Ring first caught our eye years ago when their doorbell camera hit the market and created quite a fanfare. Since then, we’ve been testing Ring’s line of home security equipment every year. During our latest round of testing, we put the Ring Alarm in the hot seat. We wanted to peel back the layers of Ring’s slick marketing campaigns to see just how good or bad Ring performed in real-life situations.
During testing, we found that Ring Alarm is fairly simple to install and easy to use. The app-based controls offered a touch of convenience and quick response. And then there were the ancillary things, like Ring Neighborhood, which helped us to stay up-to-date on crime in our area. But, there were also some disadvantages we found while testing this security system, especially compared with other top brands on the market. So, is Ring worth it? We’re going to share our full hands-on experience with Ring to help you make an educated decision.
Before purchasing the latest Ring Alarm system, we wanted to do a deep-dive research session into Ring as a company. Ring’s mission is to reduce crime in neighborhoods. Simple enough. The company got its start with the Ring Video Doorbell after the founder Jamie Siminoff realized that he’d feel safer if he could answer his doorbell from anywhere in his home. So in 2013, he took his invention, called Doorbot at the time, to ABC’s Shark Tank. Siminoff turned down an investment deal with Mr. Wonderful, Kevin O’Leary, but five years later, he sold his company to Amazon for over $1 billion.1
So naturally, we’re always curious about this juggernaut of home security. How has Ring achieved such monumental success in such a short amount of time? Well, for starters, they branched out into affordable home security systems. They combined it with do-it-yourself monitoring and cheap monthly plans. And sure, their marketing is well-funded. But nothing beats hands-on testing by real home security experts. Our team got ahold of Ring Alarm, and we tested it from every angle, looking at several criteria and everyday uses, which ultimately makes up our SecureScore
|Ring Alarm Security Kits||Price|
|Ring Alarm Custom Kits||Pricing Variable|
|Ring Monitoring Plans||Price|
|Ring Basic||$3 per month ($30 per year)|
|Ring Protect Plus||$10 per month ($100 per year)|
Ring offers a 5-piece ($199), 10-piece ($259), and 14-piece ($329) security kit.2 You’ll choose a kit that fits your home, and then you’ll pick the monitoring package that’s right for you. We purchased the 14-piece Ring Alarm kit, which came with a base station, a control panel, eight entry sensors, two motion sensors, and a range extender. If you don’t know what these devices are, no problem. Here’s a quick rundown to bring you up to speed before we continue with our findings:
This instrument is the central hub for all of your Ring Alarm devices. It uses a Wi-Fi connection but has cellular backup if your power goes out. It has a 104-decibel siren, a 24-hour backup battery, and smash and crash protection, meaning criminals can’t tamper with it. We even put that claim to the test. The base station is also compatible with smart home devices using Z-Wave technology.3
You can set your Ring Alarm system to Disarmed (turns off sensors), Away (turns on all sensors), and Home (activates only certain sensors). The keypad uses a direct connection to your power outlet for its primary power source, and it also has a rechargeable battery for backup. You can mount the keypad on the wall or set it up on a convenient tabletop. The keypads must be within 250 feet of the base station. Additional keypads cost $50 each. The keypad battery can last for up to 7 months on a single charge when in power save mode.
We like to think of these sensors as the backbone of any security system. These magnetic sensors mount to windows and doorways using removable adhesive. They detect when a door or window opens, and they can sound the alarm that sends an instant notification to your smartphone. We liked the all-around simplicity of Ring’s sensors. Additional sensors cost $20, which is about the cheapest we’ve seen of any company.
Mount this device inside your home, and it will notify you when it senses motion. Hence the name, right? We were able to configure the motion detectors to ignore our pets, but more about this feature in a bit. Additional motion detectors will run you $30, which again is cheaper than the industry average.
If you live in a larger home, you may need more range than the base station alone can offer. That’s where the range extender comes into play. This device ensures all of your devices are connected to the base station. Additional range extenders cost $25, which is a bit pricey from what we’ve seen.
