Smart Security Systems for the 21rst Century Home

After 10 years with ADT, well we started with Brinks anyway, and Comcast we wanted an opportunity to break free and start over. Automating a home is never an easy task but we are willing to undertake this challenge in the name of safety. Between wanting to monitor our dog during the day and not having to worry about false alarms,  there are a lot of offers out there that will gift us with hundreds of dollars in gift cards and savings. The question is “Is it worth it?”

In our case we were interested in professional monitoring with the flexibility of looking inside the home to validate if the alarm is real. We asked friends and family avout possible offerings and we found a few that are worth mentioning and considering :

1. Samsung SmartThings

SmartThings is a hub system that can be accessed through the web and consists of all the elements you can think of to control your appliances, automate your home and monitor the premises. It is compatible with many other brands (except Nest) and can be set up by a 4 year old. Based on the reviews and equipment, you set it up and don’t have to pay a monitoring fee. This means that you are responsible for calling the cops or firemen as necessary. If you rather do the dirty work yourself, this is the system for you. Set it up with as many gadgets as you can afford. The parts can be bought online or at stores like Fry’s.

2. ATT Digital Life

Similar to Samsung SmartThings, this service comes with a kit of components that are compatible with major brands (including Nest) and is easy to install. However, the system is monitored remotely by ATT so there is a monthly fee that ranges from $30 to almost $70, and an installer needs to come out and quote the service. You can monitor your home online and receive alerts via an app, like Samsung’s, but you will have to reinburse ATT for the gadgets if you cancel the contract before the period. The have options were you can bundle with DirectTV and ATT Wireless Internet but I haven’t checked how much you would save. It is too rich for my blood but a viable option. (Samsung stuff is not compatible with this system last time I checked.)

3. ADT Security

This is the most common system you will find nationwide. It is the most reliable service I have had and their bundles and corporate discounts make it appealing. Because our Brinks equipment is ancient, an upgrade to the new technology is required. You won’t need a landline anymore because the system is accesible remotely and wireless. An installer checks out your home, provides you with bundle choices and sets it up for you in less than an hour. The rates are similar to ATTs and so is the monitoring. That I know of, the system isn’t compatible with a camera system or hub but hard core nerds will surely find a way to cohesively run their households systems. Not as user friendly as the Samsung system.

4. Nest

Nest was first marketed as a smart thermostat and later expanded to become a huge smart home integrator. Compatible with the brands that didn’t choose Samsung, you can add components that can be driven by the Nest application. Apparently the last version of the software was not as user friendly as the first generation so many people switched to SmartThings or ATT Digital Life. Start by installing the thermostat (it takes 30 mins) and expand into cameras, automated locks and lighting to fully integrate your home. It is worth it and doesn’t cost a monthly fee. Good choice for those who just want to monitor their property by themselves.

5. Iris by Lowes

Iris has two plans, the basic which is free and a $9.99 price for premium. You can mix and match devices and purposes according to your needs. Because it is the newer of the systems, there are still some kinks in the execution of the services and for some it may not be as user friendly. The pro is that you can go to your local Lowe’s to select the components and test all the options. The con is that you have to learn to install and operate the proprietary system on your own. Not a bad entry level system and it can be controlled via Amazon’s Echo.


I know there are a few more services out there but these were the only ones we considered durint our move. Suggestions to enhance the list are welcomed. 🙂

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