Abode Home Security Review

We tested two Abode home security kits and ran into a few hiccups, but it's overall easy to use.
Best DIY automation security system
Abode
4 out of 5 stars
4
Professional monitoring starts at
$21.99
/mo
  • pro
    No contracts
  • pro
    Advanced smart home compatibility
  • pro
    3- and 7-day pro monitoring packages
Cathy Habas
Staff Writer, Safety & Security
August 16, 2022

Abode offers three things you can’t find elsewhere in the home security market: compatibility with tons of sensor and camera brands for a truly customized experience, integration with Apple HomeKit, and pro monitoring in 3-day bundles. 

Although it’s often elbowed out of first place by brands like SimpliSafe, Abode is one of our top picks for security systems for renters, wireless security systems, smart security systems, and DIY security systems. In this review, we’ll give an overview of Abode's features, share our testing insights, and compare Abode to other brands to help you decide if it’s right for you.

Readers in the UK should check out our Abode UK review for accurate pricing and information.

pro
Pros
pro Advanced smart home compatibility
pro Optional self-monitoring
pro 1-year equipment warranty
pro Custom home automation settings
pro Ideal for smaller living spaces
con
Cons
con Up-front equipment costs
con Muddy sound quality
con Limited function for larger homes
con Hidden cancellation fee

Cost of Abode Home Security

Long story short, you spend a little more on equipment with Abode compared to other brands, but lower monthly fees make up for it.

Abode’s cheapest starter kit—the Gateway—retails for $279 but is usually on sale. You get a base station, key fob, and entry sensor for that price. Even when Abode offers discounts, its equipment tends to cost more than other DIY security brands. It has a price match program, though, which may be worth looking into. 

You don’t have to pay a monthly fee to use Abode, but you’ll lose out on cellular backup, video storage, home automation routines, a homeowner’s insurance discount certificate, and, of course, emergency dispatch.

For $6.00 a month, you can store videos and make smart home routines while continuing to self-monitor the system. You'll pay $21.99 a month for the whole shebang, which is as good as it gets these days—especially since rivals like SimpliSafe, Ring Alarm, and Cove have increased their prices.

Other Abode fees

Abode's shipping fees may vary by location, but we were given the choice of ground shipping for $13.25 and expedited shipping for $21.74.  

Because Abode's a DIY system, there's no mandatory installation fee. 

If you cancel a plan when returning your Abode system, a $35 fee is taken from your full refund. Although we prefer to see no cancellation fees, this is a relatively small amount to pay compared to other brands' cancellation policies.

Compare Abode monthly costs

Plan
Monthly cost
Video storage
Arm/disarm from app
CUE automations
Professional monitoring
Cellular backup
Learn more
BasicLive video only
Icon Yes  LightYes
Icon No  LightNo
Icon No  LightNo
Icon No  LightNo
Standard 10 days
Icon Yes  LightYes
Icon Yes  LightYes
Icon No  LightNo
Icon No  LightNo
Pro 10 days
Icon Yes  LightYes
Icon Yes  LightYes
Icon Yes  LightYes
Icon Yes  LightYes

Info current as of post date. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

Professional monitoring on demand

Screenshot: Cathy Habas, SafeWise

Going out of town for a long weekend? With Abode, you can add professional alarm 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. 

You can buy these bundles directly in the Abode app. The cost-per-day is more expensive than Abode's normal professional monitoring package, but at least you won't have to remember to cancel later.

Is Abode right for you?

An Abode system is ideal in these scenarios:

  • You rent your home or apartment. Abode's Iota system doesn't get screwed into the wall.
  • You have (or plan to have) many other smart home devices. Abode is compatible with around 160 devices.
  • You use the Apple Homekit smart hub. Abode is one of the only security systems that works with Apple Homekit.
  • You want to self-monitor your system. You won't get as many perks, but self-monitoring is an option.
  • You want on-demand monitoring. Abode is one of the few home security brands to offer flexible, no-contract monitoring.

Compare Abode to other home security companies

Brand
Best for
Monthly costIcon Tooltip  Dark
Starter equipment price
Contract required
Smart home compatibilityIcon Tooltip  Dark
Learn more
Read review
Best overall$599.00
Icon Yes  LightNo *
Amazon,
Google,
Z-Wave
Budget pick$245.00
Icon Yes  LightNo
Amazon,
Google
Quality DIY pick$129.00
Icon Yes  LightNo
Amazon,
Google,
Z-Wave
Most experienced$0.00
Icon No  LightYes
Amazon,
Google,
Z-Wave
Best DIY automation$279.00
Icon Yes  LightNo
Amazon, Apple, Google, Z-Wave, Zigbee
Best outdoor cameras$199.99
Icon Yes  LightNo
Amazon,
Google,
Z-Wave
Best optional monitoring$199.15
Icon Yes  LightNo
Amazon,
Google,
Z-Wave
Most gadgets$85.98
Icon Yes  LightNo
Amazon,
Google
Best customer experienceQuote required
Icon Yes  LightNo *
Amazon,
Google

Info current as of post date. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.
Full ADT disclaimer

Abode vs. the competition

Abode tends to land in the middle of the pack in terms of pricing, policies, tech, and performance. Here's why you might steer away from Abode in favor of another DIY security company:

  • You want video alarm verification. Try SimpliSafe.
  • You have spotty internet but good cell service. Try Frontpoint.
  • You want nice cameras made by the same company as your alarm system. Try Ring Alarm.

