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abode Review 2019: What To Know Before Buying Services

abode is a provider of security systems, smart home products, and cameras. They offer no-contract professional monitoring as well as subscription-based self-monitoring features. They also offer subscription-free services that includes mobile app access and alerts, security camera monitoring, and smart home integrations.

Monitoring Type: Professional or Self-Monitored
Install Type: Professional or DIY

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Flexible Subscription Options With No Contract
  • Wide Equipment Selection
  • Stellar Customer Support

Cons

  • Hardware Feels Clunky & Cheap
  • Relies On Internet For Alert Transmission

The Good

abode is our top-rated self-monitored security system. Without a subscription, the abode still works as a reliable security system and adding a subscription only makes it a lot better. abode's monitoring plans are contract-free, allowing you to cancel anytime.

The Bad

abode's hardware look good online, but they feel clunky and cheap in person. They also lack a good security camera option.

Bottom Line

As our top-pick self-monitored system, we highly recommend abode. They've delivered on most of their promises thus far and their system is continuously improving.

Who It's For

abode is for everyone, whether you're a renter, condo-dweller, or homeowner. The system is wireless, allowing you to take it with you if you move. abode also offers flexibility that no other alarm company offers. They let you use the system for free, with a subscription, or with professional monitoring. abode's no-contract monitoring is also an attractive feature, especially to those who want to be in total control of their monthly payments. Although abode requires upfront purchase of the equipment, they offer financing via their financing partner, Affirm. And even if you get financing, you're not obligated to purchase their subscription-based services so long as you're paying your monthly equipment dues.

abode Sales Process

abode is mostly sold online. To get started, you must first choose a starter kit. They have starter kits built around the older abode Gateway hub and kits with the newer iota hub. After choosing the right package for you, you can add more sensors and devices to your system before checking out. You may also add professional monitoring or cellular backup (both come with monthly fees) to your system. These subscription-based services are optional and you may add them later on. If don't pick any of the two services, your system will get the basic plan with no monthly fees. You can also request professional installation with a minimal charge or choose to install the system yourself for free. Finally, before checking out, you will be given the option to pay everything upfront or finance your equipment.

abode Equipment Review

abode Gateway vs. iota

Every abode system starts with a hub, a device that ties together the entire system and connects it to you via the abode app or to the monitoring center if you were to add professional monitoring.

abode's first and original hub is the abode Gateway. Gateway is like a mini-computer. It requires power and internet to work, but it has a 10-hour battery backup in case of power failures. While most of abode's products are wireless, Gateway is not. It needs to be connected to your router via an Ethernet cable.

On the other hand, iota is like a Gateway hub but with a number of standout features. For one, it has a built-in motion sensor and camera with specs similar to the abode Streaming Camera. It's also Wi-Fi enabled, although it still has an Ethernet port if you want a more reliable internet connection.

Both hubs use abodeRF to connect with other abode products. abodeRF is a proprietary wireless protocol created and patented by abode. Both hubs are also Zigbee and Z-Wave enabled.

There are few points of comparison between the two hubs, mainly because they share a lot of features. However, iota is clearly the more advanced option, although some might still prefer Gateway because of its proven reliability.

abode's Security Sensors

Aside from the hub, abode's starter kits include sensors. The Gateway Starter Kit includes one motion sensor, one mini door/window sensor, and a remote key fob. The iota Security Kit only includes a mini door/window sensor and key fob, but the iota hub already has a built-in camera and motion sensor. Aside from what's included in either packages, you can buy add-on sensors.

Generally, abode offers three types of security sensors (door/window sensors, motion sensors, and glass break sensors), but each types come in different variations.

The door/window sensor is available in regular, mini, recessed, and slim strip versions. The recessed version is flush-mounted into the door jamb, while the slim strip version is a strip that fits in the gap between the door or window and its frame.

The motion sensor is available in two variants. The first one is a regular motion sensor, while the other is a motion sensor equipped with a camera. The camera equipped sensor takes images when it detects motion and then sends it to you via the app, allowing quick verification of alerts.

The glass break sensor is also available in two versions. First is the vibration glass break sensor, which attaches to the glass window it's monitoring and detects vibration. The second type is the acoustic glass break sensor that listens for the sound of breaking glass.

abode Security Accessories

abode also offers security accessories. These accessories don't detect intrusions, but they make your security system better one way or another.

The first accessory is the wireless keypad. Gateway and iota both don't have an interface, so they mostly rely on the abode app for control. The keypad allows control of the security system without the app. Using it, you can arm and disarm your security system using PIN codes, trigger a panic alarm, or set the system to different modes. The key fob is another accessory that controls the system. It allows you to arm and disarm your security system with one touch.

The wireless keypad and the key fob pairs well with the System Status Indicator, a small LED lit device that uses different light colors to show the status of the system. A solid green light, for example, means the system is armed, while red means there's an alert.

abode also sells sirens, both for indoor and outdoor use. The system allows customization of rules as to when the siren should sound. For example, you can set it to sound only when you're home.

