With the Home Automation and Internet of Things going mainstream, it makes sense that the large tech companies want some of the action. Enter AT&T. The telecommunications giant’s Digital Life service offers typical HA and Home Security functionality that makes sense if you don’t want to go the DIY route for Home Automation at your residence.
If you are already an AT&T customer — all the better — but that isn’t a requirement; you simply need some form of High Speed Internet service. Like their U-verse offering, Digital Life isn’t available everywhere, so use this form to see if the service is in your location; it is currently available in 82 metro areas in the United States. Since you are probably curious, let’s take a closer look at AT&T’s Home Automation product.
AT&T Makes Home Automation Easier Than Doing It Yourself
In short, AT&T’s HA service works with an existing High Speed Internet account and a wireless phone to provide mobile control of home lighting, HVAC, alarm systems, and more. It works seamlessly in single-family homes, condos and townhouses, as well as apartments. While it does leverage a smartphone or tablet app for mobile access to your system, you can also purchase a cool-looking touchscreen control device for your home that you can carry around.
AT&T offers a host of packages and individual devices to meet most Home Automation and/or security scenarios. One issue with Digital Life that might make someone decide to build their own DIY HA setup, is the fact that AT&T’s packages come with a monthly fee, so keep that in mind when doing price comparisons between the two strategies. Monthly fees definitely add up over the typical two-year contract period, so definitely see if AT&T is willing to bundle their Home Automation service with the company’s U-verse offerings.
AT&T’s recommended starter bundle — Smart Security plus Automation — includes basic security functionality, with remote door locks, carbon monoxide sensors, and video cameras for around $55 per month — with a near $300 initial down payment. The standard two-year early termination fee applies, which can cost as much as $640. This is another “hidden cost” issue that might tilt the balance towards putting together your own system.
All tiers of AT&T’s service include 24/7 professional monitoring and fast alarm response, so that extra piece of mind is an advantage over a DIY Home Security installation. They encourage users to sign up for a free in-home consultation with no obligation to buy, so definitely take advantage of that if you are interested in going with Digital Life.
The other starter package from AT&T includes basic security functionality, without the remote door and video camera features, for around $40 per month with a $150 initial down payment. You can add on remote control of your HVAC and small appliances for a down payment of $179.99 and an additional $10 monthly fee. Water detection functionality runs an extra $5 per month with a $50 down payment; remote water shutoff costs an extra $250 down payment and $10 more each month.
A Cornucopia of Home Automation Devices from AT&T
In addition to what’s available in their Digital Life starter packages, AT&T also provides a host of additional devices to enhance your HA installation, including the mobile touchscreen panel mentioned earlier. A typical array of light switches, indoor and outdoor cameras, wall-mounted keypads, door locks, key chain remotes, window breakage sensors, sirens, smart plugs and more add to your system in a multitude of ways. Your best bet is to schedule an in-home consultation to see what other devices you want in addition to one of AT&T starter packages.
Ultimately, deciding between a managed Home Automation solution like Digital Life, and going the DIY route depends largely on three issues: cost, ease of setup, and the 24-7 monitoring provided with a managed solution. If you are technically inclined and are looking for the most bang for your buck, DIY is the way to go. AT&T’s service makes perfect sense for those who don’t mind spending more on a no hassle installation and the extra piece of mind provided by third-party monitoring.
Photo Credit: Mike Mozart