With the Internet of Things, Home Automation, and Home Security growing in consumer popularity, it stands to reason that many larger companies are now offering to customers their own turnkey products for the digital smart home. A large telecommunications giant, like AT&T, enters the HA market with their AT&T Digital Life product, and now the brick and mortar home improvement retailer, Lowe’s, goes down a similar path with its Iris Home Security system.
Does Iris makes sense for you when thinking about securing your home or apartment, or does going the DIY route make for a better option? Let’s take a closer look at the details.
A Basic Look at Iris Home Security
The Iris system offers two service tiers in addition to a collection of starter kits to make things a bit easier for the first time Home Automation shopper. Iris includes the standard array of automated door locks, video cameras, motion sensors, and more that are typical of any HA setup. You are able to receive system alerts on your smartphone or tablet when any door or window armed with a sensor is opened.
Lowe’s provides three Iris starter kits. The “Safe and Secure Kit” focuses on home security functionality with its included motion and contact sensors controlled by a keypad. The “Comfort and Control Kit” includes the smart plugs and thermostat for the basic automated control of a house’s HVAC functionality. Both of those starter kits retail for $179 each.
The “Smart Kit” includes all the devices from the other kits at one price of $299. All three kits are controlled by the Iris hub which connects to your home’s broadband Internet connection. In addition to the starter kits, a huge number of other devices are also available, including video cameras, third party locks, water detection sensors, smoke detectors and more. Iris is compatible with a range of third-party Home Automation devices as well.
One interesting accessory is an Iris hub range extender, which allows the Iris system to easily handle more devices in a larger home. It is something worth considering when expanding your initial Home Automation setup.
A Monthly Fee, But No Professional System Monitoring
One of the biggest differences between the turnkey Home Security systems offered by Honeywell, AT&T, and others, and a DIY option, like SmartThings, is the 24/7 professional monitoring offered by those turnkey system vendors. While monitoring provides some piece of mind to homeowners, it does come at an extra monthly cost.
Lowe’s takes a slightly different route with Iris. The product is branded as a “Home Monitoring System” and the premium tier of this service comes with $9.99 monthly fee after the first two free months. That fee includes a variety of extra functionality, but no professional monitoring of your system. Keep this in mind when comparing Iris with either the larger “Honeywell” professionally monitored packages, or the DIY solutions which include many of those premium Iris features without a monthly fee.
Iris’s basic service tier includes simple control of your Home Security system with automated text, voice, or email messaging to the account holder when an alarm is triggered. The premium service tier includes more advanced functionality, including voice control of devices, device rules and scripting, more options for the automated alarm messaging, and enhanced video camera capability. As mentioned, many reviewers have noted that competing systems from Insteon and SmartThings provide many of these “premium” features for no monthly fee, while other reviewers complained about the cluttered look of the web page and mobile app used to control the Iris Home Security system.
An Option Worth Exploring for New Home Automation Shoppers
Lowe’s remains a trusted name in the industry, and Iris’s support for third-party smart devices gives you enough options to build your own personalized Home Automation setup beyond what’s included in the starter kits. Still, the fact that much of the system’s functionality requires a $9.99 monthly fee might turn off more discerning customers.
As with any investment in your digital smart home, make sure to do the research necessary to see what options make sense for your residence. Lowe’s Iris Home Security product definitely warrants further exploration for shoppers new to the growing world of Home Automation.