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Cujo vs Dojo vs Keezel

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Keezel

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Keezel

Keezel on display at CES

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At CES 2016, we were able to view two products birthed from crowdfunding campaigns and promising to protect your connected devices. Since then, we’ve seen more devices added to the list of those fighting for the same piece of the pie including strong>Cujo, Keezel, Dojo, RATtrap, AKITA, and Bitdefender Box 2.

On the surface, most internet security devices are the same. Almost all of them offer to protect you from hacks, phishing scams, viruses, malware, and other cyber threats. But here’s a fact: Every internet security device offers a different level of protection.

Related: Best Self-Monitored Security Systems

Cujo is a device that plugs into your router using an Ethernet cable. It then monitors all the data that comes in and out of your home’s network. By doing this, it can easily stop cyber threats from entering your devices through your network and prevent sensitive data from exiting your home network.

Dojo is quite similar to Cujo. It connects to your router using an Ethernet cable, and it also needs to be plugged into an outlet. It sits at your network’s gateway, just like Cujo. However, it treats your personal data differently. It gathers metadata instead of actual data. Metadata is general data about data. Confusing? You’ll hear more about that later.

Keezel is a wireless device, slightly larger than a computer mouse. To use Keezel, you connect it to your home’s Wi-Fi or a public hotspot and it becomes your personal Wi-Fi router. Simply connect it to the devices you want to protect, and it protects the devices using VPN technology.

RATtrap is designed to sit between your modem and your router. Like Cujo and Dojo, it monitors traffic and stops potential threats. It also blocks malware-infested websites as well as sites which attempt to steal credentials and probe for weaknesses in your home network.

AKITA is designed to plug into one of your router’s LAN ports via the included Ethernet cable. As it’s not sitting between the modem and router, it can’t monitor all network traffic. It only sniffs Wi-Fi-connected devices for questionable or malicious packets of data. That said, it doesn’t work on wired-devices (e.g., LAN-connected PC) as of yet.

Bitdefender BOX 2 can be set up using your existing router or you can use BOX 2 as a Wi-Fi router. Regardless of the method you choose, it protects all connected devices.

Level of Protection

All six devices can protect you from cyber threats, but they have their own ways of doing so.

Cujo

Cujo

Cujo on display at CES.

Cujo provides a firewall combined with antivirus and anti-malware protection, protecting you from phishing, scammers, and hackers. When placed at your network’s gateway (the router), Cujo can monitor everything that comes in and out of your home network. It prevents you from accessing sites that it thinks are not trustworthy based on your rules. It also prevents your devices from sending out information that should be private. Rules can be configured using the Cujo App. All data that enters your network is scanned for viruses and malware, and detected threats are automatically eliminated. Cujo’s database will frequently be updated to keep up with ever-changing cyber threats.

Cujo also has a super-secret smart weapon: If a Cujo encounters a new cyber threat, it sends information about that threat to a secure server. All the other Cujos are then updated with the information, so they know what the threat is and how to stop it.

Apart from internet security, Cujo can help parents protect their kids from the dangers of the internet. With the new parental control features announced at CES 2017, users can now manage what websites their kids can visit, set a limit on daily use, or block questionable content.

Dojo

Dojo

Photo Credit: Dojo

Like Cujo, Dojo also connects to your router, but it takes a different approach. The device continuously analyzes your network traffic and how connected devices behave. It uses that information to prevent cyber threats from affecting your network or any of your devices. It even takes your privacy a step further by analyzing metadata instead of the actual data.

Metadata is data about data. It may sound confusing, but it’s not. Take images as an example. The information about an image — its size, resolution, when it was taken, which device was used to take the image — is information classified as metadata. By looking at a file’s metadata, Dojo knows what kind of data is being sent or received. Is it an image? Video? File? HTML? Dojo uses this knowledge and looks out for questionable activity. When your network or one of your devices is up to something shady, it notifies you and asks you how to respond. Should Dojo allow it, block it once, or block all similar activities? You decide.

Let’s put Dojo into action. Your new security camera tries sending videos to the cloud. Since that’s a first, and since Dojo considers videos to be sensitive data, it asks you whether or not it should allow this to happen. You wanted this to happen, so you say okay. But one day, your security camera tries sending images to a foreign country. That sounds suspicious, so Dojo asks you again. This time, blocking the action seems to be the right choice. Don’t worry about getting one alert after another; Dojo learns over time how to handle your devices by itself.

Keezel

Keezel is different from the other options as it’s portable and wireless. It connects to any Wi-Fi router, whether that is your home Wi-Fi or Wi-Fi at your favorite coffee shop. Once connected, Keezel becomes a Wi-Fi repeater, bouncing the Wi-Fi signal towards your devices while also protecting connected devices.

It uses VPN technology to protect your devices from threats. A VPN (Virtual Private Network) is a private internet connection that you can use when connecting to a private or public network. Instead of connecting directly to servers, your data will pass through a secure “tunnel” that connects you to a gateway. “Tunnels” are encrypted, and most of the time invisible from threats. The gateway, which has a different IP address, connects to servers.

Keezel’s VPN technology will offer privacy so others won’t be able to see what you’re up to online, web censorship bypass to access content not available in your country, and protection from identity theft and online scams. It will also protect you from potential cybercriminals lurking around public hotspots.

RATtrap

Rattrap Review

RATtrap is similar to Cujo and Dojo. In fact, it combines Cujo and Dojo’s approach into a single solution. To protect you, RATtrap needs a physical connection to your modem and your router via Ethernet. Simply unplug the Ethernet cable connected to the router, plug the loose end into RATtrap, and use the included Ethernet cable to connect RATtrap to your modem.

One way RATtrap protects you is by tracking all malicious and potentially harmful websites. If the sites try to send you traffic or vice versa, RATtrap will block the process.

RATtrap also uses Cujo’s approach in that it cross-references incoming and outgoing traffic with a database of threats. Instead of analyzing the traffic data, however, it analyzes packet metadata, just like Dojo. And instead of analyzing packet metadata in the cloud, RATtrap analyzes it locally. The advantage of this approach is that the RATtrap cloud never sees your traffic or any your traffic metadata which ensures complete privacy.

Finally, RATtrap has a network of “threat sensors.” These sensors look for and inform RATtrap’s cloud of new threats. The cloud processes received information, analyzes how to stop new threats, and pushes down the info to each RATtrap device via a threat intelligence update.

AKITA

Akita

AKITA is kind of like a bomb-sniffing-dog. When you plug it into your router’s LAN port, it roams free throughout your network, sniffing data packets sent from your Wi-Fi-connected devices. The good thing about this method is that it doesn’t have to unbox each data packet. It sniffs the packet, and if it’s threat-free, it lets it go. If it detects a questionable packet, it will send it to the cloud for further analysis. The cloud uses threat intelligence, behavioral analysis, and machine learning to analyze data packets. If the analysis comes back positive of threat, the cloud will send Akita commands on how to neutralize it. It includes a custom command that will temporarily disconnect the affected device from your network to stop it from spreading the threat to other devices.

What sets AKITA apart from other internet security devices is that they offer on-call expert help if you’re a paying customer. The on-call expert can help you with almost any question related to technology, network, and internet security. For example, after receiving a notification that one of your devices has been attacked by malware, you can call, and they will walk you through elimination and prevention.

While AKITA can only protect Wi-Fi devices, for now, its creators are actively developing a solution that will enable AKITA to monitor hardwired devices as well. Once ready, they will activate the feature in all AKITA devices via a firmware update.

Bitdefender BOX 2

Bitdefender BOX 2 is the most versatile of the six options. You can use it with almost any home internet setup, whether you have a router-modem, a standalone router, or no router at all. Instead of simply standing guard at your network’s gateway, BOX 2 creates its own virtual Wi-Fi router. Everything connected to BOX 2’s virtual router is protected. Because of this setup, take note that using BOX 2 might affect your internet speeds. However, Bitdefender reassures that the slowdowns are minimal so long as you’re using less than a 1GBPS internet connection.

BOX 2 uses multiple layers of protection to detect and prevent malware, viruses, and brute force attacks. For example, for smart home devices, BOX 2 uses behavioral analysis and machine learning to detect possible attacks. Using its wide database of known threats, BOX 2 automatically eliminates detected threats.

Also, the required subscription service includes access to regularly-updated antivirus that you can install onto an unlimited number of smartphones (iOS & Android) and computers (Mac & Windows).

Which One Is For You?

If you’re looking for an internet security device to protect your home network, I recommend RATtrap, Bitdefender BOX 2, Cujo, Dojo, and AKITA in that order. RATtrap is recommended because of its track record and ability to analyze packet metadata locally. Bitdefender BOX 2 because of the company’s reputation and included antivirus for computers and mobile devices. I recommend Cujo for its ability to push updates to all Cujo devices, leaving no user behind. Dojo ranks low because of their treatment of crowdfunding backers. More on that later. Finally, AKITA is last because it’s not yet a reality. If it ships with all the promised features, it will move up to number three, beating both Cujo and Dojo.

What about Keezel? While you can use it at home, it’s best for frequent users of public hotspots. If you’re a traveler or simply someone who uses public hotspots a lot, I recommend getting a Keezel plus another internet security device for your home.

The Real Cost Of Internet Security

Just like your home’s security, internet security is an investment. That said, you should also consider the long-term cost of using these internet security devices.

Cujo

Cujo requires that you pay for a subscription to enjoy its service. The subscription gives you continued access to their security network. It also funds the process of keeping things up-to-date. Cujo enforces the latest in internet security even as viruses and other threats evolve.

Cujo offers one subscription plan with multiple options for payment. Upon purchasing Cujo, you can choose whether to pay monthly ($8.99/month), yearly ($59.00/year), or one-time ($150.00). The one-time subscription fee will give you access to Cujo’s services forever.

Dojo

Dojo also requires a subscription for you to enjoy its full potential. You can use Dojo even if you don’t subscribe, but updates and reporting will be limited. It would be like using obsolete antivirus.

Dojo sells for $199, which includes the first year of service for free. After the first year, continued service will cost $99/year or $9.99 per month.

The fact that Dojo is selling is shocking. They started pre-selling back in 2015 and we pre-ordered one January of 2016. Eight months later, without warning, despite multiple requests for an update, they cancelled our order without explanation and then went AWOL. As a side note, we had originally paid $99 for the device which also included 12 months of service.

dojo labs cancelled

Keezel

Keezel offers two subscription plans: Basic (free) and Premium ($5/month). Basic service allows you to enjoy high-level internet security, the option to choose from a limited number of IP gateway locations (get an IP address from another country), and the ability to download from the soon-to-be-released app gallery for Keezel. A Premium subscription will give you the same level of internet security, boost your internet speed, let you choose any IP gateway location, give you access to the app gallery, ad-blocking, anti-phishing filter, and let you connect two Keezels even if they’re in different locations.

Keezel subscriptions can be purchased at point of sale. The first purchase option is Keezel Basic for $179, which is the base price of the device. Second, you can get a Keezel and a one-year subscription for $229. Finally, a device and a two-year subscription is $289. After the subscription expires, you can go month-to-month for $5/month. If you’re planning on using Keezel longterm, you can also get a lifetime subscription plus the device for $499.

RATtrap

RATtrap sells for $199, which includes a subscription. The first 12 months are free, but after that, you can choose to continue your subscription for $9/month or unsubscribe. Without a subscription, RATtrap loses all of its protective features.

AKITA

As AKITA is still crowdfunding, some details about usage costs remain unclear. The estimated subscription cost is between $15 and $25 monthly, which is expensive compared to other solutions. However, the good news is that a subscription is optional. The only advantage of adding a subscription is the on-call help feature.

The device itself is expected to retail for $139, but you can now pre-order it on IndieGoGo for $89.

Bitdefender BOX 2

Bitdefender BOX 2 retails for $249, but that price includes a one-year subscription to Bitdefender’s internet security services. The service lets you use BOX 2 for internet security at home and the Bitdefender software as an antivirus. After the first year, renewing the service will cost you $99 per year.

Summary

Although BOX 2’s hardware is the most expensive of the six, it offers the biggest bang for your buck. The subscription service is only $99 per year, considerably less expensive than Dojo, RATtrap, and AKITA’s subscription services while offering more features. Cujo and Keezel both cost less than BOX 2, but Keezel is best for mobile use, and Cujo doesn’t offer as many features as BOX 2.

AKITA is the cheapest hardware-wise, and it doesn’t require a subscription to work.

Keezel vs. Cujo vs. Dojo vs. RATtrap vs. AKITA vs. Bitdefender BOX 2

  Cujo Keezel Dojo RATtrap AKITA Bitdefender BOX 2
Price $99 $179 $199 $199 $139 (Pre-order for as low as $89) $249
Best For Protecting your home network, including smart home devices. Protecting your mobile devices when they’re connected to public networks. Protecting your smart home devices. Protecting your home network, including smart home devices. Protecting Wi-Fi devices connected to your home network, including smart home devices. Protecting your home network, including smart home devices.
How It Protects You Smart Firewall, Anti-Virus, Anti-Malware VPN Analyzes Metadata Tracks Malicious Websites and Analyzes Packet Metadata Packet Data Sniffing Analyzes Packet Data, Behavioral Analysis, Brute Force Attack Protection
Works with Wi-Fi Devices
Ethernet
Monthly or Yearly Service Fee $8.99/month or $59/year $5/month $9.99/month or $99/year (purchase of Dojo includes a 1-year subscription) $9/month $15-$25/month (Optional) $99/year
Optional Lifetime Service Fee $150 Buy the device for $479 and enjoy lifelong Premium services
Can you use the system without a paying for subscription? No, you cannot. Yes, but with fewer VPN locations and lower internet speeds. Yes, but you will receive limited updates, limited reporting, and no support. No, you cannot. Yes No, you cannot.
Where to Buy Amazon Visit Site Amazon Amazon Visit Site Amazon

SMART HOME PROTECTION SUMMARY

Cujo has a suspicious track record regarding online reviews. Their original Amazon page had a 3.5 star rating with almost 200 reviews. Then, without reason, they abandoned the page and started a new Amazon page. Their new page quickly boasted hundreds of positive reviews. It currently sits at 4.5 stars, but it’s rated F by Fakespot for review quality. Fakespot estimates that 79.5% of Cujo’s reviews are low quality. That said, it’s hard to trust what’s been said. Looking at their original Amazon page, reviews for the device are mostly positive, but product users have pointed out flaws. For one, using Cujo slows things down a bit as it’s like adding a third-party to a conversation. Second, it requires port forwarding, and one Amazon user claims that it steals the network IDs of your devices and that it’s less than simple to use. In his words,

“Since they realized ARP was a bad way to do this, they are now using DHCP. Sadly, this is nowhere near as simple. Gone is the magic “just put it on your kitchen table and it works like magic.” Instead, you have to figure out how to log into your router, make a network change (which your ISP will tell you is bad but who listens to them? I’m not being sarcastic here; they want you to use them for DNS/DHCP because they like using your web browsing for advertising metrics!) and then reboot everything a few times. Not the end of the world, but no longer simple enough for Grandma to use.”

All that said, Cujo can help you protect your security cameras, security systems, smart thermostats, smart locks, and more. By analyzing the behavior of your devices, it knows when your camera is acting as a camera and when it’s not.

Keezel

Keezel is portable and wireless. That’s what sets it apart from the other devices, which stay connected to your router. Even though it’s portable, you can use it at home to protect your connected devices. The benefit is that it creates a secure tunnel between your smart home and the websites your smart devices must access. Your connected devices are no different than tiny computers, and you would never connect your computer to the internet without protection, would you?

Also, you can connect two Keezels together to create a private network. With one at home and one with you, you can control your smart home devices from anywhere in the world without fear of being spied on.

Dojo

What sets Dojo apart is its ability to protect your smart home devices by learning how they usually behave and notifying you if they start behaving out of character. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t slightly turned off by how they treated their original backers, including us. They completely abandoned communication and cancelled orders. While they have a good product, it does make me question how reliable they are as a company. What if they decide to give up again?

In digging into Dojo’s Amazon reviews, I found that users have mixed opinions. Some say that setting up Dojo can mess up the connection of certain smart home devices. They also say that it’s not so simple to setup. Like Cujo, it requires that you log into your router and turn off DHCP.

RATtrap

RATtrap, in my opinion, offers the best protection for smart home devices. One, it tracks malicious websites and prevents your devices from connecting to them. Two, it blocks websites that hack unprotected security cameras, such as Shodan.io. Three, it offers IP and DNS protection as well as DDoS attack protection to prevent hackers from attacking your home.

According to user reviews on Amazon, RATtrap is indeed as easy to set up as promised. There were a couple of reviews claiming that RATtrap slowed down their internet speeds. However, after reaching out to RATtrap’s support team and receiving a replacement unit, the problem subsided.

AKITA

AKITA’s performance remains to be seen, but it’s a good option for those who are concerned that their personal data is being opened and analyzed by internet security devices. AKITA’s ability to sniff questionable data without deep packet inspection is a plus.

Another advantage is that you can use it without a subscription, something others don’t offer. Unfortunately, if you do subscribe to their services, the longterm cost will be greater than other options.

Bitdefender BOX 2

Bitdefender BOX 2 is my number two pick, next to RATtrap. It offers extended protection for your computers and mobile devices in the form of antivirus. However, it doesn’t offer any stand out features when it comes to protecting your smart home devices. Still, Bitdefender is a trustworthy brand when it comes to internet protection.

Final Thoughts

Each of the six security solutions offers something unique, but some of them stand above the rest. Based on our research, RATtrap seems to be the best choice. Though they are now charging for their services, they offer a good value backed by good reviews. It’s also noteworthy that RATtrap works in bridge mode, it’s not directly addressable and hence it does not have an attack surface, making it a secure and smart firewall.

Bitdefender BOX 2 comes in second thanks to included anti-virus, which allows it to protect your devices whether you’re at home or away.

Cujo is also a strong contender, and if you purchase the $250 version, you’ll have access to services for life. However, I advise that you only purchase Cujo if you have a technical understanding of how your network works as it requires port forwarding.

Our rating on AKITA is TBD as it’s not yet on the market.

Finally, for on-the-go internet security, the obvious winner (and the only contender) is Keezel.

Updated: 01/21/2018 with new features plus the addition of Bitdefender and AKITA.

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Beef Up Home Security With Ring’s Lineup

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Beef Up Home Security With Ring's Lineup

Although Ring is best known for their $179 Ring Video Doorbell, the device has a supporting cast. At CES 2016, Ring unveiled a security camera, the Ring Stick Up Cam. At CES 2018 they unveiled Stick Up Cam 2 and Stick Up Cam Elite. They’ve also added brand-new accessories including a solar panel, Ring Beams, and a security sign that illuminates at night. And they’ve followed up by presenting a live streaming feature and an upgrade to their original device, Ring Pro. At CES 2017 they wowed us with the Floodlight Cam and the Ring Video Doorbell ELITE. Mid-2017, they launched the second iteration of their original doorbell cam, Ring Video Doorbell 2. And they’ve added three more cameras to their lineup: the Spotlight Cam Wired, Spotlight Cam Battery, and Spotlight Cam Solar as well as Ring Protect, a home security system.

  Doorbells Stick Up Stick Up and Stick Up Elite Floodlight Cam Spotlight Cam
Purpose Adds video capabilities to your doorbell. Expands your outdoor protection. Expands your indoor and outdoor protection. Makes your floodlights smart. Outdoor security with a motion activated floodlight.
Resolution Up to 1080p 720p 1080p 1080p 1080p
Night Vision YES YES YES YES YES
Works With IFTTT, Wink, Control4 , SmartThings, Echo Show, Echo Spot, FireTV, Stringify IFTTT, Wink, Echo Show, Echo Spot, FireTV, Stringify IFTTT, Wink, Echo Show, Echo Spot, FireTV, Stringify IFTTT, Echo Show, Echo Spot, FireTV, Stringify IFTTT, Echo Show, Echo Spot, FireTV, Stringify
Field of View Up to 180° 80° TBD 270° 140°
Security Features Motion Sensor, Ring Alerts, Two-Way Talk Motion Sensor, Two-Way Talk Motion Sensor, Two-Way Talk Floodlight, Motion Sensor, Siren, Object and Facial Detection, Two-Way Talk Spotlight, Motion Sensor, Siren, Two-Way Talk
Check Lowest Price Coming Soon

Ring Video Doorbell (The Original)

Ring Video Doorbell is a Wi-Fi connected doorbell equipped with a camera and an intercom system backed by a smartphone app. Ring’s job is to notify you when someone rings your doorbell. Yet aside from hearing the alert through your traditional chime and the optional $29.95 wireless Ring Chime or $49 Chime Pro, you’ll also get a notification on your smartphone. From there you can choose to answer the call or deny it. If you decide to answer the call, the app pops up a live feed showing footage from your doorbell and lets you speak to whoever’s at your front door. If you have multiple Ring doorbells, the Ring smartphone app has a feature that supports multiple calls. This feature allows you to place an active call on hold so you can answer a new call from another Ring doorbell. You can also switch between two calls without hanging up on either of them. The Video Doorbell uses an HD (720p) camera and is backed by night vision.

The doorbell also has a motion detector that can capture video or send alerts even if the doorbell is not rung. Ring’s motion detection is customizable. You can divide the camera’s field of view into zones and activate motion detection only in zones that need to be monitored. You can also set a range, allowing it to detect someone as close as 5 feet and as far as 30 feet. Or, if you prefer, you can turn off motion detection or schedule when to turn the motion detector on or off.

If you decide to hardwire your Ring Video Doorbell, you can improve the overall experience. Hardwiring adds in the ability to see a live view of whatever your Ring device sees. You can watch the live view from the app.

From a security perspective, Ring can do a lot to keep bad guys away from your front porch and out of your house. For instance, some burglars ring the doorbell to see if anyone’s at home before they break in. With the help of Ring Video Doorbell, you can make it seem like you are at home even when you’re not. But aside from security, Ring also offers convenience. Ring works with some smart home devices, including smart door locks like Lockitron, LockState, and Kisi. If you connect to one of these locks, you can answer your doorbell from your phone and remotely unlock the door from one app interface.

Ring Applets

Beyond locks, Ring also has an IFTTT channel and works with Wink, Echo Show, Echo Spot, and SmartThings. Through IFTTT, you can create Applets to connect your lock to other smart home devices. IFTTT’s Applets consist of a trigger and an action but Ring only has triggers. For example, if someone rings your doorbell you can have your music turn on, or you can log the data in a spreadsheet. You can also set an Applet to send you an email alert when someone rings your doorbell.

If you’re an ADT Pulse user, you can make Ring part of your Pulse system as well. Doing so will allow you to control your Pulse system from within the Ring app. From the app, you can turn on lights, lock doors, arm your security system, or even trigger your siren all while watching who’s at your front door. New ADT Pulse customers can now purchase Ring directly from ADT. Those who already own Ring and ADT Pulse can integrate their systems on their own.

Finally, Ring directly integrates with Control4 thanks to the BlackWire Ring Events Driver. For now, users can integrate ring and motion events into their Control4 setup. For example, when the door rings, you can have a chime sound through your connected speakers.

Pros:

  • Can be hard-wired or installed wirelessly
  • Works with your existing chime
  • Can be installed in minutes
  • Covers a wide field of view and has an HD resolution
  • Allows you to see who’s at the door
  • Scheduled motion detection
  • Works with other smart devices
  • Live stream on-demand (Hardwire Only)
  • Works with ADT Pulse

Cons:

  • Access to video history starts at $3 per month for cloud service
  • The device is larger and may not fit all door frames.

Bottom Line

A friend of mine owns a Ring Video Doorbell. She’s a bit of a smart home enthusiast and the fact that she adores Ring gives me confidence in the device. It lacks a few features like free cloud or local storage, but it provides performance and security.

Ring Video Doorbell 2

Ring Video Doorbell 2 is similar to the original video doorbell. It can be hard-wired or battery-powered, it offers Live View, it works with existing chimes and Ring Chimes, and has motion detection. However, it’s different in that it captures 1080p video instead of 720p. It also has a narrower viewing angle at 160 degrees. Ring also claims an upgraded night vision feature. Instead of ordinary IR LEDs, Ring 2 uses RGBIR LEDs, which extend the device’s night vision range and improve video quality.

Physically, Ring 2 is also slightly different as it comes with two swappable faceplates (black and white). But perhaps Ring 2’s greatest leap forward is the removable battery pack, which eliminates the need to take down the entire doorbell unit and recharge it inside your home. With Ring 2, you simply remove the faceplate and the battery for recharging. The doorbell itself will remain on your wall. Of course, if you want, you can purchase an extra battery pack for $20.

Pros:

  • 1080p resolution
  • RGBIR LEDs for night vision
  • Interchangeable faceplate
  • Rechargeable battery pack

Cons

  • Slightly larger than Ring Video Doorbell
  • Access to video history starts at $3 per month for cloud service

Ring Video Doorbell versus Ring Video Doorbell Pro versus Ring Video Doorbell ELITE

Ring Doorbells Compared

  Ring Video Ring Video Doorbell2 Ring Video Pro Ring Doorbell Elite
Size Normal Normal Ultra Slim Flush Mount
Dimensions 4.98 in. x 2.43 in. x .87 in. 5.05 in x 2.50 in. x 1.08 in 4.50 in. x 1.85 in. x .80 in. 4.70 in x 2.75 in x 2.17 in.
Power Dual Power (Wireless or Wired) Dual Power (Wireless or Wired) Hardwire Only Power over ethernet
Wi-fi 2.4GHz 2.4GHz 2.4 + 5GHz 2.4 + 5GHz
Resolution 720p 1080p 1080p 1080p
Motion Detection Included, Customizable with Zones, Schedules Included, Customizable with Zones, Schedules Advanced Included, Create Your Own Zone Shape, Schedules Advanced Included, Create Your Own Zone Shape, Schedules
Color Antique Brass, Polished Brass, Satin Nickel, Venetian Bronze Interchangeable Faceplate (Includes 2) Interchangeable Faceplate (Includes 4) Interchangeable Faceplate (Includes 4)
Check Latest Price

Ring Video Doorbell Pro

Ring also sells the Ring Video Doorbell Pro – a slightly slimmed down version of the original doorbell. For many, the original doorbell is too wide, creating a hangover on certain door frame types. But, a size change isn’t Pro’s most attractive feature, that distinction belongs to HomeKit integration. After Apple announced HomeKit support for cameras at this year’s WWDC, Ring revealed that all Video Doorbell Pros carry an MFi chip — a hardware requirement for HomeKit compatibility.

