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Ring Alarm Security Kit review: Ring's crazy-affordable DIY system nails simple home security

Ring's crazy-affordable DIY system isn't fancy, but it's a solid DIY system at an unbeatable price.

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Megan Wollerton
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Megan Wollerton

Senior Writer/Editor

Megan Wollerton has covered technology for CNET since 2013. Before that, she wrote for NBC's Dvice.com (now SyFy). Megan has a master's degree from the University of Louisville and a bachelor's degree from Connecticut College, both in international relations. She is a board member of the Louisville chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. When Megan isn't writing, she's planning far-flung adventures.

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Ring's $199 Z-Wave-enabled Alarm Security Kit is so simple you might overlook it at first. The system includes a base station, a keypad, a door/window sensor, a motion sensor and a Z-Wave range extender. It's all basic hardware with basic functionality -- you won't find any fancy features here -- but the Security Kit is super simple to set up and monitor in the Ring mobile app. 

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7.5

Ring Alarm Security Kit

The Good

The $199 Ring Alarm Security Kit is quick to install, its app is easy to use and the system itself is simple to manage. The price is excellent and you can add extra accessories a la carte as needed.

The Bad

Ring's home security system doesn't currently work with Alexa, despite being an Amazon brand -- or any other major smart home platforms.

The Bottom Line

Ring didn't do anything particularly innovative with its Alarm Security Kit, but this inexpensive DIY system stands out because of its simplicity.

You can add additional Ring door/window sensors and motion sensors to scale up the system as needed; the kit also works with a FirstAlert smoke and carbon monoxide detector. But that's about it, for now. Ring plans to add additional sensors at a later date and has hinted at upcoming partnerships with major third-party platforms like Alexa and Google Assistant. But considering Amazon bought Ring back in February, this system should really already work with Alexa and the Amazon Cloud Cam (it doesn't).

Even so, the Ring Alarm Security Kit is a terrific entry-level home security system at a superb price. Strongly consider it if you want a simple DIY system with optional professional monitoring for $10 per month. 

Ring's security system is currently only available in the US. At today's exchange rate, $199 converts to roughly £150 and AU$270. 

Ring's inexpensive security system handles the essentials for less

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Ringing in better home security

Check out the chart below to see how Ring's Alarm Security Kit compares to the Nest Secure, Abode and SimpliSafe home security systems:

Comparing security systems


Ring Alarm Security KitNest Secure Alarm SystemAbode Essentials Starter KitSimpliSafe Foundation Kit
Hardware cost $199$399$229$229
Required monthly fees NoneNoneNoneNone technically, but you have to pay for the pricier $25 per month Interactive plan to use the SimpliSafe app (a free feature on every other smart home device I've ever tested)
Professional monitoring Optional; $10 per monthOptional; $29 per monthOptional; $30 per month$15 per month; $25 per month if you want app access
Cellular backup Included with professional monitoringIncluded with professional monitoring; $5 per month as a standalone featureIncluded with professional monitoring; $10 per month as a standalone featureIncluded with professional monitoring at either price tier
Power outage/battery backup YesYesYesYes
Camera Not included in this kit, but available separatelyNot included in this kit, but available separatelyNot included in this kit, but available separatelyNot included in this kit, but available separately
Smart-home partners NoneGoogle Assistant, NestAmazon Alexa, Google Assistant, IFTTT, NestAmazon Alexa, Nest

The Ring Alarm Security Kit clearly stands out in terms of its low prices. Not only is its starter kit the least expensive of the bunch, so is its optional $10-per-month professional monitoring and included cellular backup. 

The other thing of note is its lack of smart home partners. Despite being owned by Amazon, Ring's system doesn't work with Alexa or any other major smart home platforms. If you want to arm and otherwise get the status of your home security system via voice commands, the Ring Alarm Security Kit isn't the right option for you. Ring does specify in its support section that it's working on these integrations for a future release.

It doesn't work with the Amazon Cloud Cam indoor home security camera, either. Here's what a Ring spokesperson had to say about it: "Ring Alarm does not work with Amazon Cloud Cam at this time. While I can't comment on the roadmap at this time, what I can tell you is that we will make product decisions based on what will best empower Neighbors with an affordable, effective way to monitor their homes."

