If the security system industry was high school, then Scout would be the mysterious new kid that just moved to town. While it lacks the reputation of more established brands like ADT, its website is more than intriguing. Not only does Scout have tool-free setup, but it also has month-to-month contracts and integrations with- wait for it- Google Nest, IFTTT, Philips-Hue lightbulbs, Lifx, Amazon Echo and Google Home. That has to be the most smart home platform integrations I’ve ever seen in a security system. But does the actual Scout alarm system live up to the hype? In this review, I’ll tell you what each Scout product does, how well it works, how easy it was to set up, how professional monitoring and customer support work, and finally, what the app can do for you.
We like Scout Alarm for its DIY installation, many smart platform integrations, and lack of monthly fees.
What’s in a Scout Security System?
Right off the bat, I love that you can either choose from a system or order items a-la-carte. The website is super easy to navigate, so I was able to get some great information about the products before adding them to my cart.
The hub is your security system’s intelligence center. Plug it into your router to connect it with all the sensors. It comes equipped with a backup battery as well as 4G cellular, a nice touch that ensures that your system will stay on even if your power goes out (given you do a monthly subscription plan- more on this later). Built in to the hub is an 106 decibel siren, about as loud as a sporting event or table saw. Unlike other security system hubs, the Scout hub can tell you exactly which sensor went off, using names that you’ve created.
You don’t need your phone to arm and disarm your system. Just use the door panel. It comes with a radio-frequency identification (RFID) sticker and key fob, much easier than using the Scout app or entering a pass code. Just put the sticker on a secret object in your house, like a picture frame, and wave it in front of the door panel to arm or disarm your system. You’ll be able to share access with anyone you trust, making it easy for your dog-walker, babysitter, and children to arm and disarm your system. The door panel is wire-free and, like the hub, has an 106 decibel alarm, more than loud enough to scare away burglars. I’ve never seen a system utilize RFID, and I doubt that many burglars are going to guess that your system can be disarmed by a sticker. This is a really cool feature and I’m excited to see what’s next.
Know every time a door or window is opened or closed with Scout’s access sensors. You can also put them on anything off-limits, from the closet of your prized shoe collection to a liquor cabinet. The sensors mount just like stickers and are wire-free, creating a sleek look. When the sensor bar and the detector move apart, they’ll alert the hub which will in turn set off your alarm and notify you via mobile app. Please note that you don’t need access sensors on a door that already has a door panel.
They say that good things come in small packages, and this seems to be the case for Scout’s motion sensors. Though they’re only three and a half inches tall, they can detect motion up to 25 feet away. I’m a little disappointed by the sensors’ field of view- at only 90 degrees, you’ll need at least two in a room to get adequate coverage. I do love the design which allows you to mount the sensor in a corner, on a wall, or anywhere you want. Scout recommends using the motion sensors in rooms where intruders can gain access without a door or window, like hallways.
Put the glassbreak sensors near large windows and sliding glass doors to know the moment when glass breaks. They work from up to 15 feet away using Z-wave technology. Installing the glassbreak sensors is a bit more complicated than the motion and access sensors and will require some tools, but we’ll get to that later.
Like Toys-R-Us, VHS tapes, and print media, keys are a thing of the past. Instead, there’s smart door locks. Rather than using a key to open doors, you can use a keyless, digital touchpad or even your Scout app. Of course, it communicates with the rest of the Scout system, automatically locking when the system is armed and vice versa. Don’t worry about intruders hacking your door lock the same way they would an app: this lock is tamper-resistant making it impossible to decipher codes. I love that this lock allows you to give users unique codes and time frames. This is super-helpful for any hired help, like a housekeeper or dog walker.
Scout Indoor Camera
When it comes to my home’s security, I want to know exactly what’s happening in real time. That’s why I bought the Scout Indoor Camera. But is it up to Security Baron’s extremely high standards?
Looking at Scout’s indoor camera, I’m having serious deja vu. It looks nearly identical to the Amazon Cloud Cam, with a white base and black camera. I’m not criticizing- they’re both aesthetically pleasing, and there’s only so many ways to skin a cat. The camera plugs in via a ten-foot-long cord.
The video quality of the Scout Indoor Cam is pretty good. It has 1080p HD, the industry standard, but no ability to zoom and a low average field of view at 115 degrees. The lack of zoom is a bit of a letdown- my concern is that it’ll make it harder to identify criminals, if need be.
