Abode is a newcomer to the home security market. And like any new company that claims to keep people safe and secure, we’ve been testing their systems quite intensively. Abode does offer decent home protection with lots of customization options. And they come stacked with some pretty neat smart home features, too.
Abode’s prices compete with other brands like Ring Alarm, SimpliSafe, and Alder. Also, the company is headquartered right in the heart of San Francisco, so we had high hopes when it came to tech innovation (perhaps our hopes were too high). We were itching to get our hands on their systems to see if they measured up to the more established brands.
So we dove right in! And we resurfaced with a handful of great features that we think you’ll like. But…we also identified a number of blind spots and weaknesses that you must consider before securing your abode with these kits. So, let’s take a look and see if Abode’s no-contract, DIY home security systems are right for you and your home.
If we zoom out and look at Abode’s pricing from a bird’s-eye view, we get a sense that it’s the most affordable option out there. After all, the equipment starts at only $179, and the monthly monitoring is just $8.33 per month — and that’s for the premium plan! But looks can be deceiving. When we zoom in, we start to see the full picture.
The $179 Smart Security Kit is decent, but it only comes with a Gateway Hub, one entry sensor, one motion sensor, and one key fob. That’s very minimal equipment. If you don’t live in a top-floor studio apartment, then you’re going to have to purchase additional devices like door and window sensors. This requirement isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it’s something to consider.
Then there’s the iota All-in-One Security Kit. This system is also cheap — starting at $199 — and includes a smart hub with a built-in camera and motion detection. But again, it’s only a 3-piece system with the hub, one entry sensor, and one key fob. As you can see, Abode’s equipment is cheap compared to other systems out there. But as they say, you get what you pay for! Don’t count it out just yet. There are ways you can expand the system and make it work for your situation.
FYI: Abode recently expanded their selection with an outdoor smart camera. With facial recognition, two-way talk, and 1080p HD resolution, it could be the perfect addition to your custom home security system.
Abode has only been on the scene since 2014. So they don’t really have the deep industry experience like a Vivint or ADT. Or do they? You might be surprised to learn that former ADT exec Christopher Carney founded Abode.1 Then more recently, in 2018, Abode received a majority stake investment from the Italian tech company Nice S.p.A. — a powerhouse in the home automation market.2
So what does that mean for Abode’s future? Well, in our research we found that Abode plans to take on global markets with their new partner-in-crime (or more accurately, partner-in-protection). So look out, big things might be on the horizon. But as far as home security here on American soil, Abode has some catching up to do. From our experience, we do think their offerings reflect the company’s young age. But we expect Abode to pick things up in the years to come.
Eager to begin testing Abode, we paid a visit to their website to purchase a system (or two!). We have to say, the Abode sign-up process was one of the easiest and fastest we’ve ever experienced. You can either choose the kit that best suits your home or create a custom system using their Build My System tool.
At checkout, we had the option to add Abode’s Secure Plan (24-7 professional monitoring) for an additional $80, so we went for it. Then we filled in some personal info, and that was it! In all, the process took 4 to 5 minutes from start to finish. It’s also worth noting that every starter kit comes with a 30-day, money-back guarantee, a one-year warranty, and free shipping.
Pro Tip: Money-back guarantees are important, and something we always recommend. If you find that the system isn’t right for you after trying it for a few weeks, simply send it back for a full refund. Most companies offer a guarantee of some kind.
Remember, Abode only offers two starter kits and a customized build-a-kit option. So there’s really no way you’ll get overwhelmed by too many options. Believe it or not, it’s easier to stand up in a hammock than it is to find what you need from certain companies out there. But we digress.
We wanted hands-on experience with Abode’s iota Security Kit, which is their “premium” package with the hub+camera combo. But we also wanted to try out the Smart Home Kit to see the capabilities of the Gateway Hub. They say you can connect up to 160 smart devices to it, and let’s be honest, we’re all about our smart home gizmos and gadgets.
So we purchased both kits and various add-on accessories — not because we wanted to, but because the kits only come with limited devices. We bought a few extra entry sensors, along with the outdoor smart camera, a panic button, and a few environmental hazard sensors. Note, we didn’t buy Abode’s smart home devices (they only sell two products anyway), as we planned on integrating our compatible Z-Wave and Zigbee devices to the systems.3
FYI: It’s better to have too many entryway sensors than too few. After all, what’s the sense in having your whole home secure, except for your back door? Also, Abode sensors are reasonably priced.
It took several days before our Abode products arrived. Abode promises 5 to 7 day delivery times, which we think is a bit slow, especially when you want to protect your home and family. When the packages arrived, the boxes had an almost Apple-esque feel to it — definitely a very “Silicon Valley” impression at first glance. Unboxing the products, we could tell right away that the construction wasn’t the highest quality, though. The devices felt a little cheap and clunky (the Gateway Hub specifically), but considering the price we paid, we certainly had tempered expectations. Thankfully, we didn’t run into any problems during installation.
First, we plugged the main hub into our router. Remember, this system runs on Wi-Fi with battery and cellular backup (which we didn’t love). We then installed the Abode app, which is available free for iOS and Android.4
Next, we installed the sensors and cameras around our home. It only took us about 10 minutes to install the entry sensors, using the provided removable adhesives, and another 5 to 10 minutes to mount the cameras. Finally, all that was left to do was connect the devices to the hub. Setup was simple, but not as simple as other DIY systems we’ve tested.
