Aside from the obvious value proposition, Ring’s big pitch for the Alarm system is its simplicity. Though it has all of the features necessary for a proper home security system – professional monitoring, battery and cellular backup for the event of a power loss – installing the Ring Alarm in my home took less than 20 minutes and involved following the app’s instructions to get the base station on my Wi-Fi network and register each included piece. Cleverly, Ring presets the included motion detector, contact sensor, and range extender to pair with the hub that’s in the box, so getting them set up is just a matter of pulling the battery tab to wake them up and waiting a moment for the app to find them.
It would have been nice to see more smart-home integration between the Ring Alarm and other well-established third-party names, if only because the company has already set such a precedent for itself in this area. Buying it won't introduce any new tricks to an existing Ring doorbell, either, but if you're already in the ecosystem and you're looking to expand, this $200 starter kit is a sure fit.
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The Ring Alarm system does not include fire or carbon monoxide monitoring – for those features, you’ll need to add a First Alert Z-Wave Smoke/CO alarm ($40) or Ring’s Alarm Smoke and CO listener ($35) that gets installed next to your existing smoke alarms and “hears” when they go off to trigger the system. I was not able to test these products for this review.
1. Correct. Geofencing is a free feature. I’m not sure what abode uses specifically, but generally, geofencing does require GPS or location services to be enabled. I know the system doesn’t use Bluetooth. My dad is using the system right now and he’s had problems with multi-user geofencing. I asked abode about it, but they just wanted to troubleshoot instead of discussing general performance. If I were to guess, I’d guess that it’s only using GPS to detect presence and not a combination of data like GPS and phone presence (Wifi).

My connectivity issues notwithstanding, I’ve come to appreciate Ring’s motion alert feature, which sends the sound of a wind chime to your phone when someone approaches your door. Once you hear the chime, you can open a video window to talk with the visitor if you’re so inclined. Alternately, you can just let Ring’s cloud-based recording feature ($3 monthly or $30 annually) pick up the video of your visitor, and watch it later.
That’s convenient for a number of reasons: it’s easier to install a Video Doorbell 2, and it has more options for its placement than one that has to be installed where the wiring is. But don’t be fooled: the Video Doorbell 2 is not the kind of product that can be installed and then easily removed and swapped to a different door or area. This is very much a permanent installation, which means it likely won’t work for renters.
The Hampton Bay Wireless Battery Operated Doorbell Kit The Hampton Bay Wireless Battery Operated Doorbell Kit included 1 chime and 1 wireless push button. The Plug-in chime features a traditional Ding-Dong sound for the front entrance and a Ding for your back entrance. All Hampton Bay Wireless Push Buttons Door Bells and Alerts are compatible so you can ...  More + Product Details Close

If it's an entry sensor you're installing, Ring will ask what kind of door it is to apply the right sort of security to it — if it's your front door, for instance, it will use an entry countdown when you open the door while the base station is in Home and armed mode.  If it’s the back door that's opened in this mode, the alarm will sound immediately.
2. If you want monitoring of video, check out SimpliSafe. They won’t monitor your motion events, but rather your sensors. If your sensors show an alarm event, they can log into your camera to gather video evidence. They offer what’s called ‘video verification.’ The downside to SimpliSafe, when compared to the options presented in this article, is that it lacks home automation. The system does support Nest Thermostats, Alexa, Google Assistant, and the August Smart Lock Pro, but it doesn’t offer an automation engine. Also, integrations are not free, which is in contrast to what abode, Ring, and Nest offer. Finally, SimpliSafe does not have an outdoor camera though they did recently release a video doorbell and have plans to launch an outdoor camera. abode, Nest, and Ring all lack professional monitoring of video and the cameras are not tied to the alarm as motion sensors. Camera motion activated events are self-monitored.
Ring Alarm hits nearly all the right notes for a basic DIY home security system. I’ve already touched on a couple of its shortcomings—including an absence of support for smart speakers—but tighter integration with Ring’s own cameras would be another welcome development. When an alarm is tripped, the cameras should begin recording to perhaps capture a glimpse of what triggered it—potentially valuable forensic evidence you could provide to the police investigating a break-in. And if Ring Alarm could control your home’s smart lighting, it could turn on all the lights if the alarm is triggered after dark, which might convince an intruder to make a hasty retreat.

This works well. The install is easy. I have one very major complaint. The blurb on Amazon does not explain that you have to pay for a cloud subscription to store and retrieve the short videos of motion events. The promotional material and install instructions are structured such that you do not catch this ¨gotcha" until the unit is installed and you use it for a day or 2. There is no provision to store these videos locally on your own computer. I am giving this just one star because they are not up front about the need for a paid subscription and the lack of a local event video storage option.


As a Contributing Editor for PCMag, John Delaney has been testing and reviewing monitors, TVs, PCs, networking and smart home gear, and other assorted hardware and peripherals for almost 20 years. A 13-year veteran of PC Magazine's Labs (most recently as Director of Operations), John was responsible for the recruitment, training and management of t... See Full Bio
The doorbell can be used in temperatures as low as -5°F and as high as 120°F, enabling operation in a wide variety of environments. Additionally, the package comes with four different colored faceplates (black, charcoal, silver, and white) so that you can match the doorbell to your home's exterior or your existing hardware. Motion detection with programmable zones will send an alert to your smartphone or tablet when movement is detected in one of the motion zones, and bank-grade encryption offers safe transfer of data from the doorbell to your mobile device.

Unfortunately, Ring doesn’t currently, nor does it appear to be adding any type of home automation features, but it is compatible with many third-party smart home services. Although Ring doesn’t offer professional monitoring services, they do offer live streaming when hardwired to your existing doorbells power supply. Ring Live View does not work when using the internal battery. Since most users prefer to use the Ring internal battery, paying for one of the Ring video recording packages is the ideal option.
Unfortunately, Ring doesn’t offer any professional monitoring services at this time; however, they do offer two video recording packages without a contract and they don’t have any other subscription requirements. Additionally, they are not currently offering any deals or discounts other than the 10% discount you will receive on all future purchases if you are a Protect Plus member, which is their premium unlimited video recording service. They also have a one year warranty on all their equipment unless you are a Protect Plus Plan member which entitles you to a lifetime warranty on all your equipment, as long as you remain a Protect Plus member. Check out the full review of Ring Doorbell here.
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The base station connects to Ring Alarm devices using Z-Wave Plus. In theory, it could also connect to third-party devices using the same as well as Zigbee, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth; however, it cannot currently connect to other devices besides the First Alert Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm. Like abode and Nest, Ring’s Base Station includes battery backup, an integrated siren (104db), and a cellular chip which you can activate by paying just $10 per month. Finally, while you can connect to the Base Station via Ethernet, it’s not required.
Update 1/24/16 - I have found a fantastic use for the Ring Doorbell and Chime. My mother-in-law, now in her 90s, lives by herself. She has become hard-of-hearing and often does not hear the doorbell. By installing the Ring on her door, she now is bothered much less (solicitors tend to recognize it and don't seem to like it) and when someone rings the bell, the Chime, placed by her favorite chair, gives her a better chance of hearing someone at the door.
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