XFINITY Home Security ReviewBy - 01/13/2017
Our Overall Rating
The Bottom Line
XFINITY Home Equipment & Protection
Ahhhh Comcast. I love you, and yet I don’t. Extending their reach further into our pockets, they now offer home security via XFINITY.
XFINITY Home Security starts with the XFINITY Home Touchscreen Controller. The Controller communicates with your connected devices and to the central monitoring center. All devices are 100% wireless and require a high-speed internet connection.
I’ve used Comcast XFINITY internet off and on for over a decade, and I know from time to time the internet goes out. Internet outages are annoying enough when you want to surf the web, but they become even more concerning when your home is no longer protected. Fear not; Comcast has planned ahead. To help keep you safer, they provide battery backup and cellular back-up in all of their XFINITY Home packages, including Home Secure.
XFINITY Home Secure
As already mentioned, home security through Comcast requires high-speed internet. However, XFINITY internet service is not required. I tell you this because you have a choice. You can use your own internet provider and pay a little more, or you can bundle your TV, internet, and home security system together for a discount. The good news is that the introductory price will lower your total cost of ownership for an entire year. The bad news is that the introductory price will expire before your two-year contract ends. Without a bundle, the price of service will depend on the equipment and services you choose.
Comcast is currently calling their offer “Home Secure”. In the past, they had two packages: 300 and 350. Home Secure is 100% identical to the original 300 package. It’s interesting to note that they’ve also added verbiage indicating that the pricing for the 300 package is a “starting point”. Their goal is certainly to get you to buy more. And when you do, the fees will increase. Though they no longer advertise the 350, it’s a good reference for those who might want to buy more. If you do, there is a strong chance that pricing will look similar to the 350’s pricing.
Without bundling your services together for a discount, Home Secure starts at $39.95 per month. The 350 started at $49.95 per month. Both packages offer the same type of service. The difference is the amount of equipment received. Why would you want more equipment? There are two reasons.
- You might want to cover a larger home or a larger portion of your home.
- There are certain features that require equipment.
A good example to explain my second point would be video surveillance and home automation. These features require that you purchase corresponding equipment. Obviously, you will need a camera if you want to use the video surveillance feature and a thermostat if you want smart temperature control.
How Does Comcast Home Security Stack Up Against Frontpoint?
I use both Comcast and Frontpoint in my home (for different things of course), and there’s no question who takes better care of their customers. For one, my XFINITY bills seem to fluctuate from month-to-month (and usually in the wrong direction), I’ve never been able to figure out exactly how that happens. Frontpoint’s price, however, is exactly as advertised. But how do they compare side-by-side for home security? We’ve compiled the chart below to help you sort it out.
|Plan||Frontpoint Ultimate||XFINITY Secure 350|
|Installation Cost||$0 Easy DIY||$399+|
|Installation Time||30-60 Minutes||Up to 6 Hours|
|24/7 Security & Professional Monitoring|
|Battery and Cellular Back-up|
|Real-time Text & Email Alerts|
|Remote Arming and Disarming|
|Video Monitoring||Live Streaming,|
and Video Alerts
|Live Streaming, Saved Clips, and Video Alerts|
|Requires Subscription to High Speed Internet|
|Trial Period||30 Day Money|
|30 Day Return Period|
|Required Contract Length||3 Year with|
Option for 1 Year
|Our Review||Frontpoint Security Review|
|Controller||Simon XT or|
IQ Touch Panel
|Door or Window Sensors||Customizable||3 Included|
|Motion Sensors||Customizable||1 Included|
|Wireless Keypads||Customizable||1 Included|
|Lighting Controllers||Customizable||2 Included|
|Temperature Control||Customizable||1 Thermostat|
|Awards||Angie’s List Super|
|App||iOS, Android,Blackberry, Windows Phone, Pebble, Fire TV, Apple TV, and Apple Watch||iOS and Android|
|iTunes Rating||4 Stars||3 Stars|
|Google Play Rating||4.5 Stars||4 Stars|
|Learn More||Visit Site||Visit Site|
Home Secure Included Equipment
There is no equipment fee if you opt into the basic Home Secure service. Instead, you pay a $99 installation fee and the monthly monitoring fee. With a 24-month contract, you will receive one touch screen controller, three door or window sensors, one motion sensor, and a wireless keypad.