Unfortunately, the camera does not have two-way audio. That means that you won’t be able to communicate with whoever your camera is recording. This disappoints me because I’ve seen tons of examples of intruders leaving because the home owner spoke to them through two-way audio. I mean, imagine how freaked out you’d be if you were robbing what you thought was an empty house and then a voice started yelling at you from nowhere? But, Scout’s indoor camera only lets you watch, not speak.
The camera comes equipped with night vision powered by a single infrared LED light.
For cloud storage, you’ll need to do a monthly subscription plan, described in more detail below. While there’s no local storage option, you can store an unlimited number of clips to the cloud for up to 14 days. I’m disappointed at the lack of local storage because this means I can’t be totally in charge of my footage. I can’t download it, share it, or edit it in any way. I also like having both cloud and local storage as backups- if anything happens to my hard drive or cloud storage, I know I have another copy.
Smart Platform Integration
Like the rest of the system, the camera integrates with Google Nest, IFTTT, Philips-Hue lightbulbs, Lifx, Amazon Echo and Google Home. I love the flexibility. Pretty much whatever smart home platform you have will work with the camera.
Scout’s camera doesn’t have artificial intelligence- yet. Word on the street, they are looking to add a paid feature that would be able to differentiate between people and pets. We’ll keep you posted.
Scout doesn’t stop at protecting you from intruders. They also protect you from environmental dangers like smoke and carbon monoxide (CO). I didn’t buy any environmental monitoring from Scout, but I thought I’d give you to the rundown anyway.
Smoke/ CO Sensor
If you don’t already have them, the smoke/ CO detector is a great choice. First of all, it detects both smoke and CO- usually this requires two sensors. Unlike your grandmother’s smoke and CO sensors, which just beep annoyingly, the Scout sensors will notify you anytime a siren sounds directly to your smartphone or tablet. Whether you’re in the other room or “finding yourself” in Thailand, you’ll know if your house has any air issues. I also love that you can mute alarms at the touch of a button. I’ve spent many a morning standing on a chair, trying to figure out how to shut my smoke alarm off so I can go back to sleep. The mute button eliminates that problem. Plus, if you’re on the Always On+ plan, the sensor can dispatch the fire department if necessary- but we’ll get to that later.
Finally, for leaks, there’s the water sensor. Put it under sinks, next to washing machines, and in basements to detect leaks before serious flooding occurs. These devices come with an optional extension probe which prevents water damage, so you can reuse the sensors. You can either sit them on the ground or attach them to a wall via the extension probe. These sensors are less than two inches big, so they’re not going to be eyesores.
I’ll admit it: I had some hiccups installing the Scout Alarm system. I would recommend doing everything one-by-one, unlike me. Just by pulling out the battery strips before I was supposed to, I made installation a lot harder for myself.
The first thing I set up was the hub, which requires both a power adapter and an ethernet cable. I had to enter an activation code that came in the Scout box to make sure I was the correct person setting up the system. As for the door panel, access sensors, and motion sensor, all I had to do was go into the app, select the device I was setting up, pair it with both the hub and the app, and then physically install them. All of the sensors were peel and stick, which made the physical installation very easy, and I even tested the motion sensor to make sure it was working, which I appreciate.
Now for the Scout Indoor camera, by far the most difficult part of installation. First, I had to connect the power adapter to the back of the camera, which was really difficult considering its placement, which you can see in the above photo. Just to use the camera at all, I had to pay for professional monitoring, which I was not aware of. Then, when I accidentally put a space in my password, (heavens!), I had to reset the camera multiple times by holding down the button for 45 seconds each. All in all, it was not a smooth process, so I can’t commend Scout on their easy installation.
Professional Monitoring with Scout
Scout prides its systems on being easy to use. While you can completely monitor your security system on your own, they also offer 24/7 professional monitoring. Professional monitoring is great for anyone that has obligations outside of the home (re: pretty much everyone). As much as you would like to, you’re not always going to be available to deal with every home security issue that comes up. Your monitoring team, however, is available round the clock. I recommend that you get professional monitoring on any security system you choose, Scout included.
Keep in mind that even if you choose to self-monitor, you’ll still pay a fee of $9.99 a month or $107 a year in order to use your camera. Along with use of your camera you’ll get cellular backup and notifications via email, mobile, push, and SMS.
We like Scout Alarm for its DIY installation, many smart platform integrations, and lack of monthly fees.
