It’s not the most popular home security system out there, but we’ve heard pretty good things about Alder Security. So we spent several hours researching the system, then several days testing it out in our own home. And we’re excited to share our findings with you — the good, the bad, and the unexpected.
These DIY security systems are slightly more expensive than top-rated brands like Ring and SimpliSafe. But we must say, our Alder package included a slick 7” touchscreen control panel. So we were eager to dig in and try it out.
Like most tech-geeks, we like our gizmos and gadgets. But we also like to keep things simple and streamlined when possible. With this in mind, we were looking for a user-friendly security system with a modern twist. Something like Vivint (one of our favorite systems), only more affordable. We figured Alder might do the trick to keep burglars at bay and keep us safe in our home.
After testing the system for nearly 60 hours, we found that Alder is a solid perimeter alarm system with reliable 24/7 monitoring. We think it works fine for basic intruder protection — but you’ll be missing out on things like video and smart home features. And if you’re looking for a streamlined (dare we say “elegant”) user experience, we think there are better systems out there. With that said, let’s dive in to see how Alder protected our home and family.
Our Alder kit came with a handful of sensors and that handsome 7” touchscreen panel you see below. Now take a closer look… see something missing? Alder doesn’t include a base station, which is a critical component with most systems. Instead, the touchscreen panel works double-duty as your control center and smart hub, which we love to see.
Our kit cost $450 and included the following equipment:
Note that you’ll have to call Alder to order, as they don’t list products or prices on their website. To be honest, we don’t really like this approach; having to order by phone is a time-warp to the 90’s, especially for a DIY system. But then again it was nice speaking with a rep and getting a rundown on their equipment and options.
Pro Tip: Alder requires a phone consultation before you buy, which is a great opportunity to flex your negotiation skills. Don’t want to sign a contract or pay the $49 activation fee? It never hurts to ask!
Alder scores major points here in our book. Their sensors sport a slim profile, and we thought the touchscreen control panel was extremely well made. The device felt heavy in our hands and weighed about as much as a small watermelon. This speaks to the build quality (like a Rolex, sometimes the heavier the better!). Also, the packaging was on-brand right down to the user manual. So Alder gives a good first impression, but let’s see how it performs.
Alder claims that setup only takes 10 minutes, but we beg to differ. It’s definitely do-it-yourself easy, but it still took us about 35 minutes to install. Thankfully, once we plugged in the touchscreen panel, the install wizard walked us step-by-step through the process. You’ll want to get cozy with the control panel, as you’ll be using it A LOT with Alder.
The install wizard had us pair each of our sensors to the control panel, and then mount them around our home, one-by-one. So far so good.
Note that each entry sensor and motion sensor has double-sided tape for easy install. But we know a better way: use some adhesive velcro instead ($3 at Walmart). This little trick will allow you to take down your sensors to change batteries without peeling the paint off your walls. Highly recommended!
We think the sensors compare well to Ring Alarm (2nd Gen) sensors — though Ring sensors are better looking in our opinion. Check out the side-by-side snapshot below, with our Alder sensors on top and our Ring Alarm sensors on bottom.
Not bad, right? We actually appreciate the unbranded approach that Alder takes. Sometimes we don’t want to see ‘Ring’ every time we leave the house. Moving right along.
It’s worth mentioning that we had some difficulty setting up our 24/7 monitoring at first. When we called Alder customer service for help, we were put on hold for a full 30 minutes (not good!). But thankfully a fellow named Geno from tech support came on the line and got us back on track.
We came across some eye-opening things during our hands-on experience with Alder. Some good news, and other not so good news. Let’s start with the controls.
We accessed and controlled our Alder system primarily using the touchscreen panel, but we had plenty of options here.
FYI: Most DIY security systems are controlled primarily via mobile app. But with Alder, we mainly used the control panel and key fob, as Alder’s mobile app left a lot to be desired. Needless to say, Alder isn’t the best fit if you like doing everything from your smartphone.
In our eyes, the 7” touchscreen control panel is the crowning jewel of the Alder system. But before we get too ahead of ourselves, note that Alder’s panel doesn’t really measure up to ADT’s Pulse panel or Vivint’s Smart Hub. These devices are like full-on tablets, whereas the Alder panel is more limited in functionality. It’s like comparing the Palm Pilot’s of yesteryear (remember those?) to the powerful iPads of today. It also requires constant power, so we had to mount it near a standard outlet. We prefer wireless controls, like Ring’s keypad, but Alder’s panel has plenty of redeeming qualities.
