Ever since we got our candy cane Christmas decorations stolen a few years back I’ve wanted to get a camera by our front door. With so many options for cameras, I thought the best move was to get a video doorbell. I ended up purchasing the Ring Video Doorbell Pro. One of the main factors in choosing this option was that it used the wiring from my existing doorbell so I didn’t need to worry about power and it connected to my home network without needing to be plugged into another box. The ability for it to connect with SmartThings was also a big factor. I was also able to get it on sale, saving myself about $50.
The installation was very easy. They provided the tools and clear instructions on what to do. The first step was to install the power kit to your doorbell box. It is only a couple of wires and then you are done.
The next step was to remove your existing doorbell and hook up the Ring. The kit even came with a drill bit and anchors if you need to go through cement or plaster. My home has siding and wood so all I needed to do was put in the screws to mount it. Again, very easy.
My main concern is with the placement of my Ring because of where my previous doorbell was placed. It is about 12″ from my door so the angle isn’t what I had hoped for. The other problem was my siding, it is sloped so the bottom of the sided comes out more than the top which makes the Ring camera point upward. When looking through the camera I could see the side of someone’s head while they stood at my door.
I decided to hack it a little bit by attaching some material on the back of the ring. I placed it on the top and on one side of the unit to angle the camera down and tilt it more towards the door. This helped but didn’t completely fix the issue. Doing this made a big gap on the top and right side of the unit which I filled in with clear caulk. Luckily, it still looks okay. If you have this issue, Ring actually sells wedge kits that will angle the device downward or tilt it to one side. That would be another $19 so the DIY hack is good enough for me.
The next step in the process was connecting it to my network and setting up the app. This was also an easy process. It took you through the standard process of changing your wifi to the signal that the device sends out and then going back to the app to select your network and authenticating it to establish the connection. The rest of the process was giving the device a name and location and choosing what type of doorbell you have, mechanical, digital or none.
The location uses your home address and is used for their My Neighborhood service which is still in beta. This feature has some cool potential and hopefully it turns out good. It allows you to connect to a neighborhood and if others are using a Ring device you can share videos or alert others of any suspicious activity.
Overall. the app could use some improvements. The biggest announce was the constant banner telling me I need to sign up for the free month of video hosting. I couldn’t get the banner to leave until I signed up, which I did. I am not a 100% convinced that I want to use their hosting. It stores up to 6 months of the video for you but for a DIYer like myself, I’d rather send those videos to another hosting service that I control. I realize it is their money maker but it also might be their downfall. It is $3.00 a month so it won’t break the bank but it still is another hosting service I am paying for.
I really like the notifications from the device and how it allows me to quickly open up the live view. The rest of the app is functional. You can easily turn off the ring alerts and motion alerts. There are some prominent buttons on there that I won’t be using and I wish they were out of the way, like the device health, partners, and linked chimes. Even the shared users don’t need to always be there. These are things that you might want to set up once or see every-so-often but they need to be out of the way.
I love the idea behind the motion zones. I don’t want to be notified every time the camera picks something up. My camera picks up houses across the street and a heavy used sidewalk in front of my house. Being able to set the motion zones enables me to be alerted only when someone has come to my door.
Unfortunately, the simple task of setting up the zones isn’t as simple as you’d think. Because the zones I wanted to set up are at the bottom part of the camera I have to fight with the action bar that is there. You can tap the screen to hide the bar but when you go move one of the anchors the bar would reappear, making it hard to get the anchor to the position you want. Its actions are still doable but it gets a little frustrating having to keep tapping the screen for the bar to go away only to have it come back. This could be a quick win for the Ring product team to fix this issue. I have seen others complain about this issue and I’m convinced that if the Ring team watched their users go through this process, they would fix it. Hopefully in the next app update.
I am a big advocate for the SmartThings system and anything I buy for home automation needs to be able to connect to it or I won’t even bother with it. The Ring does connect with it and allows you to use the motion sensor to trigger events but you can’t utilize the camera within the SmartThings app. Not a big deal right now but would be nice to see. Of course, SmartThings keeps telling us that using a camera and capturing video from their service is a premium feature but we can use it free while in beta. This might be the reason that I look into another smart home system so hopefully, they figure that out that will benefit all of us and let us use our cameras.
1. I have been satisfied so far with what the Ring is capable of and I’m happy that I have purchased it. Of course, the price point is still too high and I wouldn’t buy it unless it is on sale. Don’t worry, if you watch Amazon, it seems to go on sale often.
2. Because of my existing wire location, the camera is set too high and doesn’t give me the best angle. Also, with the slant of my siding, the camera is slightly pointed upward. I had to do a hack to get it working okay.
3. They force you into the monthly service option. Every time I got on the app I would see the annoying message to sign up before it’s too late.
4. The motion zones aren’t easy to set up. Because most of the motion zones that you’ll set up will probably be at the bottom of the picture, you’ll be fighting with action bar at the bottom of the screen.
5. My Neighborhood feature could be a great benefit. I’m really excited to see what this feature brings. There is only one other person using this in my area, it would be great to get more people using to really benefit from it. Now that I think about it, that is a great Marketing feature since I will probably start telling my neighbors about it.
Also published on Medium.