Adobe connected home security

Adobe connected home security DEFAULT

It's easy to feel overwhelmed when you're shopping for a home security system. That's because it's a massive, growing category that covers everything from professional firms like ADT and Vivint to standalone DIY devices like cameras, sensors and locks. Although those two camps are still pretty divided, we're starting to see companies such as ADT embrace third-party device integrations -- and an increasing number of DIY companies are offering features typically reserved for professional firms, like 24/7 monitoring.

Yes, the home security market is a veritable hodgepodge of options. That's great because there's bound to be something that's right for you, but it's also a challenge to sort through the mess of stuff on shelves today to find that perfect device or comprehensive system. Fortunately, we're here to help you make sense of it all so you can move past the product research phase to enjoying a functional home security package.

Read more:Amazon announced several new home security products and services at its September 2021 product launch event, including the Ring Always Home Cam and the Ring Alarm Pro. 

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Note that for UK and Australian readers, some of the advice here applies only to the US. This is particularly true of the section headed "DIY home security," which involves a patchwork of small companies who may or may not ship overseas.

Professional home security firms

You're probably at least somewhat familiar with the traditional home security model. Firms like ADT, AT&T, Vivint and Frontpoint offer various bundled products and services, install and configure them for you, lock you into a contract that's typically at least two years long and charge you a monthly fee starting at around $35. And, if you decide to cancel the service before your contract period is over, you'll end up paying an early cancellation fee.

Convenience versus freedom

The thing is that the services professional firms offer are still incredibly appealing. ADT offers tons of features from an arm-disarm keypad to door and window sensors, security cameras and more. Professional monitoring is also automatically included in your monthly fee, meaning ADT employees are on call 24/7 to contact first responders like the police or EMS as needed.

Yes, it's a comprehensive solution with built-in convenience (thanks to the professional install and monitoring services), but you're going to have to shell out quite a bit of money for it and sacrifice some freedom along the way.

Ditching the status quo

Interestingly, these firms are becoming increasingly aware that their approach is outdated and many are making changes to keep up with the growing demand for DIY products.

For instance, ADT and LG sell a contract-free security system. AT&T Digital Life integrates with Samsung, Qualcomm, LG, SmartThings and Lutron products and work in select cars via voice activation. ADT also works with Nest and plans to introduce an IFTTT channel -- all unthinkable propositions before the smart home grew in popularity.

This trend is promising, but there aren't any clear shifts happening to the core contract-and-monthly-fees portion of professional security firms. If you're the sort of person who fancies a bit more freedom -- say you live in an apartment and don't plan to live there long or your lease keeps you from having anything hard-wired -- this sort of system isn't for you. But, it is definitely the best bet as far as convenience goes, assuming you're OK with forking over a hefty portion of your paycheck each year and potentially locking yourself in to a multiyear contract.

Read more:How do home security systems handle your privacy?

DIY home security

Do-it-yourself home security, in stark contrast to professional firms, is all about choice. The tradeoff for that level of customization is that you'll have to shoulder a lot more of the responsibility from the install on through to calling the police yourself if you have a security concern (with a couple of exceptions).

And, where professional firms keep it simple with various bundled products and services, DIY purchasing decisions can be more complicated because the options vary widely. You'll come across ADT-style services with 24/7 monitoring and monthly fees (thankfully, without mandatory contracts) to single security devices like cameras or locks, available for purchase at Target, BestBuy and other chain retail stores.

Even if you've decided against a professional firm, there are still a lot of considerations to make before you land on a DIY device or system. We'll explore the various options here and help you find something that works.

Read more: Turn your old smartphone into a new security camera in 3 easy steps


Just because you've ditched the idea of a professional firm doesn't mean that you have to miss out on features. There are a handful of DIY security companies that offer entire suites of security products, including door and window sensors, motion detectors, sirens and more. Some even offer professional monitoring for a monthly fee, but the good news is that you can cancel at any time without having to worry about a penalty.

Abode, SimpliSafe, Oplink, Scout, Viper and iSmartAlarm are all brands that offer multiple security products designed to work together. Here's a quick rundown comparing some of these DIY kits:

Comparing DIY security systems

Abode Scout iSmartAlarm SimpliSafe
Hardware cost $300 (starter kit) $276 (hub and accessories, no camera) $150 (starter kit) $230 (starter kit)
Required monthly fees None $10 None None technically, but you need to pay the $15-$25 contract-free fee to access any remote features
Professional monitoring Yes ($30/month, includes cellular backup) Yes ($20/month, includes cellular backup) No Yes (no extra charge)
Cellular backup Yes ($10/month without professional monitoring) Yes (no extra charge) No Yes (no extra charge)
Power outage backup Yes Yes No Yes
Camera Yes (add $150) Yes (add $169) Yes (add $100) Yes (add $100)
ZigBee/Z-Wave compatibility ZigBee and Z-Wave ZigBee only No No
Smart home partners Alexa, IFTTT, Nest Alexa, IFTTT, Nest IFTTT Nest

For a kit with a camera, we recommend either Abode or iSmartAlarm. iSmartAlarm's initial camera was underwhelming, but the brand brought the new iCamera Keep into the fold in 2015 and it performs much better than its predecessor. SimpliSafe certainly isn't cheap, but it does have lower monthly fees than your typical contract -- ranging from $15 to $25 per month -- and still offers professional monitoring. So, if you're in search of something comprehensive that's like ADT but doesn't have the same rigid contract terms, a DIY kit is a solid bet.

Read more:9 home security systems to keep watch when you're out 


Standalone security cameras are another common DIY category. They are particularly appealing for folks who want to keep an eye on one specific area of vulnerability. (Of course, you can buy multiple cameras, but it might make sense to upgrade to a kit with a combination of cameras and sensors if you have a lot of entry points in your home.)

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The DIY market has grown a lot in recent years and you'll find all sorts of options out there, including indoor, outdoor and indoor-outdoor cameras that range in price from an average of $70 per camera up to $280 or more (there are even a few free options).

You'll also find a lot of differentiation in terms of features. The $280 Piper NV is a great option if you want a live streaming HD camera that covers a wide angle -- 180 degrees, to be exact. This excellent all-in-one camera also comes with motion and environmental alerts, night vision, free cloud-based clip storage, an included Z-Wave hub for adding additional standalone sensors into the mix and a built-in siren to scare away intruders. There are also a ton of notification options, ranging from getting an automated phone call from Piper alerting you to a potential security issue to more complex in-app rules that you can customize yourself.

The $150 Homeboy camera is another solid option, although it's totally different than Icontrol's Piper NV. The Homeboy is battery powered, has an SD video resolution (the video quality is much grainier than its HD counterparts) and it doesn't offer live streaming. But, it does have a built in siren and an IFTTT channel for more complex third-party integrations and has the added benefit of a cordless setup.

And, if you want something that will work outside, the Canary Flex and Netgear's Arlo Pro are great options. Both offer rechargeable batteries, flexible installations and integrations with third-party platforms.

You can also find free security options like Manything, Presence and Salient Eye that convert spare Android or iOS devices into cameras for free. All three work well, but we're partial to the Android-only Salient Eye because it lets you arm and disarm your camera and will even turn on a siren if it detects motion while you're away.

Camera-equipped doorbells such as SkyBell and Ring are also available. They send alerts to your phone when someone knocks or rings the doorbell and give you the option to pull up a live stream -- they're basically digital peepholes so you can see and talk to whoever's at your front door whether you're home or away (as long as your phone is connected to a cellular data or Wi-Fi network).

Want more details? Be sure to check out our security camera buying guide.


Locks are a small, but growing product category in smart home security. We've reviewed the Kwikset Premis, the August Smart Lock, the Kwikset Kevo, the Kwikset Kevo Convert, the Poly-Control's Danalock the Yale Real Living Touchscreen Z-Wave Deadbolt, the Schlage Sense and the Schlage Camelot Touchscreen Deadbolt.

August, Danalock and Kevo are Bluetooth-enabled, meaning they pair with your phone when you're within range and either auto-unlock or in the case of the Kevo, let you open the door by tapping the lock. In addition, August sells a separate Connect accessory if you want to access your lock remotely over Wi-Fi and you can upgrade your Danalock for an extra $20 if you'd like to have Z-Wave capabilities.

Yale comes with built-in Z-Wave connectivity, whereas the Schlage Camelot lock requires extra accessories for smart connectivity -- $60 for the Nexia Bridge control unit and an extra $10 a month for Nexia Home Intelligence's home automation system to incorporate automated lights and more.

