Facebook / Abode
Setting up a home security system used to be prohibitively expensive, requiring lots of wires, complicated instructions, and monthly payments to a monitoring company. Thankfully, that’s no longer the case, and over the past few years, several startups have released connected security cameras, which let you keep an eye on your house from anywhere in the world.
But cameras alone — even ones with motion sensors — may not protect your entire house, especially if there are multiple floors, each with several points of entry. You’ll need a central home security system to cover all of your bases, and for the past couple of weeks, I’ve been testing the Essentials Starter Kit from Abode, which makes home monitoring simple.
The kit comes with a hub (called a gateway) that connects to your Wi-Fi router or cable modem via an ethernet cable to keep a stable connection, one standalone door or window sensor, one motion detector, and a key fob you can use to arm and disarm the system.
The gateway needs to be plugged in all the time, but both the motion detector and door or window sensor are battery powered, so you can buy additional ones to build out your home security system over time.
Setting up the starter kit only took about 15 minutes, and the process was pretty intuitive, thanks to the included instruction booklet and Abode’s easy-to-use app. The hub came online within a couple of minutes of being plugged in, and both of the included sensors were recognized by the time I turned them on and set them up in the appropriate places.
Making its security system easy to set up already removed one hurdle most people have when they consider installing one, but Abode also made it very easy to manage.
The system has three states: “standby,” which disarms the entire thing; “home,” which keeps cameras and door or window sensors active but disables indoor motion sensors; and “away,” which arms the entire system.
You can change between these states in Abode’s app, which also keeps track of any time the system is modified, or any of the sensors is triggered. You can also manage the system by logging into your Abode account through the startup’s website. My favorite touch is that Abode gives you a one minute buffer when you change between states, so you don’t have to be afraid of triggering it as you leave the house.
With everything in place, I decided to see what happened if I armed the system and casually walked by the kit’s motion sensor. Bad move. A 93-decibel siren immediately started ringing from a speaker built into the Abode gateway, and my phone received an alert asking whether or not I’d like to call the police.
I immediately disarmed the system, but I have no doubt that an unsuspecting thief would have been immediately startled, especially since I positioned the motion sensor behind a door, so it’d automatically trigger before anyone even entered the house. By default, the door or window sensor will wait a minute between being opened and triggering the alarm, but I changed that so it would start blaring immediately.
There are several great smart security systems on the market, but Abode differentiates itself by supporting automated actions and, and working with security devices it doesn’t make. Abode doesn’t just work with the Amazon Echo and Google Home — although you can use both to set and its system with your voice — it takes things a step further.
For example, you can set a perimeter around your house, and have the system arm and disarm itself based on your location, which it keeps track of through its app if you grant it permission. That’s just one of several custom automations or “quick actions” you can create, which let the system work around your needs and schedule without you having to worry about setting it manually.
Abode’s home security system is compatible with many products from other big-name companies.
This starter kit is a great way to begin your home security system, but you’ll probably want to expand it with additional sensors and cameras. While you can use Abode’s equipment, this system is cross-compatible with Nest cameras, Philips Hue and LIFX smart light bulbs, Ecobee thermostats, Linear garage door openers, First Alert’s smoke and CO2 detector, and several other sensors and smart plugs.
Cross compatibility is great, because you don’t have to rely on Abode to constantly release new hardware or spread itself too thin by trying to make custom sensors for every part of your house. Plus, if you already own any of the smart gadgets above, you’ll appreciate being able to control all of them in a single app.
Facebook / Abode
Monitoring Abode’s system on your own is free, but if you want an extra layer of protection, you can pay a monthly fee for one of the startup’s security plans.
For $10 a month or $100 a year you can subscribe to the “connect” plan, which includes a cellular backup connection to keep your system online even if your internet is out, the ability to see 14 day’s worth of activity from the system instead of three, and phone support if you run into trouble.
The higher-end connect + secure plan costs $30 a month or $300 a year, and includes everything in the connect plan, plus 24/7 professional monitoring, the ability to see 90 day’s worth of activity from the system, and premium customer phone support. After testing it out for myself, I think Abode’s free plan will work fine, but it’s good to know that those extra features are available for people who need them.
Setting up and managing a home security system can be a hassle, but Abode makes it surprisingly easy. I was up and running within 15 minutes, and the system’s sensors were always responsive. There was never any ambiguity over whether or not the system was armed, and Abode’s commitment to working with a wide array of security hardware makes me confident that buying this system today is an investment that’ll only get better with time.
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