Learn more about Abode's main competitors in our head-to-head reviews:

Abode contracts and warranties

Abode is a no-contract security system. You can pay month to month and won't owe hundreds of dollars if you cancel.

You do have the option to pay on a year-to-year basis, which gives you a slight discount compared to paying month-to-month. But Abode doesn't offer refunds for unused time, so there's no advantage to early cancellation.1

You have 30 days from purchase to return equipment for a refund. Abode doesn't pay for shipping costs on returned items and doesn't process returns on equipment purchased through third-party sellers.

Abode equipment comes with a one-year warranty. 

Video: Abode Iota review

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Abode equipment

To get started with Abode, you'll need to choose a base station, or what Abode calls a hub. Abode has two hubs: the Gen 2 Gateway and the Iota.

Abode Gen 2 Gateway plus a key fob and motion sensor. Image: SafeWise

Abode Iota Gateway plus a key fob and entry sensor. Image: SafeWise

The Gen 2 Gateway is a standard security system "brain." The Iota is more sophisticated because it also includes a camera, motion sensor, and two-way audio. Both connect to the internet through an Ethernet cable (included) and plug into a standard wall outlet. 

Each Abode hub comes with an entry sensor and a key fob. From there, you can pick and choose other sensors and cameras to add to the system. But we recommend browsing through Abode's equipment bundles—you'll save money and get a free month of pro monitoring.

Compare Abode security bundles

Bundle
Equipment price
Hub
Mini door/window sensors
Motion sensor
Keypad
Camera
Other devices
Gen 2 Gateway
Icon Yes  Light2
Icon No  Light0
Icon Yes  Light1
Icon Yes  Light1
N/A
Gen 2 Gateway
Icon Yes  Light2
Icon Yes  Light2
Icon No  Light0
Icon Yes  Light2
Key fob
Gen 2 Gateway
Icon Yes  Light2
Icon Yes  Light2
Icon Yes  Light1
Icon Yes  Light2
Acoustic glass break sensor
Iota All-in-One
Icon Yes  Light5
Icon Yes  LightIn Iota
Icon No  Light0
Icon Yes  LightIn Iota
Key fob
Iota All-in-One
Icon Yes  Light3
Icon Yes  LightIn Iota
Icon No  Light0
Icon Yes  LightIn Iota
Key fob
Acoustic glass break sensor
Iota All-in-One
Icon Yes  Light4
Icon Yes  LightIn Iota
Icon Yes  Light1
Icon Yes  LightIn Iota
Key fob
Acoustic glass break sensor

Info current as of post date. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

Abode accessories

Compared to other security brands, Abode has an impressive selection of sensors. For example, you can choose from two kinds of glass break sensors, two motion sensors (not including the one inside the Iota hub), three kinds of entry sensors, two extra sirens, a smart plug, and smart lightbulbs. Plus, there's an "alarm listener" that activates the security system if your standard smoke alarm or carbon monoxide detector goes off.

Of course, there are some standard items that are found in competitors' packages too, like a water leak sensor, panic pendant, key fob, keypad, and an indoor/outdoor security camera called the Cam 2.

And that's just the equipment available directly from Abode. Your options expand considerably thanks to Abode's generous third-party compatibility. Learn more in our guide to Abode-compatible equipment

What's in the box

In addition to the security equipment included in each kit or bundle, you'll receive these accessories:

  • Mounting hardware (if applicable)
  • Power adapter
  • Ethernet cable
  • 4 GHz SIM card
  • Activation code
  • Pairing guide
An overview photo of all the equipment included with the Abode Iota.

Image: SafeWise

Abode setup and installation

Abode's equipment setup follows the usual DIY security system installation process—connect the system to your home Wi-Fi, then pair the sensors and other accessories. Each kit comes with a simple pairing guide to help you connect all the devices.

Once the devices are paired, apply the provided sticky backing to each component and place it appropriately. Learn more about installing entry sensors and placing motion detectors around your home.

The multifunctional Iota cuts down on extra equipment and setup time because it has both a built-in camera and motion detector. But this design works best in small spaces—you don't typically need both a motion detector and a camera covering the same field of view. You'd get more coverage if these devices were separated.

Our Abode testing experience

Screenshot: Katie McEntire, SafeWise

We've tested both Abode gateways multiple times over the years, and we can sum up our experiences in one word: glitchy. 

Some setup hiccups

Installing Abode should be easy, but the Abode app was touch-and-go when we set up a system ourselves. We couldn't immediately confirm that the sensors paired properly because the screen froze. But the devices successfully connected to the hub nonetheless.

