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.
Ring’s Alarm smart home security system is one of the newest among the do-it-yourself system available on the market today. If you want an idea of the type of security system Ring is offering, it closely resembles what Nest offers with its system.
It uses a wide variety of entryway, motion, carbon monoxide, and smoke sensors in addition to Ring’s smart security cameras to monitor your home against break-ins and other problems while you’re away or asleep.
The Ring Alarm system does not yet offer as many features as other smart security systems provide; however it does come with a range extender, hub, motion detector, keypad, and door/window contact sensors. To make it a little more appealing, the Ring Alarm system is one of the least expensive smart home systems on the market.
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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 application 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 wifi 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. 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 Android or iOS 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 alerts 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
For what it’s worth, Ring does plan on providing additional support for other smart home devices; however, it is not yet available. That doesn’t mean the Ring Alarm smart home security system isn’t worth its price. Ring simply wanted to make sure it offered a solid security system before it decided to branch out into other areas.
Despite its current lack of integrating with other smart home devices, it is easy to set up and use, it has Android and iOS applications, and it offers a professional monitoring option with unlimited cloud storage space. It offers features that are similar to other smart home security systems and does so at a relatively affordable price.
Overall, the Ring Alarm smart home security system is a solid option in the world of smart security. It’s not going to wow you with its features and capabilities yet, but if you need an inexpensive way to dip your toe in the waters of smart home security, the Ring Alarm is a good choice.
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!