Spectrum Home SecurityBy - 07/25/2017
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Spectrum Equipment & Protection
Summer of 2016, Charter Communications merged with Time Warner Cable (TWC) and Bright House Networks forming a new company, Spectrum. What’s unfortunate about this merger is that home security and smart home services were a business line belonging to TWC, not one chased after by Charter. While Spectrum is no longer actively promoting home security services, they are still supporting existing customers. For now, we caution you against heavily investing in new equipment. The future is unstable for Time Warner’s former Intelligent Home service.
To make things easier, we’ll merge what’s left of the service under the brand name Spectrum. And essentially, the service is the same as it was when Time Warner Cable stood alone. They still offer best in class technology monitored by a 5-Diamond rated Emergency Response Center. They still use color touchscreen panels, wireless monitoring, and high-tech sensors.
Spectrum’s touchscreen is the centerpiece of the system. What’s unique about Spectrum’s touchscreen is that it can do more than control your security system. It’s capable of providing weather updates, news, and it can act as a digital photo frame. The main screen uses different app-like icons to help you navigate and control your system. You can even view a live camera feed directly from its screen.
The touchscreen is responsible for communication. It communicates wirelessly with the sensors and uses Broadband communication to contact the monitoring center. For home security, a Spectrum internet connection is required, but if your internet and power go down, you will still be protected thanks to battery and cellular back-up.
In regards to sensors, Spectrum offers:
- Door/Window Sensors
- Motion Detectors
- Key Fobs
- Smoke Detectors
- Wireless Keypads
- Security Cameras
- Smart Thermostats
- Lamp Modules
- Glass Break Sensors
- CO Sensors
- Flood Sensors
Fun Fact: Their infrared motion sensor has built-in technology to reduce false alarms and is backed by patented 4D processing technology.
Cost of Equipment & Protection
As Spectrum is is no longer actively promoting home security services, finding information is a challenge. The price will also vary depending on if you were initially a Brighthouse customer or Time Warner customer. We do know that their home security and control plans start at $39.99 per month plus taxes and fees for TWC and $32.00 for BHN. The plan includes a touchscreen panel, two door/window sensors, one motion sensor, yard signs, window decals, a modem, and a router for the Spectrum-managed broadband network. One interesting thing to note about the equipment is that you pay for it, but it’s not yours. You are paying to lease the equipment. If you cancel your subscription, you must return all of your equipment, or you can buy it out for “not more than $375” according to Spectrum’s agreement. This same penalty applies if you return damaged equipment.
While the plan includes a few devices, Spectrum will let you buy additional devices a la carte. Buying equipment a la carte is more expensive than buying it as a bundle but provides you with the freedom needed to create a custom solution. If you prefer a bundle, you have five choices.
Equipment Security Packages
There are five primary equipment packages that you can choose from if you don’t want to go the a la carte route.
Security Package $99.99
The security package is Spectrum’s entry level package. It includes the in-home touchscreen and two door/window sensors. It also includes your choice of a motion sensor or a glass break sensor.
Security & Video View Package $149.99
The Security and Video package includes everything from the previous package plus an indoor/outdoor camera.
Security & Energy Package $149.99
The Security and Energy Package includes the in-home touchscreen, two door/window sensors, and a smart thermostat. It also includes your choice of a motion sensor or glass break sensor.
Security, Video View & Energy Package $199.99
Security, Video View, and Energy combines the best of the previous two packages. It includes the touchscreen, motion or glass break sensor, two door/window sensors, a smart thermostat, and an indoor/outdoor camera.
Upgrade Package $149.99
If you have a home security system from another company, this is the package for you. This price includes the touchscreen and will allow you to transfer service to Spectrum if you happen to own a compatible setup.
How Does Spectrum Home Security Compare?