Pricing out a more expensive package, installation jumps to $399. For this price, we received one touch screen controller, three door or window sensors, one motion sensor, one wireless keypad, two indoor/outdoor cameras, two lighting controllers, and one smart thermostat. The monthly fee also increased for this package as Home Secure can only support one camera.
The Cost of Additional Equipment.
Though the packages include equipment, you can expand your coverage with more equipment if you are willing to pay.
Comcast offers all the usual home security equipment suspects. In addition to the devices outlined in the table below, they also sell their Carbon Monoxide (CO) Detector for $89.95, their wireless keypad for $99.95, glass break sensor for $99.95, and their remote siren for $99.95.
|Device:||Price:||Feature:||Increase to Monthly Rate:|
|Door/Window Sensor||$49.95 ($129.95 for a 3-Pack or $199.95 for a 5-Pack)||Set rules to get real-time text and email alerts when doors or windows are opened.|
|Smoke Detector||$99.95||Monitors for smoke. Includes an 85dBA siren and built-in drift compensation.|
|Motion Sensor||$49.95||Pet-immune detector monitors for motion.|
|Water Sensor||$39.95||Sends you an alert if it detects flooding.|
|XFINITY Thermostat||$199.95||Allows you to control your thermostat from anywhere.|
|Indoor/Outdoor Camera||$229.95||24/7 live video monitoring inside or outside your home.||1 Camera Included, Additional Cameras Are Additional|
|Keychain Remote||$49.95||Buttons allow you to arm, arm away/stay, disarm, or, panic.|
|Outlet Controller||$49.95||Allows you to remotely control (on, off, dim) anything plugged into the device.|
If you noticed that some of the pictures in the chart above don’t look exactly like the XFINITY devices you’ve seen in the past, good eye. At CES 2017, I was introduced to XFINITY’s latest and greatest. In the past, their equipment was made by multiple manufacturers and appeared dated and incohesive. Now, they’ve redesigned their devices with a fresh look. Not only do they look better, but they’re more functional. For example, their old door/window sensor required a screwdriver to pry it open to change the battery. The new sensor has a cover that slides on and off for easy battery replacement. Finally, they’ve worked to improve the battery life on all of the devices to five years.
If you have your own home security equipment, you might be able to bring it over and add XFINITY Home services. If your equipment is compatible and in good working condition, you will be able to have access to all of the services we’ve discussed including monitoring, mobile app access, text alerts, rules, video monitoring, and more.
And where XFINITY is a wireless system, they can use your existing equipment even if it is wired into your home. If you choose to do this, they will still need you to use their touch screen controller. The controller will add cellular and battery backup and also act as the brains of your system, controlling all of your devices both old and new. If you bring your equipment over, you will pay the same monthly fee, but you might save on the cost of installation.
As XFINITY includes equipment at no cost to new customers, I would say bringing your own equipment is only worth it if you have a new construction home with an included wired system. Otherwise, consider your swap to XFINITY as an excellent opportunity to upgrade. After all, home security equipment is technology and technology doesn’t last forever.
Is the Equipment Secure?
My biggest concern with the equipment is that certain tests have found XFINITY to be vulnerable. According to a report by Rapid 7,
By creating a failure condition in the 2.4 GHz radio frequency band, the Comcast XFINITY Home Security System fails open, with the base station failing to recognize or alert on a communications failure with the component sensors. In addition, sensors take an inordinate amount of time to re-establish communications with the base station, even if their “closed” state is switched to “open” during the failure event.
