The Ring Alarm System has become an indispensable tool in many smart homes. I mean, what’s not to love about the fact that you can set up your alarm system according to your own preferences, all while keeping your home safe?
Now, when either purchasing one of the Ring Alarm kits, or each item separately a la carte, one component you’ll notice, is the Range Extender. It’s no doubt a useful item, as Ring decided to include it. But is it necessary? What do you sacrifice if you don’t use it?
You don’t strictly need the Ring Alarm Range Extender, but it’s often a good idea to include it – especially in larger properties. But there can be some downsides to using it, and some people have sought third party range extenders to use instead.
Before expanding on that further, it’s good to get a better understanding of what the Ring Alarm System is, and how it operates in your home.
What Is the Ring Alarm System?
The Ring Alarm System is Ring’s answer to home security, on your terms. They come in kits with 5, 8, 10, or 14 pieces. You choose depending on the size of your home, as well as your individual needs.
The kit includes:
- Base Station
- Contact Sensors
- Motion Detector
- Range Extender
In the 14-piece kits, you get 2 keypads instead of just one, as people who use the larger kits often have larger homes that require more coverage. The number of Contact Sensors also increases per kit, giving you the ability to cover your home thoroughly. If you don’t want the entire kit, or just need a few components, Ring also sells all of the components separately, a-la-carte style.
The Ring Alarm Pro kits take it up a notch with built-in high-speed eero Pro 6 Wi-Fi Routers. These are designed to replace your current internet, helping with connection speeds throughout your home. Basically they took the following and bundled it inside the Ring Alarm base station:
This is especially helpful so you don’t miss any potentially serious alerts, and so that all of your footage comes through clearly and in real-time.
With the addition of the Ring Protect Plan Pro, you get additional features that help keep your home secure. Features include professional 24/7 monitoring so that the proper authorities such as police or fire can be notified if your Ring Alarm goes off. It also includes Alexa Guard which allows you to call for police or any other emergency service with just your voice.
If you have the Ring Alarm Pro, the Ring Protect Plan Pro also includes eero Secure, which provides advanced security from online threats.
One component of your Ring Alarm System, the Base Station is one of the most essential components of the Ring Alarm kit. It acts as the hub of connection for all of your Ring Alarm devices. It’s needed in order to connect to the Ring app, where you’ll control all of the settings for your Ring Alarm.
It connects to your other devices via Z-Wave. But what exactly is Z-wave?
What is Z-Wave?
Z-Wave is the wireless communication protocol that your Ring Alarm devices use.
The Base Station is so critical because it acts as a hub to which all of the Ring Alarm components connect. It then translates Z-Wave ‘language’ to the internet, so that your devices can connect to the Ring app.
But why use Z-Wave in the first place?
Z-Wave works as a mesh network. Each device on the network acts as a node or connection point. Instead of having to connect directly to the signal source, like Wi-Fi and a Wi-Fi router, each component connects to each other. Because of this, the more devices you have on the Z-Wave network, the stronger the connection.
Z-Wave also works on its own secure network. Even if your neighbors happen to also use Z-Wave, your devices and theirs won’t interfere with each other.
In the case of the Ring Alarm, each component acts as a node to help extend the network. However, the strongest Z-Waves signal only comes from plugged-in components, a.k.a. the Ring Base Station. Sensors and Motion Detectors that go past 250 feet, or are met with obstructions, may exhibit a weak connection to the Z-Wave network.
Here is where the Ring Range Extender comes in.
What Is the Range Extender? Is It Necessary?
Ring’s Range Extender is a plug-in alarm system component that comes in the Ring Alarm and Ring Alarm Pro kits. They’re also available to purchase separately as an add-on, on the Ring.com site and retails for a rather affordable $24.99.
This Range Extender is unique as it’s designed to extend the Z-Wave signal specifcally for the Ring Alarm System. This is in contrast to the extenders we’re used to hearing about – Wi-Fi extenders, which only extend the 2.4 GHz and/or 5 GHz band of Wi-Fi.
Without the Range Extender, the max range for the Ring Alarm is about 250 feet. However, this could be hindered by obstructions such as walls, and if your Ring Alarm components are on different floors of a multi-level home.
The Range Extender ensures that all of the devices connect to the Base Station, which they need to be attached to in order to function.
Is it necessary? That all depends on the size of your home. If you live in a small, studio apartment with little to no obstructions between devices, you could probably forego the Range Extender.
However, if you’re in a larger, multi-level home, opting for the Range Extender will be necessary. Without it, you’ll sacrifice functionality, and will be prone to potentially serious connectivity issues – not good if you’re trying to protect your home!
The only ‘downside’ is that the device must be plugged in. This is actually a good thing in many ways since batteries aren’t as reliable as a plugged in device, but it’s worth noting in-case you don’t have many free wall sockets:
Can you have multiple Ring Alarm Range Extenders?
If you live in a particularly large home or want to make sure that all of your devices have a very strong connection to the Base Station, you might consider having an extra Range Extender or two. But is this possible?
You’ll be pleased to know that yes, it is possible to have multiple Ring Alarm range extenders. You can place them strategically around your home so that they provide the best possible coverage. You can purchase them directly from the Ring website, or even Amazon.
Each Extender extends your range by about 250 feet. Place them in areas where you notice any dead zones, or areas where connection is spotty. Using them will increase the range and operability of your Ring Alarm System, resulting in better, smoother operation.
Are there third-party Range Extenders for the Ring Alarm System?
So what happens if you don’t want to use a Ring Range Extender? Can you use a 3rd party Z-Wave extender?
There are a couple of schools of thought on this. Ring, for example, highlights that you cannot use a 3rd party Z-Wave Extender with the Ring Alarm System. The Ring Range Extender is manufactured specifically for use with the Ring Alarm System, and they attest that’s the only one you can use.
However, some users have decided to test this theory and try alternative ways of extending the Ring Alarm’s Z-Wave network. Since Z-Wave is a mesh network, with each Z-Wave device acting as a node that helps extend said network, some users have tried adding another Z-wave device.
One such device is the Leviton Decora Plug-In Outlet, which is listed on the Ring site under Works With Ring Alarm – as screenshotted below:
These run on Z-Wave, and some Ring Alarm users have been able to use these as extenders in place of the Ring Range Extender. However, that being said, these plug-in devices do tend to run a higher price tag than the Ring Range Extender – retailing for about $40. Not only that, but there are mixed results as to success of this method. This begs the question – is it even worth it?
While it’s stated to work with the Ring Alarm, it’s not stated for the purpose of a Range Extender. Another option is the Aeotec Range Extender 7, retailing on Amazon for about $34. But again, these come with mixed reviews.
If for some reason using an actual Ring Range Extender is causing you problems, it would be best to contact Ring. See if they can troubleshoot the problem, as opposed to trying 3rd party items that are costly, and may or may not work.
Keep Your Home Safe
While the Ring Alarm Range Extender isn’t necessary, it’s certainly a good idea to use, especially if it already comes in your kit. It will help you get the best use out of your Ring Alarm or Ring Alarm Pro.
Sometimes obstructions such as walls, and if you’re on separate floors, ceilings, can hinder the Z-Wave signal from reaching your devices. Using the Range Extender remedies that issue. You can even use more than one should you need to.
As for third-party Z-Wave extenders, users have had mixed success with these. With the Range Extender alone coming in at such a nominal price, it’s not worth the hassle of 3rd party products. It’s best to just use the Ring Range Extender.