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Abode Review | Affordable Monitoring without Contracts

Abode | Best self-monitored option

Overview
What is Abode? It’s a well-known DIY security brand. Look at just about any “Top DIY Security Systems” review, and you’re sure to see Abode listed. The system is well-priced and can be self-monitored, so it’s no wonder it’s topping the market.

But is it the system for you? In this Abode review, we’ll explore the brand’s two starter kits and help you decide if you’ve found your dream DIY home security system.

Compare Abode plans

PlanBasic ConnectConnect + Secure
Monthly priceFree$15*$30
On-demand professional monitoring3 days: $8
7 days: $15
3 days: $8
7 days: $15
Includes monitoring all month
Self-monitoring with app
Yes

Yes

Yes
Storage3 days14 days90 days
Cellular backup
No

Yes

Yes
Phone support
No

Yes

Yes
Learn moreView PlansView PlansView Plans
Plan
Monthly price
On-demand professional monitoring
Self-monitoring with app
Storage
Cellular backup
Phone support
Learn more
Basic Connect Connect + Secure
Free $15* $30
3 days: $8
7 days: $15
3 days: $8
7 days: $15
Includes monitoring all month

Yes

Yes

Yes
3 days 14 days 90 days

No

Yes

Yes

No

Yes

Yes
View Plans View Plans View Plans

Data effective 07/18/2019. Offers and availability subject to change.
*Note: The Connect plan doesn’t automatically include professional monitoring. The monthly fee is for cellular backup and extra data storage.

Our favorite thing about Abode is that you can monitor your equipment for free with a mobile app. Most other companies make you pay for a monthly plan before giving you the option to monitor your system remotely. So this is kind of a big deal.

We also love that Abode is compatible with a huge variety of smart home equipment—including both Zigbee and Z-Wave devices. Abode’s biggest drawbacks are limited customer service support and lack of outdoor camera. We’ll get into more details about Abode’s upsides and shortcomings below.

Abode pros and cons

Pros

  • No contracts
  • Free self-monitoring with app
  • Zigbee, Z-Wave, and Philips Hue compatibility
  • Option to pay for just a few days of monitoring
  • Large selection of equipment

Cons

  • No phone support with free plan
  • No outdoor camera
  • Shorter equipment warranty than competitors
  • Limited equipment in starter kit

Price

Professional monitoring

Like we mentioned, Abode’s pricing structure is different from most security companies’. Instead of charging by month, it lets you pay for as few as three days.

  • Three days of professional monitoring: $8
  • Seven days of professional monitoring: $15
  • One month of professional monitoring: $30 (includes cellular backup, premium support, and 90 days of data storage

Self-monitoring

If professional monitoring isn’t in your budget, you can monitor your security system on your own through Abode’s mobile app. You can do this with the Basic plan, which is free, or the Connect plan at $15 per month. The Connect plan includes cellular backup and 14 days of data storage.

You can monitor your security system on your own through Abode’s mobile app.

With cellular backup, an alarm signal can be sent straight from your phone if your system fails.

Equipment costs

Abode’s starter kit costs $199, which is comparable to kits from brands like Google Nest Secure†, Scout, and SimpliSafe.

The starter kit includes a few pieces of equipment:

  • 1 Gateway hub
  • 1 motion sensor
  • 1 mini door/window sensor
  • 1 remote key fob

Abode starter kit
Photo source: ASecureLife team

We were informed by a customer service rep that this kit is commonly referred to as the Gateway system.

Abode also released an updated starter kit system called Iota. An Iota starter kit costs $229 and includes the following:

  • 1 Iota hub (with camera and motion sensor built in)
  • 1 mini door/window sensor
  • 1 remote key fob
abode-iota-system

Abode Iota
Photo source: ASecureLife team

ASL Take Note

Iota compatibility

When the Iota was announced, its biggest benefit was its Apple HomeKit compatibility. But the product was released without that feature, although Abode says it’s coming eventually.

Equipment

Abode doesn’t offer outdoor cameras.

Abode doesn’t offer an outdoor camera—a major drawback in our book. The brand also doesn’t give you much in its starter kits. You’ll need extra window or door sensors and key fobs to outfit a modest home with more than person living in it.

If you do decide to expand outside of your starter kit, Abode has a decent selection of equipment. Available devices include two types of glass break sensors, multiple kinds of door sensors, water leak sensors, and indoor cameras.

Aesthetics

Unlike most brands, Abode doesn’t have a set aesthetic. The equipment in an Abode starter kit looks inconsistent. Some of it has rounded edges; some of it has square edges. Some devices have black accents, and some don’t. The outdoor siren is particularly bewildering: it looks like an egg and has a thick royal-blue-bordering-on-purple stripe.

That being said, Abode devices generally look simple and modern. We wouldn’t go quite as far as calling the system stylish, but it’s definitely not an eyesore. It should blend in well in most homes.