Both August and Danalock install over the majority of common household deadbolts for a relatively painless setup process. Yale's Real Living Touchscreen Z-Wave Deadbolt, Schlage's Camelot Touchscreen Deadbolt and Kwikset's Kevo use their own deadbolts.

August was our overall favorite for its easy installation, nice design and impressive performance.

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There hasn't been a whole lot of movement in this product category otherwise. We've seen various locks make their debut on crowdfunding sites, like Lockitron, Sesame, Friday and Haven only to have their shipping dates pushed back -- or, in the case of Haven, not even get fully funded.

Want to learn more? Be sure to check out our smart lock buying guide. 

Third-party integrations

While professional security firms are only just delving into third-party integrations, most DIY brands champion smart home inclusivity. That's partly because a lot of DIY products are available a la carte. So, you might have a Nest Cam and an August Lock and want to figure out how to incorporate other smart home products into the mix without a lot of fuss.

For instance, if you have the HomeBoy or Manything camera, you can use IFTTT to create custom recipes with a Belkin WeMo Switch + Motion, Philips Hue LEDs, a Nest Learning Thermostat and a whole lot more.

You can also go all-in with third-party integrations by using a hub. Hubs like Wink and SmartThings connect to your wireless networking router and are equipped with multiple ways to talk with other devices, usually at least Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, ZigBee and Z-Wave. The idea is they let you access a variety of home security and automation products from a single, universal app tied to the hub.

While voice control is becoming increasingly popular in the smart home category, it isn't quite as established among home security products. Currently, Abode and Scout work with Amazon Alexa devices, the D-Link Omna camera is HomeKit-enabled and August's second-generation Smart Lock works with Alexa, HomeKit and Google Home -- the first security device to work with all three major voice platforms. Click here to find out what voice control platforms work with the rest of the smart locks on the market.

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On the horizon

The home security market is in flux and it isn't just because the gap is narrowing between professional security firms and DIY brands. We're also seeing new tech like wearables and car-related security integrations fighting for a stake in the smart home, as well as an increasing number of voice control integrations with Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit and Google Home.

Given that the smart home industry is still in the relatively early stages of development, you can expect it to keep growing and changing rapidly. That certainly makes it an exciting and innovative time for connected home security, but it also makes it more difficult to sort through the options. Your best bet, particularly in the DIY market, is to focus on solving specific security problems, rather than getting caught up in wondering what platform to pick.

My advice? Start with one device -- put a camera near a door or install a connected lock. Once you've tried that out, you'll have a better idea of what you want if you decide to add additional products later on.

The best of the best for home security


Adobe Home Security

What is Adobe Home Security?

Home Security Camera Shot

Photographicss / Shuttershock

Abode home security came on the scene in 2014. In 2018, it became majority-owned by the Italian tech company, Nice. Nice is an industry leader in home automation, security, and smart technology. Not only are their products designed to protect, but Abode security systems are also made to comply seamlessly with other smart home technology, like smart lights and thermostats. Abode has over 15,000 customersand counting.The Abode system has attracted users with its simple DIY security solutions that don’t require a contract. Abode also provides home automation and environmental protection that you can monitor with your smartphone. Abode offers customizable planswith varying levels of protective features, which make it easy to apply Abode systems to different homes and environments. 

Abode home security system notable features

Abode says its products were designed to be simple andcustomizable, allowing customers to build and configure their system to match their home. Here are some features to take note of:

  • DIY installation instruction included: The Abode home security starter kit comes with instructions on how to set up the system. The owner has the freedom to place the equipment strategically, in order to work along with the interior design elements of the home.
  • Professional installation is an option: If you are not confident in your DIY skills, there’s an option to have a professional install the devices for you.
  • No long contract required: The plans are available on a monthly or annual basis, and customers can change plans with the click of a button.
  • A modern design with a contemporary touch: The hardware is sleek and modern with geometric color patterns, making the design unobtrusive.
  • Affordable monitoring fees: The costs begin at $3.33/mo.* for monitoring with a media storage period of three days.

Abode packages and prices


  • Plan price: $179.00 (includes smart security kit)
  • Monthly cost: $0*
  • Equipment: Includes gateway, one mini door/window sensor, one motion sensor, one key fob, one security sticker, and a self-monitoring phone/web app.
  • No contract
  • Can purchase on-demand professional monitoring (3 days for $8/mo. or 7 days for $15.00/mo.*)


  • Plan price: $219.00* (includes smart security kit)
  • Monthly cost: $3.33/mo.*
  • Equipment: Includes gateway, one mini door/window sensor, one motion sensor, one key fob, one security sticker, a self-monitoring phone/web app, and cellular backup.
  • No contract
  • Can purchase on-demand professional monitoring (3 days for $8/mo. or 7 days for $15.00/mo.*)


  • Plan price: $279.00* (includes smart security kit)
  • Monthly cost: $8.33/mo.*
  • Equipment: Includes gateway, one mini door/window sensor, one motion sensor, one key fob, one security sticker, a self-monitoring phone/web app, and cellular backup.
  • No contract
  • 24/7 professional monitoring

*Prices as of 2/6/2020

Understanding Abode pricing

Abode’s $8.33/mo service fee for the Secure plan and the $3.33/mo. for the Connect plan both require the purchase of a starter security kit. Customers can choose between the Smart Security Kit and the more-expensive iota All-In-One Security Kit.Also, in order to take advantage of Abode’s pricing for these two packages, users need to purchase a full year of service. The price is valid for the first year, and it is subject to change after that.There are no contracts or hidden fees. Abode doesn’t require you to purchase any add-on products to use their service, only one of their basic security kits.

Abode equipment

The Abode home security system is designed to fit either the iota or the Gateway kits. The iota comes with more features than the Gateway. It has a built-in motion detector, is Wi-Fi-enabled, has a built-in streaming camera, and it’s compatible with Apple HomeKit. While the Gateway has none of these features, it’s a smart home hub, allowing communication with smart home devices. It’s compatible with Z-Wave and Zigbee devices, and with Amazon Alexa and Google Home Assistant as well.Both the iota and the Gateway provide users with simple connectivity via either ethernet or Wi-Fi. However, iota’s built-in camera, motion sensor, and two-way voice compatibility make it a more versatile choice. Abode also offers a mobile app that allows you to self-monitor your system. That app is available on both Google Play and the Apple app store.Add-on devices for Abode systems range in price, from $24 door/window sensors to $130 cameras. 

Abode home security system installation

Abode offers professional installation, which costs $99 for an Abode home security starter kit install and an additional $25 up to five add-on devices. However, the Abode home security system does not require professional installation. The user can DIY the install in a few straightforward steps.

  • First, you have to set up the main hub. You plug it in and then connect it to your router. The hub will start to boot up automatically.
  • Then, activate the battery backup by pushing the backup switch on the rear of the hub.
  • You then install the Abode app by downloading it from either the Google Play Store or the Apple app store.
  • After registering the app and verifying your email, you activate your account and enter basic data (like your name and address).
  • You then enter an activation key, and the app is fully installed and ready to connect to your system.
  • You then have to follow the on-screen directions to connect each device.

After these steps have been completed, you invite household members and select the Abode connected home security service plan that best fits your needs. After selecting the service plan, your system is operational.

Abode reviews

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) gives Abode a C rating on its site. There have been six customer complaints logged on BBB’s website over the last three years and four in the last 12 months. All of those complaints have been resolved or answered, according to the BBB. Three customers have reviewed Abode on the BBB site, giving it an average of four stars (out of five).Abode earns a similar rating of 4/5 stars on TrustPilot, based on over 2,000 customer reviews. Even though a few customers complain about Abode’s cameras not working, difficulty with the system not arming, and an unhelpful or uninformed support team, the overall ratings are boosted by those who are satisfied with Abode’s products and services.To put Abode’s reviews in perspective, one of its competitors, SimpliSafe, earned a similar overall customer service rating of 4/5 stars on Trustpilot. The concerns pulling down its score mostly concern unhelpful support staff. SimpliSafe gets an A+ on BBB but averages only 1.5/5 stars from customers. Similar to what’s reported on TrustPilot, most of the complaints are concerning unresponsive or unhelpful customer support.

