Home Security System
Updated July 2018
From the latter part of 2017 until mid 2018, there have been a number of changes to the leading players in the Do it Yourself Home Security market. In no particular order, they are:
SimpliSafe updated their product line with a new product set.
Amazon acquired Ring and has since announced its own Home Security System called Ring Alarm to compete in this market.
Nest released its own smart doorbell and also a home security system along with a third party door lock. They also added a lower cost model for cloud storage of their streaming cameras.
Let’s figure out what all this means and how that changes the way we should look at the main players in this market. With Ring (now part of Amazon) and Nest (part of Google) entering this market, there are 4 major players to consider. Abode, with its iota HomeKit system is really acting as a Proxy for Apple since this will be the first HomeKit enabled security system in the market. While Ring previously announced they would support HomeKit, this now seems unlikely since they were acquired by Amazon. SimpliSafe was the first player and probably has the most market share but they are up against some pretty big players now, so it is going to be interesting to see if they are acquired or whether they will continue on their own and broaden their Smart Home portfolio.
All of that aside, how we look at what to buy doesn’t really change. Monthly fees for monitoring, overall system cost, system functionality and the ability to integrate with other Smart Home products are all key to making the right product decision. For each of the players, I’ll give a few more details and links as to what is different over the past 12 months.
Early in 2018, SimpliSafe announced a updated home security system with a new keypad, gateway (the main unit), sensors and more. That system is now available. A doorbell, door lock, outdoor camera and Alexa voice control is coming in later in 2018. The monitoring fees are still the same at $25 per month assuming you want to also use the Smartphone app as well. The limits on numbers of window and door sensors appears to have remained the same.
This is great for new customers but not so great for existing customers who want to upgrade. All indications are that the new gateway is not backwards compatible with the older generation sensors. Upgrading would mean a wholesale replacement. See their blog and specifically the comments at the bottom for more information. There doesn’t appear to be any change in SimpliSafe’s lack of integration with third party equipment.
As the first home alarm company to support HomeKit (advertised for the summer of 2018), this will be appealing to users of the Apple Home app, making it simpler to activate the alarm with scenes or schedules using one app instead of two. If you already have an Abode system, the upgrade is likely just swapping out the gateway, leaving all the sensors and other pieces where they are. There is supposed to be special pricing for existing Abode users (exact details TBD) but this is certainly an area worth exploring as the product is released. I just completed my first year of monitoring at $20 per month (paid annually), and was offered a renewal for just $15 per month so that pricing is going in the right direction. The iota system also comes with an HD streaming camera but there aren’t many details yet as to how well that is integrated, or if it is going to have a monthly charge tied to it to retrieve archived video. (Let’s hope not).
The cash infusion from the Italian company will hopefully lead to more Product improvements over time but there is no knowing what impact this will have.
Ring launched its own alarm system called Ring Alarm. Along with its line of Ring Video doorbells and security cameras, Ring, now part of Amazon, is likely to expand on the product line over time. The most appealing part of the offering is the low monthly fees for monitoring. For only $100 per year, you can get alarm monitoring and video retrieval on all your Ring Cameras. That works out to about $8 per month, which is hard to beat.
In addition to Nest coming out with a security system of their own, along with a smart doorbell, new camera variants and a third party door lock, one of the better moves is lowering their camera recording costs by adding a new option to save only 5 days of recordings alongside the 10 and 30 day plans. Cameras 2 and above also get 50% off these prices with a price break for annual plans. Nest is certainly worth a look if you are considering a Home Security system.
As always, the Amazon reviews of any of these products usually give you the lowdown on how good any of these products really are so always check those reviews before buying. Both the Ring and Nest products are new, so it will take some time for customers to try them out and post useful reviews. Use the vendor web sites to price out a system that would be right for you and play close attention to the monitoring costs since that can become a significant portion of your investment over time.