Ring Alarm: What you need to know
Starting out as the company that just made smart doorbells, Ring has transformed itself into a complete security company, extending its line-up with a range of indoor and outdoor security cameras and, more recently, the Ring Alarm home security system.
Ring Alarm: Specs
Free cancellation: Anytime
Security monitoring: Professional 24/7
Smartphone control: Yes
System price (starts at): $199
Monthly costs (start at): $0
Wired or wireless: Wireless
Video cameras: Yes (optional)
Installation fees (start at): DIY
As with Ring’s other products, the Alarm is designed to be self-installed and then controlled via the smartphone app. As such, you can operate it without a monthly charge if you’re happy to keep an eye on your property yourself.
Stepping up a gear, you can add professional monitoring for just $10 a month, which also gets you 60-days of cloud video history for all of your Ring security cameras. For people already invested in Ring’s ecosystem, the Ring Alarm home security system is going to be of interest and it’s one of the best-value monitored systems available.
The full DIY approach to the system may not appeal to all and if you’re after a system that includes professional installation, you’re probably better off looking elsewhere.
How much does the Ring Alarm cost?
Ring is effectively sold as two components. First, there’s the hardware, which you buy outright, and then fit in your home yourself. Secondly, there’s the optional Ring Protect cloud subscription, which gets you cloud recording for cameras and, with the highest tier, professional alarm monitoring.
Ring Alarm: Hardware packages
- Alarm Security Kit, 5-Piece: Equipment starts at $199
- Alarm Security Kit, 10-Piece: Equipment starts at $259
- Alarm Security Kit, 14-Piece: Equipment starts at $329
Ring Alarm Security Kit, 5-Piece
Designed for condos, apartments or small homes up to 1,000 square feet, the Alarm Security Kit, 5-Piece is everything you need to get started. It comes with a Base Station, which connects to your home network and provides the brains for the system, as well as acting as a siren in the event of a break-in. Alongside this you get a single pet-safe Motion Detector, a Contact Sensor to put on a door or window and a Range Extender, to boost signal quality between devices and the Base Station. The alarm is controlled via the provided Keypad.
Ring Alarm Security Kit, 10-Piece
A step-up from the 5-Piece kit, this set is designed for larger homes between 1,000 and 2,000 square feet and is ideal for one or two-bedroom homes. With this package, you get the Base Station, Keypad, five Contact Sensors, two Motion Detectors and a Range Extender.
Ring Alarm Security Kit, 14-Piece
Designed for homes larger than 2,000 square feet, this kit expands the number of contact sensors to eight and adds in two Keypads, letting you control your alarm from two locations in your home. You get two Motion Detectors, the Base Station and a Range Extender, too.
Ring Alarm: Separate hardware
All kits can be expanded with additional hardware, too, all reasonably priced. Additional Contact Sensors cost $20 each, and Motion Detectors cost $30 each. For additional security, you can buy a Panic Button for $35, which triggers the alarm when you press the button.
The Open Window Magnet is a need add-on for a Contact Sensor that lets you crack open a sliding window or door for ventilation and detect if someone pushes it fully open.
Ring can also monitor for environmental problems. The Alarm Flood & Freeze Sensor ($35) detects standing water and low temperatures, sending you an alert. The Alarm Smoke & CO Listener listens out for alarms in your home and sends you an alert when it hears one go off, although it can’t be used to turn off the alarm.
In addition, you can add smart cameras into the mix if you want to see what’s going on in your home, with the choice including the Ring Video Doorbell Pro, the Ring Stick Up Cam and the Ring Floodlight Cam.
The Base Station can also connect to a select number of Zigbee and Z-Wave smart devices to further extend what the system is capable of. Options include Schlage and Yale smart locks, GE smart switches, the First Alert smart Smoke/CO Alarm, and the Dome Siren if you want a bit more power to your alert system.
Ring Alarm: Monitoring packages
- Ring Protect Free: $0
- Ring Protect Basic Plan: $3 per month ($30 annually), no contracts
- Ring Protect Pro Plus Plan: $10 per month ($100 annually), no contracts
Ring Protect Free
At its most basic, the Ring Alarm comes with a free cloud service that gives you control of your system via the app. You also get alert notifications from both the alarm system and any cameras or doorbells that you have in the system. If you don’t have any Ring cameras and are happy with basic notifications, then the Ring Alarm is exceptionally cheap to buy and install.
Ring Protect Basic Plan
Step-up to the Basic Plan and you don’t get any additional benefit for your alarm system but you do get 60-day cloud video history for a single camera. Each additional camera costs the same amount again ($3 per month or $30 per year), which is very good value.
Ring Protect Plus Plan
At the highest level, the Protect Plus Plan makes the most amount of sense for those with the Ring Alarm, as it gives you Professional Monitoring with Police and Fire Department dispatch when an alert is received. This makes Ring one of the cheapest professionally-monitored systems available.
Along with professional monitoring, Ring Protect Plus turns on the cellular backup for the Base Station, so your alarm system can still communicate even if someone cuts your internet connection. For additional security, the Base Station also has battery backup.
For those that have cameras, Ring Protect Plus also covers every Ring camera in your home, giving you 60-days of video history. If you’ve got four or more cameras, Ring Protect Plus works out as better value than the Basic Plan and you get professional monitoring thrown in as well. It’s hard to knock the value on offer.
