Security is one of the main concerns for everyone these days. This is especially true when it comes to the ongoing threat of home security. From an increase in home burglaries, to those pesky porch pirates, everyone is looking for peace of mind.
When a neighbor installs Ring cameras, it’s understood to be for the safety and security of their home and property – but could it affect yours as well? Will they, or can they use it to see onto your property, or listen in to your conversations?
Learning about how Ring cameras work can help put your mind at ease, as well as help protect your own privacy. And if you’re a Ring user, learning how to ensure your neighbor’s privacy is key to their feeling secure as well.
How Ring Motion Detection Works
Motion Detection is a feature of all Ring cameras, and its parameters are set up in the Ring app. Rest assured, Ring cameras aren’t recording 24/7. If that were even possible, recording all the time like this would cause the battery to run down very quickly, and most Ring users don’t want to deal with the hassle of recharging their device, or constantly replacing their battery.
Ring cameras only record when they detect motion, and for the amount of time the user has specified in the app. The Ring recording time frame can range anywhere from 15 seconds to 120 seconds. Even with a Live View, it eventually times out, especially if no motion is detected.
The way Ring detects motion depends on how the Ring user sets it up. For example, in the Ring app, you can choose where your Ring camera detects motion by setting up what’s called Motion Detection Zones. Users can have more than one motion detection zone, and set the parameters according to what they want to keep an eye on:
Ring users can also choose the sensitivity of the motion detection, to avoid or at least limit false alarms such as trees, cars and even errant debris blowing in the wind:
They can also set motion schedules so that they only get alerts at certain days and times. Motion frequency is another setting available, helping Ring users to tell their cameras just how often they should check for motion.
Another great feature Ring has, is called Smart Alerts. When this is enabled, a Ring user can decide what alerts they want to get. With Ring’s AI technology, it can differentiate between people and inanimate objects – at least in most cases.
This enables users to choose whether they want to be alerted and have all motion recorded, or just that of people.
How Far Can Ring Cameras ‘See’?
Ring cameras can ‘see’ a good distance – about 30 feet away. However, even though they can give you a view of that distance, the clarity begins to decline after a certain point.
How much your neighbor’s Ring camera sees of your property depends a lot on how close you live to your neighbor, and if you share any property lines.
For example, if your street is narrow, and your neighbor across the street has a Ring doorbell that faces the front of the house, they can most likely see the front of your home, and your driveway or garage if there is one – but that’s about it.
Even if they happen to zoom in all the way, the picture will become less clear and even slightly distorted:
The most they’d be able to see perhaps you or your family walking in and out of your house, as well as any surrounding shrubbery or trees.
What if you live next door to a Ring user, and they have say, a Ring cam set up in their backyard? Again, how much they see depends on how close they live to you, and if there are any obstructions such as fences, trees, or bushes, dividing your property:
It also depends on how they have their camera angled. Most Ring users only care about their own property and will usually have it faced in such a way that it catches all of their own yard – not yours. Should you happen to not have a fence dividing your property, the camera’s peripheral vision might catch some of your property.
However, this may not always bad a thing. On a positive note, if your neighbor’s Ring camera picks up on nefarious actions on your property, they may be able to warn you. So perhaps a little peripheral vision might not be so bad…
How Far Can Ring Cameras ‘Hear’?
Ring cameras and doorbells can record audio and sounds, and this setting is enabled by default. The distance by which they can hear depends a lot on how loud the source of sound is. For example, if there’s an ambulance blaring its siren down the street a few blocks down, you’re most likely going to hear it – you don’t need a Ring camera for that!
However, if you’re having a covert, whispering conversation in your yard about 3-4 feet away, your neighbors’ Ring camera is not likely to hear much of anything at all.
Though some Ring users report being able to hear things from about 30 feet away, this again is dependent on the volume of what they’re trying to – or not trying to hear.
Ring cameras are great at picking up sound, but the clarity of the voices and what they’re saying will decline the further away the source of the sound is. You may hear people across the street talking, but not have a clue as to what they’re actually saying.
Ring cameras, especially the Video Doorbell cameras, are designed so that the conversations held within close proximity of the cameras and their microphones, such as with delivery personnel or other visitors, are heard clearly.
This facilitates communication between the Ring user and the visitor. Conversations held further away from the house are usually of no concern to Ring users, and the microphones on the cameras don’t pick those up quite as well.
What Privacy Features Does Ring Offer?
The Ring app offers certain security and privacy features that allow Ring users to limit what Ring picks up on and records.
One such feature is the aforementioned Motion Detection Zones, designed so that Ring cameras will only detect and record motion in certain areas. But what if you’re concerned that your property may be included in one of your neighbor’s motion detection zones? Fortunately, there isn’t too much to worry about in this regard.
True, some of your property may be visible, and their cameras may pick up on, and record motion in these areas as well. But most Ring users are only concerned about suspicious activity on their own property, and most likely will exclude yours from their motion detection zones.
The Ring app actually offers other options to help give Ring neighbors the privacy they need and deserve.
In Device Settings, there’s a section entitled Privacy Settings. Within this section, you can go into Privacy Zones, which is specifically designed to protect the privacy of neighbors. Within these privacy zones, no motion will be detected or recorded: it simply a blacked-out area of the recording.
Many Ring users take advantage of this setting when living in close proximity to neighbors, or where there’s no property boundaries such as fences or hedges.
If voice recording is a concern, there is also an option in Privacy Settings to disable audio recordings from specific devices. When this is disabled, the specified Ring camera will not record audio unless its re-enabled.
How To Tell If a Ring Device is Recording
Most Ring devices have a small blue light on the front that indicates whether they’re recording or not.
The Ring doorbell, for example, has a ring around the doorbell button which lights up when recording. The Indoor cam also has a small blue light, as does the Outdoor Stick-Up cam. They all have a small blue light, approximately the size of a pen point, that lights up when it detects motion, and starts recording.
Depending on how far you are from the device, this may or not be easily visible. The larger Ring on the Doorbell cam is visible, but smaller lights such as on the Outdoor Stick-Up Cam, may not be as noticeable.
The time of day may also determine whether or not you can tell if the device is recording. During the day, sunlight may prevent you from clearly seeing any lights, while the darkness of night will make any lights more noticeable.
How much yours or your neighbor’s Ring cameras can see and hear depend on a host of different conditions. Obstructions, camera angles, and volume of voices and sounds are all contributing factors.
If you live close to a Ring user, or a user of any smart security camera for that matter, rest assured it’s unlikely your neighbor is trying to spy on you. These cameras are designed to provide security to their own home.
If you’re a Ring user, it’s important to be a good neighbor. Make sure to adjust your camera angle and settings so that you not only protect your home, but respect the privacy of those living around you.