We did a mid-year review of all the top home security systems, including new package and equipment offerings, price changes, updated or discontinued features, and the latest customer service reviews.
The cheapest professional monitoring rate in the industry helped Ring Alarm break into our top 10 for the first time. Even though it's a very basic home security system, it's one of the most affordable. Find out everything about Ring Alarm in our updated review below.
With no contracts and no fancy extras, Ring Security is basic in the best way. This home alarm system is a good fit if you want a no-frills security system that gets the job done. It’s easy to assemble, attentive with its alerts, and expandable so it can grow with your family.
Wildly affordable price
Huge range of cameras
Clever Neighbors app
Few sensors in starting package
Tough features to reset
Compare Ring Alarm Prices
Environmental sensors, motion detectors, Ring cameras
Data effective 08/23/2019. Offers and availability subject to change.
Ring costs peanuts compared to other self-installed systems like it. The base price for the starter kit is under $200. Self-monitoring is free without video or you can add a camera with video recording for $3. And at $10 per month, Ring’s professional monitoring is one of the cheapest rates we’ve encountered.
The Protect Plus plan also includes perks like video backlog and discounted equipment. Other systems like Frontpoint and SimpliSafe have these features, but you’d have to pay up to $40 per month. Unfortunately, Ring doesn’t offer professional video monitoring with any of its plans.
Things that cost more than Ring’s monthly monitoring rate:
A Netflix subscription
A gym membership
A night at the movies
A week of groceries
Impulse purchases on Amazon
Ring Security Tech and Equipment
All of Ring’s standard tech has a simple white cover with the signature blue LED ring. The ring of light on the sensors illuminates when they catch motion or the system is armed. We like the minimalist look of Ring’s equipment, and the chime feature on the door/window sensor is comforting to hear when you come home.
What’s in the Box
Ring offers roughly the same package in three sizes: small ($169), medium ($229), and large ($299). The right kit for you depends on the size of your home. It’s best to cover all your main entrances with a contact sensor and have motion detectors in the main entryways. The large and medium kits have all the essentials below, but with more sensors.
Included in the Ring Alarm Starter Kit
This is the core of the system. The base station connects all Ring Alarm devices. The siren is also located within the base station.
The keypad gives you physical control of your security system. You can arm and disarm the system and view the status of the system.
This functions as either a window or door sensor. The contact sensor monitors when doors and windows are opened.
This sensor provides motion detection in any area or room where it’s placed. It uses a passive infrared sensor (PIR) that can pick up movement in a ninety-degree radius.
This device strengthens the Ring Alarm Z-Wave mesh network to amplify the signal from the base station. This lets you place devices further away from the base station to cover more area.
The Ring alarm kit is the only security system we know of that comes with a range extender. This is usually an add-on accessory that costs extra, so it’s helpful for anyone with a larger home or outdoor equipment to have it included. Range extenders boost the reach of your home’s Wi-Fi and provide a better connection for additional devices.
The base station and keypad control the system as a whole. Both have the signature ring light to indicate system status. When we tested Ring’s system, we found that the base station was easy to set up, but we had some difficulties with the keypad. Arming or disarming was confusing, and it was hard to tell if we’d successfully changed the system’s status until the alarm sounded (the neighbors loved that). Eventually, we used the Ring app instead of the keypad and it went much smoother. So while a keypad is helpful when you have an armful of groceries, the app is much easier to understand.
During testing, we encountered issues with the contact sensor. If your door and window frames have molding, you might have trouble too. The doorframe was too high for the sensors to match, so the system showed that the door was open. Thankfully, we found help through Ring’s guide to different door and window trims.
In addition to traditional home security tech, Ring has a suite of advanced indoor and outdoor cameras, environmental sensors, and more. We tested only the starter kit, but these other accessories are easy to add to your home system and play well with others.