The Pro also upgrades certain features present on the original Ring device. The Pro allows you to draw your own motion sensor alert zones. Also, the video quality has been upgraded to 1080p, from 720p.

Pros:

  • FHD resolution
  • Customizable motion zone
  • Changeable faceplate

Cons:

  • Access to video history starts at $3 per month for cloud service
  • Hardwire only

Bottom Line

The Pro sells for $50 more than the original device. If you are planning to hardwire or to build out a HomeKit system, this is the way to go. Being able to customize your activity zone is essential for improving motion detection accuracy.

Ring Video Doorbell ELITE

The newest doorbell is the Ring Video Doorbell ELITE. It’s as wide as the original doorbell but has a much thinner profile. It’s made to be professionally installed and will sit flush on your wall. The other major change is that it includes the option for Power over Ethernet. Other than those two changes, it has the same technology as Pro.

You can buy it now from Amazon (Check latest price).

Pros:

  • FHD resolution
  • Customizable motion zone
  • Power over Ethernet
  • Flush Mount

Cons:

  • Access to video history starts at $3 per month for cloud service
  • Requires professional installation

Bottom Line

The Elite doorbell is for those who want a custom solution. If you want a professionally installed doorbell that has all of the features of Ring Pro, Elite is for you. Take note that it’s almost twice as expensive as Ring Pro and hiring a professional installer will only add to the cost.

Ring Stick Up Cam

Ring Stick Up Cam is the perfect addition to the Video Doorbell. It looks exactly like the original doorbell without the doorbell button. Like the Video Doorbell, Stick Up Cam’s camera is HD, it has night vision, it has motion detection with zones and schedules, a customizable range, and it has two-way audio. It uses the same app as the Video Doorbell and motion alerts are sent through the app. You can also choose to record to the cloud if you are subscribed to Ring’s cloud service.

While it has a lot in common with the Video Doorbell, Stick Up Cam is also different. It is designed to complement the doorbell by expanding coverage, is completely wireless, runs on batteries, and is IP52 weather-resistant. Because of that, you can set it anywhere on your front porch. According to Ring, the Stick Up Cam can run for 5 to 6 months on a single charge. But if you want to make it completely ‘set-it-and-forget-it’, you can purchase Ring’s solar panel. The solar panel was designed especially for the Stick Up Cam and does what most solar panels do best – juice up your device courtesy of the sun.

The solar panel sells for $49.

The Stick Up Cam is available on Amazon.

The New Stick Up Cam and Stick Up Cam Elite

Coming soon, the new Stick Up Cam will have an improved FHD 1080p resolution. It also has a new design and new mounts as it’s made for indoor or outdoor use. The new Stick Up Cam will be battery powered just like the current Stick Up Cam, while Elite can be powered using power over Ethernet or using a wall outlet.

Pros:

  • Completely wireless
  • 5-6 month battery life
  • Weather-resistant
  • Customizable motion detection zones and range
  • Two-way voice
  • HD with night vision
  • Optional solar charging accessory

Cons:

  • Cloud recording starts at $3 per month
  • Shorter battery life without the solar panel.

Bottom Line

The Stick Up Cam works best in conjunction with the doorbell and the solar panel. While it is not ready for battle against indoor cameras like Nest, the total package (doorbell + camera) is definitely ready for battle with other outdoor cameras.

Ring Floodlight Cam

The Ring Floodlight Cam combines the power of a floodlight with Ring’s camera technology. If the device senses a presence, the lights turn on, and the camera starts recording. It uses a wide-angle lens and records in 1080p FHD. If you see someone who shouldn’t be there, you can speak to them using two-way audio or scare them with the 110dB siren.

One of the camera’s unique features is facial and object detection, which is greatly needed as it has an ultra-wide-angle motion sensor (270°). When combined with customizable motion zones, the feature should help reduce false alarms.

Check price and purchase on Amazon

Pros:

  • Smart Lights
  • Weather-resistant
  • Customizable motion detection zones and range
  • Person and Object Detection
  • Integrated Siren

Cons:

  • Cloud recording starts at $3 per month
  • Requires Existing Floodlight Setup
  • May be more complex to install.

Bottom Line

The Floodlight Cam is a great addition to the Ring family, but installation may be a challenge. The camera replaces existing wired floodlights and connects to any standard junction box.

Ring Spotlight Cam

Ring Spotlight Cam

The Spotlight Cam is an outdoor camera equipped with a spotlight. Unlike the Floodlight Cam, the Spotlight Cam doesn’t need existing wires as the camera’s spotlight uses the same power source as the camera itself.

Spotlight Cam records and streams in 1080p using a 140° wide-angle lens. It has night vision as well as a manually triggered siren and motion activated lights. It’s resistant to harsh weather conditions and can operate in temperatures as low as -20°F and as high as 120°F (wired version only).

There are three different versions of the Ring Spotlight Cam: wired, battery, and solar.

The wired version sells for $199. It includes a standard power adapter that plugs into an AC outlet. What’s special about this version is that it supports motion detection zones. The other two versions do not support zones, but they do let you adjust the sensitivity of the motion sensor. Second, if you own the wired version, you can create a schedule for your lights to follow.

The battery-powered version also sells for $199. It’s equipped with a quick-release rechargeable battery pack for easy recharging. You can also add a secondary battery for extended battery life.

The solar-powered version is the same as the battery-powered version. The only difference is that it’s charged by a solar panel and sells for $229.

Check latest price and buy on Amazon

Pros:

  • Flexible power options
  • Motion detection zones (wired version only)
  • Adjustable motion sensor (battery and solar version)
  • Weather resistant
  • Built-in siren and spotlight

Cons:

  • Cloud recording starts at $3/month
  • Different versions have different features

Bottom Line

If you don’t have existing floodlight wiring for use with Floodlight Cam, Spotlight Cam is a good alternative. It’s weatherproof and offers flexible charging options.

Ring Protect

Ring also sells Ring Protect which is a home security system. For $199, you will soon be able to purchase a Protect Security Kit. The Kit includes a Base Station, Keypad, Contact Sensor, Motion Sensor, and a Range Extender.

While you can use the system for free, there are advantages to paying for service. For $10 per month, you’ll get 60 days of cloud storage for all of your Ring cameras, video history access, video sharing, discounts on future purchases, a lifetime replacement warranty, 24/7 professional monitoring, and cellular backup. As the Ring Protect Base station also offers battery backup, adding a Protect Plan will ensure that your system protects your home even when your power and internet are out.

Ring Beams

Ring Beams

Finally, Ring Beams. Ring Beams are outdoor security lights. They are not cameras. The lights were launched post Ring’s acquisition of Mr. Beams. In addition to selling motion activated lights, they will also sell compatible motion detectors.

The light lineup is completely battery-powered and compatible with Ring’s existing products. They will be controlled using the Ring app and can be automated to turn on when motion is detected. Pricing and availability are TBD.

Nest Cam Outdoor vs. Ring vs. Canary Flex vs. Arlo Pro

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Nest Cam Outdoor vs. Ring vs. Canary Flex vs. Arlo Pro

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2016 was the year of the outdoor camera, with everyone from Nest to Canary to Ring to Oco announcing outdoor versions of their popular security cameras. Since then, things have continued to improve and evolve.

I’ve been using the indoor Nest Cam to film through my window for quite some time. It’s a makeshift outdoor camera setup supplemented by my Ring Video Doorbell. With updates like person detection, I couldn’t be more pleased by the camera’s software and features. So it should come as no surprise that when Nest Cam Outdoor launched, I jumped at the opportunity to buy it. Since then, my search for an outdoor solution has continued to Canary Flex, Ring Spotlight Cam, Arlo Pro, Arlo Pro 2, and Blink XT.

(Disclosure: I received Ring Doorbell for free in November of 2015. I purchased Canary Flex, Nest Cam Indoor, Nest Cam Outdoor, Blink XT, and Ring Spotlight Cam on my own. Arlo Pro and Pro 2 were provided to me for testing courtesy of Netgear. Obviously, this does not impact my opinion, but I thought you should know.)

  Arlo Pro Arlo Pro 2 Ring Spotlight Cam Ring Doorbell V2 Ring Stick Up Cam Nest Cam Outdoor Canary Flex
arlo pro arlo pro Spotlight Cam ring stickup cam nest outdoor Canary Flex
Resolution 720p 1080p 1080p 1080p 720p V1, 1080p V2 1080p Capable of 1080p, Streams in 720p
Night Vision
Field of View 130° 130° 140° 160° 80° V1, TBD V2 130° 116°
Zoom
Two-Way Talk Members Only
Livestream
Power Battery, Solar Panel, or Hardwire (Requires Outdoor Power Adapter If Used Outdoors) Battery, Solar Panel, or Hardwire (Requires Outdoor Power Adapter If Used Outdoors) There are Battery, Solar, and Wired Versions of the Camera Hardwire or Battery Rechargeable Battery or Solar Panel V1; Battery, PoE, Wired, or Solar Panel V2 Power Outlet Battery, Power Outlet, or 4G (Extra Fee)
Notifications Email, Push, IFTTT Email, Push, IFTTT Push Notification, Optional Ring Chime, IFTTT Doorbell Chime, Push Notification, Optional Ring Chime, IFTTT Push Notification, Optional Ring Chime, IFTTT Email, Push, IFTTT Push Notification
Device Theft Optional Wall Mount Optional Wall Mount Screwed in using proprietary screws, Ring will replace stolen devices. Screwed in using proprietary screws, optionally hardwired, Ring will replace stolen devices. Depends on the Mount – Quick Mount easier to steal, Security Mount is a more permanent solution. Easier to steal. The power adapter twists off and the Nest Cam can be removed from the magnetic base by pulling. Secure Mount (Sold Separately)
Arlo Pro Arlo Pro 2 Ring Spotlight Ring Doorbell Ring Stick Up Cam Nest Cam Outdoor Canary Flex
Free Storage 7 Days Free Cloud, Pro Base Station Supports USB 7 Days Free Cloud, Pro Base Station Supports USB 3 Hours of Snapshots 24 Hours of Video Previews
Cloud Storage Starting at $9.99/month or $99/annually Starting at $9.99/month or $99/annually Starting at $3/month or $30/year Starting at $3/month or $30/year Starting at $3/month or $30/year Starting at $10/month or $100/year Starting at $9.99/month or $99/year
Multi-Camera Discount Price Includes Shared Storage for 10 Cameras (Free Plan Supports 5.) Price Includes Shared Storage for 10 Cameras (Free Plan Supports 5.) $10/month or $100/year for Unlimited Ring Cameras $10/month or $100/year for Unlimited Ring Cameras $10/month or $100/year for Unlimited Ring Cameras Each Additional Camera Costs $5/month or $50/year Price Includes Shared Storage for 5 Cameras (Free Plan Supports 5.)
Advanced Motion Detection Features Arlo Smart: Detects People, Animals, and Vehicles (Requires Paid Plan) Arlo Smart: Detects People, Animals, and Vehicles (Requires Paid Plan). Also, Activity Zones and Look Back, both features require that the camera is plugged-in indoors. Customizable Zones (Wired Version Only) Motion with Customizable Zones and Distances. Motion with Customizable Zones and Distances. Person Detection, Zones (Both Require Paid Plan) Computer Vision Using Algorithms, Person Detection (Coming Soon), Package Detection (Requires Paid Plan)
Monitors For Sound & Motion Sound & Motion Motion Doorbell Rings & Motion Motion People ($), Sound, and Motion People, Motion, Packages ($)
Continuous Recording No. Records based on event. Yes, but the camera must be plugged-in which requires that you leave it inside. 14 days of 24/7 CVR starts at $9.99/month/camera No. Records based on event with a paid subscription. No. Records based on event with a paid subscription. No. Records based on event with a paid subscription. Yes, will record 24/7 with paid Nest Aware plan. No. Records based on event.
Minimum Required Upload Speed 1MBPS 1MBPS 2MBPS 2MBPS 2MBPS 2MBPS 1MBPS
Other “Family” Devices Arlo Wire-Free, Arlo Q, Arlo Go, Arlo Baby, Arlo Pro 2, Arlo Security Light Arlo Wire-Free, Arlo Q, Arlo Go, Arlo Baby, Arlo Pro, Arlo Security Light Stick Up Cam, Stick Up Cam Elite, Solar Panel, Ring Chime, Floodlight, Ring Doorbell, Ring Protect, Ring Beam Stick Up Cam, Stick Up Cam Elite, Solar Panel, Ring Chime, Floodlight, Spotlight, Ring Protect, Ring Beam Solar Panel, Ring Chime, Ring Doorbell, Floodlight, Spotlight, Ring Protect, Ring Beam Nest Cam, Nest Cam IQ, Nest Secure, Hello, Dropcam, Nest Thermostat, Nest Protect Canary, Canary View
Works with Alexa Devices With a Screen, IFTTT, SmartThings, Stringify Alexa Devices With a Screen, IFTTT, SmartThings, Stringify Alexa Devices With a Screen, IFTTT, Stringify Alexa Devices With a Screen, IFTTT, Wink, ADT Pulse, LockState, Kisi, Lockitron, WeMo, Kevo, Stringify, SmartThings Alexa Devices With a Screen, IFTTT, Stringify, Wink Alexa Devices With a Screen, IFTTT, Works with Nest, Stringify Alexa Devices With a Screen, Wink, Google Home
Web Portal Members Only
App iOS, Android, Fire TV, and Apple TV iOS, Android, Fire TV, and Apple TV iPhones, iPad, Mac App, Android, and Windows 10 iPhones, iPad, Mac App, Android, and Windows 10 iPhones, iPad, Mac App, Android, and Windows 10 Android, iPhones, iPad, Apple Watch, Apple TV iPhone, Android, Apple TV
Family Access*
Where to Buy Amazon Amazon Amazon Amazon Amazon Amazon Amazon
Arlo Pro Arlo Pro 2 Ring Spotlight Ring Video Doorbell Ring Stick Up Cam Nest Cam Outdoor Canary Flex


*See Limitations Outlined in the Family Sharing Section Below

To view full comparison chart please switch to a larger browser

  Arlo Pro 2 Ring Spotlight Cam Nest Cam Outdoor Canary Flex
arlo pro Spotlight Cam nest outdoor Canary Flex
Resolution 1080p 1080p 1080p Capable of 1080p, Streams in 720p
Night Vision
Field of View 130° 140° 130° 116°
Zoom
Two-Way Talk Members Only
Livestream
Power Battery, Solar Panel, or Hardwire (Requires Outdoor Power Adapter If Used Outdoors) There are Battery, Solar, and Wired Versions of the Camera Power Outlet Battery, Power Outlet, or 4G (Extra Fee)
Notifications Email, Push, IFTTT Push Notification, Optional Ring Chime, IFTTT Email, Push, IFTTT Push Notification
Device Theft Optional Wall Mount Screwed in using proprietary screws, Ring will replace stolen devices. Easier to steal. The power adapter twists off and the Nest Cam can be removed from the magnetic base by pulling. Secure Mount (Sold Separately)
Arlo Pro 2 Ring Spotlight Nest Cam Outdoor Canary Flex
Free Storage 7 Days Free Cloud, Pro Base Station Supports USB 3 Hours of Snapshots 24 Hours of Video Previews
Cloud Storage Starting at $9.99/month or $99/annually Starting at $3/month or $30/year Starting at $10/month or $100/year Starting at $9.99/month or $99/year
Multi-Camera Discount Price Includes Shared Storage for 10 Cameras (Free Plan Supports 5.) $10/month or $100/year for Unlimited Ring Cameras Each Additional Camera Costs $5/month or $50/year Price Includes Shared Storage for 5 Cameras (Free Plan Supports 5.)
Advanced Motion Detection Features Arlo Smart: Detects People, Animals, and Vehicles (Requires Paid Plan). Also, Activity Zones and Look Back, both features require that the camera is plugged-in indoors. Customizable Zones (Wired Version Only) Person Detection, Zones (Both Require Paid Plan) Computer Vision Using Algorithms, Person Detection (Coming Soon)
Monitors For Sound & Motion Motion People ($), Sound, and Motion Motion
Continuous Recording Yes, but the camera must be plugged-in which requires that you leave it inside. 14 days of 24/7 CVR starts at $9.99/month/camera No. Records based on event with a paid subscription. Yes, will record 24/7 with paid Nest Aware plan. No. Records based on event.
Minimum Required Upload Speed 1MBPS 2MBPS 2MBPS 1MBPS
Other “Family” Devices Arlo Wire-Free, Arlo Q, Arlo Go, Arlo Baby, Arlo Pro, Arlo Security Light Stickup Cam, Solar Panel, Ring Chime, Floodlight, Ring Doorbell, Ring Protect Nest Cam, Nest Cam IQ, Nest Secure, Hello, Dropcam, Nest Thermostat, Nest Protect Canary
Works with Alexa Devices With a Screen, IFTTT, SmartThings, Stringify Alexa Devices With a Screen, IFTTT, Stringify Alexa Devices With a Screen, IFTTT, Works with Nest, Stringify Wink, Google Home
Web Portal Members Only
App iOS, Android, Fire TV, and Apple TV iPhones, iPad, Mac App, Android, and Windows 10 Android, iPhones, iPad, Apple Watch, Apple TV iPhone, Android, Apple TV
Family Access*
Where to Buy Amazon Amazon Amazon Amazon
Arlo Pro 2 Ring Spotlight Nest Cam Outdoor Canary Flex


*See Limitations Outlined in the Family Sharing Section Below

Installation

power adapter

Nest Cam Outdoor

I would never have guessed (based on my experience with Nest Cam Indoor) that Nest Cam Outdoor would be a pain to install. In fact, the assumption that the process would be easy was one of the reasons I purchased it. And I supposed in some ways it does solve for at least two of the challenges that face those trying to install an outdoor camera.

1. You don’t have to run a cable into your attic space. However, you will have a visible, 25-foot eyesore if you don’t.

2. The camera is magnetic. If you have a magnetic surface outside, you may be able to use the mounting magnet (included) and nothing more. I wasn’t so lucky.

I’m sure there are people out there who will make the wire management “problem” look straightforward and effortless. But for the average consumer, hiding a 25-foot power cord anchored by a large power adapter is not going to be easy.

dad

If you’ve been following along, you know that when I face wire management issues or I have to use a power drill, I call my dad. Drilling into brick isn’t easy. Even for dads, apparently. In the end, I wasn’t sure I wanted to keep the camera anyway. What if I don’t like the camera? Do I want holes in my brick? With that in mind, we decided to use a piece of industrial strength 3M adhesive on the power adapter (the power adapter weighs about 4.5 oz) and a regular 3M strip on the camera wall plate. Everything seemed fine at first. At about 10 o’clock that night, I heard a loud crash. Thankfully, the camera was fine, but the power adapter proved to be too heavy for the adhesive.

Other than the process of physically installing the camera, installation is just like the indoor Nest Cam – fast. I simply had to add the camera to my existing Nest account. You’ll need to make sure the camera has access to both WiFi and power, and you should be good to go.

To summarize, installation has pros and cons:

  • Exposed Wiring
  • Requires Power and Internet
  • Drilling Required
  • My Experience: 60-Minute Install

Ring Video Doorbell

I installed Ring 10 months before I installed Nest Cam, so I might have rose-colored glasses. However, from what I recall, and from reading my notes, it was nowhere near as aggravating, and the result is more aesthetically pleasing. Of course, it was easier to drill into my wood door frame than my experience with trying to drill into brick. But if you plan to install your Ring Video Doorbell onto a brick surface, Ring has instructions for you. They offer instructions for installing the device on wood, vinyl, brick, etc. The instructions will also be different depending on if you choose to hardwire the device to your doorbell’s existing wires (recommended) or if you prefer to use battery power.

For most, the process will involve downloading the free Ring app. Next, you will need to remove your existing doorbell. Once that is complete, you will install Ring’s mounting bracket and connect the existing wires to your doorbell. Finally, place your new doorbell on the mounting bracket and tighten the screws. Ring will be able to use your existing doorbell chime if you hardwire. If not, you can purchase a Chime accessory including the Chime or Chime Pro. Pro not only emits a sound when someone rings your doorbell but also acts as a WiFi extender, improving your wireless signal.

Ring Doorbells Compared

As you are using either your doorbell wires or battery, the end result is more aesthetically pleasing. For me, the only problem is that Ring is too large for my door frame. I have about a 1/3″ overhang. It doesn’t bother me, but if you think it will bother you, Ring also sells the Ring Doorbell Pro (via Amazon). The Doorbell Pro is 1.85″ wide; the original doorbell is 2.43″ wide. Pro does not have a battery; it must connect to the wiring from your existing doorbell. It also has a few extra features (more on that later). Finally, the Ring ELITE is a flush mount option that uses Power over Ethernet (PoE). You can compare all of Ring’s cameras here.

Pros and Cons of a Ring Installation:

  • No Exposed Wires
  • Uses Existing Doorbell Power or Battery. Requires Internet
  • Drilling Required
  • My Experience: 15 Minute Install

Ring Spotlight Cam Battery and Solar

Ring Spotlight Cam Installation

Ring sells three versions of its Spotlight Camera: Wired, Battery, and Solar. Battery and Solar are the same camera. The only difference is that Solar ships with a solar panel.

Installing Spotlight Cam Solar wasn’t that simple, which I expected since it requires drilling, but the process was made even more complicated by two issues. First, the box design would have Steve Jobs rolling over in his grave. In fact, I’m not one for exaggerations so know that when I say it’s one of the worst box designs I’ve ever opened, I mean it. On a more serious note, there’s a discrepancy between the instructions found on the app, those printed on the included quick start guide, and those found online.

Being a cautious optimist, I first followed the app instructions; this was a mistake. Unfortunately, the app instructions are incomplete and leave out important details. Next, I moved on to the included instruction manual where I learned that the first step of the installation process is to fully charge Spotlight’s battery. Unfortunately for me, it was too late for that. The app also skipped another essential step found in the instruction manual: mounting position.

The device shipped ready to be mounted on an eave, but I decided, thankfully, that I wanted to mount it on a wall. To do that, you have to swap the mounting plate from an upward facing to a downward facing position. What I learned while doing so is that Ring fails to mention that the device does not ship with the security screw already in place so even if the mounting plate is already in the position you want, make sure to check on the security screw. Instructions on removing the mounting plate are found on page 15 of the included instruction manual.

What have we learned so far?

Step One: Download the Ring App
Step Two: Charge Spotlight Cam’s Battery
Step Three: Decide if you want to mount on a wall or an eave and position the mount appropriately.
Step Four: Even if the mount is in the right position, double check the security screw.

No matter where you choose to mount Spotlight Cam, Ring suggests you mount it at least 9 feet off of the ground. You should also test your camera before drilling to make sure that:

A: The camera has a strong wireless signal.
B: You like the view.

The camera connects to the included wall mount using a ball socket. If you’re installing on brick or another hard surface, you’ll need to drill and insert wall anchors. If you’re installing your camera onto a wooden surface, you can use the included screws and screwdriver to secure the mount. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to keep Spotlight Cam so both options seemed like rather permanent solutions. I decided to create the most unattractive, temporary solution.

Yup, it’s not pretty, but it works. With the mount in place, simply slide the camera into the socket until it pops. You might have to loosen the screws around the socket for it to slide in place, but even then, you have to give the camera a little push. Next, adjust the camera angle, and tighten the side screws to keep it in place.

Unfortunately, though I purchased the Solar Panel version, the camera did not ship with Solar Panel installation instructions. The Solar Panel itself had an instruction pamphlet, but it’s picture book style, which is not my favorite. I decided to ignore all instructions and guess at the install, which wasn’t a good idea. After installation, the camera’s video feed kept flickering in and out (a problem which I have yet to resolve) so I went back through my install steps to see if I had messed up along the way. I had. I found Solar Panel installation instructions online which I recommend and followed step-by-step.

The aesthetic result of two devices mounted and connected by a wire isn’t overly pleasing. Thankfully, my setup is installed in a spot where it isn’t publicly visible. If it were on my porch, I would probably return the solar panel to use two batteries. That’s right, two! During the install, I was most surprised to find that though Spotlight Cam ships with one battery, it has room for two.

Pros and Cons of a Ring Installation:

  • Wired, Battery, and Solar Versions Available
  • Uses Existing Doorbell Power or Battery. Requires Internet
  • Drilling Required
  • My Experience: 20 Minute Install

Canary Flex

Canary Flex Installation

Installing Canary Flex was easy. Part of that comes from the fact that I’m a Canary indoor camera user. To add Canary Flex, I plugged it in (Even though it can be battery-powered, Canary recommends starting with a full charge.), turned my phone’s Bluetooth feature on, visited the app, and selected “Add Canary device”. From there, you confirm the physical location of your camera, tap the button on the back of the device, and it begins to pair.

After the battery is charged, you can move the camera to a new location, so long as it’s within your WiFi’s range. The camera will work using battery power alone, or you can continue to use it plugged into a power outlet. If you are willing to pay an extra fee, you can even add 4G LTE through a mount for Canary Flex (coming soon). The weatherproof (IP65) mount allows the camera to work in places where WiFi doesn’t exist or where it cuts in and out. It can also be used to provide extra battery to Flex if no outlet is available.

While having three power/connection options already provides flexibility, there is even more flexibility thanks to accessories (sold separately). The first accessory is a Secure Mount. The Mount locks your device into place. Replacing the magnetic base, it helps prevent against device theft. The second is the Stake Mount: Stick the mount into the ground or a potted plant to give Flex a hidden camera effect. The Twist Mount can bend and wrap around an object so that you can hang it virtually anywhere. Canary suggests using the Twist Mount to place Flex on fixtures, railings, or even branches.

Pros and Cons of a Canary Flex Installation:

  • Battery, Outlet, or 4G (Coming Soon)
  • Mounting Options Flexible Through Accessories (Sold Separately)
  • No Drilling Required
  • My Experience: 2 Minute Install

Arlo Pro and Pro 2

Arlo Pro Installation

If Arlo shipped their cameras packaged in frustration-free packaging, the process would be a lot smoother. Beyond that, installation was easy.

As Arlo Pro is a cordless camera, it shares similarities with Canary’s installation process. The difference is that Arlo requires a base station. Another difference is that Arlo ships their cameras fully-charged and ready to go directly from the factory. Thanks, Arlo.

To install Arlo Pro, simply pop the included battery into the camera, download the free mobile app (iTunes, Google Play, Amazon), plug in the base station (requires Ethernet and power), and sync the camera to the base station. If you have multiple cameras, you will need to sync them one at a time.

