Like many telecom giants, Comcast/XFINITY joined the home security game to create upselling opportunities for current customers or potentially attract new ones. Often, people are lured in by initially attractive pricing and specials, though these are typically contingent on having other services from the company. This pricing structure can make it challenging for individuals to truly review the value that may (or may not) be provided, and can make questions about total cost difficult to answer.
With that in mind, we look to unravel the puzzle surrounding the service as well as determine if it is actually a good value or just masquerading as one.
XFINITY Home touts itself as a full-service home security solution. However, the presence of tiered services means you need to dig deep to see exactly what is provided at each price point. What is offered in the base package only scratches the surface of what is potentially available, but every addition comes with a cost.
The basic XFINITY Home package includes most of the typically desired features associated with a home security system. 24/7 professional monitoring is included, as well as battery and cellular back-ups to support use during traditional power or telecom outages. It also has remote arm and disarm features, associated with a mobile app, as well as real-time alerts via email or text.
Pricing displayed on the site is often difficult to assess. For example, new customers in one area can obtain their initial service for $29.95/month for the first 12 months, though it requires a two-year agreement and a subscription to their high-speed internet services. However, this is just the lowest price tier available, as certain features are not included in the specified package.
The initial equipment offering depends on whether you are an existing Comcast/XFINITY customer or a new one. For example, some existing customers will only get one motion sensor, one wireless keypad, and one touchscreen controller with their new system. All other equipment requires ponying up more money. However, installation is provided at no cost automatically.
In contrast, new customers in the same area get the equipment listed above as well as three door/window sensors. However, installation starts at $99.
In either case, the included equipment is far from sufficient for someone who wants to secure their home in a meaningful way. And that's where the add-ons and upsells come in.
If you decide that the base equipment isn't enough, then you have to examine other equipment. Items like cameras, thermostats, door locks, smoke detectors, motion detectors, and lighting controls are available for an extra cost. You can also purchase additional door/window sensors for those times when you want to, you know, secure your entire home. And, considering that some existing customers don't receive any with their initial package, this is likely a common purchase.
But how expensive could these add-ons really be? Well, let's take a look.
A single door/window sensor is likely to run you $49.95. Yes, that's just one. However, if you buy them in a pack of five, that will "only" set you back $199.95. Want a smoke detector? They're $99.95 each. How about a single motion sensor? That's $49.95. One water sensor? Add another $39.95.
However, it is important to note that adding these sensors don't add to your monthly service costs, but they are just one part of a total security system.
If you want to add live video monitoring capabilities, that is a different story altogether. First, the service will set you back $9.95/month on top of your normal bill. And, if you want to know how much each camera costs, you'll have to call and ask because it is not currently listed on the website in all areas.
Some additional expenses can include $199.95 for the XFINITY thermostat (though the system is compatible with a Nest thermostat as well), $279.99 per smart lock, $219.99 per SmartCode lock (though you are actually routed to another retailer's website if you want to purchase), $129.99 for a garage opener, and $49.95 for every outlet controller.
As you can see, the costs add up quick.
One benefit of going through XFINITY for your equipped is the fact that it is designed to work together. That means you should have any compatibility issues if you choose to go that route.
It is important to note that you can try to use "existing" equipment if you had a security system before. However, they likely can't guarantee that your existing equipment will work properly with the system. And, if they don't, you can be sure an upsell is coming.
A point worth noting here is also that the current deals available vary depending on your location and their marketing whims. In addition, a strong negotiator may be able to get certain fees waived (such as the installation fee currently required of new customers) or even some additional equipment.
Even through Comcast/XFINITY will attempt to work with your existing equipment, if you choose to buy their equipment, there is no guarantee it will work with any services besides theirs. So, you could be making a major investment that you have to live with for a long time whether you like the service or not.
Additionally, the offered equipment is not necessarily of the highest quality. And this means you could spend a small fortune on devices that won't provide the reliability you expect. So, if it fails (and is outside of the warranty), guess who's buying a new one.
You are also locked into a two-year contract, and only 12 months of that has locked in pricing (at this time). So, you can't do much if they decide to raise the rate after your introductory period expires unless you are open to paying an early termination fee.
