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Will Ring Doorbells and Cameras Work With a Mobile Hotspot?

With everything opening up, more people are on the go. Perhaps you yourself are planning on traveling soon.

For added security during their travels, many decide to take one or more of their Ring security devices with them. But being these devices require an internet connection in order to be able to operate, is this even possible?

Wi-Fi or internet access can become an issue especially if you’re traveling to a remote location where the internet is unavailable, such as a cabin in the woods, or any similar area without access to Wi-Fi or the Internet. To that end, many begin to wonder if using a mobile hotspot is an option. 

For a nominal monthly fee, many ISPs (Internet Service Providers) and cell phone service providers offer dedicated mobile hotspot devices that broadcast a Wi-Fi signal. In addition, most smartphones today come equipped with mobile hotspots. This enables you to connect your other devices such as tablets and computers so that you can access the internet, no matter where you are.

So just how will your Ring devices work with a mobile hotspot? Ring cameras and doorbells work fine when connecting to a hotspot – whether that’s a dedicated mobile hotspot or a smartphone hotspot. However both approaches have disadvantages too.

What Are Ring Cameras and Doorbells?

Ring’s line of cameras and doorbells are just some of the many smart security devices that the company offers.

The cameras come in both indoor and outdoor versions. The indoor cameras are typically wired and need to be plugged into an outlet in order to function. The outdoor cameras (which can also be used indoors if you so desire), are either powered by the included rechargeable battery or are hardwired in, with the exception of the Ring Stick-Up Cam Elite.

The Ring Stick Up Cam installed outdoors.
The Ring Stick Up Cam installed outdoors.

The Elite version features a PoE (Power over Ethernet) connection, where it’s connected with a cable and receives both power and internet access via an Ethernet connection.

Ring’s Video Doorbells allow you to see and speak to anyone who comes to the door. These doorbells have sensors that you can customize in the Ring app to detect motion in specific zones. You can also specify how sensitive these sensors are. These doorbells are typically used along with the Ring Chime so that you can hear when anyone presses the doorbell.

Three Ring doorbells side-by-side in a store.
Three Ring doorbells side-by-side in a store.

Both the Ring Cameras and Doorbells require an internet connection in order to operate. This connection is needed in order to communicate with each other – as in the case of the Ring Video Doorbell and Ring Chime.

They also need an internet connection in order to communicate with the Ring app, so that all security footage recorded can be uploaded to the cloud, and so that the preferences you set up are activated.

Without an internet connection, your Ring Cameras and Doorbells cannot function.

The Benefits of Taking Your Ring Devices On The Go

Whether you’re vacationing on an island and want added security for your villa, or you’re on a business trip and want to keep an eye on your hotel room while you’re away, being able to take your Ring devices wherever you go provides you with peace of mind so you can focus on other things.

When we travel, whether it’s across the state or to another country, we often take valuable items with us. Not to mention, the most valuable of all – our lives and those of our family! To that end, ensuring everyone’s safety while away from home is of the utmost concern.

Ring doorbells can also be convenient if you’re expecting visits from friends at your vacation home. You can easily see who’s arriving and be notified via your smartphone, even if you don’t have a Ring Chime set up. 

In addition to keeping an eye on things while you’re out enjoying the day, they can even catch things that you’d normally miss, or wouldn’t happen if you were nearby. One such example is being able to catch the antics of wildlife – from the safety of inside!

But as mentioned at the outset, how can using a mobile hotspot help in this regard?

How Mobile Hotspots Can Help

Mobile hotspots are devices that broadcast a Wi-Fi signal. This is done when either a dedicated mobile hotspot or your smartphone uses their 4G/5G mobile data to broadcast that Wi-Fi signal. Once activated, other devices can then be connected to the broadcast Wi-Fi and gain access to the internet.

If you’re in an area that has sparse internet, or even worse – no internet at all, a good mobile hotspot can be invaluable.

One very convenient reason using a mobile hotspot can be useful for your Ring devices is portability. Once set up on the Wi-Fi network that your mobile hotspot broadcasts, you can move the hotspot to various locations – without having to go through the hassle of setting up your Ring devices again!

