It may not seem like it, but home security systems have been protecting our homes for decades. They offer a way for our homes to monitor against emergencies and intrusions while we’re sleeping or away on vacation.
However, traditional home systems typically require the assistance of a professional installer. They also mean monthly subscription fees and long-term agreements that keep you locked into their service for a certain period of time. Additionally, if you move, it’s nearly impossible to take your home security system with you, and they don’t make much sense in an apartment complex.
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.
Additionally, with a smart home security system, you can take it with you when it comes time to move to another apartment, or you decide you’re ready to buy a house. You no longer have to leave it behind. To top things off, the cost of a smart home security system is significantly cheaper than the price of a traditional one.
What Is Ring Alarm and What Does It Offer?
Ring Alarm is the company’s DIY home security system. You install everything yourself and be done with the job in just minutes. You can opt for professional monitoring, but this system can also be self-monitored.
Ring Alarm relies on sensors to do its work. By looking at the sensors, you can get a sense of what it does and what it monitors.
The contact sensor detects if a door or window is opened unexpectedly.
This sensor is triggered by movements, letting you know if something is moving in its immediate area.
Flood and freeze sensor
This sensor lets you know if water is leaking somewhere or if there are areas with low temperatures around the house. Like if the basement is flooding, or if the pipes are freezing while you’re not home.
Smoke and carbon monoxide listener
This device will sound the alarm if your existing carbon monoxide and smoke detector go off.
Other Ring Alarm devices
Aside from the sensors, the Ring Alarm also offers the following:
- Panic button
- Range extender
- Alarm keypad
Ring’s other products
The Ring Alarm also works with Ring’s line of security cameras, as well as its notable video doorbells.
The Ring Alarm also works with both the First Alert Z-Wave Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm and the Dome Siren.
Installation and Setup
Aside from the obvious advantages that smart home security systems hold over traditional systems, Ring’s Alarm wants to attract people with its ease of use. It has all the features you would expect with a typical smart home security system, however installing the Ring Alarm takes less than half an hour.
Ring does a great job of providing presets within its package that includes the contact sensors, motion detector, and the range extender which you’ll pair with the hub. That means getting everything set up is merely a matter of pulling the tab under the battery of each device to wake them up, then wait for the mobile app to find them.
Set up of the sensors is easy as well. Simply use the double-sided sticky tape that comes with the devices to place them where you want them. It could be over your front or back door, or on some strategically placed windows. You can do the same for your motion detector.
Ring provides the wall fasteners and screws you’ll need to make the installation more permanent, but the tape is more than sufficient to keep the devices in place. To sync these sensors with the system, all you need to do is scan the QR code located on the back of the sensor which will tell the app to search and connect to it.
If you decide you want additional sensors for your smart home security system, Ring will preset those devices that they are ready to go when they arrive. This helps to make the setup with the extra sensors and simple and straightforward as it is with the ones that are included in the box.
Unfortunately, Ring’s Alarm system doesn’t combine its contact and motion sensors into one device the way some other smart security systems do, but that doesn’t mean they don’t work the way they are expected to. Ring also separates its keypad and base station, which is a less than ideal set up.
It is, however, possible to add additional keypads to the Ring Alarm security system. This allows for the possibility of having a keypad at each entryway into your home, or a more convenient place if need be.
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.
You can also mount the base station on a wall, and can connect to your wi-fi network, or you can connect directly to your router with a network cable. The Ring Alarm base station offers a 24-hour battery backup, plus it can connect to LTE if you have an outage, so you have a cellular option if needed; however, you do have to pay for it with a monthly subscription.
Both the base station and the keypad include an LED ring that lights up to let you know whether the system is disarmed or armed. Additionally, the built-in speakers sound the alarm if there is an intrusion or emergency in your home.
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.
Overall, the Ring Alarm home security system is easy and pain-free to set up. It doesn’t require a lot of technical know-how, and each device connects to the hub without issues. It’s also nice that Ring has made it so that additional sensors are just as easy to connect as the ones that come with the system.
Ring does provide professional 24/6 monitoring of its Alarm home security system via its Protect Plus option. This service will automatically alert emergency services and authorities if a crisis or break-in is detected in your home. It will also notify you and other contacts you have set up to be notified via phone.
Keep in mind that if you do not sign up for the Protect Plus service, you will still receive push notifications; however, emergency services will not. Signing up for the service ensures that appropriate services are notified and deployed automatically. This occurs whether you see a push alert or not.
Additionally, signing up for the Protect Plus package provides you with unlimited cloud storage for your security cameras and your Ring doorbell footage (read here my full Ring Video Doorbell review!). This is a nice feature because if you already have an outside camera or Ring doorbell installed, you won’t have to pay an additional fee to have that footage stored.
