Cue the “Cops” theme song! There was big trouble brewing when we tested the Cove home security system. Yes, that’s a police officer at our doorstep. And yes, we can explain. It’s a testament to Cove’s effectiveness, and we unpack it all right here in our in-depth look at this popular home security system.
Cove is brand-new to the market, but that hasn’t stopped the company from gobbling up quite the market share and making big claims. Their website states, “If you don’t like it as much as your children, send it back for a full refund.” It’s good for a chuckle, but does Cove really have what it takes to compete with the established home security systems out there? Spoiler alert: they sure do.
This fast-growing home security company has a few things going for them. First off, it rivals SimpliSafe when it comes to ease-of-installation (only took us 10 minutes to set up). Also, the sleek touchscreen control panel makes arming/disarming fast and simple. And finally, starting at only $14.99 per month, Cove has some of the cheapest month-to-month monitoring we’ve seen.
We did find a few weaknesses that we’ll share, but honestly, they were all fairly minor. So come along for the ride as we unbox Cove Security and test it for almost 100 hours in our home. We think you’ll be surprised at what we found.
One of the things that attracted us to Cove was the affordable price tag. We picked up a full system for about $250, and they threw in a free security camera with our package. Depending on the equipment you purchase, you can get out the door for under $200, or you could spend as much as $400 on a kit. So we found the prices right in-line — maybe even slightly cheaper — than DIY systems offered by Ring Alarm and SimpliSafe. Here’s a roundup of Cove’s equipment prices.
|Cove Equipment Costs||Product Type||Normal Price||Current Price|
|Cove Touch Alarm Panel||Touchscreen Control||$184||$92|
|Door/Window Sensor||Entry Sensor||$15||$7.50|
|Glass Break Detector||Sensor||$35||$17.50|
|Yi Indoor Camera||Security Camera||N/A||1 Free|
|Smoke/Heat/Freeze Detector||Environmental Sensor||$30||$15|
|CO Detector||Environmental Sensor||$50||$25|
|Flood Sensor||Environmental Sensor||$20||$10|
|Panic/Medical Button||Help Button||$20||$10|
Unfortunately, Cove doesn’t offer self-monitoring like some other companies, so you’ll have to sign up for a monthly subscription. But trust us here, it’s cheap, and it works like a charm. If a no-good burglar breaks into your home, Cove will send the help you need (as evidenced by the cop at our doorstep). And the prices start at $14.99 monthly, which is much cheaper than the industry average of $39.99. Here’s a full rundown of Cove’s plans and prices.
|Cove Plans||Cove Basic||Cove Plus|
|24/7 Professional Monitoring||Yes||Yes|
|4G LTE Connection||Yes||Yes|
|Works with Alexa & Google Home||No||Yes|
|Equipment Warranty||1-Year Warranty||Lifetime Warranty|
Cove arrived at our doorstep around 2-3 days after we placed our order. As we unboxed the equipment, we were struck by how organized everything was — the boxes each had a number, so we knew the exact order to unbox the goods. We also liked the turquoise branding, which might seem silly to point out, but aesthetics and presentation matters to us (ugly products and packaging don’t inspire confidence).
The equipment seemed well made, especially the control panel. In fact, on day 3 of testing, our toddler pulled the control panel cord causing it to fall onto our hardwood floor (oops!), but it took it like a champ. So the equipment can take a beating, which is always a plus. Note that the control panel can also be mounted to a wall, but it does need to be plugged into an outlet.
As for the sensors, they were a little bigger than we’d prefer. This wasn’t a deal-breaker, but we like slim-profile door/window sensors so that a big ol’ sensor isn’t the last thing guests see as they leave our home.
Cove’s sensors aren’t obnoxiously big, but they could use some trimming down in our opinion. The more discreet, the better! Then again, our Cove sensors don’t look so bad when mounted above our Vivint sensors. Here, have a look…
This brings us to Cove’s motion sensor, which is one of the smallest motion sensors we’ve seen. It’s about the size of a lemon, so we figured it would look pretty discreet tucked into the corner of our living room, while also protecting a large swathe of our living area should a bad guy break in.
