Looking For Stable, Reliable Security Solution

I am looking for a rock solid, wireless home security solution that I can expand and add on to myself with absolutely no monitoring fees. Monitoring fees are like the sound finger nails on a chalk board to me. I am interested in adding HA, but wireless, expandable security is priority number 1.

Is the Vera (Or home-assistant.io, or OpenHAB) better suited for this scenario because of its local processing and ability to add custom arming of individual zones?

I really hoped ST would fulfill these things for me, but after reading the forums for a few days I have decided that trying ST would produce the dreaded snarky wife comments. :wink:

Most purposebuilt security systems are limited to only a few specific device models, because that’s how they get “rocksolid stability.” As soon as you open the system up to custom code, adding devices that aren’t officially tested, and cloud to cloud integrations, you introduce multiple points of potential failure.

So the demands of a security system are usually very different then the demands of a home automation system. With home automation, users always want to add the latest and greatest new device. So there’s a decision you need to make very early on, which is whether you want to go for security system levels of reliability or not. If so, I would look at the purposebuilt systems. There are a number of inexpensive ones with no monitoring or optional monitoring that are very stable.

You also need to make the decision early on about whether you want cameras or not, because some of the least expensive systems don’t offer video monitoring, they just use contact and motion sensors.

One of the most interesting newer systems is abode. The cameras aren’t great quality, but they work OK. The amount of home automation is very limited, even the number of rules you can have, but that’s how they are keeping the security side stable.

@SBDOBRESCU uses both abode and SmartThings, he would probably have more to add.

Simplisafe used to be a popular choice and quite a few community members have it, but they have recently changed their business model and they now charge for a lot of things that used to be free so I’m not sure it would meet your requirements. You can find community members who have used both it and SmartThings and so can say more about comparative stability in the following thread:

I hope you realize that “rock solid wireless” is an oxymoron. :wink:

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Thank you for the reply. I do want to add cameras but not at the moment. The priority at the moment is using wireless sensors on doors/windows and triggering internal and external sirens. Obviously, not having to run wiring is huge. Receiving notifications that something got triggered is also a definite plus.

There seems to be quite a bit of expertise on these forums, is there some other technology that would work better than Z-Wave or Zigbee for trying to accomplish my goals? Plain IP devices?

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Yes, you’re right - I guess the best I can hope for is reliability on par with residential WiFi!

There’s nothing wrong with Z-Wave or Zigbee technology. They’re as reliable as it gets as far as wireless comms go. Most residential alarm systems use much simpler and even less reliable “one-way” comms. The problem lies in cloud-based nature of SmartThings, where all event processing is done in the cloud, which is way far from being “rock solid”.


Might I suggest a German Shepard . Oh wait you did say no fees and they do require semi regular feeding, which does require a regular weekly or monthly charge.


geko - thanks. So, I see you tried a Vera unit in another thread. Would you say it is better for this scenario because of its local processing capabilities?

Yes, comparing to SmartThings, Vera is more reliable as security system, although it’s also far from perfect.

geko - What are some of the biggest drawbacks with the Vera unit in your opinion?

Just like SmartThings, Vera is not designed as a security system in the first place. Therefore, security function is largely an afterthought. While Vera’s generally more reliable than SmartThings in my experience, there’re still occasional crashes and hiccups in both the hub and the mobile app. I would not qualify Vera as “rock solid”, although as @JDRoberts likes to say, “everyone has their own requirements”. :slight_smile:

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Which purpose built home security system do you use or recommend? If you were self monitoring only would your choice change?

Different ones work for different people, because the features do vary quite a bit.

Here are some of the areas where there’s the most variation:

One) cameras or only sensors? In the low-cost group, even some that have optional professional monitoring, only some offer sensors. And some of them have just still picture cameras, not video.

2) Monitoring contract, no monitoring, or optional. A lot of people like the ones where you can turn professional monitoring on for short time, such as if you’re away on vacation, and only pay for that period.

3) if professionally monitored, can the service also call the fire department or only police? This is a big deal for me, because my primary concern is professionally monitored fire safety as I am quadriparetic.

Many cities have limited the ability of third-party services to call out fire equipment because they get too many false alarms. So the third-party service is only allowed to call a police officer for a drive-by, which adds significant response time.

The big name contract companies like ADT can call the fire department directly in most jurisdictions, but that’s not true for most of the low-cost DIY systems. For example, at the time of this writing, scout, which is the one which has an official integration with SmartThings, can only call police, not fire.

4) does the system send its notifications via cellular or over the Internet? If it’s over the Internet, the system probably won’t work if the power is out or even just if the Internet is down. Many low-cost systems are free if notifications are sent by Internet but have a small monthly charge, like 9.99, if you want cellular service, even to your own phone.

5) does the system have integrated smoke alarms? Many of the low-cost DIY systems do not.

Six) can you use your own cameras, or do you have to use specific models? Again, there’s a lot of variation on this. Plus all the issues about securing video feeds from hackers – – lots of variation on how the different location services handle this.

7) exactly how does the system get armed and disarmed, and is there an adjustable entry delay? Some low-cost DIY systems can only be armed/disarmed it from the phone app. Many also have a button fob. Some have a keypad.

This is one of those features that matters a lot to some people and not others. It really depends on household composition, whether you’re likely to have someone like a dog walker coming in and out, whether you have small children, whether one household member has physical challenges that means they need more time for the entry delay, all that. But again, this is an area where there’s a lot of variation among the different low-cost systems.

Eight) is there an IFTTT service/channel?

9) does it work with echo? Some do, some don’t, some people don’t care, some people care a lot.

10) does it integrate with home automation, and if so, to what degree? Again, lots of variation on this. In my own case, I’m happy with a completely separate security system as long as that security system is itself stable and reliable and has the features that I want. But other people want everything integrated.

So again, you just have to find the one that is the best match for your own needs and preferences.

Sorry I can’t be more specific. Many people have a favorite security system, but it might not be one that would work for someone else, such as in my example of requiring a professionally monitoring system that can call the fire department directly. :rotating_light::fire_engine:

Truly appreciate your thorough answer. So…which one do you use? I’ve read your previous top 3 requirements for a monitored system, just wondering which one you settled on.
Me personally, I’m looking to self monitoring with internet or phone notifications and cellular backup notifications. Smartthings and echo integration would be desirable but not required.
I’ve narrowed it down to simplisafe, abode, or fortress (with a SIM card).

I ultimately went with the Honeywell Lyric system. It was quite a bit more expensive than SmartThings (controller by itself is $279), but its quite a bit more stable too. It has Z-Wave functionality, encrypted wireless sensors/accessories and will be HomeKit enabled in the next few months. It comes with a built in battery backup and you can add a cellular module. To get the remote functionality there is a monthly fee ($10), but I decided that was a small price to pay and it works flawlessly.

If anyone is like me looking for a 90% security solution, 10% HA solution, I would recommend taking a look at the Lyric.

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