When our Ring Alarm kit arrived, we eagerly performed our ceremonial unboxing. The packaging, as well as products inside, have a modern design with a blue-and-white color scheme. The equipment looked nice, but again, it didn’t exactly feel well-built and durable. We gave it a pass here, as the equipment was going to be mounted inside of our home, not outdoors.
It took about 20 minutes for two of our team members to set up the system. The installation was simple compared to other systems on the market, and it didn’t take any tools. The sensors paired quickly to the base station, and the whole system was quite easy to arm and disarm using the control panel and mobile app. The fact that Ring was so easy to install is both good and bad. It’s good because people don’t like to fuss with complicated installs. But it’s bad because it’s telling of how simple this system really is.
As far as the Ring app goes, it’s basic but effective. It allowed us to check in on our system and control it remotely while away from home. The app makes the grade, but we feel it could be better in certain areas. It doesn’t quite measure up to other mobile apps we’ve tried, like the award-winning Vivint app, for example. But we also understand that Ring purposefully takes a more simplistic approach. They don’t want to bog down users with too many features and fancy home-automation tech. So what you see is what you get. That said, a couple of features that stood out were the “Nearby Incidents” feature and the live stream video viewing.4 During our tests, both features helped us to feel more secure in our home.
Now that we’ve mentioned live streaming, let’s touch on Ring’s security camera options. In our research and testing, Ring indoor and outdoor cams offered us crisp image quality with 1080p HD, night vision, motion detection, and quick DIY install, 10 to 25 minutes from start to finish. The cameras we tested also offered two-way talk, allowing us to scare away intruders if needed. We actually grew fond of Ring’s cameras. They added a modern look to our home, without calling attention to their presence. And they are some of the most affordable security cameras on the market.
Pro Tip: Choose wireless outdoor cameras if possible. Although it requires battery replacements, there is no cord that criminals can cut to bypass your system.
Ring’s camera options include:
Our research revealed several variations of the security cameras mentioned above. They come in battery-powered (wireless), solar, wired, mount, and other options. We especially liked the Floodlight Cam. In addition to video, this motion-activated camera uses ultra-bright LED floodlights and a loud siren to send a stern message to intruders.
But our experts also look at the finer details, and there are certain things we didn’t like about Ring cameras. First, they provide a fish-eye view, which is not our favorite, as it slightly distorts the image.5 Also, the DIY installation on the hardwired option might prove difficult for some. And finally, we found the integrations to be too limited. Ring cams only work with other Ring products and Amazon products, such as Alexa. We’d like to see this selection and compatibility improved.
Overall, we had a positive experience while testing Ring Alarm. It’s not a bad system for the price. But we did come to this important conclusion: Ring doesn’t do any one thing better than the competition, and we’ve tested them all. For instance, SimpliSafe takes the prize for simple setup and ease-of-use. Vivint wins when it comes to advanced features. Frontpoint excels at customer service. And so on…
Then you have Ring, a system that is best described as a jack-of-all-trades but master of none. For some people, that’s just what they want. For others, they want to feel more safe and secure, with access to more home automation options, although the base station does work with Z-wave and Zigbee devices.6 Okay, fine — we were impressed by Ring’s low-price monitoring plans at just $10 per month.
Speaking of Ring’s professional monitoring plans, we carefully looked at each one. And we must say, this setup is one of the main reasons why Ring Alarm makes our top 10 favorites list year after year. But before we share our experience with the plans, it’s important to know that Ring doesn’t require a plan at all.
You can self-monitor your alarm system, which we tried, using your smartphone. This free self-monitor option worked out fine for us. It allowed live video viewing, as well as full access and remote control via the Ring app. In our experience, this configuration gave us greater flexibility and saved us money in the process.
FYI: If you want to sidestep monthly monitoring fees, opt for self-monitoring with the mobile app. Many companies now offer this option.