The next step is camera placement, and Arlo Pro offers a few options. First of all, the camera is magnetic. It can sit on a flat surface, stick directly to a magnetic surface, or you can use the included plate to mount it to a wall. While you can place Arlo inside or out, the camera’s power cord that ships with the package is not weatherproof so plan to use battery power when placing the camera outside. Finally, they also sell an $80 solar panel. The panel works with Arlo Pro, Pro 2, and Go, and can power one camera continuously. Keep in mind, however, that the solar panel powers the camera connected to it, but it does not charge the camera’s battery.

Pros and Cons of an Arlo Pro Installation:

  • Battery Power, Outlet, or Solar Panel
  • Base Station Requires Power and Internet
  • No Drilling Required
  • My Experience: 10 Minute Install

WINNER Arlo is the winner. They offer several flexible options including indoor charging, battery power, as well as a solar panel. And if you need to place the camera in a spot without internet, you can buy Arlo Go with 4G.

Home Security, Video Storage, and Advanced Features

  Nest Logo Ring Canary Logo Arlo
Finding Video Evidence Easy via Sightline and Timelapse Timeline Timeline and Incident Support Timeline
Recording Records Continuously ($) Create Schedules Geofencing, Modes Geofencing, Modes, Schedules, Arlo Pro 2 Can Record Continuously While Plugged-in Indoors ($)
Record On-Demand Records Continuously With Nest Aware ($) Yes, by initiating a live stream.
Recorded Clip Length (Free Plans) Snapshots 30 Seconds 30 Seconds Fixed Length of 10-120 seconds or Until Motion Stops (Up to 300 Seconds)
Share Clips Yes ($) Yes ($) Yes ($)
Storage Cloud Cloud Cloud Cloud or Local
Expand Security With Other Devices Nest Cam, Nest Protect, Nest Thermostat, Nest Secure, Nest Hello, Nest Cam IQ Ring Stick Up, Ring Stick Up Cam Elite, Solar Panel, Chime, Chime Pro, Ring Floodlight Cam, Ring Spotlight Cam, Ring Protect, Video Doorbell, Ring Beams Canary, Canary View Arlo, Arlo Go, Arlo Q, Arlo Baby, Arlo Security Light
False Alerts Best Due to Person Detection

Nest Cam

snapshot

Nest Cam’s software (Nest Aware) can’t be beat. Better yet, they continuously launch improvements to the software for all users. Their most recent update granted a limited amount of free snapshot access for both Nest Cam AND Dropcam users. If you want more storage, Nest Aware comes in two flavors: 10-day for $10 a month or 30-day for $30 a month.

  Without Nest Aware With Nest Aware
Motion Detection Basic Intelligent
Live Streaming:
Video History: 3 Hour Snapshots 10 or 30 Days Video History
Continuous Video Recording:
Two-Way Talk:
Zoom 8x: Yes, 12x for Nest Cam IQ Yes, 12x for Nest Cam IQ
Person Alerts: Nest Cam IQ Only
Familiar Face Alerts Nest Cam IQ Only
Supersight Tracking Nest IQ Only Nest IQ Only
Activity Zones:
Create Clips and Timelapses:
Share Live Streams:
Geofencing
Sound Detection Basic Intelligent
Dog Barking/Person Speaking Alerts

Finding Video Evidence

One thing you may not realize until you use your camera to find video evidence is how difficult it can be to locate relevant events.

Nest uses Timelapse and Sightline features, both require Nest Aware. Creating a Timelapse can condense up to 24 hours of video into a clip no longer than a couple of minutes. You can create Timelapses from your computer.

Sightline is accessed from the mobile app. From the app, you can see your video history marked with color-coded activities. The colors represent different zones set by you. For example, a green dot might be driveway activity whereas an orange dot is an activity from your porch. You will also be able to see a “snapshot” of the event. Finally, using Sightline, you can swipe to fast forward through several days’ worth of footage.

Event Alerts

Nest will intelligently alert you, within reason. For example, you can have the street set as a zone, but turn off notifications for the street. Nest can also tell you when it sees a person or thinks it sees a person. In fact, you can choose to only receive alerts when it sees a person, which virtually eliminates false alarms.

Summary of what you need to know:

  • Activity Zones
  • Automatically Arms and Disarms Based Upon Your Presence
  • Person Detection
  • 3 Hours Snapshots Free, Paid Storage 10-day or 30-day

Ring Video Doorbell

Ring doesn’t offer free storage. While you will be able to see missed alerts, you won’t be able to view missed events without subscribing. The good news is that cloud storage is cheap. For $3 a month per device, you will be able to view and download up to six months of events. You will also be able to share clips, which is of vital importance if you want to use your video as evidence. If you have several Ring Cameras, you can subscribe to their Protect plan for $10 per month or $100 per year. This plan covers an unlimited number of Ring cameras and adds a lifetime product warranty. Beyond storage, all Ring features are free.

ring app

Finding Video Evidence

Ring offers access to a timeline-style feature where you can view events going back six months (if you are subscribed). From the timeline, you can sort through ring events, motion events, or live view events. Right now, the feature isn’t very advanced. Soon, Ring plans to completely revamp their mobile app.

The new app will offer an “Event Timeline.” The Event Timeline includes a video scrubber for faster access to your daily clips. The major difference between new and old is that the current timeline only shows the date and description of the event. The new timeline will also show a snapshot.

Event Alerts and Accuracy

While Ring doesn’t offer as many advanced motion features as Nest, it does have a couple. For one, you can choose to be notified of both motion and ring events. With motion, you can customize motion settings from the app.

Motion Zones should not be confused with activity zones. Motion Zones allow you to choose the motion detector’s range. You can choose to receive alerts for motion within a 5-foot range and up to a 30-foot range. For those who own Ring Pro or Ring Elite, you can draw custom shapes like Nest Aware’s Activity Zone feature.

Ring also supports Smart Alerts, the ability to set the motion sensor’s sensitivity. You can request to receive more alerts, “standard,” or “light” (fewer alerts). You can also turn notifications on and off from the main screen of the app. I prefer to receive all ring alerts (someone rings my doorbell), but I don’t like motion alerts. Even though I don’t have motion alerts turned on, I can still review all recorded motion events from the app or web portal.

Ring cannot automatically arm and disarm, nor would I expect it to, but you can create a monitoring schedule. You can disable motion alerts during specific days and times. Also, if you have multiple doorbells, you can place live events on hold to answer new calls. You can swap back and forth between calls without hanging up.

Finally, Ring offers a program called “Ring Neighborhoods.” With this feature, you can quickly share video clips with those nearby. You don’t have to invite your neighbors. Instead, Ring uses your set geolocation to find other nearby users. You can even customize your location by creating a smaller or larger shape around your home. By tapping on the Ring Neighborhood icon when viewing a call or recording, you can share that event with those nearby regardless of whether or not they own a Ring device. So long as your neighbor has the Ring app, you can share events with them. You can also choose to share events to Facebook and NextDoor.

Summary of what you need to know:

  • Activity Zones
  • Scheduled Monitoring
  • Motion and Doorbell Alerts
  • Storage Starts at $3/Month
  • Sometimes Ring Doesn’t Ring
  • Ring Neighborhoods

Ring Spotlight Cam Battery and Solar

Ring Spotlight has access to the same cloud plans as Ring Video Doorbell: $3 per month per device for 6 months of video history or $10 per month per account.

Motion Sensitivity

Finding Video Evidence

Spotlight Cam also uses the same timeline-style feature as Video Doorbell. In fact, if you manage both devices under one account, you will see events from both cameras listed. From the mobile app, you can sort events by Rings, Motion, Live View, or Starred events. From the web app, you can also sort by device so that you can separate your Spotlight Cam footage from footage captured by your other devices.

Spotlight Cam will also take advantage of the new timeline feature launching soon.

Event Alerts and Accuracy

Even if you have multiple devices, they don’t really play together beyond the ability to view them using the same app. For example, if someone rings your doorbell, you can’t trigger your Spotlight Cam to record. Spotlight is limited to three features to protect your home: its spotlight, a siren, and a motion sensor.

  Wired Battery Solar
Resolution 1080p HD 1080p HD 1080p HD
Live View On-Demand
Night Vision
Viewing Angle 140° 140° 140°
Light Lumens 700 lumens 700 lumens 700 lumens
Light Trigger Motion, Manual, or Schedule Motion or Manual Motion or Manual
Two-Way Audio
Motion Detection
Smart Motion Motion Zones Adjustable Motion Sensitivity Adjustable Motion Sensitivity
Siren 110dB Alarm 110dB Alarm 110dB Alarm
Includes 20-foot Power Cable 6,000 mAH Ring Battery Pack 6,000 mAH Ring Battery Pack, Solar Panel
App Web, iOS, Android, Mac and Windows 10 Web, iOS, Android, Mac and Windows 10 Web, iOS, Android, Mac and Windows 10
Works With Power Cable Solar Panel, Batteries Solar Panel, Batteries
Weatherproof -22°F to 120°F
(-30°C to 48.5°C)
-5°F to 120°F
(-20.5°C to 48.5°C)
-5°F to 120°F
(-20.5°C to 48.5°C)
Where to Buy Amazon Amazon Visit Site

What you can do with the motion sensor will depend on which version of Spotlight Cam you own. With the Wired version, you can create activity zones. You can tell the camera areas to monitor and areas to ignore by designating such areas within the camera’s field of view.

If you own the Battery or Solar version of Spotlight Cam, you will be limited to the same three features we’ve already discussed: Motion Zones, Smart Alerts, and Scheduling. Motion Zones is simply a fancy name for the ability to adjust motion sensitivity and Smart Alerts is the ability to control alert frequency. Finally, you can create a schedule for your Spotlight Cam to follow. You can create a rule to disable motion alerts, but you can’t create one to enable them.

Spotlight Cam’s star feature is its light. The camera is equipped with two lights that automatically trigger when motion is detected. The lights aren’t very bright. At 700 lumens, they’re about as bright as a 60-watt light bulb. It’s not enough to scare someone away, but does improve the camera’s ability to see at night. And nighttime is the only time when the lights will automatically turn on, though you can turn the lights on manually at any time. When triggered, the light stays on for about 30 seconds. When turned on manually, it stays on until you end the live stream (required to access light feature).

The Wired Spotlight Cam also supports the ability to create light schedules, a feature missing from Spotlight Cam Battery.

Spotlight Cam also works with Ring Neighborhoods. If you prefer to take matters into your own hands, you can manually trigger the camera’s siren. Though it has a siren, there is no way to trigger it automatically. You can, however, set your camera to trigger your Chime automatically. If motion is detected, your Chime will play the same tone it plays when your doorbell is pressed.

Summary of what you need to know:

  • Activity Zones (Wired Only)
  • Scheduled Monitoring
  • Automated Spotlight Feature
  • Storage Starts at $3/Month
  • Built-in Siren
  • Ring Neighborhoods

Canary Flex

Canary Motion

Canary offers 24 hours of video history for up to five cameras plus unlimited bookmarks. For free, clips are 30-seconds in length. If you want to download videos directly to your phone, share them to social media, want longer clips, more storage, or more devices, you need a Canary Membership.

A Canary Membership provides 30 days of video history, full-length video clips, social sharing, custom modes, two-way audio, desktop streaming, and unlimited downloads for $9.99/month for up to five cameras. If you have more than five cameras, Canary charges an additional $4.99 per camera per month. You can use an unlimited number of cameras in a single location with a Canary Membership.

Finding Video Evidence

Canary Membership also provides a unique way to sort through video evidence: Incident Support. With Incident Support, Canary provides a dedicated agent to help you retrieve video evidence if a home theft occurs.

Event Alerts

Flex uses the same algorithm as the indoor Canary. In theory, this sounds good. In reality, an outdoor camera needs its own algorithm. Motion events are processed to determine if they are false or if the event should be uploaded to the cloud for “further analysis.” This process not only helps to reduce false alarms, but it saves battery life.

With Canary, you can also adjust motion sensitivity, and the camera includes a PIR motion sensor, which works when the camera is plugged in or when running on battery. But even with these added features, Flex has trouble sorting true events from false ones. On windy days, false alerts are common, and sometimes Flex misses events. Worse, if you use Flex as a battery-powered camera, you must wait for it to wake up. I had problems with the camera sleeping through events. In general, the camera performs at a much higher level when plugged in.

To help reduce false alarms, Canary is launching Person Detection. This feature will be offered to all users for free. Via person detection, you can limit alerts to only those that contain a person.

Person Detection is the first feature launched under the Canary Vision project, a project that aims to add AI-powered intelligence to Canary devices. The second Canary Vision feature is Package Detection, which lets users set up notifications for when packages are delivered to their homes. This feature is exclusive to Canary Flex and it can only be accessed if you have a Canary Membership.

Summary of what you need to know:

  • Incident Support($)
  • Automatically Arms and Disarms Based On Your Presence
  • Person and Package Detection (Coming Soon)
  • Computer Vision Algorithms
  • 24 Hours Free Storage, Paid Video Storage 30-days
  • Camera Sleeps Between Events (Battery Mode Only)
  • Custom Canary Alert Tone for Push Notifications

Arlo Pro and Pro 2

Arlo App

Arlo offers 7 days of free cloud storage. How awesome is that? During setup, you will have the option of choosing between their home or business plans. For home users, they offer three flavors: Basic, Premier, and Elite.

For free, you have access to Basic which includes 7 days of free cloud recordings (up to 1GB), supports up to 5 cameras, and 3 months of phone support. Premier is $9.99 per month or $99.00 per year. It includes 30 days of cloud recording (up to 10GB), supports up to 10 cameras, and provides unlimited phone support. Finally, Elite is $14.99 per month or $149.00 per year and includes 60 days of cloud recordings (up to 100GB), support for 15 cameras, and unlimited support.

In addition to cloud storage, Arlo Pro offers local storage to a USB device (thumb drive, hard drive, etc.). Local storage cannot be used instead of cloud storage, but rather in addition to. However, if you lose your internet connection, all events will be stored to your USB storage device.

Arlo Pro 2 also works with Arlo’s continuous video recording (CVR) plan. The catch is that the camera must remain plugged-in in order for the feature to work, and Arlo’s power cord is not weatherproof. The subscription is per camera and also works with Arlo Q, Q Plus, and Arlo Baby. For $9.99 per month, they will provide 14 days of 24/7 CVR, for $19.99 per month you get 30 days, and for $29.99 per month, you will get 60 days. Arlo provides a discount if you pay for the year upfront and they offer a 50% discount if you have more than one CVR plan on your account.

Finding Video Evidence

All plans, including the freemium, offer access to the same security features and provide a semi-decent way of sorting through historical footage. Through their “Library,” you will have access to a timeline feature. You can view all recorded events by day where you have the option of favoriting an event, downloading it, or sharing it. You can also filter recorded footage by favorites, motion events, audio events, manual recordings, or recordings triggered by IFTTT.

If you are willing to pay for Arlo Smart ($3.99 per month per camera), your cameras will be able to tell a person from a pet from a car from trees. This smart feature also makes video sorting easier as you can filter recordings to show you what you want to see. For example, you can filter the results to only show recordings with people.

If you choose to keep your Arlo Pro 2 indoors and plugged-in, you will also gain access to Activity Zones. You can select up to three zones for Arlo to monitor. If activity is detected in one of your zones, you’ll receive an alert. Activity that occurs outside of your set zone will be ignored.

Event Alerts

For free, event recordings can be triggered by motion or sound. What happens after an event is triggered depends on the modes you create and use.

Arlo Pro is preprogrammed with four modes: Armed, Disarmed, Schedule, and Geofencing. Most of the modes are customizable, and you have the option of adding your own customized mode. You can even create different rules for different cameras. For example, armed mode on camera A might mean that if it detects motion or audio, it will record, while armed mode on camera B might mean that if motion is detected, it sounds the siren, but doesn’t record. You can also decide if you would like push alerts, email alerts, or no alerts.

If schedules aren’t your thing, you can use geofencing to have the camera automatically arm when you are away and disarm when you arrive home.

Back to Arlo Smart, you can pay for advanced alerts. You can ask only to receive alerts when motion is caused by a person while ignoring cars, for example.

And if you’re worried about missing events, plug the camera in. While plugged-in, Arlo Pro 2 offers Look Back, a feature that buffers three seconds of video at all times. If an event occurs, you’ll receive event footage plus the three second buffer.

Summary of what you need to know:

  • Activity Zones
  • Automatically Arms and Disarms Based Upon Your Presence
  • Scheduled Monitoring
  • 7 Days Free Cloud Storage, Paid Storage 30-day or 60-day
  • Camera Sleeps Between Events (Battery Mode Only)
  • Arlo Smart for $3.99/month/camera

WINNER Nest. While Nest Aware is a more expensive service, advanced features like person detection combined with the ability for the camera to record 24/7 make it a better overall home security camera. However, Arlo with Arlo Smart is also a contender as the service is less expensive and the camera includes free storage. You can also add continuous video recording to Arlo Pro 2, but only if using the camera plugged-in indoors.

Family Sharing

Nest Cam Outdoor

If you want to share your Nest Cam with others, you have three options: Family Accounts, Password Protected Sharing, or Public Sharing.

Using a Family Account, you can share access with nine other people. However, Nest’s sharing feature is problematically one-size-fits-all. All members will have full control over your account, including all cameras and connected devices such as thermostats and smoke alarms. As an example, I gave my family access to a camera placed at my grandmother’s. They can now view the camera at my grandmother’s and also the camera at my house. There is no way to limit their access. Also, they can’t set their own notification preferences, so they either have to put up with all the notifications from my house, or I have to turn off my notifications.

With Password Protected Sharing, you can share access to your video stream with up to ten people who have both the link and the password. Public Sharing is self-explanatory; it’s access to your live stream without a password. Both Public and Password Sharing allow others to view a live stream of your video, but they cannot view your video history, receive alerts, control cameras, or your other connected devices.

Ring Video Doorbell and Spotlight Cam

All Ring doorbells and cameras support multiple users. Users can interact with guests and receive notifications. However, each user can set their own custom notification settings. For example, you can ask to be notified of doorbell activity while another user might want to be made aware of ring and motion activity.

Second, you can take it to the next level with Ring Locations. The Locations feature lets you assign your different devices to different locations under one account. You can then decide who has access to each location. For example, this could theoretically solve the challenge I described above. If I had a camera at my grandmother’s, I could give access to my family, but exclude them from viewing footage from cameras located at my home. When the new app launches, you will also be able to view location-based grouping backed by a multi-camera view.

Ring Locations also takes user access to another level. You can change a user’s access depending on the location. For example, you might be a Homeowner at your home and a Neighbor at another home.

Canary Flex

Canary also allows you to share access with other users. Through the Canary app, all users will have full control over your cameras. Canary also lets you choose who has access to what camera through the use of multiple locations. Multiple locations can be the same address or different address and can be managed under one account. You can learn more about using multiple locations here.

In addition to sharing camera access, having multiple users will make geofencing even more intelligent. The cameras will arm when everyone is away and disarm when at least one person is home. You can also see who is home and who is away using the mobile app. Finally, it brings everyone in on the action. If an event is detected, an alert will be sent to all users. If one user responds to the alert, other users will be able to see how that person responded. You can also leave a comment on the event and chat with other users directly within the app.

Arlo Pro and Pro 2

Arlo starts with one admin per account. The admin is allowed to share access with other users. However, all other users will have limited access to some features.

Friend access allows users to view live streams, view recorded clips, and favorite clips. If you want to share more, grant access rights. In addition to the rights already discussed, those with access rights will be able to record video footage, mute the speaker, enter full-screen view, zoom and drag video footage, access and change modes, manually record, take snapshots, favorite, and share or delete video footage. Finally, Arlo does allow you to control which camera or cameras other users can access. For example, you can give them access to your outdoor camera, but not your indoor camera.

WINNER: Ring and Canary. Ring has a slight edge as they allow you to customize user access by location. Canary has this multi-user thing down pat thanks to group geofencing and group communication.

Weatherproofing

Nest Cam Outdoor

Nest Cam Outdoor’s temperature range is limited to -4° to 104°F. In the same breath, the Nest team warns of placing the camera in direct sunlight to avoid overheating the device. So if the device can only handle 104° and it might heat up in the sun, is it really ready to live outside? Perhaps it’s not that the device isn’t ready to live outside, but that it’s more suited for temperate zones.

I can’t say if the story shared below is true or not, but one Facebook commenter shared this,

Waste of time for me as the temp range only goes to -4. Gets -20 here in Colorado. Spoke to Nest customer support was told not to purchase for our climate.

That said, this might be one area where splurging for the Nest Cam IQ Outdoor makes sense. While you do have to drill to hide the wires, the camera itself has an IP66 rating and can work in temperatures ranging from -40° to 113°F.

Ring Video Doorbell

Ring’s temperature range is better than Nest’s (-5°F – 120°F). As mentioned above, I’ve been using it for nearly a year. My device has survived both summer and winter.

Ring Spotlight Cam

Spotlight Cam Wired will work in temperatures ranging from -20°F to 120°F, but Battery and Solar have a smaller operating temperature range.

The Wired version uses a power source.

Solar uses a solar panel. The Solar Panel connects to Spotlight Cam’s battery via a 13-foot cable. In fact, if you buy a battery-powered camera and want to convert it to solar, you can buy the panel for $49. The panel is weatherproof and requires just one hour of direct sunlight per day to keep your camera charged.

And that is its job, to keep the camera charged. However, I noticed during testing that it does charge the battery too. When I installed the camera, the battery level was at 40%. Soon after connecting the solar panel, that percentage jumped to 50%. The next day it rained, and the percentage climbed from 50 to 52%. Day three was overcast, and yet the battery level crept up to 56%. Day 4 was a beautiful sunny day and the battery level jumped to 78%. By the end of day 4, I was at 100%.

According to Ring, the solar panel should provide a “Trickle Charge” of 1-2% per day. Clearly, I got more. That said, if the battery doesn’t charge and it dies, you will need to charge it in order to use the camera. You cannot run the camera on solar power alone.

The battery version of the camera can only use a battery. You can’t plug it in. According to Ring, the batteries should give you six months of life before needing to be recharged, but that wasn’t my experience. After testing the battery for three weeks, my battery level dropped from 100% to 47%. It was completely depleted before the two month mark. If you plan to use a battery, I suggest buying two. As mentioned in the installation guide, Spotlight Cam ships with one battery, but it supports two. This configuration will improve your camera’s uptime. When one battery dies, you can charge it while battery two kicks-in to power your camera. Ring sells additional batteries for $29.

Canary Flex

I ran my original Canary Flex test in December, and the temperatures failed to drop below 32 degrees. I tell you this because Canary claims the battery can last several months, though cold weather and heavy usage will reduce its lifespan.

After using Flex unplugged for a little over two weeks, the battery fell critically low before getting to the point where the camera would no longer turn on. I don’t blame this on the weather as much as I do the wind. Continued tests showed a battery life of 2-4 weeks. Per a reader request, I retested the camera in August. The weather is warmer here in August, it’s less windy, and Canary has since made several adjustments to help extend Flex’s battery life. This time, the battery lasted a full seven weeks.

Of course, there are things you can do to get the max life out of your camera’s battery. Canary provides the following tips:

  1. You can plug the device into a weatherproof, covered outlet if you see a green dot on the bottom of the power adapter.
  2. Protect your device from direct sunlight by placing it under an overhang or in a shady area.

Arlo Pro and Pro 2

Arlo Pro can be used outdoors only if running on battery or solar power. (While they once sold an outdoor power adapter, it is no longer available due to quality issues.) If you’re using battery power, you will have to charge your camera indoors as the included power adapter is not rated for outdoor use. Furthermore, if your battery is too cold from being outside, you might have to wait for it to warm up before you can begin to charge it. If you don’t like the sound of all of that, you can invest in the $59.99 Pro Charging Station and an additional rechargeable battery ($49.99). You can use the charging station to charge two batteries simultaneously so that you always have one ready to go when needed. You can also purchase the Arlo Pro UV-resistant silicone skins, which provide added protection against condensation and sun glare.

At two months, Arlo’s battery did last longer than Canary’s before it needed to recharge. Arlo also sent both an email and push notification encouraging me to charge the camera. I tried to time how long it took to recharge the battery, but it took five hours to reach 87% and then stopped. Even the next day, the camera’s battery did not charge beyond 87%. Also, like Canary, Arlo’s battery life was impacted by activity more than weather. The camera I placed in a lower traffic zone still has 37% battery life after two months and several sub-zero days.

I’m still testing the difference between Arlo Pro and Pro 2’s battery life. I have both cameras running side-by-side and will update this article with more data when I have it.

Device Issues and Troubleshooting

Nest Logo Ring Ring Canary Logo Arlo
Warranty Length 2 Year Limited Warranty 1 Year Limited Warranty (Lifetime with Protect Plus) 1 Year Limited Warranty (Lifetime with Protect Plus) 1 Year Limited Warranty (2 Years With Canary Membership) 1 Year Limited Warranty (90 Days Phone Support)
Availability Phone, Chat, or Twitter Email, Phone, or Chat Email, Phone, or Chat Email, Chat, or Twitter Email, Phone, or Chat
Phone Support Quality Excellent Excellent Excellent Discontinued Offshore, Average
Wake Up To Livestream (on Average) Same Network 1 Second (Wired) 16 Seconds (Wired Doorbell) 4 Seconds (Solar Spotlight) 10 Seconds (Battery), 5 Seconds (Wired) 6 Seconds (Battery), 6 Seconds (Wired)
Wake Up To Livestream (on Average) Remote 6 Seconds (Wired) 19 Seconds (Wired Doorbell) 9 Seconds (Solar Spotlight) 12 Seconds (Battery) 6 Seconds (Battery)
Automatic Firmware Updates

Nest Cam Outdoor

One minor problem I’ve had with Nest Cam Outdoor is one that has also plagued my indoor camera for as long as I’ve had it. For some reason, when I physically move the device, even slightly, it loses connection. And when Nest loses connection, it can take several minutes to boot back up.

Another issue is caused by the device’s design. In theory, each clip cable needs to be screwed in. I’ve heard others claim this is for security reasons, making the device harder to steal. But I don’t see how this could be true. It’s not hard to walk up and unscrew the camera from the cord and walk away with it. The camera attaches to the base using a magnet, and it attaches to the power adapter using a cord that you simply push and twist to disconnect.

ups back

One final issue has more to do with software performance than hardware issues, but it’s important to point out. From time-to-time, the snapshot will record a little too late. In the example above, it caught the UPS man’s back. For those without a Nest Aware subscription, this is all you get. Those with a subscription can rewind footage to see the moments before the clip.