To give you an idea of how Spectrum stacks up against the competition we’ve created the chart below. Here we compare their entry level package to our top pick for 2017, Frontpoint.
|Entry Level Monthly Cost||$34.99||$39.99 + taxes & fees|
|Installation||DIY $0 with Free Guided Phone Support||Free Professional|
|Contract Length||12-36 Months||18 Months|
|Our Review||Frontpoint Review|
|Communication||100% Cellular||Broadband with Cellular Backup|
|Other||All costs included.||Requires internet service with Spectrum and will pull against your bandwidth limit.|
|24/7 Professional Monitoring|
|Crash & Smash Protection|
|Email & Text Alerts|
|Mobile App Control|
|Light Automation||Lamps Only|
|Geo Location Services||Unknown|
|Live Video Streaming|
|Motion Activated Video Recording|
|HD & Night Vision Video|
|Door Lock Automation|
|Energy Management Control|
|30-Day, 100% Risk Free Trial|
|Move for Free|
|Min. Equipment Fee||$99.00||$99.00|
|Base Station Included||Yes, but touchscreen is extra.||Yes, touchscreen included.|
|Extra Motion Detectors||$64.99 ea||$99.99 ea|
|Extra Door/Window Sensors||$32.99 ea||$69.99 ea|
|Key Fob||$31.99 ea||$39.99 ea|
|Light Controllers||$49.99 ea||$49.99 ea|
|Add Additional Items|
|Learn More||Visit Site||Visit Site|
Summary of Spectrum’s Equipment and Monitoring:
- 100% Broadband Signal with Cellular and Battery Backup
- Free Professional Installation
- Requires that you have Spectrum internet service
- UL Certified 24/7 Monitoring – Burglaries, Fire, Medical, and More
- 5-Diamond Rated Emergency Response Center
- Wireless System = No Drilling
Using Spectrum for Home Automation
Spectrum offers home automation using Zigbee communication through a service formally known as IntelligentHome. Using this service, you can control lights, the temperature, locks, and small appliances from your smart phone or compatible personal device.
The app, available for iOS and Android users allows you to customize your system settings. You can also setup rules to run automatically. For example, you can have the system turn off lights when motion is detected in your master bedroom or see a photo of your children when they get home from school. Of course, if you aren’t an “app person,” you can also use the touchscreen panel to control your smart home. As mentioned above, you can use the touchscreen to watch live video footage, adjust your home’s temperature, and more. On a positive note, the last app update occurred May 12, 2017, almost an entire year post merger, proving that Spectrum is holding true to their promise of supporting current customers.
Locks and Cameras
Spectrum’s service is compatible with the Kwikset 914 SmartCode Remote Door Lock, following Xfinity‘s lead. They do not sell this lock directly, but it’s easy to find and can be picked up from Amazon or Best Buy for around $100. The lock features a keypad, home automation via Z-Wave, one touch lock, and supports 30 user codes.
IntelligentHome also offers video surveillance using their indoor/outdoor security camera. The camera’s resolution (640p x 480p) is disappointing, but what’s even more disappointing is that you can only add up to six cameras. However, the camera can work alone or in a group. It sells for around $150 and offers night vision and the ability to live stream. It also offers 24/7 Playback.
For an extra $5 per month per camera, 24/7 Playback allows you to store a continuous video history for ten days. You can view the video history from the web portal or mobile app. If you don’t want to pay extra, the camera will capture video clips based on an event or pre-made rules. For example, you can create a rule to receive a video clip every weekday at 4 PM when your front door opens or setup a text alert if the front door doesn’t open.
What you need to know about Spectrum’s smart home service:
- Remote Arm and Disarm Abilities
- Customized Settings to Receive Text or Email Alerts
- Control from your smartphone or laptop
- Light, Lock, and Temperature Automation
- Interactive Video Monitoring
Customer Service & Support
Spectrum, like most triple play companies, isn’t known for customer service, but they do hold an A- with the BBB. That said, in a survey by DSL Reports, customers voted AT&T as the company with the worst customer service and Time Warner as the second worst in the nation. In the same survey, Comcast, one of America’s most hated companies, ranked 6th. They’ve also faced plenty of accusations including a lawsuit for allegedly lying about internet speeds and offering sub par service.
Another thing to consider is that via Spectrum, home security is tied to your internet service. What if you want to change your internet service providor? The answer is that you will pay an early termination fee, which is essentially buying out the remaining value of your home security contract. What if you move to an area without Spectrum service? While I’m not 100% clear on the answer to this question, I will say that the former TWC agreement stated, “You may not use the Time Warner Cable Equipment with another security services provider or move it to another location.” And yes, even post merger, maintaining internet service via Spectrum is required.
In general, these are all things to be mindful of. While bundling service may be tempting, there are home security providers capable of competing with Spectrum’s equipment and price who are committed to supporting home security, something we still aren’t convinced Spectrum plans to continue to do.
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