Abode Security System
Our experts tested out the abode Essentials Starter Kit, a minimalist security system with a ton of smart home integrations.
- Flexible monitoring options
- All-in-one CUE home automation
- Extensive equipment offerings
With the launch of its 2014 Kickstarter campaign, abode set out to create the future of home security. Sure, if you’re like us, you’re probably thinking this is the aim of every home security startup, and you’d be correct. What sets abode apart from the competition, however, is its focus on both customization and independence. Each of its systems promises a self-installed, professional-grade security system tailored to homes of any size, all without the burden of contracts. And if you prefer professional installation, that’s an option as well. Nothing wrong with having a lot of options!
More than half a decade after their successful launch, abode is now in competition with the heavy hitters in DIY home security. In this page, we’ll take a closer look at each of the packages offered by abode, in addition to the smart home integrations and monitoring options. We’ll also examine how all of this stacks up to competitors. Does humble abode stay true to its mission? We’ll let you know below.
How abode Impressed Us
No Stress Installation
Having worked with many DIY security systems, we have high expectations when it comes to ease of setup. Each of our sensors and cameras, ready to use right from the box, were set up and synced to our Wi-Fi in less than half an hour. Abode also offers professional installation for a fee, but where’s the fun in that?
Abode offers three different plans for professional monitoring, ranging from the free Basic plan to the Pro plan, the latter including advanced features such as cellular backup and 24/7 emergency protection through a monitoring center. Abode is also the only home security provider to offer on-demand monitoring. While going on vacation, we were able to book a week of professional monitoring and then return to our normal plan.
With the help of abode’s smartphone app (available on iOS and Android), we kept tabs on our home from the office, the coffee shop, and just about anywhere else with a cellular signal.
With the help of CUE, abode’s proprietary automation engine, we customized each of our smart devices to work in tandem with our security system. In no time, we had set our front door to lock when we left for work and our lights to turn on when the sun set.
To read our experts’ experience testing out abode, check out our full abode review (including a video).
Abode’s Equipment Pricing
Abode offers two different starter systems. First, there is the Smart Security Kit, which includes a gateway hub, a motion sensor, a remote key fob, and a mini door/window sensor, all for $179. While this system does not include a camera, it provides a solid foundation, upon which we were able to build the ideal system for our home.
For those of us looking for a bit more of a visual component to our starter kit, abode also offers the iota Security Kit. For $199, this package includes a remote key fob, a mini door/window sensor, and an iota, which functions the hub for your system in addition to being a 1080p HD camera, motion sensor, and a 93-decibel siren.
Abode Package Comparison
|Smart Security Kit||iota Security Kit|
mini door/window sensor,
mini door/window sensor,
|Days to Return||30||30|
|Warranty Length (in years)||1||1|
Although both of the aforementioned packages provide everything we needed to get our home secured, we couldn’t help but dig into some add-ons. Abode offers almost everything that we’ve come to expect from DIY security systems, devices such as cameras, door/window sensors, glass break sensors, keypads, sirens, signs, and decals. By the way, when it comes to preventing intruders, never underestimate the power of a home security yard sign.
Abode also offers several unique devices not commonly seen with other companies. For example, we loved the slim strip door/window sensor that fit in the gap of our door frame and practically looked invisible. We were also intrigued by the multi-sensor, a nifty little tool capable of sensing motion, temperature, humidity, and light. When paired with our CUE automations, this device triggered automations to activate our air conditioner, turn off lights, and lock our back door. Plus, we could have the A/C turn off when our abode system was disarmed, saving us a ton on utility bills.
We couldn’t help but notice a couple notable omissions from abode’s lineup. Currently, there is neither a doorbell camera nor an outdoor camera. Although abode plans to release an indoor/outdoor camera, one that can also function as a doorbell, this product has yet to be released. For those of us concerned about monitoring packages and securing your doorstep, we’d recommend checking out Ring’s outdoor cameras and their video doorbells.
Abode Add-On Devices
|Wide Angle Motion Camera||$79|
|Water Leak Sensor||$45|
|Smoke Alarm Monitor||$39|
|Smart Home Power Switch||$35|
|Acoustic Glass Break Sensor||$34|
|Slim Strip Sensor||$29|
|System Status Indicator||$29|
|Recessed Door/Window Sensor||$27|
|Vibration Glass Break Sensor||$27|
|Mini Door/Window Sensor||$22|
|Yard Sign with Solar Powered Light||$20|
|“Secured by abode” Sticker||$2|
Just So You Know: While it might be tempting to simply mount an indoor camera outdoors under cover of a patio, moisture is not the only concern. Bonafide outdoor cameras are built to guard against humidity and extreme temperatures.
With abode’s no-strings-attached approach to home security, we expected a high degree of flexibility when it came to professional monitoring. With one free plan and two paid plans, both of which available on either a monthly or annual basis, we can safely say that abode lives up to its word.
First, there is the Basic plan. For the low, low price of nothing, this self-monitoring plan offered us access to live stream video feeds, one-touch arming and disarming, smart home integrations, and push notifications to our smartphone. What we missed most with this plan was cloud storage for our surveillance footage. While we were able to effectively tap into a live feed of our cameras, we could not save footage of those who entered our home, which would be a shame if we ever had an intrusion and wanted video evidence.
