The Ring Motion Detector is a smart home security device that works in conjunction with the Ring Alarm Kit to alert homeowners of unauthorized movement on their property. Based on this information, I wanted to learn more about the Ring Motion Detector’s configuration, specifically, its range, to ensure I was getting the best security coverage possible.
Ring indicates their Motion Detectors have a 30 ft detection radius and can be placed up to 250 ft from the base station; however, due to the device’s technology, there are several environmental factors to consider that can affect the range of communication.
The Ring Motion Detector’s primary aim is to alert the user of any possible intruders by communicating directly with the Ring Alarm Kit. The range of coverage and the low price point of the motion sensors led me to take a more in-depth look into how they could improve my smart home security configuration.
Ring Alarm Motion Detector: A Quick Look
The Ring Motion Detector uses Passive Infrared Sensors (or PIR Sensors) to detect changes in a room’s heat readings. In other words, when a warm body (humans, pets, etc.) passes in front of the monitor, an alert will be sent to the user’s mobile device, and an alarm will be triggered.
Not only that, but you can also adjust the sensitivity of the detector’s sensors to prevent “false alarms” from pets or family members.
Motion Sensor Features
The motion sensor’s primary function is to alert the user when movement is detected in a designated area, or “Motion Zone.” A brief breakdown of the features will help give a better understanding of what is entailed for configuring and using the device:
- Entry Delay – With the motion sensors, you have the option of setting a delay in the alarm trigger (allowing you additional time to disarm your system). This is ideal for motion detectors placed near an entryway.
- Armed Modes – Setting your Ring Alarm System to its “Away Mode” will automatically arm your motion sensors.
- Alexa Compatible – Amazon’s smart home AI, Alexa, is compatible with the Ring Motion Detectors. You can configure Alexa Routines to enable and arm your motion sensors via voice command automatically.
- Bypass Sensors – You may need to bypass one of your sensors for various reasons (the device still needs to be configured, you want the sensor to remain tripped while arming the system, etc.). With the Ring app or Keypad, you can bypass the sensor to allow for further configuration.
- Alerts and History – When your motion detector is triggered, you will not only get an alert immediately, but the app will also store any history of motion detection, allowing you to review the instances at a future time.
1st Generation vs. 2nd Generation Models
It is worth noting that there are two generations of the Ring Motion Detector. However, if you have the 1st generation Ring Alarm Kit and are concerned about compatibility issues, the 2nd generation Motion Detector is backward compatible with earlier models of the base Alarm Kit.
Both models are similar; however, the 2nd generation is smaller, allowing for more versatility in placement. Additionally, it has a physical button on the front for troubleshooting potential connectivity issues. Not only that, but the 2nd generation model measures changes in heat signatures and movement over time to reduce the number of false alarms.
Here’s a side by side comparison of some of the differences regarding the features available for each model:
|Ring Motion Detector||1st Generation||2nd Generation|
|Power||3V Battery||2 AA Batteries|
|Field of View||90° Horizontal||90° Horizontal|
|Range (from Base Station)||250 ft||250 ft|
|Range of Motion Detection||30ft (from device)||30ft (from device)|
|Ring Alarm Base Station Required||Yes||Yes|
|Mountable on Corners and Walls||Yes||Yes|
As you can see, the range of both the 1st and 2nd gen motion detectors are the same, so no matter which device you go with, you’ll have the same reach.
Now that we have a better understanding of the devices’ basic specifications, let’s take a look at getting the Motion Detector set up and configured.
Setting Up and Configuring the Motion Detectors
When setting up and configuring your Motion Detectors, Ring takes extra steps to ensure seamless setup and integration with your system. Given that the Ring Alarm System can have up to 100 linked devices (e.g., – 100 motion sensors), the amount of configurations available to the average user is almost limitless.
The main requirement to get started is the Ring Alarm Kit and Ring app. The Alarm Kit allows your sensors to communicate with your system, thus enabling alerts to be sent to your mobile device. There are various configurable bundles available for the kits, many of which already include a sensor to get you started. Let’s take a quick look at some of the steps required to get started configuring your system.
Where Should the Motion Sensor Be Placed?