Lastly, abode sells water leak sensors and fire monitors. The water leak sensors are small devices that detect water. It's made to be placed under sinks, tubs, pipes, or anywhere a leak might occur. The fire monitor, on the other hand, is a listening device that listens for the sound of smoke alarms or CO sensors. It doesn't actually detect fire or smoke.

abode Smart Home Accessories

abode's lineup doesn't end with security accessories. They also offer smart home accessories, especially designed to help with CUE, abode's automation engine. CUE allows users to create rule-based automations where one device triggers another device based on the user's configuration, and its reach extends to third-party products that work with abode. For example, if you have a Z-Wave smart lock integrated with your abode system, you can create a rule that triggers your door to lock when motion is detected.

abode offers three smart home-specific accessories: an occupancy sensor, smart outlet, and temperature/light sensor. The occupancy sensor is a little device that can determine whether a room is occupied or not by looking at activity levels. It also doubles as an ambient temperature monitor and ambient light sensor. The temperature/light sensor is similar, but it lacks the activity level tracker. The smart outlet is more of a smart home device. It allows you to remotely control whatever is plugged into it or create CUEs that turns on or off any appliance based on trigger events.

abode Cameras

Of course, abode also sells cameras. We've mentioned earlier that abode has a motion sensor with a camera. abode Cam is just the reverse: it's a camera equipped with a motion sensor. It has a 1080p resolution, built-in night vision, and two-way talk. It also records alert videos, but the downside is that it only records 10-second clips. 10 seconds is not enough to really digest what happened. Unfortunately, there's no way to extend the clip length, even if you subscribe to professional monitoring.

abode Equipment Pricing

  • Regular Door/Window Sensors — $27.00
  • Mini Door/Window Sensors — $29.00
  • Recessed Door/Window Sensors — $38.00
  • Slim Strip Door/Window Sensors — $38.00
  • Vibration Glass Break Sensor — $36.00
  • Acoustic Glass Break Sensor — $49.00
  • Motion Sensors — $42.00
  • Wide-Angle Motion Camera — $99.00
  • Keypads — $69.00
  • Key Fobs — $25.00
  • Water Leak Sensors — $49.00
  • Smoke Alarm Monitor — $45.00
  • Indoor Siren — $49.00
  • Outdoor Siren — $59.00
  • System Status Indicator — $29.00
  • Occupancy Sensor — $44.00
  • Smart Home Power Switch — $39.00
  • Temperature/Light Sensor — $39.00
  • abode Cam — $129.00
  • Yard Sign With Solar-Powered Light — $24.00
  • Window Decal — $2.00

abode Monitoring Review

abode, by itself, is a self-monitored system. It comes with all the basic self-monitoring features you'll need for free. The most vital feature is smartphone and web app access. It pretty much provides everything you need to monitor your security system, like push notifications in case of alerts, system customizations, and CUE.

Notifications

Notifications are vital to any self-monitored security system. abode's notifications are sent to your smartphone through the abode app, but that's not the impressive thing about it. What's impressive is that abode lets you choose what types of notifications to send. Of course, intruder alert notifications are important and should be included, but you may also choose to get notifications when...

  • your hub loses power.
  • the hub's battery backup is low on power supply.
  • your system is offline.
  • someone disarms your system
  • a CUE actions runs.

CUE

Speaking of CUE, what is it? CUE is abode's rule-based automation engine built within the app. Think of it as a rulebook that tells the system what to do when a certain event happens. The formula to creating CUEs includes a trigger and action. If the trigger occurs, the action will execute. CUEs can trigger almost any component of the abode system, even third-party smart home products that can be integrated into abode. Examples are Philips Hue, Danalock v3, Kwikset Z-Wave locks, and even Nest.

As for the triggers, you can choose from the following:

  • Status Triggers — Changes in modes (Home, Away, Standby) will trigger the CUE
  • Device Status Triggers — A device's status change will trigger the CUE (door open, close, motion detected, etc)
  • Location Triggers — The CUE will trigger when you enter or leave an area
  • Schedule Triggers — The CUE will trigger based on the schedule set by you (day, time)
  • Environment Triggers — The CUE triggers based on the local environment (e.g. Sunrise Time, Sunset Time, etc.)

Subscription Plans

Aside from the free self-monitoring plan (Basic), abode offers subscription-based self-monitoring and professional monitoring options.

The self-monitored option is called Connect and it costs $8 per month or $80 if you pay for the whole year at once. Connect and Basic share a lot of features, but Connect has one that makes it a lot better: cellular backup. As mentioned earlier, abode is internet reliant, so it can't send alerts when the internet is down. That's exactly what cellular backup is for. It lets the system continually send alerts even without internet using cellular signal.

The professional monitoring option is called Secure. It has all the features of Connect, plus it adds in premium 24/7 phone support, free ground shipping of abode purchases anywhere in the continental U.S., and of course, professional monitoring. abode's central monitoring station will monitor your security system for any alert so that if someone breaks in, they can call the cops on your behalf. Secure costs $20 per month or $200 if you pay the whole year.

abode Customer Service Review

abode is all about keeping their customers happy, whether by giving them flexible options or by providing stellar customer service. If you're an abode customer, whether you're paying for a subscription or not, you get access to abode's phone, email, and live chat support. If you're a customer paying for professional monitoring, you get even better treatment with premium customer support. You can reach abode anytime, any day via phone.

The customer experience extends beyond just being accessible. abode is also known for its customer-friendly policies. For one, their subscription plans are contract-free. You can cancel anytime without penalties and you can even go back and forth their paid and free plans. abode customers paying for professional monitoring annually also get lifetime equipment warranty. The rest enjoy a 1-year warranty on their equipment. Moving with abode is also very easy. Simply box up your current system and then reinstall it in your new place. abode doesn't charge a transfer or move fee nor do they charge any activation fee. Finally, all abode products come with a 30-day return period. If, within 30 days, you decide it's not for you, you can return it as long as all the boxes, accessories, and manuals are complete.

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