We did a mid-year review of all the top home security systems, including new package and equipment offerings, price changes, updated or discontinued features, and the latest customer service reviews.
Simple, affordable security options that are perfect for renters and smaller homes helped Abode join our top 10 security systems. Find out if this hidden gem is the right security choice for you in our updated review below.
The Abode Smart Security and Iota kits are well-suited for apartment life. They’re both small, smart, and affordable. Packages each come with a smart hub, at least one contact sensor, and a key fob. But the more advanced Iota system has fewer components than its counterpart because it houses a camera, motion detector, and siren into one smart hub. Both Abode systems can do a lot to protect your home and create a smart home network through Amazon Echo, Google Home, and dozens of other third-party smart home devices.
Data effective 08/15/2019. Offers and availability subject to change. *Discounts available if you bundle a monitoring plan with your equipment purchase.
Abode doesn’t tie you down with a lengthy contract or expensive monthly fees. Its highest-tier plan is only $20 per month and is easy to cancel if you decide it isn’t for you. But this top plan comes with extra perks like three months of video storage and cellular backup, so it’s easy to enjoy.
You’ll also get cellular backup with either of the monthly plans, giving you an extra line of defense in an emergency. If you want to skip the monthly bills, you can use Abode straight out of the box without professional monitoring.
The Smart Security kit starts at $199 while the Iota bases start at $229. Prices like these land right between a budget pick like Ring and higher-end brands like Frontpoint. Abode monitoring costs more monthly than Ring and doesn’t include as much equipment, but it’s a lower initial cost than Frontpoint.
Abode Equipment and Tech
The Abode Iota and Smart Security kits each come with a smart hub to connect all the system’s components. You can purchase either system with professional monitoring and build on your system with extra accessories. While the Iota has fewer components than the Smart Security kit, its hub does much more with an included camera, motion sensor, and siren in one sleek package.
Data effective 07/8/2019. Offers and availability subject to change.
Abode Smart Security Tech vs. Abode Iota Equipment
Both Abode systems come with all the essential ingredients to guard your home. They come with tiny, easily-installed contact sensors for doors and windows and key fobs to arm and disarm your system remotely.
The Iota’s Gateway hub is its biggest advantage. On top of a built-in motion sensor, this sleek control center also has a camera, two-way speaker, siren, and indicator light.
The Iota’s camera can shoot in 720p or 1080p and looks good on most settings. The night vision is decent too. We were able to watch Toki the cat wander around at night from where we set the camera. He even set off the motion sensor in the dark from where he was standing.
The Abode’s two-way speaker needs improvement though. The sound quality is muddy and creates feedback if the microphone is too loud, so expect to finetune the settings once you install the system.
The Gateway hub is the brains of the Abode Smart Security kit that connects all your security and smart devices. It has a siren and will send you alerts when something triggers a motion or entry sensor.
Unlike the Iota, the Smart Security gateway doesn’t have a built-in motion sensor or camera. If you prefer the Smart Security kit but still want a camera, you can purchase the Abode cam and place it anywhere in your home.
Both Abode hubs are compatible with loads of smart home devices. Between Z-Wave, Zigbee, Wi-Fi, Amazon Alexa, and Google Home compatibility, you can connect up to 160 smart devices like lights and outlets to your Abode system. For the price, that’s a lot of smart home.
Abode Smart Home Tech
Whether you go with Smart Security or Iota, you can monitor and control your system directly through the Abode mobile app. From here, you can arm and disarm the system and watch live video feed. But we experienced limited abilities when it came to adjusting settings or creating automations. From what we saw, you’ll need to log into your Abode account online through a desktop, laptop, or the web app on your mobile device.
The Abode Iota Security kit: 3-in-1 Iota hub, mini contact sensor, key fob.
From the Abode web portal, you can use the platform “CUE” to program custom automations into your system. Automations are cause-and-effect commands that tell Abode what to do and when to do it. These “CUE” automations can match your daily routine. Set Abode to disarm when you get home, turn on lights when you’re gone, or capture video clips when the door opens.
The more components you add to your system, the more creative you can get with your automations. You can sync your Nest thermostat, Amazon Alexa, Google Home, and other smart home devices with your Abode to create an entire automated home routine that runs on its own.