Ring Video Doorbell

live view ring

Ring’s biggest issue (in my experience) is that from time to time, it flops. This means that someone will ring my doorbell, but I won’t receive a notification on my phone. Also, it’s slow to wake up, which is surprising considering that I’m not running it on batteries.

Also, on the original Ring, resetting the device when it loses WiFi connection is a real pain. When this happens, you will need to use the proprietary screwdriver (make sure you save it) to unscrew the device to access the reset button. It takes about 15 minutes. In fact, the same process is required to recharge the camera’s battery. This is one of two reasons why you should opt for the Ring Video Doorbell 2. (The other reason is an improved resolution.) Ring Video Doorbell 2 features a removable battery, eliminating the hassle of removing the device for a recharge.

Ring Spotlight Cam

Thus far, my only issue with Spotlight Cam is that the live streaming option is a little glitchy. It will live stream, but the video flickers in and out.

Canary Flex

Canary Flex Slow Wake

My indoor Canary is self-sufficient, and that is exactly what I want in a home security camera. Flex has yet to provide that same experience. I’ve had to physically interact with the device multiple times to get it to reconnect to my internet. Also, the geofencing feature is inaccurate, often marking me away while home and vice versa. As for power loss notifications? They’re hit or miss.

Additionally, when running Flex on a battery, it is often slow to wake up, even after a recent updated targeting Canary’s lag time.

My final issue with Canary Flex has less to do with the device itself and more to do with the company behind the camera. Over the years, Canary has made a lot of changes to their cameras, and the changes don’t always benefit the customer. For example, they promised free two-way audio, but then started charging for it, and for a long time they provided free cloud storage, now they offer what they call “digestible Video Previews.” Changes such as these are concerning.

Arlo Pro and Pro 2

I haven’t had any issues with Arlo Pro, but I called into their support team to get a feel for support quality. As Netgear owns Arlo, phone tech support is managed by Netgear, and they offer offshore support. It was the stereotypical experience you think of when you think of tech support. I called into a phone queue, waited a little bit (not long), got transferred to someone who struggled to understand my question, she put me on hold, she came back to clarify my question, she put me on hold, and then she came back with an answer. While it wasn’t a bad experience, it was sub-par compared to the tech support experiences provided by Nest, Canary, and Ring.

There is a known issue with Arlo that doesn’t affect me personally but may affect you. Danh Bui was kind enough to share that Arlo Pro sound currently does not work for T-Mobile users. T-Mobile uses IPV6 where Arlo Pro uses IPV4.

WINNER Nest, Canary, and Ring all provide excellent tech support experiences. That said, general word to the wise: When you self-monitor your home security system, expect to do some troubleshooting from time-to-time. It is an inevitable part of the process. Most of the outdoor devices I’ve tested have had issues, though Nest appears to be leading the way.

Final Thoughts

To me, Nest, Canary, Ring, and Arlo are like apples and oranges. Ring Doorbell protects your front door from intrusion. Nest has an advantage in that it can capture footage 24/7. Canary has an advantage in that it is wire free and will soon offer 4G wireless service as a primary form of connection or backup. Arlo Pro and Ring Spotlight have an advantage in that the cameras can run on battery power and they wake up for both motion and live streaming faster than Canary Flex.

They all have their issues. They all have false alarms. There is no perfect solution. I’m hopeful that soon new technology will emerge, and someone will take the best of Nest, the best of battery-powered cameras (Elon Musk, please make us an amazing battery!), and the best of Ring to make the ultimate outdoor camera.

In the end, the best camera depends on what you want to accomplish. There is no one-size-fits-all solution regarding home security. I want to use my camera to help my neighbors. I’ve found that continuous recording is crucial. After all the testing, I’m back to using Nest Cam indoor supplemented by my video doorbell. However, for my backyard, I feel Arlo Pro is ideal. I don’t need continuous recording, I don’t want more wires, and it wakes up faster than Canary.

Using the Nest Cam Outdoor vs. Indoor Nest Cam

Below is a brief comparison of using the Indoor camera to film through a window versus using the Outdoor Nest Cam.

  • NEST CAM INDOOR
  • No Sound
  • Less accurate at detecting people at night.
  • Aesthetically Pleasing
  • Theft Protected
  • No Night Vision*
  • NEST CAM OUTDOOR
  • Sound & Two-Way Audio
  • Slightly More Accurate
  • Sloppy
  • Vulnerable to Theft
  • Night Vision

*The indoor camera has night vision, but you have to turn this feature off to record through a window.

Nest Indoor or Nest Outdoor? There are pros and cons to both. The Nest Cam Outdoor might be slightly more accurate, but that’s probably more to do with positioning – it has a better vantage point. The fact that it is more accurate, has sound, and night vision makes me want to switch, but I simply can not deal with the way it looks when installed.

Blink is also a battery-powered outdoor camera. It’s built around a unique chip that should provide an amazing battery life. However, while my indoor cameras are almost at the two-year mark using the original AA batteries, my Blink XT batteries usually last between 1.5 and 2 months. While I love my Blink indoor cameras, I would not recommend Blink for outdoor use. You can read my Blink XT review and comparison to Arlo Pro here.

I’ve heard others say Arlo is the perfect outdoor camera. I disagree. The original Wire-Free camera had even greater latency than Arlo Pro. Also, Pro includes a wider field of view, a rechargeable battery, a siren (built into the hub), and it adds sound with two-way audio, all features the original Arlo lacked. Arlo Pro 2 bumps up the resolution to 1080p and adds three features if the camera is plugged-in: CVR, Motion Zones, and Look Back.

Arlo Go is yet another Arlo camera. It’s an Arlo Pro plus 4G. The big catch is that a cellular plan via Verizon is needed as it doesn’t work with WiFi. It does come with 15 data minutes to send 15 minutes worth of video to the cloud for free. Once you’ve used those minutes, you’ll need to buy more time. Data plans start at $4.99/month for 15 data minutes and go up to $32.99/month for 225 data minutes. Arlo Go sells for $429.99 on Amazon or 399.99 from Verizon ($349.99 if you sign a 2-year contract).

Kuna is also intriguing, but using the device would require that I swap out my current light fixtures, and I have a different style of porch light. Toucan would potentially solve that dilemma. With Toucan, you can retrofit any outdoor light with a smart socket and a camera. But again, it works better with wall lights, and I have a hanging light.

Post launch of Nest Cam IQ Indoor, Nest has announced that they are making an outdoor version of IQ. I’ve tested the indoor IQ and it is one of a few cameras that I’ve returned. In my opinion, the extra features (Person Recognition, Supersight, 4K Image Sensor, HD Talk and Listen, 12x Zoom, and HDR) don’t justify a price tag that is nearly double the original Nest Cam.

Nest Cam IQ Outdoor will offer most of the same features as the indoor IQ (less the coming soon Google Assistant integration). The only difference between IQ and the original Nest Cam is the power cord. Unlike the original Nest Cam Outdoor, you will have to drill a hole to install the IP66-rated Nest Cam IQ Outdoor, unless you happen to have an existing opening. Nest Cam IQ Outdoor will start at $349. And this, my friends, is why I won’t be purchasing Nest Cam IQ. Not only is person detection sufficient and offered via the less expensive Nest Cam Outdoor, but I don’t have an existing opening, and I’m not going to drill.

While the Stick Up Cam would have been an obvious choice, it wasn’t for me. It does provide a wireless experience, and in the right conditions, the battery can last several months. Plus, if you add the solar panel, it can recharge itself.

My goal with a security camera is to help protect my neighborhood, not my house. (My house is protected as much as any house can be, trust me.) That said, to do my part, I need a camera that can record 24/7 (Stick Up can’t). I also need a camera that can capture a wide angle (Stick Up can’t), and I need a camera that will allow me to quickly sift through footage when my neighbor’s request help (Stick Up can’t).

The second version of Stick Up Cam is launching soon. There will be two cameras: Stick Up Cam and Stick Up Cam Elite. The major difference between V1 and V2 is that V2 ships with more mounting options so that it can be used inside or outside. V2, like V1, is battery-powered, but Elite adds PoE or the option to power using a wall outlet. The new cameras also offer a higher 1080p resolution.

The Ring Floodlight Cam would be an interesting option if I needed floodlights. The Floodlight Cam is built to replace existing floodlights to make them “smart.” Not only would the smart lights add a layer of security by allowing you to flash the lights or sound the built-in alarm, but the device also has advanced features like custom zone creation and facial recognition. However, like Stickup Cam, the camera can’t record 24/7. Also, it requires that you have existing wires for floodlights.

Oco Pro Bullet is weatherproof, has an SD card, cloud storage, night vision, smart motion detection, and records in FHD 1080p. It can also work in a wide range of temperatures, from -22 °F – 140 °F (-30 °C – 60 °C). But it has one massive limitation: viewing angle. Unfortunately, it only offers an 85-degree viewing angle. Also, the indoor version fell flat on many of its promised features. While the outdoor camera uses different hardware, the indoor experience left me feeling leery towards Oco’s ability to build a quality camera.

Oco Pro Bullet V2 lacks a PoE option and has a more limited temperature range (14 °F – 122 °F). However, it does offer a wider 100° viewing angle.

Swann Smart Security Camera is an indoor/outdoor battery powered security camera that works without a base station. It’s most similar to Reolink Argus and Canary Flex. The camera records in 1080p FHD, offers a 120° field of view, night vision, and is IP65 rated for outdoor use. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work with any third-party devices and it lacks intelligent features to reduce false alarms. The camera boasts a feature called True Detect™, but that’s just a fancy marketing term for PIR motion sensor. The camera’s best feature is free local and cloud storage. From the app, you can playback seven days worth footage stored locally. The camera also includes two days of cloud storage.

Ring Offers Doorbells, Floodlights, and More –

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Ring Offers Doorbells, Floodlights, and More -

By


Ring Video Doorbell

I’ve been a Ring owner since late 2015, and I’m still a fan. Since then, the game has changed with new additions like Ring Pro, Stick Up Cam, Stick Up Cam Elite, Ring Beam, Floodlight Cam, Ring Elite, Ring Video Doorbell 2, Spotlight Cam, and Ring Protect.

(Ring Doorbell was gifted to me for testing in 2015. My hands-on experience at CES with the other Ring devices was self-funded. I also purchased Spotlight Cam and the solar panel. This did not impact my opinion, but I thought you should know.)

Ring’s Family of Cameras

All of Ring’s cameras are made to work together, but they all serve a unique purpose. The idea isn’t to pick one over the other but to use them together to protect your home from the outside in. As another layer of protection, Ring Secure uses sensors to detect intrusion.

  Ring Video Doorbell Ring Video Doorbell 2 Ring Video Doorbell Pro Ring Video Doorbell Elite Stick Up Cam Floodlight Cam Spotlight Cam
ring ring ring pro Ring Video Doorbell Elite stickup cam Floodlight Cam Spotlight
Price $179 $199 $249 $499 TBD $249 Starts at $199
Placement Can Replace existing doorbell (Hardwired) or not (Battery-Powered) Can Replace existing doorbell (Hardwired) or not (Battery-Powered) Replaces existing doorbell (Hardwired) Fits in Standard Junction Boxes, Flush Mount Installation (Hardwired), PoE Indoor or Outdoor. Wall Mounted (Standard or Security Bracket), Wired or Wire-Free Security Camera Replaces Existing Wired Flood Lights, Connects to Standard Junction Boxes Wall Mounted, Comes in a Wired, Battery-Powered, and Solar Version
Resolution 720p 1080p 1080p 1080p 1080p 1080p 1080p
Live Streaming Hardwired Doorbell Only Hardwired Doorbell Only
Night Vision
Field of View 180° 160° 160° 160° TBD 140° 140°
Motion Detection Predefined Zones Predefined Zones Custom Zones Custom Zones Predefined Zones Custom Zones Custom Zones (Wired Only)
Two-Way Audio
Other Features Notifies you when someone rings your doorbell. Notifies you when someone rings your doorbell. Notifies you when someone rings your doorbell. Notifies you when someone rings your doorbell. Up to 1 Year Battery Life or Use Solar Charger Built-in Siren, Smart Floodlight, Facial and Object Recognition Built-in Siren, Smart Spotlight
App/Web Portal Access
Compatible Accessories Ring Chime, Chime Pro, Solar Security Sign Ring Chime, Chime Pro, Solar Security Sign, Solar Charger 2, Quick-Release Battery Pack Ring Chime, Chime Pro, Solar Security Sign Ring Chime, Chime Pro, Solar Security Sign Ring Chime, Chime Pro, Stick Up Solar Panel, Solar Security Sign, Silicone Sleeve Ring Chime, Chime Pro, Solar Security Sign Ring Chime, Chime Pro, Solar Security Sign, Spotlight Solar Panel (Battery Version), Quick Release Battery (Battery Version)
Compatible Third-Party Products Echo Show, Echo Spot, IFTTT, Wink, Control4, Stringify, LockState, Kisi, Lockitron, WeMo, Kevo, SmartThings Echo Show, Echo Spot, IFTTT, Wink, Control4, Stringify, LockState, Kisi, Lockitron, WeMo, Kevo, SmartThings Echo Show, Echo Spot, IFTTT, Wink, Control4, Stringify, LockState, Kisi, Lockitron, WeMo, Kevo, SmartThings Echo Show, Echo Spot, IFTTT, Wink, Control4, Stringify, LockState, Kisi, Lockitron, WeMo, Kevo, SmartThings Echo Show, Echo Spot, IFTTT, Stringify, Wink Echo Show, Echo Spot, IFTTT, Stringify Echo Show, Echo Spot, IFTTT, Stringify
Lifetime Purchase Protection Free replacement if stolen. Free replacement if stolen. Free replacement if stolen. Free replacement if stolen. Free replacement if stolen. Free replacement if stolen. Free replacement if stolen.
Ring Video Doorbell Ring Video Doorbell Ring Video Doorbell Pro Ring Video Doorbell Elite Stick Up Cam Floodlight Cam Spotlight Cam
Visit Site Visit Site Visit Site Visit Site Coming Soon Visit Site Visit Site

Ring Floodlight Cam

Ring Floodlight Cam

I met Floodlight Cam during CES 2017, and I was pretty excited. The camera is reminiscent of Sengled or even Kuna as it combines the power of a security camera with the power of smart lighting, two effective home security forces.

Ring has thought beyond the typical to outfit the device with several new security features. First of all, Floodlight Cam includes person and object detection. Not to be confused with facial recognition, person detection can’t identify who a person is, just that they are indeed a person. However, it’s a feature that makes motion alerts more intelligent and helps cut down on time spent watching footage of trees swaying in the wind. Second, it is the only Ring device which includes a 110-decibel siren. Finally, the 3K lumen LED lights are motion activated and app-controlled.

The lights inside Floodlight Cam are smart lights. You can schedule them to turn on and off at certain times. You can even schedule them to turn on at dusk and off at dawn directly from the Ring mobile app. Finally, you can turn them on or off on-demand from anywhere.

The Floodlight Cam doesn’t have as many compatibilities as Ring’s Video Doorbells, but it has some, including Stringify and IFTTT. Both allow you to integrate the camera into scenes and rules. Within Stringify, for example, you can choose from two triggers: motion is detected and motion is detected with video, and you can choose from two actions: turn on Ring Floodlight and turn off Ring Floodlight. The Floodlight Cam can also stream footage to Amazon Echo Show, Echo Spot, or any Alexa-enabled device with a screen.

The downside to Ring Floodlight Cam is that it’s a floodlight. Though Ring will ship everything you need for a successful install, it still requires that you replace an existing wired floodlight. The camera will connect to any standard junction box to help simplify installation, but it still might be a challenge for some, like me.

Ring Spotlight Cam

Ring Spotlight Cam Solar Review

If you’d rather avoid the trouble of installing Floodlight Cam, then perhaps you’re better off with the Ring Spotlight Cam.

Spotlight Cam is Ring’s latest outdoor camera that comes in wired, battery-powered, and solar-powered versions. All three versions are designed for outdoor use as they are all weatherproof and can survive sub-zero temps.

Unlike Floodlight Cam, Spotlight Cam is easier to install. Simply mount it to a wall, and plug it in, assuming you are using the wired version ($199). Ring also sells a solar powered version ($229) as well as a battery-powered version ($199). Solar and battery are the same cameras. The only difference is that bundling your purchase of the camera with the solar panel saves a little bit of money.

Besides their power source, there are a couple of other differences between the cameras. The wired version supports Motion Zones. You can identify areas within the camera’s field of view that you want to monitor while ignoring other areas. The wired version also supports light schedules. If you own the battery-powered version, your lights can turn on automatically when motion is detected. You can even turn the lights on manually from within the mobile app.

No matter which version you choose, Spotlight offers FHD 1080p video, a 140° wide-angle lens, night vision, and two-way audio. The cameras also come equipped with a siren; however, the siren will not sound automatically. Instead, you are responsible for triggering the siren when needed.

Read my hands-on review of Ring Spotlight Solar Cam here.

And if you’re interested, you can compare it to other outdoor home security cameras here.

Ring Stick Up Cam V1 vs. V2

Ring Stick Up Cam

Ring Stick Up Cam has been around for a while and it will soon be revamped. The first version is an outdoor, wire-free camera that you can mount anywhere you have an internet connection. Ring Stick Up Cam V1 monitors for motion and does so using a smaller field of view as compared to other Ring cameras.

The major downside to Stick Up Cam V1, like other battery-operated cameras, is that the charge will only last so long. The good news is that if you don’t want to take it down to charge, you can purchase the solar charging panel ($49) to keep it fired up. The panel connects to Stick Up via a micro USB cable and uses sunlight to keep the camera’s battery charged.

While you can use Stick Up V1 inside, it is made to be used outdoors. However, Stick Up Cam V2 is made to be used inside or out. The new camera, launching soon, comes in two versions: Stick Up Cam and Stick Up Cam Elite. The difference between the two versions is how they are powered. Stick Up Cam is a battery-powered camera where Stick Up Cam Elite uses a standard wall outlet for power or PoE (power over Ethernet). Both versions offer two-way audio, 1080p FHD video (V1 is 720p), motion detection, and zone detection. Like V1, V2 will work with a solar panel. Pricing on the new Stick Up Cam is TBD.

Ring Video Doorbells

Ring Doorbells Compared

What makes the Ring Video Doorbells different from the other Ring cameras is pretty obvious, they’re doorbells. To help protect your home, they connect to your home’s WiFi and send notifications when they detect motion or when someone rings your doorbell.

The first significant difference between the four is how they are installed. All four doorbell options can be hardwired into your existing doorbell wires and will use your existing doorbell chime. If you don’t have an existing doorbell, your options are the original Ring Video Doorbell or the newer Ring Video Doorbell 2, as they can run on battery power. Also, Ring Elite is a flush-mount doorbell. At CES I was told that Elite is best for new home builders or contractors because you do have to cut a hole to flush-mount the doorbell. The doorbell fits inside a standard sized junction box. The second feature that sets Elite apart from the other doorbells is that it uses PoE (Power over Ethernet). Using PoE is smart, very smart. It will improve Elite’s performance as it no longer relies on your wireless internet connection and will be less impervious to bandwidth issues and offline failures.

To break it down, Ring Original and V2 are battery-powered. Ring Pro is hardwired, has a slimmer design, higher resolution, a smaller field of view, but adds custom motion zones. Ring Elite is the same as Pro, but it’s a flush-mount style device and adds PoE. Ring also recommends that you have Ring Elite professionally installed.

If you don’t own an existing doorbell chime, Ring has a solution for you. Ring sells two wireless chimes including the Ring Chime and Chime Pro. Chime Pro acts as a WiFi extender in addition to a chime. Of course, you don’t need a chime at all as you will receive push notifications to your phone. If you’re an IFTTT user, you can set up other alerts. For example, you can get an alert on your TV, turn your Hue lights on, or even set up text alerts to let you know when someone’s at your door.

As mentioned earlier, I’ve owned the original Ring Doorbell for awhile, and I’ve recommended it to both friends and family members. The only problem I’ve had with it is that twice it’s lost internet connection. Unfortunately, when this happens, you have to remove the doorbell and reset it. The process takes about 15 minutes. Also, if you choose to run the device on battery power, you’ll need to take it down to recharge it. Though I’ve not tested the device using the battery, the battery should last 6-12 months. Once it dies, it takes several hours to recharge.

All that said, the problems above are great reasons to pay the extra $20 for V2. The second version of the Ring Video Doorbell features a removable battery, making the process of charging the battery a simpler one.

Ring Protect

Ring Security Base Station

Finally, Ring sells two non-camera products including Ring Protect. Ring Protect is Ring’s security system. You can self-monitor the system or pay for professional monitoring.

The Base Station acts as the hub, communicating with Ring’s cloud, the central monitoring center, as well as all connected devices. The Base Station is integrated with a siren, battery backup, a cellular chip, as well as ZigBee, Z-Wave, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi. Ring also sells a keypad, smoke listener, contact sensors, motion sensors, and a range extender or you can purchase an inclusive Protect Security Kit for $199.

What’s interesting about Ring Protect is that adding cellular backup and professional monitoring is just $10 per month. That same fee adds 60 days of cloud storage for ALL of your Ring Cameras.

You can learn more about Ring Protect and compare it to abode and Nest Secure here. Ring Protect will starting selling late spring of 2018.

Ring Beams

Ring Beams

Ring Beams isn’t one product, but rather a group of products. Later this year, Ring will launch several outdoor security lights including spotlights, pathway lights, and deck lights. Of course, Ring already sells a Spotlight Cam and a Floodlight Cam, but the difference is Cam. Unlike the current options, Ring Beams are camera free.

Other Home Security Features

As standalone devices, all of Ring’s cameras provide unique security benefits. They also provide many of the same benefits: You can talk to visitors using two-way audio, receive motion alerts, and check-in via live streaming. But there are other security benefits they all share, some free, some not.

Cloud Storage

Ring Cloud Storage

No matter which camera you choose, they all require a cloud storage plan if you want to access your video history. Fortunately, the monthly fee is low compared to other cloud camera options. For $3/month/camera or $30/year, you will gain access to 60 days of video history. For the Ring Doorbells, the history includes both motion and ring events. If you have several Ring cameras, you can subscribe to Protect for $10/month or $100/year. This plan covers an unlimited amount of Ring cameras and adds a lifetime product warranty versus a 1-year warranty without the Protect plan. As mentioned above, if you own a Ring Protect, the $10/month plan will also add Ring Response (24/7 professional monitoring) and cellular backup.

In addition to the features mentioned above, you will also have full control over recorded events. You can delete them at any time, or you can share them directly from the mobile app (iOS, Android, Mac or Windows 10) or the web portal.

Ring Neighborhoods

Ring Neighborhoods is a free feature aimed at connecting Ring owners. By opting in, you become part of a larger community. By setting a geofence radius around your home, you define a neighborhood. If someone within your “neighborhood” catches something suspicious, they can choose to share the footage with connected neighbors. As seen in the video above, the benefits of the program are tangible. After six months, the Los Angeles neighborhood of Wilshire Park saw a 50% reduction in burglaries.

Also, you don’t have to own a Ring device to take advantage of Ring Neighborhoods. Anyone can download the Ring app to join.

Motion Scheduling

Another free security feature is motion scheduling. Using the Ring app, you can disable events during specific days or times. For example, if you’re home every weekday between 5 pm and 6 pm and don’t want your activity recorded, you can schedule the same using the mobile app. You can even have multiple rules so that the camera behaves differently on different days and times.

Multiple Doorbells, Multiple Users, Multiple Locations

If you need multiple doorbells, you can do that too. In fact, Ring recently launched a feature to make managing multiple doorbells easier. If you have multiple calls, you can now place live events on hold to answer new calls and switch between calls without hanging up.

One thing that surprised me after installing Ring Spotlight Cam was that while you can manage multiple cameras via the mobile app, they don’t work together. For example, if someone rings my Ring Doorbell, I can’t trigger Spotlight Cam to start recording. I can, however, add multiple users to help manage alerts.

Ring’s multi-user approach is smart and made smarter by a feature called Ring Locations. You can add your Ring devices to different locations. From there, you can give different access to different users. For example, at your primary home you can be a Homeowner with associated privileges. At your best friend’s home, you might be a Neighbor. Each user’s access can be customized including deciding what alerts you want to receive.

Third-Party Integrations via Ring+

Finally, you can help protect your home by integrating your Ring devices with third-party companies. We’ve already talked about the IFTTT integration, but there are others. What’s confusing about the integrations is that they aren’t universal across all platforms. For example, IFTTT only supports actions for Ring but doesn’t offer any triggers. Stringify offers both triggers and actions. Second, not all Ring products share the same integrations. The doorbell cameras, for example, work well with smart locks including those by Lockitron and Kevo but the cameras don’t work with the locks at all. Other direct integrations include ADT Pulse (uncertain pending litigation), WeMo, Lockstate, Wink, Echo Show, Echo Spot, FireTV, and Stringify.

Integrations with Ring Protect are still TBD.

Final Thoughts

From an outdoor home security perspective, I’m a big fan of what Ring is doing. The only thing that would improve their ability to protect would be the option for continuous cloud recording via Stickup Cam and perhaps some free cloud storage. However, even without continuous recording, they are capable of protecting most homes by making it seem like you’re home when you’re not thanks to smart lighting and the ability to use two-way audio in response to events. Ring is a family of products worth buying, and if you read my reviews, you know I don’t say that often.

FAQs

Q: Can you place Ring Doorbell to the side of the door where it is not forward facing? Will it only capture profiles?

A: Side placement is not ideal, but it’s also not terrible. I tried to test this configuration by approaching my doorbell from a sideways angle. I was identifiable from the side (pics below), sometimes more, sometimes less, depending on how I approached the door, but in general, the farther back I stood from the camera, the more usable the footage. If you have a long approach to your door, the chances of the camera capturing usable footage will increase. I suggest buying the doorbell and testing it (using the battery) BEFORE you physically install it. If you think it will work, go for it. If not, send it back.