The Amazon Cloud Cam is an excellent camera, one I gave an Editors' Choice award. And since Ring's lineup (aside from this security system) is limited to weatherproof cameras, doorbells and related outdoor accessories, adding the indoor-only Cloud Cam into the mix would be an obvious fit -- one that Ring and Amazon have so far overlooked. 

Ring also doesn't currently offer any additional security accessories, but it plans to add a leak sensor and other devices at some point. And while your Ring security cameras and video doorbells live in the same app as your Ring Alarm Security Kit, there aren't any direct integrations between them today. I'd like to see something like, "If the Ring Alarm Security Kit's front door sensor notices that the door is opened in Home or Away mode, then tell my Ring Video Doorbell Pro to record automatically" -- even if the Video Doorbell Pro itself hasn't detected motion yet. 

Setup

Installing and configuring the Ring system is ridiculously simple. Download the app on your iPhone or Android device and create an account. 

Once you're logged in, follow the straightforward prompts to connect each accessory. This was one of the easiest security system setups I've ever encountered; literally pull the battery tab on the battery-powered door/window sensor and motion sensor and plug in the base station, the keypad and the Z-Wave range extender, and they automatically connect to the app.

From there, the software asks you to name each device and assign them to a room like "entryway" or "kitchen." It also provides tips on how to install each product. 

It took me roughly 15 minutes from start to finish, but I used the sticky tape that came with the system rather than the hardware. I imagine it would take a bit longer if you want to mount everything more permanently.

Even so, Ring gives you options with the installation. You can either mount the keypad or use the included stand and set it on your entryway table. You can either use the sticky tape -- or the included mounting brackets and screws. 

Using your Ring system

All of the devices in your Ring Alarm Security Kit communicate back to the base station via Z-Wave, which then translates everything over Wi-Fi (or Ethernet connection) to communicate with the Ring mobile app. The Ring mobile app and the keypad are your two points of access with the system. Arm and disarm the system from either one. From the app, you simply press "Home" or "Away" to arm your system and then "Disarm" to turn it off. From the keypad, you enter a four-digit PIN code of your choosing to both arm and disarm the system.

Home mode automatically sounds the alarm if an exterior door or window is opened; Away mode automatically sounds the alarm if the system detects motion or if an exterior door or window is opened. You can also adjust the default settings to suit your specific needs and even "disable" a specific sensor if you want to arm your system but leave a window open. 

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Press "Home" or "Away" to arm your Ring security system in the app.

Screenshots by Megan Wollerton/CNET

Everything about this system is straightforward. Enter your PIN code at the keypad to leave -- or select "Away" in the app and you'll have 60 seconds to leave before the system officially arms (you can adjust this time as needed in the app settings). 

If you add in professional monitoring, a call center will keep track of your system. If your system is armed and unexpected activity takes place, the call center will call you, or your listed emergency contact if you don't answer. They'll ask you for your secret security password, which you create when you sign up for monitoring -- give that password if everything is fine. If the wrong password is given, they will send law enforcement to your address.

If you monitor the system yourself, the alarm will sound if unexpected activity occurs, but it's up to you to contact emergency services.

All of the accessories performed as expected. The app and keypad worked well for arming and disarming. The sensors quickly reacted to unexpected motion and, after a 60-second delay, sounded the loud 104-decibel siren from the base station and from the keypad. The app also tracks security system activity, so you have a timestamped log of what happens. 

9 home security systems to keep watch when you're out

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The verdict

The Ring Alarm Security Kit only costs $199. That immediately sets it apart from pricier competitors like Nest, Abode and SimpliSafe. That said, Ring's system is missing some of the advanced features you get with the Nest Secure Alarm System -- and the sheer number of optional accessories available through SimpliSafe. 

I'd like to see Amazon Cloud Cam, Alexa and Google Assistant integrations ASAP, too, but Ring's Alarm Security Kit is a solid home security system worth considering otherwise. 

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7.5

Ring Alarm Security Kit

Score Breakdown

Features 5.5Usability 9Design 7Performance 9