Abode Home Security Review

Abode's DIY security system delivers the most smart home compatibility of any other system we've taken home and tested.
Most smart-home-compatible system
Abode
3.5 out of 5 stars
3.5
  • Pro monitoring for $20/mo.
  • Advanced smart home compatibility
  • No contracts or cancellation fees

The bottom line: Abode delivers more smart home options

Abode’s simple security equipment and smart Iota security camera pack a wallop when it comes to smart home compatibility. One of the only security systems to work with Apple HomeKit, we’re hard-pressed to find a smart gadget Abode doesn’t play well with.

Pro Heading
Pros
Pro Bullet Advanced smart home compatibility
Pro Bullet Optional self-monitoring
Pro Bullet No cancellation fees or contracts
Pro Bullet Custom home automation settings
Pro Bullet Ideal for smaller living spaces
Con Heading
Cons
Con Bullet Up-front equipment costs
Con Bullet Muddy sound quality
Con Bullet Limited function for larger homes

Compare Abode monitoring plans

PlanBasicStandard Pro
Monthly costFree $6/mo.$20/mo.
Video storageLive video only 7 days30 days
Arm/disarm from app
Icon Yes  LightYes
Icon Yes  LightYes
Icon Yes  LightYes
CUE automations
Icon No  LightNo
Icon Yes  LightYes
Icon Yes  LightYes
Professional monitoring
Icon No  LightNo
Icon No  LightNo
Icon Yes  LightYes
Learn more

Info current as of 11/24/2020. Offers and availability subject to change.

Is Abode right for you?

If you want to protect your home and take full advantage of smart home automation, Abode offers the most compatibility of any security system we’ve seen. And it’s the only one that works with Apple HomeKit as well as Google Nest and Amazon Echo devices.

Abode Smart Security is well-suited to life in a studio apartment and suburban home alike. Both the Gateway and Iota systems are small, smart, and affordable.

Equipment packages and starter kits 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 in one smart hub.

The biggest thing missing from the Abode security lineup is an outdoor camera or smart doorbell. But for apartment life, Abode is a great fit.

Checklist
Preorder Abode's new outdoor security camera

Abode told us they're releasing an outdoor security camera just in time for the holidays. We've been keeping an eye on it and you can now preorder Abode's outdoor security camera.

How Abode stacks up

Luxury smart home pickHigh-end DIY pickReader favoritePro monitoring pickNo-contract DIY pick
BrandVivintFrontpointSimpliSafeADTBlue by ADT
LogoVivintFrontpointSimpliSafeADTblue by adt logo
Lowest monthly monitoring price
Starter equipment price
Contract required
Icon Yes  LightNo
Icon Yes  LightNo
Icon Yes  LightNo
Icon No  LightYes
Icon Yes  LightNo
InstallationProDIYDIYProDIY
Smart home compatibilityAmazon Alexa Google Assistant
Z-Wave
Amazon Alexa Google Assistant
Z-Wave
Amazon Alexa
Google Assistant
Amazon Alexa
Google Assistant
Amazon Alexa
Google Assistant
Learn more
Read review

Data effective 11/24/20. Offers and availability subject to change.
* Landline monitoring only. Some restrictions apply. (Full disclaimer)

Abode pricing and contracts

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 the Pro plan comes with extra perks like 30 days of video storage, timelines, and professional monitoring (so it’s worth the extra cash).

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 for free. There are even more perks like unlimited warranty, homeowners insurance discounts, and faster shipping if you choose to pay $200 annually with the Pro plan.

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.

Light Bulb
Get Abode monitoring on demand

Going out of town for a long weekend? With Abode, you can add pro monitoring for as few as three days. On-demand monitoring comes in three- or seven-day bundles and is perfect if you don't need a full month of protection, but want to beef up security during a trip.

Abode equipment and tech

In the past year, Abode has really stepped up its equipment offerings. Abode offers a small starter kit for under $250, but if you really want to beef up your security system, it’s worth looking into building your own security package. With devices like a wide-angle camera, acoustic glass break sensor, and smoke alarm monitors, you can really take your Abode security system to the next level.

As you look through everything Abode has to offer, you can customize your new kit by adding and subtracting sensors in the cart to change the price. Add extra motion sensors or drop the keypad, swap out the siren for an additional camera. It’s all up to you!

All of Abode’s home security equipment comes with the option for Basic monitoring—Abode’s free self-monitoring plan—or you can go with the Standard or Pro options.

PackagesSmart Security KitIota All-in-One Security Kit
Equipment Price
Included Devices Gateway hub
Motion sensorMini door/window sensor
Key fob
Iota all-in-one camera
Mini door/window sensor
Key fob
Customize Package
Icon Yes  LightYes
Icon Yes  LightYes
Self-Monitoring Available
Icon Yes  LightYes
Icon Yes  LightYes

Info current as of 11/24/2020. Offers and availability subject to change.

Abode Smart Security kits vs. Abode Iota all-in-one

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.

But the Iota all-in-one hub is the star of Abode’s equipment lineup. On top of a built-in motion sensor, this sleek control center also has a camera, two-way speaker, siren, and indicator light.

Abode iota system

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.

abode iota live footage

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, Apple HomeKit, 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 Iota security kit in the box

The Abode Iota Security kit: 3-in-1 Iota hub, mini contact 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 smart security starter kit in the box

The Abode Smart Security starter kit: Gateway hub, mini contact sensor, motion sensor, key fob.

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.

During our initial tests, we experienced limited abilities when it came to adjusting settings or creating automations. But since we last gave Abode a test run, the company has completely revamped and updated the Abode app.

Here are a few of the things we like about Abode’s app upgrade:

  • Native integration for iOS and Android for easy use across different devices (phone, tablet, etc.)
  • Streamlined customer interface
  • Customized quick actions screen
  • In-app panic alarms
  • Account controls to update passwords and other settings

If you subscribe to the Standard or Pro plan, 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, Apple HomePod, and other smart home devices with your Abode to create an entire automated home routine that runs on its own.

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 Standard and Pro plans can get in touch with professionals at the monitoring center to answer their questions.

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.

FAQ

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. 

Under the Pro plan ($20 a month), 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. 

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. 

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.

 

A final word about Abode

While most of our in-person experience was with the Iota kit, the price, size, and features make both Abode kits 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 and a headstart for growing your smart home network.

Contributing writer: Rebecca Edwards

Katie McEntire
Written by
Katie McEntire
Katie McEntire has tested home security systems in her own apartment, installed GPS trackers in her own car, and watched her cat, Toki, nap all day through a live nanny cam feed. As an expert reviewer, she believes that firsthand experience is the best way to learn about new products (even if it requires being the guinea pig). She specializes in pet safety and DIY security and has contributed to publications like DigitalCare.org and TechGuySmartBuy.