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Do I Need a Ring Bridge If I Have a Ring Alarm?

Ring’s ever-growing line of smart home tech has become one of the most popular brands of smart home devices in the modern home. Starting out with their line of security cameras for the inside and outside of your home, they then introduced the 1st generation of the Ring Alarm System in 2018. This was soon followed by their line of smart lights in 2020, and recently, the 2nd generation of the Ring Alarm System.

The Ring Alarm System features a hub specifically designed to be used with the Alarm System. This hub is called the Ring Base Station. In addition to owning the Ring Alarm System, some smart home users also have opted for Ring Smart Lights. These have their own hub, the Ring Bridge. 

But since the Ring Base Station is also a hub, some Ring users who own both the Alarm and Smart Lighting systems (or are thinking of purchasing both) are beginning to wonder – can they forego the Ring Bridge if they already use the Ring Alarm Base?

To understand this, first we need to understand the different systems, and how they work.

What Is The Ring Alarm System?

The Ring Alarm System is a fairly new addition to the Ring family. It’s a fully functional security system that you can integrate with many smart home hubs such as Amazon’s Alexa and Echo, as well as Samsung SmartThings. 

This Alarm System gives you peace of mind – whether you’re on the go, or sound asleep at night, by monitoring not just the outside of your home, but the inside as well. Their Starter Kit comes with all of the essentials you need in order to start securing your home.

A Ring Alarm keypad by the front door, with the dad activating it and the mum coming to get the two children.
The Ring Alarm keypad mounted on the wall by the front door.

The 5-Piece Kit includes a Base Station, which acts as the control hub for all of your Ring Alarm devices. It also includes a keypad so you can disarm and arm your alarm, a contact sensor for doors and windows, a motion detector for motion detection in your home, and a Range Extender so that your Base Station can contact all of your security devices, regardless of where they’re located inside or outside of your home.

While the 5-Piece kit only comes with one Contact Sensor and one Motion Detector, you have the option to purchase more in order to expand the security coverage of your home. They also offer Smoke and CO Sensors for thorough coverage against all dangers in your home.

These sensors connect to the Base Station using Z-Wave, and then the Base Station uses a combination of WiFi and cellular data to ‘report back’ to Ring’s cloud servers – and ultimately allow you to control the system smartly via the Ring app.

Additional options include a Retrofit Kit so that you can use it with any wired contact sensors you already have, as well as Panic Button for emergencies.

Though it’s designed to be a DIY system with self-monitoring, you have the option to get 24/7 Ring Alarm Professional Monitoring.

What Is The Ring Base Station?

The Ring Base Station is designed specifically to work with the Ring Alarm System. It’s the base or hub of control for your Ring Alarm System and all of its components. Because Ring Alarm devices communicate with each other via Z-Wave, the Base Station acts as a bridge between Z-Wave and Wi-Fi and allows your devices to communicate with the internet, as well as other smart home hubs. 

The Ring Alarm base station mounted on a wall above a metal shelf.
A wall mounted Ring Alarm base station.

The Base Station also works in harmony with the Ring app so that you can easily control all of your Ring Alarm devices when you’re away from home via the Ring app. 

The Base Station is an indoors-only device and should be placed in a location that’s visible, and where you will be able to hear the alarm if it goes off. You can only have one per household – which is all you need as it can connect to up to 100 devices!

In the event there’s a power outage, the Base Station includes a 24-hour backup battery, as well as a cellular backup if the internet goes out. These features are key as they enable your Ring Alarm System to continue operating, keeping you and your loved ones safe, even if the power and internet go out.

Does the Ring Alarm need the Ring Bridge?

The “Ring Bridge” that you may have heard of is used by the Ring Smart Lighting range that Ring released last year.

Since the Ring Alarm system is designed to work specifically with its Base Station, it does not need the Ring Bridge, which was designed specifically for the Ring Smart Lighting system

The only time you may consider using a Ring Bridge is if you’d like it to trigger the action of one or more of your Ring smart lights.

