SkylinkNet Home Security Hands-On ReviewBy - 03/27/2015
Unlike most alarm systems I test, I didn’t get to keep Skylink, but I was able to test the SK-200 Alarm System Starter Kit for two weeks thanks to the Skylink team.
Picking a Starter Kit
Perhaps the most confusing part of getting started with Skylink is selecting a Starter Kit as they have six of them. The easiest way to dissect them is by separating the SKs from the Cs. The SK Starter Kits are strictly security focused. As they increase in price, you will get more security-related devices like additional motion sensors.
On the other hand, the C Starter Kits are comparable to the SK Kits regarding security, but they add in limited home automation via devices like smart plugs and cameras.
|Kit||Basic Equipment||Extra Equipment||MSRP||Buy Now|
|2 Window/Door Sensors
2 Power Adapters
2 Ethernet Cables
|2 Window/Door Sensors
2 Motion Sensors
Wireless Indoor Camera
|2 Window/Door Sensors
2 Motion Sensors
2 Keychain Remotes
2 Plug-In Dimmers
2 Power Adapters
2 Ethernet Cables
|4 Window/Door Sensors
3 Motion Sensors
4 Keychain Remotes
3 Plug-In Dimmers
Indoor Camera, WC-300PS
The Skylink SK-200 Starter Kit I tested shipped with an Internet Hub equipped with battery backup. It also shipped with a motion sensor, two door/window sensors, a keychain remote, a power adapter, an ethernet cable, and mounting accessories.
The SK-200, like all of Skylink’s kits, is completely self-monitored. There are no contracts and no monthly fees. In addition to being self-monitored, the system is self-installed, but most users should be able to install the system without issue. And while it shipped with a set line of sensors, you can add to it over time.
Installing Your SkylinkNet Alarm System Starter Kit
Installation of the SkylinkNet was a little harder than easy but not because it required greater skill but because it required more time. Typically, I can install a self-monitored alarm in 5-15 minutes. In total, installing SkylinkNet took around thirty minutes. Because batteries.
To get started, you will need access to power and Ethernet. You can plug the Internet Hub into your router or an available Cat5 outlet. Also, you’ll need batteries as they’re required but not included. In total, I used six AAA batteries and one AA battery with four AAA batteries going to the Hub. According to the instructions, you need AA/AAA alkaline batteries, and while I didn’t try rechargeable batteries, I wish I would have. I’m not sure if the system can take rechargeable batteries or not, but if it can’t, that’s certainly something to consider as most alarm systems use rechargeable batteries.
With the hub in place, it’s time for more batteries which are again, not included. You will need to provide two AAA batteries for the door/window sensors and one AA battery for the motion sensor. Now, this step is important, after inserting the batteries, leave the covers off of the sensors before proceeding to the next step.
Next, download the SkylinkNet app available for iOS and Android (no web app) and follow the prompts on the setup wizard. And this, my friends, also took some time. Where most kits ship preprogrammed and ready to go or at the very least allow you to mass add devices, Skylink requires that you manually add devices to the system one at a time. To add the devices, you will need the code found inside the device. Once you’ve paired the device, you can replace the back cover. Also, if it asks for a hub password, don’t fret. This is your chance to set the password which should be different from your app password and network password.
(Note: Post testing, Skylink updated their app to allow for device scanning which allows users to add devices to their account seamlessly.)
While the process was time-consuming, there was a positive note; I had zero issues with setup and all of my devices connected easily.
Adding More Devices
If you find that the Starter Kit you choose isn’t enough, you can add more devices. In total, the system will support up to 100 wireless sensors and controllers and 10 wireless cameras.
Added sensors are purchased a la carte with pricing found below:
- Motion Sensor $24.99
- Outdoor Motion Sensor $29.99
- Smart Plug $24.99
- Door/Window Sensor $19.99
- Garage Door Sensor $19.99
- Security Remote $19.99
- Keypad $24.99
- Indoor Camera $89.99
- Outdoor Camera $199.99
Monitoring the SkylinkNet Alarm System
There are other self-monitored systems, but one factor that sets SkylinkNet apart is the fact that Skylink, as a company, is not new to home security. Since the ’90s, Skylink has sold solutions ranging from garage door automation to emergency dialers. SkylinkNet Starter Kit is a new venture for them. In my opinion, the styling of the product should have been left in the ’90s, but it’s well built, and it works.
My favorite thing about SkylinkNet is that it can be used without a monthly fee. While I’m a fan of monitored alarm systems like Frontpoint and Link, they can easily add another $40 per month to your list of obligations to be paid. And let’s be honest, that’s not for everyone.
Skylink gives control, but also responsibility, back to the homeowner. Any event that occurs will be monitored and responded to by you.
