We’ve had our eye on Ooma for over a decade now since they first hit the scene offering Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phone service.1 Now, the company makes a full-fledged home security system that might fit nicely in the DIY market. Well, it’s affordable, easy to set up, and it’ll protect your home day and night. But don’t expect many advanced features like video and home automation integrations with Ooma.
We recently got our hands on Ooma and tested their devices. We wanted to see how they performed on a day-to-day basis. And guess what — we actually liked some things about it, such as the remote 911 help feature and the ultra-cheap monitoring. With systems starting at just $129.99, Ooma is gunning for the budget-conscious DIY crowd — yep, the same crowd that established brands like SimpliSafe and Ring are after. So, let’s see what (if anything!) Ooma offers that might set it apart from the big dogs.
Ooma is based in Silicon Valley, the center of the tech innovation universe. Beginning in 2003, Jamie Yukes created the first Ooma products. As the story goes, a couple of years later, he went golfing in the Bay area with former Cisco executive Andrew Frame and Shawn Fanning of Napster Fame (remember Napster?).2 Yukes pitched Ooma to them, and pretty soon after that, Frame came into the picture as Ooma’s Founding CEO. From there, the company grew into the NYSE-traded telecom company that it is today.3 From what we’ve seen, Ooma is a solid company with strong leadership.
Did You Know: In 2015, Silicon Valley Business Journal named Ooma one of the fastest-growing private companies in the U.S.4
If you’re anything like us, you’d really rather not go broke protecting your home and family. Thankfully, we found that Ooma hits the sweet spot when it comes to pricing. Before we signed up, we had to consider equipment and monitoring costs. The good news is that Ooma has a free self-monitoring plan (yep, much like other DIY self-monitoring home alarms). So, if you want to dodge the monthly fee, you can keep tabs on your home using your smartphone and Ooma Smart Security app.5 Pretty slick.
The equipment will set you back either $129.99 or $149.99, depending on the package you choose. Of course, that’s very cheap for home security, but you have to remember this option is a no-frills, basic home security system. So, don’t be surprised if you have to buy extra sensors and devices (because you probably will) to complete the ensemble. Here are Ooma’s main systems:
Now, if you choose to go with a paid plan, expect to pay about $15 per month for 24-7 professional monitoring. Compared to the industry average — which is betweem $20 and $40 per month — $15 per month is really cheap. But compared to other basic DIY systems, Ooma’s price point is right where it should be, maybe even a little high. Here’s a roundup of the Ooma monitoring plans and what they include:6
|Self-Monitor||Secure Plan||Pro Secure Plan|
|Telo Voice Announce||✓||✓||✓|
|Call, Text & Email Notifications||X||✓||✓|
|Auto Arm & Disarm||X||✓||✓|
|24-7 Professional Monitoring||X||X||✓|
|Price||Free||$5.99 per month||$14.99 per month|
If you do choose Ooma, don’t expect lightning-fast response times from their agents. In fact, we found the company to be somewhat slow in this regard, with 50-second response times on average. Now, we won’t say it was “molasses-slow,” but 50 seconds is a long time to be twiddling your thumbs while your home is being burglarized. So, we recommend the free plan, which still sends instant alerts to your smartphone. This option allows you to jump into action, call the police, and grab your sword immediately (you do have a sword, don’t you?).
FYI: We don’t actually recommend sword fighting with burglars. Instead, find a company that offers speedy response times. Currently, Alder offers response times of 3.4 seconds on average.
As mentioned, Ooma got its start offering VoIP phone service. So, it makes sense that the hub of their security system is the same device that drives their VoIP service — the Ooma Telo. It’s a decent little base station, but it’s a bit outdated for our taste. It certainly doesn’t have the aesthetic appeal of, say, Vivint or Nest Secure products. At any rate, the entire system was easy to install. So, we were quite pleased with that.
First, you’ll need to register for a phone number. But they make it pretty easy with step-by-step directions using the Ooma app. Then, you’ll either connect the hub to your router using an ethernet cable or connect to your Wi-Fi directly through the app. Once you’re squared away here, just mount the entryway sensors using the removable adhesive strips, follow the device pairing instructions, and you’re ready to go! We really liked how the setup was self-guided using the Ooma app. But really, we’ve found that this guidance is standard nowadays.
We figured the system would be easy to use daily. After all, there’s not much to it. We were able to arm and disarm the system using the app, which was simple and intuitive. However, we’re used to having the option of controlling our home security system using a control panel. Alas, Ooma doesn’t include a control panel in the package. It will cost you $60 for a bare-bones, push-button panel.
Did You Know: We actually prefer smartphone controls over keypad controls anyway (most of the time). So, it wasn’t a deal-breaker that our Ooma kit didn’t include a traditional control panel. No harm, no foul.
Two things that really stood out to us were the voice notifications and the remote 911 feature. Throughout the day, we would receive voice alerts from the Telo base, telling us exactly which sensors were triggered, along with other helpful alerts. Although these notifications aren’t necessary (and you can certainly disable it!), we thought it was a nice touch to keep tabs on our security status.
