Solved! How Does Ring Work?
From a simple doorbell camera to fully integrated smart-home security with professional monitoring, Ring has entered the comprehensive home security market.
Q: I’ve been seeing a lot of videos posted by neighbors from their Ring cameras. I’m intrigued, and like the idea of being able to see who’s at the door before I open it, but I might need more security than just a camera. How does Ring work?
A: Ring has certainly shot up in popularity recently, and you’re right—videos of porch pirates and suspicious door knockers abound on social media and can provide useful information to law enforcement to help regain stolen property and identify criminal behavior. While the Ring video doorbell is the most well-known component, the Ring system is actually much more comprehensive, allowing customers to add cameras and smart lighting integration so home security is centralized in one app and one panel. Ring’s equipment is remarkably easy to set up and connect to your Wi-Fi, but if you’re uncomfortable tackling the process yourself, you can opt for professional installation of Ring’s X Line products. A technician will come take a look at your home and discuss your needs with you before helping you choose products that fit your preference and installing them for you.
Ring connects to your home’s Wi-Fi network and the Ring app to send you the data. It does not need to be wired into your home.
Ring’s name actually comes from the concept of building a “ring” of security around your home. Traditional security systems are hardwired into your electrical and telephone systems, but Ring accomplishes this loop of security by connecting all of its devices to your Wi-Fi and a mobile app. Because the devices connect to the Wi-Fi, alerts and alarms can be transmitted to your app regardless of where you are in real time, alerting you to the presence of someone on your doorstep or near a camera—without hardwiring into the system. This has several advantages: The freedom to move devices from place to place means you can adjust the system as necessary to monitor the spaces that concern you the most, and that freedom also makes Ring a great option for renters who might move from place to place more frequently than homeowners and want to take their equipment with them. In addition, you’re not locked into maintaining a landline, which is required by other systems.
Ring doorbells are very popular: Depending on the models, a motion sensor and a video camera work together to show you who is at your front door and also allow for two-way communication.
Ring’s doorbell products have come a long way since the first grainy video doorbell camera. While all Ring products are available in wireless versions, those who find the battery replacement on wireless doorbells to be inconvenient can choose from an array of wired doorbells for continuous power. All Ring doorbells include HD video with night vision for crisp, clear video even in the dark. Current offerings include motion sensors that activate a video camera, sending an alert to your app where you can view the video live and engage in conversation with whomever is on your doorstep—whether you’re home or not. Most will also work with an Alexa device.
Some Ring doorbells can be customized with faceplates and other accessories to fit in smoothly with your front-step decor, and some will even work with existing doorbell chimes (if you’re willing to hardwire the doorbell into your existing wiring). If you’re concerned that you’ll choose a doorbell with too many features (or not enough), Ring has a handy quiz on its website to help you select just the right one—or you can chat with a Ring customer service agent who can talk with you to help you identify what you’re looking for and help you pick.
The Ring app allows you to control other features of your smart home such as alarms, floodlights, or other security features.
Ring’s app is the center of its home security system. Through the app, you can view and communicate with people outside your door and turn cameras and floodlights on and off. However, Ring also connects with a range of smart locks, outlets, lights, and devices, allowing you to build a truly smart home from inside the app. Ring also works with Amazon devices, such as the Echo and Alexa-compatible devices, so you can integrate home convenience and security. So if you hear a noise outside at night and the motion sensor doesn’t turn on a floodlight, you can use the app to turn on a light and a camera and view what’s outside. If the noise was made by wildlife, you can record the video to show your friends and neighbors, then turn off the lights and go to sleep. If, however, the noise was made by a person who managed to evade the motion detector (or you can’t tell what it was but you’re uneasy), with a few swipes of your finger you can turn on the camera and more exterior lights, turn on interior lights, summon the police, and tell the person to leave the premises immediately. The Ring app and its components make it easy to stay aware of your home’s surroundings and project yourself.
Ring offers a range of products so you can customize your home security package according to your budget and needs.
The Ring doorbell cameras are the most well-known components of the Ring system, but the range of equipment options Ring offers allows you to build a complete home security system. Doorbell and peephole cameras allow you to monitor the doorstep and interact with visitors (wanted or unwanted), while a bevy of freestanding and stick-up indoor and outdoor cameras, powered by batteries and solar panels, allow you to view every angle of your home inside and out. If you’re particularly concerned about nighttime security, the Ring series of outdoor floodlights with cameras powered by your choice of battery, hardwired power, or solar will light up your exterior using motion sensors or controlled manually through the app. Path and step lights (also controllable through the app), along with smart plugs, outlets, and door locks, mean you can integrate smart-home devices into your security system and control everything through one app.