Pros and cons of Abode

Advantages of using Abode

  • No contract
  • Easy setup
  • Relatively high customer satisfaction

Disadvantages of using Abode

  • Sirens are built into the base station, making it hard to know whether you’re shutting off the siren effectively if the base is far away.
  • No built-in streaming camera on the Gateway
  • Some of the add-ons, like door and window sensors, are expensive

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. How much does Abode cost? $219 for the iota hub or $179 for the Gateway hub, plus $8.33/mo for the Secure plan or $3.33/mo for the Connect plan.
  2. Can you get professional monitoring with Abode? Yes, you can. Abode has on-demand monitoring that you can pay for or 24/7 professional monitoring with its Secure plan.
  3. How much does professional monitoring with Abode cost? $8.33/mo. on the Secure plan.
  4. Does Abode work with Google Home? Yes. There are over 30 commands you can use with Google Home’s assistant.
  5. Does Abode work with Alexa? Yes. There are a variety of commands recognized by Alexa.
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abode Security Review

Ever since I can remember, I’ve been a minimalist. Sure, I didn’t know the word at age five, but I’ve always gravitated towards solid colors, sleek designs, and anything that looks like it would be at home in the Apple store. That’s why I’m so excited to review abode’s new iota system. Founded in 2014 by a former ADT executive, abode disrupts traditional security companies in many ways. Their systems feature innovative design and they don’t force you into a monthly subscription plan or a long-term contracts, unlike the subscriptions with ADT. Plus, they have every smart platform integration you can imagine and more. I loved abode’s Essentials Starter Kit, so I’m ready to see how iota stacks up.

abode iota Features

Featureabode iota
Smart home hubYes
Motion detectorYes

Editor's Rating

  • Affordable option at only $279.99 for equipment
  • Integrations with Alexa, Google Assistant, Apple HomeKIt, Nest, Philips Hue lightbulbs, and a lot more IoT devices
  • DIY installation or professional installation available starting at $99

In this review, I’ll go over the iota’s system components, professional monitoring options, customer support, and finally, abode’s mobile app. Let’s go!

One of the freshest companies in home security, we had a ton of fun fitting abode into our smart home. Learn more here.

What’s in the abode iota System?


The basic iota system comes with an iota, a key fob, and a mini door/ window sensor. However, if you’re looking for more sensors, cameras, motion sensors, or smart home devices, abode has other add-on options on their website.


The iota is your gateway, motion sensor, and security camera built into one. You can also use it to connect with devices using Z-wave or Zigbee, and you can control it with your voice via Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa. Your iota will connect to your mobile app through Wi-Fi, so I hope your network is stable! Now let’s talk more about the camera



The camera shoots in 1080p HD, the industry standard. I’m also satisfied with the camera’s field of view of 127 degrees. The only thing I’m slightly disappointed with is that the camera can’t zoom in at all. Overall, however, the iota has solid video quality.

Night Vision


As you can see, the camera has a pretty clear infrared night vision, as well. It’s not as sharp of a picture as you’d get from a 2K or 4K camera from Arlo, for instance, or from a Vivint Outdoor Camera Pro (though Vivint cameras are built for Vivint’s security packages exclusively and aren’t necessarily the best choice for folks on a budget).


I’m pleased to say that the iota has two-way audio, which will enable you to speak to whomever you’re recording. This is definitely a useful feature for scaring away intruders or just scaring your children for laughs. I consider it a must-have especially for outdoor cameras, as you never know when an unexpected or suspicious person might be lurking. As far as audio quality, you might encounter some signal interference, but that’s to be expected.



If you want local and cloud storage, you’re in luck— the iota comes with a slot for an SD card and cloud storage is available for three to 90 days, depending on what plan you choose (see the chart under professional monitoring below).

Smart Platform Integration

abode iota Smart Platform Integrations.

Are you ready? The iota integrates with Google Assistant, Amazon Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit, Nest, Philips Hue lightbulbs, ecobee, LIFX, Yale, Kwikset, Z-wave, First Alert, and IFTTT. That means that you can use your voice to command your iota through your smart home, or link it up with other connected devices for some convenient home automation. For example, you could have your Philips Hue lightbulbs turn on as soon as your iota starts recording. The possibilities are endless (not literally, as you get a maximum of 100 CUE home automations, but you know what I mean).

Artificial Intelligence

Person Detection

Unfortunately, the iota doesn’t have any artificial intelligence features. When it comes to home security cameras, A.I typically refers to person detection or facial recognition, giving the user highly specific notifications. Instead of just being notified when your camera detects movement, A.I cameras can tell you when a person has entered your living room, or even who that person is. The iota, on the other hand, will only give you a broad notification when it detects motion. If you’re interested in a camera with more A.I features, check out our review of the best indoor cameras for artificial intelligence.

Key Fob


If you’re looking to arm or disarm your security system in the easiest way possible, just click on your key fob. You can either put your system on home or away mode, standby, or you can press the panic button to activate an alarm. Key fobs are great if you have multiple people living in your home, as you can assign a key fob to each member. You can even customize your key fob’s buttons for easier access to your connected devices. For example, you could set one of the buttons to turn your living room lights off. Now you don’t even have to get off the couch to create a movie theater vibe while you watch Rush Hour for the hundredth time! The fobs will work within a hundred-foot range of the iota, and have replaceable batteries. I recommend putting the key fob with your regular keys, as it has a keyhole for the occasion.

Mini Door/ Window Sensor


Your mini door/ window sensor will let you know when a door or window has been opened or closed. As you can see, these sensors are small so they won’t be an eyesore. With a battery life of up to four years, you don’t have to worry about changing the batteries often, plus, you get the advantage of wireless equipment— easy set up. You can use these sensors on any door type— all you need to do is peel and stick the sensor and its magnet.

Installing the abode iota Security System


Setting up my iota security system took about 15 minutes. First, I placed the iota near my router and a power outlet, plugging it in. I also connected the iota and the router via an ethernet cable, then activated battery backup by shifting the tab on the bottom of the iota. Next, I downloaded the abode app and it walked me through the rest of the setup, inputting a six-digit activation code, pulling out the battery tab for the mini door and window sensor, then sticking it on the door frame (large part goes on the frame, smaller part goes on the door itself). Then I just had to name each device and I was done! Overall, the process was really straightforward and simple.

Professional Monitoring with abode

Who among us can say that we’re available 100% of the time? If you can, you’re probably a hermit crab or maybe just a highly anti-social human being. I digress. My point is, most of us aren’t around to deal with a home security emergency 24/7. That’s where professional monitoring comes in.

How monitoring works

With abode, you can either monitor your system yourself through your mobile app or sign up for professional monitoring. That means that a team of people will be monitoring your system 24/7 for alerts and issues. If you do have a security or environmental emergency, the team can contact the proper emergency services for you. With abode’s Pro plan, you can pay as little as $20 per month for 24/7 monitoring, which is cheaper than the majority of security systems on the market. A package from ADT, for example, could end up costing users $60 per month for professional monitoring, so abode could be an excellent pick if you’re on a tight budget. Let’s see how abode does professional monitoring and whether or not it’s right for you.


One-touch arm/ disarmYesYesYes
Smart home integrationsYesYesYes
Push notificationsYesYesYes
Email notificationsNoYesYes
Customizable notificationsNoYesYes
Unlimited usersNoYesYes
Amount of Cloud Storage in Days0730
Home automationNoYesYes
Premium supportNoYesYes
Cellular backupNoNoYes
24/7 professional monitoringNoNoYes
Free shipping in continental USNoNoYes
Access to deals and discountsNoNoYes
Unlimited device warrantyNoNoYes* annual only
Discount on homeowner’s insuranceNoNoYes
Monthly Price$0$6$20
First Year Annual Price$0$60$100
Second Year On Annual Price$0$60$180

Since abode’s systems are minimalist and multi-functional, you won’t have to spend a ton on equipment. Check it out here.

In order to receive professional monitoring and cellular backup, you’ll need to buy the Pro plan. Cellular backup means that your security system will stay on even if the power in your neighborhood goes out. I recommend getting cellular backup, as power outages are a fantastic time to commit a burglary.

All the plans allow you to connect to 160 connected devices like smart thermostats, locks, and more. You’ll also be able to make up to 100 CUE home automations regardless of your plan and add unlimited user accounts. I really like the flexibility of abode’s monitoring plans.

Contract Rules

You can either sign a month-to-month or yearly contract. Again, I’m loving the flexibility here. If you sign up for a month-to-month contract, you won’t have to worry about cancellation fees, and it’s a great way to get your feet wet if you’re unsure about professional monitoring.

abode Customer Support

Customer support tends to be pretty standard across security companies in terms of features. Whether it’s FAQ’s, a frustrating phone call, or an online form, companies usually give all their customer support options to all of their customers. But abode does things very differently.

