If you’re looking to protect your home with a smart security system, but want to start slowly and add to it as you go along, consider an all-in-one package like the Abode iota Smart Security Kit ($279.99). The iota has everything you need to start monitoring your home and offers professional monitoring when you want it. In addition to a 1080p camera, the iota is equipped with radios that allow it to control Wi-Fi, Z-Wave, and Zigbee smart home devices such as door locks, garage door openers, thermostats, and water sensors. It also supports Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant voice commands, Apple HomeKit, and works with IFTTT applets. All this functionality makes it worthy of an Editors’ Choice award for DIY smart home security systems.
Abode iota Components and Plans
The iota system consists of a base station camera, a single door/window sensor, and a key fob. The base station sports the same attractive black-and-white color scheme as the gateway hub in the Abode Home Security Starter Kit. It stands 7.1 inches tall and is 3.0 inches wide and 3.0 inches deep.
What’s the difference between the iota and the Smart Security Kit? The Smart Kit gateway is essentially just a hub—you have to add components like cameras and motion sensors to it. The iota base station is a hub and camera with motion sensors and two-way audio built in. You can also expand on it by adding components.
The camera captures video at 1080p, has a 157-degree field of view, and uses an infrared LED for night vision. The front of the camera has motion and ambient light sensors, a microphone for two-way audio, and a status LED that glows white when the system is in Standby mode, blue when it is in Home mode, and amber when it is in Away mode. It flashes red when an alarm is triggered.
There’s a speaker on the side of the base station and around back are a LAN port, a SIM card slot, a microSD card slot, and a power jack. You can connect up to 160 devices to the base station using the embedded Z-Wave, Zigbee, long range RF, and Wi-Fi radios. It has a battery backup that will supply up to six hours of power if you lose electricity, a cellular radio for connecting to a monitoring station, and a 93dB siren.
The mini door/window sensor measures 2.9 by 1.1 by 0.4 inches (HWD). It uses RF to communicate with the base station and comes with double-sided tape for easy installation. The black-and-white key fob measures 2.0 by 1.3 by 0.5 inches and has Standby, Home, and Away buttons. There’s also a fourth button that can be programmed to serve as a Panic button that will set off the siren.
There are loads of Abode and third-party components available for the iota. At $24.99, additional Mini door/window sensors are a bit more expensive than the SimpliSafe Home Security System sensors ($14.99), but still much cheaper than the Vivint Smart Home sensors ($50).
Other sensors can be a bit pricey: An Abode water leak sensor goes for $49.99 compared with Simplisafe’s $19.99 water leak sensor, and the Abode motion sensor will cost you $39.99 compared with SimpliSafe’s $29.99 motion sensor. That said, other components including indoor and outdoor cameras, extra key fobs, and indoor and outdoor sirens are competitively priced, and there are dozens of third-party Z-Wave and Zigbee components that work with the system.
If you choose to self-monitor your home you’ll be able to view live video, take advantage of integrations, and receive push notifications, but you won’t get a video timeline or be able to store captured video, and you won’t be able to execute automations.
Abode offers several flexible monitoring plans. If you want professional monitoring for just a few days, you can pay $8 for three days of on-demand monitoring or $15 for seven days of on-demand monitoring.
For more online storage, you can pay $60 per year for the Standard Plan that gives you seven days of timeline video, access to on-demand professional monitoring, and access to the video timeline and automations. The $200 per year Pro Plan gives you 30 days of timeline video, professional monitoring, cellular backup, and premium support.
You can save some money if you order the Pro plan when you buy the system: As of this writing, it’ll cost you $379 for the iota and one year of the Pro Plan, which represents a $100 savings. After the first year the Pro Plan resumes its usual $200 billing price.
Abode iota App and Features
The iota uses the same mobile app (for Android and iOS) and web portal as the Abode Home Security Starter Kit. The newly updated mobile now offer all of the functionality found on the web portal. You can use it to put the system in Home, Away, or Standby mode, view timeline events and recorded video, view a live video stream with a history of captured video, and check the status of all of your connected devices. It also offers a handful of settings that let you order on-demand professional monitoring, change your monthly plan, enable the Location Assistant feature that lets you see which mobile devices are inside of your geofence, add new devices, and remove devices.
The web portal opens to a Dashboard screen that offers a comprehensive view of what’s going on with your system. On the left is a menu, and next to that is a window that shows all of your connected devices in groups and their status. Click on any device to adjust its settings. Here you can add new devices and create new groups that allow you to control multiple devices at once. To the far right is a timeline of events. If you create a quick Action or Cue Automation to have the camera record video of an event, it’ll show up in the timeline. At the top of the screen are Home, Away, and Standby buttons for arming and disarming the system, a Quick Actions button that shows you all of your Quick Actions, and an alerts button that shows all system alerts such as alarm activations from triggered sensors.
Use the menu system to view alerts, timeline events, and live video. The Quick Actions settings let you do things like capture a video or send an email with the click of a button. The Cue Automations settings allow you to define rules to have devices work with each other. For example, you can have the iota automatically lock a door when you leave your location or have lights turn on at sunset. Additionally, you can enable integrations with LIFX and Philps Hue lights, Ecobee thermostats, August, Kwikset, Schlage, and Yale locks, First Alert Carbon Monoxide and Smoke alarms, and numerous other third-party devices using IFTTT applets.
Installation and Using the Abode iota
Setting up the iota is quick and easy. I started by connecting the gateway to my router using the included LAN cable, plugged it in, and download the mobile app. I created an account, and once I had verified my email address, I was prompted to enter my home address and phone number. I tapped Continue, entered the Gateway activation key printed on the quick start card, and selected the iota from the list of gateways. I tapped Continue and the gateway was immediately identified and connected to my network.
Next, I was instructed to set up my Door/Window sensor (the key fob was already paired). I selected the Mini Sensor from the list, removed the plastic battery tab, and aligned the sensor with the magnet. I followed the instructions to install the sensor on a door using the double-sided tape, tapped Continue, and the sensor was paired. I gave it a name and followed the instructions to switch to Wi-Fi. Once my Wi-fi SSID and password were entered, I was finished. I then unplugged everything and moved the gateway to my living room, where it was immediately reconnected and ready to roll.
The iota system worked perfectly in testing. The camera delivered detailed 1080p video with good color quality during the day and sharp black-and-white video at night. The system reacted immediately when the door/window and motion sensors were triggered, and the 93dB siren was adequately loud and could be heard throughout my house and in the backyard. Email and push alerts arrived immediately when an alarm was triggered. The key fob also worked flawlessly, instantly putting the system into my desired mode when the appropriate button was pressed.
I had no trouble arming and disarming the system using Alexa voice commands, and once I linked the iota to my Nest account, I was able to use the Abode app to view video from several Nest cameras and to control a Nest Thermostat. I created an IFTTT applet to turn on an outlet on a TP-Link Kasa Smart Wi-Fi Power Strip HS300 when the iota motion sensor was triggered, and it worked without a hitch.
Accessible All-in-One Security
If you’re looking for an easy-to-install, supremely versatile home security device, the Abode iota All-In-One Home Security Kit should be at the top of your list. It’s highly expandable, and it works with numerous third-party components and services. The iota performed well in our tests, and its HD camera delivers sharp video day and night. Throw in Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant voice control, support for IFTTT applets, HomeKit compatibility, and integration with some of the top smart home devices, and it earns our Editors’ Choice award for do-it-yourself home security systems. If you don’t need HomeKit support, the Wyze Home Monitoring system is also worth considering—it starts at just $50 upfront with $4.99 montly monitoring, though it doesn’t come with a security camera by default.