Ring Doorbell Sideways

Ring Sideways

Last Updated 01/16/2018

Launch of the new Stick Up Cam and Ring Beams

Read Previous Updates

11/17/2017 Fact checked, expanded Spotlight Cam

10/4/2017 Added Ring Protect
8/10/2017 Added Spotlight Cam
7/2/2017 Added Ring Doorbell V2

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Abode vs. Nest Secure vs. Ring Protect Home Security

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Nest Secure Review

By


HomeAlarmReport.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

abode has held steady as our top recommended self-monitored home security system for 2017. It’s one I’ve tested, and feel confident recommending to others. For most of the year they held the title unchallenged, but with the release of Nest Secure and the Ring Protect Security Kit, abode now has worthy opponents.

  Abode Logo Nest Logo Ring
abode Nest Secure Ring Protect iSmartAlarm
Base Price $299 $499 $199 $146.81
Included in Base Price 1 Gateway, 2 Door/Window Sensors, 1 Indoor Motion Sensor w/ Camera, 1 Key Fob 1 Nest Guard, 2 Nest Detects, 2 Nest Tags 1 Base Station, 1 Keypad, 1 Contact Sensor, 1 Motion Detector, 1 Range Extender 1 CubeOne, 2 Window/Door Sensors, 1 Motion Sensor, 2 Remote Tags, 2 Sensor Stickers
Battery Backup 10-Hours 12-Hours 24-Hours
Cloud Dependence Rules involving directly connected devices will work without internet. If the power goes out, Nest Detect communicates with Guard via Weave + Thread. Ring claims the system will work locally. Will function as a local alarm assuming the system has power.
Cellular Backup $10/Month $5/Month $10/Month
24/7 Professional Monitoring $30/Month $24.99-$34.99/month Monitoring Included in $10/Month Fee
Keypad $79.00 Integrated in the Base Station (1 Base Station per Home) $50.00 $59.99
Automatic Arm/Disarm Geofencing Reminders via the Mobile App
Siren Integrated in the Base Station Integrated in the Base Station Integrated in the Base Station Integrated in the Base Station
Pet-Friendly Motion Sensor $54.00 Integrated in the Base Station and Door Sensors $30.00 $34.99
Glass Break and Vibration Sensor
Open/Close Sensor $25.00 $59.00, includes Quiet Open, a Motion Sensor, and Night Light $20.00 $59.97 (two-pack)
Key Fob $27.00 $25.00 $24.99
Indoor Camera Yes, starting at $149.00 Yes, starting at $199.00 Can Use Stick Up Cam Indoors Yes, starting at $99.99
Outdoor Camera No, but works with Nest. Yes, starting at $199.00 Yes, starting at $179.00
Other Devices Image Sensor, Smart Switch, Extra Siren, Temperature, Humidity & Light Sensor, Water Leak Sensor, iota Smart Doorbell, Range Extender Video Doorbell (Pro, Elite, 2), Spotlight Cam, Floodlight Cam, Stick Up Cam, Chime, Chime Pro, Solar Panel, Solar Sign, Satellite Siren, Smart Switch, Yard Sign
Ships Shipping Now Shipping Now Late Spring Shipping Now
Return Period 15 Days 30 Days 30 Days 30 Days
Where to Buy Amazon Visit Site Visit Site Amazon

Abode vs. Nest Secure vs. Ring Protect Hardware

All three systems are contract-free, self-monitored security systems with the option to add professional monitoring and police dispatch. They all start with a base station, are easy to install on your own, and use wireless, battery-powered equipment.

Nest Secure Equipment

Nest Secure Review

The brains of the Nest system is called Nest Guard which is an all-in-one device. Nest Guard has an 85dB siren, a keypad, motion sensor, and it communicates with all of your other Nest Secure sensors. Guard communicates using Weave over a Thread network which means that it can communicate with its sensors even if you lose internet and power.

The Nest Guard motion sensor can detect motion within a 90° field of view up to 10 feet away. It also includes tamper detection as well as a proximity sensor (wakes on approach) and will let you know if it’s moved or if someone tries to jam your signal.

What sets Nest Guard apart from the abode base station is its intuitive nature. First of all, the integrated keypad is a smart choice because let’s face it, phones get lost. In addition to a keypad which accepts a numeric passcode, Guard has several buttons. You can press a button to quickly swap between modes (alarm off, home and guarding, and away and guarding) or you can press for immediate help using the panic button.

Second, there is an LED ring that will indicate system status, something that is noticeably missing from abode’s base station. Finally, Nest Guard has a voice. Of course, it’s no Google Home, but it will provide useful information. For example, when you arm your system, there is an arm delay which allows you to exit your home without setting off the alarm. Instead of an annoying beep that continues until the system arms, Nest Guard uses a friendly voice to tell you how much time you have left.

Finally, while I’m not sure if Nest Guard will require Ethernet like abode’s base station, I’m inclined to guess that Ethernet is not required. Nest likes to make things easy and they usually send everything you need, including batteries, to get your device up and running. A quick glance at the packing list indicates that Nest Guard ships with a 6 ft cable with a power adapter and CR123 batteries for the sensors. That’s it.

In addition to Nest Guard, Nest sells two sensors. The first is Nest Detect, which is a door/window sensor. The second device is called Nest Tag and it is essentially a key fob. To use the Nest Tag, you simply tap it on Nest Guard to arm and disarm your system. While Nest doesn’t offer the usual home security sensors, Nest Detect is multi-purpose.

Nest Detect is a door sensor, a motion sensor (15-foot range, 54° field of view), a night light (lights up at night when you walk by), and it uses “Quiet Open.” Quiet Open allows you to bypass an armed sensor simply by touching it. For example, if your system is armed, but you want to check the weather outside, you can press the sensor, and open your door. While I’ve heard only praise for this feature, my initial reaction was that it seems like a security flaw. Your teenagers, for example, can press the sensor and sneak out. I have confirmed with Nest that the sensor lacks a way to identify the bypasser such as a fingerprint reader.

abode Security Equipment

Abode Review

With abode, you have two paths to security: the Gateway and iota.

The Gateway supports Z-Wave and Zigbee devices, and it’s WiFi-enabled. It does require Ethernet and power, but it has a cellular chip which you can pay to activate for backup. Like the Nest base station, abode’s base station also includes a siren (95db).

The abode Gateway also supports limited local functionality. This is in part thanks to the Gateway’s ability to communicate using its own proprietary protocol called abodeRF. If your internet goes down, your automated rules will continue to run, assuming that the devices involved are connected to the Gateway directly and not through a third-party service like IFTTT.

The abode Gateway is responsible for communicating with and controlling all connected devices. Compared to Nest Secure, abode offers a wider array of equipment. Unfortunately, their equipment isn’t as modern looking as Nest’s nor do they offer any multi-purpose devices. However, they do sell everything you need to secure your home. Each Gateway can support up to 150 connected devices and up to six IP Streaming Cameras.

Take everything I just said about Gateway and replicate it for iota. iota is basically the same as the Gateway with a few differences.

First of all, iota can function as a standalone security system. It’s an all-in-one device with a FHD camera and a built-in motion detector. Second, it does not require Ethernet. Third, it’s HomeKit enabled. Fourth, it’s not yet shipping but will start shipping this spring.

Both iota and the abode Gateway work with all of abode’s sensors.

First of all, abode sells several door/windows contacts that will notify you of open and close movement. Their classic Door Sensor boasts a battery life of 8-10 years.

Second, they sell a wireless keypad which can support up to 40 unique codes and includes an LED indicator so you can quickly see if your system is armed or disarmed.

Third, they sell a key fob which you can use to arm and disarm your system with a click.

Of course, abode sells lots of other sensors including an acoustic glass break sensor, motion sensors, image sensors, occupancy sensors, system status indicators, and even a temperature, humidity, and light sensor.

Ring Protect Security Kit

Ring Protect Review

There are two things that set Ring apart. One, it’s cheaper than both abode and Nest. Two, you can start with the Protect Security Kit or you can build your own kit.

No matter which path you choose, you will start with the Protect Base Station. The base station connects to Ring Protect devices as well as Ring cameras including their line of doorbells. The Base Station can also connect to third-party devices using Z-Wave, Zigbee, Wi-Fi, or Bluetooth. Like abode and Nest, Ring Protect’s Base Station includes battery backup, an integrated siren (104db), and a cellular chip which you can activate by paying just $10 per month. Finally, while you can connect to the Base Station via Ethernet, it’s not required.

Ring also sells several security sensors. First is the keypad. The keypad runs on battery power and you can wall mount it or place it on a flat surface. In addition to arming and disarming your system, the Keypad Control Panel allows you to choose between Armed Away and Armed Home. When using the keypad to arm your system, it provides a 30-second grace period to reduce false alarms.

Second, Ring sells a contact sensor. The two-piece sensor can be placed on doors or windows and will notify you of open/close movements. Third, they sell a pet-friendly motion detector. Finally, they sell a range extender. The range extender is the only sensor that requires AC power, but it also includes 24-hour battery backup. The Range Extender is used to boost the signal emitted by your Base Station to help eliminate dead zones.

Cameras

Nest, Ring, and abode all sell cameras. Nest works with the Nest Cam both indoor and outdoor, Nest IQ both indoor and outdoor, as well as Nest Hello. Ironically, so does abode. As part of the Works with Nest program, abode is compatible with Nest cameras.

abode also sells their own line of cameras. They sell an image sensor, which will take three snapshots if it detects motion, and two streaming cameras. I’ve tested two of the three. The two cameras I tested were unfortunately unimpressive, and I found Nest cameras to be vastly superior. abode’s newest camera, not tested, offers two major benefits: FHD 1080P resolution and two-way audio. Of course, there’s also abode iota which offers the same camera specs as the newest abode streaming camera. The benefit of using abode cameras over Nest cameras is free cloud and local storage. abode’s streaming cameras support a microSD card and include three days of free cloud storage. Nest supplies just 3 hours of snapshot storage for free. If you want more Nest storage, you will need to pay an additional $10 per month above and beyond your Nest Secure subscription.

Abode and Nest Cam

That said, using abode with a Nest Cam is my recommended solution, and integrating the two provides one major advantage: more free storage for your Nest Cams. The major disadvantage is that even if you are a Nest Aware subscriber, abode can only store snapshots. If you want video clips or continuous cloud access, you will need to pay for Nest Aware to access your footage via the Nest app.

  No Nest Plan Nest Aware 10 Day Nest Aware 30 Day
Without Abode $0 / 3 Hours Snapshots via Nest $10 / 10 Days via Nest $30 / 30 Days via Nest
Abode Basic $0 / 3 Days of Snapshots via Abode $10 / 10 Days via Nest and Abode $30 / 10 Days via Abode or 30 via Nest
Abode CONNECT $10 / 10 Days of Snapshots via Abode $20 / 10 Days via Nest and Abode $40 / 10 Days via Abode or 30 via Nest
Abode CONNECT + SECURE $30 / 10 Days of Snapshots via Abode $40 / 10 Days via Nest and Abode $60 / 10 Days via Abode or 30 via Nest
Prices are per month, Nest provides a discount for additional cameras.

Ring also sells several cameras including the Ring Video Doorbell, the Video Doorbell 2, Ring Elite, and the Video Doorbell Pro. They also sell a Floodlight Cam, a Spotlight Cam, and a Stick Up Cam. While all options are technically geared to be used outdoors, you can use the Stick Up Cam indoors.

Ring cameras will work without a monthly fee, but Ring doesn’t offer any form of free storage beyond a free 30-day trial. Their first plan is Basic which is $3 per month per camera. This plan includes 60 days of cloud storage, video review, and video sharing. Their second plan, Protect Plus, is $10 per month. This plan covers unlimited cameras including both doorbell and security cameras. However, this plan also includes coverage for your Protect Base Station. The same $10 per month that provides unlimited cloud storage also provides Ring Response (24/7 professional monitoring) and Cellular Backup.

Free vs. Paid Monitoring Plans

All three systems require that you purchase the hardware upfront, and they all offer some services for free including free app access as well as third-party integrations (though we’re still waiting on the final word from Ring). However, they all offer paid plans too. Nest and abode have three options: self-monitoring, self-monitoring with cellular backup, and police dispatch with cellular backup. Ring has two options: self-monitoring and police dispatch with cellular backup.

Free Plans

  abode Basic Nest Free Ring Free
Price $0 $0 $0
iOS, Android, and Web App Control
Geofencing Reminders Only
3G Cellular Backup
24/7 Professional Monitoring Optional On-Demand Professional
Monitoring (3 Days: $8 / 7 Days: $15)
Timeline and Media Storage 3 Days 3 Hours (Additional Storage Starts at $10/month) 0 Days
Works With ecobee , IFTTT, Amazon Echo, Works with Nest, LIFX, Philips Hue, Google Assistant IFTTT, Works with Nest TBD
HomeKit iota Only

Paid Plans

  abode Connect Nest Cellular abode Connect + Secure Nest Dispatch Ring
Price $10/month or $96/year $5/month $30/month or $240/year $34.99/month $10/month or $100/year
iOS, Android, and Web App Control
Geofencing Reminders Only Reminders Only
3G Cellular Backup
24/7 Professional Monitoring Optional On-Demand Professional
Monitoring (3 Days: $8 / 7 Days: $15)
24/7 Professional Fire Monitoring First Alert CO Alarm and Smoke Detector ($) Self-Monitoring Only using Nest Protect First Alert CO Alarm and Smoke Detector ($) Self-Monitoring Only using Nest Protect First Alert CO Alarm and Smoke Detector ($)
Timeline and Media Storage 14 Days 3 Hours (Additional Storage Starts at $10/month) 90 Days 3 Hours (Additional Storage Starts at $10/month) 60 Days
Works With ecobee, IFTTT, Amazon Echo, Works with Nest, LIFX, Philips Hue, Google Assistant IFTTT, Works with Nest ecobee, IFTTT, Amazon Echo, Works with Nest, LIFX, Philips Hue, Google Assistant IFTTT, Works with Nest TBD
HomeKit iota Only iota Only

Nest Secure via MONI and T-Mobile

Nest Secure’s monitoring service is provided by MONI Security. Monitoring of Nest equipment through MONI is $34.99 per month plus the cost of equipment. If you want a discount on Nest Secure services, your only option is to sign a contract. With a three-year contract, you’ll pay $24.99 per month. If you sign a one-year contract, the monthly monitoring fee is $29.99 per month.

Cellular backup is provided by T-Mobile. In fact, you can also buy everything through T-Mobile. If you sign a two-year contract for cellular service, T-Mobile will finance your Nest Secure purchase. They require $240 down and will charge $10 per month for 24 months via T-Mobile’s Equipment Installment Plan (FRP: $480). The equipment charge includes:

  • 1 Nest Guard base
  • 2 Nest Detects
  • 2 Nest Tag Key Fobs
  • 1 Nest Cam Indoor Security Camera

If purchased a la carte, the same equipment would sell in the $660-$700 range. Buying through T-Mobile offers significant savings on equipment but also on service.

Through T-Mobile, you can combine Nest Aware and cellular backup for $10 (after a $5 monthly bill credit). The $10 service fee is separate from the $10 equipment fee. In total, you would pay $20 per month.

Software Comparison

Nest Secure works with the existing Nest app, which is good news for current Nest owners. From the app, you can also control your Nest Cams, Dropcams, Nest Thermostat, and Nest Protect.

From the app, you can control and manage your Nest Secure system. Of course, you can arm and disarm your system, but you can also see sensor status as well as sensor history. For example, you can see if your door is open or closed and you can see when it was last opened and last closed. You can also use the app’s Remind Me feature to remind you to arm your system if you forget to do so.

So what happens if an Alarm is triggered? If an event is detected, you will get an instant push notification to your phone which you can swipe to open the Nest App. From the Nest App, you can see which sensor triggered the alarm, and you will be presented with two options: call the police or turn the alarm off. If you have a Nest Cam, you will be able to simultaneously view footage from the event. Of course, while all of this is happening, your siren will sound.

abode uses the abode app. If an event occurs, you will receive a notification on your phone. From the app, you can decide how to respond to events. You can review video footage, notify the police, the monitoring center, or even your family. You can also view sensor history and manage your rules. For example, you can create a “coming home” rule that turns on the lights and unlocks the door. And of course, you can use the app to arm and disarm the system.

Ring Protect will use the existing Ring app. From the app, you will be able to manage your doorbells, Ring cameras, and your security system. From the app, you will be able to arm and disarm your system. You’ll also have access to Ring Neighborhoods.

Ring Neighborhoods is a service that lets you share videos with other nearby Ring users or anyone who has downloaded the Ring app. The service ties into another feature called Ring Locations. Ring Locations allows you to attribute your different Ring devices to different locations and customize user access for the same. For example, you might have your Ring Doorbell at one location where your kids have Homeowner user status, while you have Ring Protect at another location and limit their access to Neighbor.

Unfortunately, I don’t have all the answers when it comes to Ring’s app access. I don’t know if you will be able to simultaneously view video footage during an alarm event. I’d also like to know if there will be an option to call the police from the mobile app if you choose not to subscribe to their paid plan. TBD

While I’m a huge fan of the Nest app, the abode app isn’t shabby either. It currently holds 4.5 stars on Google Play and 4 stars on iTunes, both ratings higher than Nest’s current rating. Ring’s app hasn’t been as reliable as Nest and abode, but it’s still better than most.

Third-Party Compatibility

Nest Secure will Work with Nest, which means that you can expand your system with the new Nest Hello video doorbell, your Nest Detect, Nest Cam IQ, and even Nest Connect. Nest Connect is a coming-soon product that will let you use Nest Secure in larger homes by acting as a signal repeater for the Thread protocol. However, at launch, only Nest Secure is eligible for monitoring. While Nest will monitor your security system for breaches, they will not provide monitoring for fires or use your security cameras for verification.

Nest Secure also works with the coming soon Linus Yale Lock. Like Nest Secure, the lock uses Thread and Weave to communicate which means that it will remain operational even when your power and internet are out.

Works with Nest also provides third-party compatibility with products like Philips Hue, Lutron, LIFX, Chamberlain MyQ, and more.

Finally, though not officially announced, I’m assuming that Nest Secure will have an IFTTT channel alongside other Nest products.

abode Works with ecobee, Nest, IFTTT, Zigbee, Z-Wave, Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, LIFX, and Philips Hue. abode iota is also HomeKit compatible.

Through Works with Nest, abode works with Nest Protect, Nest Thermostat, and Nest Cam. Using this integration, you have the option to sync your abode modes with Nest modes or keep them separate. The abode system also offers a deep integration with the Nest Thermostats. From the abode app, you can access and control your home’s temperature and create temperature thresholds. The same is true for ecobee users.

Second, abode offers RGB light bulb support for LIFX and Hue. From the app, you can control brightness, hue, and saturation. The lights can even respond to alarm events. For example, they can turn red if your alarm is triggered or blue if your flood sensor detects water.

Finally, you can add third-party Z-Wave and Zigbee devices. abode has a list of compatible devices on their site. The list includes products by Aeon, Aeotec, Enerwave, Fibraro, First Alert, FortrezZ, GE, Linear, Kwikset, Leviton, Schlage, Iris, Sensative, ZooZ, and Netvox. abode also sells their own Home Automation Power Outlet & ZigBee Extender. The device will turn any outlet into a smart outlet, allowing you to control plugged-in devices and include them as part of your automation recipes. The switch also acts as a ZigBee range extender.

Ring has yet to confirm compatible third-party devices. In emailing a Ring representative, I was told,

We’re working on publishing an extensive list soon.

That said, we’ll work with what we know. We know the Base Station communicates with Z-Wave and Zigbee, and we were able to confirm that these protocols were added for a reason. According to one Ring representative, the system will support First Alert Z-Wave smoke detectors which are also compatible with the Ring Response service. If smoke is detected, the system will call your local fire department. However, while Ring cameras can work with devices and services such as IFTTT, Wink, SmartThings, Echo Spot, and Echo Show, we’ve yet to confirm if Ring Protect will be able to do the same.

We also know that Ring Protect is the first product to feature the combination of Z-Wave Security 2 (S2) and Z-Wave SmartStart technologies. This technology protects the connection between the base station and the cloud as well as the communication sent between the base and connected devices.

Final Thoughts

Where Nest Wins: Nest has a better design, fantastic cameras, and cheaper cellular backup. Their multi-purpose sensors may cut down on the number of sensors you need, though they are more expensive than abode and Ring sensors. Also, Nest Guard is the most intuitive with LED lights, a keypad, and voice feedback. Finally, Nest Secure offers a 2-year warranty where abode and Ring offer 1-year warranties. However, there are areas where abode and Ring win too.

Where abode Wins: abode offers free cloud storage, and they offer the widest range of equipment including glass break and flood sensors which are viewed as essential home security devices. Also, abode uses an open platform allowing more third-party integrations via Z-Wave and Zigbee. It’s true that Ring offers the same, but details on compatible products are still scarce. Fourth, abode has more home security experience than Nest and Ring. Finally, abode is the only option currently shipping.

Where Ring Wins: Spoiler alert on the cost analysis, Ring is the cheapest option of the bunch. They win in that you can purchase their affordable Protect Security Kit or you can build a system from scratch. Like Nest, they have a fantastic camera lineup, though they are missing a dedicated indoor security camera. They also offer the most affordable monthly service which includes cellular backup, professional monitoring, and cloud storage for just $10 per month.

Cost Analysis

So let’s talk cost for a minute. For $499, Nest includes a Nest Guard which also acts as a keypad, siren, and motion detector, two Nest Detects which are also motion sensors, and two Nest Tags. An equivalent package from abode would cost $513. Of course, abode’s package includes an image sensor; Nest doesn’t sell a comparable device.

A comparable package from Ring would cost $279. Ring doesn’t sell a key fob and the kit includes a range extender, so that needs to be factored into the equation.

  Nest Logo Abode Logo Ring
Base Cost including Base Stations and Sirens $499 $299 $199
Keypad 1x Included in Base $ 79 1x Included in Base
Motion Detector 3x Included in Base 1x Image Sensor Included in Base, 2x $108 1x Included in Base, 2x $60
Door/Window Sensors 2x Included in Base 2x Included in Base 1 Included, 1x $20
KeyFobs 2x Included in Base 1x Included in Base, 1x $27 NA
Total Cost of Equipment $499 $513 $279
+/- Baseline Subtract Cost of Image Sensor vs. Motion Sensor (-$61) Add Key Fobs (+$54), Subtract 1 Range Extender (-$25)
Adjusted Cost of Ownership $499 $452 $308
Cost of 3-Years Cellular Backup $180 $360 $360
Cost of 3-Years Professional Monitoring w/out Contract $1259.64 $1080.00 $360.00
Cost of 3-Years Professional Monitoring With Contract $899.64 $1080.00 $360.00

All that said, the biggest flaw with price is that purchasing Nest’s multi-purpose sensors may be forcing you to purchase more equipment than you need. Most homes don’t need three motion sensors, especially if the sensors have a decent range. Remember, Nest’s motion detectors only detect movement within a 10-foot range, the abode motion sensor has a 120° field of view and can detect motion within a 34-foot range so you would need at least two Nest motion-enabled devices for every one abode motion sensor. Ring lists their motion sensor’s range as 250 feet, but I question their definition of range. In this case, they might be talking about communication to the Base Station and not the range of detection.

After taking a long, hard look at all three systems, I think both Nest and Ring deserve a place on our list of Best Self-Monitored Alarms, but I don’t think that Nest deserves the top spot over abode. I do think Ring is probably a better option than iSmartAlarm, a system that currently holds the title of “Easiest to Use.” However, before I officially make the swap, I want to know more. My biggest concern with Ring is that it feels like they jumped the gun. There are so many details they are not ready to disclose including third-party compatibility and even integration with their own program, Ring Neighborhoods. And of course, there’s the ongoing legal situation with ADT.

In general, it’s hard to know for sure what the final verdict will be on any of these systems without testing them, and though I don’t necessarily want to buy two new home security systems, I feel like a purchase is probably imminent.

You can purchase your own abode system here, Ring here, or Nest here.

FAQs

Q: If you subscribe to Nest Secure’s professional monitoring plan, will you get a discount on Nest Aware?

A: You will not unless you purchase through T-Mobile as described above.

UPDATES:

01/11/2018 abode launched iota and added Google Assistant

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Comparing Abode to Scout and Simplisafe –

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Comparing Abode to Scout and Simplisafe -

By


Abode Security

HomeAlarmReport.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

abode rolled out during a period where self-monitored home security systems were a dime a dozen. They just barely made their Kickstarter goal, but as promised, they’ve delivered a product to backers. Two years later, abode is one of the few self-monitored startups that appears to be going strong. So what is it about abode that makes it both unique and successful?

What is abode?

abode is a home security system that can either be self-monitored for free or professionally monitored 24/7 for a price. Unlike other monitoring companies, abode does not require a contract. In fact, you can choose to have your system monitored for a few days or a week versus the typical month-to-month option. In addition to home security, abode provides smart home integration through relationships with other connected devices and services. What you can do with the product will depend on what package you choose. Currently, they offer three packages: Basic, Connect, and Connect + Secure.

  BASIC CONNECT CONNECT + SECURE
Price $0 $10/month or $96/year $30/month or $240/year
iOS, Android, and Web App Control
Geofencing
3G Cellular Backup
24/7 Professional Monitoring Optional On-Demand Professional
Monitoring (3 Days: $8 / 7 Days: $15)
Timeline and Media Storage 3 Days 14 Days 90 Days
Unlimited User Accounts
IFTTT, Amazon Echo, Works with Nest, Google Assistant
HomeKit iota Only iota Only iota Only
Customer Support Email and Support Site Phone, Email, and Support Site Premium Phone, Email, and Support Site

abode Equipment

Abode Review

While abode can connect to other smart home and home security devices, it can also protect your home on its own using abode-branded devices. All of abode’s devices are wireless and can be self-installed in minutes. To start, you’ll need either a Gateway or abode iota.

abode Gateway

Abode Gateway

The Gateway is a Z-Wave, Zigbee, and WiFi-enabled hub/controller. It communicates with your connected sensors using a proprietary protocol called abodeRF. The protocol encrypts communication between the Gateway and your devices as well as communication between the Gateway and the cloud. When your Gateway receives information from your connected devices, it then sends the information to the cloud, your app, or the central monitoring center depending on what event has occurred and how you’ve previously asked it to respond. In addition to handling communication, the Gateway will keep you up and running thanks to battery backup (10 hours) and a cellular chip. It even has an integrated 95db siren.

The abode Gateway can support up to 150 connected devices and up to six IP Streaming Cameras. After using the Gateway (thanks to abode who generously allowed me to test their system for free), I found that there are both pros and cons.