Modes and Features
With the Ring Alarm smart home security system, you have the option of using three different modes. You can set each mode through the keypad, or you can use the iOS and Android mobile application. First is the standard disarm mode, which turns off monitoring completely.
The Home mode monitors only sensors installed at entry points into the home but will ignore any motion or movement that occurs within the house itself. The home mode works great for a night setting, especially if people in your family are prone to moving throughout your home at night. Typically this movement would trip the sensors, but not in Home mode.
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.
If any of the sensors or alarms are triggered, you will immediately receive a push notification alerting you. The notifications arrive quickly; however, it’s important that you determine whether you would rather rely on push notifications or professional monitoring to alert you to the possibility of an emergency or break-in within your home.
The Ring Alarm smart home security system is a solid system; however, it is missing one thing when compared to a traditional security system like ADT. It does not have the ability to determine when a glass window is broken. It might be important to note though, that not many other smart security systems offer this feature yet.
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.
The Ring Alarm smart home security system covers all the basics you would expect to get in a security system; however, it does leave room for improvement when it comes to integration with other smart home device and components.
For instance, you cannot use the contact or motion sensors to turn lights off and on, and the system doesn’t have the ability to adjust your smart thermostat when the system senses that you leave your home. The Ring Alarm system does use Z-Wave technology, which is a widely used standard with smart home devices; however, it doesn’t utilize this functionality as much as it could.
Unfortunately, if you do want to have smart lights, you’ll have to install and control them separately from your Ring Alarm system. Even if Ring doesn’t want to enter the world of smart lights, it would be really nice if it provided a way for the system to adjust your thermostat to its away setting when the security system is set to Away mode.
Pros and Cons
No security system is perfect, and while the Ring Alarm smart home security system does have its share of flaws, it is a solid system and has a few benefits as well. Here’s a quick rundown of some of the pros and cons of the Ring Alarm smart home security system.
- Offers a professional monitoring option
- Easy to install and setup
- Android and iOS mobile application
- Limited ways to disarm and arm the system
- No voice assistant integration at this time
- Does not play well with other smart home components
What Are the Alternatives to Ring Alarm?
The Ring Alam came into an already crowded market. It is not the first DIY home security system. If you are looking for one, which is probably why you’re considering Ring Alarm in the first place, then you should know that there are some other products that you can also check out.
How does the Ring Alarm compare to Abode, SimpliSafe, and Samsung SmartThings Home Monitoring Kit?
Abode offers a Smart Security kit that includes a mini door and window sensor, a keyfob, a motion sensor, and the gateway. You can also get a “Secured by Abode” sticker to help deter would-be burglars.
Aside from that, Abode also offers different types of door and window sensors, such as the recessed door, the slim strip, and regular-sized sensors. They also sell a glass break sensor. Abode also has its own line of cameras, smoke alarm, water leak sensor, temperature and humidity sensor, occupancy sensor, siren, keypad, and key fob.
The Basic plan comes with every Abode kit and is free of charge. It gives you unlimited self-monitoring capabilities using the Abode app. You can keep track of 160 devices and sensors and get up to three days of media and timeline storage.
Meanwhile, the Connect plan gives you everything you get from the Basic plan plus cellular backup and the CUE Home Automation Engine. You also get 14 days of media and timeline storage.
Lastly, the Secure plan gives you all the features of the Connect Plan plus round-the-clock professional monitoring and up to 90 days of media and timeline storage.
Our take: Abode
Abode is more expensive than the Ring Alarm, but it offers more sensor types. What’s more, if you have a smart home, you will like how this product works well with other devices and connected home platforms, such as IFTTT, Ecboee, Nest, and Philips Hue, among others. It also has its own automation engine in the CUE, which allows you to turn on outside lights when you arrive, and other stuff to make security even simpler to you.
It works similarly to Ring, but it has steeper monthly fees.
In a way, Abode is more expensive, but it does offer more integrations. If you have a smart home, Abode seems to be the best choice as it is compatible with a lot of smart home devices and platforms.
SimpliSafe has several kits available. The lowest priced is the Foundation. The Foundation includes the base station, a keypad, and an entry sensor.
You can add more sensors to this kit. Aside from the entry sensor, SimpliSafe also sells its own motion sensor, water sensor, smoke detector, glass break sensor, and freeze sensor.
You can also buy keypads, keyfobs, panic buttons, and sirens. Furthermore, you can hook up the SimpliCam so that you can see for yourself if there is a real security event or if it’s nothing to worry about.
SimpliSafe has been designed to make home security accessible to everybody. You do not have to drill holes into walls, as you can just place the sensors and devices where you want them.
What’s more, there are little things that make this DIY home security system stand out. For one, there’s the SmashSafe feature that means the system will continue to work even if a burglar smashes your keypad.
It also connects to your Wi-Fi network while also having a cellular backup. It has battery backup, too, just in case there’s a power outage in the area.
