Ring Offers Doorbells, Floodlights, and MoreBy - 11/17/2017
I’ve been a Ring owner since late 2015, and I’m still a fan. Since then, the game has changed with new additions like Ring Pro, Stick Up Cam, Floodlight Cam, Ring Elite, Ring Video Doorbell 2, Spotlight Cam, and Ring Protect.
(Ring Doorbell was gifted to me for testing in 2015. My hands-on experience at CES with the other Ring devices was self-funded. I also purchased Spotlight Cam and the solar panel. This did not impact my opinion, but I thought you should know.)
Ring’s Family of Cameras
All of Ring’s cameras are made to work together, but they all serve a unique purpose. The idea isn’t to pick one over the other but to use them together to protect your home from the outside in. As another layer of protection, Ring Secure uses sensors to detect intrusion.
|Ring Video Doorbell||Ring Video Doorbell 2||Ring Video Doorbell Pro||Ring Video Doorbell Elite||Stick Up Cam||Floodlight Cam||Spotlight Cam|
|Price||$179||$199||$249||$499||$199||$249||Starts at $199|
|Placement||Can Replace existing doorbell (Hardwired) or not (Battery-Powered)||Can Replace existing doorbell (Hardwired) or not (Battery-Powered)||Replaces existing doorbell (Hardwired)||Fits in Standard Junction Boxes, Flush Mount Installation (Hardwired), PoE||Wall Mounted (Standard or Security Bracket), Wire-Free Security Camera||Replaces Existing Wired Flood Lights, Connects to Standard Junction Boxes||Wall Mounted, Comes in a Wired, Battery-Powered, and Solar Version|
|Live Streaming||Hardwired Doorbell Only||Hardwired Doorbell Only|
|Field of View||180°||160°||160°||160°||80°||140°||140°|
|Motion Detection||Predefined Zones||Predefined Zones||Custom Zones||Custom Zones||Predefined Zones||Custom Zones||Custom Zones (Wired Only)|
|Other Features||Notifies you when someone rings your doorbell.||Notifies you when someone rings your doorbell.||Notifies you when someone rings your doorbell.||Notifies you when someone rings your doorbell.||Up to 1 Year Battery Life or Use Solar Charger||Built-in Siren, Smart Floodlight, Facial and Object Recognition||Built-in Siren, Smart Spotlight|
|App/Web Portal Access|
|Compatible Accessories||Ring Chime, Chime Pro, Solar Security Sign||Ring Chime, Chime Pro, Solar Security Sign, Solar Charger 2, Quick-Release Battery Pack||Ring Chime, Chime Pro, Solar Security Sign||Ring Chime, Chime Pro, Solar Security Sign||Ring Chime, Chime Pro, Stick Up Solar Panel, Solar Security Sign, Silicone Sleeve||Ring Chime, Chime Pro, Solar Security Sign||Ring Chime, Chime Pro, Solar Security Sign, Spotlight Solar Panel (Battery Version), Quick Release Battery (Battery Version)|
|Compatible Third-Party Products||Echo Show, Echo Spot, IFTTT, Wink, Control4, Stringify, LockState, Kisi, Lockitron, WeMo, Kevo, SmartThings||Echo Show, Echo Spot, IFTTT, Wink, Control4, Stringify, LockState, Kisi, Lockitron, WeMo, Kevo, SmartThings||Echo Show, Echo Spot, IFTTT, Wink, Control4, Stringify, LockState, Kisi, Lockitron, WeMo, Kevo, SmartThings||Echo Show, Echo Spot, Stringify, Wink||Echo Show, Echo Spot, Stringify||Echo Show, Echo Spot, Stringify|
|Lifetime Purchase Protection||Free replacement if stolen.||Free replacement if stolen.||Free replacement if stolen.||Free replacement if stolen.||Free replacement if stolen.||Free replacement if stolen.||Free replacement if stolen.|
|Ring Video Doorbell||Ring Video Doorbell||Ring Video Doorbell Pro||Ring Video Doorbell Elite||Stick Up Cam||Floodlight Cam||Spotlight Cam|
|Visit Site||Visit Site||Visit Site||Visit Site||Visit Site||Visit Site||Visit Site|
Ring Floodlight Cam
I met Floodlight Cam during CES 2017, and I was pretty excited. The camera is reminiscent of Sengled or even Kuna as it combines the power of a security camera with the power of smart lighting, two effective home security forces.
Ring has thought beyond the typical to outfit the device with several new security features. First of all, Floodlight Cam includes person and object detection. Not to be confused with facial recognition, person detection can’t identify who a person is, just that they are indeed a person. However, it’s a feature that makes motion alerts more intelligent and helps cut down on time spent watching footage of trees swaying in the wind. Second, it is the only Ring device which includes a 110-decibel siren. Finally, the 3K lumen LED lights are motion activated and app-controlled.
The lights inside Floodlight Cam are smart lights. You can schedule them to turn on and off at certain times. You can even schedule them to turn on at dusk and off at dawn directly from the Ring mobile app. Finally, you can turn them on or off on-demand from anywhere.