Overall, our first impression of Cove was mostly positive. Now it was time to install it and live with the system to really get acquainted. We’ve been hearing high praise about Cove, so it was time to put it to the test!
In the box, we found a tiny booklet titled “Start Here.” On it were four easy steps to follow for do-it-yourself installation. Now mind you, we’re skeptical of any home security product that only takes four steps to set up. Even with so-called DIY systems, we often find that the workload can be upwards of an hour or more, and somewhere in the process we’re waiting on hold with tech support to get past hiccups and snags. Not so with Cove. The setup took 10 minutes from start to finish (10:50 to be exact).
FYI: When installing Cove, be sure to plug in the control panel into an outlet that is not controlled by a switch. The reasoning behind this is obvious — you’d be turning on or off the system every time you flip the switch. Not good!
Starting at Step 1, we plugged in the control panel, and a blue screen appeared and it took two minutes to “establish communications.” This was just the panel configuring its factory settings. Then, a welcome screen appeared that said, “Hi, welcome to Cove.”
Next we had to set our 4-digit master code, which you’ll use daily to access your system either in the app or from the control panel. Note that you can also add additional users once you’re all set up (the wife and kids will want access, too).
Then we got to work mounting the sensors. Remember how we mentioned the motion sensor was pretty unassuming? Well, here it is installed on our wall…
You’ll find the directions are very straightforward for the motion and entryway sensors. Like every DIY security system we’ve tested, they come with peel-and-stick adhesives on the back. So you can just stick ‘em up and move onto the next step. But here’s a quick tip on how the pros do it: we like to mount our door/window sensors using Velcro strips so they’re ultra-easy to take down when it comes time to change batteries or move.
Keep in mind that it can get kind of cramped if you’re installing sensors in tight spaces. For instance, we used every centimeter available to mount a sensor on our sliding glass door. It almost didn’t fit! That’s another reason why we’d like to see Cove start making smaller entry sensors. We’ll put it in the suggestion box.
FYI: Cove also sells glass break sensors. We recommend getting one (or several) if you have a large room with lots of windows. This way, if a burglar shatters your window, the glass-break sensor will detect the sound and trigger the alarm.1 Glass break sensors are simple to install, just note that they have a 15-foot range.
If you spring for the environmental sensors like we did, the setup Wizard will ask you to “test” these and install next. But be warned, testing the Carbon Monoxide (CO) Detector or Smoke Alarm will make you jump out of your skin if you’re not ready for it. You’ll hear very loud, high-pitched beeps at close range. A little warning from the Wizard would’ve been nice here. But we’ll let it slide.
Finally, Cove had us go around our house and test the sensors by opening and closing our doors and windows. This was to ensure a connection with the monitoring station. Same thing with the key FOB and panic pendant. And just like that — our Cove system was up-and-running.
At this point we looked down at our watch and realized only 10 minutes had passed from the moment we opened the box. All things considered, we found the install to be at least as fast as SimpliSafe’s installation, maybe faster. This is a big deal. After all, SimpliSafe has built its reputation around fast DIY install and user-friendliness. In other words, this is definitely a feather in Cove’s cap.
Now… let’s see how the system performed for us.
Whether you choose Cove Basic or Cove Plus, your system will have around-the-clock professional monitoring. But unlike other low-cost options out there, Cove doesn’t use a local Wi-Fi connection; rather, it connects to AT&T’s 4G LTE cellular network.2
What does this mean? Well, we tested the best cellular home security systems, and we found that cellular monitoring is faster and more reliable than Wi-Fi connections — as your system won’t slow down or go offline due to a poor Wi-Fi signal. We have to say, for only $14.99 per month, we’re surprised to see cellular monitoring offered by a DIY brand like Cove. But we’ll take it!
So… does it work?
Let’s say a masked-man tries to pick your lock, or climb in through a window. The sensors will trip and you’ll get an instant alert sent to your smartphone. Our alert came through as a text message, but keep in mind you can customize how you receive alerts if you have the Cove Plus plan.
In the meantime, your Cove panel will send a distress signal to the professional monitoring center. And within 30-40 seconds, you’ll have a response agent calling you. The agent who called us was kind, and she asked us for our “safe” code. Long story short, we forgot ours in the heat of the moment, so we gave her the wrong code (big mistake). And 15 minutes later, the police were walking up our driveway.
