Ring Floodlight, Battery review: Not enough light and not enough smarts

The newest Ring device is too much Amazon Basics, not enough Ring.

ring floodlight battery
Michael Simon/IDG

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At a Glance

The Ring Floodlight, Battery is the first Ring product I’ve used that doesn’t just work out of the box. You’ll need to buy a set of four D batteries to get it up and running. It’s also the first that isn’t designed to work alone. A separate Ring Bridge is required to link it with the rest of your Ring devices and lights. 

But the biggest problem with the Floodlight Battery isn’t what it needs, it’s what it does. At $50, it’s the most expensive of Ring’s new battery-powered smart lighting lineup, which includes spotlights, motion sensors, and pathlights, but it doesn’t deliver much in the way of unique functionality. You’ll get notifications and you can trigger a cam to start recording when motion is detected, but boil it down, and the Floodlight Battery is little more than, well, slightly smarter than your average floodlight.

The other Ring devices in my home—the Doorbell Pro and Floodlight Cam—feel and function like premium smart home products, but the Floodlight Battery isn’t quite on the same level. Rather, it feels like an Amazon Basics knockoff of the Floodlight Cam, albeit a quality one for the price. Ring’s hallmark craftsmanship and set-it-and-forget-it simplicity are on full display, but the Floodlight Battery just doesn’t have the same elegance and sophistication as its camera-enabled products. And it requires a lot of batteries.

Easy set up and simple installation

Like the rest of Ring’s products, the Floodlight Battery is incredibly easy to install and set up. If you’re setting it up as a dumb light, you won’t need to do anything except pop in the batteries and attach the bracket to a sturdy wall or beam with a drill and the included screws. It only requires three screws to stay in place, but you’ll want to make sure it’s secured well, since the Floodlight Battery gets pretty heavy once you add four D cells to it.

ring floodlight battery 2 Michael Simon/IDG

The Floodlight Battery is part of a new category of smart lights from Ring.

But to get the most out of the Floodlight Battery, you’ll want to pair it with a Ring Bridge, available for $50 on its own or $70 as part of a bundle with the floodlight. Like the Philips Hue Bridge, the Ring Bridge enables grouping of lights and IFTT-type triggers for the rest of your devices. It’s also the component that sends motion alerts to your phone, so you will want one. The last thing smart home enthusiasts need is another standalone hub, but it’s small, has a long range, and uses a power cable (rather than an all-one-one plug design like the Chime), so it’s easy to hide. It also connects up to 50 devices, which should be plenty unless you plan on buying lots of path lights (but be aware that you can’t operate more than one Ring smart lighting bridge on your network).

Connecting the Ring Bridge to my network was even easier than the Ring cameras, with little more than a few taps required to get the Bridge and Floodlight on speaking terms. I only encountered one issue with it going offline for an extended period of time—which was solved by disconnecting a Ring Chime—and even with a relatively low signal (around RSSI-75 versus RSSI-40 on my other Ring devices), the Floodlight Battery didn’t have any responsiveness issues or lag.

Simple settings, complex menus, and so-so monitoring

The simplicity of setup extends to the functionality of the device, but it’s not nearly as delightful. Like the doorbell and other Ring devices, you’ll get notifications when the Floodlight Battery detects motion, but I found its detection to be much less reliable.

ring smart lighting 3 IDG

With only three motion settings, you’ll either get too many or too few notifications with the Floodlight Battery.

Part of the problem obviously stems from its lack of a camera, but it’s also the rudimentary controls on the app. With the doorbell, for example, there are several steps of sensitivity that can be selected for how often you want to be bothered by alerts, but on the Floodlight Battery, there are only three: Low, Medium, and High. While Ring says Medium is good for “most uses,” I found that it triggered alerts for too often, especially on windy days. And I had the opposite problem when it was set to Low. On one day with it pinned to the lowest setting I received just one alert, while Medium triggered dozens.

