Ring Smart Lighting review: Convenient and affordable home security products

ring-smart-lighting-spotlight-vs-stick-up-cam-battery.jpg
  • Editors' rating
    7.5 Very good
  • $49.99

Pros

  • Affordably priced
  • Integrated into Ring's existing products
  • Long battery life

Cons

  • Big, bulky design for most devices

Ring acquired Mr. Beams, makers of standalone outdoor smart lighting products, in early 2018. Since then, the two companies have worked to integrate the motion activated spotlights, step lights, and motion sensors into Ring's product offering.

The process took longer than anticipated, but Ring's Smart Lightning lineup officially launched in May. Shortly after the launch, Ring sent me a bundle of various products to test out around my home.

The kit I was sent included a Spotlight, a Motion Sensor, the 2-pack of Pathlights, a Steplight, and a Bridge. Ring also has a Floodlight that comes in battery or wired configurations. Pricing ranges from $25 for the Steplight to $70 for the wired floodlight.

I've been living with Ring's Smart Lighting products for just over a month now, and for the most part, they've seamlessly blended in with the rest of the Ring products I have installed at my home.

Setup

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Screenshots by Jason Cipriani/ZDNet

The setup process is straight-forward and simple. First, you'll need to set up the $50 Smart Lighting Bridge that serves as a hub for the lights, connecting them to your WiFi and any other Ring products you have in your house. In the Ring app, you add a new Smart Lighting device and then scan a QR code on the device. The Ring app identifies which of the Smart Lighting products you just scanned and then adds it to your account.

You can then link the light or motion sensor to other Ring devices in your home. For example, you can set motion detection on a Pathlight to trigger a nearby Ring camera to begin recording, or turn on the rest of the lights you've installed, including those in a Ring camera.

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In total, I spent maybe 10-minutes setting up the Bridge, two Pathlights, a Motion Sensor and a Spotlight.

Battery powered has a big downside

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Ring Smart Lighting Motion Sensor. 

Jason Cipriani/ZDNet

The Bridge needs to be plugged into a standard wall outlet using the included wall adapter and cable. Everything else in Ring's Smart Lighting lineup requires traditional batteries. Batteries range from AAA in the Motion Sensor to D-cell batteries in the Spotlight and every size in between.

Ring uses standard batteries over rechargeable battery packs in an effort to achieve greater battery life, and achieve an affordable price point for the entire product line.

According to the company, you should only have to replace batteries in the Smart Lighting products about once a year. That will vary based on location and the amount of activity, of course.

One downside of using standard batteries is the amount of space those batteries take up. On something like the Motion Sensor, which uses three AAA batteries, the impact is not as dramatic -- it's bigger than the Wyze motion sensor. But when you look at the Spotlight that takes four D-cell batteries, you quickly realize how much space those batteries require. The Spotlight is bigger than the Stick Up Cam Battery I recently reviewed (the picture at the top of this review compares both devices), and for that matter, it's bigger than the Spotlight Cam, a device that includes a camera and bright spotlights.

I would have preferred to have a removable battery pack that I have to charge once in a while (and pay a little more), and a smaller overall footprint. The Spotlight is almost comically big for just a light, and so far I've refused to permanently attach it to my house. It just looks awkward.

Experience

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Ring Smart Lighting Pathlight and the street that caused errant motion alerts. 

Jason Cipriani/ZDNet

The entire idea of Ring's Smart Lighting is to light up the outside of your house, scaring wildlife or would-be bad guys in the process. Instead of having to run power to various parts of your property, the battery powered lights work together as a team.

Each light has a motion sensor that when triggered it will turn on its own light, and depending on your settings, other Ring lights and cameras. There are three settings for motion detection: Low, Medium, and High. I've tried all three settings for the two Pathlights I have in my front yard, and despite the road being roughly 50 feet away from the lights, I continue to get motion alerts whenever a car drives by.

Outside of overactive motion alerts from the Pathlights, the Spotlight and Motion Sensor have only sent alerts when there's actual motion I care about. The controls and settings are easy to use and customize. I particularly appreciate the option to only have the lights turned on at night when motion is detected, saving battery life in the process.

Linking the lights or sensors to Ring cameras is a smart move, as well. Whenever a Pathlight detects motion, my doorbell immediately begins recording (that's how I figured out cars passing by are to blame for the errant motion alerts) and the rest of my Smart Lights turn on instantly. An alert is sent to your phone, and you can then check your camera's stream to see whatever's lurking outside your phone.

Conclusion

I love the concept and idea behind Ring Smart Lighting. The added peace of mind that an area of my property where I don't want to install a camera has a device that's capable of detecting motion and alerting me is reassuring. I just wish the devices themselves were smaller, more streamlined, and had the same overall approach to design as Rings' cameras.

The entire Smart Lighting lineup is affordably priced, and the Bridge can handle around 50 devices; more than enough for most users. For someone who maybe only has a Ring doorbell, but doesn't want to spend money to spend the money on more expensive Ring cameras, Smart Lighting provides additional peace of mind.

Specifications

General
Packaged Quantity 1
Header
Brand Ring
Product Line Ring
Packaged Quantity 1
Miscellaneous
Color white
Color Category white
Networking
Connectivity Technology wireless
Internet of Things (IoT)
Intelligent Assistant Compatible Alexa

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Where To Buy

Ring Smart Lighting - bridge

Part Number: 5B01S8-WEN0