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Is Ring Alarm’s “Professional Monitoring” Worth It? (Why I’ve Changed My Mind)

Even though I’m only 31, I always feel old when I start a sentence with “Back in my day, things were so much better”. However you can’t blame me for thinking this when Ring used to only charge $10/month for Professional Monitoring, right? Actually, let’s back up a bit.

Ring released their smart alarm system back in July 2018, and it was fairly revolutionary. It was easy to install, and for just $10/month, you could get 24/7 professional monitoring to safeguard your home. But what is “professional monitoring”, you ask? Well, the gist is…

Ring alarm’s professional monitoring is a genuine 24/7 monitoring system which has an average 30 second callback time after Ring are notified of an event. The initial callback is reliable, however some people have then found that follow-up calls aren’t quite as good.

This is a pretty useful service, and for just $10/month, it was a lot cheaper than ADT’s $37-$53/month fees and SimpliSafe’s fees of $18-28/month.

Notice how I say “was“?! Unfortunately in 2021, Ring doubled the price of this service to $20 per month, as part of their move to the Ring Alarm Pro system. Only new customers are affected immediately – existing Alarm Customers will be grandfathered onto the new rates.

But even if you were an existing customer, you’ll be paying $20/month soon enough. So is it now worth paying $20/month for Ring’s “professional monitoring” service? And what features do you get for $20/month, exactly?

What is Ring’s “Professional Monitoring” and “Alarm Pro”?

A security guard looking at camera feeds on computer monitors
A security guard looking at camera feeds on computer monitors

The whole point of a home alarm system is that if you’re out or busy and someone tries breaking in, you wouldn’t want to be notified once you’re free again – the burglarly (or break-in attempt) could have finished by then.

Instead, you pay someone to monitor your system for you. In ‘the old days’ this used to mean paying an alarm company $40+ per month to monitor your alarm system. When the alarm detects something, the alarm company is notified and they then notify local law enforcement to attend your house (if needed).

This is essentially what Ring’s “Professional Monitoring” offers – i.e. Ring will contact local law enforcement on your behalf if needed – but it instead only costs $20 per month, and it can also include monitoring for smoke/carbon monoxide, panic alarms and floods/freezing alerts too (if you buy separate sensors for these final three, that is).

It also hooks into any Ring doorbells and cameras you have, so that Ring staff can potentially allow them to check your video feeds for evidence of a break in (but only if you grant them permission to do this, of course).

Someone standing right next to a Ring Doorbell
Someone standing right next to a Ring Doorbell

In other words, for $20/month you get a whole lot of home monitoring, for far less than ADT typically charge each month. Awesome!

Ring offer this feature via their Ring Protect Pro plan, which also includes a bunch of other benefits:

  • 60 day’s of video recordings (saved to the Ring cloud) from an unlimited number of Ring cameras and doorbells – something which usually costs $3/month per camera/doorbell.
  • Snapshot captures.
  • 10% off Ring products at Ring.com and Amazon.com.
  • Extended warranties on your Ring devices (if they are still under warranty when you subscribe, that is).

Plus the newest Ring alarm kit (which includes the Ring Alarm Pro base station) comes with a built-in Eero Pro 6 router and a SIM card for backup LTE internet. In other words, if you have the Ring Alarm Pro and subscribe to Protect Pro, you also get the following features:

  • Backup internet.
  • Backup power via hook-ups to Ring Power Pack (purchased separately).
  • eero secure.
  • Ring Edge, finally allowing local storage.

The reason I am going into the above is that even if you don’t think that professional monitoring will benefit you, Ring are actually offering loads of extra features for $20/month – so it might be worth buying the Ring Protect Pro subscription instead of managing it yourself with no subscription.

I’ll go back to that specific point later in the article, but for now, I’ll dive back into how the Ring Alarm system’s professional monitoring works.

How does it work?

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

When you purchase the Ring alarm system, you’ll have a base station and keypad as standard, along with 1-3 window/door sensors and also 1-3 motion sensors (depending on what Ring package you initially buy):

A Ring Contact Sensor installed on my front door
A Ring Contact Sensor installed on my front door

The window/door sensors are like magnetic switches: they are a pair and go on either side of a window or door. If the window or door is opened when everyone is out, the alarm system will detect this as a possible break-in.