Once you’ve set up your Ring devices so that they connect to your mobile hotspot, no matter where you take it, they’ll automatically connect without additional reconfiguring.

In addition to no reconfiguring, you also have the benefit of having added security no matter where you go.

Mobile Hotspots can also be convenient at home as well. While most residential areas have access to internet via fiber optic, ethernet, or other wired means – there are some areas that unfortunately don’t. In this case, using a traditional router isn’t an option.

Utilizing a mobile hotspot, then, can be a great, and affordable solution to any connectivity issues.

How to connect your Ring device to the mobile hotspot

Before I discuss how to enable a mobile hotspot below, it’s worth briefly covering that your Ring devices can only connect to one Wi-Fi network at a time. So once you are out of Wi-Fi signal range and you have setup your hotspot, you can then re-configure your Ring device to connect to the hotspot instead.

To do this, launch the Ring app, select your device and go to “Device Health”. There will be an option to “Change Wi-Fi Network” or “Reconnect to Wi-Fi”:

Ring app screenshot showing the option to reconnect to Wi Fi
Ring app screenshot showing the option to reconnect to Wi Fi

From here, just select your new hotspot network and then enter its Wi-Fi password. After a few seconds it will have connected to the hotspot – simple!

Setting up a new hotspot is probably the trickiest part to be honest, but the two sections below cover how to do this.

Using a smartphone as a mobile hotspot

One of the most popular ways of using a mobile hotspot is via your smartphone.

Many smartphones are equipped with mobile hotspots via your phone carrier. All you have to do is set it up with a password for added security, and you can connect any of your mobile devices to the hotspot that your phone broadcasts.

Android

In Android smartphones that support Mobile Hotspots, to access it, you would first need to go into “Settings”, then “Connections”. Next, you would go into “Mobile Hotspot and Tethering”. 

Samsung S10 screenshot showing the mobile hotspot options on Android
Samsung S10 screenshot showing the mobile hotspot options on Android

You would then hit the slider to activate the Mobile Hotspot. If you press where it says “Mobile Hotspot”, you can view and change the current settings. The network it broadcasts will typically be the model name of your phone, and the password will be your phone number. You have the option to change these to personalize them and make them easier to remember. 

Alternatively, you can access your Mobile Hotspot by expanding the drop-down menu at the top of your phone screen. This is the same menu where you would find such options as Airplane Mode and Bluetooth. From that drop-down menu you’ll find the button that says “Mobile Hotspot”, and be able to access the settings from there as well.

iOS

The process for activating your Mobile Hotspot on an iOS device is pretty similar.

You would first go to “Settings”, then “Cellular” then “Personal HotSpot”. Depending on your version of iOS, as well as your device, you may have to go to “Settings” again after hitting “Cellular”, before you come across the “Personal Hotspot” option.

After you’ve gotten into “Personal Hotspot”, tap the slider that says “Allow Others To Join”. Here, you also have the option to change your password to something easier to remember.  

Things to remember with mobile (smartphone) hotspots

Depending on your device, carrier, and operating system version, only a certain amount of devices will be able to connect to a smartphone’s mobile hotspot – usually about 8 – 10. The signal is broadcast using cellular data, so the more devices that are connected, the more the data has to spread out and you may experience slow-downs.

Using your phone’s mobile hotspot can also drain the battery more quickly than normal use, so be sure to keep it charged.

In addition, most carriers have a data cap when it comes to using your mobile hotspot. Depending on how often you plan on using it, you will want to confirm what your data cap is, and adjust your use accordingly.

Some carriers offer you the option to increase your data for a small fee. Consulting your carrier will better help you determine how much data suits your needs. Make sure to tell them you will be using your Ring devices so they can better help you determine which plan is best for you.

Using a dedicated mobile hotspot for Ring devices

Another route for a mobile hotspot is using one that’s not associated with your smartphone. These mobile hotspot devices are available through many carriers including Verizon and AT&T:

There is a monthly fee associated with using this service, and this fee is in direct correlation to how much data you use or plan on using. Consult the mobile hotspot provider for exact pricing.