Thankfully we weren’t victims of burglary or theft, but we had some explaining to do. We did what any respectful home security experts would do, we invited him in and offered him some tea (he declined the tea). He checked our IDs to make sure we actually lived here. We then staged a mini photo shoot for posterity.
Did we feel safe? You bet we did. If this were a real burglary the police would actually show up. With every other security company we’ve used, we always have to blindly assume that the monitoring works. With Cove, we have first-hand experience that it works! It’s a trust thing. And it’s nice to know that a police officer will be there when you need them most.
Did You Know: Both of Cove’s monitoring plans offer something called ‘RapidSOS Ready’. This technology is supposed to make the emergency dispatch process faster and more accurate with an electronic integration to 911 Centers.3 After verifying an alarm, Cove’s monitoring center can send the alarm information directly to 911, which can save 3-4 minutes in the dispatch process.
One reason we chose Cove’s Plus plan was to unlock more features like smartphone controls and smart home automation. If you go with the Basic plan, just keep in mind you won’t have Alexa or Google Home compatibility, and you can only control your system using Cove’s touchscreen panel (no mobile app!). So we recommend spending the extra $10 per month for the premium plan — and since it’s month-to-month, you can always downgrade to Basic at any time.
As a Cove Plus subscriber, we thought we would mostly use the smartphone app to arm and disarm our system, fiddle with features, etc. But honestly, we didn’t love Cove’s app interface and functionality; rather, we found the touchscreen panel to be more our speed.
The control panel is the brains of any home security system. And as far as control panels go, Cove’s is right up there with the best of them. We found it to be similar to Frontpoint Security’s control panel — which you can read about in our Frontpoint review — and just a notch beneath Vivint’s Smart Hub panel — which we share all about in our Vivint smart home security review.
We could arm and disarm our Cove directly from the home screen (a single tap “wakes” it). Note that there are factory-set delays, which count down from 2 minutes to give you time to leave your home. Don’t worry, you can always change these default delays in Settings. We’re not big fans of delays, so we always reduce ours as much as possible. But you are your own person, we get it.
FYI: One gripe we have with Cove is that the siren isn’t as loud as some of the competition. Most home security sirens are rated around 100-110 dB, but Cove’s siren only puts out 85 dB. It’s enough to scare away a burglar, but when it comes to securing your home and family, we live by the mantra “the louder the better.”
Another neat Cove feature is “Nighttime Mode.” This stops all delay countdowns. Why is this important? Well, let’s say it’s 3 am and we’re deep asleep when someone breaks in. If there’s a delay, it could give the criminal 30 seconds or more before sounding the alarm. That’s way too much of a head start! We want our siren to blare like a banshee the moment our door or window cracks open, and “Nighttime Mode” does just that. So look for this on the panel’s home screen.
Another thing to look for in Cove’s control panel is Sensor Settings. We were actually pretty surprised by how granular you can get with each sensor. For instance, you can set your motion sensor to “Active in Stay Mode.” This way, even when you’re home the motion sensor will protect an area of your house — like your basement or attic — that you rarely use.
Let’s be honest, basements are creepy and it’s time we put some monitoring in place. Keep in mind the motion sensors can also be dialed in to account for your furry friend (they’re pet-sensitive!).
Did You Know: Cove has a “Call” button on the control panel, which is a little phone icon that serves as your panic button. Once pressed, you’ll see a screen that says Police, Fire, or EMS. Just note that these don’t actually summon the police or fire department. Instead, they send a distress signal to the monitoring center, and an agent will answer through the panel to provide assistance. If needed, the agent will dispatch emergency responders and stay on the line until help arrives.
You’ll also have access to your activity log on Cove’s panel. You’ll find this in the Settings tab under “History.” It’ll keep a running log of when your system was armed or disarmed, which sensors opened and at what time, and more. This is a nice feature to have, but bear in mind that we’ve seen this with just about every system we’ve tested.
Now, at this point, we’re pretty happy with Cove’s functionality — especially when considering how affordable the system is. But on the other hand, we really didn’t discover any groundbreaking technology. So let’s have a look at the mobile app features to see if Cove can make up some ground there.
