We’ve done the research, so we know a thing or two about deterring burglars and thieves. And one thing we can say for certain is this: criminals hate being in the spotlight. Enter Ring Spotlight Cam. We recently unboxed this small-but-mighty camera and put it through a series of tests. We wanted to see how it measured up against other outdoor cameras, what the features were like, and if the ultra-bright lights were enough to keep bad guys away.
“Ultra-bright” doesn’t really do it justice. We found it to be borderline “blinding” — which is a good thing when it comes to protecting your home. Like other Ring Cams, we were able to control our Spotlight Cam using our smartphone. And the night vision really made an impression on us. But this security camera isn’t a perfect solution; we’ve identified some things we didn’t love about the device that we’re going to share with you as well. So let’s jump in!
We think the Ring Spotlight Cam has found the sweet-spot as far as pricing goes. Like other mid-range outdoor cameras, the Spotlight Cam starts at $199 and tops out at $249. Keep in mind that the more cameras you buy, the better deal you’ll get. Ring offers all sorts of bundle packages — which we definitely like to see. Here are the prices for the different Ring Spotlight Cam models.
|Ring Spotlight Cams||Camera Type||Price|
|Spotlight Cam Battery||Rechargeable battery-powered camera||$199|
|Spotlight Cam Wired||Wired camera offering constant power via standard outlet||$199|
|Spotlight Cam Solar||Solar + battery-powered cam||$229|
|Spotlight Cam Mount||Hardwired camera with three different mounting options||$249|
From what we’ve seen in the market, $199 for an outdoor camera that comes with 1080p HD resolution, LED spotlights, and other features is a pretty good deal. It compares well to Ring’s new Stick Up Cam Elite, which also runs $199 and offers a reliable ethernet connection.
Another safe bet is the Arlo Pro 2 at $199. You’ll lose out on the spotlight technology with this option, but you’ll have access to new features like custom motion zones, so it balances out in the end. As you can see, $199 is the going rate for high-quality outdoor surveillance.
If you do buy a shiny-new Spotlight Cam, you should also consider a Ring Protect subscription. Priced at $3 and $10 per month, we think these are some of the best cloud storage options out there. If you’re only looking for access to video history, then the Ring Protect Basic plan will do the trick. But if you want support for multiple Ring cams, plus 24/7 professional monitoring, then spring for Ring Protect Plus. Either way, you won’t break the bank.
Here are the different Ring Protect plans to choose from:
|Ring Subscriptions||Included Free||Ring Protect Basic||Ring Protect Plus|
|Instant Mobile Alerts||✓||✓||✓|
|Live Video Streaming||✓||✓||✓|
|60 Day Video History||x||✓||✓|
|24/7 Professional Monitoring||x||x||✓|
|Monthly Price||Free||$3 per month||$10 per month|
|Yearly Price||Free||$30 per year||$100 per year|
We recommend signing up with Ring’s 30-day free trial of the Basic plan. If you like it, great! And if you don’t, just make a note to cancel your subscription before the trial period ends. If you’re curious, our favorite Ring plan is Protect Plus — especially since we often run multiple Ring Cams at once. For $10 per month, we get all of our Ring devices covered, even the Ring Alarm system.
FYI: A paid subscription plan is totally optional. Every Ring Spotlight Cam comes with the default Free plan that includes instant alerts, live-view, and two-way talk. You just won’t be able to store and access footage, or enjoy the other advanced features that Ring’s paid plans include.
Getting set up with Ring products is fast and easy. It’s a DIY system after all, and most DIY security products are designed to be installed effortlessly. With this in mind, we recommend setting aside about 10 minutes to get your Ring Spotlight Cam up-and-running.
All you’ll need is a screwdriver and a few screws, which are included in the box. But before you mount the camera, you’ll want to download the Ring app (if you haven’t already) and follow the simple step-by-step set up instructions.
Pro Tip: If you manually turn on the spotlight when in night-vision mode, you’ll see that picture quality is super-bright and just as good — if not better — than daytime vision. This will help you to better survey your property.
By this point, you should also know that the Spotlight Cam is made for the outdoors. It has a weather-resistant design that works in harsh conditions like rain, snow, sleet, and temps from -5°F to 120°F. This is all pretty standard though.
Something that’s not-so-standard, though, is that the Spotlight Cam comes with only one rechargeable battery, but it’s made to hold two! So when we first unboxed the camera, we thought it was missing something, but that empty battery compartment was just awaiting a quick-release battery pack we had to buy separately for $29.
Ring claims that their batteries can last 6-12 months on a single charge. This might be true in theory, but in the real-world we found this to be way off. We’re constantly recharging our Spotlight Cam batteries. Each time we receive a notification, the camera records something (which takes power), and then transmits that recording to the cloud (which also takes power), and before we know it we’re out of juice. So expect to have to recharge every few months or so, especially if your Cam is in your front yard where lots of action takes place.
Now, if recharging batteries isn’t your thing, then we’d recommend the solar panel add-on at $49. It comes with a 13-foot cable, which should be enough cord to mount your Spotlight Cam in a place that gets good sun exposure during the day. With enough sunlight, your camera will charge the batteries during the day, and you won’t have to worry about swapping out batteries ever again.
So how does the Spotlight camera perform when the rubber meets the road?
We’re going to unpack our experience and share our findings across several performance categories, starting with remote access using our smartphone.