How abode’s Customer Support Works

Like most security companies, abode offers email and online support along with phone support. In my experience, getting in touch with abode was straightforward. The company provided a phone number displayed prominently on its home page. It’s not too different from the customer support I experienced when I tested Frontpoint, another popular security system that I rated highly for customer service. Frontpoint offers one plan, with a flat monthly fee (not including equipment) of $49.99 that covers 24/7 professional monitoring and 24/7 customer support.

Abode, on the other hand, has two plans, one for self-monitoring and one for professional monitoring. Both happen to offer, among other things, 24/7 support from a dedicated customer service team (read: live humans). I liked knowing that no matter which plan I chose with abode, I got the same level of customer service and direct access to a live agent. Now let’s see what abode customers have to say about the company’s support.

The abode App

The abode App

If a smart security system exists but there’s no app for it, does it really exist at all? Frankly, the answer is no. I want to talk about the abode app— its features and of course, how customers feel about it.


On the abode app, you’ll be able to livestream footage, control up to 160 connected devices, create up to 100 CUE home automations, add user accounts, and receive notifications.


abode AppRating

Let’s be honest: iPhone users and Android users are about as different as the Capulets and the Montagues. To find out what both camps thought, I looked at reviews from the Apple and Google Play stores, respectively.

Apple Store

The abode app’s rating has improved recently, going from a 2.5 to a 3.8 rating. In general, we found it easy to control our system and integrate it with other smart platforms on our iPhones.

Google Store

Android users liked the abode app, giving it a 3.3 rating. That’s not as high as the ADT reviews, which average 4.8, but it’s decent. Many of the reviews were a perfect five stars, although a few people mentioned that the app drained their phones’ batteries.

Recap of the abode iota Security System

Want to learn more? Check out our best DIY home security systems, or feel free to contact us. We’d love to answer your questions!


Now, no review is complete without answering some of the frequently asked questions about the product, abode. Let's have at it.

  • Do you need a landline to use the abode iota security system?

    You don’t need a landline to use the abode iota security system, but you’ll need an internet connection if you want to self-monitor it. The abode iota system sends alerts through the internet. However, if you spring for the $20 per month Pro plan, you’ll get cellular backup. With cellular backup, the abode iota system will continue to send alerts to you and the monitoring center, protecting your home when your internet or power is down.

  • Can you use an abode security system without paying monthly fees?

    You can use an abode security system without paying monthly fees. With the Basic plan, which is free, you’ll get push notifications of alerts via the abode mobile app and full use of abode’s smart platform integrations. However, we recommend getting 24/7 monitoring with the Pro plan for $20 per month. The Pro plan adds a lot of value, such as professional monitoring, cellular backup, geofencing, and 30 days of cloud video storage for your abode cameras.

    Monthly price$0$6$20
    Annual price$0$60$100
    Professional monitoringNoNoYes
    Cellular backupNoNoYes
    Smart platform integrationsYesYesYes
    CUE home automationNoYesYes
    Cloud storage lengthNo7 days30 days
    Unlimited usersNoYesYes
    App push notificationsYesYesYes
    Email alertsNoYesYes
  • Does abode require a monitoring contract?

    Abode does require a monitoring contract if you go with the $20 per month Pro plan with professional monitoring or $6 per month self-monitoring plan, but the contract is month-to-month. That means you can cancel the subscription anytime without facing hefty penalties. However, abode also offers annual plans that reflect discounts up to $140 compared to the monthly plans. If you choose an annual plan, you can cancel without facing penalties, but you won’t get a prorated refund.

    Monthly subscription$6$20
    First-year annual subscription$60$100
    Second-year annual subscription$60$180
  • Can you install the abode security system yourself?

    You can install the abode security system yourself. Based on our experience, DIY installation of abode takes only about 15 minutes, and the abode mobile app will guide you through the entire process. However, if you’re uncomfortable installing abode yourself, you can request professional installation. Installation rates start at $99 for abode iota starter kits, but there are additional charges for additional components.


Wink Lookout vs. Adobe Smart Security System: The Full Comparison Review

With the Internet of Things in full swing, keeping your home and family safe has never been easier. You can set up smart locks, thermostats, lights, and a variety of other functions to protect the things you cherish. The beauty of the Internet of Things is that the majority of these features are controlled through an app on your smartphone.

Wink Lookout and Adobe are just two smart security systems that can provide a layer of security to your home. These systems can be customized to fit your needs, and each are considered do-it-yourself options. Each system puts its stamp on their smart security offerings. In this article, we’ll take a look at both the WInk and Adobe smart security systems and how they compare to one another.

Contents (Jump to)

Adobe Smart Security System

If you’re looking for a system that is easy to use, has plenty of features, and is a great option as your first do-it-yourself security system, then Adobe’s offering might be just what you need. The Adobe system includes support for ZigBee and Z-wave, a siren, a pair of door and window sensors, and a security camera. You’ll also get a key fob which allows you to arm and disarm your system remotely.

But that’s not all Adobe has to offer. The Adobe smart security system supports a variety of ZigBee and Z-Wave devices, as well as professional monitoring if that’s a route you want to take. Adobe can also integrate with Nest, Alexa, and IFTTT (If This Then That), which makes it that much easier to select as your smart security system.

To begin setting up your Adobe smart security system, you’ll first want to download the app. Adobe’s app resides on both the iOS and Android marketplaces, and once you have it downloaded and installed, just follow the directions to start connecting your hardware. The wall, window, and door mounted accessories have adhesive available to help with installation.

Here is a list of accessories you will find in your Adobe smart security system kit:

  • Hub – Your hub comes with a power adapter and an ethernet cable, the latter of which is used to connect to your router. Adobe’s hub can be used with ZigBee and Z-Wave devices, includes a battery backup of up to twelve hours, and has a siren that can reach ninety-three decibels when triggered.
  • Camera with motion detector – A battery-powered security camera that can capture still images if the system detects movement.
  • Fob – You’ll get a key fob that you can add to your keychain which allows you to arm or disarm your smart security system remotely.
  • Window and Door Sensors – These don’t have to be limited to doors and windows. Attach them to anything that can open or closed to be notified.

While Adobe’s smart security system might be one of the more expensive ones on the market, it does not require a monthly fee, unlike many of its counterparts, including the Wink Lookout. The fact that it comes with a camera might be enough for some to select the Adobe system, since there are currently no other smart security systems on the market that offer one.

Adobe’s smart security system offers four options for monitoring:

  • Free – With the free option, you receive a three-day storage of self-monitored and recorded events.
  • Temporary – Temporary monitoring lets you choose between three and seven-day packages, which are perfect for vacations or long weekends.
  • Cellular Backup – The cellular backup option allows you to pay by the month or year, and backs up to a 3G network.
  • Monthly with Cellular Backup – The monthly with cellular backup option gives you continuous monitoring along with the 3G network backup if needed. You can pay for this monthly or yearly.

There is one definite drawback to Adobe’s smart security system, and that is the minor annoyance of creating customized rules through the web app. It would make more sense to allow users to set these up through the smartphone application. However, the ability to see the details of your system on a web-page is a nice feature.

You’re not going to be disappointed when using your Adobe smart security system. Whether you’re using a rule you created through IFTTT, arming and disarming via your key fob, or integrating an Alexa device, your Adobe system is going to perform as expected. You’ll receive notifications and alerts when status changes occur, and when you leave your home with your phone, Adobe’s auto-arm/disarm feature does the work for you, so you don’t have to remember.


When it comes to smart security starter kits and do-it-yourself options, Adobe is a great option. It plays well with other devices, works with Zigbee and Z-Wave, can integrate with Alexa, Nest, and IFTTT, and is easy to use for even the most casual smart homeowner. It doesn’t hurt that the system comes with a bevy of hardware and doesn’t force you to sign up for a monthly fee. From an overall perspective, Adobe’s smart security system is a flexible setup for your home that will provide the peace of mind that a security system should.

Wink Lookout

While Wink Lookouts smart security system may not have all the bells and whistles the Adobe system offers, it is a good do-it-yourself option that lets you keep track of the goings on within your home. The Wink Hub 2 is your central device and works well with Zigbee, Z-Wave, Lutron Clear Connect, and a variety of additional third-party devices.