Ring also doesn’t require long-term contracts. It was easy for us to sign up for month-to-month monitoring. There weren’t any fees for canceling, and we were able to cancel at any time. This selling point is common for many home security companies. We’ve found that most people don’t want to be locked into a long-term contract with a system that might not even be the right fit. With that said, here are the no-contract Ring Alarm monitoring options:
The Ring Basic plan only covers a single Ring doorbell or Ring security camera. It builds off of the free plan by offering video recording and history, snapshot capture, and video saving and sharing for 60 days. This package means you can save your videos and share them with friends, family, neighbors, the police, and more. Just beware if you do share video with the police, as there’s a chance they will keep it indefinitely. The Ring Basic plan costs $3 per month or $30 annually, and it automatically renews at the end of the subscription period.
We have to say, this Basic plan gave us good value. And it’s the cheapest we’ve seen from the competition. But really, the features weren’t all that innovative. In fact, we’ve tested several security systems that offer video history, video sharing, and snapshot capture, so there’s nothing new here. With that said, at only $3 per month, you almost can’t turn it down.
The affordable Ring Protect Plus plan gives you 24-7 professional monitoring, cellular backup in case you lose internet connection, exclusive discounts through Ring.com, an extended warranty, and all the features of the lower-tier plan. Ring Protect Plus costs $10 per month or $100 annually, and it automatically renews at the end of the period.
We do recommend the Ring Protect Plus plan, seeing that it’s only $10 monthly for 24-7 professional monitoring. It gave us a little extra peace of mind knowing that trained emergency personnel were helping to protect our home. We tried all of Ring’s monitoring options, including self-monitor, Ring Basic, and Ring Protect Plus, and our test results revealed their paid plans offer great value for the money.
If you’re considering Ring Alarm, you might also like this fact: All Ring Alarm security kits come with a free 30-day trial of Ring Protect Plus. After that, you can opt-in for $10 a month or $100 a year.
Ring Alarm is designed to be simple to install and easy to use, and we were able to set up and install the system quickly. From there, we controlled our home security almost entirely from our smartphones, though we also performed in-depth testing of the control panel, too. DIY systems like Ring are typically easy to use.
Did You Know: Choosing a basic kit will help you get your feet wet installing a home security system. You can always expand your system over time.
When we began adding additional devices to the system, it remained fairly easy to manage. Everything is centralized and controlled within the Ring mobile app, which you can carry with you wherever you go.7 We really didn’t have any complaints in the ease-of-use department. And if you choose Ring Alarm and run into tech problems, their support team is easy to reach. Ring Alarm makes the grade here.
When we called Ring customer support directly, we never had to wait longer than a couple of minutes to speak with someone. Their staff was friendly and professional. One of the questions we had was about the alarm insurance certificate, and they were personable, knowledgable, and quick to give us an answer. At the time we called, the rep stated that they had call centers in Phoenix and Mount Vernon. Ring has received mixed reviews on the quality of its customer service.8 Still, the company does offer useful resources for getting assistance, such as the customer self-service hub on its website. We found it to be slightly more comprehensive and thorough than the solutions offered by other companies we’ve tested. There’s also an FAQ section, along with tutorials and additional info on their products.
Throughout our testing, we referred to these resources just to see if they were practical and helpful. And indeed, they were. But you should expect quality online support from pretty much any of the top security companies these days.
Ring Alarm comes with a limited warranty on equipment parts and theft protection. This one-year warranty isn’t competitive compared to most of the systems we’ve researched and tested. Truth be told, plenty of companies offer at least a two-year warranty, many offer five years or more, and some even have lifetime warranties on equipment. So we think Ring can definitely improve here.
We actually had to upgrade to the Ring Protect Plus plan to get the extended warranty. This extended warranty covered all of our Ring equipment, for as long as we were subscribed to the Protect Plus plan. But unfortunately, the warranty vanished the moment we canceled and switched back to self-monitoring. We think Ring users will eventually push for a warranty policy reform. In our opinion, it’s time.
Pro Tip: Look for the best warranty available. Home security equipment can fail, and when it does, companies often replace old devices with newer models.
This device sends Ring alerts whenever the system detects smoke or CO2 alarms going off. It costs $35, which is slightly more affordable than purchasing a smart smoke detector. You can also opt for the third-party First Alert Z-Wave Smoke and CO Alarm for $40.