Ring Alarm: Warranty and cancellation
Ring is exceptionally flexible with its plans, starting out with a free one that gives you the basic notification options for the life of the product. When you move up through the Ring Protect plans, you get a huge amount of flexibility, with the option to cancel at any point.
If you’re paying monthly, you don’t get a refund, but the service runs until the end of your month; if you pay annually, refunds are worked out on a pro-rata basis, although there are no refunds if you have two months or less to go. Even so, this makes Ring one of the cheapest systems to get out of and gives you some very flexible options. For example, you could upgrade to Ring Protect Plus if you’re going to be out of town, and cancel it when you get back, moving back to self-monitoring.
All of the hardware that you buy is covered by a one-year warranty as standard, but you get extended warranty if you buy Ring Protect Plus. For any devices in their original warranty period when you take out Ring Protect Plus, your warranty continues while you maintain your subscription. Note, this only applies to Ring products, not the third-party ones, such as the smart locks, that you can buy from the Ring website.
Ring also covers cameras and doorbells against theft, replacing any stolen devices for free, provided that you can have the original receipt, a police report and you make the claim within 15 days of the theft. Ring will replace one replacement for each doorbell and camera, and covers for the life of the product otherwise.
Ring Alarm: Ring App
The Ring App has always been one of the company’s strengths. Initially designed to make it easy for people to monitor their front door and security cameras, the app has been expanded to also take in the Ring Alarm, giving you one place to manage everything from.
Even without a subscription, you get the full control that the app offers, letting you arm, disarm or set the home mode (by default, this disables motion detection but leaves the Contact Sensors turned on) at the tap of a button.
Should the alarm be triggered, the app will send you an alert so that you know immediately that there’s an issue for you to check out. The app is fast to send notifications and quick to control the alarm, beating many of its rivals that have more basic controls.
As Ring is owned by Amazon, it should come as no surprise that you can alarm and disarm your system using your voice via an Amazon Echo speaker. For security, disarming your system requires you to say your four-digit security phrase.
How does Ring alert you when an alarm is raised?
If you don’t have Ring Protect Plus, then an alarm (smoke or security) triggers an alert that’s sent to your smartphone. If you’ve got cameras, you can check to see what’s going on and then deal with the alert as appropriate: turn it off, or call the corresponding emergency service.
If you subscribe to Ring Protect Plus, an alarm being triggered will still go to your smartphone but it also notifies the monitoring center, which has 24/7 support across all 50 states. The monitoring center then calls you and your nominated contacts to find out if you require emergency assistance. If you do need assistance, or you don’t answer the phone, the monitoring center sends the police for alarm alerts and the fire department for carbon monoxide emergencies.
The same process happens if you press the panic alarm.
Ring Alarm: What the users say
As a new system, there are few user reviews out there and the system hasn’t undergone the scrutiny of the other products that we’ve reviewed here at Top Ten Reviews. The main source of reviews comes from Trust Pilot, where Ring has scored just 2.4 from 1,207.
Many of the complaints come from people complaining about customer support, while many people complain about the difficulty of getting a reliable connection to products, particularly the cameras and doorbells. This is often an effect of DIY installation, and those worried about running into installation issues may be better served with an alarm system that offers professional installation.
Those that rated Ring highly praised the ease of use and installation, and the extra security that the range of products provides.
Ring Alarm: Other things to consider
Owning your kit means that the Ring Alarm is easy to move to a new house, and there are no charges for doing so. All you have to do is take down the sensors and kit, transport them to your new place and hook everything up again. That makes the Ring Alarm one of the most flexible that you can get.
If you sign up for Ring Protect Plus, you become eligible for a 10% discount on additional Ring products. If you’ve already got a Ring camera or doorbell, it makes sense to upgrade to Ring Protect Plus first before buying the alarm system. If you don’t have any kit, then buy the minimum that you need, add a Ring Protect Plus Plan and then buy any additional kit that you require.
It’s worth pointing out that Ring has few ways to manage its alarm system, and you can use Alexa, the Keypad or the app. It’s a shame that there’s no keyfob option, as this is often the most convenient way of managing an alarm.
Ring Alarm: Verdict
If you were to consider the price alone, the Ring Alarm is a real winner. Far cheaper than its competition, this alarm system is comparatively cheap to buy. It can also be exceptionally cheap to run, with the free cloud service giving all of the control options including the smartphone app; many competitors charge to have this basic feature. Given how good Ring’s app is, this feels like an even better deal.
OTHER HOME SECURITY SYSTEM REVIEWS
For those that want a DIY alarm, the Ring Security System is a very good option, particularly for those that have existing Ring products that they want to integrate. Moving up the tiers, the Ring Protect Plus Plan adds professional monitoring for the lowest price that we’ve seen.
Yet, for all that, the Ring Security System isn’t perfect. The DIY-only approach may make it tricky for some people to get this alarm system working properly. If you’re not so tech-savvy, the Vivint’s and Brinks’ home security offerings will probably work out better for you.
It’s also slightly frustrating that the control options are so limited, particularly in regards to the lack of keyfobs for arming and disarming the alarm system.
All of this comes down to choice. If you want a professionally-installed alarm system, look elsewhere; if you’ve got Ring kit already or are happy to go DIY, the Ring Security System is great value.