Arlo's DIY Home Security System offers you tons of options for protecting your home, with a reasonable starting price point.
Arlo is mostly known for its popular security cameras, but the brand sells a DIY home security system, too. It's a simple, straightforward system that works with Arlo's cameras but doesn't require them. It also doesn't need to be professionally installed -- I was able to set it all up in minutes myself. There was no drilling or hard-wiring involved, and the Arlo app walks you through the setup process.
After spending some time with it in my own home, I came away impressed by everything Arlo's Home Security System has to offer. The basic $200 kit comes with a keypad sensor hub and two sensors that you'll stick up around your home to help keep an eye on things (make that $300 if you want a system with five sensors). Unlike most security system sensors, each of these tiny devices is capable of performing a number of different functions. They can detect motion; doors or windows opening or closing; water leaks; temperature; tilt; ambient lighting; and the sound of a smoke or CO alarm.
One month of 24/7 professional monitoring comes included in the bundle. After that, you'll have to pay $25 a month for continued monitoring. However, you can also use the system without monitoring at all. In that case, rather than alerting authorities, the Arlo will alert you with an app notification and/or sound an ear-piercing alarm, depending on the situation.
The Arlo Security System is great for people who already have an Arlo camera or video doorbell installed at their home, because Arlo's monitoring service can use the footage from those feeds to verify threats and recognize false alarms. It's also excellent for people who want to dip their toes into home security without committing to a pricey professionally installed or monitored service. You'd have the option to expand the system with cameras, monitoring plans or extra accessories as needed.
Arlo's hub and sensors are white, unobtrusive and clean-looking. I placed one of the sensors in a door frame primarily to sense the door opening and closing. I stuck the second one on a wall with the intent to sense motion. Setup was pretty easy -- just peel and stick -- though if you want to place one in a corner (typically a pretty good vantage point for a motion detector) you'll need to drill in the additional corner-mounting hardware that comes included in the box.
I had just one small issue with installation: The app initially indicated that the door sensor wasn't working properly. It chirped when I opened the door, but didn't show up within the app. I fiddled around with it for a while and got it working.
There are three different modes you can put the system in: Standby, Arm Home and Arm Away. In Standby mode, neither the motion sensor nor the door sensor is armed. You'll get a chirp letting you know when the door opens, but no alarm. The sensors are also monitoring things like temperature and light at all times, though in my experience, the lighting notifications were inconsistent.
In Arm Home mode, the door sensor is armed but the motion detector remains unarmed, meaning you won't trigger the system as you move about inside your home. In Arm Away mode, both the motion sensor and door sensor are armed. If the system is tripped, you'll get a notification on your phone, and the hub will beep for 60 seconds. You can cancel the alarm by punching your code into the hub, or by using the app. If you don't, you'll hear an ear-piercing panic alarm, and if you've subscribed to a monitoring plan, a response agent will work to contact the authorities on your behalf.
Arlo's system also lets you set up widgets for each sensor within the app for easy access. You can set up widgets for each part of your security system, and you can set up automations to schedule when your system is armed and disarmed, too.
I set the Arlo Home Security System to Arm Away when we went out of town recently. While we were gone, my neighborhood experienced an hours-long power outage. I received a notification from Arlo that it was no longer armed. This was expected, since I don't have the system's battery and cellular backup, an optional $80 accessory, The nice part was that when the power came back on, the Arlo automatically re-armed itself.
Overall, the app is intuitive and easy to use. The system is responsive; anything I do in the app happens almost instantaneously. I found that it performed as I expected, for the most part.
I tested only the bare-bones, basic system, which includes the hub and two 8-in-1 sensors and costs about $200. As mentioned above, for $25 a month you can add 24/7 professional monitoring. Add additional 8-in-1 sensors for about $30 apiece.
There are quite a number of cameras you could add, ranging in price from about $100 to $250, depending on if you prefer wired or wireless, with or without floodlights, and how much resolution you need. You can also add a wired doorbell for about $150 or wireless for $200. You can add a battery backup to your hub for about $80 in case the power goes out in your home. Arlo also sells additional batteries for the cameras, as well as solar panels for keeping them charged.
"All Arlo cameras and doorbells work seamlessly with your Arlo Home Security System through the Arlo Secure App," a company spokesperson told CNET. "Arlo SecureLink enabled cameras, such as the Arlo Pro 5S 2K, can directly connect to the Keypad Sensor Hub for easy setup."
Like most DIY systems, Arlo's value serves up a stark contrast to professionally installed systems that can cost quite a bit more. For instance, when we reviewed the "granddaddy of all home security companies," ADT, we found its system difficult to install and just too expensive. The ADT base alone is $374 and you'll pay $150 for three motion detectors, with other accessories sold separately. Arlo is quite a bit less expensive, since the initial $200 price tag includes the base plus two 8-in-1 sensors.
Another popular option, Simplisafe, is much more similar to Arlo, both in terms of price and modularity. Arlo might have an edge with its unique 8-in-1 sensors, which make for a more flexible system that you can reconfigure as your needs change. Ring is another popular DIY security option, but it's recently come under fire for sharing your home security footage with police even without a warrant; Arlo promises it won't do that.
"We won't share your videos or account information with law enforcement, unless there's a legally enforceable search warrant or court order, and we never share your videos for private litigation matters without your consent," the company says.
Arlo is steadfast against monetizing your data, as well, adding, "Arlo was founded as a security company first and foremost. Our products were designed to help protect your home and provide peace of mind by letting you keep an eye on your home, your business, and your loved ones, not by utilizing your personal information as a commodity to make money."
My experience with the Arlo Home Security System was a positive one. Other than a slight hiccup during installation, I had no trouble setting everything up myself. There's no wiring or drilling involved (unless you want the sensor in a corner). Just plug in the base, peel and stick the sensors where you want them, install the app on your smartphone, and follow the instructions in the app. Even without activating the professional monitoring subscription, or using a camera or any of the additional accessories, I found that the system worked well on its own. It definitely gave me some peace of mind, particularly when I was out of town or home alone. If you already have an Arlo camera and/or doorbell, it's definitely worth adding this system to your home for some extra security.