Note: abode now offers email and phone support to all of its customers regardless of their monitoring plan.
A company that spells its name in all lowercase letters has to be good, right? In this review, we’re talking all things abode, a security company founded in 2014 by experts in security and tech including a former ADT executive. This San Francisco based company prides itself on its many smart platform integrations- seriously, I’ve never seen so many in my life! The system works with companies like Philips Hue, Kwikset, Linear, Net, Yale, Zigbee, Amazon Echo, LIFX, First Alert, Z-Wave, Ecobee, and Google Assistant. Unlike many older security companies, the abode security system only has four components. From there, the customer can choose exactly what they want in their security system. Did I mention that they don’t force you into any long-term contracts?
I purchased the abode Essentials Starter Kit which, like I said, only has four main components. They also offer products like glass break sensors, security cameras, keypads, indoor and outdoor sirens, and environmental monitoring devices like smoke alarm monitors and water leak sensors. Here, I’ll talk about what you get with the abode Security Kit, how well it works, and how easy it was to set up. Then, I’ll discuss your professional monitoring options, how customer support works, and finally, the abode app. Let’s get started.
With integrations with Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, and many other smart home products, abode would be a great choice of a smart security system.
What’s in the abode Essentials Starter Kit?
The abode Essentials Starter Kit includes one Gateway, one Mini Door/ Window Sensor, one Motion Sensor, and one Key Fob, along with a Secured by abode sticker which is pretty self-explanatory. I also bought the abode Cam because you know how much I love security cameras! I’ll also discuss some auxiliary products that I didn’t buy but that would make a great addition to the system- glass break sensors, keypads, indoor and outdoor sirens, and environmental monitoring devices like smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
The abode gateway is your security system’s main hub that communicates with all of your wireless smart home devices. Your sensors will communicate with the gateway, which will then alert you via mobile notification.
Mini Door/ Window Sensor
The system comes with a mini door/ window sensor, available in different sizes and even a recessed option for those concerned with decor. You’ll be notified when a door or window is opened or closed. The sensors are wireless and have a battery life of up to four years.
If your system is in Away mode and there’s movement in the motion sensor’s range, it will immediately let you (and your professional monitoring team, if you choose to pay for that) know. You should put it in big rooms with multiple windows, entryways, or hallways. The sensor can detect motion within a 35 foot range and an 110 degree field of view. Wireless, the motion sensor has a battery life of up to five years.
One feature of the abode motion sensor that I haven’t seen anywhere else is that it has built-in LED to test optimal placement. That’s right, this sensor can let you know if you’re picked a good home for it or not. That’s super helpful and should make installation a breeze (see below section).
To arm and disarm your system remotely, you can use the key fob. It’s exactly like a key to a house or a car, except it’s for your security system. Simply tap the button when you enter or exit your home to make sure you stay protected- no passcode necessary. As long as you are within 100 feet of the gateway, the key fob will work. You can even have multiple key fobs for multiple users, and track who’s using it through your abode app.
I absolutely love the design of the key fob. Unlike the bulky key fobs of some security systems which shall remain nameless, this one is sleek and minimalist, with buttons to arm, disarm, put the system on standby, or activate the panic alarm.
It’s not a proper security system without a camera, which is why I bought the abode Cam in addition to my Essentials Starter Kit. Let’s take a closer look.
The abode Cam has 1080p HD video display, the industry standard, along with a nice field of view of 152 degrees. Unfortunately the camera cannot zoom, which is a shame as zoom is really useful for identifying intruders.
Unfortunately, the camera does not come equipped with two-way audio, although abode says that it’s coming soon.
I was impressed with the camera’s night vision, which stems from only one infrared LED sensor. As you can see, it’s pretty clear.
The camera has a slot for a micro-SD card, although it doesn’t come with the card itself. You’ll be able to store your files locally on the card, which is great because it means you’re fully in control of them- how long you store them, where you put the files, and whether or not you share them with anyone. Unfortunately, I was not able to get the local storage to work, but fortunately the camera lets you save 30 second clips to the cloud. From there, you can download on Quicktime for a local storage alternative.
Smart Platform Integration
Unlike the rest of the abode security system, you can’t control the abode Cam with your voice through Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, the two most popular smart platforms. Oddly, it has no smart platform integrations whatsoever.
Unfortunately, the abode Cam does not have any artificial intelligence features like person detection or facial recognition. That means that you’ll probably receive a lot of unnecessary and annoying notifications when the camera detects motion from any moving object, be it a shadow, a car, or a pet.
