What is iSmartAlarm?
iSmartAlarm is an iPhone and Android-friendly do it yourself home security system that was launched via a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo. It’s a self-monitored, self-installed, and attractively priced security surveillance system. What we love about iSmartAlarm is their user-friendly design and the ease of installation.
iSmartAlarm may be new to the security game, but they are making a loud entrance. They won the “Home Technology App of the Year 2014” award at the Consumers Electronic Show in Las Vegas and they’ve continued expanding their product line with new cameras, a new Smart Plug, and even a satellite siren.
How does iSmartAlarm work?
Essentially iSmartAlarm is a way for you to monitor your home on your own. That means that if this is your only form of home protection and not an addition to an existing system that you will be responsible for calling the police if the alarm triggers. Basically what happens with iSmartAlarm is that an alarm trigger will push an alert to your cell phone via text and a call from iSmartAlarm. This is good and bad. It’s good because most alarms are false alarms and it gives you a chance to check on the validity of the alert. If a home security company calls on your behalf and it is a false alarm you might be subject to a false alarm fee from your local municipality. Think large pets, wind from an open window, etc. It’s bad because if an alarm happens to trigger while you are sleeping it would feel pretty nice to know that someone is there to call for you.
Setup of the app is simple. To start, download the iPhone app from iTunes or the Android app from Google play. Once you download the app you will need to login using your cell phone number for verification. Next you will either join an existing iSmartAlarm system or create a new system. This step requires that you are on the same network as the CubeOne which should be plugged into your router using the provided network cable. If you plan to join an existing system you will need to scan a QR code on the owner’s phone.
One really cool feature of iSmartAlarm setup is the mass find. You can connect all of your sensors with one quick scan which is an advantage to other systems that require you to add sensors one by one. Once your sensors are connected you can use the app for simple customization of your system. For example, you can rename equipment using your app, adjust sounds, modes, or even adjust your camera view if you have added one of iSmartAlarm’s cameras. After you have everything setup you can start using the system. There are no contracts and no monthly fees and you can expand the equipment by buying more iSmartAlarm equipment over time or even by upgrading to a professionally monitored system if you wish.
What equipment is included with iSmartAlarm?
With iSmartAlarm you can buy equipment a la carte or you can pick a package.
The Premium Package is $279 on Amazon and that includes 1 CubeOne, 1 iCamera, 2 Door/Window Sensors, 1 Motion Sensor, 2 key fobs, and window stickers. In order for the equipment to work you will need to purchase an iOS or Android smart phone (unless you already have one) and download the free iSmartAlarm app. You can purchase additional doors/windows sensors for $49.99 on Amazon if you need them.
If you prefer to start small, checkout the Preferred Package for $208 on Amazon. In some ways, I prefer this package over the Premium because the Premium forces the iCamera and I think KEEP and Spot are better cameras. I would recommend buying this package and adding one of the newer camera options (more information on those in a minute).
Either way, I highly recommend adding some sort of camera to your package. Most burglaries occur during the day while people are at work or running errands. Think about how scary it would be if you got a call from iSmartAlarm that says your alarm went off but you couldn’t actually see inside of your home! Most alarms are false alarms and you want to know if it is a real emergency before calling the police or returning home. If you choose the self-monitored route you need video surveillance. It’s the most important feature of a self-monitored system.
iSmartAlarm, CubeOne, iCamera, What?
Most providers charge extra for video surveillance and even mobile monitoring services but with iSmartAlarm it’s standard. The brain of the system is called the CubeOne which comes with some serious style points.
The CubeOne must remain connected to your router. Keep in mind that it doesn’t have redundancy meaning that if a bad guy finds it and smashes it before it calls you the system will die. Now you should receive a text letting you know your system is offline but it would be best practice to make sure it is hidden out of site or somewhere secure.
At the same time, the system’s siren is actually built into the CubeOne so you want to make sure that you can still hear it no matter where you decide to put it. The siren is kind of loud, iSmartAlarm states that their “sirens are louder than a car horn” but I found that the best spot for me was placing it next to my bed because for some reason a “car horn” isn’t loud enough for me.
1. Turning the CubeOne upside down makes the siren louder.
2. You can add a satellite siren for $39.99.
You can add cameras
The iCamera looks like a device out of the Apple catalog. It’s a nifty little security camera with an egg shape that allows it to pan and tilt 350 degrees. You can use the swipe feature on your iPhone to swipe and control the camera and you can use your phone to snap pictures manually. The camera is wireless and communicates back to the CubeOne.