Base station Contact sensor Keypad Motion detector Range extender
Base station Contact sensor (5) Keypad Motion detector (2) Range extender
Base station Contact sensor (8) Keypad (2) Motion detector (2) Range extender
Data effective 08/23/2019. Offers and availability subject to change.
More Ring Alarm Kit Options
If none of those kits are what you need, you can create a Ring Alarm kit that’s just right for your home. If you’re putting together a kit, we recommend a contact sensor for every ground-floor door and window and at least one motion detector per floor. You may also want to add a keypad so you can have one at the main entrance and in the master bedroom.
We also found deals for other pre-selected kits online. Amazon offers a custom 8-piece security kit that (with discounts) might be even less than the standard 5-piece kit price. Plus, all Amazon Ring kits come with an Echo Dot included.
Ring Smart Home Standout Features
Ring has a unique feature in the app called the Neighborhood Feed. It gives you updates from other Ring users in your area. They post suspicious activity, report crimes, and even share the occasional wildlife encounter. It’s a quick, anonymous way of keeping your neighbors in the loop and a unique feature we haven’t seen on other home security systems.
That said, while we love the Neighbors app, it’s wise to ask questions and think about posts critically. There’s no vetting required, so we’ve seen a lot of posts that unnecessarily raise alarm.
Smart Home Tech that Works with the Ring Security System
This system has seen a fast evolution since it first hit the market last year. It debuted without any home automation integration (not even with Ring video doorbells and cameras), but today you can control many smart devices through the Ring app, and you can use the Ring Alarm base station as a smart home hub.
The Ring system has everything you need right in the box. The packaging is slick, and it’s easy to find all the sensors, instructions, and cables you need. Ring provides directions from the app and printed materials in the box—you just need to follow along.
Installation starts with your base hub, or the “brain” that ties the system together. You’ll want to have your Wi-Fi password handy because there’s no “cancel” option if you enter it in wrong and this can add time to the process. Once your base station has a connection, the rest of the setup is simple. You’ll need a four-digit entry code for the keypad and a place to put your sensors, but these devices take just moments to install.
If you’re getting a Ring system secondhand or giving yours away, you’ll need to restore its factory settings. This process takes a while because you have to manually reset each device. Plan on a few minutes for each.
Ring Security Customer Service
Ring customer service provides help wherever you need it. Between the instructions in the box, online support, and the Ring app, we found answers to most of our questions. We were able to find articles that helped us install a contact sensor on a difficult door and info on how to reset the system. You probably won’t have to call Ring for help, but if you need to, there are call centers in three time zones.
The company provides 24/7 customer service and technical help over the phone. Here’s a look at some of Ring’s customer ratings.*
Trustpilot rating: 2 stars, Poor
Ring Always Home app on Apple App Store: 3.2 stars out of 5
Ring Always Home app on Google Play: 3.3 stars out of 5
*Ratings as of August 2019
How Ring Stacks Up
Compared to other self-installed security systems like it, Ring stands out for its low pricing and low commitment. It has all the same equipment and features as the big guys but for a fraction of the price. That said, Ring is still new to the home alarm game, so we’re excited to see how it can change the industry.
When stacked against systems like Frontpoint and Link Interactive, Ring does miss out on customizable product packages. While you can add on new devices or get an expandable kit, you can’t design your system from the ground up.
Cheapest Monitoring Plan
Basic Equipment Package
Base station, keypad, motion sensor, door and window sensor, range extender
Hub and keypad, door and window sensor, yard sign, decals, door sticker
Data effective 08/23/2019. Offers and availability subject to change. *Contract varies with the length of time you need to pay off your equipment
Things to Consider Before You Buy
Ring comes with a lot of options for monitoring, equipment, and add-ons. Before you jump in, consider if you’d prefer to monitor your system or have help from the pros (we recommend leaving it to the pros). It’s easy to find a security system with professional monitoring, but it’s hard to beat the rate Ring sets at $10 per month. You can also add extra equipment to your Ring system. Cameras and environmental sensors like smoke or flood detectors are just as affordable as the core system.