This Ring device sends alerts whenever it senses leaking water or freezing temperatures. It costs $35 and offers added environmental protection and peace of mind. Our testing results show that it’s highly accurate, with very few false alarms.
If you have hearing problems, we recommend trying the Dome Siren. We tested it around our home, and it certainly gets the job done. It gave us 105-decibels of roaring siren sound, and we placed it far away from our base station, which also has a siren. The Dome Siren features a flashing LED light and a three-year battery life. It costs $30.
Ring’s Panic Button sounds the alarm to summon help in the event of an emergency. It adds an extra layer of security for only $35. Just press and hold it for three seconds, and you will get the help you need. If you subscribe to the Ring Protect Plus Plan, it will notify the monitoring center, and they will dispatch emergency responders, if necessary.
Spending some time with Ring Alarm really helped us to understand all the hype. It’s a pretty good system overall, especially considering the price. But there’s also room for improvement.
Our team of home security experts liked how quick and nimble the Ring Alarm is to install. We had it up-and-running in 20-25 minutes from start to finish. It has all of the necessary components for protecting your home and offered some of the most affordable monitoring plans we’ve seen.
However, we found Ring to be somewhat lacking in home automation options. In a perfect world, we’d also like to see a little higher quality materials go into their device construction. As it stands, the products were good but didn’t feel quite as robust and reliable as other brands we’ve tested. But this certainly wasn’t a deal-breaker for us. All in all, we like Ring Alarm and think that others will like it too.
Yes, the two work together. Like Alexa, Ring Alarm is owned by Amazon.
Yes, Ring Alarm is wireless. Ring Alarm works with either wired or wireless Internet as well.
Yes, Ring Alarm does require an internet connection.
Yes, Ring Alarm does have a battery backup. The base station includes a battery backup in case of a power outage or other loss of power. It works as usual for 15 minutes after losing power, but after that point, it goes into a limited functionality mode. In that case, the battery can last up to 24 hours.
Ring Alarm does not require professional monitoring. You’re free to self-monitor if that makes sense for you. If you choose that option, you’ll get alerts on your phone, but Ring won’t contact authorities on your behalf.
The Ring Basic Plan covers a single security camera for $3 a month, or $30 a year. For $10 a month or $100 a year, Ring Protect Plus covers all the cameras at your address. As mentioned above, it also comes with cellular data backup.
The base station is designed to be smash-proof, which means it will still send signals even if a burglar tries to disarm it by force.
The 5-piece home security system is normally $199, but there are sometimes sales which discount further.
The 5-piece kit includes a base station, keypad, contact sensor, motion detector, and base station range extender.
No, the Ring Alarm does not require professional installation. Ring Alarm has a simple installation that you can do yourself. Ring’s customer service offers additional installation support if you need it.
Yes, Ring Alarm comes with a warranty. There’s a limited warranty that includes theft protection. That means Ring will replace your equipment if it gets stolen.
Yes, Ring Alarm comes with a panic button as an add-on item.
No, the Ring Alarm does not currently offer glass break sensors.
The Ring Alarm’s motion sensor might go off around your pet. It depends on how much your pets weigh. The Ring Alarm motion sensors don’t detect pets that weigh under 33 pounds. You can also adjust the sensitivity as needed.
Bishop, T. (2019, April 5). Shark Tank’s billion-dollar blunder: How startup Ring went from TV rejection to Amazon acquisition. GeekWire.
Ring. (2020). Home Security System.
Z-Wave. (2020, February 21). Wikipedia. Retrieved March 12, 2020.
Read, M. (2020, February 13). What It's Like to Own an Amazon Ring Doorbell Camera. New York Magazine.
Nikon. (2017, November 16). How do Fisheye Lenses work?
Zigbee. (2020, March 9). Wikipedia. Retrieved March 12, 2020.
Ring.com. (2020, March 6). Ring – Always Home. Google.
Ring: Better Business Bureau® Profile. (2020, March 4). BBB.