One step up from there is the Standard plan, which costs $6 per month or $60 per year, a savings of nearly twenty percent (see guys, sometimes long-term commitments are a good thing!). This plan comes with everything included in the Basic option in addition to email notifications, customized notifications, unlimited app users, seven days of cloud storage, and the ability to use geofencing. For those of us with spouses and kids, the ability to have unlimited users certainly came in handy. What’s more, we could even adjust the privileges of each user. For example, we gave our partners full admin controls while only allowing our kids to arm and disarm our system.
Finally, there is the Pro plan, which costs $20 per month or $100 for the first year, though this annual price shoots up to $180 after this introductory period (rats). With this plan, we got all that came with prior plans in addition to thirty days of cloud storage, cellular backup, 24/7 professional monitoring, and, since we subscribed to the annual plan, an unlimited warranty on our devices. Cellular backup allowed our devices to continue functioning even when we shut off our power and internet. 24/7 monitoring meant that in addition to our smartphones, there was also the help from one of abode’s United States-based monitoring centers. In the event of a break-in or fire, we could rest assured that someone was watching over our home. This feature also protects against water damage. With the average insurance claim from water damage being over $10,000,1 it pays to be safe in this regard.
One of our favorite features of abode’s monitoring is what they term on-demand monitoring. When leaving town for vacation, we called up abode and purchased a whole week of 24/7 professional monitoring with no long term contract involved, ensuring the safety of our home from afar.
Breakdown of Monitoring Features
|One-touch arm/ disarm||✓||✓||✓|
|Smart home integrations||✓||✓||✓|
|Amount of Cloud Storage in Days||0||7||30|
|24/7 professional monitoring||x||x||✓|
|Free shipping in continental US||x||x||✓|
|Access to deals and discounts||x||x||✓|
|Unlimited device warranty||x||x||✓|
|Discount on homeowner’s insurance||x||x||✓|
|First Year Annual Price||$0||$60||$100|
|Second Year On Annual Price||$0||$60||$180|
Fun Fact: abode is the only home security company who offers on-demand monitoring that we’ve reviewed, so it’s a fantastic option for those unsure if they want it or not.
The Smart Home with abode
When it comes to smart home automation, abode certainly had us covered. Our abode system was fully compatible with Apple Homekit, Google Assistant, Alexa, IFTTT, and Z-wave devices, among others. Here’s how we made the most of this functionality.
Using Siri as our personal assistant, we set up a variety of voice commands. Saying, “Hey Siri, I’m home,” triggered a plethora of customized automations, including the activation of lights, the disarming of our system, and the lowering of our thermostat. We also said, “Hey Siri, I’m leaving,” in order to reset everything. Using a smart thermostat helped us save energy,2 which meant more money in our pockets.
With abode’s smart home skills and Alexa, we armed and disarmed our home, controlled lighting, and locked or unlocked our doors. By asking, “Alexa, is the front door open,” or “Alexa, is the living room window open,” we checked on the status of each of our secured fixtures, which was really nice at the end of the night when we were making sure everything was safe and sound.
Okay, we admit it. We are huge suckers for a lighting plan. Thankfully, with abode’s support for Philips Hue, LIFX, and Aeotec smart switches, getting the vibe right was simple as setting up a chain of commands through IFTTT. When the sun set, our patio lights were activated for a soothing atmosphere. Relaxation, here we come.
Here’s are all of the brands that work with abode:
- First Alert
How abode Stacks Up to the Rest
In terms of pricing, it’s hard to beat abode. Each of its starter kits comes in just shy of $200. Additional cameras cost $99, and additional sensors and devices are all priced well below this. As far as monitoring goes, the range of prices and features also proves competitive. Throw in the ability to buy into a premium plan for only a week, and you’ve got a monitoring system that hangs in there with the best. All that’s missing is the ability to pay for cloud storage on its own, as offered with plans from SimpliSafe. However, SimpliSafe charges $24.99 per month for professional monitoring and cellular backup, while this only costs $20 a month with abode, which, over a long period of time, is not a negligible difference. To learn more, read our full comparison of abode vs. SimpliSafe.
The main area where abode lacks is in its range of cameras. Offering only one indoor camera and the wide-angle motion camera (which takes pictures, not video), there are certainly a few things left to be desired, particularly a doorbell cam and an outdoor camera. What’s more, the abode’s camera lacks some advanced features such as facial recognition, unlike cameras such as the Nest Cam IQ Indoor. So for those more advanced features, abode isn’t quite there yet.
In 2014, abode burst onto the scene as the first home security system with no contracts required. Even with the addition of contracts, both long and short term, it is clear that they haven’t strayed from their roots. Although the lack of camera types leaves some room for improvement, we’d be hard-pressed to find a more solid home security system. Built to fit any type of home and capable of expanding to support up to 160 devices, abode offers an experience as simple as it is adaptable. If you appreciate the DIY ethos and you loath mandatory long-term contracts, then look no further than abode.
Insurance Information Institute. (2020). Facts + Statistics: Homeowners and renters insurance. iii.org/fact-statistic/facts-statistics-homeowners-and-renters-insurance
Energy Star. (2020). Smart Thermostats.