According to the sensors’ specifications, they are the most effective and can achieve the most range when placed 7’6” above the ground (or 7’ for the 1st generation model). Additionally, the Motion Detectors are not weatherproof, meaning they should only be used indoors.
The 2nd generation model comes bundled with mounting tape, so you won’t need to drill any extra holes or use any additional hardware for setup.
With the ease of installation, the motion sensors can be placed in many places around your home; however, there are some areas where its field of coverage will be more efficient for monitoring security. According to Ring, the most effective locations to set up your motion sensors are:
- Basement leading to an outside area
- Indoor hallways
- Both front and back entrances of your property
- Any rooms that have multiple entrances
If you find yourself still running into issues setting up your motion detectors, Ring offers an excellent “How-To” video here for reference to help you get started configuring and installing your device.
Where Should You Not Place Motion Detectors?
Though the Ring Motion Detectors have countless placement options, there are some areas that the device is not recommended for use because it can actually limit its effectiveness or range. For example (as previously mentioned), the Ring Motion Detectors are not weatherproof, so they should not be used outdoors (or any environments with extreme cold/heat).
Additionally, Ring recommends avoiding using the detectors:
- Aimed or pointed at heaters, furnaces, and air vents (as these will negatively affect the PIR sensors on the device).
- Positioned or facing windows or staircases (this would limit the field of view, while also causing false alarms from animals going up and down your stairs. Additionally, windows typically block heat sources, thus negatively affecting the accuracy of the PIR sensors).
- In detached buildings (studio, detached garage, etc.) The motion sensors are the most effective when they’re in the same building as the associated Base Station.
In addition to indicating where the motion sensors would be the most effective, Ring also offers different placement settings within the app, to provide an extra level of coverage and customizability for your devices.
Ring also offers an Alarm Range Extender, to allow for even more versatility and customization. The range extender will extend the signal from your base station to all it’s associated devices as well, not just the motion sensors. Below is a breakdown of some of the placement settings within the app.
The “Room” setting is ideal when your sensors are being used in rooms that don’t have any entrance door (or don’t face an entrance). When armed, this will allow the Ring Alarm to sound immediately when any motion is detected by the device (meaning there will be no entrance delay).
When the “Entryway” placement setting is enabled, you have the option of delaying the alarm trigger as you exit or enter a room (allowing extra time to disable your system). This setting is ideal for rooms and hallways, or other areas where your main entrance is in the motion sensor’s field of coverage/view.
In general, the Motion Detectors are the most effective when placed towards areas with “forced foot traffic” or areas that people must pass through to get to the next area/room. This will ensure that should your house have any unwelcome visitors, they will have to inevitably pass in front of the sensors.
In addition, Ring recommends placing the devices in the corner of rooms facing entrances to ensure the device’s maximum range and coverage.
Daytime vs. Nighttime Use
Given this information, you may be wondering; how will the sensors function at night? Will changes in lighting affect its ability to detect motion? Fortunately, Ring has taken measures to ensure that your device will maintain its security level, regardless of the time of day.
Advanced Motion Detection: Knowing that the motion sensors detect changes in heat signatures using their PIR technology, they won’t be activated by simply turning on/off any lights in your house. They will continue to look for changes in heat to avoid false alarms caused by the time of day.
During the day, the sensors rely primarily on their motion detection to scan for movement in one of your designated “motion zones” (configured via the associated app). However, during the nighttime, the sensors use the PIR technology to verify a moving object is real, rather than a false alarm. It will confirm the validity of the movement based on the heat signature produced.
Testing the Motion Detector
Now that we’ve examined some of the basics regarding getting your sensors up and running, let’s take a look at the detectors’ actual configuration, including the motion sensitivity options.
Once your devices have been installed in their proper locations, Ring recommends testing the sensors to ensure they are working as intended, while avoiding false alarms. Here are a few quick steps to begin the motion detector test (which can be started at any time via the associated Ring app):
- Open the Ring app.
- Once the app is open, select “Menu.”
- Next, select “Alarm Base System.”
- Then select the motion sensor you would like to test.
- Finally, select “Test Motion.”
