Ring is still on the top when it comes to smart home technology. Since being acquired by Amazon, Ring has moved to become the leader of smart home security as well as lighting and other smart tech arenas. However, their technology isn’t always totally reliable.
Smart home devices rely on complicated networks of apps, physical gadgets, and Wi-Fi signals in order to provide users with the experience they’re looking for. There can be problems anywhere in this chain that interrupt this experience. Streaming HD video requires everything to be firing on all cylinders, but what happens when it doesn’t?
Your Ring camera video feed can go black for a variety of reasons. The most common reasons involve problems with apps, a broken Ring device, or issues with your home Wi-Fi network. Ring servers can also go down which could cause the video feed to stop. This article will go through solutions to these problems and more.
What are Ring Cameras and Doorbells?
Ring cameras and doorbells are some of the most exciting smart home technologies.
These devices allow you to not only take control of your home security, but really expand on the potential of smart tech. Smart cameras can be positioned to keep an eye on vital areas such as front and back doors, but they can also be used to watch over the home garden or the baby’s room. The sky’s the limit when it comes to what you can accomplish with a Ring camera.
Ring doorbells are probably some of the most well-known smart home devices. A Ring doorbell allows you to have two-way audio communication with whoever is at your door no matter where in the world you’re located. As long as your app has a good data connection, you can be on vacation half a world away and still be able to answer your door.
Despite the good reputation earned by these devices, they can still face some serious problems when it comes to that video feed going dark. Let’s go over some of the most common reasons why the Ring video feed can fail and what you can do to restore it.
Why Your Ring Video Feed can go Dark
In an ideal world your Ring cameras and doorbell would be able to stream you crystal clear video whenever you need it. However, there are plenty of reasons why that video feed can go dark.
We’re going to go over the most common reasons why Ring video feeds can fail and what you can do to bring them back up.
The Wi-Fi Connection Can’t Handle the Video
The first stop in checking on your Ring device’s video is your Ring account. Log into your Ring account and try to watch a video feed from your dashboard.
If the video feed is black on your dashboard, this means that your Ring device is having trouble “speaking” with Ring’s servers. This could be a problem with your modem, router, or ISP. It could also indicate that Ring’s servers are experiencing problems.
If the videos play normally on your dashboard, this means that there is an issue between your Ring device and your smartphone or tablet.
This could be related to internet or cell signal strength, problems with the apps themselves, or an issue with your Ring device.
Your Wi-Fi network could very well be the issue preventing you from successfully streaming video from one of your Ring cameras. In order to send these high-quality video files, Ring cameras need enough bandwidth on your Wi-Fi – at least 1-2 Mbps of upload speed is recommended by Ring.
If your Wi-Fi network is clogged up with other users and lots of smart devices, that could be preventing you from successfully streaming video from your Ring doorbell. One way to handle this is to limit the amount of devices using your Wi-Fi network. Other Communications technologies like Z-Wave and ZigBee are great choices for freeing up some space on your home Wi-Fi network.
You can also make good use of Wi-Fi repeaters that can extend the range of your Wi-Fi signal. This can help all of your devices stay connected without straining those connections too much. Another great thing to check on when it comes to Wi-Fi usage is what each user is up to.
Gaming, streaming video, and downloading content all take up precious Wi-Fi power. If you have a household full of dedicated gamers and people watching video day and night, you might need to invest in more powerful Wi-Fi equipment in order to handle that and you’re smart home tech on top of it.
Wi-Fi signal strength is a two-way street. It’s not just about how strong your modem, router, and Wi-Fi service are. It’s also about how well your connected devices can receive that Wi-Fi signal.
Ring Cameras and Wi-Fi Signal Strength
Ring cameras are constantly streaming high-quality video to your other smart devices. In order to accomplish this feat they need a pretty strong signal to carry these video files.
Ring’s cameras and other devices work best with an RSSI of 0 to -60. What does this mean?
Let’s geek out for a second and talk about signal strength. RSSI is the common measurement for signal strength. It’s otherwise known as the “Received Signal Strength Indicator.” This number is read by the device that’s receiving the signal. This means that it’s not actually a measurement of how strong the signal is being put out by a given network, but by how well it’s being received.
If your Wi-Fi router or modem is putting out a weak signal, your smart devices and Ring camera are going to struggle to send those video files back and forth. Since RSSI is a measurement of the received strength of a signal, the problem can also be with your tablet or smartphone.
Older, first generation, smartphones and tablets were built with different demands in mind. Some of them might not be able to handle the signal strength needed to accomplish streaming HD video from your Ring device.
If the signal strength coming from your Wi-Fi network isn’t the problem, the Ring server Network might be.
Ring Server Status
Ring relies on a steady connection to a central server in order to stream high quality video to your device. If there’s a problem with this server, your video feed can go black.
The sad news about this problem is that there’s not much we, as users, can do about server issues. If Ring’s servers go down, the best thing that you can do is wait. You can stay up-to-date on Ring’s server status using their status page.
If you checked the server and it’s still up and running, you might be dealing with a hardware problem.
Hardware Issues and the Ring Warranty
Another common source of a black video screen is damaged hardware inside of your Ring camera or doorbell.
Ring technology is very robust. These doorbells and cameras are meant to handle the wear and tear that comes with being outdoors. However, that doesn’t mean that they can stand up to everything. It is also possible that your brand new piece of Ring technology came with a factory defect.
If your Ring camera doorbell has been damaged within the warranty period, you can send it back to the manufacturer for a replacement. The Ring Protect Plus plan not only adds more features to your Ring device, it also gives you an extended warranty for the duration of your Ring Protect Plus plan.
Since Ring is now owned by Amazon, you can also rely on Amazon’s customer friendly refund policies if your Ring device was damaged within the return window (assuming you purchased from Amazon.com and not Ring.com). Returns and warranties can be great ways to handle getting a quick and free replacement for your Ring device that breaks down on you before the warranty or return period runs out.
There’s another way that your Ring video output can be black and it comes from one of it’s privacy features.
Ring Privacy Zone Settings
We saved the best solution for last. One of the reasons why your Ring camera or doorbell could be giving you a blank video feed might just be a prank from another user in your network. It could also be user error.
Ring cameras have a very useful feature called Privacy Zones. These allow users to send to black out areas in the Ring camera’s field of view. This gives you some privacy and prevents certain areas from being visible when streaming video:
The example that Ring provides is a camera that also points at a balcony. You can set a Ring Privacy Zone over the balcony to replace that section of the video feed with a black square. It is possible to set Privacy Zones to cover most or all of your field of view.
If another user in your Ring network has been setting Privacy Zones, this could be responsible for segments of your video feed being blacked out. You can see if there are any Privacy Zones set up by checking the Ring app privacy settings. Users can add, delete, and even name their Privacy Zones in the app’s privacy settings:
If you see random Privacy Zones popping up in your Ring video, talk with anyone else who has access to your Ring app. They might be setting up Privacy Zones for very valid reasons and just forgetting to tell you about it later. Ring cameras and doorbells have been used for all kinds of fun pranks and it just might be another user with access to your Ring app that’s having a little fun at your expense.
If things are getting out of hand, you can always regain control of who has access to your Ring devices and apps. Deleting excess Privacy Zones, checking out settings, and making sure that your devices are in good working order will make sure that you have access to your video feed 24/7.