Ring Alarm review: simple, affordable home security system

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T3 Platinum Award
Ring Alarm
(Image credit: Ring)
T3 Verdict

You can't do much better than the Ring Alarm system if you want an affordable security setup for your home, especially if you've already got a few Amazon/Ring smart devices.

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Simple setup and operation

  • +

    Good value-for-money system

  • +

    Can be expanded as needed

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    Rather uninspiring design

  • -

    Starter Kit could use more sensors

  • -

    Extra automations would be good

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You've got a variety of ways to pick from to protect your home, your possessions and your family using the latest tech. You can set up a bespoke configuration of smart sensors and cameras, for example, or you can buy an all-in-one security solution – like the Ring Alarm.

From the same Amazon-owned brand that makes the security cameras, the Ring Alarm system comprises a base station, a contact sensor, a motion detector, a keypad (for alarm arming and disarming), and a range extender (so you can spread your sensors out further).

You can buy additional sensors as required, kitting out your whole home if necessary. Everything is managed through the standard Ring app, the same one you'll be using if you've got any Ring security cameras (which can work with the alarm system, if needed). 

On top of having the siren ringing and getting alerts sent to your phone, you can pay £8 a month to have up to three emergency contacts called (just in case you're on a plane or something). You get other bonuses for other Ring devices with the paid plan as well.

Ring Alarm review: design and setup

Ring Alarm

(Image credit: Future)

Full marks to Ring here, because the Ring Alarm is a breeze to configure – the Ring app takes you through the process of getting the hardware connected up to your network, and making sure the base station can see the sensors, and checking everything is working. It should only take you a few minutes.

What's more, everything you need is in the box: batteries, wall mounts, instructions. Gone are the days of having to call in the professionals to get a security system set up at home. The key parts of the system – the keypad and the base station – can either be mounted on the wall or placed on any flat surface.

Like the Ring security cameras, the design of the Ring Alarm system is functional rather than fashionable, with white plastic the running theme. This is a suite of products that's going to fit right in with whatever sort of home decor style you've got going on at home – it's a system that maybe lacks the superior aesthetics of some of the other smart home kit out there, but it's by no means an eyesore.

It's the minimalist keypad that's the centre of operations. You set up an access code, which then lets you set one of three modes: away, disarmed, or home. These three modes can also be set through the apps for Android or iOS, though as yet you don't get a key fob for quick disarming (available on something like the SimpliSafe system).

Ring Alarm review: features and functionality

Ring Alarm

(Image credit: Future)

On the basic level, the alarm sounds when any of the sensors are triggered, and you get an alert sent to your phone. Add in the £8-per-month subscription package, and you can also have up to three emergency contacts (like a neighbour or a relative) notified besides yourself – so someone else can check up on your home if you're unavailable. Another extra that comes with the subscription is a cellular network backup, should something happen to your Wi-Fi network.

If you've got Ring security cameras, that paid-for subscription lets you integrate them into the system – they'll automatically start recording when an intruder is detected. You also get 30 days of video recording archives in the cloud for your money. Everything worked well together when we tested it, with the motion and contact sensors doing their jobs, and the keypad and the apps offering all the functionality we needed.

The 104-decibel is loud, very loud in fact, so you don't need to worry that you (or the neighbours) won't hear it going off – if the entry sensor assigned to your front door is triggered, you get a few moments to enter your keycode, otherwise the siren sounds immediately (as long as the system is currently armed, of course). That range extender is a good idea, meaning your sensors can cover up to 1,000 square feet (around 93 square metres) of home for you.

As yet you can't have the system automatically set itself when you leave your home, and it's this sort of advanced functionality it would be good to have available in the future. We do however like the way the motion sensors can be adjusted to allow for pets – put them on the lowest sensitivity setting, and they won't detect objects less than around 22 kilograms (49 pounds) in weight.

Ring Alarm review: price and verdict

Ring Alarm

(Image credit: Future)

The Ring Alarm system is comprehensive, affordable, simple to set up, and easy to use – it's hard to think of too many ways in which it could be improved. The design could be a bit more polished perhaps, and we'd like to see some useful smart home automations added, but as it stands it's a very impressive package.

With the added Alexa integration and of course the link to the Ring security cameras, it makes even more sense for those of you who have already invested in other bits of Amazon kit. Extra sensors are going to push up the price a bit of course, but just covering one or two of your most important rooms might be enough for you (especially if you don't want to accidentally trigger the alarm).

The options available on the system and through the app might be a bit too basic for some, but we like their simplicity – you just arm and disarm the system as needed. With affordable sensors and cameras also available, you can extend the Ring Alarm network of devices as and when needed.

Compared with setting up a traditional burglar alarm, the Ring Alarm system offers something that's easier to configure and cheaper to install too. It all works well and is easy to maintain, and should give you extra peace of mind while away from home. For something more advanced, check out the SimpliSafe option.

David Nield

Dave has over 20 years' experience in the tech journalism industry, covering hardware and software across mobile, computing, smart home, home entertainment, wearables, gaming and the web – you can find his writing online, in print, and even in the occasional scientific paper, across major tech titles like T3, TechRadar, Gizmodo and Wired. Outside of work, he enjoys long walks in the countryside, skiing down mountains, watching football matches (as long as his team is winning) and keeping up with the latest movies.