The Scout Alarm home security system is just one in a slew of new smartphone-centric personal security devices, manufactured by a rising category of companies designed to overtake an industry that has been dominated by giants like Bay and ADT for years. Using an array of do-it-yourself sensors, Scout aims to make your home safer for cheaper, all while giving you full control over how the system detects threats and alerts you about them in real time.
But with so much new technology involved in the process, does everything work the way it should straight out of the box? Read on in my Scout Alarm home security system review to find out!
Price: $10/month + equipment from Scout
Summary: The Scout Alarm home security system is a protection network made for a new generation of homeowners, and incorporates deep customization options into its network of intrusion sensors with the help of IFTTT and more.
What We Liked
- Simple, seamless setup
- Deep customization options
- Responsive sensors
- Contract-free subscription option
What We Didn’t
- Could use a native IP camera option
Scout Alarm System Specs
|Scout Alarm System|
|Activation + Installation Fee||$0|
|Door or Windows Sensors|
|Smoke, Carbon Monoxide|
|Mobile App/Remote Access|
|Crash and Smash Tech|
|Power Outage Protection|
|Take It With You|
|Refund Policy||30 Day Return + 10% Restocking Fee (if bought from Scout direct)|
|30 Day Trial with No Fee||30 Day Return + 10% Restocking Fee (if bought from Scout direct)|
Hardware and Design
The basic Scout Alarm home security kit comes with four key components: a door sensor, a window (or safe) sensor, a 90° motion sensor, and the central hub they all connect to. For some buyers this may not sound like enough to cover their whole home, which is why Scout operates on a sort of a’la carte system where additional pieces to the security puzzle can be bought individually and paired to the same hub. The hub unit and all the sensors run on their own batteries, so even if the burglars somehow manage to cut your power before breaking in, everything will still work just the way it’s supposed to.
As far as the design of the unit goes, the plain matte white system I tested – while muted and unassuming – wasn’t exactly anything special, either. Luckily, Scout also offers two other options including all-black and my personal favorite, the Walnut-covered wood look. Overall it’s obvious you don’t want to draw too much attention to the fact that you’ve got a security system in the first place though though, which is why it makes sense that the designs aren’t so flashy that a burglar could see them through a window from a mile away.
Setup and Installation
From opening the box to the system being fully functional, it took me about 30 minutes to get the system running the way it was supposed to (at least in practice). Unfortunately, whoever tested the system before I did stripped the adhesive off all the sensors, so I was unable to actually stick anything to the doors or windows to get the full effect.
On the software side of things, the setup process wasn’t that much unlike what you’d find when setting up a mesh networking router. After plugging the “Hub” in, I then followed the on-screen instructions to go through and add each additional device one by one until the whole network of motion, door, and window sensors were live.
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Unlike some other options in this category, we didn’t need to make any calls or speak with an installation assistant to make it from zero to 100% protected. Everything was handled directly from the Scout app on an iPhone 7, which also happened to be where the different devices and IFTTT connections were managed.
Software and Integrations
The Scout app for iOS isn’t as well-defined or intuitive as other general apps you might find for the device, but it still functioned well enough on its own to get the job done. Despite its lacking UI, we were still able to navigate around and set things up with relative ease, and nothing crashed during the process which is always a plus when it comes to any product that just made it off the first floor of Kickstarter.
One of the biggest selling points of the Scout Alarm system is the extensive number of external devices and apps that it’s compatible with right out of the gate. If you’ve been working on your smart home upgrades piece by piece, this is the perfect system for you thanks to its integration with all manner of smart home devices and software. This includes the ability to connect with third-party hardware like Nest Thermostats, Protect, Amazon Alexa, and Dropcam, as well as with the popular app IFTTT to create recipes that give you more control over what happens if/when an alarm is triggered.
This gives the system immense levels of customization and depth that would take an entire article to explain on its own, but all you need to know here is that if you can dream it, you can just about do it with the Scout Alarm system.
Although we would normally take the IFTTT integrations into account when testing the performance of a system, we decided for our blanket reviews of these types of devices it would be best to keep things impartial and rate them on their barebone functionality instead.
Without any additional recipes, devices, or software added on top, the Scout Alarm performed pretty much exactly how you’d expect it to, given the hardware. When the “front door” was opened – no adhesive to actually install on the door, remember – the alarm went off and sent the notifications we had asked it to, including an email, a text message, and a phone call (you can also set it to let off its local alarm on the Hub, which screeches at an ear-splitting 90dB). From here we were given the option to either mute the alarm or have the system call the police, and while we couldn’t actually test the police response ourselves without running the risk of getting a hefty citation, we’d imagine it’s just as quick as it would otherwise be if you’d called yourself.
The included RFID key fobs, which are used to grant access without setting off the alarm, worked at a decent distance away from the front door sensor. The included RFID-laced sticker was a nice touch as well, and functioned as something we could slide into our wallets or attach to the back of a smartphone to turn it into another wireless disarming device.
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The same story of quick responsiveness carried over to the window sensor, which notified us in a matter of milliseconds after the bond between the base unit and the companion magnet were broken.
Last up was the motion sensor, which claims around 25ft of sight in optimal conditions. The motion sensor was very sensitive, and should only be placed in an area where you’d expect almost no movement unless an actual break-in was happening. That is, unless you like the idea of being notified two hundred times a day that a tree branch outside blew in the wind.
As I mentioned in the hardware section, everything about the Scout Alarm system is sold on a purely a’la carte basis – you couldn’t even buy a package deal if you wanted to. For the system we tested the total cost came to $345, though it should be noted this only covered the front door, one window, and our backyard.
The good thing about the a’la carte system is that if you have another door or series of doors you want to monitor, but don’t need RFID access on them (basement, sliding glass, or back doors for example), you can buy the comparitvely cheaper window sensors and achieve the same effect.
For a more protected household with two doors monitored, several windows, and multiple yards you could easily be looking at a cost in the range of $500 – $700, though this all depends on the size of your home and how secure you want to be. As far as the monthly subscription is concerned, you have two choices to pick from, neither of which demand any sort of contract which is a huge plus in my book. For $9.99 you can get the basic plan which adds 3G connectivity in case your home internet is cut during a burglary, and for $19.99 you also get 24/7 monitoring from professionals who will be able to respond to threats even when you’re away from your phone.
The Scout Alarm is a new type of security for a new type of buyer, the “millennial” home security system that keeps members of all ages safe from outside threats. The software is simple to use, the system is easy to set up, and its deep vault of possible customization thanks to IFTTT makes it a gold mine for even the most experienced smart home geeks among us.
Though the a’la carte DIY approach to home security may not be for everyone, Scout knows who it’s targeting with this product and it’s done everything it needs to do to capture that market splendidly.
If I had any criticisms here it would focus mainly on the lack of any included IP camera options, but if you’ve already got a Dropcam, then getting it running with the rest of the system is a cinch. All told if you want the closest thing you’ll get to a “plug and play” home security network today, the Scout Alarm is the system to go with.
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