Our take: SimpliSafe
If you look at the SimpliSafe system, it is easy to see how well designed this home security system is. It does not have a lot of integrations, but that is a good thing because every sensor you have comes from the same company, so connecting them should not be a problem.
However, if you are looking for a self-monitored system, SimpliSafe may not be your best bet. SimpliSafe is excellent when you get the optional professional monitoring. With no contracts and hidden fees, a third-party company will monitor everything for you.
When there is a problem, the monitoring team will first call you up to see if it is a false alarm. The third-party company will send the concerned authorities if you do not pick up or if you tell them to. You will also get alerts on your phone. In short, SimpliSafe works similarly to other DIY systems you have.
However, if you do not want to pay a monthly fee or if you want to monitor the security system yourself, SimpliSafe might not be the best choice for you. Without professional monitoring, SimpliSafe will work as a local alarm. It needs you to be home when something happens. For instance, if the sensors detect a water leak, it will sound the siren.
That’s it; it will not give you alerts on your phone. So if a water pipe bursts and you’re not at home, then you will probably return to a flooded basement.
Samsung SmartThings Home Monitoring Kit
If you have connected devices in your smart home, then you might want to get the Samsung SmartThings Home Monitoring Kit. This kit works with devices that are compatible with the South Korean company’s hub, making it possible to control your smart lights, smart TV, and other connected things with your security system.
The Samsung Hub is a bulky tablet. It’s not sexy, but it does its job rather well. The kit comes with a proprietary motion sensor that can detect movements quite well. The problem is that it will sense your pets as well as potential burglars, and there is no way for you to adjust the sensitivity of these sensors. The motion sensors also do not work with other monitoring products from other companies.
You also get two multipurpose sensors, which is what Samsung calls its door and windows sensor. There is also a smart plug, which you can use to turn any non-smart appliance into something that you can control from your smartphone.
If the sensors in the kit are not enough, then you can buy more. Samsung also offers sensors that detect water leaks and carbon monoxide, as well as an arrival sensor.
However, the biggest draw of the Samsung SmartThings Home Monitoring Kit is its range of integrations. You can have your home security system work with smart devices. For instance, you can have the lights turn on when the window sensors are triggered.
This feature also allows the Samsung kit to add more devices from third-party providers. For example, you can use Arlo Pro cameras with the kit.
Our take: Samsung SmartThings Home Monitoring Kit
The Samsung SmartThings Home Monitoring Kit is a good home security kit that offers a lot of integrations with other connected devices. However, compared with others in this list, it certainly pales in comparison.
Is it better than Ring’s range of security products? Not quite. But it does offer smart home integrations that Ring doesn’t.
A Side-by-Side Comparison of the Best Alternative for Ring Alarm
To make it easier for you to compare Ring Alarm and its alternatives, here is a side-by-side comparison of the features, sensors, and other factors that you should know.
|Model||Ring Protect||Abode||SimpliSafe||Samsung SmartThings|
|Starter kit||(Check out the latest price here!)||(Check out the latest price here!)||(Check out the latest rates here!)||(Check out the latest price here!)|
|Smoke & CO listener||Yes||Yes||No||No|
|Temperature and humidity sensor||No||Yes||No||No|
|Professional monitoring fee||(Check out the latest price here!)||(Check out the latest price here!)||(Check out the latest rates here!)||(Check out the latest price here!)|
The Last Word: Should You Buy the Ring Alarm?
SimpliSafe is nominally the cheapest option, and they have a wide range of sensors that can help protect every aspect of your home. However, it is not for people who want to monitor their own alarm system.
Both the SmartThings Home Monitoring Kit and the Abode are great for those who have a smart home. However, Abode is more expensive than all of these home security systems, while Samsung’s kit might not be as good as Ring.
Ring Alarm gives you an excellent system with as many types of sensors as SimpliSafe. It also allows some integrations with IFTTT and other platforms. What’s more, they offer excellent lines of cameras and video doorbells that work with the security system.
In sum, it gives you a sampling of the best features you’d like from all others and packages it nicely in one beautifully designed system. You can’t go wrong with that.
If you are looking for more options, you might want to check out our Best Smart Home Security Systems article as well! There you’ll get an extensive look at all that’s out there for 2018!
Read more about Ring devices in one of these reviews:
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.
I’ve stayed away from all Ring products as their API is only accessible by large entities they approve of. You are also forced to use the cloud. If they have an outage, it impacts you. In my smart home setup, I’m not reliant on the cloud for many aspects. There are some exceptions, like Nest thermostats and Protects. Alarm system is locally controlled, Z-wave devices are locally controlled as well. If my Internet is down, then remote access and the Nest products is not possible. The rest of the devices continue to work. My video doorbells are locally controlled; no need for the cloud nor their monthly/annual fees. I want to capture images, I can do it locally but also review it remotely.
Patrick Sinclair says
Good take, thanks Anon.