PROS

  • Works as Intended
  • Battery Backup Worked and Notification Received When System Lost Power

CONS

  • Requires Ethernet
  • Small LED Light Indicates System Status

abode iota

abode iota review

If you want to set up an abode system, but don’t want another Ethernet hogging device, you should consider iota. iota is an alternative to the abode Gateway that shares many of its features. Fortunately, there are differences between the two that might help you choose one over the other.

First of all, iota can protect your home on its own. It acts as a gateway hub, but it’s also a camera with a motion sensor. The abode Gateway, on the other hand, requires that you connect other devices for whole home protection.

Second, iota does not require Ethernet. There is an Ethernet port on the back of the device that you can choose to use or it can connect using WiFi.

Third, iota is HomeKit compatible, the Gateway is not.

iota’s camera specs mimic those offered by the Streaming Camera, which we’ll get to in a minute. In short, iota records in FHD 1080p, has a 152° field of view, night vision, two-way audio, and a built-in motion detector. It also shares a lot of the same features offered by the abode Gateway including 10-hour battery backup, 3G (soon to be 4G) cellular connectivity, and smart hub capabilities. iota can connect with Z-Wave, Zigbee, and abode RF devices. It also shares the same integrations (Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, Nest, IFTTT, Philips Hue, ecobee, and LIFX) while adding in HomeKit compatibility. Finally, it has access to the same paid plans as the abode gateway. You can self-monitor the camera or add a paid monitoring plan, which will also activate the camera’s cellular chip.

iota will start shipping this Spring and will sell for $329.00. You can learn more about iota here.

PROS

  • Free Cloud Storage
  • Acts as a Smart Home Hub
  • HomeKit Compatible

CONS

  • Not Yet Available
  • Performance TBD

abode Sensors and Keypad

Once you choose between iota and Gateway, the next step is to purchase sensors. The Gateway is sold as a kit which includes two door/window sensors, an image sensor, and a key fob, but you can add other devices as needed. If you purchase iota, it ships as a standalone device, but again, you can add other sensors.

Let’s start with Door/Window Contacts. The contact sensors will monitor doors, cabinets, windows, or anything that opens and closes. abode even promises that the sensors will run on battery for 10+ years. The door/window sensor comes in multiple flavors including mini (really small), recessed (invisible installation), and slim (invisible installation without drilling).

Second, abode sells a Wireless Keypad. The keypad supports 40 unique codes, includes a backlit interface, and has a battery life of 4-6 years. The keypad includes three LEDS that will indicate if the system is armed, disarmed, or armed home. To conserve battery life, the lights are not always on. Instead, you will need to press a button on the keypad to light up the display.

Third, abode sells a Key Fob. Using the Key Fob, you can arm and disarm your system with a click.

Finally, abode sells a Motion Camera and two Streaming Cameras to round out their list of devices.

PROS

  • All Devices Worked as Intended (Keypad Not Tested)
  • Easy Installation

CONS

  • The Primary Sensors are Clunky, Cheap Feeling

abode Cameras

Abode Motion Camera

abode’s Motion Camera is an image sensor. It’s a pet-immune (pets under 60lbs) motion sensor with a camera. If it senses movement, it will snap a photo and send it to you for visual verification. As motion detectors are a common cause of false alarms, being able to visually identify if an alert is real or not is essential, and abode is the only self-monitored home security system offering this technology.

Like most image sensors, the Motion Camera is low-definition (640x480p). However, at close range, the image quality is sufficient. When an event is detected, it takes three photographs and sends them to your timeline with a copy sent via email. The email includes the actual photograph so that you can quickly glance to determine if an event is real or not.

PROS

  • Takes Three Consecutive Photographs
  • Sends Snapshot to Email and Timeline

CONS

  • Clunky, Cheap Feeling
  • Low Resolution

Abode Security Camera

The Streaming Camera is a traditional home security camera. The camera uses WiFi or an Ethernet connection and offers live streaming in 720p HD, IR LEDs for night vision, and a wide angle field of view. When an event is detected, the Streaming Camera records to the cloud or you can add a microSD card to store footage locally as well.

The Streaming Camera is not my favorite security camera. First of all, motion detection with this device is confusing. Without a MicroSD card, it relies on other sensors to trigger event recordings, or it will record when a rule is triggered. For example, you can set a rule that says, “record a video clip when the front door opens”. With a MicroSD card, the camera will record video when motion is detected; however, it cannot activate the alarm siren nor will you receive a notification when an event is detected, making the feature rather useless. Alternatively, you can request clips on-demand from the mobile app.

The second reason I’m not a Streaming Camera fan is that it doesn’t record sound. The abode team assures me that if you choose to add a microSD card to the camera, it will record sound with clips. My camera, however, did not. Also, in order to view clips with sound, you will need to remove the microSD card from the camera and insert it into a computer. The third reason I’m not a fan is that you can’t download clips locally from the app. You can only save clips using the microSD card. Fourth, the video quality is just okay. In the YouTube video below, you can compare footage from SimpliSafe’s camera to abode’s at minute 1:55. Both cameras record in 720p, but SimpliSafe’s picture is clearer. On that note, abode’s night vision quality appears to be superior. Fifth, you can’t control any of the camera’s settings. Finally, I’m not a fan of the boxy design.

Fortunately, it’s not all doom and gloom with the Streaming Camera. For free, abode provides three days of cloud storage for video events. You can view these events with or without the added microSD card, and you can view them from the web portal or the mobile app. Also, the camera effectively captures pre-event footage. It records 2 seconds pre-alarm and 8 seconds post.

The Streaming Camera V2 improves on several of V1’s shortcomings. V2 can also use Ethernet or WiFi and offers many of the same features as V1 but it has an improved FHD 1080p resolution and two-way audio.

PROS

  • Free Cloud Storage
  • Option for Local Storage
  • Pre-Event Recording
  • Optional Wall Mount

CONS

  • Motion Detection Confusing
  • Clunky Design

Third-Party Devices

If you want to expand beyond abode-branded devices, you have several options including Nest, IFTTT, Zigbee, Z-Wave, Philips Hue, ecobee, LIFX, Google Assistant, and Amazon Alexa. Through integration, you can control all of your devices with one app and create rules that are made even more intelligent via abode’s native geofencing feature. For example, when all of your family members are away from home, you can set a reminder to arm your abode system, set your Cree lights to turn off, and your Nest thermostat to adjust accordingly.

Works with Nest

Through Works with Nest, abode integrates with the Nest Protect, Nest Thermostat, and Nest Cam. You can choose to integrate with all of your Nest devices or limit abode to specific Nest devices. You also have the option to allow abode to sync with your Nest modes or keep them separate. If you decide to sync modes, abode will trigger Nest to Away Mode when abode is in Away Mode or tell Nest to change to Home Mode when abode is in Home or Standby Mode.

Nest Cam and Cloud Storage

If you choose to integrate abode with Nest Cam, it will not replace Nest Aware, Nest’s cloud recording service. What it can do will depend on your Nest Aware subscription as well as your abode subscription. As it appears that abode actually expands upon Nest’s included storage, I wanted to be very clear about the offer. After several emails and a phone call with the abode team, this is what I learned.

  No Nest Plan Nest Aware 10 Day Nest Aware 30 Day
Without Abode $0 / 3 Hours Snapshots via Nest $10 / 10 Days via Nest $30 / 30 Days via Nest
Abode Basic $0 / 3 Days of Snapshots via Abode $10 / 10 Days via Nest and Abode $30 / 10 Days via Abode or 30 via Nest
Abode CONNECT $10 / 10 Days of Snapshots via Abode $20 / 10 Days via Nest and Abode $40 / 10 Days via Abode or 30 via Nest
Abode CONNECT + SECURE $30 / 10 Days of Snapshots via Abode $40 / 10 Days via Nest and Abode $60 / 10 Days via Abode or 30 via Nest
Prices are per month, Nest provides a discount for additional cameras.

According to abode,

For all abode/Nest integrations, regardless of whether or not the customer has a Nest Aware plan, abode stores Nest Cam Snapshots in the timeline for a maximum of 10 days. If the user is on the abode Basic plan, those snapshots are deleted after 3 days. If the user is on the Connect or Connect + Secure plan, the snapshots are deleted after 10 days per Nest TOS. Customers without a Nest Aware plan can only capture 2 snapshots per minute whereas customers with a Nest Aware plan can have 10 snapshots per minute.

As you can see, there are pros and cons to using abode to monitor your Nest Cam. For free, Nest only offers 3 hours of snapshot storage, so adding an abode system provides more storage. Another pro to using abode with Nest is that you can use people as a trigger for events. When choosing your event type, you can opt to see motion, people, or sound events within your timeline. The integration also works with modes and zones. For example, you can set up a rule that only records people events that occur on your porch to your abode timeline.

The downside is that even if you are a Nest Aware subscriber, abode only stores snapshots (a.k.a. pictures). When an alarm event is detected, abode will automatically trigger your Nest Cam to record. A snapshot will be logged to your timeline, and you will receive a notice via email as well as a push notification. Unfortunately, the email does not include the snapshot. Rather, it lets you know that one is available and provides a link to your abode timeline.

Abode and Nest Cam

Fortunately, you can always navigate over to Nest.com to view your full video history. And if you are subscribed to the Nest Aware 30 day plan, you will also need to navigate over to see anything recorded beyond the included 10-day history.

IFTTT

abode also has its own IFTTT channel. IFTTT connects internet connected services and devices using applets in an “if this then that” format. abode’s channel provides both Triggers (the if) and Actions (the then). As a Trigger, abode can request another device to take action if an alarm is activated, if you change the mode, if a door is opened/closed, if a door is locked/unlocked, if a garage door is opened/closed, or if a switch is on/off. If you prefer another device to be the trigger, abode can take the following actions: change mode, turn a switch on/off, toggle switch, change dimmer level, lock/unlock, close/open garage door, or quick action. For example, IFTTT can call your phone if abode’s alarm is triggered or flash your Hue bulbs if your front door is opened.

Z-Wave and Zigbee

The third integration is provided through the abode Gateway’s (or iota’s) integrated protocols. abode maintains a list of devices that are compatible with their system thanks to Z-Wave & Zigbee. The list includes devices from makers like Aeon, Cree, Enerwave, GE, Kiwkset, Linear, Philips Hue, Schlagle, and Netvox.

ecobee

abode ecobee integration

Fourth, you can integrate your ecobee thermostat. The integration works similarly to the integration with the Nest Thermostat. According to abode co-founder Christopher Carney,

The abode system already features deep integration with the Nest thermostat but with this release, abode customers can dive even deeper into access and control of the temperature of their home. Couple that with our newest ability to offer the same level of integration with ecobee and we’re opening up the abode system to an all-new group of customers.

RGB Bulb Support

Fifth, you can control your LIFX and Hue bulbs from the abode app. From the app, you can control brightness, hue, and saturation. You can also use the lights to notify you of events. For example, they can turn red if an alarm event occurs or blue if your flood sensor detects water. Though this integration isn’t ready yet, it should be available by the end of October 2017.

Amazon Echo and Google Assistant

Though you can connect Amazon Echo and abode using IFTTT, you can also integrate the two directly using an Alexa skill. You can ask Alexa to retrieve abode’s system status, mode, to arm abode, disarm it, trigger panic mode, call the police (assuming you using CONNECT + SECURE), trigger a fire alarm, check the status of your doors, windows, lock your doors, unlock them, control your connected RGB light bulbs, etc. As an added security measure, you must provide a verbal PIN code to disarm your abode system or to unlock your doors using Amazon Alexa.

Regarding functionality, abode’s Alexa skill is vastly superior to most integrations between home security systems and Alexa. It also appears to be superior in regards to user feedback. The skill is currently rated 4 stars where similar skills are rated 2 stars. In testing, the skill worked flawlessly.

If you’re a Google Home user, you’ll be happy to hear that abode also works with Google Assistant. You can say things like, “Okay Google, turn on my kitchen lights,” or “Hey Google, turn off all lights.” For now, the integration is limited to control of abode-connected smart lights, dimmers, and switches. You can’t yet control your alarm system, but abode promises to upgrade the integration over the air in the near future.

HomeKit

Finally, iota is HomeKit compatible. Again, the Gateway is not. Using the Apple Home App, you can add iota to your rooms and scenes. For example, you can create a “Good Morning” scene that turns on your lights, disarms your iota, adjust’s your thermostat, and more.

abode vs. SimpliSafe vs. Scout

As a security system, abode is most comparable to Scout, though it’s often compared to SimpliSafe. Like Scout and SimpliSafe, abode is a self-monitored home security system with the option for professional monitoring. Ironically, they all three use COPS monitoring services, though abode also uses UCC. They all three use a cellular signal for monitoring though abode technically uses Ethernet with a cellular backup.

What sets abode apart from SimpliSafe is that it’s smart home ready as it’s equipped with Z-Wave, ZigBee, and other automation features. What sets it apart from Scout is that abode offers home automation features, including IFTTT, for free and they provide improved usability through devices like their keypad and image sensor. What sets abode apart from both SimpliSafe and Scout is that as a free, self-monitored system it provides actual security value.

Self-Monitored, No Fee Plans Compared

abode vs simplisafe vs scout

  Abode Logo Scout alarm logo SimpliSafe logo
Monthly Fee $0.00 $0.00 $0.00
Smartphone Arm/Disarm
SMS/Email Alert
Battery Backup
Built-in Siren
Home Automation Features Included
IFTTT Access
Amazon Echo Integration
Google Home Integration
Works with Nest
HomeKit iota Only
Security Camera Integration 3 Days of Timeline and Media Access
Where to Buy Amazon Visit Site Amazon

Paid Plans Compared

Another feature that sets abode apart is that you can add a no contract monthly plan for professional monitoring or you can add on-demand professional monitoring. For $8, you can pay for three days of monitoring, perfect for weekend trips. Or for $15 you can add seven days of professional monitoring. If you prefer to pay per month, they have two plans to cover you: Connect and Connect + Secure.

*Scout offers a 10% discount if you pay annually. abode offers an even greater discount. Connect is $96 per year, Connect + Secure is $240,

Equipment Costs Compared

All three systems start with a base station. SimpliSafe’s base station works hand-in-hand with a keypad where abode’s keypad is sold separately, and Scout doesn’t offer one at all. In some ways, this is an advantage for SimpliSafe, but unfortunately, the keypad is anything but user-friendly. In fact, all three systems share one disadvantage: lack of visual reference. With abode, the base station has one tiny light that swaps between red, flashing red, and off to indicate if the system is armed or disarmed. SimpliSafe relies on the keypad to convey information, and Scout uses an LED light which swaps between white, purple, and black. But to make things more confusing, Scout’s color systems means one thing if seen on the base station and another if seen on the door panel.

With the base stations in place, you can build your security system by adding sensors. All three companies offer kits, packages which include the base station and multiple pre-selected sensors. However, you can add equipment a la carte until you have what you need to protect your home. The below chart outlines sensor cost if purchased outside of a kit.

Name Abode Logo Scout alarm logo SimpliSafe logo
Entry Sensor $29.00 $29.00 $14.99
Motion Sensor $54.00 $49.00 $29.99
Glassbreak Sensor $59.00 $34.99
System Status Indicator $36.00
Water Sensor $39.00 $39.99 $19.99
Temperature, Humidity, & Light Sensor $49.00
Freeze Sensor $29.99
Extra Keychain Remote $27.00 $4.99 $24.99
RFID Sticker $2.49
Extra Siren $59.00 (95dB) $59.99 (105dB)
Panic Button $19.99
Smoke Detector $29.99
CO Detector $49.99
Extra Keypad $79.00 $69.00 (Door Panel) $69.99
Extra Entry Magnet $4.99
Occupancy Sensor $59.00
Image Sensor $115.00
Security Camera $149.00 $99.00
Home Automation Power Outlet & ZigBee Extender $49.00

Final Thoughts

On paper, abode appeared to be superior to both SimpliSafe and Scout. After testing, I feel the same way. (In addition to testing abode, I have tested both SimpliSafe and Scout. You can read about my experience here.)

What disappointed me the most about abode was the feel of the hardware. Though abode looks cool on the web, it feels cheap and clunky in person, and the camera concept is a miss. However, they offer all of the free services they promise, their geofencing feature is the most accurate I’ve ever tested, their customer service/tech support is out of this world stellar, the integrations improve home security, and the system works. In my opinion, the pros outweigh the cons.

abode suggests you get started with the appropriately named starter kit (Amazon link). The kit includes a hub, motion-detecting camera, door/window sensors, an indoor WiFi camera, and a key fob for $329.00 or you can wait for the launch of iota this Spring.

1/10/2018 Added information on abode’s new iota camera and Google Assistant integration.
10/12/2017 abode has added a new streaming camera, RGB bulb support, ecobee support, expanded Nest integrations, and more.
3/20/2017 updated with hands-on abode experience

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The Best Self Monitored Alarm Systems: Tested and Compared

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The Best Self Monitored Alarm Systems: Tested and Compared

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HomeAlarmReport.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

Home alarm systems can be monitored or unmonitored. With monitored security systems, you typically sign a contract and pay a monthly fee to have someone watch your back 24/7. With self-monitored or unmonitored home security, you’re responsible for calling for help should the need arise. There is also “do-it-yourself” home security, referring to monitored systems which are self-installed, and no contract systems which provide monitoring without a contract.

Obviously, there are pros and cons to all four approaches. However, if you’re here, I will assume you’ve decided to go the self-monitored route.

Why You Should Trust Us

Rose Thibodeaux

I’ve been in the technology business since 2003. I’ve been a technology reviewer since 2013 specializing in home security and smart home technology. I’ve tested multiple self-monitored systems including abode, eTiger, Scout, iSmartAlarm, SimpliSafe, SmartThings v1, SmartThings v2, Piper, Armorax, SkyLink, Oplink, GetSafe, and dozens of security cameras. I’ve also attended multiple Consumer Electronic Shows in Las Vegas as well as other trade shows where I’ve had hands-on experience with self-monitored systems such as Honeywell Smart Home Security, Angee, MyFox, Insteon, Oomi, and more.

What To Look For in a Self-Monitored Security System

Self-monitored home security is relatively new and the technology still young. Companies like SimpliSafe have been in the game for a while, but there is an explosion of new companies offering self-monitored alarm systems through the smart home market. With all the new choices, picking one can be a challenge. In general, you will want to look for a system that can communicate with multiple people in multiple ways while allowing you control and providing protection for things beyond burglaries.

1. Communication

If you plan to self-monitor your alarm, you are solely responsible for responding to any emergencies. From a communication perspective, it’s important that a self-monitored system can:

  1. Send push or text notifications.
  2. Call you if your system is breached.
  3. Notify designated contacts, like friends or family members.

2. Control

Although communication is the most important feature, the ability to self-service the alarm is also important. Look for things like:

  1. The ability to arm and disarm a system remotely
  2. Full control over system customization.
  3. Full control over modes like home, away, vacation, and sleep

3. Protection Beyond Burglaries

A self-monitored system should be smart. It should have the ability to follow rules with cause and effect relationships between different devices. For example, if carbon monoxide is detected, you can create a rule to turn your heating system off. Or you can create another rule that says if the front door is open, your security camera should automatically start recording footage. In doing so, it can potentially protect your home from flooding, fire, or even rapidly changing temperatures.

4. Visual Verification

Finally, you will want to add a security camera to your system if you choose to self-monitor. Trust me, there is nothing more annoying than receiving an alert when you’re miles away with no way to know if the event is serious or not.

abode vs. SmartThings vs. Arlo Pro vs. iSmartAlarm Home Security

  Abode Logo SmartThings Logo iSmartAlarm_logo Nest Logo Ring
Monthly Fee $0+ $0+ $0+ $0 $0+ $0+
Push or Text Notifications
Phone Call Notifications Via IFTTT Via IFTTT Via IFTTT Via IFTTT TBD
Alert Friends and Family TBD
Remote Arm and Disarm
Power Failure Redundancy Battery Backup Battery Backup Cameras Have Battery Backup, Base Station Requires Power, Solar Charging Panel Coming Soon Must Add UPS* Battery Backup Battery Backup
Abode Logo SmartThings Logo iSmartAlarm_logo Nest Logo Ring
Internet Failure Redundancy Cellular Starting at $10.00/month NA, but devices can work locally. NA NA Cellular Starting at $5.00/month Cellular Starting at $10.00/month
Motion Sensors 1 Included $49 via SmartThings 1 Included Integrated in Door/Window Sensors 1 Included
Door/Window Sensors 2 Included $39.99 via SmartThings 2 Included 2 Included 1 Included
Siren Included $49.95 Included Included Included Included
Smoke / Fire / Heat $49.00 $99.00 via SmartThings Detect Smoke and CO Alarms with Spot $99.99 $119.00 Works with First Alert
Video Surveillance $149.00 $159.99+ Included $99.99+ $199.00 $179.00+
iTunes App Rating 4 2.5 4 3 2.6 3
Google Play Rating 4.5 3.5 4 3.2 4 3.6
IFTTT TBD
Other Home Automation Z-Wave, Zigbee, Amazon Echo, Works with Nest, ecobee, Hue, LIFX, Google Assistant Z-Wave, Zigbee, Amazon Echo, Stringify, Amazon Echo, Google Assistant, and More SmartThings iSmart Smart Plug, Amazon Echo IFTTT, Works with Nest Z-Wave, Zigbee
Professional Monitoring Starting at $30.00/month Through Scout’s Service Through Scout via SmartThings NA $24.99/month with a contract, $34.99 without a contract $10.00/month
Where to Buy Amazon Amazon Amazon Amazon Visit Site Visit Site
Abode Logo SmartThings Logo iSmartAlarm_logo Nest Logo Ring

To view full comparison chart please switch to a larger browser

Abode Logo Nest Logo Ring
Monthly Fee $0+ $0+ $0+ $0+
Push or Text Notifications
Phone Call Notifications Via IFTTT Via IFTTT Via IFTTT TBD
Alert Friends and Family TBD
Remote Arm and Disarm
Power Failure Redundancy Battery Backup Cameras Have Battery Backup, Base Station Requires Power, Solar Charging Panel Coming Soon Battery Backup Battery Backup
Abode Logo Nest Logo Ring
Internet Failure Redundancy Cellular Starting at $10.00/month NA Cellular Starting at $5.00/month Cellular Starting at $10.00/month
Motion Sensors 1 Included via SmartThings Integrated in Door/Window Sensors 1 Included
Door/Window Sensors 2 Included via SmartThings 2 Included 1 Included
Siren Included Included Included Included
Smoke / Fire / Heat $49.00 via SmartThings $119.00 Works with First Alert
Video Surveillance $149.00 Included $199.00 $179.00+
iTunes App Rating 4 4 2.6 3
Google Play Rating 4.5 4 4 3.6
IFTTT TBD
Other Home Automation Z-Wave, Zigbee, Amazon Echo, Works with Nest, ecobee, Hue, LIFX, Google Assistant SmartThings IFTTT, Works with Nest Z-Wave, Zigbee
Professional Monitoring Starting at $30.00/month Through Scout via SmartThings $24.99/month with a contract, $34.99 without a contract $10.00/month
Where to Buy Amazon Amazon Visit Site Amazon
Abode Logo Nest Logo Ring

*In addition to using a UPS, I’ve been informed that using the Satellite Siren is a nifty way to make sure iSmart continues to protect during power outages. I have not tried a Satellite Siren, but from what I understand, it uses three AAA batteries to keep the Satellite running even if power is cut.

The Three Best Self-Monitored Alarm Systems

1. Most Comprehensive: abode
2. Easiest to Use: iSmartAlarm
3. Camera Based Approach: Arlo

abode

Abode Gatewayabode is a self-monitored home security system that ships with everything you need to protect your home while also providing access to several smart home features for free. In many ways, it is what Scout once was.

The abode Gateway includes battery backup and a cellular chip which you can activate for $10.00 per month. Of course, you don’t have to do that; you can use the system for free. For free you get smartphone notifications, email alerts, an IFTTT integration, integration with Amazon Alexa (Echo, Dot, etc.), Google Assistant (Home, Mini, Max, etc.), Works with Nest, and the ability to arm and disarm your system from anywhere. If you don’t mind paying, abode also sells professional monitoring services starting at $8 for three days of service.

As an alternative to the abode Gateway, you can use abode iota. iota shares many of the same features as the Gateway but it’s an all-in-one camera and hub that you can use to protect your home on its own or you can add other sensors. Just like the Gateway, iota supports Z-Wave, Zigbee, and abode RF. You can learn more about abode iota here.

From the abode app, you can view your camera’s live feed, control features like geofencing, and you can swap between abode’s three modes: home, standby, and away. If you want to customize which sensors should trigger in the different modes, create quick actions, or manage notifications, you’ll need to hop out of the app and head over to abode’s web portal.

Finally, abode has several security camera options. First, the initial purchase price includes an image sensor which abode calls the “Indoor Motion Sensor with Camera.” This device snaps three photos anytime it detects motion. If you want actual video footage, you will need to purchase one of their Indoor Streaming Cameras, or you can connect the system to your Nest Cam.

PROS:

  • Multiple Smart Home Integrations for Free
  • Battery Backup and Optional Cellular Backup
  • Professional Monitoring Available
  • Native Geofencing Feature

CONS:

  • Clunky Hardware
  • abode Camera Performance is not Impressive
  • Occasional Glitches as it is a Newer System
  • Web Portal More Robust Than Mobile App

iSmartAlarm

*Update 7/25/2017: iSmart is currently working through security issues. Some of the vulnerabilities have already been resolved in past updates and changes, but some are still in progress. We recommend waiting until all issues are resolved.*

iSmart SecurityIf you just want something simple, you should buy iSmart. It isn’t as expandable or customizable as the other two options, but it’s easy to install and use. Out of the box, you will have everything you need to protect your home. The iSmartAlarm starter kit includes a siren, two door/window sensors, a motion detector, two key fobs, and access to their mobile app.

The iSmart app is the easiest of the three apps to use. Open the app up, and you’re presented with giant buttons to arm the system, disarm it, swap to home mode, or trigger a panic alarm. Scroll down, and you will also find a sleep mode. Plus, thanks to a recent update, modes are customizable. You can modify modes including deciding which devices should trigger an alarm and which should not. You can also customize notifications and the system’s siren.

iSmart also provides phone call alerts natively. Of course, you can setup phone call alerts for abode and Arlo via IFTTT, but this isn’t as reliable as a native feature. That said, iSmartAlarm works with IFTTT too. Through IFTTT, you can connect iSmart to other popular home automation devices like SmartThings, WeMo, Homeboy, Nest, Philips Hue, and more. If you don’t want to expand into home automation through IFTTT, you can add a smart plug to the iSmart system. The smart plug can be used to automate small appliances and lamps. Finally, iSmart has its own Amazon Alexa skill. Using the skill you can arm the system, disarm it, or swap modes with your voice.

iSmart also offers multiple camera options. I’ve tested KEEP and SPOT (both iSmart cameras), and I’m not a fan. However, the iCamera KEEP Pro is launching soon and looks appealing. It offers FHD video, Amazon Echo integration, robotic motion tracking, sound recognition, a wide field of view, custom activity zones, and more.