Ring Extras for More Security
Ring Floodlight Cam
A motion-activated camera that features floodlights, two-way talk, voice control with Alexa, and a siren.
Do I get a refund if I pay for a year of professional monitoring but cancel early?
You are eligible for a refund if you cancel an annual Ring Protect Plan subscription during the first ten months of the subscription. Ring will charge you the monthly subscription price for every month you used the service. After that, any remaining funds will be refunded. If you cancel the plan after the tenth month, there is no refund available.
Does Ring Alarm work with my existing security cameras?
Only if your current cameras are from Ring. If you want video monitoring with your Ring Alarm system, you can get it with a Ring camera or video doorbell as part of the Ring Protect Plus plan. Because you can control multiple Ring devices in the Ring app you’ll only need to go to one source to monitor both your cameras and your Ring Alarm system.
Does Ring Alarm still work if my power goes out or I lose my Wi-Fi network connection?
The Ring Alarm security system has built-in battery backup in case you lose power. The battery backup should give you about twenty-four hours of power. For those who have a Ring Protect Plus plan, the Ring Alarm also has cellular backup.
Can I get a discount on my homeowners insurance with Ring Alarm?
Yes. Ring provides alarm certificates that customers can provide to their insurance company for a discount. The certificate can be downloaded online.
Log into your Ring account
Click the menu icon in the top left corner (it looks like three lines)
Click on Location Settings
Click on Monitoring
Click on Certificate
Download or print the certificate
What about Ring working with police departments?
There have been a number of reports about Ring partnering with police departments to give away free or discounted Ring video doorbells. The push to work with police came after Amazon purchased Ring. At first glance this looks like a proactive move by a security company to get security devices into more homes. But there has been fallout related to privacy concerns and access to personal video footage captured on the Ring doorbells.
Part of the partnership between Ring and police departments includes police encouraging people to install Ring video doorbells and then agree to share video footage in the event of a neighborhood crime. Residents don’t have to give the police access to their camera’s footage, but Forbes reported that law enforcement “can request the footage directly from Amazon if it has been uploaded to the cloud and the request is sent within 60 days of recording—even if you deny police access to footage.”
As of mid-August 2019, there are about 225 police departments working with Amazon and Ring. The partnerships also extend to Ring’s Neighbors app, where citizens and law enforcement can share suspicious activity or report criminal behavior that’s observed or captured on a Ring camera. You don’t have to buy a Ring product to use the app, and you can still see what neighbors and police are posting even if your home is Ring-free.
The Ring alarm system fits right in with small homes or anyone who wants to save money on their security budget. It’s hard to beat $120 a year for professional monitoring (or $100 if you pay for a full year in advance). This system is easy to install and adjust, but we did run into a few hiccups when we relied on the keypad for arming and disarming. Overall, we found it easier to control the system through the app than with the keypad. Still not sure if Ring is for you? Compare this system to our overall lineup of home alarm systems or other DIY systems.
How We Reviewed Ring Alarm
We wanted to see the Ring alarm system in action, so we took one home. Our tester set it up and used it over a weekend. During that time, they had a partner back home arm and disarm the system while they checked from the app. We tested Ring for everyday situations, like arming and disarming it remotely and through the keypad. We left it on while our tester was home and armed it when they left. We caused a couple of false alarms while learning the system, but we were able to disarm it quickly through the app. Learn more about how we tested Ring and other systems by reading our full methodology.
Since 2013, Katie has written marketing copy, long-form posts, reviews, and blogs. She began her career as a writer and reviewer with the mission to recommend only the best products for her readers. She’s designed tests, evaluated products, and written reviews on a range of subjects such as appliances, power tools, and software. Today, she applies these research and writing skills on the SafeWise team to explore the world of home, auto, and internet security. Learn more