If no-one deactivates the alarm via the keypad (or Ring app), the siren inside the keypad sounds – sending you a notification to your phone. Plus Ring will also get notified, if you pay for “professional monitoring” via the Ring Protect Pro plan.

The same is true for the motion sensors – these are PIR based (but can be set-up so they don’t get activated by your pets), and when motion is detected unexpectedly, the alarm system must either be deactivated or the siren will sound and notifications will be sent.

When the alarm trips, a Ring team based in a secure location (who work 24/7, every day of the year) will check the alarm notification and firstly try to ring you to see if the threat is genuine. In other words, is it possible that you (or a guest) forgot the keypad code and the alarm system is ringing because you couldn’t deactivate it? You can cancel the alarm from ringing by giving Ring a verbal password which you previously setup.

But if you say that you’re out and no-one should be home, or if Ring simply can’t get hold of you, they will then contact local law enforcement to attend your house.

You can also buy extra sensors and buttons to extend the usefulness of your Ring alarm system further, and these are included in the professional monitoring too:

  • CO/smoke sensor: Ring’s carbon monoxide and smoke sensor costs $34.99 per smart sensor (which detects both CO and smoke), and when it detects smoke, the emergency contact is contacted first. If they aren’t contactable, emergency services will be dispatched – although Ring will keep trying to contact other listed contacts. Any of these contacts can cancel the emergy service call-out if needed.

    However if it detects carbon monoxide, emergency services are called and this cannot be cancelled (usually because of the risk of CO, and also because this can often be handled by a separate local team). Ring will then contact the listed emergency contacts to notify them of this.
  • Floor/freeze sensor: Ring’s flood and freeze sensor also costs $34.99 per sensor, and it’s particularly useful under sinks, refridgerators and in basements. When a possible water leak or low temperature situation is detected, Ring’s professional monitoring teams will ensure that you (or your emergency contacts) are notified of this. They won’t, however, notify local plumbers or contractors. Although this is probably a good thing, since middle of the night call-out chargers can be very high, and the flood/freeze may be a false alarm.
  • Panic button: Ring’s $34.99 panic button is wall mountable and will send a signal to your Ring alarm base station when it’s held down for 3 seconds or more. When Ring’s professional monitoring team receive this signal, they will attempt to call you to check if it’s a false alarm (and you can give a verbal password to cancel it, if so). Otherwise, local law enforcement will be contacted.

This is all pretty good, and it’s nice that you can extend your house’s home security to protect against carbon monoxide, floor and more, too. In addition to the professional monitoring, you still get all the usual alerts and notifications via your existing devices and Ring app.

The event history of my Ring Alarm showing a few tampered errors
The event history of my Ring Alarm showing notifications and errors

Equally when your Ring alarm system goes off, it’ll set all your Ring cameras and doorbells to start recording, hopefully capturing footage of the attempted break-in or burglary.

This is the nice thing about Ring’s professional monitoring – it’s integrated with Ring’s other smart products, allowing Ring to offer more features than traditional alarm companies. but all at a lower price.

Extra fees you might have to pay for Professional Monitoring

The only downside is that you may need to pay some extra fees depending on your local jurisdiction, such as professional monitoring permits and Verified Response.

It’s worth noting quickly that all alarm systems will have this issue (if your local jurisdiction has extra fees), but the fact that Ring’s alarm system is smart doesn’t mean that you can escape these extra fees, unfortunately. Ways you may have to pay extra include:

  • A permit for professional monitoring: many local municipals require that they are notified that you have an alarm system installed with a professional monitoring subscription, and Ring will email you details of this after you have got everything setup. This typically costs $30-$50 and is usually a one-off fee, although some municipals may charge a lower recurring amount (each year) instead.
  • A false alarm fine: whilst Ring give lots of helpful information about preventing false alarms, if you do keep having local law enforcement dispatched to your property by mistake, you may end up getting charged. Ring often cover the first false alarm fine, but you’ll then have to pay after that.

    The LAPD charge $216 for the first false alarm, which then increases $50 each false call-out after that – so it can become very expensive, very quickly! As another example, Seattle charge $115 for automated alarms and $230 for manually triggered alarm call-outs.
  • Verified Response policies: due to having various false call-outs, various police forces often require extra ‘evidence’ before they will attend an alarm call-out. This might mean that Ring have to have actual evidence that a break-in is occurring, such as via Ring camera footage or captured audio from your home – or via the dispatch of a private security guard.