Once the motion detector test is initialized, it will begin a 15-minute test mode, quickly sending alerts to your device. Additionally, when the sensor is in “test mode,” it will be alerted to any motion, regardless of your sensitivity settings. As such, it is recommended that you configure the system before running the test.
Assuming your tests are successful, the Motion Detectors also have the unique ability to adjust their sensitivity settings. This is to provide the most accurate readings, regardless of your setup (if you have pets or small animals or areas of high foot traffic, etc.).
How Do I Adjust Motion Sensitivity?
The different generations use slightly different jargon to describe their levels of sensitivity in their detector settings; “Sensitivity” (1st Generation) and “Detection” (2nd Generation). As the settings themselves are virtually the same, here is a break down of the types of sensitivities settings available to the user:
- Low Detection/Sensitivity – The low detection mode is designed for families with large pets or multiple pets. It allows for a slight movement in its designated area before the alarm is triggered.
- Medium Detection/Sensitivity – On the medium detection setting, the alarm is triggered after minor movements, like one or several smaller animals or a single large pet.
- High Detection/Sensitivity – With the highest detection setting, the alarm will be triggered with any detection of movement. This setting is not recommended if you have pets or small animals.
Ring makes it easy to adjust the Detection settings on the fly as well. Simply open the Ring app and head to the Motion Settings. From there, you can select any of the above motion detection settings for your system.
Can I Disable the Motion Detectors?
There are various reasons why you may want to disable your motion sensor alerts temporarily. For example: if you don’t like to receive notifications while you’re in the house or if you’re having a party with lots of guests who could potentially continually trigger the detectors. It could even simply be a matter of wanting to disable the motion alerts while your base system is disarmed.
Fortunately, Ring makes it easy to temporarily disable the alerts, while still keeping the sensors armed via the app.
From the app, select the motion sensor you want to edit, where you will see a toggle to turn off “motion alerts.” Once motion alerts have been disabled, you will not receive notifications when the device is triggered; however, this will not affect the sensor’s communication with your alarm system. Additionally, it will still track the alerts in your device’s “alert history.”
Troubleshooting Connectivity Issues
Regardless of how simple the configuration and setup is of a given device, there is always the potential for running into issues (and the Ring Motion Detectors are no exception). Ring offers extensive support via their support portal; however, here are some quick solutions to problems you may initially encounter:
Monitoring is Active but Not Sending Alerts
Let’s say your system and motion sensors have been properly configured and tested and appear to be functioning as intended. However, the alarm is not triggering notifications when the sensor detects motion. Here are a few steps you can take to try to resolve this issue:
- Check the ring app’s alert/event history to confirm that the device is actually detecting motion.
- If no alerts are being recorded, check that the motion detector is connected to wifi (found in the “Device Health” section of the Ring app).
- Verify your “Motion Zone” settings to ensure your sections are adequately designated, and thus able to detect motion in a given area.
- Confirm that you do not have a “Motion Schedule” time enabled on your device. In the app’s dashboard section, check if there is a clock icon next to the appropriate device. This indicates that the motion sensor is scheduled to be active at a given time, rather than continual monitoring.
Device Is Sending False Alarms via Notifications to My Device
If you notice that you are continually receiving false alarm notifications from your system, this could be attributed to a few things.
- Double-check your configured “Motion Zones” to see if there is potentially any object that could be triggering a motion alert.
- False notifications could be a result of having “People Only” mode enabled. This mode will scan for shapes similar to humans (head and shoulders area).
- If you have this setting disabled, that would indicate that there is an object or item in your Motion Zone that is causing the sensor to trigger an alarm (trees, moving cars, shadows, etc.).
- Reduce your sensor’s sensitivity in your motion zones to allow for minor movement, to not trigger false alarms.
The Ring Motion Detector is an excellent solution for individuals looking to increase their property’s safety and security. Given that the sensors’ detection radius is around 30ft (assuming it is not being affected by any environmental factors) and can be placed upwards of 250 ft from the base station, the configuration options are almost endless.
The range of coverage available, as well as the low price point of the device, make the Ring Motion Detector a great addition to any home security system.
Curious about the range of your other Ring devices, like your Ring Doorbell? Check out this article!