Editor's Choice: This Comcast company's combo of equipment, automation, professional installation and monitoring is great. But there's still progress to be made.
I never remember to set my alarm system before leaving my house. OK, maybe once or twice, I remembered, but it wasn't without first telling my family to all get out of the house so I could close the front door, set the alarm, dash out the door and lock it, all while hoping that someone didn't leave a window open somewhere. Comcast's Xfinity Home put an end to all of that.
With Xfinity's mobile app, I can see if a window or door is open, a light is on or a motion sensor is actively triggered. I can adjust my thermostat and check my cameras. Get notifications if there's water in my basement. Quickly set up automation for all those devices (well, most of those devices) so that my lights turn on when I open the front door at night and the security system disarms before I walk down the stairs the next morning. And yes, I can use my phone to arm and disarm the system from my driveway, or anywhere else really.
The DIY home security market is loaded with options that can do similar things (and for security cameras alone, there are way cheaper options). The perk of going with Xfinity Home is that it's all professionally installed and the individual pieces work well together. Bonus points: They can be controlled with a single app. If you're in the market for a home security system that isn't DIY, Comcast beats out all the competitors -- from ADT to Vivint.
When I first reviewed Xfinity Home in 2017, I was already an Xfinity Internet and TV customer and used SimpliSafe for my home security. However, following my review, I liked the combination of security and smart home features so much that I signed up for Xfinity Home. I did drop its internet and TV services, though. According to a Comcast representative, I'm apparently in a very small group of Xfinity Home subscribers who don't bundle it with another of its services.
To give me the full Xfinity Home experience, the company temporarily installed in my home its latest X1 TV box and xFi gateway and xFi pods to create a whole-home mesh network. The installers also updated my touchscreen security panel -- the Xfinity Home Station -- to what customers would have in their homes today.
To reiterate, you do not need Xfinity TV or internet service to get Xfinity Home. However, because the xFi gateway and Home Station are designed to work together, there are benefits to bundling with Xfinity's internet service. For example, the gateway's security protection for your network extends to devices connected to it, including cameras. It also has the option to pause connections to devices on the network (I used this feature a bunch to limit screen time for my kids) that can be used to blackout your cameras should you want some privacy. Plus, if you change your Wi-Fi credentials, it will automatically update your Xfinity Home equipment as well.
I would argue that with any newer Wi-Fi router worth owning, you will get network security to protect your devices and the ability to block network access to specific devices. I certainly have those features on my personal router and have had no issues using it with Xfinity's security equipment. That said, those already with Xfinity Internet or considering getting it can expect a seamless experience with Xfinity Home based on my use of the two together.
Of course, the more you bundle, the better your overall package price. An unexpected twist is the cost has improved since I initially signed up for it.
The basic service with professional monitoring is $30 a month. Adding 24/7 camera recording with storage for seven days and up to six cameras brings your monthly bill to $40. Combined with the top-tier TV service and Gigabit internet service, my bill as a new customer total would be $205. However, this will vary depending on the tiers of services you choose and how many of them you're bundling together. The same goes for installation fees, which are $100 in my area if I install multiple Xfinity services or $60 just Home alone. You'll need to check your area to see what services are available.
More importantly, Comcast has done away with a service contract requirement for Xfinity Home. You will still need to buy the equipment you can either purchase outright or in 24 monthly payments (more on that below). A majority of customers opt for the payment plan option, an Xfinity spokeswoman said. If you buy your equipment, you can end service whenever you want.
For new users, Xfinity offers three basic equipment packages to get you started. If you want extras of anything, you can tack them onto your bill. You can call Xfinity to discuss what you might need if you're unsure what you need for your home.
Base Home System: $360 or $15 per month for 24 months
Complete Home System: $480 or $20 per month for 24 months
Ultimate Home System: $600 or $25 per month for 24 months
The prices for à la carte equipment are fairly reasonable, and Xfinity doesn't hide its pricing, as shown in the screenshot above. A window or door sensor will run you $20 from Xfinity, while a similar sensor from competitor Vivint costs $50. Xfinity's indoor/outdoor camera is $120, while Vivint's is $400 for outside and $200 for inside. A similar camera from ADT is $290.
Speaking of cameras, Xfinity has made it more affordable to add them to your system. There used to be a per-camera per-month charge. Now, it's just $120 each for the cameras, and if you want 24/7 recordings for up to seven days, it's just a flat $10 extra per month for up to six cameras. You can also skip the recordings and simply use the cameras to receive activity notifications.
If you're interested in nothing but cameras, Xfinity offers one more service option for xFi internet subscribers. The Xfinity Home Self Protection plan lets you add up to six cameras to your home (for $120 each) with 24/7 video recording for $10 a month.
Once you settle on the security equipment, you can build out your package with Xfinity's Zen thermostat and outlet controller that can turn lights or small appliances on and off. I really like the look of the Zen thermostat, it works well and it's easy to use. (Oddly, the only people I've had in my house who haven't been able to use it are HVAC repairmen.) The outlet controllers are nothing special but are a nice addition if you want to, say, trigger a lamp to turn on when a door opens.
You can also integrate a large and growing list of third-party devices into your Xfinity Home system. The list includes smart light bulbs from Lifx, Philips and Sengled, Chamberlain MyQ garage openers, August, Yale and Kwikset locks and even Tile trackers. Product support does change, however, so you may want to check the list before you set up an install.
At the heart of the system at home is the Xfinity Home Station. Designed by Comcast, it has a better display and processing power than its predecessor for smoother, more responsive performance. As I popped through menus and settings, I noticed considerably less lag than the one I had used. Picture quality from the cameras is also improved, making it easier to keep an eye on things without looking at my phone. The Home Station has a 4G cellular radio and a backup battery, just in case my power and internet go down. It also acts as a Zigbee repeater to help keep smart home devices connected in larger homes.
One of the benefits of bundling with TV or internet is that you can use the voice remote for its X1 box or Flex streaming box with Xfinity Home. There's a whole list of voice commands to control your smart home, view your camera feeds and find your keys or other stuff if you have a Tile tracker. It is particularly handy for turning off lights or adjusting your room temperature without getting off the couch or opening the app. Like the xFi integration, it's nice if you have Xfinity TV or are considering it along with Xfinity Home, but not a necessity.
Honestly, you'll probably spend most of your time controlling your system with the mobile app. As I said at the top, you can do everything from arming your alarm to checking your cameras and recordings to setting up automations. The app is a breeze to use. Want a lamp to turn on when your motion sensor is tripped and then turn itself off five minutes later? How about getting a push notification when a door or window opens? You can set up each of those in under a minute with a few taps.
That's not to say things couldn't be better. While it's easy to set up new rules, there aren't a lot of recipes to choose from. For instance, the only thermostat-related one is for getting a notification if it gets too hot or cold in your home. It can't, for example, adjust temperatures based on motion detection. There are no camera recipes, so you can't do something like have lights come on if your front porch camera picks up activity.
The dearth of recipes is a shortcoming but hardly a deal breaker. Cost is likely going to be the biggest deterrent for most people. Doing away with contracts helps and so does the flexibility to pay for the equipment upfront or in installments. Plus, $60 for the professional installation is money well spent considering all that. If you're looking to outfit an apartment or townhouse and aren't planning to bundle Home with other Xfinity services, you might be better off with a DIY kit. Otherwise, Xfinity Home is a simple way to combine smart home tech and security.