The Ring Smart Lighting Bridge or Hub
The Ring Smart Lighting Bridge or Hub

For example, if you want your Ring pathway lights to come on when one of your Ring Alarm sensors goes off, you would need the Ring Bridge in order to be able to connect the two systems of devices

After you’ve connected your Ring Smart Lights to the Ring Bridge, you’d make sure that they’re all connected to the Ring app as well. From there, you can set up the trigger in the Ring app by specifying what you want your Ring smart lights to do when an alarm sensor is triggered.

Because the Ring app and devices are also compatible with the Alexa app, you can also set this up via a Routine in the Alexa app. Using Alexa routines is a neat way of hooking up multiple different smart devices and ensuring they work seamlessly together.

Will Using a Ring Bridge Improve the Ring Alarm?

The answer depends on what you’re trying to accomplish when it comes to connecting your Ring Alarm to the Ring Bridge.

In general, the Ring Bridge doesn’t make a difference if you’re trying to use the Ring Alarm System with its components only. The Ring Base Station, in conjunction with the Ring app, is the Ring Alarm’s hub for all activity, so extra hardware isn’t needed.

However, if you’re trying to control other Ring smart home devices – such as smart lights and cameras that are not part of the Alarm system, and have them work with your Ring Alarm System, then having a Ring Bridge isn’t just helpful – it’s necessary.

Can Ring Smart Lights Use The Ring Base Station?

A Ring A19 smart light bulb being installed
A Ring A19 smart light bulb being installed

The Ring Base Station was created specifically for use with the Ring Alarm System, and so were the wireless communication protocols associated with it. Because of this, the Ring Smart Lights can only use the Ring Bridge, not the Ring Base Station.

The Ring Base Station is a hub that translates between Z-Wave (the communication protocol that connects Ring Alarm devices), and Wi-Fi. It uses Z-Wave to communicate to the devices, and Wi-Fi to communicate to the internet, which includes the Ring app. This gives you the ability to control your Ring Alarm System even while you’re on the go.

In contrast, Ring Smart Lights operate with a long range connection protocol known as LoRa. The Ring Bridge translates between LoRa and Wi-Fi. 

Because of the way the connections are set up, Ring Smart Lights can connect to the Ring Bridge only, not the Ring Base Station.

What Is LoRa and Z-Wave and How Are They Different?

LoRa

LoRa, which is an abbreviated term when discussing Long Range radio frequencies, is a wireless communication protocol that connects different devices via a long-range signal.

More recently, Ring devices have employed the use of LoRa when it comes to their Ring smart lights and the Ring Bridge. This communications protocol allows the Ring smart lights to connect over a longer range, enabling the different lights to seamlessly communicate with each other without sacrificing functionality. 

To be noted, LoRa isn’t a mesh network like Z-Wave, so at times it may require a bit more effort should you want to extend the range. For example, you may have to experiment with where you place the Ring Bridge in order to get the best possible coverage for all of your Ring smart lights, depending on where you place them around your home.

Z-Wave

Z-Wave logo
Z-Wave logo

Z-Wave is another wireless communications protocol, but in this case it involves creating a low-powered mesh network by which different devices can communicate. Similar to Zigbee, Z-wave uses very little energy, and because of this, it is often preferred over Wi-Fi.

Z-Wave devices also tend to be more stable, as they operate on a different frequency from Wi-Fi and Zigbee. Because of this, crossing over of networks is highly unlikely. Even if your neighbor is operating a Z-Wave network of their own, because they’re so specific, the networks won’t intertwine and compromise your information.

Conclusion: Ring Bridge Not Required

Besides the Ring Alarm’s Base Station, the Ring Alarm system was designed to not require any other hub or bridge, besides the Ring app.

If you find yourself wanting to integrate the Ring Alarm into the Ring Bridge, it is possible – but certainly not required for operation.

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