells were hacked as a bunch of usernames and passwords were found on a third party website, so users should change their passwords periodically and make sure they’re long, unique and complicated.

  • Does the Ring security system call the police?

    For users that sign up for the Protect Plus Plan, which costs either $10 a month or $100 a year, the professional monitors can call the police. However, users with no monthly fees or users under the Protect Basic plan won’t have professional monitoring available to dispatch the police 24/7.

Citations
  1. New York Times. (2019). Somebody’s Watching: Hackers Breach Ring Home Security Cameras. nytimes.com/2019/12/15/us/Hacked-ring-home-security-cameras.html

  2. U.S. Department of Justice. (2010). National Crime Victimization Survey. bjs.gov/content/pub/ascii/vdhb.txt