To set up a stand-alone mobile hotspot, first you will need to activate it via the carrier’s website (i.e. Verizon or AT&T). After activation, if your mobile router has a screen, such as the NetGear Nighthawk, the network name and password for the mobile hotspot will display on the screen.

Hotspots not equipped with a screen should have the information displayed in your online account with the carrier, or a small “Wi-Fi Details” card included in the box. This is the information you’ll need to use in order to connect any Ring devices to the mobile hotspot.

In order to connect your Ring devices to either a mobile hotspot from your smartphone, or a dedicated mobile hotspot device, you would first go into your Ring app, and select the device you want to connect.

Next, select “Device Health”, then down to “Change Wi-Fi Network”. From there you can choose the Wi-Fi network you want to connect your device to. You will have to repeat this for each Ring device you want to connect to the hotspot.

Most mobile hotspots have a decent battery life – usually about 24 hours. Still, you’ll want to make sure you have access to some form of outlet or power source to avoid service interruptions.

The downsides of using a mobile hotspot

Although there are a plethora of benefits to using a mobile hotspot, especially in areas where no other internet service is available – there are also some potential issues.

Smartphones

When it comes to smartphones, one of the most common problems is spotty connection. This occurs because your data connection will vary depending on the signal strength of your phone. If you’re in a remote location with little to no cell towers nearby, your phone may experience connectivity issues. If it does, your mobile hotspot – and any devices connected to it will as well. 

Another issue is data caps on your smartphone’s hotspot. Once you’ve reached your data limit, your internet may slow down significantly. Alternatively, your provider may choose to charge you for every GB (gigabyte) of data you go over your limit, resulting in higher monthly fees depending on how much you go over.

Mobile Hotspot Devices

Though not as common, connectivity issues can affect Mobile Hotspot Devices as well. Because the connection is entirely wireless (using either 4G or 5G mobile data), speed and connection stability may take a hit, especially if you’re in a more remote location.

Data costs may also become an issue. Depending on the settings on your Ring device, you can use over 50 GB of data a month:

Ring and Philips Hue internet usage from my BT HomeHub
Ring and Philips Hue internet usage from my BT HomeHub

This can end up costing you more than originally planned.

A good, solid internet connection is required in order for your Ring devices to operate optimally. Spotty connections can lead to the frustration of missed footage and the inability to view Live Feed from your cameras in a timely fashion.

Alternatives to using a mobile hotspot with Ring

While using a mobile hotspot is beyond convenient, there are some caveats. Because the video needs to be uploaded to the cloud, this creates additional data usage. If you prefer a camera that can store data locally, there are a couple of options you may consider.

One such line of cameras that can record locally, are those manufactured by Wyze. Though they still need a Wi-Fi connection in order to connect to the Wyze app and operate via your specifications, these cameras can record to local storage via micro SD cards.

Marketing image showing the Wyze Cam Pan facing leftwards.
The Wyze Cam Pan facing leftwards.

Other cameras that also support local storage are the line of cameras and doorbells by Eufy, as well as Reolink.

Mobile Hotspots can be an indispensable tool especially if you’re on the go, or you don’t have access to regular, hard-wired internet. Their portability make it easier to ensure the security of your home away from home, as well as your family, easy.

However, should you decide to go with a device that can record locally, as well as to the cloud, there are affordable, and good-quality options available.

2 thoughts on “Will Ring Doorbells and Cameras Work With a Mobile Hotspot?”

  1. Depending on the cloud is really the Achilles heel of Ring products. It’s so easy to find and cut somebody’s coax on the side of their house. They’re also susceptible to deauth attacks. They should really support SD cards.

    Reply
    • Yep I agree entirely John, I wish that Ring added local storage support for sure – but I’m betting that some Ring executive somewhere has calculated that they’ll lose a small fortune in subscription fees if they do this! [Just my opinion though :)]

      Reply

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