Abode Starter Kit review: An excellent, flexible DIY security system for your home

You have four main monitoring options with Abode:

  • Free - Three-day timeline storage of recorded events and other activity, self-monitored
  • Temporary professional monitoring - $8 three-day or $15 seven-day 24-7 monitoring for vacation and other quick trips
  • Cellular backup only - $10 per month/$96 per year for 3G cellular backup, 14-day timeline storage
  • Monthly monitoring and cellular backup - $30 per month/$240 per year for 24-7 professional monitoring, 3G cellular backup and 90-day timeline storage

Select the monitoring option that works for you. The system defaults to the free self-monitored service.

Screenshots by CNET

One annoying thing is that you have to create rules and other custom automations in Abode's web app. I wish you could also do that from your phone. I do like having web access, though, so you can pull up a larger screen with all of the details clearly displayed.

The web app's home screen.

Screenshot by CNET

Abode worked very well throughout testing. Whether I was using an Amazon Alexa device, the key fob or the app, arming and disarming was responsive. I also created an IFTTT rule that turned on the interior entryway lights (via IFTTT-compatible Lutron switches) every time I opened the front door. Again, it worked great.

I also received prompt notifications and emails, alerting me to status changes (switching to Home mode from Away mode, for instance). The system's auto-arm and -disarm function, which is tied to the location of your phone, also worked as expected.

The complete Abode starter kit (plus optional live-streaming camera).

Chris Monroe/CNET

The takeaway

If it wasn't already clear, Abode's $300 starter kit is a great DIY option. It makes particular sense if you have more ground to cover than an all-in-one system like the Piper NV or the LG Smart Security Wireless Camera can handle, but you aren't sold on a massive, contract-based system.

And, if you decide later on that you want to add more devices, you can -- either from Abode's own cache of temperature sensors, flood detectors and cameras or from its list of approved Z-Wave and ZigBee devices. The fact that Abode doesn't force you into a monthly fee and works with Alexa, IFTTT and Nest is pretty great, too. Take a close look at this system if you're considering a flexible DIY security setup for your home.

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