Ring Alarm Pro Review | PCMag
We gave the Ring Alarm Security Kit ($199.99) high marks for its easy installation, affordable monitoring options, and cross-platform compatibility. The new Ring Alarm Pro ($299.99 as tested) offers more of the same, but now has a built-in Eero mesh router that can bring Wi-Fi 6 connectivity to all corners of your home, offering good value for its higher starting price. It works with other Ring devices and lots of third-party options, and functions as an excellent backup power and internet connectivity solution. You need to subscribe to a Ring Protect plan to take advantage of the system’s most advanced features, but that doesn’t prevent it from earning our Editors’ Choice award for DIY smart home security systems alongside the Adobe Iota, SimpliSafe Home Security System, and Wyze Home Monitoring. If you also need a new router, the Ring Alarm Pro is your best bet.
A Multi-Part Security and Network System
You can purchase the Ring Alarm Pro as a complete system or get the base station ($249.99) and sensors you need separately. We tested the eight-piece system that costs $299.99; the package includes the base station, four door or window sensors, a motion sensor, a keypad, and a range extender. For larger homes, the 14-piece system ($379.99) bundles the base station, eight door or windows sensors, two motion sensors, two keypads, and one range extender.
The base station controls the system. Its white enclosure measures 2.7 by 6.7 by 6.7 inches (HWD). An LED ring and speaker sit on the top, along with a smaller LED for the embedded Eero router. The LED ring flashes blue when the base is in Bluetooth pairing mode, stays solid blue when the system is disarmed, and is solid red when the system is armed in Home or Away mode. The smaller router LED glows white when an internet connection is available and red when it loses connectivity.
The rear of the base station houses internet and power indicators, two gigabit Ethernet ports (WAN and LAN), a USB power port, a micro SD card slot (Ring provides a 64GB microSD card), a pairing button, and a reset button. The bottom has four rubber feet for desktop placement and two slots for mounting the unit on a wall. The card slot is for the Ring Edge feature (which requires a Ring Protect subscription) that lets you store and process video recordings locally rather than in the cloud.
The base station packs a lot of wireless circuitry. It has Bluetooth, cellular, RF, and Z-Wave radios. Most importantly, it houses an Eero Wi-Fi 6 mesh router that you can use to create a whole-home network along with Eero 6 Extenders ($89 each). The dual-band router has a maximum data rate of up to 900Mbps and can cover up to 1,500 square feet; each extender adds 1,500 square feet of Wi-Fi coverage.
The base station contains a very loud 104dB siren and a battery backup that provides power for up to 24 hours in the event of an outage. If that’s not enough auxiliary juice, you can purchase a Ring Power Pack ($129.99) that gives you an additional eight hours of power (depending on use). You can connect up to four power packs at a time for a total of 32 hours of backup power. If you subscribe to a Ring Protect Pro plan, the Alarm Pro will use its cellular radio to maintain internet connectivity for the system and connected devices in the event of a power loss. This keeps devices such as doorbells, indoor and outdoor cameras, and lights online until you get your power and internet back.
The base’s keypad measures 4.1 by 4.4 by 0.7 inches and has 0-9 keys; disarm, home, and away keys; police, fire, and medical emergency buttons; an X button to cancel an entry; and a check button to confirm an entry. The keypad uses Z-Wave to connect to the base station and can operate on AC or battery power. You can mount it on a wall or place it on a flat surface.
The door and window sensors aren’t as bulky as the ones that came with the original Ring Alarm. They measure 1.5 by 2.0 by 0.5 inches, run on two CR2032 batteries, and use Z-Wave to communicate with the base station. They come with preinstalled adhesive strips for easy installation. The Z-Wave motion sensor also has adhesive and comes with hardware screws for a more permanent installation. It measures 2.6 by 2.6 by 1.5 inches and runs on two AA batteries. The range extender is a plug-in device that extends the range of your Z-Wave devices. It measures 1.8 by 3.1 by 1.6 inches and has a backup battery that can power the device for up to 24 hours.
Add-on components aren’t expensive. Extra door and window sensors cost $19.99 each, while additional motion sensors are $29.99 each. Those prices are consistent with SimpliSafe ($14.99 and $29.99 respectively for the equivalent sensors) and more affordable than Frontpoint ($23.09 and $45.49 respectively for comparable parts). Ring also sells many other add-on accessories including third-party door locks, flood sensors, smart plugs, smoke detectors, thermostats, and, of course, the Ring line of video doorbells, security cameras, and lighting systems. That said, the system doesn’t work with Apple HomeKit, Google Assistant, or IFTTT.
You can self-monitor the Alarm Pro system, but if you want professional monitoring, you need to subscribe to a Ring Protect Pro plan. It costs $20 per month or $200 per year for 24/7 professional monitoring; police and fire department dispatch; push and email alerts; and unlimited cloud recordings for all of your Ring cameras, which is a little less than SimpliSafe’s $25-per-month Interactive plan.