PROS:

  • Easy to Use/Works Out of the Box
  • Completely Free
  • Native Phone Call Alerts

CONS:

  • App is Slow
  • Not as Expandable as Other Options
  • Cameras are Low Quality

Arlo Pro and Pro 2

Arlo Pro ReviewArlo Pro is a home security camera system. The cameras are wire-free, powered by battery, and controlled by a hub which is dependent upon both power and internet. Arlo Pro has additional home security potential when connected to other Arlo products and SmartThings.

SmartThings supports Arlo Pro, Arlo Pro 2, the Pro Base Station, Arlo Q, and Arlo Q Plus. If your camera detects motion or sound, you can trigger a video clip or a SmartThings automation. This sequence of events also works in reverse. For example, if someone opens your front door when your SmartThings system is set to “away,” you can record a clip and sound your Arlo siren (which happens to be the loudest of the three sirens). Or, if Arlo Pro detects a sound, you can have your lights set to turn on. Unfortunately, the integration with SmartThings still has bugs and not everything works as it should; however, the potential is still there.

Of course, you don’t have to connect to SmartThings to gain security value from Arlo Pro. Alone, the system can monitor for activity both inside and outside. It also integrates with IFTTT. Like abode, Arlo natively supports geofencing. It will arm and disarm itself as you come and go. You can also create schedules for it to follow or manually swap between modes. The modes are completely customizable, including the ability to include or exclude cameras. You can even create custom modes.

If you want full coverage, you can add other Arlo cameras and devices to your home. There’s the Arlo Q wired indoor camera, Arlo Baby monitor, and a coming soon smart floodlight. The Arlo Security Light (pricing TBD) is a battery-powered, weatherproof floodlight. It’s equipped with a motion sensor that can trigger the light or you can control it using your smartphone. From the app, you can turn it on or off and even change the color of the light. Finally, if used with Arlo cameras, its motion sensor can trigger the camera to record.

PROS:

  • Battery Powered Cameras
  • Works Indoors and Outdoors
  • Native Geofencing Feature

CONS:

  • False Alarms are More Common With Cameras
  • SmartThings Integration is Buggy

Other Options Not Currently Recommended

Self Monitored Home Security

Nest Secure

The only reason Nest Secure isn’t on the recommended list is that it’s still new and I haven’t tried it. Nest Secure hit the market recently, so we’re still waiting on user feedback.

Nest Secure’s base station is called Nest Guard. For free, Guard will connect to all of your sensors, send notification of events, and allow you to integrate with other Nest products. You can activate Guard’s cellular chip for $5 per month and soon, you will be able to add professional monitoring.

Of course, Nest Secure works with all of Nest’s cameras, which is certainly an advantage over other self-monitored systems as the cameras are established and well liked. The system works with both Nest Cam indoor and outdoor as well as Nest IQ indoor and outdoor. Soon, Nest will also sell its own video doorbell, Nest Hello. Finally, the system will work with the Linus Yale Lock once the lock is released in 2018. Like Nest Secure, the lock uses Thread and Weave to communicate which means that it will remain operational even when the power is out.

Ring Protect

(Update: The launch of Ring Protect was delayed due to a legal dispute between Ring and ADT.)

Like Nest Secure, the only reason Ring isn’t on the list is that I haven’t tried it and it’s not shipping. On paper, it appears to be better than iSmartAlarm. Not only does it rival iSmart’s inexpensive price, but it has battery backup, optional cellular backup, professional monitoring, and it is the first system to use a combination of Z-Wave Security 2 (S2) and Z-Wave SmartStart technologies to encrypt the signal between servers and hub as well as sensors and hub.

The Ring Base Station includes a siren. For free, the siren will sound and you will receive a push notification if an alarm event occurs. For just $10 per month, you can add cellular monitoring, professional monitoring, as well as 60 days of cloud storage for all of your Ring cameras, which is a great deal.

One of the biggest question marks with Ring is compatibility. We know that the Base Station supports Z-Wave and ZigBee but Ring has yet to release a list of compatible devices. They’ve also failed to release a list of third-party integrations though we are hoping to see players like IFTTT on the list. Ring Protect will work with all Ring cameras and video doorbells.

Honeywell Smart Home Security System

The Honeywell Smart Home Security System is also not yet available so I can’t recommend it. It’s expected to hit the market later this year. I did get a hands-on look at the device during CES 2018 and it does look like they’re on track to deliver a solid product. You can read Bethuel’s review of the system here.

Honeywell’s DIY security system relies on a device called the Camera Base Station. It’s an Amazon Echo-like device with a camera on top. It serves as the brains of the system, connecting with sensors and third party-devices via Z-Wave and controlling them using the app or voice control.

The Camera Base Station comes with its own AI voice assistant that can control the system with or without an internet connection. In addition, it can access Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri (via HomeKit).

The camera also boasts intelligent features such as facial recognition, motion detection with area masking, and sound detection.

Finally, the system will work with Honeywell’s Lyric product line, IFTTT, and HomeKit.

Scout Alarm

Scout, SimpliSafe, and SmartThings are all no contract security systems. You can compare Scout and SimpliSafe here.

However, as of December of 2015, we no longer recommend Scout as a self-monitored home security system. In the past, they offered many features for free. But now, they charge. A paid plan is now required for:

  • Push notifications
  • Text message alerts
  • Email alerts
  • Phone call alerts
  • Access to Scout’s web portal and mobile apps
  • Cellular backup
  • 24/7 UL-certified professional monitoring (Always On+ only)
  • Police dispatch capability (Always On+ only)
  • Integration with Amazon Echo, Google Nest, IFTTT and more

As you can see, Scout does a whole lot, but only if you are willing to pay a monthly fee. If you are, the system can work with IFTTT, Amazon Echo, and Nest.

Scout also offers professional monitoring without a contract. If you go on vacation one month and want a break from self-monitoring, simply give Scout a call and add service for a month. There are no contracts and no long-term commitments. They even have packages that will help keep your system connected. For example, you can add cellular backup to keep your system working during internet outages or you can skip the internet altogether and pay for a cellular connection.

SimpliSafe

I do not recommend SimpliSafe as a self-monitored system. As a self-monitored system, it is nothing more than a noise maker. It can’t send alerts, you can’t control it remotely, and you will not have access to their home security camera.

If you want to add service, you can do so without a contract. SimpliSafe offers three basic packages ranging from monitoring only to monitoring with app access. And like Scout, a paid plan can also provide access to Works with Nest. Unfortunately, SimpliSafe only works with the Nest Thermostat.

Piper

As of October 2017, Piper is no longer selling Piper Cameras.

Piper Security The Piper NV is first and foremost a camera. It offers night vision and a wide-angle view so you can use one camera to monitor a large space. Through the mobile app, you can stream live footage of your home or even use two-way audio to communicate with others. If Piper detects motion or sound, it will notify you via text, push notification, email, or phone call. In fact, you can even use all four methods at the same time.

Last year, the Piper nv was our top pick for a camera-based approach as it can integrate with specific Z-Wave devices like door/window sensors, smart bulbs, smart switches, and a water sensor. It also has its own IFTTT channel. However, since Piper was acquired by iControl and subsequently Comcast Cable, the company has done very little to improve the hardware which was already somewhat glitchy. At this point in time, there are better options.

SmartThings

SmartThings-v2SmartThings was also a past nominee. However, it requires a great deal of effort to get the system to function as a home security system. While it offers wonderful creativity, it will require more effort than abode and iSmart. Also, the app remains difficult to navigate as reflected by its iTunes rating.

The new hub supports battery backup and allows devices to work locally as well as in the cloud. It also has a feature called “Smart Home Monitor”. From this one screen, you can arm your system, disarm it, check your system status, and even check the status of specific sensors. SmartThings can also connect to other devices, like Amazon Echo for voice control and web-based products or applications through IFTTT. You can even add professional monitoring for $19.99 per month through Scout’s (Yes, Scout’s) professional monitoring service. SmartThings will also be able to use ADT Canopy for monitoring once launched.

DISCLAIMER: I purchased the iSmart camera, Piper, SimpliSafe, Scout, Ring Protect, and everything SmartThings on my own, but the iSmartAlarm system, abode system, and Arlo cameras were given to me for testing. This did not impact my opinion, but I thought you should know.

Last Updated 01/13/2018

Updated with abode iota and abode added Google Assistant.

Read Previous Updates

10/4/2017 Added Honeywell Smart Home

10/4/2017 Added Ring Protect
09/26/2017 Added Nest Secure
06/02/2017 iSmartAlarm adds an Amazon Alexa skill.

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Honeywell’s Latest Security System Is An Echo With A Camera –

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Honeywell's Latest Security System Is An Echo With A Camera -

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Honeywell Smart Home Security

Move over Nest Secure, the Honeywell Smart Home Security System is coming. Honeywell, a century-old company and an expert in home security, is launching a DIY home security solution to compete with younger companies such as Nest, Ring, and SmartThings, but can they hang?

What Makes it Different?

Honeywell’s concept is not just a security system but a product that you can use every day. For starters, it’s voice assistant agnostic. It uses its own voice assistant as well as Amazon’s Alexa, and it will soon have access to Google Assistant and Apple’s Siri via HomeKit. The system also offers unique features such as a camera base with facial recognition and voice detection that can distinguish a dog bark from the sound of a smoke alarm.

In many ways, the system reminds me of the now defunct Piper nv or the coming soon abode iota in that it’s a security camera/hub that branches out into home security and smart home control. If you wanted, you could use the Honeywell Base Station as a camera. And it compares well to other home security cameras like Canary and Angee. However, it’s expensive. And the added expense only makes sense if you plan to use it as a hub.

  canary logo piper logo

DISCONTINUED

Nest Logo angeelogo Honeywell Logo
Price $157.98 $196.00 $312.00 $399.00
Google Play Rating 3.4 Stars 3.4 Stars 4 Stars TBD 3.3 Stars
iTunes Rating 2.5 Stars 2 Stars 2 Stars TBD 2.1 Stars
Home Automation Works with Wink & IFTTT via Wink, Google Home, Homekit Coming Soon Z-Wave, AllJoyn Certified, and IFTTT Works with Nest, IFTTT, Stringify, and Echo Show Plans to Work with IFTTT, LIFX, Ring, Nest, Sonos, and August Plans to Work With Z-Wave Plus, IFTTT, Alexa, Google Assistant, HomeKit, Lyric Ecosystem
Live Streaming
Resolution 1080p 1080p 1080p (Nest IQ Also Has a 4K Image Sensor) 1080p 1080p
Viewing Angle 147-degree (Flex is 116°) 180-degree 130-degree 350-degree, Mechanically Tracks Motion 147-degree
Night Vision Piper nv Only
Two-Way Audio Members Only
Door / Window Sensors
Battery Backup Flex Only
Push Alerts
Text or Phone Call Alerts Unknown
Internal Siren Manual (Flex No Siren) Automatic
Supports Motion Zones Original Canary Only With Nest Aware Plan
Face Detection Coming Soon Nest IQ Includes Detection for Free or Facial Recognition with Nest Aware; Nest Cam Includes Detection with Nest Aware Includes Facial Recognition (Coming Soon)
Auto Arm/Disarm Rule Based Only
Indoor / Outdoor Canary Indoor, Flex Indoor/Outdoor Indoor Only Nest Cam Outdoor and Outdoor IQ Sold Separately Indoor Only Indoor Only, MotionViewer Has Outdoor Version
Local Storage Download Clips, Video Sharing Members Only Download Clips Download Clips With Nest Aware Plan 1.5GB Local Storage 8GB Flash Drive
Cloud Storage Cost $0 – $19.99 Per Month $0 $0 – $30.00 Per Month $0 $0.00 – TBD
Cloud Storage Amount 24 Hours – 30 Days QTY 1000, 25 second clips 3 Hours, Snapshots Only – 30 Days 1GB 24 Hours – TBD
canary logo piper logo Nest Logo angeelogo Honeywell Logo
Where to Buy Amazon Amazon Visit Site Visit Site

It All Starts With The Camera Base Station

Like any DIY security system, the Honeywell Smart Home Security System is built around a hub. The Camera Base Station is a cylindrical hub that looks similar to the 2nd Generation Amazon Echo but with a puck-shaped camera on top.

The Camera Base Station is equipped with a 2 GHz Snapdragon quad-core processor, Z-Wave Plus connectivity, 30-minute battery backup, and local storage. It’s also equipped with a 90 dB siren to warn you of intrusion or to scare away intruders.

The Base is a Camera With Smart Features

However, the Camera Base Station is more than just a hub; it’s a security camera. Equipped with a 2MP camera with up to a 1080p resolution, 147° field of view, and night vision, you can use the base station to monitor your home visually. You can also use it to secure your home using its motion and sound detection features. Both features are backed by added intelligence including area masking, facial recognition, and sound recognition.

Area masking lets you virtually cover areas you don’t want the camera to monitor. To avoid false alarms, the camera won’t detect motion in areas that are masked. The second feature, facial recognition, goes beyond simple detection. While it can tell a human face from a giant tree, it can also get to know your family members, assuming you take the time to train it. Once trained, it will let you know if it sees a familiar face (e.g., your kids) or an unfamiliar face (e.g., an intruder). Honeywell would like to add intelligence to this feature and tie it into the camera’s geofencing ability. For example, you come home, the camera recognizes you, and it swaps to Home Mode.

Finally, sound recognition is the camera’s ability to distinguish what it hears. It can recognize dogs barking, smoke alarms blaring, and the cry of a baby. Unfortunately, facial recognition and sound recognition won’t be available at launch. Both features will be added to the Camera Base Station later this year via firmware updates. Also, facial recognition won’t work in the state of Illinois or other locations where such technology is prohibited.

All videos are recorded and stored automatically. The camera includes 24 hours of free cloud storage, and it offers internal storage via an 8GB flash drive. Honeywell will also launch an optional extended cloud service plan called StoragePlus later this year.

A Voice Agnostic Voice Assistant

The Camera Base Station also functions as a voice assistant. Using three far-field microphones and an omnidirectional speaker, you can use its proprietary voice assistant. The assistant is activated using the wake word, “Ok Security.” Using Honeywell’s own assistant, you will have limited control over the security system using specific and straightforward commands. As a bonus, the assistant runs locally so that it can accept your commands with or without an internet connection.

If you don’t want to use Honeywell’s assistant, you can use Amazon Alexa. The base station will function just like your Amazon Echo, minus a few features. For example, you won’t be able to access Alexa Calling, a feature limited to Amazon-made Alexa-enabled devices. At CES 2018, we received a complete demonstration of the camera. The speaker had a nice deep sound and was noticeably better than my Echo and Echo Dot. According to Ted Booth, Honeywell User Experience Design Director, the speaker built into the Camera Base Station is more akin to the speaker used in Google Home: Perhaps not a speaker you would want to stream music from, but still pleasing enough for everyday tasks.

Via firmware updates, the Camera Base Station will also have access to Google Assistant and Siri post launch.

Adding Honeywell Sensors and Compatible Devices

The Honeywell Smart Home Security System isn’t a one-person show. Along with the base station, Honeywell has launched several sensors and devices.

The first is the Access Sensor, a door/window sensor. Its primary job is to alert you if a door or window is opened while the system is armed, a possible indication of an intrusion. However, it can also alert you if a door or window has been left open.

The second accessory is the Motion Sensor. The Motion Sensor is a traditional wall-mounted motion sensor that can alert you if it senses motion.

The third accessory is called the MotionViewer, a PIR motion sensor equipped with a camera. If the MotionViewer detects a heat signature, it will record a 7-10 second clip of the event and send a notification. Keep in mind that the MotionViewer is not an Image Sensor; it’s better. A traditional Image Sensor will take a snapshot, the MotionViewer records an actual video clip and then transmits the clip to your smartphone. The resolution of the camera is QVGA (320 x 240), which is pretty low, but it’s battery operated, has night vision, and comes in both an indoor and outdoor version. According to Booth, the MotionViewers were the most popular accessory during their Indiegogo campaign. In fact, the kit that included MotionViewers sold out during the first 24 hours of their campaign.

Finally, Honeywell offers a remote key fob so that you can easily control your system as you come and go. It lets you swap between modes (Home, Away, and Night) and it features a panic button that you can activate by long-pressing the button.

Adding Compatible Third Party Devices

Lyric App

In addition to working with Honeywell’s own products, the Camera Base Station can support third-party devices using its Z-Wave radio. It can connect to third-party lights, locks, garage door openers, and more.

At CES we received a demonstration of one of the camera’s integrations. At launch, the app experience will be optimized around Leviton lights. Using the Lyric app, Booth demonstrated a couple of features including dimming and on/off functionality.

Works With the Lyric App, Cameras, Thermostats, and IFTTT

Honeywell Lyric App

The Camera Base Station also works with some of Honeywell’s existing products, specifically, the Honeywell Lyric lineup. If you want to add additional cameras to your system, for example, you can add Honeywell Lyric C1 or Lyric C2, two of Honeywell’s security cameras. And the option to add additional cameras to the system should come as refreshing news to those who have larger homes as the system is currently limited to one Camera Base Station per location.

The Camera Base Station also works with Lyric smart thermostats and flood/freeze sensors.

The final component of the Honeywell Smart Home Security System is the Lyric smartphone app available for both Android and iOS devices. Everything you need to manage and monitor the system is found within the app. You can use it to customize your system, add devices, review previous events, adjust your thermostat, watch live video feeds, and more.

The Lyric app also features geofencing with family access. Each family member can create a Honeywell Lyric account and connect to the system. By sensing the location of your smartphones, the app will know if everyone has left or if someone has arrived. The app will then set the system to the appropriate mode. If you want complete reassurance that your camera has stopped recording, you can use the privacy shield.

Unfortunately, the privacy shield is fully analog. You will need to manually turn the privacy shield to cover the camera’s lens and remember to uncover the lens when you leave.

Finally, like other Lyric products, the Smart Home Security System will work with IFTTT. Using IFTTT, you will be able to integrate the system with hundreds of devices using rule-based automation.

Final Thoughts

Though the original campaign has ended (with an impressive 248% achievement toward their funding goal), Honeywell is still pre-selling the system on IndieGoGo. Of course, the campaign was never about funds. Honeywell has funds. Instead, it was about engaging a new audience and getting feedback. According to Booth, they expect to start shipping the Camera Base Station later this year. Features such as motion detection with area masking, sound detection, the Alexa integration, and IFTTT compatibility will all be available at launch. Other features such as facial recognition, sound recognition, Google Assistant, the Siri integration, compatibility with the Lyric C1 and C2 cameras, and support for the MotionViewer will be ready post launch.

If you want to be one of the first to use the Honeywell Smart Home Security System, you can pre-order the base station and sensors at a discounted price. The base station will retail at $399, but you can order it now for as low as $375 (includes a key fob and a door sensor). A sensor pack that includes two Access Sensors, a motion sensor, and a key fob is also available for pre-order for $140, $20 less than the retail price. To learn more about Smart Home Security System, visit Honeywell’s IndieGoGo campaign page.

That said, though Honeywell is in a better position than most who launch on Indiegogo, we always suggest using caution before backing any project. There are several features that will not be available at launch, and pushing those belated features out to end users may take longer than Honeywell is projecting.

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Can Your Clever House Are living Without having The Cloud?

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Cloud Smart Home

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Cloud Smart Home

Do you know what tends to make good properties smart? Processing. Clever cameras can only figure out your facial area right after they’ve processed an graphic voice-controlled products can only fully grasp you soon after they’ve processed a sound, and your smart property hub can only convey to what’s likely on in your home after it’s processed the input from your sensors.

As uncomplicated as it could sound, processing is vital, and the “process” normally takes memory, power, and program. And when it arrives to the wise household, the problem is, “Should gadgets method domestically or in the cloud?”

Nearby vs. Cloud for the Clever Household

There are undeniably far more companies hunting to cloud-based companies to give the processing electric power their products will need. Why?

Very first, it is additional hassle-free for them. They never need to have to method every device to evaluate sophisticated details. As a substitute, they add the algorithms wanted for processing to the cloud – one particular and carried out. Their devices are then programmed to upload info to the cloud where by all the heavy-lifting is finished.

2nd, the cloud can take care of more complex processing. Believe of it like this: you just can’t operate Photoshop on your Iphone, but you can run it on a respectable laptop or computer. Clever units are like an Iphone in this regard they are not constantly impressive sufficient to do what demands to be performed, so the Cloud acts as a pc – carrying out the function and allowing your a lot less strong unit acquire all the credit rating. Amazon Echo is an case in point of a unit that works by using cloud-centered expert services to examine info. Could Amazon have designed Echo with community processing? They could have, but that might have taken absent Echo’s capacity to recognize loaded, natural language and a lot more importantly, it may possibly have built the system less economical.

On the other hand, cloud-primarily based processing doesn’t occur devoid of trade-offs, the most important of which is the probability of a privacy breach. Knowledge does travel from your machine to the cloud, data you could possibly not want another person else to see. This incorporates video clip from your house safety camera, your arrival/departure occasions despatched from your sensible lock, and your dwelling handle established inside your sensible hub. Even though brands guarantee us that information is encrypted and safe, there’s no assurance that a unit is hack-evidence. A further downside of devices relying on the cloud is that they also rely on the world-wide-web. So when the world wide web goes down, your smart dwelling goes down. Leaving you unable to command your lights, locks, thermostat, and other clever household devices. The case for equipment that method locally is that they are far more secure and can function even when your web is down.

Sensible Household Equipment That Perform Regionally

While good units that operate with the cloud are a dime-a-dozen, units that have some kind of community processing potential are even now relatively rare. Below is our listing of intelligent residence gadgets that can accomplish regionally. The latest development seems to place to a hybrid remedy, units that use the cloud but are not fully dependent upon the cloud.

Sensible Residence Hubs

Oomi Cube

1. SmartThings Hub v2

Samsung’s SmartThings hub makes use of a combination of cloud and regional processing. The hub relies on the cloud even though connected to the World-wide-web, but if your internet relationship goes down, specified main functionalities are nevertheless usable regionally. What can it do offline? According to SmartThings, certain automation options like SmartApps and other automation features driven by Zigbee, Z-Wave, and LAN-related gadgets.

Browse Our SmartThings Critique Listed here

2. Oomi Digital camera and Smart Dwelling Hub

Oomi is a sensible household procedure centered about its camera-hub referred to as Oomi Cube. With Oomi, cloud knowledge processing is made available, but not demanded. The cloud surely would make your procedure smarter by bettering analytics and machine finding out, but capabilities these types of as processing instructions are performed domestically, so you are in handle even with out the cloud.

3. WigWag

WigWag, also a hub, is a hybrid product like SmartThings and Oomi. It automates with the enable of its three companion items: Glowline, Tag, and Sensor Block as well as appropriate manufacturers such as Sonos, Belkin WeMo, Philips Hue, GE, Fibaro, LIFX, and so on.

Automation is delivered using policies comparable to IFTTT (If This Then That), that can be developed applying WigWag’s rule builder. These regulations function with or without the need of an world wide web relationship. Having said that, WigWag will work very best on the internet. WigWag can only be managed when you are away from home when the unit is connected to the world wide web.

Property Protection Cameras

Netatmo Siren

1. Netatmo Welcome

Privacy

Netatmo Welcome was the first intelligent property digital camera to supply facial recognition. Though it does not run facial recognition regionally, it does retail store your non-public identification info on the camera’s designed-in SD card. If for some reason Netatmo’s cloud is hacked, your info will remain properly stored on the card. Also, of all the cameras we have tested, Welcome is the only one particular to ship an e-mail that warned of a probable hack, and it involved all the proper info. Remarkable!

2. CleverLoop

CleverLoop is a hub-centered security digital camera method. They have a number of cameras in their line-up which include indoor and out of doors cameras. This process is always on the lookout for alerts, even with no an world wide web link, thanks to a hub that processes alerts regionally. It also is aware when to store your movies domestically and when to send them to the cloud.

CleverLoop utilizes geofencing and schedules to know exactly where you are. When at dwelling, it instantly suppliers movies to its onboard memory machine (8GB) or the optional exterior USB drive. When you are away, it sends online video to the cloud to support preserve your residence safe and sound from burglars.

3. BuddyGuard Flare

BuddyGuard Flare is a product that is presently transport in choose European countries, and many thanks to a the latest €3.4M expense, it will soon make its way to the US.

Flare is a safety digicam packed with sensors including facial and audio recognition. Equally capabilities are feasible many thanks to software that lives on the unit. When an party happens, it is very first processed on the digital camera by itself. From there, application is employed to determine if the party incorporates a human being it is aware of or anyone unfamiliar. If it’s you, the footage stays on the product. If the occasion is a achievable safety threat, the footage is despatched to the cloud.

Property Safety Programs

abode iota review

1. Abode Protection for Smart House Equipment

For those searching for good property security that can function without the need of an online connection, abode may well be the answer. Gadgets that are integrated with the procedure natively will carry on to do the job even if your world-wide-web fails. For illustration, if you have a rule that claims, “When the front door is locked, close the garage door,” and the products included are related straight to your abode method and not by a provider like IFTTT, then the rule will still operate even when your world-wide-web is down.

Do note that if your automated rules use abode Cloud Integrations this sort of as IFTTT or Nest, these guidelines will not get the job done when your world wide web is down. Even so, abode features mobile backup. If you pay to help mobile backup, all responsibilities and automations, even all those that include 3rd-party clouds, will perform. The only exception to this rule is the use of household safety cameras. The abode method utilizes IP cameras which are internet dependent. The cameras will not operate if the net fails even if you pay back for cellular backup. Observe that abode iota is the exception to this rule. It is not regarded a dwelling protection digicam, but a hub.

