Ring Alarm Review
The gold standard for low-cost, DIY home security and automation
It’s rare that a security company makes front-page headlines, but Ring isn’t your average security company. An Amazon-owned company, Ring made one of its early appearances on Shark Tank1, introducing the world to the Video Doorbell. Today, the company has everything you need to protect your home when you’re away from security cameras to sensors and even professional monitoring. The twist? With Ring, professional monitoring costs only $10 a month, a fraction of the cost of even the most affordable competitors. Although the cost can’t be beat, sometimes things are cheap for a reason, and when it comes to your home’s security, you don’t want to take any chances. To see if Amazon does home security right or not, we tested out the Ring Alarm security kit, and here’s our experience.
Pros and Cons
At Security.org, we’re obsessed with home security, so here’s an overview of the Ring Alarm system for those short on time.
What We Like
- Affordable professional monitoring: Ring has the cheapest 24/7 professional monitoring at only $10 a month, and even those who self-monitor will still receive notifications and can control their systems remotely
- Smart home integrations: Ring works with Alexa and Google Assistant, allowing for voice commands
- DIY installation: Another cost-saver is the fact that you’ll set up your Ring system yourself, which the app will guide you through from beginning to end
What We Don’t Like
- Durability: Given the system’s super low price, it’s not shocking that their sensors are a bit brittle.
- Privacy issues: Ring has been hacked in the past, although they’ve implemented security measures like two-factor authentication to protect customers’ data.
Ring Alarm Video Review
Want to see Ring in action? Watch our video review below, which covers the same topics as the written review.
We tested out the Ring Alarm security kit which included a base station, keypad, contact sensor, motion detector and range extender.
We also added on the Ring Stick Up Cam Wired, an indoor/outdoor camera, plus the Ring Video Doorbell 2. Let’s talk a little bit more about each component and exactly how they worked together to keep our home secure.
Now, being the security-obsessed creatures we are, we immediately worried about the base station getting smashed; would it nullify our entire security system? The short answer is no. While we didn’t totally smash the base station, we did tamper with it and found that it was still able to connect with the rest of the system.
Even in a power outage, and we all hate power outages, the base station stayed on due to its 24-hour backup battery. Plus, with a 104-decibel siren built-in, we were able to hear the base station from all the rooms in our house (although Ring also works with a Dome siren in case your house is particularly large).
Ring’s keypad is how we entered our passcode to arm and disarm our security system. We appreciated the fact that we don’t need to mount it to a wall if you don’t want to; we could also use it as a portable device, plugged-in or wireless, although we did mount it to make it easy to find.
Here at Security.org, we’re all about options.
Fact: Most intruders enter homes through doors or windows, which is why it’s essential to have contact sensors that detect openings and closings. Ring’s contact sensor is totally wireless with a three-year battery life, which is pretty impressive. We had to make sure we put it within 250 feet of the base station so it could communicate properly; we originally placed it further than that and found that it wasn’t able to connect.
FYI: Make sure the contact sensors are no more than 250 feet away from the base station.
For everything else, there’s the motion sensor, also wireless. The good thing about having wireless sensors is that installation was easy as peel and stick.
And while we don’t own any pets ourselves, the pet-owners out there will be pleased to know that you won’t be notified every time Fluffy runs by. Rather, with heat-sensing technology, this smart motion detector can differentiate between people and their furry friends.
No, you don’t have to buy multiple base stations for a larger home.
Ring Stick Up Cam Wired
Ring has a variety of camera options, from indoor cameras to outdoor cameras to video doorbells.
Just plug in the range extender, which, like the base station, has a 24-hour backup battery. We ended up not needing our range extender but it came with the package and definitely helped make the connection stronger.
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.
- 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.
- 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 (it wasn’t for us), however, 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.
Pro Tip: Download your cloud storage onto a local device like a hard drive or micro-SD card so that you have a backup.
- Artificial intelligence: As much as we hate to end on a negative, we were a bit disappointed to see that the Ring Stick Up Cam Wired doesn’t have person detection, so we received a lot of unnecessary notifications from movement from squirrels, cars and the like.
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.
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.
- 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 of 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!
- 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, as 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 every day, 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.
While Ring doesn’t have the best components on the market in terms of quality, they were certainly sufficient to alert us of any activity that happened while we’re not home. Plus, their prices are among the lowest around, so Ring is a great option for anyone on a budget.
How Well Did It Work?
Ring Alarm is pretty easy to set up, taking about 20 minutes for our team in total. Despite all of the components we added to our system, it all worked together in conjunction day in and day out, providing a robust and expansive security system.
However, in terms of durability, Ring’s low pricing makes a bit more sense. We found that the sensors were a bit brittle and actually broke when we removed a tape and put a battery in and out, forcing us to replace the device. However, we do move our systems more than the average user, so it generally shouldn’t be a problem.