Although the Wink Lookout has a tremendous amount of features and functions, it does fall short when compared to some of the other smart security systems on the market. For instance, Wink does not offer an option for professional monitoring, no battery backup, and no security camera that begins recording when triggered.

Your Wink Lookout smart system comes with a pair of door or window sensors, a siren, a motion detection sensor, and of course a hub. All of these can be purchased separately from the system if you need additional hardware, including your Wink Hub 2.

Speaking of your Wink Hub 2, this device supports many different technologies, including Kidd protocols, WiFi, Zigbee, Z-Wave, Bluetooth, and Lutron Clear Connect. Supporting all of these technologies means the Wink Hub 2 is compatible with a large number of devices. These additional devices can be thermostats, garage door openers, lights, cameras, lights, and many more.

The door and window sensors come with an adhesive which allows for quick installation, but they can also be mounted with screws if you prefer something more permanent. Your motion detection sensor will light up blue when it detects motion and has five different sensitivity settings which range anywhere from very high to very low.

Your siren, in the shape of a hockey puck, has an LED ring around its outside that will flash blue when triggered. Along with the blue flashing light, the siren will also set off an audible alarm with volume settings that range from low to high. You can use the siren to ward off intruders, or simply use it as a notification that your door or window has been closed or opened. You can assign a variety of sounds and chimes to the sensor, including beeps, chimes, and a few well-known musical renditions.

Even though the Wink Lookout system does not include security cameras, you do have the ability to add them. These devices give you the ability to have a live video feed, which you can view from the Wink Lookout application. Unfortunately, the Wink Lookout system does not have the same capability as the Adobe system that lets you start recording when the motion detection sensor is triggered.

You can find the Wink Lookout app on both the iOS and Android marketplaces. Once you have downloaded and installed the app, you’ll have access to control all your devices right on your smartphone. Adding a device to your Wink Lookout system is as easy as choosing the “Add to Wink” option. You can view device history, create device categories, and see the status of each device from the Wink Lookout app.

Additionally, with the Wink Lookout app, you can create customized actions that are triggered by your location, the time of day, and of course by motion and sensor detection. Don’t feel constrained by what you can do. Play with your devices and discover new ways to use them. For instance, you might want to get a notification when the garage door opens or closes. Or maybe you want to know when the temperature in your home reaches a specific setting.

Installation of the Wink Lookout system is simple and straightforward. All you need to do is download the app, follow the instructions, and connect your Wink Hub 2 to your router via a network cable. As mentioned in the preceding paragraphs, adding additional Wink devices to your system is as easy as choosing “Add to Wink,” selecting the type of device, and naming it.

Pairing a third-party device requires a few more steps, but is no less intuitive. After choosing “Add to Wink” and selecting the type of device you want to pair, just enter your Wink Lookout system email address and password. Once that is done, the device will automatically show up on your Winkk Lookout dashboard.

The Wink Lookout smart security system works exactly as expected. When sensors are tripped, or actions are executed, a push notification is sent to your smartphone. One setting suggestion would be to set your motion detection sensitivity to the lowest setting to receive false notifications. You also have the capability to set the level of sound on your siren, which when set to the highest option is enough to let an intruder know it’s time to vacate the premises.


It’s not really fair to label the Wink Lookout as a smart home security system, but that is the label with which is has been branded. The Wink Lookout does what it does very well, in that it is easy to install, easy to use, and can connect to a wide range of third-party devices. But where the Wink Lookout system falls short is in areas where you would expect to have support. The Wink does not support automatic recording when a motion sensor is tripped, it does not have a professional monitoring option, and has no battery backup option.

If all you need to do is control your lights, locks, thermostats, windows, and a variety of other smart home devices, then the Wink Lookout is the perfect system for you. But if you prefer to have an additional layer of security, then you might be better off going with Adobe’s smart security system.

Read my full Wink Lookout review here!


Let’s take a high-level look at how these two devices compare with one another.

Adobe Home Security Starter Kit
Cellular BackupNo Yes
Power Outage BackupNoYes
IFTTT SupportNo Yes
Z-Wave/ZigBee CompatibilityYesYes
Voice Assistant CompatibilityNone Amazon Alexa 
Professional Monitoring OptionNoYes


Whether you consider yourself to be a novice when it comes to smart security or an expert in the field, it’s safe to say that both of these systems provide an additional layer of protection that you may not have in place. Choosing either one of these do-it-yourself systems will be a step in the right direction toward providing a smarter, safer, and more secure home for yourself and your family.

While bearing that in mind, if you’re truly looking for a smart home system and security is your number one priority, the Adobe smart security system is your best option. It provides the additional features you would expect to have with a smart security system, like automated recording when a detection sensor is triggered, a battery backup option, and professional monitoring if needed.

Ultimately the decision is yours based on what you need and what makes the most sense for your home. Both systems do exactly what they are expected to do, but the Adobe smart security system takes that extra step toward providing your home and family with the protection they deserve.

Filed Under: Home Security


Security home adobe connected

Achieving peace of mind for your home doesn’t have to be pricey or difficult. Traditional home security systems often require long contracts and expensive pro installation, but with most smart versions you can install them yourself and pay for a monitoring plan only when you want it. SimpliSafe is the most reliable, comprehensive, and easy-to-use DIY home security system we’ve tested, and includes the option to use professional monitoring without locking you into a contract.

Compatible with: Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, August Smart Locks

SimpliSafe is an easy-to-use DIY security system, with add-ons such as indoor and outdoor video cameras, a doorbell camera, a smart lock, and smoke and other sensors. The 24/7 professional monitoring fees are competitive with those of other DIY systems. It also has a self-monitoring option and works with voice-control systems Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa (but not Apple HomeKit). Unfortunately, outside of smart speakers, the only non-SimpliSafe devices it’s compatible with are August locks. Still, for anyone wanting a reliable system that’s easy to use, with a good selection of add-ons, we think the SimpliSafe setup is the best option.

Compatible with: Amazon Alexa, Works With Ring

Our top pick has a more established reputation when it comes to security, but Ring Alarm is an easy-to-use DIY security system with an affordable, professional monitoring plan ($20 per month) and the option to self-monitor for no extra cost. It doesn’t have a dedicated glass-break sensor, or as much smart-home support as our other two picks, but Ring offers more add-on camera options than any of our other recommendations, including the Ring Video Doorbell Wired (our budget pick for the best smart doorbell camera).

Compatible with: Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit, Google Assistant, IFTTT, Z-Wave, Zigbee

Abode is for the person who wants a security system that can integrate with smart lighting, thermostats, voice control, and other smart-home devices—and doesn’t mind going through the steps to create that system. Abode supports both Z-Wave and Zigbee-enabled devices, as well as Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit, Google Assistant, and IFTTT (If This Then That). That type of support comes at a price: We found Abode starter packages and most accessories to be more expensive than our main pick.

Why you should trust us

I first started testing smart-home devices back when the only smart-home devices were X10. Over the past 15 years, I’ve had my hands on everything from remotes and security cameras to AV receivers and smart light switches. I’ve also written articles for The New York Times, Wired, Woman’s Day, Men’s Health, and USA Today, among others.

For this guide, we interviewed peers, home security consultants, police departments, and insurance agents. We also sent security companies detailed questionnaires about their products and services.

Who should get this

You’ve probably worried about the safety of your home at some point, but it’s important to know that most homes and apartments will never be burglarized. According to the FBI, the number of property crimes in the US has continued to drop for more than 25 years. Still, if you want more peace of mind about the safety of your family and the security of your belongings, and if you want to know that someone will call emergency services should the need arise, a security system can play a valuable role. And although a home security system can’t stop a determined burglar from breaking into your house, it can discourage someone from breaking in if they know you have it, frighten someone away if they do get in, summon cops or firefighters in case of an emergency, and save you as much as 10% on your home-insurance premium. “An alarm system might sit there for 10 years and do absolutely nothing,” said Bob Dolph, a home security consultant who has spent decades in the business. “You only need it to work that one time.”

An unmonitored system leaves all the work up to you. That means you need to be on call and ready to determine whether police, fire departments, or other emergency services need to be dispatched.

Note too that security systems aren’t just about crime prevention: Most have add-on sensors that can protect your home from fire, flood, and even temperature changes (to prevent pipes from bursting, for one thing). And some of those sensors (door/window and motion, specifically) can alert you to how active a parent or grandparent is, as well as whether or not they’ve accidentally left an entrance like a door or window open. Also, many of these systems can integrate with other smart-home devices. That means you can add, for example, a smart speaker to arm, disarm, and check system status with the sound of your voice, as well as trigger cameras or lights to go on based on alerts or your location.

