Have you been looking for a DIY security solution? There are several new devices on the market. Let’s take a look at a particular solution from Abode.
First of all, I’d like to clarify that the name of the company and product is called Abode, as in “home or residence.” Abode has nothing to do with the graphic arts software company that you’ll get if you swap around some letters, however, that doesn’t stop Google from thinking that you really wanted them.
My home is about 40 years old, and it’s not very smart. We added an alarm to our home ten years ago and now it’s quite outdated. Our current alarm doesn’t connect to the Internet, as it requires a hard-wired phone connection (or modification to cellular) to report break-ins to the police. Since we’re now using VoIP instead of Plain Old Telephone Service (POTS) it was time for a change.
Setting up Abode
All of Abode’s plans begin with the starter kit, which includes a door sensor, key fob, motion detector, and gateway unit. You then build on that starter kit with the purchase of additional components. Abode sent over a starter kit for the purpose of this review, so I’ll just be discussing the starter kit without any additional components.
Setting up Abode was fairly easy. The instructions that come in the box are very straightforward. I downloaded the app from Google Play (there’s also an iOS app available), installed the components, and I was up and going. Installing the motion detector was easier than installing the door sensor. I had to reposition the door sensor quite a few times until I had the proper orientation. It would have been nice if there was some indication marked on the sensor as to the proper orientation. If I had the orientation correct from the beginning, it would have taken me less than 10 minutes to set up the whole thing.
The base station or “gateway unit” runs the whole show. It connects to your Internet router via an Ethernet cable, while the rest of the components connect wirelessly to the gateway. The gateway also houses a battery backup for keeping your home secure during a power loss. Abode says that the battery will last about 10 hours, give or take, during a power outage.
Using the Abode is easily done from the convenience of your cell phone. I would rather use my phone versus the key fob, just because I don’t need to add another item dangling from my keychain. The system can be controlled via a widget on your Android phone from where you can disarm the system, set it to “home” which only monitors the door sensor, or “away” which adds the motion sensor into the mix. When you arm the system, the base unit starts chirping. You have 60 seconds to get out of the house before the system is fully armed. The app provides push notifications to tell you what is going on with the alarm. The notifications also show up on my Samsung Gear S3, so I can easily see what is going on by glancing at my watch.
When you come home, you also have 60 seconds to disarm the system before the siren sounds. I purposely let the 60 seconds pass and let the siren activate, just to get a feel for what it sounded like. Since my gateway unit/alarm is in the basement, standing at the front door won’t strike fear in the heart of any intruder. I recommend you purchase an additional siren from Abode if your gateway unit will be a ways away from entry ways. An outdoor siren is also available so you can alert your neighbors to a problem with a siren and strobe light. When the alarm sounded, there was a push notification to my phone that the alarm was triggered and it asked if I wanted to call the police. I did not test Abode’s ability to call the police.
You can purchase additional fobs for other members of the house or you can also invite them to connect via the app on their phones so that they also would be able to arm and disarm the system from their phones.
Making your alarm smart
I own several Google Home Minis, so I was happy to see that Abode says that the system supports Google Assistant. In my case, Abode interacted with my Nest thermostat. When I set the Abode to away, it also set my Nest to away. When I returned home, the Abode set the Nest to home. The only smart lighting or electrical item I own is a Wemo smart plug, so you can also have Abode turn on/off lights when you leave or return home. This is a convenient option to have if you’re using the key fob because all you have to do is click the disarm button while you’re opening the front door and have lights turn on in your home.
It’s worth noting that Google Assistant does not control the Abode directly. I had to set up applets through IFTTT to give actual commands to the Abode. So, now I can ask my Google Home Mini to set the Abode to “away” mode and IFTTT takes care of it for me. It would have been nice to have direct integration instead of having to rely on another app, but I haven’t had any issues so far. I can also add this to Routines in Google Home and I can set Abode to “away” whenever I tell my Home Mini that I’m leaving for the day.
Abode can also be set to arm when you take your phone with you and leave the home and disarm when you arrive home. I don’t do this because I do have family in the home when I am not at home.
Monitoring your alarm
The basic setup of Abode has no monitoring of the alarm by an outside party. You can pay for cellular backup so that you receive notifications even if your home Internet goes down. There is also an option for home monitoring, so if that alarm in the basement does get triggered, a monitoring service will alert your emergency contacts and the police that there’s a problem. If you opt not to pay for services, you can use Abode absolutely free of monthly fees, but there’s no additional monitoring provided.
You can also review what you’re alarm has been doing via a web interface, which also provides access to a system log.
In the end, I would definitely recommend Abode. It’s much easier to deal with than my old and antiquated alarm system. I’ll be growing my Abode system by adding cameras, water leak sensors, smoke sensors, and other components.
Abode starts at $249 (current sale) for just the starter kit, and you can purchase additional components separately. Shoutout to Abode for allowing us to review the Essentials Starter kit!Buy Abode on Amazon