abode Essentials Security System Review

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.

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’ll also discuss some auxiliary products that I didn’t buy but that would make a great addition to the system- glass break sensors, a security camera, keypads, indoor and outdoor sirens, and environmental monitoring devices like smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

Gateway

abode-security-system-review
abode Gateway. Photo provided by abode.

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

abode-security-system-review
abode Mini Door/ Window Sensor. Photo provided by abode.

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.

Motion Sensor

abode-security-system-review
abode Motion Sensor. Photo provided by abode.

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).

Key Fob

abode-security-system-review
abode Key Fob. Photo provided by abode.

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.

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.

abode Cam

Video quality

The abode Cam has 1080p HD video display, the industry standard, along with a nice field of view of 127 degrees. Unfortunately the camera cannot zoom, which is a shame as zoom is really useful for identifying intruders.

Audio

The camera comes equipped with two-way audio, meaning you’ll be able to speak to whoever you’re recording using your abode app. This is a great feature for speaking to someone in another room without having to strain your voice, or even scaring away intruders.

Storage

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, the abode Cam has no cloud storage options, but you’re free to upload your local storage onto a personal cloud like Dropbox if you want.

Smart Platform Integration

Like the rest of the abode security system, you can control the abode Cam with your voice through Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, the two most popular smart platforms. I’m glad that abode provides options for customers in both the Amazon and Google ecosystems, as it will make commanding the camera that much easier.

Artificial Intelligence

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.

Keypad

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.

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.

Options

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.

abode-security-system-review
abode Monitoring Options

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.

Contract Rules

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.

Customer Reviews

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.

Amazon

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

abode-app-review
abode App. Photo provided by abode.

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.

Features

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.

Reviews

What do customers think of the abode app?

Apple Store

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.

Google Store

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.

Gabe Turner

Gabe Turner

Gabe Turner is an attorney and journalist with a passion for home tech and secure, efficient living. Since graduating from NYU Law, he has maintained a paradoxical existence of trying to live life adventurously while remaining staunchly risk-averse. He is torn by the dual desires of wanting to only be in Brooklyn writing about housing policy and smart home tech and aspiring to visit his friends scattered across the globe. Gabe believes that stable, safe communities are the cornerstone to a vibrant and healthy society, and it is this passion that brought him to contribute to Security Baron.

Related News

Leave a Comment

Trending News

Follow Us

Reviews