Ring isn’t just for your doorbell anymore. This innovative smart home company just launched a full-fledged home security system: Ring Alarm. Easy installation combined with straightforward alarms and settings make Ring Alarm attractive—and the price doesn’t hurt either ($199 for the Alarm Security Kit).
To see how well Ring performs as a home security system, I took one home to give it a try. It’s fair to say that there are still a few bugs to work out (motion sensor alerts, please), but this looks to be a contender in the DIY home security field. Nest Secure and SimpliSafe need to watch out because Ring Alarm is coming for them.
How We Evaluated Ring Alarm
We put the Ring Alarm security system through its paces with a hands-on, in-home test over several weeks. We also dug into product information, other expert reviews, technical specs, customer feedback, and industry standards for DIY home security. Check out our methodology for more information about how we rank and review products.
Base station Keypad Contact sensor Motion detector Range extender
24/7 Professional Monitoring
Free for first 30 days $10/mo. or $100/yr.
1 year, limited
No integration yet
Ring Doorbell Camera
No integration yet
Smoke, Fire, CO Protection
Coming Fall 2018
Home Automation Compatibility
How Ring Alarm Stacks Up
Ring Alarm is certainly one of the most affordable DIY home security systems available. But it trades some features and function for that low sticker price. There’s no integration with other smart home gadgets—and that includes voice control (you’re killing me, Smalls!). There is hope, though. Ring Alarm uses Z-wave connectivity, which means the foundation for smart home automation is in place. This is a solid start, but we’d like to see more flexibility when it comes to controlling alerts and some compatibility with home automation devices.
As a home security tester who gets worn out quickly by alert bombardment, I actually missed the barrage of alerts this time. When it comes to an alarm system, I want to know every time a motion detector has been triggered. Ring Alarm doesn’t offer that option. The only time you get alerts (push or email) is when an alarm is activated via a triggered door or window sensor. It also lets you know when the status of the system (disarmed, home, or away) changes. I do think Ring is going after competitors like Nest and SimpliSafe, but I think it has a little more to do before it can really give those DIY systems a run for their money.
Compare Ring Alarm against Other DIY Security Systems
Base station Keypad Contact sensor Motion detector Range extender
Base station Keypad Entry sensor Motion sensor
Nest Guard 2 Nest Detect sensors 2 Nest Tags
$15 or $25/mo.
$30/mo. or $20 with 3-year contract
Home Automation Compatibility
August smart door locks Nest thermostat Amazon Alexa
Nest products Google Home Amazon Alexa Philips Hue WeMo Skybell More
Price and Contract
At $199 for the starter kit, I can’t complain. Granted, you only get one motion sensor and one contact sensor, but you can monitor and control them through the Ring app for free. If you want the extra protection of professional monitoring, you can add a Ring Protect plan. Ring Protect provides 24/7 monitoring and costs $10 per month or $100 if you pay for a full year up front. Plus, there’s no long-term contract. You can cancel at any time.
And if you opt for the Protect Plus plan, you also get 10% off any future Ring purchases. That can come in handy if you want to add another motion, window, or door sensor (prices range from $20 to $30). It’s also important to note that the only way to get an extended warranty is with a Protect Plus subscription. And the final perk of the Protect Plus plan is unlimited cloud storage if you add Ring doorbells and security cameras.
Low monthly monitoring fees
No long-term contract
Affordable Ring Alarm starter kit
Free 30-day Ring Protect trial
Subscription required for extended warranty
Tech and Equipment
The first thing that struck me about the Ring Alarm equipment is how much it looks like Nest. The blue circles on the base station and keypad look like the Nest Protect smoke and CO detector. I don’t know if that was intentional, but I bet it was. This could be a smart move that lets Ring cash in on consumers’ familiarity with Nest, or it could lead to confusion.
Either way, what really matters is how it works. I found the equipment easy to set up and install, for the most part. My biggest challenge was getting everything out of the box. It’s packaged beautifully, but it was tricky for me to remove each item and installation pouch. Once I gave up and just dumped it all out upside down, things went smoothly. I did have a brain freeze when it came to installing the contact sensor on my front door. Hint: It only works if you install BOTH sides of the sensor (the back side is in the installation pouch, along with double-sided tape for simple installation).
To find out how well Ring Alarm sensors are at sensing things, I deliberately set off both motion and door sensors. I also moved the single contact sensor I received from the front door to a window so I could see how well it works as a window sensor. Window sensors default to an automatic alarm, with no waiting period for you to disarm the system.