    Ring charge $75 for an initial 20 minute call out (of a guard), and then $1.25 per minute thereafter. Hence if you have a Ring camera in a verified response area, this could get expensive.

Who Does the Professional Monitoring for Ring?

Ring haven’t built a nuclear bunker and hired an army of new staff to monitor everyone’s alarm systems. Instead they have hired out a third party company to provide 24/7 professional monitoring.

Rapid Response, a company with bases in both Syracuse, NY and Corona, CA are the external company who provide Ring Alarm customers with professional monitoring services.

They are a reputable company and have very positive reviews on the whole, with 4.7/5 on Google Reviews:

Rapid Response Monitoring Google listing and reviews
Rapid Response Monitoring Google listing and reviews

Which countries don’t get professional monitoring?

Ring’s professional monitoring is currently available in all 50 American states and throughout Canada, but excluding:

  • American Samoa
  • Guam
  • Northern Mariana Islands
  • Puerto Rico
  • The U.S. Virgin Islands
  • In Canada, Quebec is excluded

Sadly the rest of the world doesn’t have the option of professional monitoring. Instead, features such as ‘assisted monitoring‘ is offered – however this is literally just automated calls to listed emergency contacts.

Whilst you can list people who aren’t signed up to the Ring app, it’s still nowhere near the same level of service that you’d get with professional monitoring.

So in this case, you may want to decide whether to go with an alternative alarm system (that does offer local professional monitoring), or just sign up with Ring anyway and accept that you don’t get as good monitoring as Americans and Canadians.

People’s experiences with professional monitoring from Ring

Ring’s website lists a few videos of people who have had a positive experience with Ring’s professional monitoring, which are worth watching:

Whilst these are polished videos used for marketing purposes, they are real people who have genuinely been helped by Ring’s alarm system. Their experience broadly matches other people’s, too: the fact that Ring’s monitoring service calls people so quickly (often in 30 seconds or less) means that real action can be taken to safeguard people’s houses.

From speaking to people and also reading people’s experiences on Twitter and Reddit, people generally seem happy with Ring’s professional monitoring service – saying that it does work as advertised – but there are a few people with some complaints:

  • Rose on Twitter:After testing alarms for 5 years, I just had the police show up. For those who care to know, Ring called two minutes after I triggered the alarm. If you trigger a panic alarm, they call the police before calling you.
  • regmeyster on Reddit: “The $10/month monitoring is fabulous especially since I’m already paying that for my Ring cameras. It’s really easy to use and easy to set up.”
  • Philly139 on Reddit: “My aunt set off my alarm today on accident because I forgot she was coming over. When the monitoring service called me they asked me my password and I completely forgot it. When I said I forgot it they were just like oh okay is everything okay and just accepted what I said. I’m glad they didn’t send emergency services to my house but what is the point of a verbal password?”
  • iworkforaschool on Reddit:They’re based in NY. I had my alarm go off the other day (false alarm), I received a phone call within seconds of the alarm going off from them. They’re quick to respond in my experience so far.
  • Joecascio2000 on Reddit:I just accidentally set off my alarm (the first time it’s ever gone off) and I had my first experience with professional monitoring and boy am I SO disappointed.” (but people who reply point out that Joe may not be using the system correctly)
  • Borskaegel on Reddit: “We also have the FirstAlert smoke/Co2 detector and when it triggers it sends the Fire Dept. immediately. Keep that in mind if you smoke up the kitchen!”
  • jimbuie211 and marcanthonynoz on Reddit: “Alarm monitoring is great, on par with any “big” providers.” and “It’s worth it! In Canada here and it rivals the other bigger companies for a fraction of the price.”

As you can see, overall people are happy but there are a few complaints – but never about the initial call from Ring’s professional monitoring team. Sometimes people have said that they asked for a further callback with an update (i.e. after local law enforcement have attended their property) and this second callback took ages, but this could also be down to the local police force taking a while to provide an update.

The summary here is that Ring’s professional monitoring is a good quality service, provided by a reputable company that has all the relevant licenses and permits to operate. The fact that their service costs just $20/month (which covers your Ring doorbells and cameras for free, too) is reasonably good too – and it works out cheaper than Ring’s traditional alarm system rivals.

