All the components in the Ring Alarm system use Z-Wave Plus radios and support Z-Wave’s S2 security framework, but Harris told me there’s also a ZigBee radio onboard as well as some other surprises that aren’t discussed in the user manual. “You’ve got Wi-Fi, you’ve got LTE, you’ve got Z-Wave, you’ve got ZigBee….” Harris said. “I’m sure people will open it up and see there’s another radio in there that’s not turned on yet. There’s an awful lot going on in there.”
So, is the Ring Alarm for you? If you're looking for a DIY alarm system that provides external monitoring and doesn't cost a fortune, I'd have to say that this is the option to consider. There is no shortage of great options out there from companies like Nest, SimpliSafe, and more, but they all come in much more expensive than this. At under $200 for the base package, it's really hard to beat what Ring is offering here.

The kit comes with a base station, keypad, contact sensor, motion detector, and range extender. Since Ring is pre-packaging all of this, all of the pieces are designed to automatically talk to each other, which makes setting them up easier, but could lead to some confusion when things go wrong. You won't be able to take any of these parts and integrate them with another Ring Alarm system, just the one they come with.
Like most security systems, Ring Alarm has two armed modes: Home activates the door/window sensors, but leaves the motion sensor turned off. This allows you to walk around inside your secured home without triggering the alarm. Away mode arms all the sensors, so if intruders break in through an entry point that isn’t protected by a sensor, the motion sensor will trigger the alarm when they walk within its range. One motion sensor can do the work of many door/window sensors.
The Ring Alarm is controlled using the same mobile (Android and iOS) and web app as other Ring devices, such as the Ring Video Doorbell Pro, the Ring Floodlight Cam, and the Ring Spotlight Cam, but at the time of this review, the Alarm system does not interact with these (or any) Ring devices, nor can you pair it with just any Z-Wave or Zigbee device unless it is part of the Ring network, which is quite limited at this point.

With the base station up and running, I was able to verify the address associated with my Ring account, enter my closest cross street to assist emergency responders, and add emergency contacts to be notified if the alarm trips. Adding a verbal password to authenticate my account when Ring calls due to an alarm event was the last step, and I was good to go with the 30-day free trial of professional monitoring. After the free trial, professional monitoring costs $10 per month or $100 per year, and it also includes cloud video storage for any other Ring camera and doorbell products you have in your home.
Arlo Go is yet another Arlo camera. It’s an Arlo Pro plus 4G. The big catch is that a cellular plan via Verizon is needed as it doesn’t work with WiFi. It does come with 15 data minutes to send 15 minutes worth of video to the cloud for free. Once you’ve used those minutes, you’ll need to buy more time. Data plans start at $4.99/month for 15 data minutes and go up to $32.99/month for 225 data minutes. Arlo Go sells for $429.99 on Amazon or 399.99 from Verizon ($349.99 if you sign a 2-year contract).
Motion detection was responsive and accurate with the default settings, which placed the sensitivity midway on a scale between “people only” and “all motion.” You can adjust this to your liking with the slider, or use it in combination with customizable motion zones.  With each alert, Chime Pro simultaneously emitted a digital Ring. This ensured I was kept aware of detected activity even when I was home, as I don’t usually carry my phone around the house. You can change the chime’s sound and volume and “snooze” it for periods of time in the Ring app.
The kit comes with a base station, keypad, contact sensor, motion detector, and range extender. Since Ring is pre-packaging all of this, all of the pieces are designed to automatically talk to each other, which makes setting them up easier, but could lead to some confusion when things go wrong. You won't be able to take any of these parts and integrate them with another Ring Alarm system, just the one they come with.
I had a sufficiently strong signal from my router to each camera, but results will vary depending on the layout of your home. If you do see streaming issues, such as resolution deterioration or loss of signal, you might need to install the camera closer to your router or use a Wi-Fi range extender, such as the Ring Chime Pro Wi-Fi range extender ($49 at Amazon). Like its cameras, Ring’s range extender is an 802.11n device that operates on the 2.4GHz frequency band only.
Press Continue and follow the video instructions to press the button at the top of the device, at which point the LED will begin flashing white. Press Continue again and go to your phones Wi-Fi settings to connect to the camera. Return to the app, select your home Wi-Fi from the list, and enter your password. Within seconds the camera will connect and you'll have the option to view a video tutorial that will walk you through the physical installation, or you can skip this step and use the written instructions. In the final step you'll be prompted to define Motion Zones, but you can come back to this later if you prefer.
Given the plethora of user-friendly and accessible security systems out there, there’s no shortage of good options. One of our favorite systems comes from Ring, a global home security company owned by Amazon. While its offerings may not be as flashy as those from Nest, which was acquired by Google’s parent company Alphabet in 2014, Ring is a relatively simple and affordable home security option. Wi-Fi-enabled, it easily mounts on walls or flat surfaces and can be set up in less than an hour. Pair this with the company’s diverse product line and excellent customer service, and you have a system that will work hard for your home (without you having to work too hard yourself).
If the base station is the control center for your Ring devices, then the Amazon Echo Show is the main stage. This 10.1-inch HD screen with built-in speakers was practically made to complement your home security system. Set it up in the kitchen or living room, and you’ll be instantly connected to video and notifications from around your home. Someone at the door but you’re making dinner? Use the Amazon Echo Show to see who’s arrived. In addition to syncing with cameras and alarms, it can even listen for the sound of smoke detectors or broken glass. Talk about a smart security product.