For $149.99, I’m a bit disappointed with the abode Cam. While it’s a fine price for a smart security camera, it lacks some key features like two-way audio and person detection. I’d go with a camera like the Nest Cam Indoor, which hits those necessary features.
I had no issues getting my livestream to work and not too much lag, either. Overall, this camera was convenient to use and to set up.
Now for some extras!
Acoustic/ Vibration Glass Break Sensor
For your windows, there’s the glass break sensor in either vibration or acoustic. While the vibration sensor can detect attempted glass breaks, the acoustic sensor listens for the sound of glass breaking– see the distinction?
Just bigger than a quarter, I’m loving the Vibration Glass Break Sensor’s sleek design. You can adjust it to three sensitivity levels, which is great for preventing false alarms, and the sensor regulars tests itself to make sure everything’s working correctly. The Vibration Glass Break Sensor is wireless and has a battery life of up to four years.
For multiple windows in a single room, you can use the Acoustic Glass Break Sensor. It’ll work within a 25 foot range and has four sensitivity settings, one more than the vibration sensor. Like the vibration sensor, the acoustic sensor is completely wireless, but it has a shorter battery life of two and a half years- still pretty good though, if you ask me.
If you want to arm or disarm your system the old-fashioned way, abode offers a keypad. What’s cool about it, in contrast to your grandmother’s keypad, is that it can use up to 40 unique passcodes. Plus, you can track who has armed and disarmed your system through the abode app. I like that the keypad has real backlit buttons, as not everyone is super comfortable with a touchpad. Finally, the keypad has a built-in panic alarm and a battery life of up to five years.
Smoke Alarm Monitor
While abode doesn’t make smoke detectors themselves, they do provide a Smoke Alarm Monitor which can transform your current smoke alarm into a connected device. It works with all UL smoke detector, has a battery life of up to six years, and is completely wireless. All you have to do is place it next to your existing smoke detector. If your smoke detector goes off, the Smoke Alarm Monitor will hear it and will alert you immediately. Plus, if you do abode’s Secure Plan, the monitoring team can alert your local fire department for you- but more on professional monitoring later.
Water Leak Sensor
Finally, there’s the Water Leak Sensor, which can detect a leak before it turns into a flood. Just place it on a flat surface anywhere where water leaks can happen- laundry rooms, basements, garages, etc. If the device feels wetness, it’ll alert your phone immediately and sound off an 85-decibel siren. Honestly, this seems a little overkill to me- is it really worth the noise level of a passing diesel truck just because you have a small water leak? Especially considering you’ll be notified on your phone, the siren seems unnecessary to me. However, it does ensure that a water leak is not something you can miss.
The sensor has a super-long battery life of up to ten years, but you can also use a 45-inch detection cable if you’d like. And don’t worry- it self-tests to make sure it’s functioning correctly.
Installing the abode Starter Kit
The first thing you’ll install is your Gateway, which has an activation code on it. Just make sure you have the abode app, as it’ll give you step-by-step instructions. You can also use the web app if you prefer. First, you plug in your Gateway with a power adapter and ethernet adapter. Next, you install the motion and entry sensors, which are peel-and-stick. Finally, I installed my camera, which was much easier with the web app over the mobile app. All I had to do was plug in my ethernet adapter, connect my camera to Wi-Fi and boom, my security system was set up! Not too bad at all.
Professional Monitoring with abode
You have a few different options when it comes to monitoring your system. If you don’t want to pay for a monthly or yearly subscription fee on top of what you already paid for your equipment, you can choose to self-monitor through your mobile app at no additional cost. However, I recommend that you get 24/7 professional monitoring through either the Connect or Secure plan.
How monitoring works
Professional monitoring means that you’ll have a team of people whose job it is to make sure your home is safe. If one of your sensors goes off, they will be notified immediately and can contact emergency services for you if necessary. The team works out of a UL-Listed monitoring center and is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days of the year.
With integrations with Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, and many other smart home products, abode would be a great choice of a smart security system.
If you want 24/7 professional monitoring, you’ll need to invest in either the Connect or the Secure Plan, the latter being the most popular.
One really unique feature that I haven’t seen from any other security company is that abode gives you the flexibility to pay for on-demand professional monitoring- only $8 for three days, or $15 for a week. This is a really good option for someone going on a vacation or trip- you can just set it up so your system will be monitored when you’re away.
I do recommend doing at least the Connect Plan, however, due to its cellular backup. You’ll want your system to have cellular backup because it means that it will stay on in the event of a power outage. Think about it- what better time is there to rob then when all the lights are off?
