Ring Sensor Guide for Garage Doors

The Ring Alarm is a great tool for ensuring the security of your home. It helps protect most aspects of your home, most notably entryways – but what about your garage? After all, this is another way thieves can enter your home.

One component of the Ring Alarm System, the Contact Sensors are advertised for use with typical doors and windows. Garage doors, however, can also benefit from protection. So can Ring’s Contact Sensors be used for your garage doors too? To answer that, it’s important to know how they work to begin with.

What is the Ring Alarm System?

In July 2018, Ring introduced the Ring Alarm System. It’s designed to keep your home safe by alerting you to any potential safety threats and intruders.

The Ring Alarm system box
The Ring Alarm system box

The components of the Ring Alarm System include:

The amount of Motion Sensors and Contact Sensors included in the kits depends on the size of the kit you purchase. These components are also available to purchase individually to better suit your needs.

The Ring Alarm System comes in two versions – the Ring Alarm, and the Ring Alarm Pro. The Ring Alarm Pro includes an eero 6 Wi-Fi router built right into the Base Station. This improves the speed and responsiveness of your Ring Alarm as well as all connected devices.

Faster speeds also mean getting your alerts exactly when things happen – critical in the event of a break-in or other issue threatening the safety of your home and family. 

The Base Station is the most important component of the Ring Alarm System.

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

This is how all of the components of the alarm system connect to each other. Unlike the Ring cameras and video doorbells, Ring Alarm components connect to each other via Z-wave. The Base Station is needed to ‘translate’ Z-wave to Wi-Fi so that they can connect to the internet and the Ring app.

Ring uses Z-Wave for their Alarm components because of its responsiveness. Mesh networks like Z-Wave are often more reliable than Wi-Fi and ‘self-healing’. Each device on the network acts as a node, or point of contact. If one fails to respond, the signal then bounces to the next node, as opposed to the signal stopping altogether. 

Everything has to be within 250 feet of the Ring Base Station in order for proper, fluid operation of your alarm system. For this reason, the Range Extender is included in the kits and highly recommended, in order to make sure that everything runs smoothly.

What is the Ring Contact Sensor?

One of the items included in the Ring Alarm kits, are Door and Window Contact Sensors. They’re also available to purchase separately as add-on devices.

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

These devices are used to make sure that you receive alerts when any of your doors or windows are ajar, or even if the sensor itself is tampered with.

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

They usually attach to many surfaces via an adhesive backing (although they can also be screwed in if required). Ring mentions that it’s important to leave about a half-inch of space on the non-magnet side of the sensor. This is so that you can easily access the battery compartment, making it easier when it comes time to replace batteries.

Ring originally only offered Indoor Contact Sensors. However, they recently released an Outdoor version. Unlike the Indoor version, the Outdoor version is IP 66 weather resistant. Because of this, it also runs a significantly higher price tag. While the Indoor version retails at about $19.99, the Outdoor version jumps to $49.99. 

The Ring Alarm Sensor comes with two parts – the side that holds that battery, and the other side that holds the magnet:

Partially opened Ring Contact Sensor showing the Z Wave logo and pin
Partially opened Ring Contact Sensor showing the Z Wave logo and pin

The magnet is the part that triggers the sensor when the door or window opens. The disruption of the attachment to the battery base triggers the sensor, resulting in an alert sent to your phone or other smart device.

The premise of the disruption of the magnet is how the sensor indicates motion or that something is ajar. With this in mind, can it also work for Garage doors? 

Can you use the Ring Contact Sensors for your Garage door?

Ring themselves state that the Contact Sensors aren’t designed to be used on Garage doors, but some users have made it work. Of the two versions of Ring’s Contact Sensors, the best one to try this with would probably be the Outdoor version.

After all, items in garages are often exposed to outdoor elements such as wind, rain, and snow, even when placed on the inside. When opened, the elements will still seep in through the bottom – or sides, depending on how severe the weather is. To that end, you want to make sure that the contact sensor can withstand whatever weather conditions may occur.

