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Review: Ring Alarm – simple yet basic alarm system

Review: In principle, we have little to say about Ring Alarm. The system does its job well and is quite complete.

Review: Ring Alarm : With Ring Alarm, the American doorbell manufacturer wants to release an accessible security system to which you can quickly add sensors.

We had to wait a while, but since the end of August the Ring Alarm security system is officially available in the Netherlands. Handy for people who have already invested in the company, for example by purchasing a smart doorbell or indoor camera. These devices can be included in the newly installed security system, which according to the manufacturer will be installed in no time. In this review we look at whether that claim is correct, whether everything is really that simple and to what extent you like the system.

The Ring Alarm security system

The Ring Alarm security system consists of several parts. The package costs 299 euros and includes access to a control panel, a base station, a window / door sensor, a motion sensor and a signal amplifier. Admittedly, the 299 euros is a hefty amount for such a system, but you do get a relatively complete system for securing a specific space and a specific opening. However, a security package is not complete without a (simple) camera, but you can purchase it separately.

For example, Ring has the  Indoor Cam  that you can have included in this system. Yes, you have to invest more than a hundred euros. But you have to put in extra money anyway if you want to add more window / door or motion sensors. In any case, you can make it as expensive as you can, because you can control what you can and cannot add to Ring Alarm. A nice addition is in any case the signal amplifier. You don’t often come across these in such a package. The same goes for the control panel.

The alarm system is fully configurable and controllable with the free Ring app, which is available for Android and iOS. There you will also see your notification when the alarm goes off. You can read more about the app later in this review. Despite the fact that the future is becoming increasingly digital, it is good to see that things like a physical control panel are being considered. This way, someone you trust can of course enter your house and switch off the alarm with the code you provide. No good apps are needed for that.

Ring Alarm works with three modes: Disarmed, Home and Away. With option one, the system is really off. You will still hear a beep when a window / door sensor is triggered (if you have the hub in the living room, for example), but otherwise nothing happens. At Home, only the sensors are turned on at doors and windows and the motion sensors in the house do not work. And at ‘Weg’ everything is sharp and you get a notification when something is triggered in the house.

Installation

Basically, the Ring Alarm system is quite simple to install. In any case, the company does everything it can to ensure that you know what to do or what you are doing. You start with the manual for the first steps, but you quickly enter the free app. You start by installing the base station, as this is a hub that all other devices in this package connect to. In addition to textual instructions, you will also find a video for many steps in which things are explained.

During installation you always have the choice of two ways of hanging devices. You get screws and plugs for drilling, as well as double-sided adhesive strips that are strong enough. If you are not handy with a drill, then there is no need for the man. The devices with a battery or rechargeable battery also have a back that you can slide off. This means you can easily slide the various sensors or the control panel off the wall, without having to reattach everything afterwards.

We do not know whether everyone will suffer from this in the future. But when installing the base station, we encountered problems. Problems with no clear solution, other than stubbornly trying until it works. The station can be connected to the internet in two ways: via WiFi or via an Ethernet cable. At first the system did not want to connect via WiFi and then it had a fight with the Ethernet cable. Externally, after more than half an hour of going on, it worked out and everything works properly.

Then the system makes things difficult for us in a different way. The app takes the space to explain all the steps, so things can hardly go wrong. If you just do what it says, you’ll be fine. Don’t be distracted by various notifications that come in. For example, we had to open the back of the motion sensor to reconfirm the battery (according to the app), but that gave us the notification that the sensor was being tampered with – even though we were not yet aware that it had already been added.

So that caused some confusion during the installation. We tapped on the incoming notification to see that the sensor was indeed offline, which pulled us out of the installation screen. It was also not immediately clear how we could get back there, so we started adding other parts manually. Eventually we ended up in the right screen again, but it took some doing. In any case, it’s good to know that Ring Alarm has been disabled during the installation process.

Stored in the cloud

The manufacturer recommends that Ring Alarm owners purchase an additional subscription, in the form of Ring Protect Plus. With Protect Plus, you get access to everything that Ring Protect offers, plus assisted surveillance, 10 percent off other Ring products, and extended warranty. You can find all the conditions on the company’s  website  . Assisted surveillance is really the most important function here. It is an optional addition to Ring Alarm that automatically notifies you of a security issue.

When the alarm goes off, emergency contacts (which you set yourself) are contacted. You can of course fill in your own details, or those of your partner, neighbors or other people you trust. This also happens when you have switched off mobile internet (for whatever reason); the exchange knows where to find you when you need it. Only when someone answers or switches off the alarm, the security service stops calling. For more information about assisted security, please refer to the  Ring website .

The subscription costs you ten euros per month or one hundred euros per year. It is a valuable addition to your system, if only because of the assisted security. If you also use a Ring doorbell or camera, you also get access to images stored in the cloud for thirty days. Let’s also make it clear that you can use the system, or any Ring product, without a subscription. You can track everything in real time. But if you miss a notification, you can also miss important information or images.