Alder’s smart hub sure beats the standard push-button keypads that we see from other DIY brands (even Ring’s 2nd Gen system still comes with a push-button keypad!). With Alder we enjoyed the countdown arming & disarming timer, as well as entry announcements directly from the panel. So when someone entered through our front door, Alder announced “Front door, open.” With cheaper kits, all you get is a lousy chime.
So let’s say you’re eating dinner at night and hear “bedroom window, open” — you can get your wits about you, run out of the house, and call the police with the exact location of your tripped sensor. Very helpful! We were also able to change the voice from female to male, which we think is a nice little feature.
Pro Tip: There’s a nifty “envelope” icon in the top right corner of the home screen. This displays your most recent 200 activity messages (doors and windows being open and closed, alarm triggers, arms & disarms, panel tamper, etc.). You can customize your activity log in “settings.”
As with any touchscreen panel, we had to deal with grubby fingerprints and smudge marks from time to time. But while reading the user manual (page 4) we found that Alder has a “screen cleaning” mode that turns off all controls for 30 seconds, allowing us to get it squeaky clean. It’s the little things.
We did find some kinks in Alder’s software, especially with their app. Alder used to be on the SecureNet network,1 but they recently developed their own mobile app so that you can control your system using your smartphone.
The Alder app only gets 3 stars (see below), but we’d hesitate to rate it even 2 stars. That said, it’s important to recognize that Alder is brand new to the app game, so we’re confident they’ll fix the bugs in the months to come.
Unlike other home security apps we’ve tried, Alder’s app doesn’t offer live-stream video monitoring or anything fancy like that. We were able to arm and disarm our system, customize sensors, view our activity log, and that’s about it.
If we’re being honest, the design isn’t so hot either. Alder went with a red and yellow interface, which really doesn’t work (at least for us) with their blue and white branding. It gives off some serious Ronald McDonald vibes. See the image we snapped below.
One thing we found a little annoying was having to input our 4-digit PIN every time we wanted to open the app. Thinking this was a tech issue, we called in, and sure enough the tech team said that’s how it was designed. So whenever we had a false alarm going off, it took us an extra 5-10 seconds to put in our PIN and wait for the app to load. And at times we couldn’t access the app at all! We’d just get a “timed out” message. We added this to Alder’s suggestion box, so hopefully it gets worked out soon.
FYI: You have several ways to control your Alder system — touchscreen panel, mobile app, and key fob — so if one doesn’t work, at least there’s backup!
We wish we had better news to report on Alder’s app. After all, we love having smartphone controls — it’s how we prefer to manage our home security and smart home equipment. But we have to remember that any new software is bound to have its bugs. So we’ll give them time to iron it out.
We mostly controlled our Alder system with the key fob. It’s fast and easy, just like our car key/alarm. But there’s a couple of things to note here. First, you have to be within 100 ft. of your house, and you must hold it for a full second (one Mississippi) to arm or disarm your system. Once as we were walking home from the park with our pup, we thought we had disarmed the system, but the blaring siren upon entry told us otherwise. Oops.
You might be wondering if Alder has what it takes to scare away intruders. Well, during our tests, we found that the siren was louder than loud. It’s only rated around 85 decibels (we normally want to see 110-120 dB), but the pitch is absolutely ear-piercing. In fact, when we first began using Alder, the wife walked into the room and quipped, “sounds like a really loud smoke alarm.” So yes, it’s loud enough to make the bad guys get out of Dodge.
Did You Know: Alder is loud, but it doesn’t have to be. The “Silent Exit” feature let us arm our home announcement-free. The control panel kept quiet as we left our home, allowing our toddler to stay sound asleep. It’s a great feature to have, especially if you have little ones at home, or if you or your spouse leaves for work early in the morning. Gotta catch those Z’s!
One thing we like about Alder is their responsive monitoring. If someone tries to break into your home, your entryway sensors will send a signal to the monitoring center, and Alder will reach out pretty fast.
How fast? Well, not as lighting-fast as they say. Alder claims 7-second response times on their website, but we experienced closer to 30 second average response times (still not bad).
When our alarm went off, Alder contacted us using either two-way talk, which is built into the control panel, or by calling our cell phone. During one of our tests, it took their agents a full 45 seconds to reach out. A woman responder came through using the two-way voice and asked, “Is there an active emergency?” We told her no, and then she asked for our “safe word” and our name. All fairly standard… so far.
Then the strangest thing happened — when she said goodbye, we could still hear her fiddling at her desk for another 10-15 seconds before she finally hung up! So she could certainly hear anything that was spoken in our home during that time, which makes our spidey senses go off for privacy concerns. Then, when she finally hung up, the siren started blaring again. Needless to say, it wasn’t the best experience.
