Is the Ring security system the latest and greatest in home protection? We decided to find out by testing the system in a team member’s home. Our verdict—we think it has potential, but it’s still too early to tell.
The easy-install system can be set up quickly and controlled by an app. The equipment’s inexpensive, and the monitoring price can’t be beat. On the other hand, Ring’s system also has some bumps you won’t find with an established security system.
Ring pros and cons
- Professional installation not required
- Contract not required
- Inexpensive monitoring compared to other brands
- Self-monitoring also available
- Neighborhood watch app available with added cameras
- Compatibility with Alexa and Z-Wave devices, such as Z-Wave locks
- No compatibility with most other brands’ equipment
- Cameras and two-way audio not included in base packages
Compare Ring security equipment options
|Ring security systems||5-piece security system||8-piece security system||14-piece security system|
|Base station||1 included||1 included||1 included|
|Keypad||1 included||1 included||2 included|
|Contact sensor||1 included||3 included||8 included|
|Motion detector||1 included||2 included||2 included|
|Range extender||1 included||1 included||1 included|
|Learn more||View on Amazon||View on Amazon||View on Amazon|
Data effective 05/09/2019. Offers subject to change.
Ring’s price is lower than the industry standard. In fact, it’s one of our top cheap home security systems. For the price of a Vivint control panel, you can get the five-piece security system kit plus a Ring video doorbell, a stick-up camera, and a second contact sensor.
Because Ring installation is DIY, there are no installation costs. There aren’t any contracts or contract costs, either. You can stop using your Ring security system at any time. You can even resell it.
Finally, at $10 a month or $100 a year, the professional monitoring cost is the lowest in the industry. Prices for most other brands tend to run around $30.00 a month. And get this—no matter how many pieces of equipment you add to your system, the monitoring cost is always the same.
Also, if you don’t want to pay for professional monitoring, you can always self-monitor.
No matter how many pieces of equipment you add to your system, the monitoring cost is always the same.
During our test of the five-piece Ring security system, here’s what we learned about the equipment and features.
Getting a permit
You might need to get a permit from your city to use a monitored Ring security system in your home. Basically, if you want law enforcement to respond when your system goes off, you may have to register it with them. Check with your local law enforcement to find out.
The base station is the nerve system of Ring Alarm. All other devices are wirelessly connected to it. Ours was easy to set up and connect to both the Wi-Fi network and the app.
Ring’s keypad is used to arm and disarm the system. (This can also be done through the Ring app.) With the app, you can set a four-digit keypad code. You can also add individual users to the app and assign each one a different keypad code.
We wanted to reset the code, but we couldn’t find that option in the app, even after reading instructions on Ring’s support site.
Contact sensor is Ring’s name for door and window sensors. The contact sensor was the most impressive piece of hardware. It alerted the app every time the door opened and closed in the At Home mode. When the system was armed, opening or closing the door set off the alarm.
The motion detector is supposed to send you alerts when it senses motion. It has to be within 250 feet of the base station. Strangely, neither Ring’s website nor Amazon shares the detection range for this device.
The detector turned out to be the most finicky piece of hardware. Ring recommends setting it seven feet up or higher. But no matter what height we set it, it didn’t always send alerts through push notification or email, even though the app home screen said it sensed motion. It also didn’t set off the alarm when the system was armed and someone moved around in front of it.
We played with the settings in the app, only to discover that the detector’s battery was low. That seems like something the app should alert us to! We shouldn’t have to dig to find that out.
The motion detector did do one thing very well: any time we opened its battery case, it alerted the app and emailed us that it was being tampered with.
The range extender increases the base station’s signal range. If you have a sensor or detector you’d like to place far away from the base station, you can use the extender to add 250 more feet of signal.
We placed the range extender between the base and the contact sensor (the piece of equipment farthest from the base). We weren’t sure how to check whether it boosted the signal. Either way, the contact sensor didn’t experience any problems.