The Cove app unlocks features that you just won’t get on the Basic plan. The obvious one is remote access and control, from virtually anywhere in the world. This is a big deal, especially if you want to arm or disarm your Cove system while away, check your activity log on-the-go, and generally have more control over your home security.
As far as design goes, the mobile app dashboard isn’t much to look at. Compared with other apps we’ve used, Cove’s app could use a facelift. Then again… this isn’t a beauty contest.
We did find a really neat feature in the Cove app called Routines. This is like having a built-in IFTTT (If This, Then That). Here we were able to set all sorts of routines or rules, which really showcased Cove’s intelligence. Of course, we’ve seen this feature with other brands — like abode for instance — but we don’t usually see it with affordable DIY systems.
We were able to set routines (also called “recipes” or “rules”) to automate our home security system. For example, we scheduled one routine that automatically armed our system at 10:30 pm every night. We sometimes forget to arm our home manually at night — so this routine solves that problem. We set another routine to disarm at sunrise each morning, which translates to fewer false alarms when we let the dog out in the wee hours of the morning, before we’ve had our coffee. And finally, we set one to send a push notification whenever our front door opens.
We think you’ll really like the customizations that you’ll get here. But remember, you can only enjoy the Routine feature with the Cove Plus plan.
It’s also worth mentioning that we weren’t able to access our live video stream in Cove’s app. This was kind of disappointing, as we’re used to this functionality offered by most other brands. Even still, Cove’s collaboration with Yi cameras brings plenty of value to the table. We’ll discuss Cove’s camera in just a bit.
Did You Know: Another helpful Cove feature is called Cross Zoning. This requires multiple zones to be triggered before your system sounds the alarm. If you want to set it up, you’ll have to call Cove’s technical support and they’ll walk you through it.
Other than the Routines feature noted above, Cove is also compatible with Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home for hands-free voice control. We have an Amazon’s Echo device, so a quick “Alexa, tell Cove to arm my system” is all it takes to lock up.
One night while watching Will Ferrel in ‘Elf’ (Elf is always in season), we really didn’t want to get up to arm our system. So it was nice having our Cove alarm integrated with Alexa. It’s a simple integration, and it might even be worth going out and buying an Alexa or Google Home device just to configure this automation. But again, this is another feature that is only supported by the Plus plan. Worth it!
Before we move on to Cove’s cameras, we have to say that we wish they offered smart home integrations with Z-Wave or any other smart platform. Currently, our Cove system doesn’t support third-party devices like smart locks, lights, or thermostats. Something else for the suggestion box.
Note: The folks at Cove did tell us that they’re slated to release a Smart Home Hub in early 2021. This way, Cove customers with the Plus plan can add it to their system and control Z-Wave smart devices through the Cove app. But we’ll keep you posted on this.
We have good news and bad news. The bad news first: Cove doesn’t make its own cameras. Instead, they have a partnership with Yi cameras. We typically prefer a home security system with its own cameras — that way, we can access and control everything right in one app. So that’s the bad news, and really, it’s not all that bad.
But… the good news is that the Yi camera is quite impressive for an indoor camera. First off, the Yi Home app gets 4.7 stars in the App Store — which is rated higher than most home security cameras we’ve tested.
It only took us 3 minutes to download the Yi app and get the camera up-and-running. There are step-by-step instructions, and we really liked the QR code quick scan setup.
FYI: Note that you do have to plug the camera into an outlet, but the power cord is plenty long at 7 ft. Also, the Yi camera runs off Wi-Fi, unlike the 4G LTE cellular Cove system itself. This is standard, though, and we’re totally fine with it.
As far as video quality, we were extremely happy with the 1080p HD resolution. As you can see below, the camera picks up most detail. Note that we’re sitting about 15 ft. from the camera, and we’re getting a fairly crisp and clear picture. No complaints here.
Similar to SimpliSafe’s SimpliCam and the Ring Indoor Cam, the Yi camera also offers two-way talk, night vision, live-stream video, video recording, and 24/7 emergency response (the last couple features require an additional fee). These are all fairly standard features, and what you’d expect from a $70-$100 camera.
