Let your home and surroundings shine with Ring's Smart Lighting

Jacob Krol, CNN Underscored
Mon October 21, 2019

I've spent the past few months with several core products in Ring's Smart Lighting family. Yes, the company best known for its smart doorbells and cameras, is extending its product range.

The goal? Well, to simplify, it allows anyone to have a smart lighting solution that doesn't cost a fortune and is easy enough for almost anyone to use. Pathlights, spotlights and step-lights all connect via a bridge. Essentially, it connects the smart lights with the larger Ring platform.

And you guessed it, these integrate with Amazon's Alexa. You won't find support for Google or Apple's HomeKit on these solutions. Rather, since Ring is owned by Amazon, these integrate best with Alexa — and let you tell the virtual assistant to turn on lights and have them sync with other smart devices.

Let's dive into my experience and thoughts on the platform and products.

The setup takes a few steps

With any of these lights, the first steps include picking a spot, installing them and giving them power. With the case of the Pathlights or Steplights, you'll need to install typical batteries. However, some of the Spot Lights offer a hardwired option like the Video Doorbell and Cams from Ring. For these, there is a bit of an installation that might require a professional depending on your skill and comfort level.

Once you've picked a spot and it's powered, you'll need to connect the lights using the Ring app and the $50 Ring Bridge. This smart hub connects the lights to the larger ecosystem. This needs power and an internet connection. In my case, I plugged it into an outlet and set it up via the Ring app. It was easy enough and each Ring Bridge can support about 50 lights. And yes, at $50, this increases the buy-in to get started with Ring Smart Lighting, but it also adds connectivity — but this isn't a new trend. Philips Hue requires a bridge, for instance.

With each product, you'll find a QR code. Simply scan that with the Ring app and it will connect — keep in mind that it needs the Bridge to pick up the smart light. In most cases, it took one scan and a few seconds to register with my system. One of my Pathlights took a bit longer, but I wouldn't call this a big issue, as it was farther out in my yard.

After you've paired a light, it will live under a new slot in the Devices tab of the Ring app, the appropriately named "Lights." You can even group your lights. For instance, my front Pathlights live under "Front," while a Spotlight and a Pathlight live under "Driveway."

A decent amount of customizations

Sure, more advanced and expensive light systems give you full controls, up to a nervous system level. But with Ring, you get a manageable amount, and they're all set from within the app. It's nice to have it alongside your other smart home devices from the company.

Since each light has a built-in motion sensor, you control how much it picks up. For instance, if you have Pathlights facing a street, the high settings will likely give you an alert every time a person, car or even a dog goes past. I originally had it on medium and I'm not on the busiest street, but it resulted in a lot of pings. Bringing it down to low still results in a few accidental pings, but it does a good job of notifying users when someone is approaching the front walk.

It's also linked with Steplights on the front steps, and ultimately, with a Video Doorbell 2 and Peephole Cam. This is where the full system can work with each other, and to some degree, acts like a full nervous system, allowing you to have a smart experience outdoors.

You can also monitor the brightness, turn the light on or off (you can also do this for groups) and see the battery life. In an effort to save battery, especially on the ones that require batteries, you can activate the light sensor so these aren't activated during the day. However, the motion sensor will still be live and will alert you.

Providing a sense of security

So why get smart lights? Well, for starters, they can help you light up the night or a view from a camera or doorbell. But more importantly, they can help give you a sense of security. A spotlight in the driveway with a motion sensor could thwart potential thieves, and not only shine a single bright light, but can set off a reaction with other smart devices. You can even buy extra motion sensors, to add lights farther from your home.

The Path Lights are great to greet you when you arrive home and can safely light a pathway. Sure, the designs might not be the greatest, but the Pathlights and Steplights stand out as my favorites.

You can see full pricing here, and I highly recommend looking for a bundle that includes the necessary Ring Bridge and light or two.

Note: The prices above reflect the retailer's listed price at the time of publication.