Installing a Ring Doorbell

Connecting the doorbell to Wi-Fi

I visited some customers today who called me out because they were having problems setting up a Ring Video Doorbell 3 Plus. They both had iPhones, and one of them had already downloaded the Ring app from Apple’s App Store, so we did our experiments using that one. The instructions said to place the iPhone near to the Ring doorbell, then run the app on the iPhone to set up the doorbell. The main problem was that the app couldn’t get the Ring doorbell to establish a wireless connection to the router, which happened to be a BT Homehub 6. The app just showed a circle with a number inside which gradually went up from 1% to 100% while attempting to connect, all the time accompanied by an annoying ‘I’m doing something’ sound, then reported that the attempt had failed.

Looking for known problems

There’s no point wasting time solving a problem that somebody else has already solved, so we looked on the Internet for possible solutions to the connection problem. We soon found suggestions that the problem could be caused by dual-band routers that use two different frequency bands rather than just one (the 5 GHz and 2.4 GHz bands, as opposed to just the 2.4 GHz band). Apparently, Ring doorbells only worked on the 2.4 GHz frequency band, and couldn’t connect to a router using the 5 GHz band. As we were using a BT Homehub 6, which was a dual-band router, we might not be able to connect the new Ring doorbell to it using the 5 GHz band, but surely the doorbell could just attempt to connect using the 2.4 GHz band which the router was also using. Nevertheless, we decided to follow the Internet suggestions and logged in to the router itself then switched off the 5 GHz band, effectively turning the device into an ‘old-fashioned’ 2.4 GHz-only router. That made no difference whatsoever, but it was worth a quick try.

BT Homehub 6 settings

While we were logged in to the BT Homehub 6, we noticed some settings that might make a difference, so started experimenting further. The device had three difference wireless modes to choose from. Mode 1 was for maximum range and performance, Mode 2 was a middle-of-the-road setting, and Mode 3 was for maximum compatibility with a wide range of devices. As the device was set to mode 2, we changed it to mode 3 to be as compatible as possible with the Ring doorbell. We then reset the Ring doorbell by holding down the orange button for 30 seconds, and used the iPhone app in another attempt to make a connection, but again it failed. After some further research we discovered that the Ring Video Doorbell 3 Plus was, after all, able to use the 5 GHz frequency band, so we turned that back on and put the wireless mode back to 2 again.

Trying different wireless channels

Although it was a long-shot, the next thing we considered was what channel numbers the BT Homehub 6 was using. The 2.4 GHz frequency band is split into several smaller bands, each of which is called a channel. You can tell any router what channel number to use when communicating with Wi-Fi devices. The general idea is to pick a channel number that none of your neighbours are using, so the router doesn’t keep receiving data all the time that turns out not to be for you. Most modern routers are smart about channel numbers and are capable of choosing for themselves the best one to use, by looking at what other channels are already being used in your local area and picking a different one. The BT Homehub 6 was set to choose the best channel for itself, but we decided to pick another one just to see if that made any difference. Unfortunately it didn’t, so we set the channel choice back to automatic. By the way, the 5 GHz freqency band is similarly split into into several channels in a similar way to the 2.4 GHz band.

Re-installing the iPhone app

At this point we weren’t sure what to try next, so we decided to re-install the Ring app on the iPhone just in case it had ‘got itself into a twist’ (a well-known IT term). There were quite a few Ring apps in the App Store. That would have been understandable if they all did different things, but they didn’t. There were two apps for installing the doorbell. The one that we already had didn’t work, so we deleted it and downloaded the other one. This second installation app looked much more sophisticated, and more to the point, it worked straight away. We’d wasted literally hours messing about with an app that was never going to work, so thanks very much to ‘Ring’ for that, but at last we’d moved onto the next step. However, that was not the end of our troubles.

Testing the doorbell

The next task was to mount the Ring doorbell on the wooden architrave outside to the front door, which was relaxing compared with the initial setup. Then came the testing, which didn’t go very well. Sometimes pressing the doorbell would result in the iPhone receiving a notification a few seconds later, but often nothing at all would happen. When the iPhone did receive a notification, most of the time the video and / or audio feeds didn’t work, or were intermittent. Most of the time, the status of the doorbell indicated that the Wi-Fi signal was weak, which explained the constant ‘drop-outs’ that made the system unusable. The customers quickly decided that they would need a normal ringer unit inside the house, and a Ring Wi-Fi repeater unit to relay the BT Homehub 6’s Wi-Fi signal to the Ring doorbell. Once these were ordered, it was time to pack up for the day and wait for the additional equipment to arrive.

Just our bad luck

I know it’s not exactly high-tech, but often when I get up in the morning I turn on the television just to see if there’s any interesting news, and often look at the BBC’s text service. Purely by chance, on the morning after the Ring doorbell installation, I saw a news item that said the IT infrastructure behind the Ring doorbell service had suffered a lot of problems on the previous day, and many people were receiving so-called ‘phantom’ rings. A visitor would come up to the Ring doorbell and push the button, then the notification that should have been forwarded within a few seconds was not processed through the system for several hours. These notifications were eventually getting through to customers, but far too late to be of any use, and many people didn’t realise what was happening or why.

Too much overhead?

Considering the palaver involved in setting up a Ring doorbell, and the flaky nature of the systems behind it all, is it really worth getting one? My customers decided to persevere with their Ring setup for a while, then decide whether to keep it or send all the equipment back on the grounds that it doesn’t really work as they had a reasonable right to expect. It’ll be interesting to see what happens at the end of the trial period.


On 13th October my customers telephoned to say that they’d decided to keep their Ring doorbell after all, as it had been working well since the initial problems were resolved. It was good to hear that everything worked out in the end, even though the system was not that simple to set up in the first place.