Read Our abode Review

2. Nest Secure

Nest Protected is a self-monitored residence stability technique however, it has the ability to handle some related equipment. The base station, Nest Guard, communicates utilizing Weave above a Thread network which suggests that it can communicate with its sensors even if you get rid of world-wide-web and electrical power. Like abode, products that are built-in with the procedure natively will keep on to operate when the net is out. This list involves the Nest Detect door/window sensors as well as the Linus Yale Lock. Greater however, for $5 per month you can insert cellular backup which usually means that even devoid of ability and world wide web Nest Guard, jogging on its backup battery, can however converse with the Nest company.

3. Honeywell Camera Foundation Station

Honeywell not long ago launched a Do-it-yourself stability process centered about a cylindrical base station geared up with a digicam. The Digicam Base Station depends on the cloud for most of its operations, but it communicates with its sensors making use of Z-Wave, allowing for it to control them even devoid of an web link. The most remarkable factor about the Digital camera Base Station’s nearby processing, on the other hand, is its means to process voice commands without the need of an web connection. Even devoid of an net relationship, you can request the base station to set your stability procedure to Household, Absent, or Night method or ask it to management other parts of your method making use of your voice.

Examine Our Honeywell Sensible Dwelling Security Evaluate

4. Frontpoint Home Safety

Frontpoint is a self-put in, professionally monitored house security system. The management panel acts as a hub that communicates with the central checking station as well as all connected gadgets. It’s also equipped with battery backup and a cellular chip. If your web goes out, Frontpoint can still act as equally a safety technique and a household automation hub controlling all connected Z-Wave devices.

Go through Our Frontpoint Evaluate

Base Line

Folks who are anxious about privateness lean a lot more in the direction of nearby processing, although men and women who want simplicity have a tendency to go with cloud-reliant devices. Which clever house owner are you? As for me, I’m excited about hybrid devices that perform with the cloud, although maintaining some details at property. Do you know of other intelligent devices that can are living without the need of the cloud?

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Alexa, HomeKit, IFTTT, Nest, and More

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Alexa, HomeKit, IFTTT, Nest, and More

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smart home compatibility

HomeAlarmReport.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

When building a smart home, figuring out what works with what is one of the most confusing parts. Another confusing part? Figuring out how connecting to one hub differs from connecting to another. Philips Hue being a great example. You can connect the bulbs to SmartThings directly or to a Hue hub. But as a member of the SmartThings Staff shares,

There’s a lot of cool stuff you can do with the Hue App that you can’t do via SmartThings.

So, when building your smart home, how do you know what’s best? A great first step is to learn from the experience of others. Below you will find information on device compatibility, and I invite you to share your experience in the comment section below.

  Amazon Alexa Google Home SmartThings WeMo Wink
Price $99.99

$129.99

$96

$30-80

$99

SmartThings Not Certified, Not Supported
Amazon Alexa
Google Home
IFTTT Wink Relay
Stringify
Works with Nest* Not Certified, Not Supported
amazon echo google home smartthings hub wemo wink hub
Amazon Alexa Google Home SmartThings WeMo Wink
Read Review Echo/Dot Review Google Home Review SmartThings Review WeMo Insight Review
Lights C by GE Lamp, Geeni, D-Link Smart Plugs, Ikea Trådfri (Coming Soon), LIFX, Lutron Caseta, OSRAM LIGHTIFY, Philips Hue, TP-Link, Switchmate Bright Smart Switch, WeMo Plugs Deako, D-Link, Emberlight, Geeni, Hive Home, iDevices, iHome Control, Ikea Trådfri (Coming Soon), Insignia, LeGrand, Leviton, LIFX, Lutron Caseta, Nanoleaf, OSRAM, Philips Hue, Plum, Switchmate Bright Smart Switch, TP-Link, WeMo Plugs Aeotec, Cree, Enerwave, GE, Leviton, LIFX, Lutron, OSRAM LIGHTIFY, Philips Hue, Sengled, SmartThings Smart Plugs Cree, OSRAM LIGHTIFY, TCP, WeMo Plugs, Bulbs, and Switches GE Link, OSRAM LIGHTIFY, Philips Hue, Cree, Hampton Bay Smart LED, Leviton, Lutron Caseta, iHome
Thermostats First Alert Onelink , Honeywell Lyric, Honeywell Total Connect, Nest Thermostat, Ecobee3, Ecobee4, Carrier Cor, Venstar Colortouch, Sensi, Sensibo, Tado, Venstar ecobee, First Alert Onelink, Nest Thermostat, Honeywell Lyric Round, Lyric T5 and Lyric T6 Pro, Honeywell Total Connect Comfort, Sensibo (AC) Honeywell Lyric, Honeywell Total Connect, Honeywell Z-Wave, ecobee Smart SI, ecobee3 Nest Nest, ecobee, Honeywell, Sensi, Carrier® Côr™
Cameras Blink, Butterfleye, Chk-In Cam, Homeboy, iCamera KEEP Pro, Kuna, SkyBell, Somfy One (Amazon Cloud Cam, Amcrest, Arlo, August Doorbell Cam, EZVIZ, Logi Circle, Nest Cams, and Ring with Echo Show Only) abode iota, Chk-In Cam, Nest Cam, Nest Hello, Ring Arlo Wire-Free, Samsung SmartCam HD Pro, Skybell HD, Ring Video Doorbell, (D-Link, Blink via SmartThings Lab) Belkin NetCam HD+, NetCam Wi-Fi Canary, Ring Video Doorbell, Nest Cam
Locks August, Dwelo, Kevo August Kwikset, Schlage Century, Schlage Connected, Yale B1L, Yale Key Free, Yale Push Button, Yale T1L, Yale Touchscreen, VeriLock® Security Sensors, Kwikset 910, Schlage Connect, Schlage Keypad
Monitored Security Abode, ADT Canopy, ADT Pulse, Alarm.com, Alarm Relay, CPI, Frontpoint, Iris, iSmartAlarm, Korner, MONI, Myfox, Protect America, Protection 1, Scout, Vector Security, Vivint abode, Alarm.com, AlarmForce, Frontpoint, Iris, Scout Alarms, Vivint SmartThings-ADT Security Monitoring (ADT Security Hub Required), ADT Connect Coming Soon, Scout Alarm Services, (Honeywell Total Connect via SmartThings Lab)
Other Hubs Almond by Securifi, Control4, D-Link Connected Home, Dwelo, Echo Plus, SmartThings, Harmony Hub, Insteon, Iris, LG SmartThinQ, Oomi, WeMo, Wink Control4, HomeSeer, iDevices, Iris, LightWave, Logitech, Harmony Hub, SmartThings, Wink ADT Security Hub, Harmony Hub, Samsung Connect Home, Samsung Connect Home Pro Wemo Bridge Works With HomeKit Harmony Hub
Amazon Alexa Google Home SmartThings WeMo Wink
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*See below for more details on which Nest device works with which smart home devices.

Works with Nest

Saying something Works with Nest doesn’t necessarily mean it works with all Nest products. “Works with Nest” might mean that a product works with the camera, Nest Protect, Nest Thermostat, or the app.

Saying that it works with the app is also a little misleading. In some cases, this doesn’t mean that you can use the Nest app to control both products. Philips Hue is once again a good example. Though Hue “works with the Nest app”, you can’t control your lights from the Nest app. Instead, you can use the web portal to set some rules and Nest can tell Hue when your home is set to Away



*Works with the app may mean different things. In most cases, it simply means that Nest can tell your device when you are home or away.

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Ultimate IFTTT Smart Home Guide

With IFTTT you can’t assume that the presence of a channel means you can do anything. I’ve learned this lesson the hard way many times. For example, I bought an OSRAM bulb assuming I could set it to turn a color based on Twitter activity. As IFTTT has both a Twitter and a SmartThings’ channel I assumed this was possible; I was wrong. I’ve also erroneously made the assumption that cameras with IFTTT channels should be able to record to Google Drive, also not always true. Beyond the presence of an IFTTT channel, you need to dig into the possible triggers and actions. And if you want greater flexibility beyond 1+1=2, you might want to ditch IFTTT in favor of Stringify, though the two now technically work together.

So what are triggers and actions? They are the ingredients in a two-part recipe known as an applet. IFTTT glues things together in an If This Then That format. If (Action from Connected Channel) Then (Trigger from Connected Channel). In some cases, you might be asked to take it a step further. For example, with SmartThings’ Switched On trigger, you will need to specify the device you want to use.

Product Triggers (Trigger Fields) Actions
SECURITY/HUBS
iSmartAlarm Contact Sensor (Open Only), Motion Sensor Arm iSmart, Disarm, Change Mode to Home, Sound Panic Siren
Amazon Echo Say a Specific Phrase (what phrase), Ask What’s On Your To Do List, Item Added To/Completed On/Edited On, Deleted From Your To Do List, Ask What’s On Your Shopping List, Item Added To/Completed On/Edited On/Deleted From Shopping List, Ask For Sports Team’s Score/Next Game, New Song Played, Alarm Goes Off, Timer Goes Off
Google Home (Google Assistant) Say a Simple Phrase, Say a Phrase With a Number, Phrase With Text Ingredient, Say a Phrase With Both a Number and Text Ingredient. (All triggers have the same trigger field options: what do you want to say, what’s another way to say it, and another way, how should Assistant respond?)
SmartThings Switched On/Off (device), Opened/Closed (device), Locked/Unlocked (device), Motion (device), Presence Detected/No Longer Detected (device), Temperature Rises Above/Drops Below (device, temp value, temp units), Humidity Rises Above/Drops Below (device, humidity value), Moisture Detected (device), Brightness Rises Above/Drops Below (device, brightness value) Switched On/Off (device), Locked/Unlocked (device), Activate Siren/Strobe (device, alert type), Deactivate Siren/Strobe (device)
Wink Relay Button Press (which button)
Scout (Requires Paid Plan) Mode Armed/Disarmed (mode), Alarm Triggered/Dismissed (mode), Door Panel Opened/Closed (which door panel), Access Sensor Opened/Closed (which access sensor), Motion Detected (which motion sensor) Arm/Disarm a Mode (mode), Disarm All Modes (which location), Turn On/Off Siren, (which location), Chirp (which location), Enable/Disable Key Fob (which key fob)
abode Alarm Activated, Mode Changed (select mode), Door Opened/Closed (select door), Door Unlocked/Locked (select lock) Change Mode (which mode), Turn On/Off Switch (which switch), Toggle Switch (which switch), Change Dimmer Level (which dimmer, dimmer level), Lock/Unlock Device (which lock)
Myfox System is Armed/Disarmed (which system), System is Set to Night Mode (which system), Alarm Initiated (which system) Sound Siren (which system), Security Mode (security mode, which system), Control Camera Shutter (open/close shutter, which camera)
CAMERAS
Arlo Motion Detected (which device), Low Battery Reported (which device), Audio Detected (which device) Arm/Disarm (which device), Start Recording (which device, how long)
Blink Motion Detected (which camera) Arm/Disarm System (which system)
Camio Motion Detected (which camera), Advanced Motion Detected (choose a camera, color, direction, object, zone), Power Disconnected (which camera) Start/Stop Recording (which camera), Turn On/Off Motion Notifications for All Cameras
D-Link Connected Motion Detected (which camera), Sound Detected (which camera) Record Video (which camera), Take Snapshots (which camera)
Homeboy Motion Detected (which location), Video Ready (which location), Location Armed/Disarmed (which location), Camera Armed/Disarmed (which camera), Lost Connection (which location), Low Battery (which location) Arm/Disarm Location (which location), Arm/Disarm Camera (which camera), Record Video (which camera), Notify Crew (which location, message to send)
Nest Cam New Sound/Motion Events (which device)
Netatmo Welcome Someone Known/Unknown is Seen (which camera), A Specific Person is Seen (which person), Specific Person Arrives Home (which person), Someone Known Arrives Home (which home), Motion Detected (which camera), Welcome Has a Problem (which camera), Welcome Has Been Switched On/Off (which camera)
Oco Motion Detected (which camera), Camera Offline (which camera) Start Recording (which camera, duration in seconds), Turn Camera On/Off (which camera), Turn Notifications On/Off (which camera)
Ring New Ring Detected (which doorbell), New Motion Detected (which device)
Skybell HD Button Pressed (Skybell HD), Detected Motion (Skybell HD) Turn Indoor Chime On/Off (which device), Change LED Color (which device, which color), Record Video (which device)
THERMOSTATS
ecobee Indoor/Outdoor Temp Greater Than/Less Than (thermostat name, temp threshold), Indoor/Outdoor Humidity Greater Than/Less Than (thermostat name, humidity threshold), Smart Home/Away (thermostat name), Schedule Override (thermostat name) Set Indefinite Hold (thermostat name, desired temp), Set Hold Until Next Transition (thermostat name, desired temp), Set Hold for X Hours (thermostat name, desired temp, number of hours), Create Vacation (thermostat name, desired temp, number of days), Set Comfort Profile Until Next Transition (thermostat name, comfort profile), Set Comfort Profile For X Hours, (thermostat name, comfort profile, number of hours), Resume Program (thermostat name)
Nest Thermostat Nest Set to Home/Away (which home), Temp Rises Above/Below (which device, temp threshold, degrees in) Set Temperature (which device, temp degrees in), Set Temp Range (which device, low/high temp, degrees in), Turn on Fan for 15 Mins (which device)
LIGHTS
Philips Hue Turn On/Off (which lights), Toggle On/Off (which lights), Blink Lights (which lights), Dim Lights (which lights, brightness), Change Color (which lights, color value or name), Change to Random Color (which lights), Change Color From Image (color mode, image URL), Turn On Color Loop (which lights)
LIFX Turn Lights On (which lights, fade in duration, color, brightness, advanced options), Turn Lights Off (which lights, fade out duration, advanced options), Toggle Lights On/Off (which lights, advanced options), Activate Scene (scene, transition duration, advanced options), Change Color of Lights (which lights, advanced options, color brightness, turn on first, transition duration), Blink Lights (which lights, advanced options, turn on first, number of blinks, color, brightness), Breathe Lights (which lights, advanced options, turn on first, number of breaths, color, brightness)
WeMo Light Switch Switched On/Off (which light), Long Press (which light) Turn On/Off (which light), Turn On Then Off or Off Then On (which light), Toggle On/Off (which light)
Product Triggers (Trigger Fields) Actions
WeMo Lighting Light Switched On/Off (which device), Dimmed to Specific Level (which device, dimmed level) Turn On/Off (which device), Dim (which device, dimmed level), Turn On/Off Group of Lights (which group), Dim Group of Lights (which group, dimmed level), Start Sleep Fader (which device, fader time in mins), Set Sleep Fader For Group (which group, fader time in mins)
TP-Link Turn On/Off (which device), Toggle (which device), Activate Scene (which scene), Change Brightness (which device), Change Color (which device, color, brightness, transition duration, advanced options), Change Color Temperature (which device, color temperature, kelvin, transition duration, advanced options)
LOCKS
August Lock Unlocked/Locked (which lock), Lock Unlocked/Locked By Specific Person (which lock, which person)
Kevo Lock Unlocked/Locked (which lock, which person)
This chart would be hella long if we included all channels. We limited it to the most popular security and smart home options. If we missed something you are looking for, you can search the channel directory at IFTTT.com.

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Works with Amazon Alexa

Vivint and Amazon Echo

With Amazon Alexa enabled devices (Amazon Echo, Dot, Tap, Spot, Show, etc.), you can connect to other smart home devices either through a direct integration or by using a skill. Integrating is easy, remembering what to say isn’t always that simple. Regardless, using your voice to control your home is pretty sweet.

A second option is to purchase Echo Plus. Plus offers all of the same features as Amazon Echo but it also has a built-in smart home hub so that you can connect to select devices directly.

Type Device
Smart Lights & Plugs WeMo, Lutron Caseta, Philips Hue, Switchmate, LIFX, OSRAM LIGHTIFY, C by GE Lamp, Nanoleaf, TP-Link Smart Plugs, Ikea Trådfri (Coming Soon)
Smart Home Systems Almond by Securifi, Control4, D-Link Connected Home, Dwelo, Honeywell Smart Home Security System, Insteon, Iris, LG SmartThinQ, Logitech Harmony, Oomi, SmartThings, WeMo, Wink
Smart Thermostats First Alert Onelink , Honeywell Lyric, Honeywell Total Connect, Nest Thermostat, Ecobee3, Ecobee4, Carrier Cor, Venstar Colortouch, Sensi, Sensibo, Tado, Venstar
Home Security Systems Abode, ADT Canopy, ADT Pulse, Alarm.com, Alarm Relay, CPI, Frontpoint, Iris, iSmartAlarm, Korner, MONI, Myfox, Protect America, Protection 1, Scout, Vector Security, Vivint
Smart Locks August, Dwelo, Kevo
Security Cameras Blink, Butterfleye, Chk-In Cam, Canary, Homeboy, Honeywell Smart Home Security System, iCamera KEEP Pro, Kuna, SkyBell, Somfy One (Amcrest, Arlo, August Doorbell, EZVIZ, Logi Circle, Nest Cam, and Ring with Echo Show Only)
Smart Smoke/CO Detectors Halo, Onelink
Cars and Car Accessories Automatic, Hyundai (Coming Soon), Ford, Logitech ZeroTouch, Mercedes, BMW
Other Ooma (Telecom Service), IFTTT & Stringify (Rule-Based Internet Services), GE Appliance (Smart Appliances), Haiku Home Wi-Fi Ceiling Fan, Sonos
Products With Alexa Voice Services Ecobee4 (Smart Thermostat), LG SmartThinQ Hub (Smart Home Hub)
First Alert Onelink Smoke +CO Alarms (Coming Soon)
Nucleus Anywhere (Video Intercom)
Lenovo Smart Assistant (Voice Controlled Speaker)
Tribble (Kitchen Speaker)
Kuri (Robot)
HUGO (Robot)
Moorebot (Coming Soon) (Robot)
Omate Yumi (Robot)
Sonos One (Smart Speaker)
Honeywell Smart Home Security System (Camera and Smart Hub)

*Look for Alexa-enabled versions.

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What Works With HomeKit?

HomeKit has lagged behind other home automation integrations. Unfortunately, making a device Homekit-compatible isn’t as easy as integrating with IFTTT or Alexa as it requires a tedious certification process. However, Apple is working to make the process easier by scratching the hardware requirement and replacing it with a software certification.

That said, Apple is making progress and now boasts a rather extensive list of HomeKit compatible devices. The major benefit to HomeKit beyond voice control is that it’s hub-less, kind of. First of all, some devices may require their own hub. For example, Philips Hue. Secondly, you’ll need a “hub” if you want to control your HomeKit devices while you’re away from home.

HomeKit doesn’t have a dedicated hub. Instead, you’ll need an Apple TV 4 or 4K running the latest tvOS, an iPad running iOS 10.3 or later (best if kept plugged in), or a HomePod (coming soon).

Type Ready Coming Soon Announced
Smart Lights, Outlets, & Plugs ConnectSense, Elgato Eve, Fibaro (Single Switch and Wall Plug), FLEDA, iDevices, iHome, Ikea Trådfri, iLuv Rainbow8, Incipio CommandKit, Koogeek, Leviton, LIFX, Lutron, Nanoleaf, Opro9, Philips Hue, PureGear PureSwitch, Sylvania APISMOON Smart Wall Outlet, Eton BlackoutBuddy Connect Charge, Insignia Smart In-Wall Switch, Keenetic, Opro9 iU9, Powertech Wi-Fi Smart Plug, UCOMEN, VOCOlinc C-Sleep & Life by GE, Legrand Celiane with Netatmo, Parce Plus, PROMEMORIA ZIP.ICO
Bridges Caséta by Lutron Smart Bridge, Enno Panno S All-In-One Controller, HomeWorks QS, Insteon Hub Pro, Myson Touch 2 Hub, Nanoleaf Smarter Hub, Philips Hue Bridge, RadioRA 2 by Lutron Connect Bridge, tado° Bridge, Wemo Bridge C by GE C-Reach, Hunter Douglas PowerView® Hub, Kidde RemoteLync, LightWave Link Plus, LightwaveRF Link2
Smart Thermostats Bryant Housewise, Carrier COR, Continental therM Hub, De’Longhi MDH, ecobee, Elgato Eve, Haier D-air Hanging Smart AC, Heatmiser neoHub, Honeywell Lyric, iDevices, Myson Touch 2 Hub, Netatmo, Nu-Heat neoHub+, Prowarm IQ HUB, Sensi™, Solfex neoHub, tado° Lux Products KONO Smart
Home Security Systems abode iota Honeywell Lyric™ Controller
Smart Locks August, Friday Lock, Kwikset Premis, Schlage Sense™, Weiser Premis Koogeek Lock, Yale Assure OPSO Smart Lock
Security Cameras D-Link Omna 180, Logitech Circle 2 Wired abode iota, Netatmo Presence, Netatmo Welcome August Doorbell, Canary Plus, Honeywell Smart Home Security System Camera Base Station, Kidde RemoteLync Camera, KUNA, Ring Video Doorbell Pro
Smart Smoke/CO Detectors Fibaro CO Sensor, Onelink Haier, Kidde RemoteLync Netatmo Smart Smoke
Sensors Elgato (Degree, Door, Window, Motion, Room, Weather), Fibaro (Door, Window, Flood, Motion), iHome Smart Sensor, Kaiterra Air Quality, Netatmo Healthy Home ConnectSense Temperature & Humidity Sensor, ConnectSense Water Sensor
Cars and Car Accessories Chamberlain Smart Garage Hub, Chamberlain MyQ, LiftMaster MyQ, Nice IT4WIFI NousLogic Watchman
Other
Airmate Smart Stand Fan, Logitech POP Smart Button, Serena Motorized Shades, Hunter (Ceiling Fan), Laser Egg Air Quality Sensor HomePod (Speaker), Sonos One (Speaker) Hunter (Motorized Shades) VELUX windows with VELUX ACTIVE
Look for HomeKit-enabled versions

Google Assistant

Google Assistant may have been last to market, but with lightning speed, they’ve managed to catch up. Google has several new security and smart home-related integrations. But what makes Google Assistant-enabled options interesting is their ability to distinguish one voice from another and their ability to access different accounts.

For example, if you ask Google Home to call your mom, it will call your mom. If your son asks Google Home to call his mom, it will call his mom. This same level of personalization can be tied to your smart home preferences, making Google Assistant one to watch.

Like Alexa, Google Assistant, Google Home’s AI, is accessible on multiple devices including Google Home, Google Max, Mini, and even Nest Cam IQ. In the future, it will also be available in third-party smart speakers, TVs, and cars.

Type Devices
Smart Lights & Plugs Deako, D-Link, Emberlight, Geeni, Hive Home, iDevices, iHome Control, Ikea Trådfri, Insignia, LeGrand, Leviton, LIFX, Lutron Caseta, Nanoleaf, OSRAM, Philips Hue, Plum (Coming Soon), Switchmate Bright Smart Switch, TP-Link, WeMo Plugs
Smart Home Systems Control4, D-Link Connected Home, HomeSeer, iDevices, Iris, LightWave, Logitech Harmony Hub, Smartika, SmartThings, Wink
Smart Thermostats ecobee, First Alert Onelink, Nest Thermostat, Honeywell Lyric Round, Lyric T5 and Lyric T6 Pro, Honeywell Total Connect Comfort, Sensibo
Home Security Systems abode, Alarm.com, AlarmForce, Frontpoint, Iris, Scout Alarm, Vivint
Smart Locks August
Security Cameras abode, Canary, Chk-In Cam, Nest Cam, Nest Hello, Ring
Smart Smoke/CO Detectors First Alert Onelink

Cars and Car Accessories
Hyundai, Chrysler 300, and Mercedes all Free. Chamberlain is $10 per year
Other Ask My Buddy, Artik Cloud, Awair, FireBoard, Frigidaire, IFTTT, iRobot, Nexx Garage, Nubryte, Rachio, Samsung Artik Cloud, Stringify, Voice UPB, Zoma

Harmony Home Hub

Section Contributed by Ander Gimenez

Harmony Home Hub is perhaps the most complicated of all the options on this list due to their vast array of devices, but their lineup can be simplified like this:

  1. Remote Only: Control Entertainment Devices
  2. Harmony Home Hub: Control Some Automation Devices
  3. Home Hub With Extender: Best Smart Home Choice
Smart Home Device Works With Harmony Hub Works With Home Hub Extender
Amazon Alexa (Echo Products)
August Smart Lock (Requires Connect)
Ecobee Thermostat
Google Assistant (Google Home Products)
Honeywell Thermostat (Wi-Fi Thermostat)
Hunter Douglas (PowerView)
IFTTT
Insteon (Requires Insteon hub)
LIFX bulbs & lights
Lutron Caseta Lighting System
Lutron Serena Remote Window Shades
Nest Thermostat
Nest Protect
peq Hub
Philips Hue (Requires Hue Bridge)
SmartThings (Requires SmartThings Hub)
Cree Connected LED Bulb
Everspring AN145 Wireless Module
GE Link Connected LED Bulbs
Nortek Dimmable LED Lights Bulb
Nortek Isolated Contact Fixture Module
Nortek Wall Dimmer Switch
Nortek Wall Switch
Nortek Plug-in Appliance Module
Nortek Plug-in Dimmer Module
Nortek Door/Window Sensor
Nortek PIR Motion Detector
Osram LIGHTIFY
Sylvania Ultra IQ BR30 LED
Kwikset & Yale Smart Locks (Z-Wave & ZigBee Models)
Schlage Camelot Style Keypad & Century Style Touchscreen Smart Locks
Schlage RS200HC Home Motion Sensor
Aeontec Smart Strip, Door/Window Sensor Gen 5, & Water Sensor
Dome On/Off Plug-In Switch, Door/Window Sensor, Motion Sensor, Siren, & Leak Sensor
Nexia Home Intelligence Bridge
VeraEdge Hub
Wink Hub
ENERWAVE Wall Touch Dimmer
Quirky Tapt Smart Switch
Jasco In-wall Dimmer (Z-Wave), Plug-in Smart Switch (Z-Wave, Zigbee), & Wireless Smart Dimmer (Z-Wave, Zigbee)
Centralite 3-Series Appliance Module & Lamp Module
Intermatic HA02 Wireless Heavy-Duty Appliance Module
Leviton DZPA1 Appliance Module
Ecolink Door/Window Sensor & Motion Detector With Pet Immunity
NYCE Ceiling Motion Sensor, Curtain Motion Sensor, Door/Window Sensor, Tilt Sensor, & Motion Sensor

Harmony, a product of Logitech, does not share the same compatibilities as other Logitech products including Logi Pop and Circle. Dig into the details here.

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*This article was originally published October 6, 2016, but is kept updated as new device compatibilities are released.

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