Installation

You’ll need to install your Abode security equipment on your own, but we tested both systems and found that installation is very easy. The biggest hurdle is the installation location, as Abode’s hubs must be plugged in to routers and power outlets.

If you do have questions, Abode has step-by-step instructions online.

Equipment tests

When we tested the Abode systems, we gleaned a lot of information about the different pieces of equipment.

Hubs

The hubs were easy to set up and worked as advertised. The sirens were loud enough to alert us when we were in a different room and leave our ears ringing when we were in the same one.

The Iota’s hub camera feed was clear and had good night vision, but the two-way audio was fuzzy.

Motion sensors

Some customer reviews state the motion sensors are too sensitive. That wasn’t our experience with either sensor…but we didn’t test with pets, which seem to be the cause of most of the false alarms.

Mini door/window sensors

These worked well in the sense that they picked up on motion right away. But following the alert, the alarm beeped for at least 30 seconds before setting off the siren. While we assume the lag is to allow you to disarm the alarm after a mistaken alert, it’s potentially dangerous. It could lead an intruder straight to the hub before the alarm sounds. Someone brazen enough to break into your house might also be brazen enough to smash your Abode hub. Luckily, Abode offers Crash & Smash protection.

abode_mini_window_sensor

Mini door/window sensors
Photo source: ASecureLife team

Key fobs

These are oh-so-convenient for arming and disarming your alarm system. You do have to be careful to press the buttons deliberately; a light touch doesn’t always work. Also, the button symbols aren’t as intuitive as they could be. And there’s one button (a plus sign) that currently has no function at all, though Abode says it may be used in the future.

Warranties

Unfortunately, Abode’s equipment warranty is only one year. Most competitors offer at least a three-year warranty.

Features

Abode app

The Abode app isn’t the best we’ve seen. It’s not easy to figure out how to add auxiliary equipment to and remove it from your system. Once you set everything up, though, the app’s usability jumps to decent.

abode-app-timeline

We’ve learned that there are two big things you can’t do with the Abode app: delete your system or add another system. The customer service rep we talked to told us that this is because each system is tied to a single email and vice versa.

If you want to replace your system, customer service must delete your app account and all its information so you can re-register. If you want to use a second Abode system, say for your family cabin, you have to set up another account under a different email address.

ASL Insider Tip

Google Assistant

Love your Abode system but dislike the Abode app? In July 2019, Abode announced the integration of its system with Google Assistant. That means you can now control your Abode alarm using Google Assistant commands.

Optional professional monitoring

As we’ve alluded to, the biggest draw of Abode is that it offers a contract-free system you can monitor yourself.

We love that Abode also lets you turn professional monitoring on for a few days at a time. That makes it particularly appealing if you’re on a budget but want professional monitoring while you’re gone for a weekend business trip or short vacation. While there are other DIY and contract-free options out there, we haven’t found any other security companies that let you pay for such a short period of monitoring.

Self-monitoring through app

Abode lets you monitor your security equipment through the app for free.

Most security companies don’t let you monitor your home through an app unless you sign up for their higher-tier monitoring plans. But Abode lets you monitor your security equipment through the app for free.

This makes Abode much more practical if you can’t afford professional monitoring. You can still check on your home while you’re away, even if you aren’t there to hear a siren go off.

Impressive home automation compatibility

Home automation systems are becoming increasingly common. Abode is one of the only security systems that are compatible with both Zigbee and Z-Wave protocols. You can get the smart home equipment you want without worrying about whether it will sync with your system. It’s also compatible with Philips Hue.

Abode also has a platform called Cue that helps you build your own custom automations for specific situations. There are dozens of applications, whether you want to automatically lower the temperature after sunset or turn on the lights when you unlock your front door.

Customer service

Availability

Customer service availability is where Abode really falls short. People have lots of positive things to say about their actual experiences with Abode customer service reps. But they also say it can be hard to get ahold of an agent since availability is limited.

Phone customer service is available Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m.–6 p.m. (PT). However, phone support isn’t even available to customers who aren’t on a monthly plan.

Abode does offer 24/7 email support, but if you want to talk to someone over the phone, you may have more difficulty.

Contracts and cancellation policies

Abode doesn’t require contracts, so you never have to worry about paying cancellation fees if you no longer need monitoring.

What customers are saying about Abode

Abode has many positive TrustPilot reviews. Happy customers mention the easy setup and home automation support. They also like the ability to monitor their devices on their own. Critical reviews mention the difficulty reaching customer service. There are also complaints about camera quality and the mobile app’s interface.

ASL Our Experience

Abode, not Adobe

Abode has a surprisingly scarce number of online reviews. The company doesn’t have much of a presence except on TrustPilot. Part of that may be attributed to the name—search for Abode reviews, and you’re more likely to turn up reviews for Adobe software.