We think Ring has its smartphone controls dialed-in. Any time someone came within view of the camera, we’d receive an instant alert on our smartphone. This allowed us to open the app, view live video, use two-way talk, pinch & zoom for a better look, and even sound the 110dB siren if needed. This is all nice, but keep in mind that many of these remote features are pretty standard in the industry (perhaps not the siren, though).
Did You Know: Ring actually doesn’t get the best marks in the App Store, with 3.2 stars out of 5 stars. And it gets less-than-stellar reviews on Trustpilot. We’ve heard that the processing speed can be slow, despite a strong Wi-Fi connection. That said, we’ve never had any problems with it.
When it came to viewing live and recorded video, we were able to see everything in sharp resolution. The Ring Spotlight Cam offers 1080p HD video quality. So the picture was good, but it wasn’t as crisp and clear as some of the new 4K cameras we’ve tried, like the Lorex 4K Ultra HD camera line that starts at $159.99.1 With that said, the Spotlight Cam offers ultra-bright LEDs that many devices just don’t have.
Ah yes, the spotlight — the main feature of the Spotlight Cam! The motion-activated spotlight was brighter than we expected it to be. Of course, it’s not as bright as the Ring Floodlight Cam, but it’s enough to scare away intruders (whether raccoons or burglars). And we found that the infrared LEDs actually enhanced the night vision. The infrared night vision2 is black & white and grainy, but with the spotlight on it turns to sharp color night vision.
We also really liked the 140-degree field of view. Note that this viewing angle puts a little more in the frame compared to 120-degree field of vision, which was the standard for a long time. Some of the best home security cameras on the market today offer up to 160- and even 180-degree viewing, but we think 140-degrees is more than enough to monitor the peripheries of your home. It served us just fine.
Moving on, there are some things you should know about the Spotlight Cam’s motion detection. The company calls it “Advanced motion detection,” but we take issue with that. Sure, you can get motion-activated alerts sent to your smartphone. And the motion zones are adjustable, too. But in our experience, “motion zones” aren’t as customizable as the “activity zones” we get from Nest Cams and certain Arlo cameras.
Keep in mind, the more control you have over your motion detection, the fewer notifications you’ll receive (you’ll only be notified of the activity you want to know about).
Finally, it’s worth mentioning that the Ring Spotlight Cam works with Alexa for hands-free voice control. You can throw your video onto an Amazon Echo Show or other compatible smart display. This is something that home automation buffs and tech-heads will get a kick out of. If nothing else, it’s a fun party trick.
Remember how we mentioned there’s some room for improvement. Well, we have a couple of gripes with the Ring Spotlight Cam. As mentioned, we’d like to see custom activity zones, not just motion zones. This wasn’t necessarily a deal-breaker for us, but if we’re spending $200 on a security camera, we’d like a little more control over its motion-detection functionality.
Also, the Spotlight Cam lacks artificial intelligence (AI) technology. So we didn’t get advanced features like person detection or facial recognition like we’ve seen from brands like Vivint, Google Nest, and Deep Sentinel (among others). With that said, you typically have to spend at least $250 for a camera that sports these features. So we can’t be too disappointed here.
One reason why we’re attracted to Ring is because they sell just about everything under the sun to secure a home against intruders and porch pirates. As you probably know, they offer a lineup of security cameras, the ever-popular Ring Doorbell, and the Ring Alarm system. On top of that, there are loads of third-party devices that work with Ring. And all of the products integrate into one easy-to-use system.
As far as add-ons for the Spotlight Cam, here’s what you can find in the Ring store.
|Ring Cam Add-Ons & Accessories||Accessory Type||Price|
|Rechargeable battery pack||Power||$29|
Also note that the Ring Alarm system starts at only $179, which is one of the cheapest home security systems on the market today. But we do wish Ring offered more smart home automation gizmos, gadgets, and integrations.4
After using the product and really getting to know its capabilities, we think the Spotlight Cam has a rightful place at the top of anyone’s security camera list (it’s actually #1 on ours). The 1080p HD resolution allowed us to monitor our home and view a live-feed of sharp video, day or night. And we think the motion-activated LEDs are plenty bright enough to deter criminals from sticking around too long.
But again, the Spotlight Cam isn’t flawless. We would like to see better motion-detection and a few more advanced features would be nice. If Ring incorporated some AI technology (think facial recognition), then we think the Ring Spotlight Cam would quickly become America’s favorite security camera. At any rate, we still think it’s a great product, especially combined with other Ring products like a Ring Doorbell or Stick Up Cam.
No, Ring does not require a contract for any of their products.
The Ring Spotlight Cam has 4 built-in LED lights, which are enough to illuminate the average-size driveway or front yard.
No, you can self-monitor the camera for free. But if you want access to recorded video history and other features (like video sharing or 24/7 monitoring), you’ll have to purchase a Ring Protect plan for either $3 or $10 per month. The plans are affordable and you can cancel at any time without penalty.
Yes, the camera has infrared night vision. When the spotlight shines during nighttime mode, the night vision is enhanced from black and white to color.
The Spotlight Cam comes in 4 different versions: a battery-powered option, two wired options, and a solar option. This review focused mainly on the Spotlight Cam Battery, but other than the power source, the cameras are identical in terms of features and tech.
Experienceuhd.com. (2018, December 17). Can the Human Eye See the Difference Between 1080p and 4K?
Infrared Night Vision. Wikipedia. (Retrieved June 25, 2020).
Ring.com. (2020). Limited Warranty and Theft Protection.
Security.org. (2020). What is Home Automation and How Does it Work?