Ring Mailbox Sensor Review

Ring sells a “Mailbox Sensor” ($29) which tells you when somebody opens your mailbox. (i.e. it notifies you when the mail is delivered, or picked up.)

Really, it’s just one of their ring outdoor light motion sensor modules with an extra external antenna jack. (The small round object near the white square in the photo below.) It is powered by 3 AAA batteries, and lasts about 2.5 months under “normal” usage (e.g. opening the mailbox twice a day six days a week) using generic AAA batteries.

 

The sensor mounts in the back of your mailbox and pings you whenever it detects motion (e.g. somebody opens the mailbox flap, or a lizard climbs inside…).

I found that in the hot Florida sun, the provided adhesive foam pad lost it’s stickiness after a few months, and I had to use superglue to permanently affix the foam to both the mailbox on one side and the plastic mounting bracket on the other. [The sensor slides out of the bracket so that you can replace the AAA batteries every 2.5 months…]

If you have a plastic or fiberglass mailbox, you can probably get away with using the internal antenna. BUT, if you have a metal mailbox it will block the radio signals, so you’ll need to drill a hole in the mailbox and thread the antenna wire outside to use the external antenna. Ring provides a rubber grommet to thread the wire through the mailbox and a sticky rubber “wire grabber” to organize and hold the wire inside the mailbox (small black dot on the wire in the photo above).

I also had to use superglue to re-attach the antenna on the outside of the mailbox after a few months, but it’s holding steady now.

Because the mailbox sensor is part of Ring’s “Smart Lighting” system, it requires a Smart Lighting Bridge ($50!) to talk with Amazon/Ring’s servers and your Ring app on the cell phone. If you already have other Ring smart lighting products (I like the motion activated solar path lights, which are nice because you don’t have to change the battery every 2.5 months) it can use the same Bridge you already have, otherwise you need to buy a bridge to make it work. (The bridge connects via Wifi to your home internet, and acts as a bridge between the smart lighting product’s proprietary wireless network and your home network.) Obviously, if the bridge loses power, none of your smart lighting products can talk to the internet…but if you have lost power, it is likely that your internet will be out anyways. The bridge is powered by a provided 5V micro-USB power adapter so theoretically it could be powered via a USB power bank in a power outage.

As with any of the other motion activated smart lighting products, you can “link” the mailbox sensor with any of your Ring cameras (to record video when it detects the mailbox is opened) or to turn on lights. It can also “ping” your phone when the mailbox is opened. (Unfortunately, you can’t choose a custom sound, so it makes the same sound as all of your other Ring app notifications.)

It does what it is supposed to (my cell phone pings a second or two after the mailbox is opened, although very rarely notifications are delayed by networking issues) and aside from that time a lizard crawled into the mailbox, doesn’t give false alarms.

Bottom line, the cost of the mailbox sensor ($35) plus the bridge ($50) is a little more than a stand-alone mailbox alert system (such as this one for $60 on amazon…) and requires a cell phone with the Ring app to work. It has the advantage over a stand-alone unit with a base station that it can alert you even if you are not at home, as long as your cell phone has coverage. It’s a good sensor addition if you already use the Ring smart lighting system, or already use the ring app with cameras and are willing to buy a bridge just to get mailbox alerts.

 

 

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