Most DIY systems are easy to use right out of the box. With Abode, we were able to control our systems using our smartphone. Remote access and control are nice, but sometimes it’s more convenient to arm and disarm the system using a keypad at home (personal preference, I guess!). But alas, Abode doesn’t include a keypad in any of their starter kits! If you really want one, you’ll have to fork out $69 to purchase one separately. Otherwise, if you’re just using Abode for its basic features, it’s very easy to use.
Did You Know: The Abode Keypad 2 control panel has a built-in motion sensor and stores up to 40 unique PIN codes. Unfortunately, it doesn’t come with the starter kits.
We came across a few negative reviews of Abode during our initial research. The complaints ranged from defective systems to slow turnaround on tech support tickets. Nothing too crazy. We’ve been doing this a long time — so we expected some hiccups along the way. However, we had a good experience with their service team. One thing we liked was the extensive online resources they offer. We didn’t like that the “Contact Us” button on their website went straight to email instead of a phone number to call. Sure, Abode holds a C rating with the BBB, but we’d give them a solid B in this category.5
Here’s what you need to know about Abode’s monitoring plans. They offer one free plan that allows for self-monitoring via mobile app. This option is great if you don’t want another monthly payment, and you don’t mind keeping tabs on your own system. Abode also has two paid plans called Connect ($3.33 per month) and Secure ($8.33 per month).
|Type of Protection||Self-monitoring via mobile app||Self-monitoring + 4G cellular backup||24/7 professional monitoring|
|Timeline & Media Storage||3 days||14 days||90 days|
|4G Cellular Backup||No||Yes||Yes|
|Premium phone Support||No||No||Yes|
|Price||Free||$3.33 per month||$8.33 per month|
Essentially, the cheaper Connect option is just a glorified self-monitoring plan with 14 days of video storage and 4G cellular backup in case your Wi-Fi goes down. On the other hand, the Secure plan gives you 24-7 professional monitoring, 90 days of media storage, and other features.
We liked that all of Abode’s monitoring plans allow you to connect up to 160 devices to the system, and each plan also comes with their smartphone app. If you do choose Abode, we’d recommend the top-tier Secure plan. We put the features and the response times to the test, and it served us pretty well (but not great).
However, since their professional monitoring uses Wi-Fi (instead of cellular signals) it’s not as fast or reliable as many other systems out there. Also, don’t get too excited about the prices. Those prices only apply to customers who pay upfront for the year, and they’re subject to change upon renewal. All in all, nothing truly impressed us with Abode’s monitoring plans.
During testing, we found a few helpful Abode features. But honestly, the technology wasn’t mind-blowing in any way. We would say that Abode gets average marks in this category. Here’s a roundup of the features and tech we liked the best:
Wireless Equipment — All of Abode’s devices are wireless and battery-powered. This attribute means the installation is easy, and there’s no drilling into walls or fussing with wires.
Abode iota Gateway Hub — This device comes with Abode’s premium starter kit. It has a built-in camera, motion sensor, and 93 dB siren.
Video Capability — All of Abode’s plans offer some type of video capture, recording, and storage. Using the mobile app, you can view live video streams directly from your smartphone.
FYI: Abode’s free Basic plan includes three days of video storage, but there are no cameras included!
We already touched on how Abode starter kits come with very limited equipment. So you’ll probably need to purchase additional devices to secure your home (we sure had to!). These expansions can rack up quite the tab over time, so just be smart about the extra devices you purchase. The good news is that the individual product prices are fairly reasonable.
|Abode Equipment||Equipment Type||Cost|
|Door/Window Sensor||Entry Sensor||$20|
|Mini Door/Window Sensor||Entry Sensor||$22|
|Slim Strip Door/Window Sensor||Entry Sensor||$29|
|Recessed Door/Window Sensor||Entry Sensor||$27|
|Vibration Glass Break Sensor||Sensor||$27|
|Acoustic Glass Break Sensor||Sensor||$34|
|Multi Sensor||Motion + Sensor||$35|
|Wide-Angle Motion Camera||Camera/Sensor||$79|
|System Status Indicator||Control||$29|
|Smart Home Power Switch||Control||$35|
|Smoke Alarm Monitor||Environmental Device||$39|
|Water Leak Sensor||Environmental Device||$45|
So what’s the verdict? Should you turn your home into a humble Abode? Well, it depends. There are certainly some great things about Abode, like their affordable monitoring plans, easy DIY installation, and smart home options. Overall, we didn’t walk away overly impressed with their systems.
Compared to many other brands we’ve researched and tested, Abode fell short in a few categories. For instance, we like to see cellular monitoring, but Abode’s monitoring is powered by Wi-Fi. The biggest issue we had was with their starter kits and the lack of devices you get for the money. So Abode might be a good fit for you if you’re willing to piece together a self-monitored system from scratch. Otherwise, we think your money will go further elsewhere.
No, Abode offers easy DIY installation that only takes about 20 minutes.
Unfortunately, Abode systems use WiFi to function, which we’ve found to be less reliable and slower than cellular connections.
The starter kits are actually very cheap, but most people will have to purchase extras to secure their home, which can add up in cost.
Yes, Abode works with several third-party smart devices, including Amazon Echo for voice control.
No, Abode does not require any long-term contracts.
All of Abode’s equipment is wireless, so there’s no drilling into walls or messing with wires.
Users can return their system within 30-days for a full refund.
Abode. (2020). About Us.
Nice S.p.A. (2020). About.
Z-Wave. (2020, April 7). Wikipedia. Retrieved April 10, 2020.
Abode Systems, Inc. (2020, February 12). Abode. Google.
Abode: Better Business Bureau® Profile. (2020, March 2). BBB.
Burgess, M. (2018, February 16). What is the Internet of Things? Wired.