When the alarm goes off

Okay. Suppose you have installed all kinds of sensors (plus any additional sensors), the control panel is working and the hub is ready. You report to the system that you have left and thus change the mode. You do that via the control panel or via the app, that’s not the case. Then it is good to know what to take into account. For example, did you hang a door / window sensor near the front door? Then the system switches on automatically when you close the door; unfortunately no geofencing is available.

You can set certain sensors to calculate a delay. This way you prevent false alarms. You then have a maximum of one minute to get out of the house. So hang the control panel fairly close to the front door. Then it takes another minute (from the moment the system is activated) before the security system is on. You will receive notifications when a sensor is activated, but the Ring Alarm will not go off. That only happens from the moment that the last minute has passed.

If something is triggered, the shrill alarm will ring immediately. It is really a rotten noise (sorry neighbors) that you also hear outside. You will also immediately receive a notification on your smartphone, containing information about the time and which sensor is reporting movement. It takes a few seconds, but if you have set up assisted monitoring, you will receive a call and a robot voice will tell you at which address your alarm went off and at which sensor. In the meantime you will also receive an email; you will therefore be approached in every possible way.

In our test (and probably also when you test the system yourself) it feels quite a while before you receive a call. The loud sound is not pleasant for anyone and you bother your neighbors with it at that moment. However, it only takes a few seconds to receive a call; so to make sure everything is working, do a test before activating your Ring Alarm. The e-mail also states when the alarm was triggered and by which sensor. The provision of information is therefore clear and fast.

Ring Alarm in the app

Fortunately, the Ring app is clear. If you are already familiar with the application, you know that when you open it, you immediately get an overview of available doorbells and cameras. If you add the Ring Alarm system, there will be three buttons at the top: Disarmed, Home and Away. So if you are already out of the house and you have forgotten to switch the system on or off, you can do so at that moment. The History button also still has a prominent place, where you will find an overview of notifications.

We have various Ring products here, so our overview may be a bit more extensive. There are now three headings: cameras, alarm and lighting. Since we don’t have any Ring lights here, there’s nothing there. Under cameras we find all reports from the doorbells and cameras, while we find all reports from Ring Alarm in the event of an alarm. Here you can see which sensors have detected a movement at what time. This always happens regardless of the status of the system (Disarmed, Home or Away).

It is nice that Ring distinguishes between the different products. This way you keep an overview and you can quickly find what you are looking for. The reports for cameras and sensors are therefore not mixed up. The reports are also listed in chronological order per tab, but with the most recent report at the top. While with doorbells you can still distinguish between movements or actually ringing the doorbell, you have no further options for distinguishing sensors; but this is not bad.

You can also link the Ring Alarm system to other Ring products in the house in the app. An example: if someone comes in who should not be there, you will be notified. Meanwhile, a Ring doorbell or camera (indoor or outdoor) can record indoors, giving you access to security footage too. You do need extra Ring products for that and that is an investment, but luckily everything can work together afterwards. Setting it up is very easy via the app.

You use the Linked devices function for this. You will find that button in the menu under Devices and in this case Alarm Base Station. When you tap on it and then tap on the name of your base station, you will find the button to Paired devices. If you press it again, you will be taken to the menu of available devices that can respond to a notification – in our case the Ring Doorbell and Indoor Cam. If you take a step back, you will end up with all the other options available for your base station.

And just like before, this system doesn’t work with IFTTT, Google Assistant or Apple HomeKit. As a result, the options for your smart home are quite limited and you cannot let the system respond to other devices. That’s a big drawback, because now you are forced to buy other Ring products – while you may already have a good, cheaper camera. If you don’t want to make that extra investment, the stand-alone security system still feels like a separate part.

Ring Alarm – conclusion

In principle, we have little to say about Ring Alarm. The system does its job well and is quite complete, but it can be pricey if you want to provide all windows and doors and important areas in the house with sensors. The installation is the messiest aspect of this system, but we didn’t run into any issues after installation. What we do not really understand is why Ring has chosen to bring the system from the first generation to the Netherlands, while the second generation is already available.

Although we have no experience with that system ourselves, we do read here and there that the new system looks tighter and offers more options. For example, the control panel is narrower, the sensors are more compact and there are additional alarm options, with which you can quickly call emergency services. The fact that the sensors look better thanks to the narrower design is not the only advantage: they also fit better on all kinds of windows and doors. It’s not that Ring Alarm (gene 1) is very bad, but we already know there is a better alternative.

And that better alternative is simply from Ring. When we look at what we are getting now, several things already feel a bit outdated, especially the design. Nevertheless, everything is working properly and you can assume that your home is well protected. We have not encountered any connection problems or false alarms, making it reliable. In addition, the app works very well and the reports are clearly presented. But all in all, it feels like a basic system.

Pros

  •  Accessible
  •  Modular
  •  Includes extender and panel
  •  Works with other Ring products
Negatives

  •  Expensive
  •  Messy installation
  •  Old version
  •  No smart home integrations
  •  No geofencing

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