XFINITY Home Security ReviewBy - 11/21/2018
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 backup 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 Home Secure is a “starting point.” From what I’ve gathered, this has more to do with equipment cost than it does service. If you bundle service, you will pay $29.99 for the first year. Without bundling your services together for a discount, Home Secure starts at $39.95 per month and covers almost all of Comcast’s home security and automation services. The monthly fee will only increase if you choose to add continuous video recording and your upfront fee will only increase if you choose to add extra equipment. 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 quarterly (and usually in the wrong direction), I’ve never been able to figure out exactly how that happens. Frontpoint’s price, however, is 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 Interactive||Home Secure|
|Installation Type / Time||Self-Install when you’re ready /
Up to 6 Hour Window
|24/7 Security & Professional Monitoring|
|Battery and Cellular Backup|
|Real-time Text & Email Alerts|
|Remote Arming and Disarming|
|Geo Location Services|
|Light Automation||(Requires Ultimate Package)|
|Temperature Automation||(Requires Ultimate Package)|
|Lock Automation||(Requires Ultimate Package)|
|Video Monitoring||(Requires Ultimate Package)||Live Streaming, Saved Clips, and Video Alerts|
|Continuous Video Recording||Add $9.95/month/camera|
|Requires Subscription to High Speed Internet|
|Trial Period||30 Day Money
|30 Day Return Period on Orders Under $500|
|Our Review||Frontpoint Security Review|
|Both Xfinity and Frontpoint allow equipment customization. Below you will find an outline of what you will receive for $99.|
|Installation/Equipment Cost As Described Below||$99.95||$99.00|
|Door or Window Sensors||3 Included||3 Included|
|Motion Sensors||2 Included||1 Included|
|Wireless Keypads||0 Included||1 Included|
|Awards||Angie’s List Super
|IoT Breakthrough Award|
|App||iOS, Android,Blackberry, Windows Phone, Pebble, Fire TV, Apple TV, and Apple Watch||iOS, Android, and X1|
|Learn More||Visit Site||Visit Site|
Home Secure Included Equipment
There is no equipment fee if you opt for 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 touchscreen controller, three door/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 touchscreen controller, three door/window sensors, one motion sensor, one wireless keypad, two indoor/outdoor cameras, two lighting controllers, and one smart thermostat.
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||$199.95||24/7 live video monitoring inside or outside your home.||Includes Event Clips, 24/7 Video Recording is $9.95/month|
|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.|
Xfinity Home Core Devices
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. Comcast is calling these new devices their "core connected security devices," and there are five of them: the touchscreen, camera, keypad, motion sensor, and the door/window sensor.
- XFINITY Home Touchscreen Controller: HD Screen, Improved Resolution
- XFINITY Home Camera: HD, Indoor/Outdoor Camera
- XFINITY Home Wireless Keypad: Includes a Countdown System and Chime
- XFINITY Home Motion Sensor: Flatter Design
- XFINITY Home Door & Window Sensor: Increased Battery Life and Sensor Range
If you have your own home security equipment, you might be able to use it with XFINITY Home services. If your equipment is compatible and in good working condition, you should be able to access 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 touchscreen 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. Also, 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 as if 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.
Summary of Xfinity's Monitoring and Equipment:
- 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.
XFINITY Smart Home Automation
XFINITY offers full home automation using Zigbee and WiFi. If you want to use their services for your smart home, you have three ways to get there:
- Purchase Home Secure
- Sign Up for Home Control 150
- Become an Xfinity Internet Subscriber
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.
What the package lacks is lock automation. You can use the Works with Xfinity recommended locks, but you can only control them from the web portal, not the mobile app. If you want to control locks using the mobile app, you will need to subscribe to Home Secure.
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, their indoor/outdoor camera for $199.95, 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 also supports smart door locks. Through a partnership with Kwikset, you can integrate four smart locks through Works with Xfinity: the Kwikset Smartcode™ 914 Touchpad Deadbolt, SmartCode™ 910 Deadbolt, SmartCode™ 912 Deadbolt Lever, and the SmartCode™ 916 Touchscreen Deadbolt. If you prefer, you can purchase the August Smart Lock to add to your system or a Yale Assure 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.
No matter which lock you pick, you will have access to the same features. You can view your lock's status, remotely lock or unlock your door, and create automated rules or automated commands. For example, you can set the system to notify you if your door is still unlocked by 11 p.m.
Smart Home Services via Xfinity Internet
Comcast was back in Vegas for CES 2018 where I sat down with Dennis Mathew, Comcast's Vice President of Wholesale and Xfinity Home Product Management. Of the announcements they made, the merger of internet and smart home services was the most exciting. According to Mathew, smart home services will soon be integrated into the XFINITY xFi app which means that 15 million plus internet customers (those with an Xfinity Gateway router) will soon be able to see the power of XFINITY automation. With the right internet service and equipment in place, you will have access to smart home features for free.
Recently, Comcast acquired Stringify, a service similar to, and arguably better than, IFTTT. According to Mathew, the acquired technology will be used to enhance Xfinity's rule creation process making access to their new system a pretty darn good value. We've been monitoring their progress on the Stringify end since CES, and things are looking up. They've released a few automation features using Stringify's Scenes and Flows (scenes that you can trigger using rules) allowing you to automate your TV. For example, you can now create a scene or Flow to turn on the news when you get home.
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 continuous video recording (CVR) for an extra $9.95 per month per camera.
