For years now I have wanted a home security system and for years I have put off purchasing one from a company like ADT for one reason: I didn’t like the idea of paying a monthly fee of $28.99 and getting stuck with a minimum 3 year contract. That’s $1,043 that I would rather save. Luckily, I ran across the SkylinkNet Alarm System, a home security and automation solution which can give your home basic protection for just $149.99 one time (the price of the starter kit).
The SkylinkNet Alarm System Starter Kit (save $5 on Amazon) includes an Internet Hub (the brains of the system), 2 wireless door or window sensors, a keychain remote (with a 300ft range) and a motion sensor. That’s not bad at all for just $149.99. For a basic 3 bedroom home with a front and back door, a door to the garage and perhaps a door from the garage to the backyard, I’d recommend adding 2 additional door sensors ($19.99 each) as well as a garage door sensor (also $19.99) which, together with the Internet Hub, would get you nicely setup for just under $210. That’s already a savings of over $800 compared to ADT’s introductory contract offer.
Okay, so it’s cheaper than a traditional home security system, but how well does the SkylinkNet Alarm System work? I think it’s mostly phenomenal.
The entire system is tied together by the SkylinkNet iOS (or Android) app. After initially setting up the entire system, the app is where you can easily monitor and make changes to your security setup—or control outlets and lights around the house if you’ve chosen to integrate the available Internet of Things controllers (more on that later).
What I love about the app is that—even when the alarm system is deactivated—I can see what doors are opened or shut, what devices and sensors are connected to my system (or systems, if you want to install one at home or at the office, for instance). Take a door sensor as an example; when doors are shut, the door icons within the app are blue (denoting a normal mode of operation). When a door opens, the icon turns red to let me know it isn’t closed. It’s a quick way to check the status of the system at a glance.
The app’s design isn’t the prettiest, but it is usable. And from the looks of it, ADT’s app design is even worse.
Once the system is armed (which can be done via the keychain remote, app or Internet Hub), you’ll receive push notifications (via the app) to let you know if an event has occurred. Events are not necessarily security breaches; you can be alerted when your spouse has opened the garage or when a child arrives home from school, for instance.
But what good would a security system be if it didn’t have a loud, obnoxious, threatening alarm that went off when something was wrong? Not very good at all. Fortunately, right out of the box, the Start Kit’s Internet Hub includes a sufficiently ear-splitting alarm that, during tests, gave my wife and dog quite a scare (a few times… I guess I should have warned them I was about to test it). But that’s exactly the point: it’s startling and it does it’s job of alerting both intruders and residents.
Because the Internet Hub must be plugged into your Internet router, the alarm will be wherever your router is—for me, that is my home office. Depending on your house, you may feel like that one included alarm is provides enough coverage. If you have a larger house or want to be extra cautious you can opt to buy one or two wireless outdoor alarms (maybe one for the front and one for the back) as well as another, larger indoor alarm.
Setup takes awhile, but it truly not difficult. Easy to follow instructions are printed on the box as well as on an instructional sheet within the box. But really, the app itself guides you through setup (and includes helpful videos). I ran into perhaps one negligible error while attempting to pair a sensor with the app; apparently the app didn’t like a name I chose. I simply renamed that sensor and was off to the races.
There are two options for mounting sensors: you can use the included screws or you can use the included double-sided sticky pads. I chose to use the later. It seemed less permanent in case I wanted to move a sensor later, but actually it’s very sticky; when I tried to reposition a sensor, it actually peeled off a bit of paint from my door frame. I’d actually say this is a good thing because I am confident my sensors aren’t going to be falling off anytime soon.
The motion sensor is a great addition to the Starter Kit and a perfect place to put it is the front porch.
The sensors themselves run on AAA batteries. It’s not hard to pop them open and install/change batteries.
There are a couple other noteworthy features that should be mentioned. It’s very good to know that if the power were to go out, the alarm system would continue working thanks to the backup battery capability. I also love the event log which keeps track of what happened and who interacted with the system.
There are some obvious situations in which this alarm system would come in very handy. First, a family; parents will love the ability to see when their kids enter or leave the house. Second, vacations; wouldn’t it be nice to monitor your house from the other side of the country or even the world?
The SkylinkNet Alarm System has lots of useful accessories that can expand the functionality and power of the system. One no-brainer upgrade would be the Internet-connected cameras. There are two models; one is static and one can pan and tilt to give you a better view. Personally, I’d rather spy on the outside of my house as opposed to the inside; I would love to be able to see who is at the door from my office.
There are also some “smart” accessories for people wanting to get in on the Internet of Things and home automation revolution; if you like the idea of being able to turn on or off lights from within the same app you run your home’s security with, it’s something to explore.
I love my SkylinkNet Alarm System. I’m very impressed with it’s capabilities, reliability and ease of use. At first I was skeptical that a DIY home security kit like this would be as good as something like an ADT, but after using it I’m completely confident that this is the right choice (not to mention the cheaper choice).