I had a problem: The burglar alarm at our house was so old that it needed a full update and partial hardware replacement. I got a quote to modernize it which came in at $2,740. The monitoring without a contract was $20 per month.
That was a no-go for me!
Clark Howard Reviews the Ring Security System
I have been telling people about self-install alarms for years and decided it was my turn to go modern. I looked at Ring, SimpliSafe and Nest. I quickly narrowed it down to Ring and Nest because of what is known as the network effect. I had Ring doorbells and cameras and Nest thermostats.
(Editor’s Note: Google announced that it would no longer be making the full Nest Secure system available for sale as of October 2020.)
I ended up choosing Ring for three reasons:
- Integration: I have other Ring security devices that would integrate with Ring Security, so that was an easy choice.
- Price: Costco had a sale ($179) on a big Ring system with enough sensors to cover my house.
- Monthly cost: Professional monitoring was a steal at $100 per year — effectively $8.33 per month.
I figured if the installation was a disaster or the system worked poorly, I could always choose another self-install system or go to a traditional company. The risk was low in both money and time. If it worked, I would save over $2,500 on equipment installation compared to the quote I had gotten for a professional system.
I was overconfident when I started the install, expecting it to take around 15 minutes as other people had claimed. I was not so lucky.
Three devices in the Ring system were dead on arrival. I called tech support at Ring and had a fantastic experience with an extremely knowledgeable professional who patiently helped me bring two of the three devices back to life. The third device, one of the door contacts, was and still is dead. Fortunately, the Costco set came with one more than I needed.
After you download the Ring app (which I had done already with the Ring doorbells and cameras I previously had installed) you register each security device to the app. Then you install your base unit, a signal extender, the keypad, the motion sensor and then your door and window contacts.
I am incompetent, as it took me almost three hours to complete the job. My brother, who was visiting and is very handy, was not allowed to help me — just observe. He thought a competent consumer could have done it in under an hour.
Once installed, everything worked perfectly. The system is far more advanced than what it replaced. The Ring doorbells and cameras allow me to “see” if the alarm is tripped.
I can also observe my five Wyze Cams — which cost $20 each — so I can confirm for the monitoring station and the police if there is an actual burglar or if it’s just a false alarm. Somewhere around 99% of alarm calls are false and they are an extremely low priority for police as a result. The fact that I have visual confirmation would be helpful to me and the police.
I am obsessed with fire protection and carbon monoxide risks, so after the fact, I bought two Ring smoke, fire and carbon monoxide “listeners.” They partner with your existing fire and carbon monoxide detectors to alert the Ring of danger. They were $35 each at Best Buy.
The challenge I will face over time is how well I do maintaining the system. The door and window contacts are wireless and need to be charged occasionally. The monitoring may eventually go up in price to a point where it is not a deal. Hackers could gain access to my system, as has happened with Ring cameras.
Again, my downside is tiny in cost and time. Given the quality of self-install systems, I don’t think I will ever go back to a traditional one!
Have you purchased and installed a DIY home security system? Share your experience in the comments!