If you choose the CVR 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 or keep the videos in the cloud for up to 10 days. As a side note, Xfinity Internet subscribers with access to the xFi app can also add continuous recording for the same price of $9.95 per month per camera.
The CVR plan also adds A.I. including the ability for the camera to distinguish people and vehicles. If the camera detects motion caused by a person or a car, it will zoom in on what caused the event making it easier to sort through to find relevant footage.
If you own multiple compatible cameras, you can choose to swap your CVR plan from one camera to another using the app or web portal. For example, on weekdays, when everyone is away, you can activate continuous recording on your indoor camera. But on weekends, you can switch continuous recording to your porch camera.
Cameras with continuous recording can also be incorporated into rules. For example, you can use your phone's location to turn off continuous recording whenever you're home.
XFINITY Home uses an indoor/outdoor camera for home security. Both the newest camera (Xfinity Home Camera) and iCam2, its predecessor, work with 24/7 recording, but only Xfinity Home Camera works with both Xfinity Home and Xfinity Internet offers.
Xfinity Home Camera (xCam) has an IP rating of 54. The first digit, 5, means that it is dust protected. Dust is not entirely prevented from entering the interior parts of the camera, but as long as the amount of dust isn’t crazy serious, the camera can handle it. The second digit, 4, is its resistance to water. This rating means that splashes of water against the case will not harm the camera. It is not resistant to water jets or water coming out of a nozzle nor is it resistant to complete submersion; it's simply resistant to splashing.
Even if the camera isn't ready for war, the Xfinity Home Camera can be used indoors or outdoors to protect and monitor any part of your home.
Of course, for many Comcast customers, your internet signal may not reach the great outdoors. Thankfully, Comcast planned ahead. According to Comcast,
xCam doesn’t connect to your router’s Wi-Fi. Instead, a Wi-Fi signal is routed through your power source. That way, you can connect the camera to Wi-Fi even outside your router’s normal range.
If you still have concerns, Comcast sells a powerline device for $59.95. The powerline device "creates a high-bandwidth Ethernet connection that utilizes your home's electrical wiring and can be used to connect your touchscreen controller and cameras to your router."
As far as hardware, the camera functions day and night. With the help of its dual image sensors, xCam can provide a clear image for surveillance during the day. At night, it uses infrared illumination to see objects in the dark. This way, it's able to provide protection 24/7.
xCam offers a wide-angle view (109-degrees), HD 720p video, and records at 30fps. Also, while streaming, xCam uses Triple Streaming. This means that it can stream video using H.264, MPEG, or M-JPEG. Finally, the camera can interact with other connected devices, like lights and sensors.
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, August lock, Lutron lights, MyQ by Chamberlain, and Philips Hue lights.
|Partner Name||Known Compatible Devices|
|August||Smart Lock (requires August Connect)|
|Cor Thermostat||Cor WiFi Thermostat|
|ecobee||ecobee3, ecobee3 Lite, ecobee 4|
|GE||In-Wall Switch/Dimmer, Plug-in Wireless Smart Switch/Dimmer|
|Kwikset||910, 912, 914, 916|
|Lutron Caseta Wireless||In-Wall Light Switch PRO, In-Wall Dimmer, In-Wall Dimmer PRO, Plug-in Lamp Dimmer|
|Nest||First, Second, and Third Gen|
|Philips Hue||All Lights (Hue Bridge Required)|
|Sengled||Sengled Element Touch|
|Tile||Tile Bluetooth Tracking Device|
|Cuff||Smart Jewelry (Coming Soon)|
|Arlo||Unknown (Coming Soon)|
|Automatic||Car Adapter (Coming Soon)|
|Leeo||Smart Alert Nightlight (Coming Soon)|
|Rachio||Sprinkler (Coming Soon)|
|SkyBell||Doorbell (Coming Soon)|
|Whistle||Pet Monitor (Coming Soon)|
Using the program allows you to manage all of your smart home devices, even the third-party ones, using one mobile app: XFINITY Home. 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.
In addition to providing app support, XFINITY provides tech support for third-party devices. If you need basic assistance setting up your Nest Thermostat, for example, you can call XFINITY for guidance. They will also provide guidance around basic usage, produce advice, and even rule creation assistance.
I think it's easy to see how third-party integrations might chip away at some of XFINITY Home's value and I shared my concerns with Mathew. Mathew described Works With Xfinity as a "common frenemy type situation." Yes, you can self-install your third-party devices. Yes, if you add a third-party camera and it offers cloud storage you would pay them, not XFINITY. And yes, if you call XFINITY they are going to lead with their own products and services, not someone else's. However, many customers who call into Comcast for Home Service already own third-party devices, and this opens the door for XFINITY to march in with their Works With XFINITY program where they can provide value such as one app for multiple devices, advanced rule creation, and even control via your TV.
According to Mathew,
We can make the experience richer. We can make it better. And we're okay with that.
Remote Control Through Apps and X1
All of this, both home automation and home security, is controlled through the mobile app. If you access smart home services via your XFINITY Gateway, you'll use the xFi app; otherwise, you'll use XFINITY Home.
And while Home 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 their 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 can even 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. Unfortunately, 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 of the monthly fee and installation if your installation cost falls below $500.
A few things to consider before signing the dotted line:
- Potential Financial Penalty 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.
What I do like is their smart home service offered via the XFINITY Gateway. If you're already paying for XFINITY Gateway service, I highly recommend diving into the smart home offering when it launches later this year.
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