Hands On Review: Abode Security

From initial setup and installation to first impressions, see how Abode Security performs.

Hands-On Review: Abode Security

Abode Home Security Packages

Smart Security Kit

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Iota All-In-One Security Kit

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Equipment cost starts at $199 $299
24/7 professional monitoring Optional Optional
Professional monitoring starts at $8.33/mo. $8.33/mo.
Optional smart device integration Yes Yes
Motion detection Yes Yes
Video surveillance option Yes Yes

A Few Things To Know Before We Begin

I never thought I needed a home security system. I live in one of the “best” rated cities in my state and I have an army of dogs that lose their minds anytime they hear the slightest noise (don’t get me started on when the doorbell rings). So, it was a bit surprising when a rash of car break-ins struck my neighborhood, and my husband’s vehicle was targeted. While there was no threat to me or my family, it’s unsettling when a crime happens to you. 

The first thing we did, besides filing a police report, was buy a Ring doorbell and outdoor camera. At first, I thought it was a bit excessive, but once installed, I felt a bit more empowered knowing I could monitor pretty much anything going on in the front portion of my house.

For consumers like myself who are thinking about incorporating home security elements to their home, there’s no shortage of options to choose from. The fact that home security cameras and other features have become more affordable, simple to install and use, and not to mention practical, is definitely a plus.

In fact, there are so many options that you’re probably looking for true-blue reviews that can help you understand what security features you need and which systems are compatible with your budget. I had the opportunity to test Abode Home Security and provide a personal review on what I thought of it.

So, without further ado, here’s my review of the Abode home security systems.

The Basics of Abode Home Security

Created by a former ADT executive, Abode is one of the newer do-it-yourself home security systems on the market, competing against some of the better-known DIY home security companies like SimpliSafe and Frontpoint. Abode is a self-monitored system, but you can opt into professional monitoring for a monthly fee.

All Abode home security packages include remote access via smartphone with instant notifications, web portal access, three days of timeline history and media storage. In terms of equipment you can choose from two starter packages – the Smart Security Kit and the Iota All-in-One Security Kit. I was able to test both, so I’ll itemize their differences.

Abode Smart Security Kit

Abode Smart Security Kit in boxAbode’s entry-level kit has everything you need to get started self-monitoring your home. The heart of the system is the Abode Gateway, which requires a wired ethernet connection. All of the other equipment (itemized below) connects to the Gateway wirelessly.

Also included in the kit:

  • Mini door/window sensor
  • Motion sensor
  • Remote key fob

Abode Iota All-In-One Security Kit

Abode Iota kit in boxThe Iota Kit is a step up from the Smart Security Kit. It centers around the Abode Iota, which replaces the Gateway as the system hub. The Iota operates via wi-fi, which affords more flexibility with placement than the ethernet-connected Gateway. The Iota functions as a security camera, motion sensor and Gateway all in one.

Either system is customizable, allowing you to start simply and scale up as needed. You can add on more Abode products or choose from a huge variety of compatible smart home products. Both Abode hubs support Z-wave and Zigbee protocols. They also work with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and a number of other products from leading brands like Ecobee and First Alert.

Additional Abode equipment options include:

  • Extra window/door sensors
  • Acoustic & vibration glass break sensors
  • Smoke alarm monitor (which connects pre-existing smoke alarms to the Abode system)
  • Water leak sensors
  • Garage door openers
  • Outdoor sirens
  • Cameras
  • Motion sensors

Easy Peasy Setup in the App…Mostly

According to the Abode website, the installation process is easy – making it perfect for first-time DIY security beginners – which is totally me.

What I immediately appreciated was that both Abode kits only have four main components. As someone who’s not particularly tech savvy, nor patient, this was a relief due to the simplicity of set up.

Each kit contains a simple installation card with instructions on how to download the mobile app, create an account and guide you through the installation process. While it didn’t take me longer than an hour to set up, it’s important to note that I couldn’t complete the system setup via the mobile app and had to use my laptop.

Abode app step 1

Also, while I initially needed to configure the Iota via an ethernet cable, the system was easy to switch over to work via wi-fi, which allowed more options to place the Iota in different areas of my home.

Once everything was set up and working properly, I began to self-monitor the system via the Abode smartphone app.

Available for Android and iOS, the app is chock full of useful features. Once I downloaded the app, I registered by creating an account and verifying my email. When that was done, I simply activated my account and got to work connecting the Gateway and sensors in the app. Each step of installation and activation is provided to you in the app.

But as I noted above, I couldn’t use the app to completely set up the system. When setting up notifications in the phone app, I was prompted to switch to a desktop or laptop to complete the setup. While grabbing your computer may not be an issue, for many without a computer, completing the set up may not be an option.

Screenshot: Abode mobile app stating "go to my.goabode.com on your laptop or computer"

At this point, you must send invitations to any other household members that need access to the system. Once you’re fully set up, you’ll be greeted with the main screen – which is the timeline of all your activity and current status. The app settings are where you can manage users, emergency contacts, change your monthly plan, select what features you want to automate, and define the conditions when you want something to run. For example, you can define if you want a video captured when motion is detected or when the front door is opened.

Screenshot from abode app with status timeline

Favorite Perk: Auto Away Feature

One of the cool and convenient features of the Abode security system is the Location Automation Assistant (LAA). This setting allows you to see the current location of the phones you’ve paired with your system and location automations associated with each one.