Abode vs. the competition

Let’s compare Abode to other DIY systems.

BrandsAbodeFrontpointSimpliSafeNest
Lowest professional monitoring price$8.00/3 days$34.99/mo.$14.99/mo.$19.00/mo.*
Free self-monitoring through mobile app
Yes

No

No

No
Video monitoring
No

With highest-tier plan only

For indoor camera and doorbell camera

No
Starter kit price$199.00$528.93$229.00$399.00
Starter kit includes1 hub
1 motion sensor
1 mini door/window sensor
1 key fob
1 hub
3 door/window sensors
2 motion sensors
1 yard sign
5 window decals
1 door sticker
1 base station
1 keypad
1 motion sensor
1 entry sensor
1 Nest Guard base station
2 Nest Detect entry sensors
2 Nest Tags
Warranty1 yearLifetime with 3-year contract3 year3 year
Learn moreView PlansView Plans
Read Review
View Plans
Read Review
View Plans
Read Review
Brands
Lowest professional monitoring price
Free self-monitoring through mobile app
Video monitoring
Starter kit price
Starter kit includes
Warranty
Learn more
Abode Frontpoint SimpliSafe Nest
$8.00/3 days $34.99/mo. $14.99/mo. $19.00/mo.*

Yes

No

No

No

No

With highest-tier plan only

For indoor camera and doorbell camera

No
$199.00 $528.93 $229.00 $399.00
1 hub
1 motion sensor
1 mini door/window sensor
1 key fob
1 hub
3 door/window sensors
2 motion sensors
1 yard sign
5 window decals
1 door sticker
1 base station
1 keypad
1 motion sensor
1 entry sensor
1 Nest Guard base station
2 Nest Detect entry sensors
2 Nest Tags
1 year Lifetime with 3-year contract 3 year 3 year
View Plans View Plans
Read Review
View Plans
Read Review
View Plans
Read Review

Data effective 07/18/2019. Offers and availability subject to change.
*Note: Price with 3-year contract. No-contract price is $29/mo.

Abode’s definitely one of the best companies for price and flexibility. Comparatively, Frontpoint has the most comprehensive package, the best video monitoring availability, and the best warranty. Of course, that all comes at a premium. Frontpoint costs nearly three times as much as Abode for a starter kit and has one of the priciest monitoring plans in the industry.

After Abode, the next best deal in terms of money versus features is SimpliSafe.

Overall, if you just want a basic self-installed security system at a low price and don’t want to be locked into a monitoring contract, Abode really comes out on top.

One note: lots of customer reviews say that Abode is a good replacement for Lowe’s Iris, which ended service in March 2019. If you previously had an Iris, we’d normally recommend SimpliSafe as your best bet, but Abode could also be a great fit for you.

Abode FAQs

Should I get the Gateway starter kit or the Iota starter kit?

Like we mentioned, we tested both the Gateway and Iota kits. Both come with the same key fob and mini window sensor/door sensor. The Gateway has a separate motion sensor, while the Iota’s motion sensor is incorporated into its hub. The Iota hub also has a camera in it.

When testing the equipment, we concluded that these products are on about the same level. Both performed similarly in terms of arming and disarming, sensing intruders, lagging, and so on.

The big differentiator, it turns out, is the location of your router.

The big differentiator, it turns out, is the location of your router. Both hubs have to be physically plugged into a router and outlet to work. Our experience is that routers tend to be in out-of-the-way places like dusty corners, furnace rooms, and closets. They’re not exactly showpieces. But the Iota hub motion sensor and camera would be most useful in an area where an intruder would be caught shortly after entering. That’s usually not the closet.

So unless your router is in or could be moved to a more public place, it doesn’t make as much sense to buy the Iota. The Gateway’s external motion sensor can be placed away from the hub as needed. And you can always put the $30 you didn’t spend on the Iota toward a separate camera.

Can I create an Abode-based smart home?

Not using Abode equipment only. Abode doesn’t have much smart home equipment outside of security devices.

But as we mentioned, Abode’s compatible with Zigbee, Z-Wave, and Philips Hue. So you can create a smart home with an Abode system at its center. There are just some devices you won’t be able to link with, like an Amazon Echo or LIFX bulbs.

Our recommendation

There’s so much to love about Abode—easy installation, wide range of home automation integration, no contracts.

It’s easily the best option for anyone who wants to monitor their own security equipment without paying for constant professional support. Our biggest hang-ups about Abode are the limited customer support and lack of outdoor camera.

If you’re looking for a self-monitored DIY security system, check out Abode to explore your options.

If you need a system with more customer support and better video security, read our post about the best home security systems.

And if you’re not sure where to even start with DIY home security, we’re here to help with these easy DIY measures.

†Google Nest Secure is a trademark of Google LLC. Google is a trademark of Google LLC.

Contributing author: Brianna Jensen

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