Ring Floodlight Cam review: An excellent choice—if you’re living in Ring’s ecosystem

Ring built a better mousetrap and quickly became the king of video doorbells. Lots of competitors followed, but few have a truly better doorbell. Ring wasn’t the first to integrate a video camera into an outdoor light—Netatmo introduced one in late 2016, and Kuna had one earlier than that—but if you own one of Ring’s doorbells, you like it well enough to pay for a subscription, and you want to surveil more of your yard, you should add one of Ring’s other outdoor products. The Ring Floodlight Cam will make an excellent replacement for any existing floodlight.

Updated September 10, 2019 to add reporting on a couple of new features that Ring has released for customers with more than one Ring device. Linked Devices enables you to see the views from all of your Ring cameras in a single dashboard. You can also create links between devices, so that when one Ring device detects motion, it can trigger action on another Ring device (record video, for example, or turn on its light). 

A new Audio Off Toggle feature enables you to disable and enable audio streaming on any or all of your Ring devices. This appeal of this feature wasn’t immediately clear to me, but a Ring spokesperson explained that it will be valuable “for customers that want to be extra careful to avoid recording miscellaneous conversations or audio that does not pertain to their home security.” And that makes a lot of sense. If you’re entertaining guests on your patio, they would probably be more comfortable knowing that their every word isn’t being recorded. 

If you haven’t committed to the Ring ecosystem, you’ll want to explore your options before buying this product. That subscription I mentioned is the biggest reason why. While Ring emphasizes that subscriptions are optional, you’ll be restricted to real-time viewing of what the camera sees if you don’t opt in to one after your 30-day free trial. You’ll receive alerts when the camera detects motion, but you won’t be able to see the video that triggered the alert. All the other features (which I’ll get into in a moment), will work, but you won’t be able to download the video clips, either. If there’s a break-in, you won’t be able to provide the police with any forensic evidence the camera might have captured of the perpetrator.

Ring offers two subscription plans, both of which include cloud storage and video review with sharing (you can view recorded clips, download them, and share them on social media directly from the app). The Ring Protect Basic plan costs $3 per month ($30 if paid annually) per camera. The Ring Protect Plus plan costs $10 per month ($100 if paid annually). It covers an unlimited number of cameras and extends the warranty from one year to the life of the product (and includes both damage and theft protection, so that if the camera breaks or someone has the temerity to steal it, Ring will replace it. Ring’s FAQ also mentions 24/7 professional monitoring, but that’s for the upcoming Ring Alarm.

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Video quality is easily one of the Ring Floodlight Cam’s best features. 

Subscriptions: Get used to ‘em

Subscription plans are becoming the norm with home security cameras, with Netatmo being an outlier. Its Presence camera has onboard storage in the form of a 16GB microSD memory card, and you can download recorded video to your smartphone via the app. It has no cloud storage option unless you link the app to your Dropbox account. Netgear’s indoor/outdoor Arlo Pro 2 is also unusually generous, providing seven days of storage for up to five cameras. The Maximus Camera Floodlight that I reviewed in earlier in 2018, which is based on Kuna’s technology, allows you to look back in time two hours and download up to three videos per month without a subscription. Its least-expensive plan costs $5 per month for one camera and provides a seven-day history with unlimited downloads. Costlier plans increase the number of cameras covered and extend the time you can look back at recorded events.

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Ring provides excellent installation instructions even if its mounting mechanism is somewhat primitive. (This example shows a surface-mounted junction box, which won’t be typical if you’re replacing an existing fixture.)

We previously reviewed the Ring Spotlight Cam, which is designed to be plugged into an outdoor outlet and has a single LED light. This review is of the Ring Floodlight Cam, which must be hardwired to your electrical wiring and is outfitted with two LED lights. Like the aforementioned Netatmo and Kuna products, most people will install the Floodlight Cam as a replacement for an existing outdoor light. That’s a whole lot easier than cutting a hole in your exterior wall, installing a junction box, and running Romex to it. Most people would want to hire an electrician to do all that. It’s relatively easy to replace an existing outdoor fixture, and Ring makes it even easier with excellent instructions and videos covering every step of the process that you can watch on your phone. They even provide a handy multi-tool.

As easy as the Floodlight Cam was to install, however, I prefer the elegant locking-ring mechanism that Maximus came up with. Ring’s device simply mounts to a pair of threaded screws that emerge from a brace attached to the junction box: You push these through two holes in the assembly’s chassis and then anchor it down with a pair of plastic-covered nuts.