Monday, December 24, 2018

Ring Alarm offers sophisticated home security, impressive alerts

The Ring Alarm system offers sophisticated home security protection.
The basic Ring Alarm kit has a Base Station, Motion Detector, Range Extender, 
Key Pad, and Contact Sensor. 
I have only had the Ring Alarm system for a few weeks and I’m already a fan of the Ring ecosystem. Before the Ring Alarm, I also had purchased the Ring Floodlight Cam and I am equally as pleased.

With the Ring Alarm basic package, you get a Base Station, Motion Detector, a Range Extender, Key Pad, and Contact Sensor. After experiencing what the Ring Alarm can do, you’ll probably add additional sensors and motion detectors.

Depending on your skills, you can install this system yourself if you’re a handy person, with just a drill and a screwdriver. Or you might not need any tools, depending on your location for the components and whether you use adhesive strips instead of screws.

Installation is a breeze following the instructions

The Ring Alarm is not your typical alarm system and a traditional installation approach is not the best way. I choose to install all the components first and then complete the setup.

But you can complete the setup with the Ring Base Station plugged into power and the sensor and motion detector on a table, as you’ll need to pull tabs from the batteries in the sensors and open/close covers in the process. Depending on the component and whether it’s an additional component, such as a sensor or motion detector, you might need to scan a bar code label on the sensor. All these tasks can be performed best if the Ring motion detector and contacts sensor are not mounted.

After the components have been recognized by the Base Station and the magnetic sensors and motion detector are working properly, then go about installing the components in their proper location.

Be prepared for light carpentry and wall refinishing

Contact Sensor
If you’re replacing an existing alarm system, be mindful that the Ring sensors might be about twice the size of what you are replacing. In my case, the existing door contact sensors from another alarm company were mortised into the door facing, which meant I had to enlarge the mortise to accommodate the Ring sensor. But that was accomplished with my trusty Dremel saw with an oscillating wood blade and a steady hand.

Just a tip on installing the contact sensors: Both components have a slight notch on them that should be lined up. That prevents one of them from being installed upside down.

There is also a chance the Ring components might not cover existing holes from a previous door contact sensor and keypad, especially if the Ring Keypad is mounted on the wall in the same location as the previous keypad. That’s just the difference the design of bracket components from one company to another and no fault of the Ring components. A little Spackle and a dab of matching paint will cover the holes.

The Keypad can be mounted on a wall or table.
Since I choose mounting my keypad on the wall instead of placing on a table, and my wife hates looking at cords, I went to the trouble of hiding the power cord for the Keypad inside the wall by drilling a hole behind the mounting backing and running the cord down to the electrical outlet below, exiting the wall at that point and plugging it in.

But the Ring Keypad also works off battery power, so this could be a none issue until it’s time to recharge the internal battery. I also think the Ring Base Station looks the best when placed in a location where it can be plugged into an electrical outlet and the cord is out of sight behind a table. All the neat freaks will nod their heads here.

Don’t forget about downloading the Ring App

Ring - Always Home app
You’ll also want to go ahead and download the Ring App, as this will become your best friend for mobile monitoring and even setting and disarming the alarm. A lot of your sensor settings will be done inside the App, such as the modes for whether you are “home” or “away” from home. You’ll also set up your rooms, such as family room, den, kitchen, bedroom, and door categories, such as main and secondary door.

Just another tip here, the “main door” should be where your keypad is located and where you would arm and disarm the Ring system on exit and entry.

The Ring setup within the app will default to the name of your city for the location. But its easily changed if you have a name for your home or business. You’ll want to adjust the volume of the Base Station speaker and please don’t forget to write down your PIN and Security Code.

Now it’s showtime for the Ring Alarm system

Once everything is installed, it’s time for the Ring Alarm to show its stuff, and it’s quite impressive. Now that you have proper chirps from the door or window sensors and the motion detectors are working, along with exit and entry codes from the keypad, the entire Ring Alarm ecosystem comes alive.

The Keypad can be set to light up as you approach it, which will be helpful in a room with low light. You simply chose whether you’re leaving (Away), at home for a while (Home), or going to bed for the night. And of course, you’ll want to set your exit and entry delay. If this is a threat, there is two-key combination for a panic mode that will send an alarm to the monitoring station.

For me, the best part of the system is the Ring App, which is available for iOS, Android, Mac and Windows. At a glance, I can see if the Ring Alarm system is disarmed or set to Home or Away. There is a wealth of settings or modes to choose from, such as Devices, under which you can view the settings for the Base Station, Keypad, Extender, Sensors and Motion Detectors. The battery level of each sensor is displayed, along with alerts status, event history and a choice of Chirp Tones.

Just another tip here: If the Keypad is in “power save mode” in the settings, the display will not illuminate when you approach it.

Another beauty of the Ring Alarm system is the sophistication of the communication being pushed to your mobile device. You will never be in the dark about what’s going on around your home. The minute a door is opened, you’ll know with a notification something like “Back door in family room opened at 12/20/18 at 05:30. P.M.” You’ll know if someone just came home. Then it might be followed by another notification with “Ring Alarm changed to Disarmed at 12/20/18 05:31 P.M.”

The only person that might escape the watchful eyes of the Ring Alarm is a pet, as our small dog is able to roam freely from couch to couch without being detected. People cannot escape the Ring Alarm notifications.

Any problems with the Ring Alarm system are easily fixed

As with any technology, things might go awry or seem to not be working properly. But the Ring Alarm is so well engineered that any issues are most likely caused by a particular “setting” turned on or off within the Ring App.

It’s important to choose the correct door for the main entry or exit and to set your motion detectors to be deactivated when home. If you just can’t figure it out on your own, a quick call to customer support will your problem solved quickly, as the customer support specialists are very knowledgeable about the Ring products.

The  Ring Alarm system offers ease of installation, remote monitoring, effective motion detectors, sensitive entry/exit sensors and just overall peace of mind.

The minuses are very few in my experience. I had a few erratic alerts and alarms that had me stumped for a while, but everything is working fine now, thanks to the kind and courteous people in Ring customer support.

For around $200, the Ring Alarm kit is a good buy for home security. If you’re replacing an existing system, you might even save a few dollars on the monitoring, as the monthly plan for Ring’s professional security monitoring is around $10 per month or $100 annually, which includes all Ring devices at one address.

With the Ring Alarm, sophisticated security is “Always Home.” The bad guys will just need to keep going.