Abode lets you self-monitor your system for free with a mobile app. Plus, it doesn’t require contracts and comes with lots of smart home integration. Downsides are limited customer service and lack of an outdoor camera.
Abode Review | Affordable Monitoring without Contracts
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
|Plan||Basic||Connect||Connect + Secure|
|Monthly price|| |
|Self-monitoring with app|
|Storage||3 days||14 days||90 days|
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 includes professional monitoring with only its top-tier plan: Connect + Secure, which costs $20 a month. In addition to pro monitoring you also get cellular backup, premium tech support, and 90 days of data storage.
Sadly, Abode no longer offers the short-term professional monitoring plans that helped set it apart from the competition when it first hit the market. But as much as these plans were unique, they weren’t a good substitute for continuous 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 $8 per month. The Connect plan includes cellular backup and 14 days of data storage.
With cellular backup, an alarm signal can be sent straight to your phone if your system fails.
Abode’s starter kit costs $199, which is comparable to kits from brands like Google Nest Secure†, Scout, and SimpliSafe.
Abode Starter Kit
The starter kit includes a few pieces of equipment:
- 1 Gateway hub
- 1 motion sensor
- 1 mini door/window sensor
- 1 remote key fob
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
When the Iota was announced, its biggest benefit was its Apple HomeKit compatibility. While the product was released without that feature, it's now available. That opens up your options for smart devices that work together. It also means you can control your system with your voice through Siri.
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.
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.
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.
When we tested the Abode systems, we gleaned a lot of information about the different pieces of equipment.
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.
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.
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.
Unfortunately, Abode’s equipment warranty is only one year. Most competitors offer at least a three-year warranty.
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.
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.
Self-monitoring through app
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. And if you’re looking for a smart speaker, it works with Google Home too.
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 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.
Abode, not Adobe
Abode vs. the competition
Let’s compare Abode to other DIY systems.
|Lowest professional monitoring price||$20.00/mo.||$34.99/mo.||$14.99/mo.||$19.00/mo.*|
|Free self-monitoring through mobile app|
With highest-tier plan only
For indoor camera and doorbell camera
|Starter kit price||$199.00||$528.93||$229.00||$399.00|
|Starter kit includes||1 hub|
1 motion sensor
1 mini door/window sensor
1 key fob
3 door/window sensors
2 motion sensors
1 yard sign
5 window decals
1 door sticker
|1 base station|
1 motion sensor
1 entry sensor
|1 Nest Guard base station|
2 Nest Detect entry sensors
2 Nest Tags
|Warranty||1 year||Lifetime with 3-year contract||3 year||3 year|
|Read Review||–||Read Review||Read Review||Read Review|
Abode competes well with other affordable security systems and is one of the best companies for price. 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.
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. 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, Philips Hue, and Google Home. 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.
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.