I had been wanting to install cameras outside of my home pretty much from the second I moved in. For security purposes, obviously. But also because I am one of those “hide and pretend I’m not home when the doorbell rings” people. The thought of having cameras that allowed me to “peek” outside the door without the risk of being caught was a dream. So as soon as I got around to it, I started researching cameras.
My husband and I first installed a Ring Video Doorbell then several Blink cameras around the house that all worked amazingly well. We eventually decided to upgrade a bit and invest in a total alarm system. After doing a ton of research, we settled on expanding our Ring cameras and doorbell with their professional monitoring service. For $199, a basic Ring Home Security System includes a base station, contact sensor, motion detector, keypad, and range extender. They also offer the option to purchase 24/7 professional monitoring for an extra $10 a month or $100 a year. The $199 package does not include cameras, but you can buy those separately for around $199, and the cost of operating them is included in the $10 monthly monitoring fee. Without the professional monitoring, which has no long-term contract or cancellation fee, it will cost $3 per month for the cameras to record, so if you add even just a few cameras, the monitoring pays for itself. You can also buy more sensors if you want to cover additional doors and windows. The Ring system works with your smartphone, alerting you when windows or doors are open, with or without professional monitoring. Without professional monitoring or when the system is turned off, you will just hear a chime in your house. If you have professional monitoring, Ring will contact you if there is an alert when your system is active. If you say the alert was not caused by you, they will call the police on your behalf.
My experience with the Ring Home Security System
We pretty much went all-out with our system, buying additional door and window sensors and several cameras. Most recently, we purchased their smoke alarm and carbon monoxide listeners. While the listener is not an alarm or detector, when placed near your smoke alarm, it will send alerts to your phone if the alarm sounds. If you have monitoring turned on, Ring will also call 911. According to their website, their average call response time is 30 seconds.
Fortunately, we haven’t seen the smoke alarm and carbon monoxide listeners in action, but we have turned the security system on a few times and have the cameras operating 24/7. The cameras pick up motion almost instantly, sending an alert so you can see what’s going on in real time. If you miss the alert by a few seconds and the activity has ceased, you have to wait about a minute for the video replay to load — in my experience, this delay can trigger a bit of anxiety.
One of the coolest features is that you can talk through the doorbell and some cameras. If someone is at your door and you don’t want to answer or aren’t home, you can speak to them right through your phone. I am not ashamed to say I have also talked to the neighbor’s dog via one of the cameras, but that’s a story for another day. Next to the cost, our main reason for choosing this system was the self-installation. We’re not fans of having people at our home to do work, so this was actually a huge bonus. Of course, if you aren’t much of a DIYer, this could also be a valid reason not to get this system.
How to install Ring security in your home
As for the actual setup, it can be a little tricky. While Ring says in their product description that it “takes just minutes,” it was actually a day-long project. Installing the sensors on the doors and windows was the easiest part, as you just stick them in the places you want to monitor. You do have to line up two pieces together — one alongside the door and one on the actual door, for example, but it is pretty easy to do.
By far, the hardest part was setting up the Ring security monitoring. Not only does everyone who is using it need to download the app to their smartphone, you also have to connect the system and all of the sensors. My husband is pretty tech-savvy and figures out most of our gadgets, but this was tricky even for him. Adding each sensor to the system took what seemed like way longer than it should, and he was thinking he wouldn’t be able to get them all to work. While we can’t be certain, we don’t think this issue was due to our internet connection as all of our other devices appeared to be working.
As for the actual keypad, you can put that anywhere you want. For now, ours is just resting on a table, but you can attach it to a wall if you prefer. It can run on a battery or be plugged in.
If you chose to add the cameras, which are not included with the security system, be prepared for another full day of work. It is definitely a two-person job. For one, you need to climb a ladder if you choose to mount a camera up high. And secondly, one person has to position the camera to focus on the area you want to monitor, and another person needs to load up the app to ensure the angle is correct. It’s unlikely you’ll nail the angle on the first try, so you’ll likely have to move the camera around a bit. The cameras easily screw into wood and other materials.
Once everything synced up, our security system began to run flawlessly. We’ve had no issues with the cameras or sensors. The alarm system also comes with a 24-hour backup battery that kicks in if you lose power. While the system does run on Wi-Fi, if you purchase the monitoring system, it will also run on cellular backup if your internet connection goes down.
If you truly want to ensure your entire home is protected, you can also purchase flood and freeze sensors and a panic button. There are also third-party devices that work with Ring, including locks and deadbolts for your front door.
Finally, while the five-piece system costs $199, you can likely get a deal if you wait until the holidays or poke around for other discounts. We did not pay full price for the system or cameras thanks to Black Friday sales. You can find the system directly through Ring, at Amazon, and at stores like Best Buy. Even at $199 plus $10 a month (or $100 per year), it was still the cheapest system we found. I compared Ring’s prices with ADT and found a significant difference: ADT costs $99 to install, then $27.99 per month for basic coverage. If you want to add wireless alerts, it will run you $52.99 a month and adding video surveillance raises the cost to $58.99 a month.
All in all, if you can afford the upfront costs of the Ring security system and cameras, the $10 monthly fee is completely worth it for the peace of mind you get while home or away.