vI’ve had a Ring camera installed in my backyard for years. The camera and solar panel have been out there for years and are probably one of the original generation of outdoor cameras. Ring has upgraded its outdoor security cameras and solar panels, and I had a chance to test out a new Ring Spotlight Cam and optional Ring Solar Panel to see what’s different and what’s improved. I’ll tell you all about my experience, since I had the chance to install one in my yard recently.

Ring Spotlight Cam battery review

What’s new with Ring?

This Ring camera has a couple of improvements over my original; for starters it’s got a spotlight in the bottom of the camera unit for added lighting and security.

This camera also has a removable rechargeable battery which you can use as your main power source (my old camera needed to be removed and brought inside to be plugged in and recharged).

You can also add the optional Ring Solar Panel, which is a great way to keep your camera operational all the time.

It might be worth noting that the older solar panel and cameras have different connections so you can’t use an older Solar Panel with a newer cameras, for example.

Ring spotlight cam, solar panel reviewEnhanced mounting bracket

The new camera comes with a much improved mounting bracket that’s easier to use and adjust. If you don’t opt for the Solar Panel, The quick-release rechargeable battery pack lets you easily charge your Cam without moving the entire device.

Wider field of view

The first thing I noticed about this camera feed is the wider field of view over my old one. This camera is HD so expect more clarity too.

Ring spotlight cam, solar panel reviewHD Video & Night Vision plus Siren

The camera has 1080HD video with a built-in microphone and speaker so you can hear and even speak with anyone who’s in front of the camera.

It also has infrared night vision so you can see and record even in full dark Plus, there’s that light which will turn on when motion is detected too.

For added security, there’s a 110-decibel siren to help you scare off intruders. You have to manually turn it on inside the app.

Motion Alerts

Your Ring cameras are designed to alert you to movement on your property. You’ll get an alert to your phone whenever the camera senses motion. You can configure exactly where the alerts are detected, and you can disable the area in front of a a busy public sidewalk for example, or your dog run. You can also adjust motion sensitivity to alert you to any movement, or just major ones.

If you want, add the optional Ring Chime Pro, and it will send an audible alert through the house when it detects motion, if you want that.

What is Ring Protect?

In order to get the most from your Ring Video Doorbell and cameras, you should know you’ll probably want to enable Ring Protect.

Ring Protect is a monthly service plan that allows you to access, download and view recordings from your Ring devices on your phone. Prices for this Cloud video storage and access range from about $5 to $15/month and there’s no contract required so you can cancel it any time.

There is a free version that lets you view your camera’s live feed, but you won’t have access to recordings of previous events. The details of the different plans can be found here.

Ring spotlight cam, solar panel reviewSet up: Ring Spotlight Cam & Solar Panel

Getting the Spotlight Cam and Solar panel set up was simple. Charge the battery and download the Ring app if you don’t already have it. Then sign into or sign up for an account.

Before you install it, it’s easiest to set up the camera indoors.

When the battery is ready, pop it into the Spotlight Cam; there’s actually two battery pack slots, and it doesn’t matter which one you use. The second spot is if you want to add a second battery instead of the solar panel.

The Spotlight Cam will start powering up and then you can go into the Ring app to add it. Click Add Device and follow the instructions which will get the camera connected to your home Wi-Fi network. My Spotlight Cam was ready in an instant.

You’ll screw the bracket onto your house, and Ring helpfully includes screws and a screwdriver for this.

As I mentioned, the Camera bracket is new and uses a ball and socket joint which lets you move it around for the best view. Snap the camera in and tighten the collar to lock it in place.

The Solar Panel also has a new bracket that holds the panel at a better angle and lets you easily slide the panel on and off for access if you need it.

Once both are mounted, connect the Solar Panel to the Camera by prying off the small rubber stopper covering the power plug and insert it.

It took just a few minutes to get both devices installed and ready to record.

Ring spotlight cam, solar panel reviewUsing Ring Spotlight Cam Battery with Solar Panel

Right away this camera combo was helpful. During the daytime I could keep an eye on the dogs in the yard, using my Amazon Echo Show 8 as a viewer. I also used it to spot and speak to a meter reader who came into the yard unexpectedly. At night, it mainly caught stray cats, but I’m confident that if we did have a prowler, I’d know about it.

The Solar Panel most definitely keeps the camera fully charged, and means I don’t need to head outside to remove and recharge the battery, particularly in the winter.

While this one has gone up in spring, my previous Ring cameras have operated trouble free all winter long, with the possible exception of extreme cold temps around -30, which does seem to freeze them and knock them offline temporarily. But it also knocks me offline temporarily too.

Ring spotlight cam, solar panel reviewVideo & light quality of Ring Spotlight Cam

As you can see if you watch my video review, or from the photos, the video is sharp and easy to watch. It’s high quality in my opinion day or night. The light itself is also bright, and lights up the area around it very well, and it has the bonus of creating an even better video picture in low light situations.

Adding Alexa to Ring

One of the great options with Ring is the ability to connect the cameras and doorbells with Amazon Alexa so you can get voice control or remote viewing using an Amazon smart device with a screen.

Ring spotlight cam, solar panel reviewIf you have a newer Echo Show device, great news, the device will be automatically added to your account, so you can just say, “Show me the Front Door” when someone rings and the feed will pop up on screen.

If you do need to do a manual set up, you can enable Ring as a skill inside the Alexa app.

Overall review Ring Spotlight Cam Battery & Solar Panel

Overall I’m a fan of Ring devices. I will note that I had some recent troubles with the Ring app with my devices not connecting properly or falling offline, but since I’ve added the newer devices the app seems to have stabilized or been upgraded and set up and connectivity has been perfect.

Downsides? I’m having a hard time finding any. The video quality is great, the cameras are easy to set up and access and you can configure your whole home system in so many ways to give you the peace of mind you’re looking for. I know some folks are choked that without paying for Ring Protect you can’t access your videos, not even from a few days prior, but that’s the reality of most remove security systems nowadays; they all want you to pay a fee for cloud recording.

Overall I can definitely recommend Ring Spotlight Cam as a way to increase your home’s security and keep watch over your house.

Ring Spotlight Cam and the Solar Panel are available from Best Buy.

Erin Lawrence
Editor TV and Home Theatre
Erin is a journalist, writer, and TV producer with a fascination for technology and a love of gadgets. Check out her blog