Scout Alarm Review
This sleek DIY system was created by a large gang of engineers and designer’s residing in Chicago, IL. The main idea behind their unique approach to home safety started when one of the company’s founders started searching for their own alarm provider but soon realized that most of the systems and the home security industry as a whole were lagging behind and felt outdated. Fast-forward to February of 2013, the newly devised company called Scout launched a crowd-funding campaign in an attempt to pre-sell their equipment to make some cash that they could reinvest. Within the very first month, they exceeded their goal with a whopping half a million dollars of their systems being sold early on.
This indicates that their is definitely a demand for DIY systems. This new company also completed a very successful kick-starter campaign in addition to pre-selling their equipment. They offer easy to use hardware that customers can install on their own and self-monitor via your computer or any smart device using their iPhone/Android mobile app. As far as home automation is concerned, they do offer integrated Zigbee, an IFTTT channel, Amazon Echo compatibility, and they are also a part of the “Nest” program. It should come to no surprise that Scout Alarm offers pretty much the same equipment and devices you would get from any of the other top brands. They give you the ability to fully customize your system and you can pick virtually whatever you want to help protect your home. Once your shipment arrives you just need to quickly install the sensors and create your own rules to help you control your new system.
How is Scout Alarm different?
So far you may think this product sounds very similar to iSmartAlarm, Canary All-in-One or even Piper, but they do have their differences. Scout is unique because:
- They DO offer a professional monitoring plan for $19.99 per month
- They have an IFTTT channel which works with Nest and Amazon Echo
- They have designed an incredible, sleek and modern looking product
- All of their packages are available with no contracts and you have the option of self-monitoring without costing you a penny
What Comes with it?
One of the main benefits of Scout Alarm is the ability to fully customize your package to include as many sensors as you see fit for your residence. They do have a very popular standard kit which includes a main hub control panel, entry door panel, motion sensors, 2 window sensors, 2 key fobs, and it even comes with a slight discount compared to buying all the devices separate.
The central base station, also known as the Scout Hub, is basically the brains of the entire operation and it must be hard wired into your router or modem. The Hub does feature a 3G cellular chip that can be switched on should you opt to pay a monthly monitoring fee for the added protection. Every system also has a built-in backup battery to protect from rare emergencies like power outages. Scout currently sells their equipment piece by piece:
The main hub serves as the control panel of the system but without any display screen or panel. It must be plugged into the wall for power and also directly into your modem or router. It has a range well over 100 feet.
Unlike other industry standard for these, it is not used for your windows.
Each panel comes with 2 key-fobs and 1 RFID sticker. You must use the RFID tag to arm or disarm the sensor whenever you are entering or leaving your house.
Customers instead use these devices for their windows, or basically anything that can open and close. Many people use them for medicine, jewelry and firearm cabinets.
They are constantly in monitoring mode and if triggered you can opt to receive a text, e-mail or phone call notification.
Their capable of detecting movement all the way up to 20 feet away and have a 90° range of vision. These are best to place in main hallways or living areas.
Key fobs are mainly just used to arm or disarm your door panel sensors. You have the ability to register the Scout Alarm key-fobs with multiple different panels so that you only need one.
- The main hub – $129
- Arm/disarm door panel keypad – $69
- Basic open/close sensors – $29 each.
- Motion detector – $49
- HD surveillance camera – $169
Your entire setup can be self-monitored using their free mobile smartphone app or you can choose to purchase one of their professional monitoring plans. Scout’s first option is a self-monitored one but provides you access to their 3G cellular backup for only $9.99 per month. The second starts at $19.99 per month and provides professional monitoring along with the 3G backup. For those of you with shotty internet connections, they do offer cellular only plans as well. Cellular only with self monitoring will cost you about $15 per month or $25 per month if you wish to include the professional monitoring with your cellular plan.
The Scout Alarm system will function with any Zigbee device. Many Zigbee devices offer video surveillance, remote smart thermostats, remote lighting controls and most other devices should be compatible with this system. However, the company has not released any official information concerning the specific ZigBee devices that they are fully compatible with.
The mobile app is really one of the best features of the entire system. It is super easy to use and gives you complete control over your setup. You can arm and disarm your alarm from the touch of a single button and also check the status of all of your windows and doors. The Android version of their app even allows you to use your phone as a part of the siren, which is convenient since the normal siren if actually pretty quiet.
Another pretty nifty feature is that you can grant access to your home based on key fob or account information. Let’s say you have a cleaning lady, you could easily allow their access 30 minutes before they arrive and then disable it 30 minutes after they take off. Like most other providers, you can easily tailor the kinds of notifications that you will receive when an event is triggered.
Crash And Smash Protection?
Scout alarm handles this type of attack quite well, considering both the battery and cellular backups. You will not have to worry about someone breaking in and disabling your protection by cutting the cable or damaging the central hub because it will beep and start a countdown timer as well as alerting the home owner.
- DIY (Do it Yourself) installation
- No drilling or holes in your home as it is 100% wireless
- It is extremely portable so you can take it with you wherever you go. This is great for people living in an apartment.
- No long term contract agreements or hidden charges
- Has many back-up fail safes built into the system
- Cellular connection to ensure the best protection
- Zigbee compatible so you can add a huge array of other devices for extra security and smart home automation features
- The motion sensors are actually pet-friendly for pets all the way up to 40 lbs
- Possible discount on your home owner’s or renters insurance
- No panic button or prompts for activating your alarm instantly
- May get expensive when setting up a large home and buying all the equipment piece by piece
- It is not compatible with Z-wave devices which is an alternative home automation protocol
- You must rely on the company’s servers to be up to monitor your system remotely and get the proper notifications
- Base unit needs to be plugged directly into the router or modem
- No environmental sensors have been found to be compatible just yet
- No established surveillance cameras come as an option but you may be able to find other manufacturers Zigbee cameras
Scout Alarm is still a very young company. Most of the user published reviews are very positive. The DIY aspect and customer service support also receive great feedback. The lack of lengthy monitoring agreements definitely helps set them apart from the more well known players in the industry like ADT. One of the biggest complaints most people have with these companies is the 3 to 5 year monitoring contracts that they usually require.
There are some downsides to the Scout system’s though. There sensor options are quite limited compared to the other top agencies in this industry. Since all the equipment is pretty much bought piece by piece the setup can get quite expensive compared to a pre-made package deal. The range and the sensitivity of some of the devices are not quite as good as some competitor’s models. The lack of an established surveillance video camera can certainly be annoying for some new customers. The use of the ZigBee protocol rather than the more commonly used Z-Wave technology can also be pretty annoying. There are reports of people experiencing very poor battery life with some devices and customer’s starting that they have to replace the sensor’s batteries every 2 to 3 months.