The next thing to consider about placement, is distance. The garage is usually at the farther end of the house. This is especially the case when it comes to those that are detached. Because of this, you’ll need to consider how well it will communicate with the Base Station, the central hub of operation for all Ring Alarm devices. You may need to reposition the Base Station or invest in an extra Range extender to ensure that you still get a clear signal:

The blue Ring box for the Ring Alarm Range Extender
The blue Ring box for the Ring Alarm Range Extender

Where on the garage door should you place the sensor?

Bottom-Opening Garage Doors

Garage doors often open from the bottom. However, placing one side of your sensor on the ground may not be wise. It can be susceptible to being driven over, even by the most careful of drivers. Placing it on the wall or garage door frame, no less than about 1-2 feet from the ground, is a better option. At this height, it will be less susceptible to the elements, but still be able to detect if the door is opening.

“Up And Over” Doors

Inside view of my up and over garage door
Inside view of my up and over garage door

Alternatively, if you have an “up and over” garage door, you might be better off placing the contact sensor higher up. After all, the two photos below shows that the garage door first diverges away from the frame at the top:

A look at my garage door when its closed
A look at my garage door when it’s closed
A look at my garage door when its open
A look at my garage door when it’s open

In either case, when you have inspected your garage door and decided on the best location, the next step is to decide how to mount the two parts of the contact sensor. As the Garage door opens, the disruption of the magnet’s attachment will be able to trigger alerts.

But whilst the contact sensor can be mounted at different angles, it might not always be practical to use the included adhesive strips to attach the contact sensor:

Example placement of Ring Contact Sensor on a garage door
Example placement of Ring Contact Sensor on a garage door
The adhesive and screw holes on the back of a Ring Contact Sensor
The adhesive and screw holes on the back of a Ring Contact Sensor

That’s because, as mentioned earlier, the Contact Sensor was never designed to work with Garage doors, what other options could be used?

Alternative Sensor Placement/Options

If placing a Ring Contact Sensor doesn’t seem like a feasible option for your garage door, you may consider using a camera. You can connect any of Ring’s line of cameras and video doorbells to work alongside your Ring Alarm System.

Ring Spotlight Cam installed outdoors
Ring Spotlight Cam installed outdoors

With a camera, as long as Motion Alerts are enabled, you will be alerted should the Garage door start opening, or there is any motion near the Garage door that shouldn’t be. You have the option of placing a camera on the outside or inside of your Garage – or both!

My garage with color night vision
My garage with color night vision

This may be a more feasible option if your Ring Base Station isn’t that close, but your Wi-Fi signal is good. You may even find it easier to use a Wi-Fi extender than a Range Extender. 

Another option is highlighted in Ring’s ‘Works with Ring’ page. There they feature the Ecolink Garage Door Tilt Sensor for $29.99. This sensor lets you check in from the Ring app to see if your garage door is open or closed. It’s important to note, that while this device works with the Ring Alarm System, it doesn’t work with the optional, add-on 24/7 Professional monitoring. This means that it unfortunately won’t be able to set your alarm off.

You can also take advantage of the Ring Alarm Motion Sensor – however, this may be met with limited success. It can only be used indoors, so if you do use it for your Garage door, it would have to be placed on the inside, and preferably not too close to the ground where the elements could still get to it.

The Motion Sensor can be effective in letting you know if there is motion from the Garage door opening.

Don’t Forget The Garage

Although they’re typically designed for Windows and Doors, Ring Contact Sensors may be used to help secure your Garage Door as well. However, it is important to carefully plan where to place it so that you can achieve the best possible results.

And if using a Ring Contact Sensor doesn’t seem to be the best option, you may consider using either the Ecolink Garage Door Tilt Sensor, the Ring Motion Sensor, or even one of Ring’s line of cameras. This way if motion is detected, you can be alerted, and take the necessary steps to keep your home safe.

About Yvette Griffith

Yvette is a freelance writer who also happens to be a smart home enthusiast! She owns several smart home gadgets like strip lights, smart bulbs, cameras, and more! With a knack for troubleshooting device issues, she’s been the go-to for family and friends for all kinds of tech-related issues - dating back to VCR’s!

Here on Smart Home Point, she shares her knowledge with the world in hopes it’ll help you create and maintain your smart home.

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