Adding to their camera lineup, iSmartAlarm’s second edition camera is called the iCamera KEEP. The camera will work with iSmartAlarm Home Security Systems or as a stand-alone device. The KEEP features HD video recording verses the original iCamera’s 480p. The KEEP also features motion detection, sound detection, pan tilt functionality, free cloud storage, and night vision. Unlike the original camera, the KEEP can set on a shelf or you can wall-mount it.
You can purchase the iCamera KEEP on Amazon and get free shipping.
iSmartAlarm’s latest and greatest camera is Spot. Spot has a magnetic base and a wide angle lens. It’s physically the smallest of the three cameras but it’s big on features. It includes free cloud storage, SD card storage, night vision, HD recording, sound recognition, two-way audio, motion detection, and more.
A note on sensors
The iSmartAlarm security system offers multiple sensors including contact sensors to monitor doors and windows, key fobs, and motion sensors. All of the sensors are wireless but that means they are battery powered. You will need to make sure that you have spare batteries on hand just in case though I’ve had my system running for about 8 months and haven’t had to change a single battery. The operating temperature on the sensors is 14 to 122 degrees Fahrenheit so they work well in your home and also in an attached garage.
Dipping into Home Automation
While video surveillance was their first toe in the smart home ocean, iSmartAlarm dipped in a second toe with their “Smart Switch”. With the Smart Switch, users can automate anything with a plug like lamps and small appliances. The switch can provide on and off functionality and can perform scheduled tasks.
After the Smart Switch, they made a splash by adding their very own IFTTT channel which allows users to connect to other smart home devices through recipes. You can connect your system to Amazon Echo, Nest Thermostat, and other home security cameras – just to name a few.
Even with an IFTTT channel under their belt, iSmartAlarm has plans for more smart home growth. They are discussing potential Homekit integration and plans for a Z-Wave stick. The stick will plug into existing smart home hubs and will work with their also soon-to-be launched Water Leak Sensor and indoor/outdoor multi-Sensor (temperature, air quality, humidity, and light sensors built-in).
Their final announcement at CES 2015 was a smoke alarm. The iSmartAlarm Smoke Alarm can be used on its own or with an iSmartAlarm system. It uses photoelectric sensors to reduce false alarms but it also listens for other alarms throughout your house so that they work together.
Tell Me More About the Software
The iSmartAlarm team is continuously reworking and updating the software. Post-release they’ve added new features to both the iPhone and Android app to make the system more intelligent. They are also known for taking feedback from owners and putting the suggestions to good use through improvements like:
- An override feature that allows you to keep protected doors and windows open but still arm the system.
- The ability to change the emergency number from 911 to whatever you want.
- An optional door chime sound to let you know if a door or window is opened.
- More language options like Spanish, French, Italian, and German
- The option to turn the siren off or adjust siren volume from soft to loud.
- An improved siren.
Final Thoughts and Pros and Cons
- Low cost of ownership means you can get one for you and your favorite college age kid
- Home Security Cameras with cloud storage but without monthly fees
- The app is constantly being updated for improvements based upon customer feedback
- Beyond home monitoring, the system also allows you to see which family members made it home safe and what time they got there.
- Great solution for pet owners who are more susceptible to false alarms and the potential fines that go along with them
- You can setup the system to text your family members when the alarm is triggered. As mentioned above you will get a call but your family will also get an iSmartAlarm text warning them to stay away from home.
- Glowing online reviews from beta testers and users
- Online ticketing system for support as well as an active user forum
- 1 year warranty on the equipment.
- They will only allow you to return unused products. The return period for unused products is 30 days.
Where to Buy
The iSmartAlarm Security System is a must for home security newbies and those who want to upgrade to video surveillance. It ships to those in the U.S., Canada, and other European countries.
Purchase the Premium Package on Amazon and you’ll have everything you need in a single box to equip your home with a sufficient security system.
For those with simpler taste, the Preferred Package on Amazon might be more practical in terms of price and resources it includes.
For either of these packages, keep in mind that you can always purchase additional accessories, sensors, even the iCamera KEEP on their own.
Leave a comment and let us know what package you go with and what works best for your home!