As for the remote 911 calling — this feature gives Ooma somewhat of a competitive edge in the market. It allows you to call 911 from anywhere, and it automatically displays your home address to emergency responders. We think this feature would be helpful with the free self-monitoring plan. But, of course, nothing good is ever free: it costs $5.99 per month.
We didn’t have any problems with Ooma from a customer service perspective. Note, they have a decent resource section on their website, including troubleshooting videos and a “knowledge hub” (which is really just a blog, so don’t get too excited). And, if necessary, you shouldn’t have a problem getting an agent on the phone. In our experience, Ooma’s support team was friendly and professional. Also, they hold a solid A+ BBB rating, which is a feather-in-the-hat that we always like to see.7
Pro Tip: Ooma’s customer service is good, but not great. If you want great customer service, have a look at Frontpoint Security systems and their award-winning customer service team.
Phone Service — Every Ooma home security system includes their VoIP plan with nationwide calling, 911 calling, call waiting, voicemail, caller-ID, and text notifications. In fact, there’s really no way around it. Each system requires that you set up a phone number to access home security features. So, why not?
Ooma Smart Security Mobile App — Ooma’s app gives you remote control over your home security system. You can check on the system status, arm and disarm the system, summon help in the event of an emergency, and get all sorts of helpful alerts. The app is well-designed and easy to use, but it’s nothing to write home about.
Home Automation — You’ll get access to some home automation integrations, but not a whole lot. Thankfully, Ooma systems do work with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, two of the biggest platforms for voice control. However, we’d like to see more options here.
FYI: Ooma premier subscribers can access IFTTT “Recipes” for additional smart home controls and features. But you’ll have to visit Ooma’s support station to set it up.
Remote 911 — We found this implementation to be one of the best features offered by Ooma. You can call 911 from almost anywhere, and it will automatically forward your home address to emergency responders. Pretty neat!
Geofencing — Here’s another neat feature that we don’t often see with low-cost, DIY systems. Geofencing tracks your cell phone, and depending on your GPS location, your system automatically arms or disarms with your comings and goings.8
Tamper Proof — The Ooma Telo hub, while not the most attractive device, has a tamper-proof design. It will sound the alarm and send an alert if it senses someone is trying to disable it. From what we’ve seen, many DIY systems don’t include this feature. So kudos to Ooma.
Ooma offers a nice little equipment sampler, with door and window sensors, motion sensors, a garage door sensor, and a couple environmental monitoring sensors. However, Ooma’s equipment options don’t measure up to those of ADT or Brinks. But again, this system is a basic DIY kit, so we really weren’t expecting the world from it. One thing we liked is that Ooma is straightforward and transparent with their pricing, which is more than many companies can say about themselves these days. Here’s a breakdown of the equipment available along with prices.
|Door or Window Sensor||Entry Sensor||$24.99|
|Garage Door Sensor||Sensor||$29.99|
|Telo Battery Backup||Battery||N/A|
Notice how there aren’t any cameras available? To us, this absence is definitely a strike against Ooma. They used to sell a security camera, but they have since discontinued it. So, if you’re looking to outfit your home with video surveillance, you’ll have to look elsewhere to buy a camera. Of course, our experts research and test home security equipment for a living, and we wouldn’t leave you high and dry. Check out our lineup of top security cameras in the industry.
If you’re on the fence about Ooma, don’t worry, we are too. After testing their systems and seeing everything they have to offer, we can envision how Ooma might be a good fit for some people. For instance, if you’re just looking for affordable intrusion protection, without video or many home automation options, then Ooma will do the trick. But, if you’re looking for more robust home security, then you’re better off shopping around.
Ooma’s standout features included the remote 911 calling and voice alerts through the Telo hub. But other than these (OK — and maybe the geofencing), there’s not a whole lot of substance to these systems. That said, if you’re on a tight budget and simply want to secure your home from intruders, Ooma might be worth a shot. But we can think of a handful of other systems that offer better home protection with all-around better features.
No, thankfully Ooma is month-to-month home security. This means you can cancel anytime without penalty.
Ooma offers very limited home automation capabilities. As far as we know, the systems only work with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.
No, Ooma does not have security cameras or video capabilities.
Yes, all of Ooma’s systems are 100% wireless and offer easy DIY installation.
Yes, Ooma offers professional monitoring for $14.99 per month.
Federal Communications Commission. (2020). Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP).
Lamont, T. (2013, February 24). Napster: the day the music was set free. The Guardian.
Ooma. (2020, January 29). Wikipedia. Retrieved April 21, 2020.
Stock, L. (2016, April 19). Silicon Valley Business Journal reveals fastest-growing private companies. Silicon Valley Business Journal.
Ooma. (2020, March 25). Ooma Smart Security. Google.
Ooma. (2020). Subscription Plans.
Ooma, Inc.: Better Business Bureau® Profile. (2020, April 15). BBB.
White, S. (2017, November 1). What is geofencing? Putting location to work. CIO.