A step in between each of them would help immensely. For example, the light sensor (which regulates when motion triggers the lights so your batteries won’t drain during the day) has 10 steps for adjusting the threshold. Granular motion detecting would be ideal for the Floodlight Battery’s best feature: the ability to create groups of lights that all turn on when motion is detected. That’s a nice deterrent for would-be burglars and probably the best reason to invest in a Smart Lighting system. You can set an amount of time for the lights to stay on after motion is detected, and if you’re having a late-night shindig, you can snooze them all for up to two hours and set daily schedules.

The light's settings are easy to understand, but finding them is another story. Each device has Motion and Light Settings that give you some control over the hardware, but there are also Motion and Light settings for the lighting groups with separate schedules and timers. So you'll probably click the wrong menu several times before you get your lights just right—though thankfully you won't need to visit them much after the original setup.

Lots of batteries but little light

Since it doesn’t have a camera, you obviously won’t be able to see what’s going on in your yard unless you look outside. To that end, you can link your Floodlight Battery to your other devices using an IFTT-type functionality. So when the Floodlight Battery detects motion, the Ring doorbell will start recording.

While that’s a clever bit of interoperability, it’s not nearly as useful in practice. Unless your Floodlight is near a camera, detecting motion won’t help, so you'll want to put some thought into the placement of your light. As such, my doorbell camera recorded a lot of nothing since I mounted the Floodlight Battery in my backyard. Much more useful is the ability to turn on the lights when one of the Ring cameras detects motion (though you’ll need to dive into each device’s settings to turn it on).  It drives home the point that the Floodlight Battery is more of an accessory than a standalone device, as is the case with all of Ring’s smart lights.

ring smart lighting 2 IDG

You can link Ring smart lights as long as you have a Ring Bridge.

The other problem is that it runs on four D batteries. While I was pleasantly surprised by the battery indicator in the app, it remains to be seen how accurate it will be. Ring estimates that they will power the Floodlight Battery for a year, but obviously that depends on how often your lights illuminate. During one particularly busy night, the battery indicator in the Ring app inexplicably dropped to 50 percent, though it returned to full the next morning. In an age where we’re moving away from disposable cells in favor of rechargeable ones, the waste and expense required to power the Floodlight Battery is surprisingly short-sighted. (Or perhaps not: AmazonBasics just so happens to sell a pack of 12 D Cell Everyday Alkaline Batteries for $12.99.) And I don't look forward to the day when I'll need to break out my ladder to change the batteries. 

Another unfortunate side effect of the Floodlight Battery reliance on battery power: it’s just not very bright. It’s only rated for 600 lumens—a third of the Floodlight Cam’s 1,800 lumens—and even with the brightness turned all the way up, it feels more like a spotlight than a floodlight. It’ll do well enough to illuminate a pitch-black porch, but if you’re buying one to intimidate a would-be intruder, you’ll probably need to link a few of them. Or if you don’t need the convenience of battery power, consider the Ring Smart Lighting Floodlight, Wired, which produces 2,000 lumens, but costs $20 more (our review is in progress).

Should you buy a Ring Floodlight, Battery?

Anyone who’s invested in the Ring ecosystem will surely want to consider the Floodlight Battery. It’s cheaper than some non-smart motion lights you can buy at home-improvement stores, and the $70 Bridge bundle makes it even more attractive, since you can add other Ring Smart Lights and Ring devices to the overall system.

With the low price, however, comes less smarts and more frustration. The light settings are extremely basic. The use of four D batteries isn’t ideal either. I would have rather seen a $100 price tag with a rechargeable solar battery, brighter LEDs, and a little more functionality. Ring made itself a household name on the back of its simplicity and affordability. The Floodlight Battery definitely follows that formula, but unfortunately it takes it a little too far.

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At a Glance
  • The Ring Floodlight Battery is simple to set up and easy to use, but it lacks the smarts and sophistication of Ring's other devices.

    Pros

    • Easy to install and set up
    • Can link to other Ring devices with the Bridge

    Cons

    • Uses four D batteries (sold separately)
    • Not very bright for a floodlight
    • Individual device settings can get tedious
  
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