There are two types of security systems: professionally monitored and unmonitored. In the former, when an alarm goes off, a professional monitoring company receives a notification and then attempts to contact you and, if need be, your local emergency services. An unmonitored system leaves all the work up to you. That means you need to be on call, day and night, during work and vacation time, and ready to determine whether police, fire departments, or other emergency services need to be dispatched. Then you need to make that call yourself. It’s a big difference, and why we think a professionally monitored system is fundamentally more secure than an unmonitored or self-monitored one.

Once you decide what type of system you want, you need to pick what that system will include. Most security companies, whether they’re DIY, professionally installed, professionally monitored, or self-monitored, will offer guidance if you’re confused about what to choose. DIY systems are also modular, so you can easily add sensors and devices as you need them—perhaps a camera by the garage or sensors on the sliding glass door upstairs.

The backbone of a home security system is the base station. This unit is what communicates with all of the security sensors and smart-home components in your house. Many connect to a home router, but if yours has Wi-Fi or cellular support, placement is more flexible. Contact sensors are the first thing you should buy alongside the base station; these attach to doors and windows and will alert you when they open. Other home security components include motion sensors, keypads, key fobs, cameras, glass-break sensors, and panic buttons.

How we picked

The three home security systems we recommend, arranged together on a bookshelf.

We only looked for DIY security systems that offered professional monitoring options because that’s the key feature that sets a security system apart from a local alert system. We also insisted on no-contract systems, even though those require you to pay for the hardware up front. Although some companies provide free or heavily discounted hardware in exchange for a service commitment that can last anywhere from one to five years, we found no-contract systems to be the most flexible. For instance, some people may only want monitoring when they’re on vacation; a no-contract system lets you come and go as you please. No-contract systems also cost less in the long run and allow you to be in total control of the equipment you use, as well as how and when you use and pay for monitoring services.

We didn’t consider alarm systems that required professional installation. Pro-installed systems usually cost more, despite using equipment similar to that of DIY systems, typically come with long and often onerous contracts, and rely on the same monitoring companies that self-installed systems use, so they offer little advantage. A good example is the Vivint system, which we’ve reviewed separately and don’t recommend for most people.

Next, we prioritized systems with consistently good ratings and customer reviews. The basic packages varied, but we looked for home security systems that include the following:

  • Professional 24/7 monitoring: Getting a text when danger arises is great, but unless you plan to be on call—all day, every day, including during vacation—you should choose a service that will contact emergency services when you can’t.
  • A useful package of sensors and accessories: A home security starter package should come with door/window contact sensors and motion sensors. The size of your home will dictate what devices you need and how many of them. We also looked at what add-ons each system offered, including cameras, glass-break sensors, smoke alarms, panic buttons, and water-leak sensors.
  • An audible alarm: Signs and stickers could make a burglar think twice, but a piercing alarm will send them scurrying.
  • Battery backup: You shouldn’t have to let your guard down when the power goes out. Most systems have some type of battery backup.
  • Cellular connection: A landline or Wi-Fi connection to the monitoring service can be cut or disrupted, so this provides a fail-safe option.
  • Keypad: A smartphone app is a must for use when you’re away from home, but you shouldn’t have to fumble with your phone when you’re coming and going. A keypad can sit by the front door, making it easy to arm and disarm the system.
  • Fire prevention: Preventing break-ins is only one part of a security setup; most systems also offer protection against fire and carbon monoxide, although those devices cost extra.
  • UL approval: We asked manufacturers if each system met UL Standards, though we didn’t rule out systems on this basis because there’s no federal requirement to meet those standards. (For instance, the UL CP-01 listing means that a control panel has features to reduce false alarms—that’s a good thing, because false alarms can cost you money.)

How we tested

To thoroughly test each system, we spent several weeks walking in front of motion sensors, opening and closing contact sensors, and setting off sirens. Next, we looked at cameras, keypads, and iOS/Android apps, when available. And finally, we armed, disarmed, and spied on each system from inside and outside the home, even testing each system’s battery backup by cutting its power.

To gauge reaction times for the monitoring company, we triggered each system a minimum of five times, using contact and motion sensors. However, keep in mind that the monitoring company’s reaction time has absolutely nothing to do with the speed at which your local authorities will respond to the alarm—if they respond at all. Many municipalities have rules designed to limit the time and resources that police and fire departments waste on false alarms—you may even be fined if you have too many. For instance, Salt Lake City requires confirmation of an emergency from a private security guard before police are dispatched. Several cities, such as Los Angeles, also require a permit to even own and operate a home security system.

Security, privacy, and security systems

Wirecutter takes security and privacy issues seriously and investigates, as much as possible, how the companies we recommend deal with customer data. As part of our vetting process for home security systems, we looked at all of the security and data-privacy practices behind our picks. We also reached out to all the companies that produced our top picks and had them answer an extensive questionnaire to confirm information that we thought should be of primary concern for any potential buyer. Here are the results.

How our picks compare

Is user data encrypted in the cloud?

  • SimpliSafe: Yes
  • Ring Alarm: Yes
  • Abode Smart Security Kit: Yes

When cameras are connected, is video transmitted using end-to-end encryption?

  • SimpliSafe: Yes
  • Ring Alarm: Yes, as an opt-in feature
  • Abode Smart Security Kit: Yes
  • SimpliSafe: No, except when Video Verification is enabled, which allows the monitoring center to review alarm footage, or when required by law, such as via a valid subpoena or court order, and then only by limited personnel.
  • Ring Alarm: Yes, when required by law (court order or subpoena) and in an emergency, or if the customer consents.
  • Abode Smart Security Kit: Yes, by authorized personnel if required by law (subpoena or court order), but also, if the customer consents, the monitoring center will use visual verification if you don’t respond to an active alarm; afterwards the connection is terminated permanently.

Do you share data with third parties?

  • SimpliSafe: Yes, information is disclosed to monitoring, emergency dispatch, and setup services, as needed. SimpliSafe uses information within Google Firebase and for app analytics to measure and improve the in-app experience.
  • Ring Alarm: Yes, for professional monitoring through an optional Ring Protect subscription plan, and with third-party web and app analytics services, of which you can opt out.
  • Abode Smart Security Kit: Yes, but only for professional monitoring and third-party product/device integrations, which are all optional.

Is two-factor authentication available and/or required?

  • SimpliSafe: Yes/Yes
  • Ring Alarm: Yes/Yes
  • Abode Smart Security Kit: Yes/No

Does this device offer tamper alerts in case of theft or power outage?

  • SimpliSafe: Yes
  • Ring Alarm: Yes
  • Abode Smart Security Kit: Yes

Is location data recorded or shared?

  • SimpliSafe: Customers who subscribe to monitoring must provide a valid service address which is disclosed to a third-party monitoring provider.
  • Ring Alarm: Users are required to provide an accurate address. If users opt for professional monitoring, Ring Alarm location data is shared with the monitoring center.
  • Abode Smart Security Kit: Users are required to associate the system with an address and zip code. If users opt for professional monitoring, Abode system location is shared with the monitoring center, but users’ phone location is not.

Our pick: SimpliSafe

A SimpliSafe essentials security monitoring system, shown on a bookshelf.

Compatible with: Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, August Smart Locks

SimpliSafe is a flexible, affordable, and easy-to-use professional-monitoring security system. Setting it up was straightforward, with customizable alarm triggers and consistent monitoring response times. It’s also scalable to small and large homes and configurable with a variety of accessories, from entry and motion detectors to fire and CO sensors to leak and temperature sensors. SimpliSafe also works with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, allowing you to arm and check the system using only voice commands. However, the system doesn’t work with many third-party smart-home devices.

The $259 Essentials package we originally reviewed includes the base station, a keypad, three entry sensors, one motion sensor, a yard sign, and two window decals. SimpliSafe is a no-contract security system, which means you pay for the monitoring service on a month-to-month basis rather than a long-term commitment. For $15 per month, you can add around-the-clock professional monitoring and a cellular connection, so the system can communicate with the monitoring service without a landline. The $25-per-month Interactive plan adds unlimited camera recordings for up to 10 cameras, including the SimpliSafe Video Doorbell Pro, which is available separately. The Interactive plan also includes Video Verification, an opt-in feature that permits the monitoring service to view live video inside your home to confirm there’s an actual emergency before calling in the cavalry—a system intended to reduce false alerts (and, as noted above, a requirement in some communities). SimpliSafe also offers a free, self-monitored option, which sends smartphone alerts whenever a device is triggered and allows users to arm, disarm, and check the system status via the SimpliSafe app. For $10 per month, you can add 30 days of video storage for up to five indoor or doorbell cameras.