The Protect Pro plan gets you 60 days of video history as well as access to the above-mentioned 24/7 Backup Internet feature with 3GB of cellular data (you can pay for more data if necessary). It also unlocks Alexa Guard Plus and Eero Secure features. Alexa Guard Plus offers hands-free access to a 24/7 helpline for dispatching emergency responders (police, fire, and ambulance) using Alexa voice commands. This service also generates push alerts if one of your linked devices detects the sound of breaking glass, as well as a smoke or carbon monoxide alarm. Eero Secure offers network security tools and robust parental controls for your new mesh network.
App and Base Station Options
One of our gripes with the earlier Ring Alarm system was that it wouldn’t send push or email alerts when something triggered a sensor when the system was disarmed. That’s no longer the case; you can now enable alerts for Disarmed, Home, and Away modes via the same Ring mobile app (available for Android and iOS) that every other Ring device uses.
The Alarm Pro appears on the dashboard screen in a dedicated panel in the app. At the top of the screen are buttons for arming and disarming the system, plus its current status. Tap the Alarm Pro panel to open the Alarm Device screen, which contains a list of all installed sensors, keypads, and extenders. Tap any device to enable or disable it, view its history, check the battery level, and adjust settings such as the name and room assignment.
The base station screen shows battery level and cellular strength meters. It also displays tiles for updating the firmware, viewing event history, linking other Ring devices, adding users, and creating mode schedules that will automatically arm or disarm the system. Other tiles include an Eero tile that takes you to the Eero router app, a Data tile that shows you how much cellular data you have left and allows you to choose which devices can use cellular data when necessary, and a Video Storage tile that lets you view all activity video recordings and manage which cameras use Ring Edge.
Seamless Setup, Responsive Alerts
I had no trouble installing the Alarm Pro. I already had the Ring app on my phone, but if this is your first Ring device, you need to download it and create an account. I tapped Setup A Device at the bottom of the app’s dashboard screen, selected Security, then chose the Alarm Pro Base Station. I selected my home location as the preferred location and followed the on-screen instructions to power up the base in an area close to my internet modem. I tapped Continue and the app searched for and found the base station within a few seconds, then prompted me to download the Eero app to connect the station to the internet.
Again, I already had the Eero app, but you have to download it and create an account to proceed if this is your first Eero device. I tapped Add A Network in the Settings menu and followed the instructions to disconnect my current router, connect the Alarm Pro router, and unplug and restart my modem. Using my phone’s Bluetooth, the app searched for the Eero router and asked for a location (room). I then created a Wi-Fi name and password, and the network was up and running within seconds.
I returned to the Ring app, skipped past four screens of product information, and tapped Continue to register the Alarm Pro and activate my 30-day trial period of the Ring Protect monitoring service. On the following screen, I tapped Add Security Devices and proceeded to add each of the listed sensors, one device at a time (each sensor on the list has a code that corresponds to the code found on the actual device). For adding the door and window sensors to the system, I only had to remove their battery tape. I selected a use case (door or window) and a name for the sensor, attached it using the preinstalled adhesive, and followed the process for the remaining three door and window sensors. Installing the motion sensor was just as easy.
To install the keypad, I plugged it into an AC outlet; the system automatically discovered and paired with it. I gave it a location and a name, created an access code, and moved on to the range extender. I plugged the extender into an outlet, assigned it to a room, and gave it a name. This was the last step in the Alarm Pro setup.
The Ring Alarm Pro worked flawlessly in testing. It responded instantly to sensor-triggering events and generated both push and email alerts immediately after each one. It acted quickly on arm and disarm commands from the app and keypad, along with Alexa voice commands.
I linked the Alarm Pro to a Ring Stick Up Cam and configured the camera to begin recording after an alarm trigger and it worked without a hitch. I also created an Alexa routine for a Wyze Bulb to turn on when a door and window sensor went off; this too worked as intended. The Alarm Pro’s siren was loud enough to hear throughout the house and in my front and backyard areas.
In terms of router performance, the base station functions like a standalone Eero 6 router, so you can see our review for more details. The only difference is that it doesn’t currently support Thread or Zigbee.
Home Security and Mesh Networking in One
Abode offers the best third-party support, SimpliSafe’s system is the most streamlined and seamless, and Wyze has the lowest prices. With the Ring Alarm Pro, however, you get two smart home devices in one user-friendly package. This versatile DIY home security system is easy to install and works with many Ring and third-party devices. It also functions as a dual-band mesh router that can deliver Wi-Fi 6 across homes of all sizes. That said, you have to subscribe to a Ring Protect Pro plan to unlock all of the system’s features, among them 24/7 Backup Internet, Alexa Guard, and Ring Edge. That requirement aside, the Ring Alarm Pro is our newest Editors’ Choice winner for DIY home security systems, particularly if you’re in the market for a new router.
The Bottom Line
The Ring Alarm Pro is a DIY smart home security system and a Wi-Fi mesh router in one, and handles both tasks with aplomb.
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