I purchased the “Iris by [b]Lowe’s” home do-it-yourself security system in July 2018 for close to $500 only to have [b]Lowe’s decide they were killing off that business in March 2019. [b]Lowe’s also decided I would only receive a partial refund of $200 by Visa gift card, but this is a gripe for another discussion.
I decided to waste no time and purchased the Ring home security system starter kit, which included an Echo Dot for $160 at Amazon.com. This included the base unit, a motion sensor, one door/window contact sensor, a range extender, and a keypad. The current generation Echo Dot was on backorder, but I already have a few throughout the house. I also purchased eight contact sensors since I want them on all exterior doors and several windows. This brought the grand total to just over $300, half of which was for door/window sensors. I know a lot of burglars do not slide open locked windows unless quite easy to do so, but I like sensors on windows that may be easy targets and there was no option for a glass break sensor, yet… Alexa has a pending skill to listen for glass breakage, which I hope will work with the Ring alarm.
The Ring equipment was a bit less expensive than the Iris equipment, but the Ring product was much more polished. I was shocked at the size of the contact sensors since they were much larger than the Iris sensors. However, the Ring sensors use the more common CR123A batteries, which should last quite a while. Iris used smaller lithium batteries. The control panel/keypad uses rechargeable batteries and comes with a USB cable for charging. I don’t know how often I will have to charge it, but I simply charged mine overnight. This is a relief because I had to replace the lithium batteries in my Iris keypads after just six months. The base unit or hub is rather light for the size, but what I didn’t realize is that it also includes a rechargeable backup battery, as does the range extender. Along with the cellular backup (with paid monitoring it turns out), this ensures the Ring security system will work (for a short while) if the power is disrupted.
I found the installation rather easy, with the exception of pairing some of the contact sensors. I had issues with four of the nine sensors paired with the hub. I followed instructions to the letter, but four would not connect properly. Their help section says, “If the Contact Sensor isn’t connecting, open the sensor’s cover, then remove and reinsert the battery.” This did not work. I dug a bit deeper and another help section said to press the small button on the sensor circuit board, but this did not work. What I discovered, and maybe missed somewhere, was that a troublesome sensor would pair if the cover was removed, the battery was removed, then you would need to press and hold the small button on the circuit board (I used the small mounting bracket for the magnetic sensor) when re-inserting the battery. I held this button until the phone app showed the device was pairing and then released. I was then able to get all troublesome sensors paired and functional. I wish I would have known about that little trick before wasting quite a bit of time.
Once everything was configured and installed, I used the app to enter users and their passwords. This was easy enough, with one caveat – I recommend adding people as guests. This is because a user account sends the recipient an email and they will need to create an account. My daughter never checks email and her code did not work the following day when she tried to deactivate the alarm. She was stuck with the alarm going off and no way to disarm it until I did so from my phone. That was when I discovered she has to accept the invite via email. That was when I added her as a guest because she did not need admin user rights.
Another great feature of the Ring alarm system is that it can use use certain smart locks disarm the alarm, but Ring is not yet compatible with their own Amazon Key (which I have). I will need to watch for deliveries and disarm the alarm when the delivery person opens my door. I really hope Amazon creates a solution for this since both are their products.
Another great way to use the Ring alarm system is to use Alexa. I will need to post the necessary phrases on the wall for a while, which are “Alexa, arm Ring in away mode,” “Alexa, arm Ring in home mode,” and “Alexa, disarm Ring.”
Other than the pairing of troublesome sensors and lack of Amazon Key integration, the only other criticism I have at this point is that the phone app is a little slow to connect. Iris by [b]Lowe’s connected much faster and seemed almost instant. However, I find this a better product than Iris, which I was quite happy with until it was killed by [b]Lowe’s…
Another possible issue with the Ring alarm is the motion sensor. Reviews on Amazon say that once motion is detected, the motion sensor reports it to the base station for three minutes. People were reporting they would walk by the motion sensor, arm the alarm, and then get an activation moments later because of the motion sensor still reporting the prior motion. One reviewer said that Ring recommended arming the alarm three minutes after they left the house. I have not had this issue, but I have my motion sensor is in an area that does not generally have motion before arming the alarm. I need to test this because a $30 motion sensor could take the place of needing $160 in contact sensors for my additional windows.
I will update this post as I use the Ring system and add on to it.
UPDATE 5/4/2019 (May the fourth be with you)
I still love my Ring home alarm, but it could use some tweaks…
- The app needs an option to be persistent when the alarm is activated. I’ve missed a couple activations, but these were luckily just Amazon Key deliveries. Ring’s response to this critique was to have paid monitoring and they will call me. This does not resolve my critique.
- I paid for monitoring, but I could not specify to not call the police. I know that is strange, but I only wanted me to be called. The very first day I had monitoring an Amazon Key delivery set off the alarm and I missed the call. Next thing I know I see a police officer checking my house. They have better things to do than chase false alarms. False alarms can also get expensive in some cities.
- The alarm should not disarm after being activated and not disarmed by a user. I’m okay with the audible alarm shutting off and not blasting forever, but the system is basically disabled at that point. It should re-arm itself and activate again if something is triggered. Yes, the base unit displays a red warning if the alarm had been activated and not deactivated, but someone could be in your house anytime after that and your alarm will tell you nothing. A lot of conventional alarms will continue to notify of subsequent triggers, which could alert you to someone’s presence in a particular area.
- The keypad is so bright that when in a dark room you cannot see what you should be pressing since it is just a bright glare.
- Still doesn’t work with Amazon Key so my alarm is triggered every time I get an in-home delivery. I am considering the Amazon in-garage delivery since my roll-up door isn’t armed with a sensor.
- The keypad will alert you if there is an issue when trying to arm the system, but not tell you what the issue is. You can use the app to see if a door or window is open, but it would be nice if the keypad or base unit would announce something like “Sliding glass door open.”