Don’t believe me? Well let’s dive into how much the Ring Alarm system (and the subscription) costs over 3 years.

How Ring’s $20/month monitoring compares to ADT (and other rivals)

Ring’s professional monitoring says that you can “Save big with Ring”, saying how their $20/month (or $200/year) subscription is much cheaper than a $599/year subscription from a rival. Ring’s marketing used to say that you will save:

  • $499 in year 1
  • $999 by year 2
  • $1,499 by year 3

Is this accurate? Well… not really. I mean, Ring’s monitoring is cheap – and compared to a $60/month subscription then yes it is accurate, but this ignores the fact that ADT’s subscription includes the alarm system for free, whilst you have to pay for it with Ring.

The best comparison is to include the alarm system cost as well, and compare it to ADT’s “Total Protection” plan since this doesn’t just rely on a landline connection for your alarm system.

RingADT
5 Piece Alarm Pro System$250$0
Install Charge$0$99
1st Year Subscription Cost$200$572
2nd Year Subscription Cost$200$572
3rd Year Subscription Cost$200$572
Total Cost After 3 Years$850$1,815
Ring Pro alarm system (with monitoring) price compared to comparable ADT package.

In other words, after 3 years you will have paid $965 more for ADT. This is less than Ring’s claims, but not by much.

Plus when I originally ran these numbers back in July 2020 (i.e. when the Ring Alarm kit was cheaper, and the subscription was $10/month), you would have saved $1,335 with Ring (compared to ADT). In other words, Ring’s changes in 2021 will cost you $300-400 more every few years.

The costs for CPI Security System are similar, although their monthly costs are slightly lower than ADT ($39.99/month for their Essentials Plus package). However the initial security system must be purchased and this can cost $499 or more, meaning the comparison becomes:

RingCPI Security
3 Piece Alarm System$250$499
Install Charge$0$0 (included in above)
1st Year Subscription Cost$200$479.88
2nd Year Subscription Cost$200$479.88
3rd Year Subscription Cost$200$479.88
Total Cost After 3 Years$850$1,938.97
Ring alarm system (with monitoring) price compared to comparable CPI package.

This works out more again, and at $1,088.97 more expensive (than Ring) it does roughly match up with Ring’s claims.

There are some cheaper options than ADT and CPI, such as Vivint at $39.99 per month and SimpliSafe at $14.99-$24.90 per month, but overall Ring’s alarm system – and its professional monitoring – does work out as one of the cheapest options around.

In Conclusion

Even though I ranted about it a lot at the time, I can’t really blame Ring for hiking up the price of professional monitoring.

I always thought that $10/month was a bit too cheap, and I suspect that Ring were intentionally pricing it low to hook customers in.

But either way, what Ring offer across their entire ecosystem (including smart doorbells, cameras and lights) is pretty awesome. Everything hooks together really well, and it can lead to a genuinely smart – and secure – home.

Whilst ADT, SimpliSafe and others do also offer smart cameras now, Ring seem to be a step ahead. Plus Ring now offer backup internet (and power) – along with an included Eero 6 router – with their Alarm Pro base station.

It’s all a pretty compelling offer for $20/month, to be honest.

So whilst this article started by asking “should you pay for professional monitoring”, I’d end by saying this:

  • If you only have a Ring Alarm system, you might be able to get by without the $20/month fee. Either pay nothing and monitoring the system yourself, or pay $10/month for Protect Plus and get cellular backup too.
  • If you have a bunch of other Ring devices, paying $20/month for all the extra features you get probably makes sense.
About Tristan Perry

Tristan Perry is a software developer who is passionate about tech gadgets, DIY and housing. He has therefore loved seeing smart homes hit the mainstream. Tristan also has an academic background (in Math & Computer Science), and so he enjoys digging into the technical ways that smart home devices work.

Tristan owns close to a dozen Amazon Echo devices, way too many Philips Hue bulbs and lightstrips, a boat-load of Ring Cameras and Doorbells... and a bunch of other smart home devices too (from Reolink, Google Nest, GLEDOPTO and others).

2 thoughts on “Is Ring Alarm’s “Professional Monitoring” Worth It? (Why I’ve Changed My Mind)”

  1. Moving to a secluded location by myself soon. Your information has helped in such a huge way! Thank you. Your writing is easy to understand and reads very well. I’ll be looking for more if your work! Take care.

    Reply

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