Ring Solar Steplight review: Bigger, better, brighter

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Ring Solar Steplight review: Bigger, better, brighter

The second generation of Ring’s smart lighting products deliver a critical new feature: Solar panels that keep their batteries charged. That perpetual source of energy means you no longer need to buy disposable batteries, but it’s not the only manner in which the Solar Steplight is better than the original. The new version is bigger, brighter, and it packs more features, too.

I criticized the Ring Steplight Battery for being expensive if you don’t already have the $50 Ring Bridge, and that’s true here, too. In fact, the Solar version costs $5 more than the old version: $29.99 versus $24.99 for the original. That added cost, however, is instantly offset because you don’t need to buy batteries (and in my experience with the original, I’ve had to do that about every six months).

This review is part of TechHive’s coverage of the best smart lighting, where you’ll find reviews of competing products, plus a buyer’s guide to the features you should consider when shopping.

If you want one and don’t already have the bridge that’s needed to connect Ring’s smart lighting products to your Wi-Fi network, I recommend buying the two-pack of Solar Steplights that includes the bridge. That bundle was selling on for $79.99 on Amazon as of this writing, saving you $30 over the cost of buying the three components individually—you’re essentially getting the second steplight for free. It would be great if Ring offered discounts on purchases of multiple steplights—with or without the bridge—since many people will need to illuminate more than one step. Alas, they don’t.

ring solar steplight at night 2 Michael Brown / IDG

The new Ring Solar Steplight casts a large pool of bright light that can help ensure you don’t trip on a step.

Bigger and brighter

The Solar Steplight is slightly larger than the battery-powered original, mostly on its top where the solar panel is installed (it measures 3.43 x 2.19 x 4.0 inches, compared to the Steplight Battery’s 3.58 x 3.58 x 1.85-inch dimensions). The LED light source is larger and much brighter, producing 50 lumens of brightness at a color temperature of 3,500K versus 35 lumens at the same temp for the battery-powered product.

As with the original, you can use a slider in the Ring app to dim the light to stretch its battery life, and an ambient light sensor will prevent the light from turning on in response to motion when it’s not dark enough to be needed. The new light’s onboard motion sensor has the same 120-degree field of view and 15-foot of range as the original.

You’ll find a significant improvement in the Solar Steplight’s ability to turn its light on and off according to a schedule—including a dusk to dawn feature that keeps the light on at a reduced brightness level until motion triggers it to brighten—a feature that would prematurely drain the battery on the original model.

ring solar steplight dusk to dawn Michael Brown / IDG

The ability to have the steplight come on from dusk to dawn is one of its best software features.

The Ring Bridge enables all of Ring’s smart lighting products to be integrated with the company’s increasingly broad range of other home security products, including its video doorbells, indoor and outdoor cameras, and the excellent Ring Alarm home security system.

Almost any device in the Ring ecosystem can trigger any other (the door/window sensors in the Ring Alarm kit are an important exception). If you have steps in front of your door, for example, the Steplight Solar’s you can program the onboard motion sensor t o trigger your Ring Video Doorbell to start recording, without waiting for a visitor to come into range of the camera’s motion sensor.

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