We've now 'plumbed in' our Ring Video Doorbell Pro. Unlike some of our other kit that was rather more 'Plug & Play' - this took a bit more effort. It wasn't all smooth sailing, so read on for our experiences and first impressions.
The Ring Video Doorbell Pro is marketed primarily toward people who have an existing wired doorbell. The idea is that you should simply be able to disconnect and remove your old wired doorbell, wire in the Ring Pro, run through setup and be finished.
Of course, it's not quite that simple, because the Ring Pro requires a bit more power than most standard doorbell transformers provide. Plus, you need to bypass the wiring in your existing doorbell chime. To help, Ring provide all the relevant cables you need in the box, and for the EU version at least, a new 24VAC power supply transformer.
For our setup, we had some extra work to do, since we didn't actually have a wired doorbell to start with. Instead, we had a traditional wired intercom (and a faulty one at that). This features a speakerphone unit at our front gate, and an internal 12V transformer. That's not enough for Ring Pro which needs a minimum of 16VAC to function.
So, a complete rewiring was required. We had to remove the old power supply unit, then fit the new power supply into a new housing we bought specially for the job. All the wiring down the side of the house to our front gate had to go too. We used a network cable as a replacement. The old speakerphone was removed, and the Ring Pro wired in. It took a little time to do, with my partner (who is somewhat more experienced at this stuff than I) doing the bulk of the work.
Given the electrical wiring involved here, it should go without saying that unless you're a qualified electrician - don't try this yourself; get a professional to do it.
Once all the wiring was done, it was time to power up, and hope that everything was OK with our electrical handiwork! Thankfully, all was well. The Ring Pro quickly booted, and actually announced via a recorded message, that it's ready to be setup.
Setup of course continues in the app, and as you'll see in the video, is fairly straightforward. Just supply your personal details, create a login, and choose which device you're configuring. You then need to actually set your smartphone to connect, via WiFi, directly to the Ring Pro via a temporary wireless network. To activate this, you first need to push a button on the side of the device.
Setup can then continue, with you supplying the details of your home WiFi network. The Ring Pro will then connect to your WiFi, and that's pretty much it - all that's left is to attach your preferred faceplate, install the security screw - and you're finished!
We weren't finished however, as we had a couple of issues. First, when we tested the doorbell, the video wouldn't connect. Second, we were seeing a message in the device health screen in the app saying that power supply to the Ring Pro was 'Poor'. This was confusing as we were using the official power supply. The health status was reporting less than 3,900mV. Checking with a multi-meter revealed that 24VAC was indeed reaching the Ring Pro.
However, over the next several hours the voltage slowly climbed. Eventually reaching around 4,300mV. The assessment changed too. It went from 'Poor' to 'Good', and then 'Very Good'. This was still confusing though. If 4.3V is 'Very Good', then why does all the Ring Pro documentation insist that your power supply be a absolute minimum of 16VAC?
Video issue still persisting, we figured it was time to setup our Chime Pro, which would boost wireless signal to the Ring Pro. Setup was simply, and we just ran through the instructions in the app, however we again hit a snag when it came time to adjust the Ring Pro to connect to the Chime, as opposed to directly to our WiFi.
Once again you are instructed to press the setup button on the side of the Ring Pro. However this time, when we did so we got an audio message saying that it was updating it's internal software. Basically it was doing a firmware update. It stayed in this state for the next 40 minutes, and didn't seem to be getting anywhere. Our concern was that the wireless signal was too low for it to download the update, and it had got stuck.
We took a chance, and power-cycled the Ring Pro. Thankfully, this didn't brick it, and we were now able to proceed on to linking the Ring Pro to the Chime Pro. This worked, and video now seemed to connect and work, albeit with some issues still - see below for that.
All in all setup wasn't too painful, albeit as mentioned you'll need to know what you're doing for the electrical wiring. The software setup process -whilst we hit a few snags- still allowed us to get through to the end without needing to call support.
So, what first impressions can we share. Well, here are a few;
Build Quality & Appearance: It's nice, very nice. Looks great, feels well made. The inclusion of four different faceplates is nice, and means you should be able to find a style you like and that matches your home. The device isn't too big, or too small. You of course want people to actually see the thing when they come calling, and press the doorbell as opposed to knocking on the door.
Lag & Wireless Performance: This one is tricky. There are plenty of reviews out there for the Ring products. Some of them state that there can be an issue with lag. i.e. that there is too long a delay between someone pressing the doorbell, and the notification arriving on your phone. So far, our experience has been hit and miss. The other issue is that when we 'answer' a ring or initiate 'live view' (you can just start video on demand from the app), the video either doesn't connect, or freezes.
I'm putting these issues down to our wireless coverage, and poor positioning of the Chime Pro for now. We need to move the Chime about a bit and see if we can get better wireless coverage and performance. It's really important to note that I'm reserving judgement. Issues of lag and wireless video performance can be very much down to your WiFi, and network conditions. Driving good coverage through exterior house walls can be tricky, even with a repeater. This is an area I'll report back on.
One thing I will say here is that I would love it if Ring added the option to change the wireless channel on which the Chime Pro broadcasts it's repeated WiFi signal, as you may want to customise this. It would also be good if the Chime Pro supported 5GHz WiFi as well as 2.4 - the Ring Pro supports both.
Speaker Volume: The Ring Pro has a built in speaker so callers to your home can hear you when you talk to them through the app. I'd read and seen many reviews of the Ring Pro stating that the speaker volume was low - very low. So low that people might have to 'lean in' close to the doorbell to hear you. I didn't find that to be the case at all. In my opinion the Ring Pro speaker volume is great!
Now, I'm not saying those other reviews are wrong. It's entirely possible that Ring have heard the feedback, and are now putting more powerful speakers into the Ring Pro. I can't confirm this to be the case, it's just a guess. All I know is that the volume seems fine to me.
Night Vision: Is excellent! There's not much to say here but at night the built in infra-red LEDs do a great job of lighting up the area around the Ring Pro, and pickup even at distance is good too.
As a final thing to note, we did have one further issue. The UK plug adapter for our standard Ring Chime (including in the Ring Pro kit), was faulty. Ring Customer service was excellent. Even though we were doing the installation on a Saturday afternoon, they responded promptly. Once we'd outlined the issue, and given them our details, we were soon notified a replacement was on the way. Really can't fault their customer service team here!
Of course, we now need to wait for the first 'real' caller to come to our door and see if the whole thing works! Plus of course we need to try to ensure the Ring Pro gets the best wireless coverage. I'll come back with a User Interface tour soon, and then again at some point with more thoughts after the Ring Pro has been installed for a while.