I feel 100% confident in saying that this is not a Comcast-only problem, but the report does call them out explicitly. The noted vulnerability might allow an intruder to make it appear like your doors and windows are closed and all is well, even when things are not. The Zigbee protocol (a wireless form of communication) used makes it possible for a thief to use a jammer and to stop the multiple components from communicating properly. Unfortunately, if this happens, the system is reading as if everything is peachy so users will not receive a notification. And even when things go back to normal, the sensors take a long time to reconnect. Some companies have built-in jamming detection, but this feature is not included in the Comcast system.
- 100% Broadband Signal with Cellular and Battery Backup
- Requires that you have high speed internet service to work.
- 24/7 UL-Listed Monitoring – Burglaries, Fire, Carbon Monoxide, and Floods
- Multiple sensors to monitor for motion and glass break.
- Professional in-home installation.
- In-home “get started” tutorial.
- Determined vulnerable by Boston-based security consultant Rapid7
XFINITY Smart Home Automation
XFINITY offers full home automation using Zigbee communication. If you want a smart home connected to your security system, you have a couple of ways to get there.
- Purchase Home Secure – Automate locks, lights, and your thermostat while also adding video surveillance and clips.
- Pay an extra $9.95 per month to add more storage and continuous recording.
- Sign Up for Home Control 150
With the right service and equipment, you can automate your lights, locks, and your thermostat. XFINITY Home Secure also includes the ability to live stream footage from one home security camera with the option to record short video clips. But for most customers, short clips won’t suffice. By popular demand, they now offer 24/7 video recording for an extra $9.95 per month. If you choose this add-on, you can store video from continuous recordings to the cloud for ten days. That’s an important distinction. Home Secure includes short clips, but the add-on includes the ability to record continuous video. Through this plan, you can also download 1-minute clips from motion-based recordings if needed.
XFINITY Home uses an indoor/outdoor camera for home security. Their newest camera, the xCam, offers a wide-angle view (109-degrees), HD 720p video, night vision, and the ability to interact with other connected devices, like lights and sensors. Also, the WiFi signal runs through the power source to improve connectivity.
What is Home Control 150?
Home Control 150 provides home automation and home automation only, lacking the professional monitoring piece that is included in Home Secure. As it’s self-monitored, it’s less expensive. It is also less expensive because Comcast allows customers who buy the 150 package to self-install instead of paying for professional installation, which is required with Home Secure. If you prefer professional installation, you can purchase that for $99.
Home Control 150 runs around $19.95 per month for the first 12 months. A 24-month contract is required, so I’m assuming the price will increase during the second half of your agreement. This fee includes remote lighting and small appliance control, real-time text and email alerts of events, and access to the mobile app. It also includes your choice of either live video monitoring with video clips or remote thermostat control with Ecosaver Smart Thermostat Technology. Unfortunately, you don’t get both. Fortunately, you do get equipment. 150 includes one indoor/outdoor camera or one smart thermostat (depending upon the service you choose), one outlet controller, and a hub.
Adding Smart Home Devices to Home Secure
Home Secure includes home automation, but you might need to purchase more equipment to make the magic happen. Comcast sells their lighting pack, which consists of two light controllers for $99.95, the two camera pack for $229.95 (can be used inside or outside), their indoor camera for $129.95, their light switch for $89.95, and their lighting/appliance controller for $69.95. Comcast has also added a sleek new self-branded thermostat. Pricing TBD.
Comcast does not sell a compatible door lock. Believe it or not, it’s fairly standard for a home security company to defer a smart look purchase to someone else. To get a door lock, you simply need to source your own. Currently, they offer two compatible options – the Kwikset 914 SmartCode Door Lock or August Smart Lock.