When I opened the window and the loud piercing siren went off, I panicked. I entered my security PIN into the keypad, but the alarm kept screaming. I finally unplugged the base station, but it still wouldn’t shut up. To calm my mind (and keep my dog from losing his), I set the base station outside—blaring away. Once the sound was on the other side of the door, I was able to calmly look at the Ring app and hit disarm. The other (embarrassing) thing I realized I could have done was close the window (SMH).
Easy setup in minutes
Loud siren (for real!)
Tamper-proof siren (short of taking a hammer to it)
Difficult packaging (it can’t ALL be about looks!)
Unclear instructions for installing the contact sensor
Few sensors included in Security Kit
Unlike other home security tech I’ve tested at home, Ring Alarm didn’t blow up my phone with alerts. Unfortunately, I wanted it to. To check on the motion sensor, I had to log into the app and go into the history.
The only push notifications I received were for the contact sensor and changes to the status of the system. It also took me a while to find a way to change how I received (or didn’t receive) system alerts. I’ll admit that part of this was user error, but I couldn’t even find any helpful information online. All the Ring information about troubleshooting alerts was for the Ring Doorbell.
Another caveat when it comes to Ring Alarm alerts is that all the devices come with pre-programmed settings. So if you use a contact sensor on a window and mark it as such in the app, the alarm will sound instantly if the window is opened. If you use the contact sensor on the front door and mark it as such, it will give you a delay, so you’ll have time to disarm the system after the door is opened. You can’t add a delay to the window sensor. I’d like to see a little more customization so people can design the Ring Alarm system to work the way they want it to for their specific needs.
No alert bombardment
Accurate system history in the app
Pre-programmed alert settings
Glitchy and inconsistent alerts
Because the system is so new, there isn’t a lot of information out there about customer service for Ring Alarm—and I didn’t need to call them. But Ring (as a brand) has a great reputation. The company provides 24/7 customer service and technical help over the phone. There is also a collection of help articles and FAQs on the Ring website, but they are pretty general (or specific to the Ring Doorbell). Ring Alarm has a 4.2 customer rating on Best Buy, but that’s only from forty-six customers. The Ring security system also gets 4.2 stars from customers on Amazon, and there are currently ninety-three reviews at the time of this writing.
I tried to find out what monitoring company Ring is using but was unable to dig up that information. I’d like to see more (any) information about who the “security professionals” are that are monitoring the Ring Alarm system. Both Nest and SimpliSafe are transparent about who their monitoring partners are, so it’s confusing that Ring isn’t disclosing that information. Fortunately, customers report positive responses and service from whoever is on the other end of the Ring Alarm system.
“My interaction with the Ring rep was fantastic. They called very quickly, and the person I spoke with was extremely professional, kind and knowledgeable! They made me feel like a valued customer for sure.” James Duncan, Amazon customer review
Good company reputation
24/7 customer service
High customer ratings
No transparency about professional monitoring
Ring Alarm Home Security System FAQs
Why doesn’t Ring Alarm work with Amazon Alexa but Ring Doorbell does?
Currently, the Ring Alarm components are not set up to integrate with other smart home products. It can be confusing because the Ring Doorbell does have integration with home automation products like Amazon Alexa. It seems like the focus for Ring Alarm is strictly security. But Amazon acquired Ring early this year, so it may not be long before voice control is available for the Ring Alarm security system.
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?
No. At this time, Ring Alarm doesn’t integrate with any cameras—not even Ring security cameras. If you want video monitoring, you can purchase a Ring camera or video doorbell, and it will be included in your Protect Plus plan. But the cameras will not be connected through the base station. You can control multiple Ring devices in the Ring app, though, so you’ll only need to go to one source to monitor both the camera and the 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 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
Ring Alarm Equipment
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.
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.
Ring Alarm is definitely the most affordable DIY home security option—for both equipment and professional monitoring. The components are stylish, and they do their job. But this stripped-down security system is missing features that we’ve come to expect. There’s no smart home integration, and you don’t have many options to customize alerts and settings. It’s a good start, but I think that Ring has some more work to do if it wants to dominate DIY home security the same way it’s ruled the video doorbell market.
Rebecca has honed her safety and security skills as both a single mom and a college director. Being responsible for the well-being of others helped her learn how to minimize risk and create safe environments. Learn more