When a sensor is tripped, multiple things happen. First of all, the siren sounds. The siren is a reasonably crisp 110dbs. I found it to be loud enough but was surprised that it wasn’t volume adjustable. If you live in a larger home, you might want to consider adding a second siren, like the optional 110db outdoor siren.
The second thing that happens when a sensor is tripped is that it sends a push notification to your phone. Of course, this assumes that your internet is up and running. If it’s not, the system will act as a local alarm and will only sound the siren.
Finally, there is a third thing that can happen, if you add additional hardware. If you add an emergency dialer, the system can also send a phone call alert. An emergency dialer requires an active phone line to work.
If you aren’t able to access your smartphone, there are ways to control the system without it. The hub itself can act as a controller. It has four buttons which you can use to disarm the system by entering your passcode. There’s also a key fob that you can use to arm and disarm the system.
In testing, everything worked as expected. I was able to control the system using my phone but also using the control panel and the key fob.
Customizing the SkyLinkNet System
Each device offers multiple levels of customization that you can control through the SkylinkNet app. For example, I decided that when an alarm event occurred, I only wanted to receive a push notification if the event was triggered by my motion sensor. On the other hand, I only wanted the system to chime when my front door sensor was in the open position. I could have customized this in different ways, of course. For example, I could have had the motion sensor set to chime or set the front door to trigger alarm events. It’s all possible using the mobile app and creating set triggers is easy, and they work.
In addition to deciding how each sensor behaves, you can choose to assign modes to different devices. For example, you might want to set your door sensor to instant alarm mode or your motion sensor to arm only in away mode so that it’s not monitoring when you’re home.
If you want to make sure that your creations are working, you can check your event history using the event log. The event log keeps a time-stamped record of all alarm activities. The record includes the name of the device involved, the action, date, and time the event took place.
It’s All About the App
When I tested the app, features were somewhat limited to what I’ve already described: remote arming and disarming, panic alarm functions, and an event history. Also, though I didn’t test this feature, I did have the option to add up to six users with the ability to allow them to monitor one or various locations at the same time.
Post-testing, Skylink added several enhancements:
- Zone Assignment: Users can group sensors and receivers in custom named folders to easily monitor and manage activity. Photos can be assigned to each Zone for personalization.
- Sensor Bypass: The app allows users to arm their home when sensors are active, such as if a window or door is open.
- Auto-Login Option
Smart Home Features
Skylink has a limited home automation offer. They sell a small appliance module that they call a plug-in receiver, a plug-in dimmer, a water leak sensor, and an indoor and outdoor wireless IP camera.
You can use the sensors in their most basic form such as using the app to turn them on and off, but you can also use SkyLink’s Event Triggering feature which allows you to create rules. For example, “If the garage door is open, turn on all lights.”
Adding Home Security Cameras
The Skylink Indoor Wireless IP Pan and Tilt Camera offers an HD resolution, can pan a full 355 degrees, tilt 120 degrees, has night vision, and two-way audio. They also sell an HD outdoor camera.
The cameras lack built-in motion sensors but can still be used for visual verification of alarm events.
Perhaps the biggest disadvantage of the cameras is that you can’t tie them to other sensors. They can record, but that’s accomplished manually. If you are viewing a live stream and want to record, you can press to record. Recorded footage is saved to your phone.
All-in-all, I’d give the cameras a thumbs down.
(Adding June 29, 2018)
Unfortunately, Skylink’s IFTTT integration is something I didn’t get to test as it launched well after I tested the system. I will say that the addition of IFTTT was a smart idea.
The Skylink system doesn’t communicate using a common protocol like Z-Wave, which means that it only works with self-branded smart home devices. IFTTT solves for that shortcoming by allowing Skylink to work with hundreds of other smart home brands and even services.
Skylink has multiple IFTTT triggers and actions which makes rule creation (called Applets) super simple.
- Hub Status Changes
- Sensor Battery is Low
- Sensor Activated
- Sensor Returns to Normal
- Switch Turned ON/OFF
- Garage Door Opened/Closed
- Set Hub Mode
- Turn Device ON/OFF
- Toggle Device
- Open/Close Garage Door
- Toggle Garage Door
Using the above Triggers and Actions, you can create multiple Applets. For example, “Turn Philips Hue Red when SkylinkNet is in Panic,” or “If Nest Cam detects motion, turn on SkylinkNet Switch.”
All-in-all, Skylink has made strides by adding IFTTT and a few other self-branded devices, but have they done enough? At this time, I think it’s going to be hard for them to compete with newer devices like Nest Secure and the Ring Alarm, but if they’ve hung in there this long, maybe they can hang in there a few more years. Plus, it’s hard to ignore that $100 starter price, which puts Skylink in a league not many others play in besides, perhaps, iSmartAlarm. Where Skylink differs from iSmart is that it offers more devices including devices aimed at protecting your outdoor spaces like an outdoor motion sensor and the outdoor siren.
So what do you think? Is SkyLinkNet for you?