The Abode Smart Security starter kit: Gateway hub, mini contact sensor, motion sensor, key fob.
Abode Installation and Setup
The Abode Iota kit we used was so easy to install, we did it while watching TV and didn’t miss a thing (in the installation or the show). Abode’s online portal did most of the work for us. We just needed the equipment and the code included in the box.
Abode’s set up is pretty standard for a DIY-install system—connect the system to your home Wi-Fi, then pair the sensors and other accessories. The multifunctional Iota cuts down on extra equipment and setup time because it has both a built-in camera and motion detector. The only sensor that comes with the Iota starter kit is a mini door/window sensor. Just apply the sticky backing to each component, then place it on the door or window of your choice.
The Smart Security kit also comes ready for installation, and it has only one extra device (a motion detector) to install than the Iota. Once you set up the Abode Gateway hub, the other devices pair quickly and start working almost instantly.
Abode Customer Service
The instructions included in the Abode box are minimal, but we were able to find plenty of help and resources online when questions came up. The extensive article database is a useful resource for Abode members. We found everything we needed from this archive during our tests. The database is searchable, so it’s easy to find the answer without ever picking up the phone.
If you do have questions, email support is available to respond as soon as possible. And while it’s good to have phone support, only customers on the Secure plan can get in touch with professionals at the monitoring center to answer their questions.
Data effective 06/12/2019. Offers and availability subject to change.
Frontpoint is our top pick for best DIY-installed system. Its customer service is more thorough than Abode’s, it offers a lengthy 3-year warranty, and the hub is smashproof. But if you aren’t interested in a contract or luxury system, Abode does have Frontpoint beat on price.
The fight between Abode and SimpliSafe is a close one. Ultimately, SimpliSafe made our budget pick on our best DIY-installed system lineup because it costs less per month for professional monitoring than similar systems. It’s also a low commitment system that is a good start for newcomers, renters, and homeowners with small houses.
Can I use Abode without a Wi-Fi connection?
Yes, the Abode systems come with an ethernet cable that you can connect directly into your router, giving them access to the internet and other smart home devices without connecting to Wi-Fi.
How does professional monitoring work?
Under the Secure plan ($20/mo.), Abode will connect you with professionals who will also watch your system, allowing you to relax and go about your day without worrying about false alarms or break-ins. If your system senses a problem, it will send alerts to the professional monitoring center where trained techs will contact you and send the right emergency responders if there is trouble.
How do I avoid false alarms?
False alarms happen, especially when you’re first learning the system. Start by explaining the system to everyone in your household. They should be aware of how the system works and how to arm or disarm it. If you have pets, be sure to lower the motion sensor sensitivity. Toki the cat weighs around 15 pounds and managed to set off the alarm several times during our tests.
Does Abode charge a cancellation fee?
Thankfully, no. Abode won’t charge you for canceling, but you might be charged for the remainder of the month if you don’t cancel early. Bills from Abode come through at the beginning of the month, so if you cancel later, you may have to pay. But the good news is there’s no fee or charge for canceling.
While most of our in-person experience was with the Iota kit, the price, size, and features make both Abodekits fitting for renters, college students, or anyone in a small home. Neither starter kit comes with a ton of sensors, so you’ll need to purchase extras if you live in a larger space. Abode isn’t perfect, especially its two-way audio quality, but you get a reliable security system for and a headstart for growing your smart home network.
How We Reviewed Abode
To get the most accurate review we could, we took the Abode Iota home to learn more about it firsthand. A few of our tests included setting up “CUE” and Quick Actions automations, triggering the alarm through the sensors and camera. We also watched Toki in the living room all day through the live feed while we were in the office.
We didn’t test the Abode Smart Security kit this time, so we based this review on commonalities between the two systems. Both use an app for monitoring and have similar equipment. We also scoured the web for helpful information from customer reviews, Abode’s support, and other professional reviewers to get a better idea of this system. Learn more about how we test systems and set standards at SafeWise, read our full methodology.
Since 2013, Katie has written marketing copy, long-form posts, reviews, and blogs. She began her career as a writer and reviewer with the mission to recommend only the best products for her readers. She’s designed tests, evaluated products, and written reviews on a range of subjects such as appliances, power tools, and software. Today, she applies these research and writing skills on the SafeWise team to explore the world of home, auto, and internet security. Learn more