The Floodlight Cam doesn’t have as many compatibilities as Ring’s Video Doorbells, but it has some, including Stringify. This allows you to integrate the camera into scenes and rules. Within Stringify, you can choose from two triggers: motion is detected and motion is detected with video, and you can choose from two actions: turn on Ring Floodlight and turn off Ring Floodlight. It can also stream footage to Amazon Echo Show, Echo Spot, or any Alexa-enabled device with a screen.
The downside to Ring Floodlight Cam is that it’s a floodlight. Though Ring will ship everything you need for a successful install, it still requires that you replace an existing wired floodlight. The camera will connect to any standard junction box to help simplify installation, but it still might be a challenge for some, like me.
Ring Spotlight Cam
If you’d rather avoid the trouble of installing Floodlight Cam, then perhaps you’re better off with the Ring Spotlight Cam.
Spotlight Cam is Ring’s latest outdoor camera that comes in wired, battery-powered, and solar-powered versions. All three versions are designed for outdoor use as they are all weatherproof and can survive sub-zero temps.
Unlike Floodlight Cam, Spotlight Cam is easier to install. Simply mount it to a wall, and plug it in, assuming you are using the wired version ($199). Ring also sells a solar powered version ($229) as well as a battery-powered version ($199). Solar and battery are the same cameras. The only difference is that bundling your purchase of the camera with the solar panel saves a little bit of money.
Besides their power source, there are a couple of other differences between the cameras. The wired version supports Motion Zones. You can identify areas within the camera’s field of view that you want to monitor while ignoring other areas. The wired version also supports light schedules. If you own the battery-powered version, your lights can turn on automatically when motion is detected. You can even turn the lights on manually from within the mobile app.
No matter which version you choose, Spotlight offers FHD 1080p video, a 140° wide-angle lens, night vision, and two-way audio. The cameras also come equipped with a siren; however, the siren will not sound automatically. Instead, you are responsible for triggering the siren when needed.
My hands-on review of Ring Spotlight Solar Cam is coming soon.
Ring Stick Up Cam
Ring Stick Up Cam has been around for a while. And if you’re interested, you can compare it to other outdoor home security cameras here. Stick up is a wire-free camera that you can mount anywhere you have an internet connection. Ring Stick Up Cam only monitors for motion and does so using a smaller field of view. It provides two-way audio and is the only option that can be used inside, though it is fully weatherproof and made for outdoor use.
The major downside to Stick Up Cam, like other battery-operated cameras, is that the charge will only last so long. The good news is that if you don’t want to take it down to charge, you can purchase the solar charging panel ($49) to keep it fired up. The panel connects to Stick Up via a micro USB cable and uses sunlight to keep the camera’s battery charged.
Ring Video Doorbells
What makes the Ring Video Doorbells different from the other Ring cameras is pretty obvious, they’re doorbells. To help protect your home, they connect to your home’s WiFi and send notifications when they detect motion or when someone rings your doorbell.
The first significant difference between the four is how they are installed. All four doorbell options can be hardwired into your existing doorbell wires and will use your existing doorbell chime. If you don’t have an existing doorbell, your options are the original Ring Video Doorbell or the newer Ring Video Doorbell 2, as they can run on battery power. Also, Ring Elite is a flush-mount doorbell. At CES I was told that Elite is best for new home builders or contractors because you do have to cut a hole to flush-mount the doorbell. The doorbell fits inside a standard sized junction box. The second feature that sets Elite apart from the other doorbells is that it uses PoE (Power over Ethernet). Using PoE is smart, very smart. It will improve Elite’s performance as it no longer relies on your wireless internet connection and will be less impervious to bandwidth issues and offline failures.
To break it down, Ring Original and V2 are battery-powered. Ring Pro is hardwired, has a slimmer design, higher resolution, a smaller field of view, but adds custom motion zones. Ring Elite is the same as Pro, but it’s a flush-mount style device and adds PoE. Ring also recommends that you have Ring Elite professionally installed.
If you don’t own an existing doorbell chime, Ring has a solution for you. Ring sells two wireless chimes including the Ring Chime and Chime Pro. Chime Pro acts as a WiFi extender in addition to a chime. Of course, you don’t need a chime at all as you will receive push notifications to your phone. If you’re an IFTTT user, you can set up other alerts. For example, you can get an alert on your TV, turn your Hue lights on, or even set up text alerts to let you know when someone’s at your door.
As mentioned earlier, I’ve owned the original Ring Doorbell for awhile, and I’ve recommended it to both friends and family members. The only problem I’ve had with it is that twice it’s lost internet connection. Unfortunately, when this happens, you have to remove the doorbell and reset it. The process takes about 15 minutes. Also, if you choose to run the device on battery power, you’ll need to take it down to recharge it. Though I’ve not tested the device using the battery, the battery should last 6-12 months. Once it dies, it takes several hours to recharge.
All that said, the problems above are great reasons to pay the extra $20 for V2. The second version of the Ring Video Doorbell features a removable battery, making the process of charging the battery a simpler one.
(Update: The launch of Ring Protect was delayed due to a legal dispute between Ring and ADT.)