While I haven’t tested the 914 with XFINITY, I have tested the lock. The Kwikset 914 has a very specific set of sub-features. Using the 914, you can control who has access to your home, re-key the lock on your own, and it also features Kwikset’s BumpGuard™ Protection. We’ve reviewed the Kwikset 914 before and gave it a rating of “good”. It offers ANSI grade 1 protection, which is the best possible rating for residential locks, but it is also suitable for commercial use. Grade 1 is the grade given to a lock that has withstood the highest level of UL pick testing, the UL 437, Par. 11.6. While no lock is impervious to crime, it is a sturdy lock and a good step toward total home security.
XFINITY Home Partner Program
One of the biggest benefits of using XFINITY home security for home automation is that you can add third-party smart home devices to the system. Through their “Works with XFINITY” program, you can add your Nest learning thermostat and August lock. You can also integrate other devices from Automatic, Cuff, Leeo, Lutron, Rachio, Sengled, SkyBell, Chamberlain, and Whistle. Using the program allows you to manage all of your smart home devices using one mobile app – XFINITY Home. The mobile app acts as a central controller managing your third-party devices and your home security devices.
Not only does the Home app allow you to control multiple devices from one interface, but it also allows you to tie them together using rules. For example, you can have your Lutron lights turn on if your front door opens. Or if you arm your system away, you can have it set your Nest Thermostat to Away Mode.
|Partner Name||Known Compatible Devices|
|Sengled||Sengled Element Touch|
|Lutron Caseta Wireless||Bulbs and Switches|
|Leeo||Smart Alert Nightlight|
Remote Control Through Apps and X1
All of this, both home automation and home security, is controlled through the mobile app. And while the app is free, not all phones are compatible. Currently, XFINITY supports iPhones, iPads, iPods, and Android phones/tablets. Through the mobile app, you can remotely arm and disarm your system, set up text alerts, email alerts, control home automation features, and view video footage. In addition to the right phone, they also require a 4G cellular internet connection. Of course, connecting your phone to WiFi is also a perfectly good solution.
Another way to control your home? Through your TV! X1 subscribers can download an app that will allow them to view live video footage, control home automation features, check-in on things right from their sofa, and even control their home security system using voice. Also, you can set your TV to receive notifications. For example, if you leave your garage door open, you can have it send a notice right to your TV screen.
Using the X1 remote, you can speak commands to your security system. For example, say, “XFINITY Home Disarm” to disarm your system. You will also be able to view a live camera feed from your TV, arm your system, and control connected devices. If you speak the words, “XFINITY Home lights” into the XFINITY X1 voice remote, it will bring up a user interface that allows you control over your connected smart lights. Unfortunantly, X1’s voice capabilities are not yet as advanced as Amazon Echo’s. While you can perform basic one-step tasks, it cannot control multiple devices via scenes.
- 4G cellular internet connection required for mobile app
- Works with iOS and Android Devices
- Can Pay for Home Automation Alone or Home Security with Automation
- Light, Lock, and Temperature Automation
- Interactive Video Monitoring
- App for the TV with Voice Control
Customer Service & Support
Comcast is one of the most hated companies in America. Their policies are not customer friendly and trying to break up with them can be a nightmare, as proven by a few viral videos of Comcast customers trying to cancel service. I know so many people who would like to break-up with Comcast internet or TV service, and so I ask “Why Comcast for Home Security”? There are so many companies who are excelling in home security with happy customers. Don’t limit yourself for the sake of bundled service.
That said, they do offer a 30-day return period. But beware. You will only receive a refund for the monthly fee and installation if your installation cost falls below $500.
A few things to consider before signing the dotted line:
- Potential Financial Penality If You Move Beyond Their Service Range = Bad
- 30 Day Return Period = Good
- Poor Reputation for Customer Service = Bad
- Installation Windows Are 4 Hours and Installs Take Up to 6 Hours = Bad
While Comcast has the right technology to keep your family safe, they’re also a huge company trying to get one more hand in your cookie jar. Couple that with a history of customer service issues and all I can say is proceed with caution.