The SimpliSafe equipment is now in its third version, and both the app and hardware have a simpler and more stylish design. The sensors are smaller and the range on the base station is better, which the company claims can stretch to sensors up to 800 feet away. While our tests only extended about 50 feet in different directions, we had no issues with sensors reacting and triggering the alarm.

SimpliSafe’s alarm isn’t as loud as that of the Ring system, but you can pair it with an extra 105-decibel siren. Video: Rachel Cericola

The base station is the brains behind the system. It has built-in Wi-Fi, which means it doesn’t need to be physically connected to a router and can sit in any convenient spot in your home (both monitoring plans include a backup cellular connection, in case your internet goes down). It also features a 24-hour battery backup, blue and red lights for alerts, UL certification, and an adjustable 95 dB siren (our tests actually found it closer to 98 dB), which, while not the loudest alarm we tested (Ring was the standout), would definitely catch the attention of burglars in our 1,600-square-foot home. If you want to go louder, or if you have a large home and need more than one siren, you can purchase a standalone 105 dB siren.

Unlike the Ring and Abode base stations, the SimpliSafe base station provides voice prompts during setup, as well as when the system is arming and disarming. When the system is triggered, the keypad will beep to prompt you to enter your passcode before the siren starts blaring. You can also integrate SimpliSafe into Alexa or Google Home smart-home setups, which enables you to arm (but not disarm) the system in Home or Away mode or check the system’s status using voice commands and a smart speaker or phone.

SimpliSafe’s contact sensors for doors and windows are small enough to be camouflaged when installed on white trim; the motion sensor is noticeable but not an eyesore. When we placed the motion sensor about 6.5 feet off the ground, it was quick to respond, yet it was never triggered by a 30-pound dog. SimpliSafe also sells extra entry sensors, water and freeze sensors, glass-break sensors, panic buttons, smoke and carbon monoxide sensors, and temperature sensors. It offers a wire-free outdoor camera (which we haven’t tested yet) and an indoor 1080p camera, which isn’t on a par with our camera picks but allows for that Video Verification feature. SimpliSafe also offers a door lock and a smart video doorbell with two-way audio that integrates with the SimpliSafe system.

Although entry and exit trigger times are customizable (up to 4 minutes 15 seconds), the response time in our tests was always consistent: In every one of our tests, the COPS monitoring service called exactly 44 seconds after the alarm sounded. The service was always polite, and for security it requires a safe word to restore the peace.

Flaws but not dealbreakers

SimpliSafe currently supports Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Apple Watch, and August Smart Locks with the Interactive plan. With the exception of the locks, integration is limited to arming the system and checking the status of connected sensors and other security devices. If you’re looking for more complex smart-device capabilities, like turning on smart lights when the system is triggered, or want to add HomeKit voice control, our Runner-up may be a better fit.

SimpliSafe has 24/7 monitoring, but if you have a hardware problem in the middle of the night, you may have to wait. You can contact customer service through email, Twitter, and Facebook, but live help is available only from 8 a.m. to midnight Eastern, seven days a week.

In August 2019, the LockPickingLawyer YouTube channel posted a video showing how to hack into a SimpliSafe system using a $2 remote. SimpliSafe responded with a statement saying the system would alert users when it detected any type of interference. The company also questioned the video, claiming that there would need to be a perfect storm of circumstances for someone to successfully hack the system. Over a week, we ran more than 25 tests using two different 433 MHz remotes, with contact sensors located 6 to 26 feet away from the SimpliSafe Base Station, and we were unable to replicate the issue. Although our testing shouldn’t be taken as conclusive, we believe this issue is unlikely to be a real-world problem for SimpliSafe customers who own the current system.

Runner-up: Ring Alarm

The Ring Alarm base station mounted on a wall.

Compatible with: Amazon Alexa, Works with Ring

The Ring Alarm doesn’t have as much smart-home integration or offer glass-break sensors. It provides no-contract 24/7 monitoring for $20 a month (or $200 per year) and it can be used as a self-monitored security system if you choose not to pay for the service at all. That monthly fee also includes cellular backup, fire protection, backup internet for connected devices, 60 days of video storage for an unlimited number of cameras, and extends the original warranty for equipment damage to the length of your subscription. Ring Alarm doesn’t support Google Assistant or HomeKit; however it has more video add-on options than any other system we tested.

The Ring Alarm system had the loudest siren of our test group. Video: Rachel Cericola

The five-piece Ring Starter Kit comes with the base station, keypad, one contact sensor, one motion detector, and a range extender. Currently, you can expand the Ring Alarm system with water leak sensors, a smoke/CO listener for existing detectors, a 95 dB external siren, and a number of other accessories. Ring Alarm also integrates with the company’s other devices, such as video doorbells and security cameras, as well as third-party devices via its Works With Ring program.

The Ring Alarm system can be used four different ways: without a plan, with the $3/month Ring Protect Basic program that adds cloud storage for one camera, with the $10/month Ring Protect Plus plan that adds unlimited storage for all connected cameras, and with the $30 Ring Protect Pro plan. First introduced in September 2021, the latter is the only plan that includes professional monitoring and cellular backup. It also includes 24/7 Backup Internet, which keeps all connected devices online during an outage via LTE and the $130 add-on Ring Power Pack, up to 3 GB.

In our tests, the Ring Alarm system sent smartphone alerts within four seconds of the alarm being triggered, with email alerts as an option as well. The siren can be configured to go off between 30 and 180 seconds of a triggering event. Verification calls from Rapid Response, a third-party partner service, came within 60 seconds of our 113-decibel siren (per our measurements) being triggered; you can disarm it by using the app or by giving your personally chosen verbal password to the monitoring service.

Ring is the only one of our picks to offer both 24/7 monitoring and 24/7 customer service. The base station also sends alerts should it get disconnected from power, and has a built-in battery that provides 24 hours of backup power, which was confirmed by our testing.

Both the iOS and Android apps feature the ability to disarm or arm the system in Home or Away modes right from the homepage, and they also offer one-touch access to live views and recordings on all connected cameras. The app also includes one-touch access to Neighbors, a sort of neighborhood-watch social network that allows users to report and monitor suspicious activity in a zone that you can customize from about 500 feet up to a 5-mile radius. Neighbors is part of the Ring app when you sign up for an account; you can post comments and videos, view ones from others in your surrounding area, or turn off notifications to ignore it. To completely delete it from view, you can opt out in the Control Center section of the app. You don’t even have to be a Ring device owner to be part of Neighbors; there is a standalone Neighbors app for iOS and Android devices. All users can post messages, photos, or links, which are expected to adhere to community guidelines.

There has been a lot of controversy about how Neighbors manages users’ privacy. Ring says it has addressed some of those concerns with Control Center, which now allows users to opt out of Neighbors as well as law-enforcement video requests. It also lets you manage connections to third-party services. For now, we should stress that camera recordings associated with the Ring Alarm aren't shared with others automatically: The only way someone can view your activity is if you post it to Neighbors or if the company is subpoenaed by law enforcement. If you decide to post anything to Neighbors, anyone in your area can view your posts, including neighbors but also participating law enforcement officials, per the Neighbors privacy policy.

The Ring Alarm system has several accessories but still lacks a standalone glass-break sensor and a key fob, which has buttons to arm and disarm your system. A glass-break sensor is supposedly coming, but for now you can use the Alexa Guard feature on any Amazon Echo for the same task. Ring Protect Pro subscribers can also use Alexa Guard Plus, which can also monitor for smoke detectors and footsteps, as well as adds in the option to play barking dog sounds. (For reference, everyday pricing on the third-generation Amazon Echo Dot is $40, often much less on sale, which is about $5 more than glass-break sensors offered by our other two picks.) Ring also doesn’t support as many smart-home platforms as our other picks: It works only with Alexa. If you’re a Google Home or HomeKit user, you may prefer one of our other picks.

Also great: Abode Smart Security Kit

The Abode Smart Security Kit, shown on a wooden surface.

