Since their introduction in 2018, Ring’s smart lighting has become a popular addition in the modern smart home, especially with those who already use Ring products. Their line of smart lighting includes Floodlights, Steplights, Spotlights, Motion Sensors, and even pedestal Pathlights.
Ring’s Pathlights not only look inviting as they light the path up to your home after a long day at work, but they also deter thieves. Outdoor lighting like Ring Pathlights makes it safer for you and your loved ones to come home after dark.
But some may begin to wonder, can or should you leave these lights on all the time? If so, how do you charge them to ensure that they don’t die out when you need them most?
What are Ring Pathlights?
The solar-powered version offers customizable dimming options so that you can make sure your path is lit to your preference – not too bright, and not too dim. You can even set them to change their brightness when motion is detected.
These lights have built-in motion sensors so they can be configured to come on when motion is detected, giving you a perfectly lit and secure pathway to your front door, back porch, or where ever you decide to place the lights.
When used in conjunction with the Ring motion sensors, your Pathlights can be triggered by motion in places where the lights aren’t placed, giving you an even greater area of security. They come with stakes that you can place in any soft ground for a secure hold.
In order to use these pathway lights, they need to be connected to the Ring Bridge. This is required in order to connect them to the Ring app and thereby have the ability to control the lights even while you’re on the go.
They can be set-up to come on either when motion is detected, or at a specific time of your choosing. You can even get them to work along with other Ring devices via the Ring app. One such example is setting up a routine so that when your Ring Video Doorbell rings, the Pathlights turn on.
Being they are compatible with Alexa and the Echo devices, you can also set up routines via the Alexa app for even more convenience.
How do Ring Pathlights work?
Ring Pathway Lights work with a long-range wireless communication protocol known as LoRa. Since LoRa isn’t compatible with Wi-Fi, it requires the Ring Bridge in order to ‘speak’ to Wi-Fi devices such as your smartphone or other mobile device – which you need to connect to the Ring app.
LoRa is what the Pathlights use to communicate with each other, as well as with the Ring Bridge. This long-range protocol allows your devices to speak to each other and the Bridge at longer distances, giving you a greater range of operability around your home.
This long-range communication is especially convenient if you’ve placed lights behind your home, as well as in front of your home. Since each home can only use one Ring Bridge, the ability for the devices to communicate over several feet is not only convenient, but necessary.
Placement of the Ring Bridge is key. Unlike other wireless communication protocols such as Zigbee or Z-Wave, there is no way to extend the range with LoRa, as it doesn’t operate like a mesh network. The average range of LoRa is approximately 15 to 20 km. This varies, of course, depending on any obstructions (gates, wall, etc.) that may be present.
While the range is typically more than enough for the average home, it’s still important to place your Ring Bridge in as central a location as possible, to give all of your Ring Pathlights equal range and communication with the Ring Bridge.
Can Ring Pathlights Stay On?
In a nutshell – yes, they can. However, depending on how your lights are powered, this may put significant strain on their power source.
For example, when it comes to the battery-operated lights, the batteries will drain more quickly than normal, making it necessary to replace the batteries more often than you may like. This can become costly over time, as well as be an inconvenience if you’re in a rush and discover one or more of your lights needs to have the batteries changed.
When it comes to the solar-powered version, as the name indicates, their main power source is the sun. These too will drain quickly if you decide to keep them on at all times.
If they’re kept running in the daytime, when they’re supposed to be recharging, they may not be able to get enough charge to stay on when the sun is down – defeating the purpose of having pathway lights to begin with.
Instead of leaving the lights on at all times, it’s best to turn them off during the daytime in order to avoid having to recharge them or change the batteries constantly. If you’re worried that you may forget to turn them on as it gets dark, you can set up a routine/schedule that will be carried out every day without you having to even think about it:
Yes. The Ring app has a Scheduler feature that will have the lights glow softly when the sun goes down and turn off when it comes back up. The Scheduler can also be set to turn the lights on and off at other times.Ring Support Pages
Routines/Schedules can easily be set up via the Ring app, or within your smart home hub’s app. For example, Alexa routines can be set so that they come on at a specific time, or when triggered by the action of another smart home device such as a Motion Sensor or Ring Video Doorbell.
Setting up a routine will ensure that your lights come on when you want them to, without you having to remember to turn them on – all without needlessly draining your Pathlights’ battery.
How do you charge or power Ring Pathlights?
The answer to this query depends on what kind of Ring Pathlights you’re using.
When it comes to the solar-powered variety which currently retails for $35 each, the main way to power these is by placing them in direct sunlight so they can be powered by the sun. Once these lights have charged in the daylight, they store that energy to be used later.
This is part of the reason using these lights during the day defeats the purpose – they’ll be actively using the energy that they’re supposed to be storing up for nighttime operation.
Another way to charge solar-powered Ring Pathlights is with the included USB cord and the rechargeable battery. Some opt for this method if it’s particularly cloudy, or there are obstructions that block the sun from reaching the solar panel on their Pathlights. The Ring Pathlights usually take 2-3 hours to charge up via the included micro USB cord.
In terms of the battery-operated Ring Pathlights, you will need to supply your own batteries – 4 D-Cell batteries to be exact. These are slightly cheaper at $30 each, but will work out a bit more expensive over the years when the cost of batteries is factored in. Under what Ring considers “normal” use, these batteries can last up to a year of operation before needing to be replaced. Of course, if used more than what is deemed normal, battery replacement will have to be more frequent.
Alternatives to the Ring Pathlights
Ring Pathway Lights not your cup of tea? No problem – there are still a variety of other options should you still want some kind of pathway lights around your home.
Philips Hue’s line of smart lights includes their own pathway lights – the Econic Outdoor Pedestal, and the Calla Outdoor Bollard. In addition to providing a lighted path, you will also be able to change the color of the lights for a more decorative pathway.
Unlike the Ring Pathlights, these Hue pathway lights have to be plugged into a power source. These lights also run on Zigbee, so you will need the Hue Bridge in order to use them.
If you’re using a smart home hub that already has a Zigbee chip, such as the newer Amazon Echos, then it’s possible you won’t need the extra hardware – however greater customization options are available if you do opt for the Hue Bridge.
Innr Smart Color
Smart home hubs such as the newer Amazon Echos, and Samsung SmartThings have a built-in Zigbee bridge which you can use to control them.
Within the Innr app you can customize schedules, as well as color according to your preferences and needs.
Atomi Smart Pathway Lights
If you want to skip the middle man and not need a Zigbee Bridge, you can opt for Wi-Fi-only lights, such as the Atomi Smart Pathway Lights.
They can be controlled wirelessly and work with smart home hubs such as Alexa and Google Assistant. They can be configured to come on with routines, and have a wide variety of color options available. Just connect to the Atomi app, and your home Wi-Fi, and you’re ready to go.
Light Only When Necessary
While keeping your Ring Smart Pathlights on at all times may seem harmless, it could end up costing you more in the long run – whether it’s extra batteries, or lights that won’t come on when you need them.
The wisest option is to set up routines and create schedules so that your lights come on when you need them, and give you the convenience you deserve.
Not a fan of the Ring lights? Not a problem! There are other feasible options available should you decide to go another route.