Despite this isolated issue, we were pretty happy with Alder’s 24/7 professional monitoring service. Most of the time the agents contacted us via phone call, and the interactions were flawless. And since Alder is 100% cellular-based — using 4G LTE cellular monitoring2 — we felt that our signal was reliable and our system was always connected.
Note that Alder does not make its own cameras… yet. They currently sell the outdoor Kami camera and the indoor Yi cam, both made by Yi Technologies. Both devices are solid, with features like 1080p HD resolution,3 night vision, smartphone controls, and two-way talk. The Kami cam even has AI-powered facial recognition, a feature we typically only see in high-end cameras like the Nest Cam IQ or Vivint Outdoor Pro.
With that said, Geno from Alder tech support told us we couldn’t integrate the cameras into Alder’s app. That means no live-streaming in the app — we’d have to download the Yi Home and Kami Home apps, which is disappointing. We also couldn’t view our live-feed on the Alder touchscreen control panel like we can with ADT, Vivint, and other brands.
The truth is, we like having access to all of our devices in one place (and we think you will, too). So we have to dock Alder some points here for limited-to-no camera integrations. Otherwise, the security cameras performed well during our hands-on testing.
Keep in mind that Alder offers a whole lineup of environmental sensors. Their “Life Safety” products include smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, along with freeze and flood sensors. They also have a medical alert pendant, which is not something we typically see from home security companies.
We do loads of research and testing of medical alert systems, and they can be a life-saver for seniors who are prone to slip and falls.4 Just hold the help button down for two seconds, and it will signal the monitoring center right away.
We think Alder’s pendant is an unsightly little thing and not very discreet. But it certainly gets the job done (we experienced 20 second response times on average). And kudos to Alder for even offering this service, as most home security brands don’t have any medical alert options at all.
As we mentioned above, Alder doesn’t list their equipment or monitoring prices on their website. We had to call in to get a rundown of their costs and fees. So we can’t quote you exact figures here.
With that said, Alder does require a one-time activation fee of $49, plus your first month’s bill for monitoring and equipment financing. This worked out to $44.99 per month for the monitoring package we purchased, but your mileage may vary. Note that Alder does offer a plan for as low as $35 per month, which isn’t the most affordable option we’ve seen, but it’s still cheaper than the industry standard. Check out our latest break-down of Alder’s pricing here.
Also, be ready to sign a 42-month agreement if you don’t purchase your equipment upfront. We’ve found that most folks plan to keep their systems in place for several years, so this shouldn’t be a deal-breaker. Also, there’s a 30-day risk-free trial, giving you an “out” if you end up not liking Alder.
We found that Alder Security offers reliable home security without a lot of frills. It’s not a perfect system (there’s really no such thing). For instance, we didn’t like the limited camera options and smart home features. And if we’re being honest, the Alder app doesn’t deliver the best user experience.
On the other hand, we felt very secure in our home, knowing that Alder’s reliable 4G LTE cellular monitoring was always there for us, and that goes a long way. Also, we really enjoyed using the touchscreen control panel, and everything was simple to set up and get started. So even if you’re new to home security systems, we think you’ll find Alder to be a good perimeter system for burglar detection.
Even though we aren’t completely impressed by everything Alder had to offer, the system still checks most of the boxes for quality home security. So if you’re considering one of these DIY systems, it might be worth it to hop on a call with one of Alder’s sales reps. All things considered, it’s not a bad solution for home security.
No, we were told that Alder allows self-monitoring for free. This is a good thing if you’re looking to save money on a home security system (no monthly fee!).
Not really. Alder does sell an indoor and outdoor camera made by Yi Technologies, but these cameras don’t really integrate into the Alder system. You’ll have to download separate apps to use the cameras.
If you don’t buy your equipment upfront, then you’ll be asked to sign a 42-month contract for equipment financing.
Yes, but we’ve found Alder’s mobile app to be somewhat buggy. However, seeing that the app is brand new, we imagine Alder will work out the kinks over the next several months.
Yes! We really enjoyed using Alder’s 7” touchscreen control panel. It’s very well made and offers lots of helpful features.
SecureNet. (2020). Security, Smart Home, and IoT Solutions.
Klein, M. (2016, October 7). What is 4G LTE?
1080p Video Quality. Wikipedia. Retrieved March 27, 2020.
National Council on Aging (NCOA). (Accessed July 23, 2020). Falls Prevention Facts.