That said, sometimes Abode sets up without a hitch. It may just depend on whether your phone or the app is due for an update. In our experience, having new equipment vs. older second-hand equipment also makes a difference.

Abode iota system

Image: Katie McEntire, SafeWise

Image: Celeste Tholen, SafeWise

Iota camera footage looks good

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. 

Speaking of pets, be sure to lower the motion sensor sensitivity if you have any critters at home. Toki the cat weighs around 15 pounds and managed to set off the alarm several times during our tests. Learn more about preventing pets from triggering false alarms.

Image: Katie McEntire, SafeWise

Here are screenshots from one of our other testers. The image on the left shows the live footage preview, which is grainier than the true live stream shown at right. 

A screenshot of the Abode Iota Cam in preview mode, overlooking home security and safety expert Cathy Habas' living room during testing.

Screenshots: Cathy Habas, SafeWise

A screenshot of the Abode Iota Cam in live mode, overlooking home security and safety expert Cathy Habas' living room during testing.

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.

We also ran into trouble with the Iota's live recording feature. It uses a spinning icon to indicate that it's recording, but it's easy to mistake this for a "loading" icon instead. Plus, sometimes the video recording wasn't captured at all. That's definitely a problem. 

Checklist
Testing the Abode Cam 2

While the Abode Cam 2 is sold separately, we still wanted to test it. Check out our video and our full review on Abode's standalone 1080p camera

Abode app

Whether you go with the Gen 2 Gateway 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
  • Timeline filtering by sensor, camera, or other device

Abode app vs. other home security apps

At the time of publication, the Abode app earned 3.3 stars on the Google Play Store and 4.0 stars on the Apple App Store. These ratings are comparable to the Frontpoint app but fall short of the Ring and Vivint apps and get absolutely left in the dust by the nearly perfect ratings of the ADT Pulse app and SimpliSafe app.

We think those crowd-sourced ratings are on point, but keep in mind that other brands don't integrate with third-party devices to the same degree as Abode. With fewer devices to coordinate, there will undoubtedly be fewer issues and happier customers for brands like SimpliSafe.

It might be fair to throw Abode a bone and forgive a few glitches, but we're talking about home security here—there isn't room for error.

Abode smart home integrations and compatibility

Screenshot: SafeWise

Both Abode hubs are compatible with loads of smart home devices:

And that's not even a full list. All in all, you can connect up to 160 smart devices like light dimmers and smart outlets to your Abode system. For the price, that’s a lot of smart home.

Abode automations

If you subscribe to the Standard or Pro plan, you can use the Abode app, the CUE platform, or the IFTTT platform to program custom automations into your system. Automations are cause-and-effect commands that tell Abode what to do and when to do it, simplifying 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.

Video: Setting up an Abode automation

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Abode customer support channels

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 customers. 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, chat, and phone support are available. Email support@goabode.com or call +1 (650) 383-1901 between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m. PST. 

Customer service experiences

We had some questions about camera specs and cancellation fees and used the phone and chat lines. We found all reps to be friendly and prompt. In fact, we were surprised we didn't have to wait on hold to speak to someone, which meant it was actually faster to call than to use the chat box.

However, we've read some complaints from users that Abode customer service reps tend to drop the ball on bigger issues. You may have to be a squeaky wheel to make sure you get an answer—and that's never fun.

Final word

The price, size, and features make Abode fitting for renters, college students, or anyone in a small home who wants smart home control as well as security.

Neither Abode 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 home security system and an unbeatable headstart for growing your smart home network.

Contributing writers: Rebecca Edwards and Katie McEntire.

Abode 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. 

Yes, the Abode Iota has a 93 db siren. We tested it and can confirm that it's loud. 

Yes, Abode's Gen 2 Gateway and Iota come with a 4G SIM card for cellular backup. But you have to pay for the $21.99/mo. Pro plan to activate cellular backup.

Read answers to more Abode FAQs.

How we reviewed Abode

Image: SafeWise

For our Abode security review, we took the Iota home to learn more about it firsthand. Then we passed the system around to our team members for four rounds of testing to date.

A few of our tests included setting up “CUE” and Quick Actions automation and 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 also researched customer reviews and Abode’s support site, plus used our hands-on experience with other security systems to put Abode's offerings into perspective.

To learn more about how we test systems and set standards at SafeWise, read our full methodology.

Sources

  1. Abode, "Canceling Your Abode Subscription," May 2022. Accessed July 8, 2022.
Cathy Habas
Written by
Cathy Habas
With over seven years of experience as a content writer, Cathy has a knack for untangling complex information. Her natural curiosity and ability to empathize help Cathy offer insightful, friendly advice. She believes in empowering readers who may not feel confident about a purchase, project, or topic. Cathy earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Indiana University Southeast and began her professional writing career immediately after graduation. She has contributed to sites like Safety.com, Reviews.com, Hunker, and Thumbtack. Cathy’s pride and joy is her Appaloosa “Chacos.” She also likes to crochet while watching stand-up comedy specials on Netflix.

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