We discuss Ring’s professional monitoring options2 more on our Ring monitoring and pricing page, but here’s a chart to sum things up:
Ring Alarm Monitoring Overview
|Free||Protect Basic Plan||Protect Plus Plan|
|Coverage||x||One Ring Doorbell or Security Camera||All Ring devices at one address|
|Ring and Motion Alerts||✓||✓||✓|
|Custom Motion Detection||✓||✓||✓|
|Interact with Visitors Remotely||✓||✓||✓|
|Warranty||1 year||1 year||Extended Warranty|
|Length of cloud storage||x||60 Days||60 Days|
|Review, Share, and Save Ring Videos||x||✓||✓|
|Professional Monitoring for Ring Alarm||x||x||✓|
|Exclusive Discounts at ring.com||x||x||10% off Ring products|
|Contract Terms||x||None, Cancel Anytime||None, Cancel Anytime|
In a nutshell, we paid for the Protect Plus plan so we could get professional monitoring and cellular backup, which kept our system on in a power outage. The cost is super-low, only $10 a month or $100 a year, and we loved that flexibility as well.
One key advantage of Ring is its easy, DIY installation, which took about 20 minutes for our team of experts. We started by downloading the Ring— Always Home app and creating an account. From there, the app guided us through the setup process, beginning with the base station. The rest of the devices all have pull-out tabs, once of which actually broke when we moved it. We recommend installing one component at a time; we tried to do multiple simultaneously and it ended up taking more time. But as long as you follow the app’s instructions, you shouldn’t have any issues setting up Ring Alarm.
Did You Know: Don’t rush your Ring installation! Make sure you only install one component at a time.
Smart Home Features
Since Amazon owns Ring, it’s no surprise that Ring works with their voice assistant, Alexa3, but it also works with Google Assistant4. We found that Alexa integration was much more robust, allowing us to command Alexa to:
- Show our cameras’ footage (live-streamed or cloud storage) on our Echo devices or Fire TV
- Control our smart lightingAdjust our cameras’ motion sensitivity
- Disable motion alert
- Arm and disarm our security system or ask about its status
- Lock or unlock our door or ask about its status.
- And although Ring works with Google Assistant, we were only able to do a few things with voice commands:
- Tell the camera to record
- Get an update on the “health” of devices
- Review previous notifications.
- Aside from the voice assistants, Ring works with some third-party devices like:
- Dome Siren
- Leviton Decora In-Wall Switch
- GE Plug-In Dimmer
- Schlage Connect Smart Deadbolt
- Kwikset Z-Wave Deadbolt
- Yale Touchscreen Deadbolt
We have the Kwikset Z-Wave Deadbolt, so we created an automated trigger that made sure that the door was locked whenever our system was armed, meaning we weren’t home. This was not only super convenient but also way more secure than leaving it up for our memories as to whether to lock the door or not.
Ring’s Customer Support Experience
Need help? Ring offers customer support via a phone line, email, live chat, and an online help center; pretty much every way available.
In researching and testing Ring, we’ve emailed them about 12 times, typically getting a response within one to two days. We will say this— there were some emails that never got answered, but we’re also asking more specific questions than most (although that doesn’t excuse ignoring support tickets). We recommend looking for your answer in the online help center first before moving on to email, live chat or phone.
The Ring— Always Home App
No matter the monitoring plan, users can monitor their Ring systems themselves through the Ring— Always Home app.
The Ring— Always Home app let us livestream footage, receive notifications and crime and safety alerts from our surrounding neighborhood, review cloud storage, speak through two-way audio, set up smart platform integrations and triggers, and more. Currently, the app has a 3.9 for Android5 and a 3.7 for iPhone6. Ring’s app has actually come a long way since we tested the system a year ago, and we’re happy to see that the company has made some software updates fixing the app’s bugs. In our experience, it was much easier to use than a year prior.
All in all, we think that Ring Alarm is definitely a worthwhile home security system. It’s one of the most affordable DIY home security systems on the market in terms of both equipment and professional monitoring costs. Plus, we were able to avoid monthly fees by self-monitoring, while still retaining remote control of our system, livestreaming, and notifications. But the good news for your wallet, professional monitoring, and cellular backup are super affordable.
Who We’d Recommend Ring Alarm For…
- Anyone in the Amazon ecosystem: Ring works much better with Alexa than it does with Google Assistant.
- Someone that wants DIY installation: It doesn’t take a team of tech experts like us to set up the Ring Alarm security system.
- Anyone on a budget: Since it’s Amazon-owned, we took advantage of Ring’s low prices both for equipment and professional monitoring.
Who We Wouldn’t Recommend Ring Alarm For…
- Someone in the Google ecosystem: While Ring works with Google Assistant, our commands were pretty limited.
- Someone that wants the best quality equipment: There are definitely better options out there with higher-quality video and person detection, like Nest cameras.
Ring has grown so much in popularity since it was founded, and it’s no surprise why; we were able to customize our system in terms of equipment, plus, professional monitoring was affordable and flexible with monthly contracting. Even the installation wasn’t hard, putting more money back in our pockets. This is the perfect security system for anyone on a budget, especially if you’re already in the Amazon smart home ecosystem.
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.
YouTube. (2016). DoorBot Pitch (Shark Tank Season 5 Episode 9). youtube.com/watch?v=YqQblsZgF8M
Ring. (2020). Protect Plans. shop.ring.com/pages/protect-plans
Amazon. (2020). Ring: Alexa Skills. amazon.com/Ring/dp/B01JTL2PYE?pldnSite=1
Google Assistant. (2020). Ring | Google Assistant. assistant.google.com/services/a/uid/000000e4ac17fd8b?hl=en-US
Google Play. (2020). Ring – Always Home App. play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.ringapp&hl=en_US
Apple App Store. (2020). Ring – Always Home App. apps.apple.com/us/app/ring-always-home/id926252661