Ring also offers sensors to build a security system customized to your home. Starting with a digital keypad, Ring offers motion detectors along with door and window entry sensors that connect to cameras and the app to alert you to any intrusion. Smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, and flood and freeze sensors protect your home and family from dangers within, and a panic button allows you to summon help immediately if you feel threatened. Mailbox sensors let you know when mail has been delivered and alerts you if someone opens the mailbox later so you can protect your correspondence.
All of Ring’s components work together through the app (and the keypad, should you choose to add an alarm system to your camera and lighting options), creating a comprehensive system that covers all aspects of home security. Many of the components also work with Amazon Echo Show, giving you a larger screen than your phone to examine footage from the cameras. Ring also provides the base station and extension devices to build an eero mesh wireless system in your home if your existing Wi-Fi isn’t strong enough to handle all the extra components. Because the components are designed to be easily installed by the user, you can add pieces as you need them instead of needing to select and purchase the whole system at the beginning. That said, there are a number of equipment packages that can save money over buying the components individually, and they are designed to suit different size homes and businesses based on the user’s needs.
Ring also offers packages that allow you to save recordings or opt for professional monitoring.
When they were first designed, Ring doorbells and cameras were designed as a self-monitored system, where homeowners could see the alerts and videos and use that data to protect themselves. As the system evolved into a complete home security option, however, it became necessary to offer a higher level of service in order to compete with more mainstream and traditional home security products. After studying the market carefully, Ring launched the Ring doorbell subscription, called Ring Protect—a two-tiered monitoring option that offers video storage and professional monitoring. Ring Protect Basic is offered at a cost of $3 per month or $30 per year, and it provides active video recording for one device (you can purchase more than one plan if you need several streams recorded). This means that when a motion sensor in the device is triggered, Ring will notify you so that you can watch the stream live, but it will also automatically begin recording the stream, allow you to capture still frames from the stream, maintain a video history online for 60 days, and allow you to download and save all videos for review later. Notably, the triggers can be set to only pick up people, not animals or passing cars.
Homeowners insurance companies will, in general, offer discounts only to those whose security systems are monitored. Ring Protect Plus checks this box: Offering all the benefits of Ring Protect Basic, it adds video recording and storage for up to seven devices and includes full-time professional monitoring of your Ring Alarm products (and gets you a 10 percent discount on all products from the Ring website). For $10 per month or $100 per year, this monitoring program can be a considerable savings over other security options.
The Neighbors App acts like a virtual neighborhood watch.
When neighbors gathered on front porches each evening, it was easy to keep tabs on how everyone was doing and discuss concerns within the neighborhood. Formal neighborhood watch groups still exist and are a great way to build community and protect yourself and your neighbors. However, busy lives mean it’s easier to communicate online, and Ring’s Neighbors App connects neighbors in a virtual community. Share video of suspicious situations (or the wildlife that was large enough to overturn your garbage can) with your neighbors, receive real-time crime alerts from surrounding streets and law enforcement, pull together after a disaster, and help roaming pets find their way home by connecting to your neighbors through the app. You don’t have to share anything you don’t want to, and the Neighbors App will not automatically share your videos—you decide what to share and can customize the alerts you’ll receive. Many customers have expressed privacy concerns about this app, especially those who have connected in-home Alexa devices or extensive home automation. These are valid concerns, but the settings on the app will allow you to control the access the app has to your home, and customer service agents are happy to walk you through setting up the privacy options.
Ring has options for nearly any level of security you desire.
Ring started out as a doorbell camera, and if that’s all you need, it’s a great option—and the video has improved substantially from those grainy black and white low-resolution images. Perhaps you’re ready for a step up and want to add more cameras and some lighting. If so, Ring has individual components to support what you need and has several packages of equipment geared toward that level of security. Thinking about interior video monitoring as well? Ring has it covered. And if it’s time for complete home security, including smart-home automation, door and window sensors and locks, and home safety monitoring equipment that you can monitor yourself or opt to have professionals monitor for you, Ring has a bevy of equipment for you to choose from and services to back it up.