It would have been convenient to have a device like a key fob for the Ring Alarm, as running to find the keypad or navigating the app to turn off the alarm takes a few seconds too long, but one does not currently exist. However, arming and disarming the system is relatively straightforward.  I just had to dig through the paper manual to figure out how to correctly enter my PIN to change modes.
If you have a dog or a cat, getting a home alarm that won’t be constantly triggered by Fido or Fifi’s movements is a real question you have to consider. The Ring Alarm claims that it won’t detect pets weighing under 50 pounds if the alarm is mounted above seven feet, while pet-friendly motion detection is already integrated into the Nest base station and door sensors.
The Ring Alarm is controlled using the same mobile (Android and iOS) and web app as other Ring devices, such as the Ring Video Doorbell Pro, the Ring Floodlight Cam, and the Ring Spotlight Cam, but at the time of this review, the Alarm system does not interact with these (or any) Ring devices, nor can you pair it with just any Z-Wave or Zigbee device unless it is part of the Ring network, which is quite limited at this point.

In home mode, the default setup is for motion sensors to be ignored while door/window sensors will trigger the alarm to activate. This mode is obviously intended for when you're moving around inside your home but want to be protected if someone enters the house through a monitored door or window. Finally, away mode arms all sensors so that any opened monitored door or window or movement within the house will set off the alarm.

I’ve heard others say Arlo is the perfect outdoor camera. I disagree. The original Wire-Free camera had more latency than Arlo Pro. Also, Pro includes a wider field of view, a rechargeable battery, a siren (built into the hub), and it adds sound with two-way audio, all features the original Arlo lacked. Arlo Pro 2 bumps up the resolution to 1080p and adds three features if the camera is plugged-in: CVR, Motion Zones, and Look Back.
2) many users have not come up to speed on the functionality fo this system. thats not their fault.its really easy to set up quickly and with basic functioning, But the more you fool around/experimenter/learn about the system the more functionality it has. Ring really needs to come out with a comprehensive instruction manual and/or video-once you understand take keypad you will grasp it actually has more functionality and is easier to use than most legacy hard wired systems people are replacing.
If that’s not possible, or if the floodlight feature is really important to you, I recommend either the Ring Floodlight (not tested but I have heard good things about it) or Ring Spotlight. Ring launched a new indoor camera at CES, so that might be an option. I need to dig into it more before I say yay or nay of course. Currently, Nest, Arlo Q, Arlo Pro, and Amazon Cloud Cam are my top recommended indoor cameras.
Once the base station is online and your account set up for monitoring, the rest of the devices in your starter kit are automatically identified in the Ring app and you can set them up one by one. With each one, you can provide a name and room location to help identify the accessories in notifications and the app. With the keypad, you'll set up an access code that lets you arm and disarm the alarm, and you can set up different codes for different people. As you set up each motion detector and contact sensor, the app will have you test each one to ensure that they're probably detecting events.
If you do have smart lights and want to control them with a contact sensor or motion detector, you will need to install separate ones in addition to Ring’s, which can make your front door look like it’s grown barnacles with all of the sensors installed. Another simple integration would be to set a smart thermostat to its away mode when the Alarm is set to away, and then switch it back to its home mode when the Alarm is disarmed, but that’s currently not possible either.
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.
Some jurisdictions require permits for monitored alarm systems, and Ring will guide you based on the address where you're using Ring Alarm. In some areas, Ring can obtain the permit on your behalf once you pay required fees, but in other jurisdictions you'll need to handle it on your own. Either way, once you have your permit, you can enter the permit number and expiration date in the Ring app to make all parties aware that your system is properly registered. My town does not require permits, so I did not need to go through this step.
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.
The keypad has 12 backlit buttons on the left-hand side and three in a circle on the right. You create a four-digit PIN during setup, which you’ll tap into the keypad when you arm and disarm the system (you can also do this from the Ring app, which is available for Android and iOS devices. It’s the same app used for Ring’s video doorbell and security cameras, although there’s currently little integration between the cameras and the security system.)
So let’s talk cost for a minute. For $399, Nest includes a Nest Guard which also acts as a keypad, siren, and motion detector, two Nest Detects which are also motion sensors, and two Nest Tags. An equivalent package from abode would cost $479. A comparable package from Ring would cost $279. However, Ring doesn’t sell a key fob, and the kit includes a range extender, so that needs to be factored into the equation.
With home and away modes, you're able to customize entry and exit delays up to two minutes before the alarm goes off, giving you enough time to leave the house after arming and enter the access code on the keypad upon returning home. When an event is detected, you'll get a notification on your phone, and the Ring app will display a countdown giving you the configured period of time to disarm the system before the alarm goes off. If you fail to enter the keypad code or disarm from the Ring app within the allowed time, the base station will emit a very loud beeping sound, and if you are signed up for professional monitoring, authorities will be notified.
Wow, thanks for putting such a great article together. I knew about Ring – for some reason their marketing got to me, and started to consider, which lead me to this article. But, after reading this I might have to revisit purchasing it. Looks like some people are thinking Nest after reading it, but it’s leaning me toward Adobe. Thanks again for all the details!

