In the many years that I’ve been looking at Home Automation products, I’ve had the opportunity to install things all over my house, ranging from locks for my front and entry doors, alarm systems, light switches and even sensors by my hot water tank. One place I have not ventured yet is the doorbell. With a wide variety of video doorbells out there, one has been consistently standing above the rest.
The Ring Pro Video Doorbell has been running wild in Smart Home circles since release and now you can pick one up at Best Buy. This Wi-Fi enabled video doorbell features real time views through a fishbowl lens camera, two way talk capabilities and video logging through the app. An optionally paid cloud storage option is available too. You get automatic 30 day cloud storage out of the box and can pay an additional fee for other plans.
Ring has everything you need in the box
There were a few interesting things that caught my eye out of the box. Ring doesn’t leave room for second guessing. If you don’t have a screwdriver, this comes with one along with a mysterious drill bit (more on that later.) There are all sorts of fancy little wiring gizmos and even extra wires. What looks like one of the most complicated operations ends up being anything but. In fact, with a little bit of know how and a bit of advance planning, installation should only take you about a half hour tops.
If you don’t feel comfortable installing it yourself, how does free installation sound? Ring includes a little card with the instructions that states that if you can’t figure it out, you can visit their webpage to apply for free and fully paid installation. I don’t believe I’ve ever come across another Smart Home company that has this offer.
Do you really need someone to install Ring for you?
The truth is, probably not. If you’ve ever installed a light fixture, this video doorbell is really no more difficult than that. Ring Pro hooks in through your existing doorbell system. My install video deals with a simple two wire system, so there’s nothing left for interpretation. Should you have a 3 wire, multi-chime doorbell, you’ll need to coordinate with the front and transformer wires. The Ring Pro’s Power Kit comes with these wires labelled to make your life easier.
The first thing you need to do is cut the power to your doorbell and find where the manual unit is itself. In most cases, you’ll find it in a high traffic area of your household where it can be heard. Remove the housing box and see what you’re up against. As mentioned before, Ring’s Pro Power kit needs only a two wire system to operate. The first thing you’ll need to do is ensure that you get a connection between your existing doorbell chime and the eventual end unit and that there is enough power flowing to everything. Two grey wire clips will help you connect the old wires to the Pro Power kit and all that is left is for you to affix it (using the included double sided tape) to an empty space in your doorbell area.
That’s the hard part. It sounds fairly simple but there’s a little bit of work involved. Watch the install video at the bottom of this blog to see for yourself what you’ll need to do.
Hooking up the camera and chime of the video doorbell
The next thing you’ll to do is hook up the camera/doorbell itself. Keep the power cut to the main doorbell and then remove it. Chances are this unit is bigger than your existing doorbell which means that you’ll have to create mounting holes. If you have wood or siding, you’re fine. If you are installing on concrete though, you’ll have to break out a power drill. Do you remember that drill bit I mentioned earlier? Use it here. Ring provides plastic screw anchors along with the right side screws.
Next, get your Ring unit ready. You’ll have to pop the attached faceplate off. This is actually a little bit tougher than it looks so be careful not to crack it. If you do, it doesn’t matter too much because it comes with 4 different colours and the one you want may actually be waiting in the package.
Here’s where wiring things will probably get tricky too. You may not have enough exposed wire behind to hook the Ring unit up properly. No matter. Ring has included extender wire loops as well as two 2-port wire connectors to ease with the installation. You’ll have to straighten the existing wires and push one into each connector with Ring’s wires included on the other end. This is probably the only other time you may need to provide your own tool as you MAY need a wire stripper or a clever hand with needle-nose pliers to strip the conductor coating enough to feed wire into the connectors. Once this is done, shove everything back until you can rest the unit flush to the wall and screw the unit to the wall but don’t attach a face plate just yet. On the right side, you can see what it looks like when you have it set up.
At this point, most of the hard work is done. It’s just software from here. Go flip your breaker and enjoy the introductory show.
The final steps
Make sure you’ve downloaded the Ring App. All you have to do is click “Set up a new device” and it will guide you through setting up a new account. Since the Ring Pro is all enabled through Wi-Fi, it will project a local network to sync up to your phone or tablet and will set itself up without your assistance. This step may take around 20 minutes or so because it will automatically update its firmware through your phone. You’re basically done and ready to use your new video doorbell at this point.
This edition of “The Ring” won’t kill you if you watch the tape back.
As I had mentioned previously, you get a 30 day automatic trial to cloud storage. This will give you access to all of video records you do, from watching the live feed to interactions with whomever is at the door. You can set the app to either react to just button presses or can even set a motion zone. In the motion zone, the app tells you when somebody has entered said zone and will urge you to open the app to get a closer look. This may be the mailman or someone dropping junk mail off at the door or whomever. Naturally, Ring will record for you if you have storage capability.
Within the Ring app, you’ll also have the ability to monitor and record as well as speak to anybody ringing your doorbell. When somebody does press the doorbell, they are greeted with a local chime followed shortly by your home’s chime ringing. The doorbell then signals to your device advising you to open the app and speak to somebody at the front door. You’ll be able to see them on screen and then speak with them. If you have Wink products at home, the original Ring doorbell interfaced with them. Ring Pro will as well but as with most Smart Home products you may find better success with its features directly from the native app itself.
While installation, setup and enjoyment has been easy thus far, you do need to keep one thing in mind. Since Ring is a Wi-Fi cam, its strength hinges on the signal quality of your Wi-Fi. At my mother’s place where we did the install, we had audio/video delay and framerate dropping due to the poor Wi-Fi at their front door area. You may want to invest in a good range extender to help bolster that signal and recording/audio quality. The video output itself will be 1080p and extremely clear when your videos get played back. However, the strength of your signal to Ring will determine whether whether there will be any sort of audio delay. It seems right now that it is still a bit of a work in progress and you may experience up to a half second delay in some cases.
Outside of that, I highly recommend the Ring Pro Video Doorbell to you and to anybody who wants to install a video doorbell in their home. It won’t even take you more than an hour and you may never have to get up to answer another door to door salesman again. You can tell them you’re not interested from the comfort of your couch!
The Ring Pro Video Doorbell is now available at Best Buy and online at BestBuy.ca.