Today I'll show you how to install the Ring Alarm outdoor contact sensor in the SmartThings App. I'm planning to mount this sensor in our utility shed which is situated in our backyard.
I’ll also introduce you to the Aeotec range extender and demonstrate how it can increase your z-wave signal by 250 percent.
Checking the specs for the Ring Alarm contact sensor, it is weather-resistant with an IP66 rating. The IP66 rating confirms that It is waterproof against hose-directed water and falling drops of rain or snow. It has an operating temperature range of negative 4 degrees to 120 degrees Fahrenheit. It is connected via Z-wave technology and is reported to have a 250 foot line of sight range.
What’s in the Box
When you open the box you’ll be surprised by the size of the sensor. The sensor’s hefty size is attributed to the fact that it is powered by two AA alkaline batteries. The sensor comes with adhesive backed mounting plates, screws and screw anchors. The two required alkaline batteries are also provided. According to ring the batteries can power the sensor for up to five years.
Viewing the Sensor
You can separate the sensor from its bracket mounts by sliding the sensor to the side. On the back of the main sensor you will find a reset hole and an orange setup button. You remove the rear cover to access the battery compartment. The battery compartment is opened by pushing on the two spring clips. Within the battery compartment you will find the two AA batteries. You will also see a weather sealing gasket on the battery compartment cover which is instrumental in keeping moisture out of the device. The magnet side of the sensor can also be separated from the mount by sliding it to the side. You can attach the provided mounts to a wooden surface for a more secured install.
To pair the sensor you will select the option to scan the QR code. When you pull the plastic battery isolator tab, the device will be flashing 3x slowly, and pause, then flash 3X again in a cycle. Press the orange button for 5 to 10 seconds and release. The device will start rapid flashing green to begin paring. After second or two the app will notify that set-up is successful. This sensor pairs with SmartThings as a generic z-wave device. So once the sensor is connected you’ll need to login to your SmartThings account at account.smartthings.com and manually set it within the My Devices list as a Z-Wave Plus Door/Window Sensor.
Testing Sensor Connectivity
Before installing your sensor you’ll want to test it to ensure that you have a good signal. Ring Alarm claims you can test connectivity by pressing the orange setup button. They state that a green light while pressing the button indicates a proper signal. This apparently works only with the Ring hub because I was not able to replicate the test method with the Samsung SmartThings hub.
As for mounting options, the senor comes with double sided mounting tape, which could be used to mount on smooth surfaces which are not subject to the elements. You can also use the provided screws mount the device or you can use the slits provided on the mounting brackets to secure the sensor and magnet with metal or plastic straps. The strap mount give you the ability to install the sensor on metal gates or a frame if you prefer not to drill holes.
Device Mounting Considerations
As stated previously, my intent was to install the contact sensor on my utility shed doors. My Hub is in my Basement in the north side of home. The center of my shed doors is exactly 73 feet from the southwest corner of my home. Since the z-wave signal must go though several walls, I suspected that I may need a z-wave range extender. I therefore decided to purchase the Aeotec Range Extender 7. The Aeotec range extender is compatible with Z-Wave and Z-Wave Plus and is reported to provide up to 250% further wireless range. More about my connectivity experience in a moment.
Testing the Sensor’s Range
When testing the range of the Ring Contact Senor absent the z-wave range extender I found that I could only get a reliable connection up to 14 feet from the southeast corner of my home. With the addition of the Aeotec range extender I was able to extend my signal to 49 feet. Unfortunately, this signal range is 24 feet short of the doors on my utility shed. As a result, I was unable to use the Ring contact sensors in this particular application.
Summary of Results
What are the takeaways from this venture? The Ring Alarm Outdoor Sensor can be paired with the SmartThings Hub. To be fully compatible with SmartThings, the sensor’s device type handler must be changed in your SmartThings account to a Z-Wave Plus Door/Window Sensor. The operational distance of the contact sensor can be enhanced by use of the Aeotec Range Extender. In my situation, I was able to extend my operational range by 250 percent. This increase in range confirms the performance specifications reported by Aeotec. Although you may get different results based on the location of you hub and strength of your z-wave network, I surmise that if you need to monitor an outside property or pool gate, and that gate is within 49 feet of your home, you should have successful installation using the Ring Outdoor sensor provided it’s z-wave signal is enhanced with the Aeotec Range Extender 7.
I trust you found today’s episode helpful. Please leave a comment at the bottom and provide me some feedback.
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