Compatible with: Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit, Google Assistant, IFTTT, Z-Wave, Zigbee

If you already use a bunch of smart-home devices and want a security system that can integrate with many of them, then you might prefer the Abode Smart Security Kit. It is compatible with sensors and accessories that communicate wirelessly using Z-Wave, Zigbee, and AbodeRF (radio frequency), and Abode also integrates with Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit, Google Assistant, and IFTTT—so it should fit into more elaborate DIY home-automation setups. However, the UL-certified system isn’t as pretty as our top pick and will cost you more for the main system and most accessory devices.

Installing the Abode system is as easy as any other system we tested, but placement is more limited than with the SimpliSafe and Ring systems, because the Abode hub unit needs to be wired to your network router with an Ethernet cable rather than Wi-Fi. (The Abode Iota uses Wi-Fi, but we don’t recommend that system for reasons mentioned in The competition.) We found the Abode Gateway to be less attractive and a little bulky compared with our other picks—about the same size as a standard router. In addition to the network connection and cellular connection (with a paid Pro subscription), the base station has a 5-hour backup battery, which is 19 hours less than SimpliSafe’s battery.

The Abode gateway has a loud, piercing siren. Video: Rachel Cericola

The Abode system costs more up front than our top pick: For $249, you get just the Gateway, one door/window sensor, one motion sensor, and a key fob. There is a free plan that allows for self-monitoring, live camera views, and smart-device integrations. For $6 per month (or $60 per year), the Standard plan adds seven days of events and video storage as well as CUE automations which, similar to IFTTT, allow you to create multi-step conditional triggers and Routines in the Abode app that can factor in details like the weather, time, and the phone locations of family members. For instance, we set up a Rule so that we get a smartphone notification whenever a monitored door is open for longer than five minutes—but only if we’re not home. The Standard plan does not include professional monitoring, unless you pay an additional fee for short-term three- or seven-day monitoring, cellular backup, or subscribe to the $20 Pro option, which adds 24/7 professional monitoring and 30 days of video storage.

Abode’s web and mobile apps are easy to use and allow you to arm and disarm the system, access cameras, check the status of sensors, and control third-party smart-home devices, including Philips Hue bulbs, Ecobee thermostats, and Schlage door locks. A paid subscription adds access to an event timeline and the ability to add the aforementioned CUE automations.

In our testing, the system performed well both in self-monitoring mode and when connected to the monitoring service. Users can customize entry and exit trigger delays up to four minutes. The system will send an instant push confirmation when put into Away mode or when the alarm is triggered. When we tested the professional monitoring, we got service calls between 70 and 120 seconds after the alarm was triggered. The service rep was always polite and asked for a four-digit PIN to keep police from being dispatched for a triggered alarm. We were able to arm and disarm the Abode system using Alexa, Google Assistant, and Apple HomeKit. For Alexa and Google Assistant, you need to speak a PIN number; HomeKit requires you to unlock your iPhone.

In addition to the Z-Wave/Zigbee products and sensors that you can add to the system, Abode sells several models of door and window sensors, acoustic glass-break sensors, cameras, and other sensors and accessories, including a smoke-alarm monitor that works in conjunction with your existing UL-listed smoke detector. Abode also has a new indoor/outdoor camera with 1080p resolution, the Abode Cam 2 ($35). We found it worked best when used with 24/7 video recording, an optional, $9-per-month add-on to Abode’s subscription plans (otherwise, the camera is limited to capturing up to 30 seconds of video). In our tests the Adobe Cam 2 left huge gaps between clips; it also has no motion sensitivity, and features a limited, 121-degree field of view.

What to look forward to

We’re about to start testing the SimpliSafe Wireless Outdoor Security Camera, a $170 camera with a 140-degree field of vision, 1080p HDR video, two-way audio, person detection, and a built-in siren. It also has a removable, rechargeable battery that is expected to last three to six months between charges (extra batteries and a power cable are available separately).

We’re also planning to look at the Ring Alarm Pro, which has a new base station ($250) with a built-in eero Wi-Fi 6 router. It will work with existing Ring sensors and can be used as either a self-monitored system or with one of the paid plans, including Ring Protect Pro, a new $20/month (or $200/year) subscription service. The subscription includes cloud storage for cameras, local video storage and processing, 24/7 professional monitoring, 24/7 back-up internet for outages (which requires a $130 Ring Power Pack), cybersecurity features, and Alexa Guard Plus.

The competition

The Wyze Home Monitoring System is the cheapest system we tested, with equipment that retails for $80 and includes a year of monitoring. (Otherwise, it’s $5 per month or $60 per year and provided by Noonlight). However, that subscription is a necessity, since there’s no true self-monitoring option—you can monitor and get smartphone notifications from the sensors, but you can’t arm/disarm the system, use the hub’s siren, or control anything via the keypad without the subscription. It also doesn't have cellular backup, doesn’t include fire protection, and only the sensors work with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant—which means you can’t arm/disarm or check the system status with voice commands.

Like Abode, Scout is a no-contract system with Z-Wave and Zigbee support and a (bulky) base station that needs to be tethered to a router. However, we think our Runner-up is a better deal, since it offers support for more third-party products and services (including Apple HomeKit), app access and push notifications without a subscription, and lower cost monitoring plans.

We like that Blue by ADT has a self-monitoring mode with app alerts or that you can opt for professional monitoring for $20 per month. However, the system just doesn’t compare to any of our picks in performance or looks. It also doesn’t currently support glass-break sensors and fire protection is only available if you have an existing detector and the $200 Blue by ADT Indoor Camera (which we don’t recommend). There are also ADT-branded outdoor and doorbell cameras that are priced at $200 each (and we didn’t love them), but you’ll need to pay another $6 per month (for unlimited cameras at one location) for more than 24 hours of video storage—even if you already pay the monitoring fee.

The Frontpoint Security system, along with its Interactive plan, was our favorite home security system from 2013 to early 2016. Since then, the company has dropped the need for a contract, but the monthly fee is more expensive than any of our top picks.

Cove matches SimpliSafe in almost every way. What kept it from being a pick was its app, which would freeze up on occasion and constantly lock us out, so we needed to enter a password for every log-in.

We encountered a few technical issues with the internal camera and false alarms while long-term testing the Abode Iota and no longer recommend it. We also dismissed the Ooma Smart Security System because the monitoring option isn’t currently available in Florida, Virginia, Tennessee, Maryland, Alabama, Arkansas, Rhode Island, Montana, and the District of Columbia.

Frequently asked questions

How much does a home security system cost?

The cost of a home security system varies depending on the number of devices and accessories included. A good starter system can be had for under $200 and should include a base station, a keypad, at least one door/contact sensor, and a motion sensor. Look for a system that will allow you to start small and add on other devices and features as your needs change; contact sensors go for as little as $15, cameras run from $100 to $200 each, and so on.

Do I need a home security system in an apartment?

Having a security system in an apartment is a good idea, especially in buildings with high traffic. You never know who your neighbor could be buzzing in—in fact, they might not even know. A security system can also alert you to dangers from fire, flood, and frozen pipes.

Can I install a home security system if I rent?

DIY security systems are perfect for pretty much any living situation, including rental houses and apartments. Many of the various accessories, such as the contact and motion sensors, come with strong two-sided adhesive, so you won’t need to drill into walls (and risk losing your security deposit). Also, because many security systems offer month-to-month contracts, you won’t have to worry about being locked into something long-term or passing a contract on to the next renter. Before investing in a system make sure to check with your landlord, in case there are clauses in your lease that forbid installing or using cameras or other security accessories; at the very least, it’s a good idea to let them know you’re installing a system that could trigger a loud alarm or visits from the police and/or fire departments.


  1. David Ludlow, Best home security systems 2020: Smart security monitoring for your safety, Top Ten Reviews, March 23, 2020

  2. Katie McEntire, How to Choose a Security System, SafeWise, February 6, 2020

  3. Shelley Little, What You Should Know Before Buying a Home Security System, MyMove, October 2, 2020

  4. Anita Ostrowski, 5 Benefits of On-Demand Home Monitoring, Vector Security, August 15, 2017

  5. Megan Wollerton, The best DIY home security systems of 2020, CNET, October 5, 2020

About your guide

Rachel Cericola

Rachel Cericola is a senior staff writer at Wirecutter who has been covering smart-home technology since the days of X10. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Wired, Men’s Health, USA Today, and others. She hopes her neighbors read this bio because it would explain why she always has four video doorbells running simultaneously outside her home. 

Affordable Smart Wifi Home Security Alarm System - Digoo DG-HOSA

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