Person Detection was the first feature launched under the Canary Vision project, a project that aims to add AI-powered intelligence to Canary devices. The second Canary Vision feature is Package Detection, which lets users set up notifications for when packages are delivered to their homes. This feature is exclusive to Canary Flex, and it can only be accessed if you have a Canary Membership.
Regardless of whether you go the adhesive or hardware route, Ring provides everything you need right in the box, with installation kits for each component of the system conveniently boxed and labeled to make it easy to find what you need. All you'll need if you want to use the included screws and anchors for hardware mounting are a screwdriver and a drill.
At 3.2 by 0.9 by 0.9 inches (HWD), the Z-Wave contact sensors for doors and windows are bulkier than the sensors that come with the Vivint Smart Home system (2.5 by 1.0 by 0.5 inches). They're each powered by a CR123 battery that is rated to last three years and can be installed using double-sided tape or with mounting screws. The motion sensor (3.5 by 2.4 by 1.7 inches) also runs on a CR123 battery and uses a Z-Wave radio to communicate with the base station. The range extender (3.1 by 1.8 by 1.1 inches) plugs into a wall outlet and extends the Z-Wave signal by up to 250 feet, so you can place sensors just about anywhere.
After using Flex unplugged for a little over two weeks, the battery fell critically low before getting to the point where the camera would no longer turn on. I don’t blame this on the weather as much as I do the wind. Continued tests showed a battery life of 2-4 weeks. Per a reader request, I retested the camera in August. The weather is warmer here in August, it’s less windy, and Canary has since made several adjustments to help extend Flex’s battery life. This time, the battery lasted a full seven weeks.
By default, Ring Alarm offers three modes: Unarmed, Home and Armed, and Away and Armed. You can use the keypad to change modes, or use the mobile app, which also offers access to any Ring cameras you might have set up in your home. The app also provides status updates on any connected devices you have in the house, a separate history log for the alarm system and the cameras,  a settings panel for configuring professional monitoring and what each mode does when activated.
Ring Alarm supports a sensor bypass mode, which allows you to arm the system even if one of the sensors is currently tripped. For example, if you want to arm the alarm but leave a monitored window open, the system will notify you upon arming that one of the sensors is currently faulted. You can choose to close the window to clear the sensor or bypass it, which will arm the system but not monitor that sensor until the next disarm/arm cycle. 

The Spotlight Cam employs the common method of using bounding boxes over the camera image to define detection zones, but you can use the box handles to twist it into any kind of geometric shape, not just squares. That allows you to work around outdoor areas where you don’t have as much control over the environment as you do inside your home. There’s also a scheduling option to disable motion alerts during certain times of day.
Installing Canary Flex was easy. Part of that comes from the fact that I’m a Canary indoor camera user. To add Canary Flex, I plugged it in (Even though it can be battery-powered, Canary recommends starting with a full charge.), turned my phone’s Bluetooth feature on, visited the app, and selected “Add Canary device”. From there, you confirm the physical location of your camera, tap the button on the back of the device, and it begins to pair.
Speaking of monitoring, there are different modes that you can set when arming the alarm. When you're at home, there are two choices, including Disarmed and Home. With disarmed, there is no 3rd-party monitoring happening, so you can open and close the doors, windows, and more as you please. Home mode is used for times like when you're home alone or going to bed, and there is external monitoring involved. With Home mode, you can opt to change which sensors are active and which aren't, which is great for if you don't want a motion sensor to go off because of your pets or something.

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 spotlight is provided by LED light strips on either side of a 140-degree wide-angle lens, which activate when motion is detected. The motion sensor, encased in a dome on the bottom of the camera, has a 270-degree detection range. The camera streams and records video in up to 1080p resolution and supports two-way talk with noise cancellation and night vision up to 30 feet.
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