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Ring Mailbox Sensor - Review 2020


The latest member of the Ring family of smart home devices, the Ring Mailbox Sensor ($49.99 with the required bridge) is a wireless motion sensor that lets you know when your mailbox has been opened. It works with Ring security cameras and lights, as well as with Amazon Alexa. It’s relatively easy to install, but it requires that you drill a hole in your mailbox, and it’s not a good fit for smaller mailboxes. For the same price you can install a Wyze Cam Outdoor near your mailbox and get the same alerts with video clips, and you can have the camera trigger lights, cameras, and a host of other third-party smart devices.

Ring Mailbox Sensor Design and Features

The Mailbox Sensor package contains a motion sensor, an antenna, a Wi-Fi bridge, assorted mounting hardware and tape, and a drill bit. The bridge is the same one used for the Ring Smart Lighting System that we reviewed last year. It measures 2.3 by 2.4 by 0.7 inches (HWD) and uses a 2.4GHz Wi-Fi radio to connect to your home network and an RF radio to communicate with the sensor. If you already have a bridge you can purchase the Mailbox Sensor on its own for $29.99. A single bridge can accommodate up to 50 Ring devices including smart lights, mailbox sensors, and motion sensors, and you can only have one bridge per household. 

The sensor comes in black or white and measures 1.4 by 2.4 by 2.5 inches (HWD). While this is isn’t overly large for a typical home security motion sensor, it’s on the bulky side for one that will be placed inside a mailbox (more on this later). The top of the sensor contains a lens that provides a 120-degree motion sensing range at up to 15 feet, and there’s a tiny port on the bottom for the antenna. It’s powered by three AAA batteries (rated to last up to a year) that can be accessed by separating the bottom panel from the top of the sensor. There’s also a removable mounting plate on the bottom of the device. The antenna is a thin octagonal device that measures 0.2 by 2.5 by 2.5 inches and has a 17-inch wire that connects to the sensor. 

Ring Mailbox Sensor with Ring Protection sign

When the mailbox door is opened, the sensor sends a motion signal to the antenna and the antenna sends the signal to the bridge. The bridge, which is connected to your Wi-Fi network, then sends an alert to your phone and triggers any linked Ring and Alexa devices. For this to work properly, the sensor is meant to be placed on the inside of your mailbox door and the antenna sits outside of it.

It uses the same mobile app (for Android and iOS) as all Ring devices. To get to the sensor’s control screen, open the app and tap the Lights tab (for some reason the sensor is automatically added to the Lights group). Next, tap the Mailbox Sensor tab. Here you’ll find a switch to turn motion alerts on and off, and options to create motion alert schedules, set an alert snooze for 30 minutes or more (up to 4 hours), and edit or delete groups. You can also view an event history log, check the device health (online status, signal strength, firmware version), and link the sensor to other Ring devices. 

Installing and Using the Ring Mailbox Sensor

Installing the Mailbox Sensor is fairly easy, but it does require some drilling. I already had a Ring account, but if this is your first Ring device you’ll have to download the mobile app and create an account. I opened the app, tapped the three-bar icon in the upper left corner, and tapped Set Up a Device. I selected Mailbox Sensor from the list of devices, and chose my location for the installation. 

I was instructed to use my phone’s camera to scan the bridge and then place it in a location with a strong Wi-Fi signal. Once the bridge was powered up, I confirmed that the LED was flashing blue and waited a few seconds for the app to connect to it. I selected my Wi-Fi SSID and within 30 seconds the bridge was connected to my network. Next, I tapped Setup a Smart Lighting device and used my phone to scan the QR code on the sensor. The app asked me what type of mailbox I was using (metal or plastic) and instructed me to remove the rear cover of the sensor and make sure the small switch was set for use with the external antenna. I inserted three AAA batteries (not included), replaced the cover, and tapped Continue. I gave the sensor a name and it was immediately added to my Ring device list and to my Alexa devices. 

Next, I followed the instructions to install the sensor and antenna on my mailbox. Since the sensor is installed on the inside of the mailbox door and the antenna is on the outside, you’ll have to drill a hole that will accommodate the antenna wire without it being damaged by opening and closing the mailbox door. A detailed video is included in the on-screen instructions.

Ring app showing device settings, motion activity log, and motion notification settings

I have a small metal mailbox that measures 8.0 by 16.0 by 3.0 inches with a 16.0-by-3.0-inch flip-up lid. I drilled a hole in the side of the mailbox, inserted the wire, and attached it to the sensor. Using the provided double-sided adhesive, I attached the sensor to the inside of the lid, but no matter where I placed the sensor I was unable to close the lid completely. I managed to place it so that the lid was mostly closed and attached the antenna to the outside of the mailbox using the double-sided adhesive. With the sensor and antenna installed I configured the sensor’s motion settings, linked it to a Ring Stickup Cam, and the installation was complete.

The Mailbox Sensor worked well in testing. I received a push alert every time the mailbox lid was opened and the Stick Up Cam began recording each event as per my Linked Devices rule. I also created a routine to have Alexa say, “You’ve got mail,” whenever the sensor was triggered, and this too worked each time.

It’s worth mentioning that the first time my mailman delivered the mail with the sensor installed, he wouldn’t put my mail in the box. Instead he rang my doorbell and told me that the mailbox was wired to some sort of device and handed me my mail, clearly worried. I explained what it was and he was OK after that, but the setup does indeed look suspicious. 

Is the Ring Mailbox Sensor Worth It?

If you need to know when your mail has been delivered, the Ring Mailbox Sensor is a relatively simple and affordable way to make that happen. It uses motion detection to sense when your mailbox has been opened and generates a push alert when triggered. Although it doesn’t support IFTTT applets that allow it to work with third-party smart devices, it does work with Ring cameras and lights, and you can create a routine to have Alexa tell you when your mail has arrived. It’s easy enough to install, but you’ll have to drill a hole in your mailbox and it might be too bulky for smaller mailboxes.

If you’d rather not alter your mailbox, you can always install our Editors’ Choice winner for affordable outdoor cameras, the Wyze Cam Outdoor, to monitor your mailbox. You’ll need to use a different app than Ring’s, but it’s the same price as the Mailbox Sensor and will not only tell you when the mailman approaches, but will record the event and store the video clips for free. 

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