How monitoring works
Say one of your sensors go off when you’re not home. You’ll be immediately notified via a push notification, of course, but your sensors will also communicate with the professional monitoring team. From UL-certified monitoring centers, the monitors will deal with the police or fire department for you. Of course, they’ll check in via video to make sure that calling in help is necessary.
There are two monitoring plans to choose from- Always On and Always On+.
Let’s start with Always On. At only $9.99 a month, you’ll get cellular and battery backup, email, mobile, and push notifications, and SMS alerts. Adding 14 days of cloud camera storage is only $2.99 a month per camera. If you want to pay for the whole year at once, Always On will cost you $107, saving you 10 percent.
The Always On+ plan has all the features of Always On, plus free cloud storage for your first camera and 24/7 professional monitoring. It’s $19.99 a month, or $215 a year (also saving you 10 percent). I’d recommend doing the Always On+ plan, as extenuating circumstances make it impossible for you to monitor your home’s security 24/7.
I love that Scout has absolutely no cancellation fees. Even if you purchased a yearly plan and want to bail, they’ll give you a pro-rated refund.
Scout’s Customer Support
The phrase “customer support” alone elicits frustrated groans. However, not all customer support systems are created equal. How does Scout’s measure up, and can it actually be described as supportive?
How It Works
I love that Scout gives you a lot of different options for support. On their website, you’ll find video tutorials, a community forum, as well as a “Knowledge Base” with answers to frequently asked questions. If you’re looking to speak to a customer support representative directly, you can either use email, an online form, or call them directly everyday from nine AM to six PM CST. While I prefer that customer support lines are available 24/7, I’m pretty pleased with Scout’s support infrastructure.
Personally, I had a great experience with customer support. I called with a few questions about the camera, and was very quickly connected with a representative. She was extremely knowledgeable, straightforward, and most importantly, I didn’t feel like she was trying to sell me something. For the dog-eat-dog world of security sales, this is a rarity.
But what do other people think?
Remember when all you had to go off was word of mouth? Rather than seeing large amounts of data on a product or service, you had to spend your money based on what your crazy Aunt Ruth thought. Times have changed, and online customer reviews are a great tool to gauge quality.
I was a bit surprised to see that the Scout security system only has a 3.5 out of five star rating on Amazon. While about two-thirds of the reviews were five stars, a little under a third of the reviews were one star. However, when I looked at the reviews mentioning customer service specifically, I was happy to see that five out of seven were five star.
As Scout Alarm is one of the newer kids on the block, they only have three reviews on Google. The good news is that they are all five stars. The bad news? No one bothered to write any text besides the star rating. I can’t say that this is particularly helpful, although I’m glad that those three people had a positive experience.
The Scout Alarm App
Just as there are apps to count your steps, help you do math and refill your prescriptions, you can also use the Scout Alarm app to control your security system.
The Scout app is where you’ll receive all the latest on your security system- which alarms have gone off, who’s at your front door, whether your kids got home from school, etc. You can use the app to arm and disarm your system, check out your home’s recent activity, and control all connected devices.
People love to complain, and the internet has made that easier than ever. What did people think of the Scout Alarm app?
The Scout Alarm app received a 3.3 out of five star rating on the Apple store, only slightly above average. The reviews were pretty evenly split between five stars, three stars, and one star. I saw a few people complain of delays on sensors, which is problematic, but the app seemed to be user-friendly in general.
Similarly, the app got 3.6 out of five stars on the Google Play Store. While most reviews were five stars, the rest were almost perfectly split between four, three, two and one star reviews. Many people had issues with upgrades, which seems to cause connection problems.
Recap of the Scout Security System
So, will you take a chance on one of the newer faces in home security? The Scout security system may be your perfect match if you’re looking for:
- Integrations with Google Nest, IFTTT, Philips-Hue lightbulbs, Lifx, Amazon Echo and Google Home
- Non-term length contracts
- 1080p HD video display
- Good customer service
However, Scout is not without its flaws. If any of the following scare you, Scout might be be the best choice:
- 115 degree field of view
- No ability to zoom/ pan on camera
- No two-way audio
- No local storage
- No artificial intelligence features
- 24/7 professional monitoring, cellular backup, and notifications not included
- Mixed reviews on app
- Clunky installation
Thanks for reading and let us know if you have any questions! Be sure to check out the best security systems of 2019 for more options.