In addition to what comes in the security kit, you can purchase other equipment:
- Video doorbells (check out our Ring Doorbell review and Ring vs. Nest review)
- Spotlight video cameras
- Stick-up video cameras
- Flood and freeze sensors
- Smoke and carbon monoxide listeners (listen to your previously existing alarms and alert you when they go off)
You can also purchase more keypads, contact sensors, motion detectors, and range extenders à la carte.
Unlike other systems, Ring doesn’t currently offer glass break sensors or the functionality to control thermostats and lights.
Not seeing a must-have piece of equipment? While Ring’s branded equipment has some gaps, the company has worked with other brands to create Ring-compatible devices. For example, you can use First Alert Z-Wave smoke and carbon monoxide alarms instead of placing the Ring listeners near existing alarms.
The app lets you arm and disarm your system and sends both emails and push notifications for each security alert. It makes it possible to keep track of your system no matter where you go.
In our test, it wasn’t always intuitive to navigate the Ring app. But once we found them, the features were easy to use.
Ring’s standout feature is its Neighbors App. No other security system that we’ve reviewed has anything like this.
The app gives a whole new meaning to the concept of a neighborhood watch. Neighborhoods can upload videos captured by Ring devices to crowdsource package thieves’ identities or warn of mysterious lurkers. In our test neighborhood, users also uploaded videos of lost pets and annoying teenagers.
Neighbors App is both a separate, free app and a feature of the Ring app. While anyone can use the Neighbors App to view and send alerts, you need a Ring video doorbell or camera to record and add footage. That means you’ll have to buy extra equipment apart from the basic Ring five-piece security package.
Alexa actually controlled the system better than the Ring app did.
Smart home compatibility
We set up an Amazon Echo and linked it to the Ring app. The process was easy, and integration was seamless.
Alexa actually controlled the system better than the Ring app did. Commands we tested included “Alexa, arm Ring,” “Alexa, disarm Ring,” and “Alexa, is the door open?” Alexa handled them all flawlessly.
We also connected an LIFX A19 bulb with Alexa, just to see if Ring would still function with another device on the network. Both the security and the bulb worked normally. Alexa even allowed us to sort the devices by room for easier side-by-side use.
As an Amazon-affiliated device, Ring isn’t compatible with Google Home.
Ring’s customer service has decent reviews. Customers praise Ring’s price and customer service. While reviews of the equipment itself are mixed, they tend to lean toward the positive.
The biggest complaints are that some equipment is faulty, the software and hardware have blips, and the Ring system has less compatibility and is less refined than some competitor systems.
Like several of its competitors, Ring’s customer service is available 24/7. Some reviews indicate that, despite the round-the-clock support, you may not be able to get in touch with a representative right away.
Ring vs. the competition
|Lowest monitoring price||$10.00/mo.||$29.99/mo.||$34.99/mo||$27.99/mo.||$14.99/mo.|
|Contract length||None||None or 42–60 mo.||36 mo.||36 mo.||None|
|Learn more||View Plans||View Plans|
|View Plans |
Data effective 05/09/2019. Offers subject to change.
Compared to top competitors like Vivint and Frontpoint, Ring stands out in terms of installation price, monitoring price, and contract length. So why wouldn’t you go with Ring?
Ring’s main drawback is that it’s not tried and true like competitors are. User reviews say that bugs need to be troubleshot (the keypads may freeze up if they aren’t unplugged from time to time), the monitoring service needs to be expanded and refined (some reviewers wanted the emergency call flow to be revamped), and the equipment needs more options and compatibility. Ring is still in its adolescence. Until the system comes into its own, users may find it a bit chancy.
If you’re looking for something inexpensive without an intense install and you’re okay with being a first adopter, Ring is a good choice for you. But if you’re looking for a security brand with more years of experience and expertise, we’d suggest you go with a top-rated brand like Vivint or Frontpoint.