For example, if I leave the house with my phone and I go beyond the distance I set in the phone (350ft), the system automatically arms. You can easily change this distance in settings, and you can also disarm the system automatically when you enter the home.

It’s worth emphasizing that you must have your smartphone with you for this geolocation feature to work. In my opinion, this is a great feature on an atypical day when I forget to arm the system or when I’m running out the door to walk the dogs.

Auto away steps in the Abode mobile app

Abode integrates with third-party devices such as Philips Hue, Kwikset, Linear, Net, Yale, Zigbee, Amazon Echo, LIFX, First Alert, Z-Wave, ecobee, and Google Home. Ultimately, you can likely connect your smart lights, locks, thermostat, garage door opener and and many other home automation devices.

What truly impressed me about Abode is the fact that the app is free. Abode truly is a whole self-monitoring home security system. I know what you’re thinking: “Why wouldn’t it be free?” but surprisingly some other “self-monitoring” home security providers make you pay for full app access.

Abode Modes

Both systems have three modes – standby, away and home.

  • Standby Mode turns off the intrusion protection (door/window sensors and interior motion cameras) but leaves other sensors such as flood/water sensors and CO sensors enabled.
  • Away Mode turns on all protection, including intrusion protection and interior protection devices.
  • Home Mode turns on the perimeter protection (door/window sensors, glass break sensors, etc.) and turns off interior motion (cameras, motion detectors, etc.)

Whenever you arm or disarm the Abode system, there is a 60-second delay by default. The delay timers are designed for when the user wants to arm the system before leaving the home and disarm the system after entering the home. You can change the delay time or disable it completely through the Abode app. I have to admit the 60-seconds of beeping annoyed me, but it also reassured me at night to know that the system was armed, and the house was secure.

I quickly discovered that the motion sensor, when set on the away mode, is not pet-proof in a home like mine. The first couple of days after installing the systems, I realized that I needed to find a spot where the dogs wouldn’t trigger the sensor – which is impossible with four dogs. I first placed the motion detector near the front door of the house, thinking the dogs wouldn’t be hanging out in that area. But apparently, my dogs wait by the door when I’m gone (aww). I then placed it on the kitchen counter – again thinking the dogs wouldn’t be hanging out in the kitchen. Turns out that wasn’t a good place, either.

It was trial and error to find an ideal spot where the motion sensor could identify suspicious movement of a person who wasn’t supposed to be there, rather than my dogs. Unfortunately, after numerous motions detected and subsequent sirens going off (I’ll talk about this a bit later), I was forced to set the system to the home mode when I left the house.

Alert Notifications

For the first couple of days, I was regularly alerted when the motion sensor picked up movement via push notification, email and a photograph of the event. Notifications are customizable in case you prefer one over the other. You can also set phone call notifications if the alarm is triggered.

Three different types of message alerts are pretty impressive, considering I rarely view my personal email, other than first thing in the morning when I wake up, and hardly answer phone calls while I’m at work. The push notifications are my favorite since they’re discreet enough that I don’t have to answer the phone if I’m in meetings or constantly check for emails.

With that said, the downside was always carrying my phone around in anticipation that I would miss a notification. I forgot my cell phone at my desk a few times while I was in meetings and came back to numerous alerts and auto-dials from Abode (these are automated phone calls if you have a self-monitored system) and my husband alerting me the system was tripped and sirens were activated. This is great if you don’t have pets in the house! The Abode siren is 93 decibels, which is equivalent to a very high-pitched power mower. Not great for dog ears…or anyone’s ears for that matter.

While constantly keeping your phone close can be a bit annoying (I’m probably one of the few people that don’t take my phone everywhere with me), it’s also part of self-monitoring your home. If that’s not something you want to do, then you may want to consider paying extra for the for the monthly monitoring service – which by the way is contract-free! You can even get temporary monitoring if you’ll be out of town and unable to self-monitor.

Abode Iota Video Quality

The 1080p video camera in the motion sensor is pretty good, providing a generous field of view and with sharp and clear video during the day, as well as illuminating rooms using infrared with night vision in low-light or darkness. In fact, the video was enough to give to the police for identification – if I ever needed to. With that said, the camera is a bit slow to load if you’re trying to stream live video remotely. There’s also a pretty significant video delay. I’m not 100% sure if it’s due to wi-fi or cellular service, but my husband and I have separate cell service and we both noticed the loading delay.

In my opinion, I don’t know why anyone would have a home security system without a video camera – especially when self-monitoring. Being able to see why the alarm was tripped gives me some clarity into the situation and reduces my anxiety.

Final Thoughts

Overall, the Abode home security system is a great starting point for renters and homeowners. If you’re not familiar with home security, this is a solid system to begin your journey. It’s affordable, it works well with other smart home equipment, it’s uncomplicated and easy to set up, it’s contract free and most importantly it puts the power to secure your home squarely in your hands.

Pros

  • Free mobile access for self-monitoring

  • Easy set up

  • Scalable system with robust smart home integration

Cons

  • Motion sensors aren’t pet friendly

  • Self-monitoring keeps you chained to your phone

  • Slow live video feeds


Abode Security Systems reviewed by

Kristin Arnold