Ring cameras have been a fixture in my backyard for years. My first generation camera and solar panel have been out there for years and seem to have stood the test of time relatively well. Since Ring has upgraded its outdoor security cameras and solar panels, I had a chance to test out a new Ring Spotlight Cam and optional Ring Solar Panel to see what’s different and what’s been made better.
Ring Spotlight Cam battery review
What’s new with Ring cameras?
This new Ring Spotlight camera has a couple of improvements over my original; for starters it’s got a Dual-LED spotlight in the front face of the camera unit for added lighting which should mean more security.
This camera also has a now-removable rechargeable battery which you can use as your primary power source (my old Ring camera needed to be physically removed from the wall and brought inside to be plugged in and recharged). Of course you can also add the optional Ring Solar Panel, which is a great way to keep your camera operational all the time.
It might be worth keeping in mind that the older solar panel and Ring cameras have different hook-ups so you can’t use an older model Solar Panel with a newer camera.
Enhanced mounting bracket
The new Ring Spotlight Cam camera comes with a better mounting bracket that’s now a whole lot easier to adjust.
Wider field of view
The first thing I noticed about this camera feed is the wider field of view over my old one. This camera is also HD so expect more clarity in your video monitoring too.
HD Video & Night Vision with Siren
The Ring Spotlight Cam has 1080HD video with a built-in microphone and speaker so you can hear what’s being said outside, and even speak with anyone who’s in front of the camera.
Spotlight Cam also has infrared night vision built in so you can see and record even in full dark. Plus, there’s that light which will turn on when motion is detected. For added peace of mind, there’s a 110-decibel siren if you need to pull out the bigger guns, and this blaring beacon can help you scare off prowlers. To use it, you do have to manually turn it on inside the app.
All Ring cameras are designed to alert you to any movement on your property. You’ll get an alert to your smartphone any time the camera senses motion, and it’s possible to configure exactly where within the camera’s field of view the alerts are detected, plus you can disable notifications from higher traffic areas, like street, or your kids swing set. You can also tweak motion sensitivity to alert you to any movement whatsoever, or just major ones.
By the way, another option for audible alerts is to add the optional Ring Chime Pro. When configured, it can send an audible alert (like a chime or other sound) through your home when it detects motion. Handy if your phone isn’t always in front of you.
What is Ring Protect?
In order to get the most from your Ring cameras, or the Video Doorbell (read my review of the Video Doorbell 3 and Chime Pro here), it’s wise to be aware you’ll probably want to sign up for Ring Protect.
Ring Protect is a monthly service plan that allows you to access, download and view recordings from your Ring devices on your phone. Prices for this Cloud video storage and access range from about $5 to $15/month and fortunatley there’s no contract needed so you can cancel it any time.
There is also a free version that lets you view your camera’s live feed, but you won’t have access to recordings of previous events. The specifics of each of the different plans can be found here.
Set up: Ring Spotlight Cam & Solar Panel
Getting the Spotlight Cam and Solar panel set up was quite easy, from the app set up to the installation process. To begin, charge the battery and download the Ring app if you don’t already have it. Then sign into or sign up for an account.
Before you install it outdoors, it’s easiest to set up the camera inside.
When the battery is ready, pop it into the Spotlight Cam; there’s actually two battery pack openings on the inside, and it doesn’t matter which one you use. The second slot is if you want to add a second battery for extra juice, instead of the solar panel.
The Spotlight Cam will start powering up and then you can go into the Ring app to add it. Click Add Device and follow the instructions which will get the camera linked up to your home’s Wi-Fi network. My Spotlight Cam was ready in minutes.
With everything working properly, screw the bracket onto your house (and Ring actually includes screws and a screwdriver for this, which is really convenient).
As I noted, the Spotlight Cam bracket is new and now employe a ball and socket joint which lets you move it around better for the best view. Snap the camera in and tighten the collar to secure it in place. The Solar Panel also has a new bracket that holds the panel at a better angle and stays put. Plus it means you can slide the panel on and off for access if you need it.
Once both the Spotlight Cam and Solar Panel are mounted, connect the Solar Panel to the camera by prying off the small rubber stopper covering the power plug and insert it.
It took just a few minutes to get both devices installed and ready to record.
Using Ring Spotlight Cam Battery with Solar Panel
Right away this camera duo was useful. During the day I could keep an eye on my pups in the yard, particularly if I was using my Amazon Echo Show 8 as a viewing device. I also used the Spotlight Cam to see and speak to a meter reader who came into the yard unexpectedly. At night, it mainly caught stray cats, but I’m confident that if we did have a prowler, I’d know about it and have video of the incident.
The Solar Panel most definitely keeps the camera fully charged (it’s not budged from 100% battery since it went up), and means I don’t need to head outside to remove and recharge the battery, which will be even nicer in the winter.
How well does Ring operate in Cold weather?
While this camera has gone up in spring, my previous Ring cameras have operated trouble free all winter long, with the possible exception of extreme cold temps around -30, which does seem to freeze them and knock them offline temporarily. But it also knocks me offline temporarily too.
Video & light quality of Ring Spotlight Cam
As you can see if you watch my video review, or from the photos, the video is sharp and easy to watch. As far as I’m concerned, it’s high quality day or night. The LED lighting is also quite bright, and lights up the area around it really well, plus that extra light improves the overall video picture.
Adding Alexa to Ring
One of the great options with Ring is the ability to connect the cameras and doorbells with Amazon Alexa so you can get voice control or remote viewing using an Amazon smart device with a screen.
If you have a newer Echo Show device like the Amaxon Echo Show 8 (read my review of the Amazon Echo Show 8 here), great news, Alexa automatically detets and adds Ring cameras and devices to the Alexa app to make set up even easier (though in some cases you may need to sign into your accounts if it’s your first time). With Alexa and Ring connected you just need to say “Alexa, show me the Backyard” when motion is detected and the feed will pop up on screen. If you do need to do a manual set up, you can enable Ring as a ‘skill’ inside the Alexa app.
Overall review Ring Spotlight Cam Battery & Solar Panel
Overall I’ve been a big lover of Ring devices. I will note that I had some recent troubles with the Ring app with my devices not connecting properly or falling offline, or showing alerts as “video not available” but this seems to be less of an issue than it was previously.
Downsides? I’m having a hard time finding any; the offline notifications do happen from time to time but the video quality is great, the cameras are easy to set up and access and you can configure your whole home system in so many ways to give you the peace of mind you’re looking for. I know some folks are disappointed that without anteing up for Ring Protect you can’t get your videos, not even from a few days prior, but that’s the reality of most remote security systems today; they all want you to pay a fee for that cloud recording.
I can definitely recommend Ring Spotlight Cam as a way to increase your home’s security and keep watch over your house.
Ring Spotlight Cam sells for about $240CAD, and the Solar Panel sells for about $65CAD from Amazon and Best Buy.