Concerns of home security are on the rise and the introduction of DIY systems have offered an interesting proposition for adopters of home automation, do-it-yourselfers and those seeking more budget-friendly options. While full security systems from companies like ADT were once the preferred means of gaining peace-of-mind when away from home, SmartThings, Wink and others have joined the ranks to offer competitively feature-packed and cost-effective solutions. Abode enters the fray with an extensive list of supported devices and flexible features at an entry-level price. Head below to see how the system stacks up.
Abode’s security system is based around the centralized gateway which connects to the sensors included alongside it. The starter pack of course includes the gateway itself, but also comes with two door and window sensors, a motion detector/camera combo sensor and a key fob remote to extend the capabilities of the hub.
Everything included within the starter pack employs the same general stylings and those familiar with the typical smart home device design will be right at home with Abode. The security system employs a glossy white and black colorway for its gateway and key fob, with the rest of its sensors sporting a simple slick white exterior. Around the back of the hub you’ll find a slew of ports highlighted by an Ethernet input and a power connector. There’s also an unused USB port which currently lacks any significant functionality along with a battery backup switch and SIM card slot, but more on that later.
The Abode gateway isn’t your standard security system or smart home hub and what it packs inside results in a robust list of features and functionality. The hub sports Z-Wave, ZigBee and RF compatibilities, meaning it works with an extremely extensive list of sensors, smart home devices and more. In fact, the Abode gateway can simultaneously control up to 150 different devices, allowing it to handle the needs of even larger homes.
Looking more at the security system-oriented features, the Abode Gateway also packs a 93-decibel siren for scaring off intruders or alerting you to suspicious activity. It also features a built-in battery good for supplying around 12 hours of operation when the power’s out, a claim which holds true based on my time with the system. While this isn’t the flashiest inclusion, it allows the hub to go that extra mile in offering peace-of-mind.
The DIY security system is based around three different states which vary the level of protection Abode offers your home. Standby, the most relaxed of these, still monitors your home but doesn’t send alerts when doors are opened. Home mode is the next step up and sends alerts when sensors are activated but isn’t as aggressive in making sure your home is safe.
The final state is Away mode which is the most secure of the bunch. Not only does it send alerts when, but it also activates the gateway’s siren and arms any other peripherals you may have, like the included motion camera. All three of these states can be altered manually within the app/dashboard or automatically with geofencing.
Abode also features an automation system that allows the platform to respond to and trigger events. Thanks to integrations with Alexa, IFTTT, Nest and more, this really adds to what the system can accomplish. For instance when your front door is opened, Abode could send a command to your Nest Camera to begin recording. You can also use Alexa to check your home’s status, toggle states and more.
The entire Abode system is based around a monitoring dashboard web-app which is complemented by iOS and Android applications. Looking at the latter, the app is what you’ll actually need first to get the gateway up and running, with the dashboard providing additional features once things are ready to go. In terms of the iOS app, it is just about what you’d expect in terms of design and functionality. Really the only negative thing I have to say on this front is that there’s still no iPhone X support, but that’s completely forgivable at this point.
As far as the app’s functionality goes, it allows you to keep tabs on your home, alter your home’s alarm status, and more generally just control the system. You can view logs of your sensors, monitor the status of devices, and check in on any cameras you may have connected.
Abode’s security system comes out of the box with a basic plan that gets you all the functionality you’ll need to fully leverage the starter pack. The free option includes unlimited self-monitoring as well as remote access to your home. Alongside the default plan are two more differently priced options that increase functionality to meet your needs, both of which are contract fee and paid monthly.
The gateway comes equipped with cellular backup capabilities thanks to the built-in SIM card. This is activated by the Connect Plan which enters at $10 per month and provides 14 days of timeline and media storage as well. At the top tier, the Connect + Secure plan bumps the monthly fee up to $30 and provides 24/7 professional monitoring as well as everything in the plans below, making the system more akin to traditional security systems like ADT.
An Intuitive Setup Process:
Abode sports a long list of functionality and there was clearly some love put into making sure this didn’t take away from the simplicity of the system and its intuitive usability. At the forefront of this is the security system’s setup process, which was immensely straightforward, simple and anything but difficult.
Getting the hub online is essentially plugging it into power, connecting to your router and downloading the companion mobile application. The app will guide you through the actual process and should automatically find the hub so long as both devices are on the same network. To finalize the pairing process, you’ll enter a 6-digit gateway activation key that should get the hub ready to use in a few seconds.
Both door sensors, the key fob and motion camera are paired right out of the gate as well, furthering Abode’s ideal that it should work right out of the box. The setup process is concluded by naming each of the Abode Hub’s peripherals so you can specify what role each sensor serves.
As a stand-alone security hub, Abode is a pretty solid option and provides just about what you’d expect from a system in the the $300 price range. Its one breakout feature however is that Abode supports integrations with smart home platforms and other security systems/devices. As mentioned above, out of the box it works with Alexa, Nest and more. While other systems we’ve seen like SmartThing’s solution offer similar smart home integrations, they typically go for a more premium price than Abode’s sub-$300 retail rate.
My favorite feature so far has been tying Abode into Home Assistant for automations and more. As I had noted back in my smart haunted house guide, Abode’s door sensors can be used to trigger sound effects and just about any other event you can imagine.
The security system is really solid overall, but it isn’t without any downsides. For one, the included sensors aren’t the most appealing. While the hub is well-designed in my option, the door sensors are much bulkier than alternatives and the motion camera is generally an eye-sore. Considering that just about any Z-Wave sensor can be used in addition to the include bunch of accessories, this point is a little less important. But for those looking for the most ideal system right out of the box, this could be a turn off.
The motion camera doesn’t take the greatest quality photos either. They come out at 640×480, which is less than desirable. It gets the job done to check in on your home when movement is detected, but isn’t really capable for round-the-clock surveillance. A better-featured camera is available from Abode, but you can use other company’s devices as well.
With a sub-$300 price tag, the Abode security system packs a ton of features that makes it shine not just at its price-point, but across all DIY systems. Compared to the functionally boasted by competitors like SmartThings, Wink and etc, Abode enters with a really compelling option for those looking into the DIY security market. The system’s flexibility makes it great for adopters of home automation and just those looking for an entry-level security system.
After having the system protect my apartment for the past few weeks, I can’t recommend it enough. Coming in at $300, the system isn’t exactly cheap; but the peace-of-mind it provides is worth every penny.