But here’s the kicker: the Yi camera only costs right around $20. You might even get it for free, as Cove often throws in a free camera with the purchase of a home security system (you know, to sweeten the deal). However you get a Yi, we definitely recommend it, especially for a sub-$25 camera. We’ve seen paper weights that cost more than that!
Have a look at the video the Yi Camera captures below…
Our only gripes with the Yi camera is that you can’t access it from within the Cove app, and you have to pay a monthly subscription fee if you want video recording. These range from a few dollars per month for one camera, up to $100 or more per year for 5+ cameras. Yi has lots of cloud video storage options (maybe even too many).
Pro Tip: Take advantage of Yi’s free month of cloud storage. Just be sure to cancel your plan before the trial period ends, otherwise your credit card will continue to be billed month after month.
We also purchased a Cove smoke detector, carbon monoxide (CO) detector, and flood sensor. You can access and test these sensors from the Cove control panel. We like that you can enjoy Cove’s environmental protection regardless of the monitoring plan you choose, as it’s included with both tiers. Also, the prices are very competitive at around $20-$50 per device.
InstaText — No, it’s not the latest social media craze. InstaText is Cove’s method of sending an instant text message so that you can deal with an emergency or alarm right from within your text messages.
LiveAssist — LiveAssist is another name for the control panel’s two-way talk feature. There’s a built-in microphone and speaker, so you can communicate with emergency response agents directly through the touchscreen panel.
RapidSOS — With RapidSOS Ready technology, the Cove monitoring center can speed up the dispatch process with an electronic integration to 911 Centers. Once an alarm is verified, the Cove monitoring agents can send the alarm details directly to 911. According to Cove, 911 dispatchers say this feature can save 3-4 minutes in the dispatch process.
We’ll keep this short and sweet. In all of our interactions with Cove’s customer service team, we always walked away feeling taken care of. And trust us, this isn’t always a given with home security companies — sometimes the service can be a mixed bag.
But we were happy with Cove’s responsiveness to our needs, as the staff seemed to go out of their way to help. For instance, after speaking on the phone with tech support, the gentleman we spoke with, Adam, sent a text message just to follow up. Here’s how that went…
What can we say? Cove took us by surprise with their feature-rich systems that are simple to install, easy to use, and ultra-affordable. The system protected our home and family — and we have the photographic evidence of a policeman to prove it! But is Cove really “changing the way home security is done,” as their President Robert Shelley claims?4 Well, in some ways, they are.
You typically won’t see AT&T 4G LTE cellular monitoring from other low-cost DIY brands (especially for $14.99 per month). And while other brands might offer Alexa compatibility, we liked that Cove allowed us to set custom automation routines, too.
Now, it’s not the smartest home security system out there, but you really can’t beat it for the price. And we’re all about that 60-day money-back guarantee, as most companies only offer a 30-day trial period. Just be sure to go with the Plus plan, as the Basic plan is too bare-bones. And we’d also recommend trying out the Yi indoor camera. All things considered, we found lots to love about Cove.
Yes, Cove is a 100% wireless home security system. This means there are no wires for burglars to cut, and it’s easy to take the system with you when you move.
No, we found Cove to be one of the easiest systems to install. It only took 10 minutes to install from start to finish.
Cove sells the Yi indoor camera, which is an indoor camera with 1080p HD image quality and lots of great features. Cove does not currently offer an outdoor camera.
We can tell you first-hand that Cove’s professional monitoring works swimmingly. We accidentally set off the alarm and were unable to give the proper passcode, so the monitoring center sent the police to our home.
Cove is fairly limited in terms of smart home automations. It does work with Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant for voice control, but we were unable to connect smart lights, thermostats, and other smart devices to our system.
Glass Break Sensors. (2020). This Old House. https://www.thisoldhouse.com/home-safety/21292663/glass-break-sensors
AT&T 4G LTE Network. Wikipedia. (Retrieved Nov. 5, 2020).
PR Newswire. (2020, July 8). Cove and RapidSOS Partner to Bring Advanced Emergency Response System to Home Security Industry. Cision.
SDM. (2018, October 17). Startup Aims to Revolutionize Industry With DIY Home Security Systems. https://www.sdmmag.com/articles/95788-startup-aims-to-revolutionize-industry-with-diy-home-security-systems