Please note that with any of the plans, you’ll be able to be able to create up to 100 CUE automations. That means that you can set up connected devices in your home to respond to each other. For example, you can use geofencing to connect your security system to your phone, so your system automatically disarms when you arrive home. Another example would be to have the outdoor lights turn on when the back door is opened. You can even create actions based on when the sun rises and sets! I’m really impressed with the CUE system- it sounds incredibly convenient and innovative.
Another feature you’ll get no matter what is geofencing, or as abode calls it, geo-location interface. That means you can hook up your phone with the abode Gateway so that your system arms or disarms whenever you enter or exit. That certainly makes things easier!
You can either choose to do a yearly contract, and get some awesome savings, or pay month-to-month for flexibility. I love that abode doesn’t force you to sign a long-term contract- you really can cancel at anytime without consequence.
abode Customer Support
Customer support may seem like one of the necessary evils of the world, but it doesn’t have to be. I wanted to see how abode’s customer support worked, and what real abode customers thought of it. Let’s take a look.
How abode’s Customer Support Works
After reviewing so many security systems, I thought I’d seen it all. but alas, I was mistaken. Usually, all features of customer support are available to all of a company’s customers, regardless of their subscription status. However, that is not the case with abode. If you look at the chart above, you’ll see that the Basic membership gets you customer support through e-mail and the website. While you can get a callback after an email, you won’t be able to call support directly.
But how is the online support center and emailing process? In my opinion, the online support center is pretty bad. I was unable to find the answer to simple questions, like what the monitoring plans consist of or what the system’s warranty is. When I called, I got a voicemail (remember, I’m an existing customer) and was told to email the customer support team. This isn’t exactly the speed at which I like to be helped, especially if I’m dealing with my home’s security.
To call customer support directly, you’ll need to be a Connect or Secure member, and to get “premium phone support,” you’ll need to be a Secure member. What is premium phone support, you may wonder? Premium phone support means your calls will be prioritized over the calls of Connect members. Think of it like a fast pass, but for customer support.
Okay, I’ve made my point, but I’m not the only person that matters in the world. Let’s see how abode’s customers feel about its customer support.
I’m absolutely blown away by the customer reviews on the abode security kit. It has an overall 4.7 out of five star rating, with nearly eighty percent of the reviews at a perfect five stars! This is rare to see for any product on Amazon, security systems in particular. When I looked at the reviews that mentioned customer support/service specifically, I saw that two-thirds of the reviews were negative. Many people said that customer support took days to reach back out to them, leaving them with products that didn’t work. That’s not super surprising given that many people can only email customer support as a means of communication. Disappointing, but I’m very pleased with the overall rating.
Better Business Bureau
As abode is a newer company, there wasn’t much on the Internet in terms of customer reviews. The business does not have any customer reviews on the Better Business Bureau, and it only has one complaint, which it hasn’t responded to. Unfortunately, the claim details are not available, but the lack of response warranted the BBB’s overall rating of C-. Clearly, this isn’t enough of a sample size, so I wouldn’t look too deep into it.
The abode App
To control your security system, remotely, you’ll need the abode app (not to be confused with the Adobe app). Let’s see how it works.
On the abode app, you’ll be able to livestream footage (if you have a camera, that is), receive notifications, and control all of your connected devices– up to 160, to be exact.
What do customers think of the abode app?
The abode app received a 3.1 out of five star rating, which is pretty middle of the road. One review said the app makes it easy to arm and disarm the system as well as receive notifications. However, it appears that the app drains phones’ batteries, a small but annoying issue.
The app fared much better on the Google Play store, with a 4.2 out of five star rating. Brian Plick wrote,
“App works great and the fact they don’t limit my use based on what plan I have is fantastic. Keep those features coming!”
in a five-star review. Can’t get much better than that!
Recap of the abode Security System
This is a pretty interesting security system, and it definitely has its positives and its negatives. Let’s recap.
The best things about the abode security system are its:
- Smart platform integrations with Nest, Amazon Echo, Google Assistant, IFTTT, etc.
- Month-to-month contract options
- Option to self-monitor
- Simple security kit
- DIY installation
However, I wasn’t thrilled with the following:
- Only paid plans allow users to call customer support directly over the phone
- Disappointing customer support
- 24/7 professional monitoring not included
- Cellular backup not included
- Mediocre app
Hopefully this review helped you decide whether or not the abode security system is right for you! If you have any additional comments or questions, please leave them below. For more amazing options, check out the best home security systems of 2019.