Smart home technology has greatly expanded over the last several years. Numerous brands are constantly developing intuitive, interconnected systems to control every part of your house, even if you are far away.
Ring recently sent us a Doorbell 2, Motion Sensor, Bridge, Spotlight and a couple Pathlights. It’s an impressive suite of products that makes your house more secure and definitely more futuristic.
I have some experience with smart home products, but there’s something different about the Ring system that gives a larger sense of interconnectivity and protection. Below, I’ll talk about the Ring Doorbell 2 and all of its accessories that’ll bring your home up to date.
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What is in the box
The small box is crammed full of accessories and tools that make set up and installation a breeze. The stars of the show are the doorbell/camera and its battery pack, full instructions, installation tools, an interchangeable panel and two paintable mounts that allow you to position the camera at different angles.
The many different sizes of screws is a little overwhelming (plus there are two inside the doorbell itself), but they all serve a purpose. Just be sure to keep them organized as you install everything. Once you download the Ring app to your phone and begin the set-up process, step-by-step videos walk you through everything and tell you exactly what each screw is for. By the end, you may use every screw in the box or only five of them.
Ring Doorbell 2 Installation & Setup
Before downloading the Ring app or mounting the doorbell, charge the Ring Doorbell battery; it’s not pre-charged. You don’t want to get all the way to the end of the process only to realize you need to wait a couple of hours for the battery to charge so you can use it. The battery accepts any standard USB cord, but Ring also provides one.
Once you download the app, you are prompted to create an account, verify your email and add your address. The addition of the address seems odd at first, but it’s necessary to use the “Nearby Incidents” function of the Ring app.
Now you can start adding your devices. One thing I like about Ring products is that they all feature a QR code. Once you click on the Ring Doorbell 2 in the app, a QR scanner pops up and, in the blink of an eye, your Doorbell, Pathlight, Motion Sensor, etc., are all connected. The app now walks you through the rest of the process. This includes adding the Ring Doorbell battery and connecting to your home’s wifi, as well as some preferences for your house (how far away you want the camera to read, if you have a porch/steps up to your door, naming the camera, etc.). It’s all simple and intuitive.
After the setup, mount the doorbell outside your door. Ring has produced excellent videos showing Doorbell 2 installation. Remember all those screws? The videos tell you what each and every screw is for and lets you know if you need to keep them or toss them. Ring also provides you with the necessary anchors if you are mounting to stone or siding. They take the guess work out of the entire process.
To keep your Doorbell 2 running constantly, I suggest buying an extra rechargeable battery.
The application is the make-or-break part of any smart home product. If an application isn’t natural and well thought out, using the functions is a chore.
Ring’s app is anything but a chore. In fact, it’s fun to play with, especially if you get more Ring products to connect. All the lights, cameras and sensors you own will be on a dashboard, where their settings are easily accessible. Throughout the first few days, you’ll realize how you want to use your Ring products (notifications, timings, motion settings, etc.) and figure out the framework to suit your home and your family.
The feature that separates the Ring app from most other products is the “Nearby Incidents” function. This either gives you a sense of security or puts you on edge. It gives me the former, and I love it. You can see if there has been any suspicious activity in your neighborhood. People post their experiences and their stolen items, along with the video their camera picked up. You can talk to your neighbors about what happened and, who knows, you may be able to locate the person that wronged you. Some may feel uneasy in their neighborhood after looking through this feature so take that into consideration.
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I didn’t understand this piece at first. It doesn’t seem to add any function to your doorbell or other accessories, and at $50 it is fairly pricey. However, if you plan on buying pathlights, extra sensors or spotlights, you need to purchase the Bridge. It extends your home’s wifi range to account for the increased volume of products. You can place the accessories anywhere in your yard or on your house and, as long as the bridge is placed correctly, everything works seamlessly.
The Bridge comes with a wall mount and a USB cord. It’s just as easy to pair and set up as the rest of the Ring products, and it works very well. That said, I wish I didn’t need it; it’s unattractive and difficult to hide because of the cord.
Ring recently came out with this set of products and they are the reason you should consider Ring over other home security systems. If Ring was just a doorbell, I’d consider another brand. But the pathlights, spotlights and floodlights really make it a cohesive system.
My favorite smart light accessory is the pathlights because of their usability and design, but all the lights essentially do the same thing. They’re all equipped with motion sensors. You’ll need to fiddle with the settings to make them work to your preferences.
A great feature with Ring is the ability to group accessories. Say you have a motion sensor with a floodlight in the backyard and a doorbell and pathlights in the front. You can group the front yard together and give it rules of operation. If the doorbell detects movement, the pathlights turn on and vice versa.
What do we want if we invest in a system like this? Complete connectivity. You can achieve that with any Amazon Echo device. Simply enable the “Ring Skill” on your Alexa after setting up the Ring and off you go.
Ring is a great option if you have the money. But before doing too much research on these products, ask yourself how much you’d pay for something like this. My introduction to home security cameras was the $30 Yi 1080p digital camera, available on Amazon. Is it a doorbell? No. Does it talk with my neighbor’s cameras? No. Does it connect to Alexa? No. But the Yi camera does everything else; motion detection, recording, live video, alerts, audio options, night vision and it has an intuitive app. If any of the features that the Yi camera lacks are your breaking point, go for the Ring. If they aren’t important to you, there are other options that fit your budget.
Another mainstream option is the Nest Video Doorbell, Google’s answer to Ring. The upside of Nest is that you can have everything under one brand (lights, thermostat, cameras, doorbell, alarm). It is about the same price for entry as Ring, but you don’t need to buy anything Amazon to accompany it for a truly inter-connected experience. My opinion? If you have a Google Home, go with the Nest Doorbell. If you have an Amazon Echo, buy all the Ring products you can.
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