Finally, the only non-camera option, Ring Protect. Ring Protect is Ring’s security system. You can self-monitor the system or pay for professional monitoring.
The Base Station acts as the hub, communicating with Ring’s cloud, the central monitoring center, as well as all connected devices. The Base Station is integrated with a siren, battery backup, a cellular chip, as well as ZigBee, Z-Wave, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi. Ring also sells a keypad, contact sensors, motion sensors, and a range extender or you can purchase an inclusive Protect Security Kit for $199.
What’s interesting about Ring Protect is that adding cellular backup and professional monitoring is just $10 per month. That same fee adds 60 days of cloud storage for ALL of your Ring Cameras.
You can learn more about Ring Protect and compare it to abode and Nest Secure here.
Other Home Security Features
As standalone devices, all of Ring’s cameras provide unique security benefits. They also provide many of the same benefits: You can talk to visitors using two-way audio, receive motion alerts, and check-in via live streaming. But there are other security benefits they all share, some free, some not.
No matter which camera you choose, they all require a cloud storage plan if you want to access your video history. Fortunately, the monthly fee is low compared to other cloud camera options. For $3/month/camera or $30/year, you will gain access to 60 days of video history. For the Ring Doorbells, the history includes both motion and ring events. If you have several Ring cameras, you can subscribe to Protect for $10/month or $100/year. This plan covers an unlimited amount of Ring cameras and adds a lifetime product warranty versus a 1-year warranty without the Protect plan. As mentioned above, if you own a Ring Protect, the $10/month plan will also add Ring Response (24/7 professional monitoring) and cellular backup.
In addition to the features mentioned above, you will also have full control over recorded events. You can delete them at any time, or you can share them directly from the mobile app (iOS, Android, Mac or Windows 10) or the web portal.
Ring Neighborhoods is a free feature aimed at connecting Ring owners. By opting in, you become part of a larger community. By setting a geofence radius around your home, you define a neighborhood. If someone within your “neighborhood” catches something suspicious, they can choose to share the footage with connected neighbors. As seen in the video above, the benefits of the program are tangible. After six months, the Los Angeles neighborhood of Wilshire Park saw a 50% reduction in burglaries.
Also, you don’t have to own a Ring device to take advantage of Ring Neighborhoods. Anyone can download the Ring app to join.
Another free security feature is motion scheduling. Using the Ring app, you can disable events during specific days or times. For example, if you’re home every weekday between 5 pm and 6 pm and don’t want your activity recorded, you can schedule the same using the mobile app. You can even have multiple rules so that the camera behaves differently on different days and times.
Multiple Doorbells, Multiple Users, Multiple Locations
If you need multiple doorbells, you can do that too. In fact, Ring recently launched a feature to make managing multiple doorbells easier. If you have multiple calls, you can now place live events on hold to answer new calls and switch between calls without hanging up.
One thing that surprised me after installing Ring Spotlight Cam was that while you can manage multiple cameras via the mobile app, they don’t work together. For example, if someone rings my Ring Doorbell, I can’t trigger Spotlight Cam to start recording. I can, however, add multiple users to help manage alerts.
Ring’s multi-user approach is smart and made smarter by a feature called Ring Locations. You can add your Ring devices to different locations. From there, you can give different access to different users. For example, at your primary home you can be a Homeowner with associated privileges. At your best friend’s home, you might be a Neighbor. Each user’s access can be customized including deciding what alerts you want to receive.
Third-Party Integrations via Ring+
Finally, you can help protect your home by integrating your Ring devices with third-party companies. We’ve already talked about the IFTTT integration, but there are others. What’s confusing about the integrations is that they aren’t universal across all platforms. For example, IFTTT only supports actions and triggers that are doorbell related. The doorbell cameras also work well with smart locks including those by Lockitron and Kevo. When someone rings your doorbell, you will have the option of unlocking the door for them using the Ring Mobile App. Other direct integrations include ADT Pulse (uncertain pending litigation), WeMo, Lockstate, Wink, Echo Show, Echo Spot, FireTV and Stringify.
Integrations with Ring Protect are still TBD.
From an outdoor home security perspective, I’m a big fan of what Ring is doing. The only thing that would improve their ability to protect would be the option for continuous cloud recording via Stickup Cam and perhaps some free cloud storage. However, even without continuous recording, they are capable of protecting most homes by making it seem like you’re home when you’re not thanks to smart lighting via the Floodlight Cam and the ability to use two-way audio in response to events. Ring is a family of products worth buying, and if you read my reviews, you know I don’t say that often.
Q: Can you place Ring Doorbell to the side of the door where it is not forward facing? Will it only capture profiles?
A: Side placement is not ideal, but it’s also not terrible. I tried to test this configuration by approaching my doorbell from a sideways angle. I was identifiable from the side (pics below), sometimes more, sometimes less, depending on how I approached the door, but in general, the farther back I stood from the camera, the more usable the footage. If you have a long approach to your door, the chances of the camera capturing usable footage will increase. I suggest buying the doorbell and testing it (using the battery) BEFORE you physically install it. If you think it will work, go for it. If not, send it back.