With all of those costs and caveats, it's no surprise than many people want to find options outside of the XFINITY Home service, especially if you tend to live life fairly unplugged from traditional telecom giant offerings. And, depending on your precise security needs, you likely can get better service at a lower cost by putting everything together yourself.
If that sounds like it's a bit more your style, here are some alternatives that you can find on the market today.
For people interested in 24/7 home monitoring without a third-party involved, but want to avoid the implications of a two-year contract, then you need to consider Canary.
Canary offers an all-in-one home security solution that can be controlled through their smartphone app. It is designed to learn from your regular activities, meaning any alerts sent become more intelligent in time. They also have 147-degree wide-angle camera lenses, motion-activated alert options, and a painful 90+ decibel alarm.
The system also accesses local information to identify emergency services near your home. That means you get one-touch access to the right emergency personnel no matter where you are. So, if you see suspicious activity while vacationing hundreds of miles away, one push of a button calls the police department near your home and you don't even have to look up the number first.
One fun bonus of Canary's service is that it learns who you are; it knows when you are the one coming and going, and can even change security modes without you having to touch a keypad or push a button. Oh, and it can do all of this without any professional installation requirements.
However, if you want the added security of third-party monitoring, then you may want to consider an option like SimpliSafe or FrontPoint. SimpliSafe offers third-party monitoring services and doesn't require an annual contract. They offer two plans, a Standard and Interactive, depending on the level of service you require. You can also choose to create your own device package or purchase one of the pre-designed kits. For example, the 16-piece ultimate kit gives you the following:
The current price for the package is only $539.85 through their website directly.
FrontPoint also offers similar capabilities but requires you to contact them for a free quote for pricing information.
Video recording is another area where Canary can be an excellent choice. However, there are other options for specific services. For example, Ring gives you the ability to monitor happenings at your front door from anywhere. The doorbell works over Wi-Fi and lets you see exactly who has stopped by. As an added bonus, you can speak with the person through the included microphone/speaker capabilities.
Will Ring is fairly specific, it is certainly a great option for people who have a large number of package or mail deliveries that they want to keep an eye on.
Sometimes, intrusions aren't your only, or even primary, concern. If you are looking to monitor for environmental threats, such as fires and flooding, then you have options designed specifically for those tasks.
One option is the Nest Protect smoke alarm. The device can give you a warning if a small amount of smoke is detected, such as those caused by a cooking mishap, and doesn't default to a shrieking alarm. Instead, a voice tells you it detects a problem, giving you a chance to respond without full sirens wailing. It can also tell you where the problem is. So, if you are doing laundry in the basement, and smoke is detected in the living room, it can tell you exactly what is being detected and where.
Nest Protect also provides the luxury of silencing the alarm through your smartphone, so you don't necessarily have to wave whatever is handy near the device to get it to silence if the source is under control. Installation is fairly simple, and it connects with other Nest products. Additionally, carbon monoxide detection is also available. And, when it is connected to other environmental control devices, Nest can even shutdown systems that may be exacerbating the problem, like in-home heating.
If you are looking for water detection, and you have a Wink hub, then the leakSMART system is worth considering. Not only can it detect water, but it also have the ability to shut the water off is help mitigate the damage. It also monitors temperature changes, helping customers to avoid costs related to the bursting of frozen pipes. And, just like other home sensors, it has the ability to alert you through your smartphone when trouble is detected.
The smart thermostat was one of the earlier entries into the Internet of Things (IoT) home category. They provide the ability to program how your home environment is maintained and can be interacted with through coordinating smartphone apps.
Two of the bigger contenders in this area are available through Nest and Honeywell. The Honeywell Lyric is slightly more expensive than the Nest thermostats but has some additional capabilities. For example, it can provide a 12-hour forecast and is better designed for individuals with somewhat irregular schedules. Additionally, the thermostat face automatically lights up when it detects someone nearby. It also has the ability to detect when you are away from day one based on geofencing technology.
In comparison, the Nest Airwave feature does have the ability to adjust for humidity. This means it can adjust based on the perceived temperature to maintain a comfortable home environment. Over time, Nest also learns your patterns, allowing it to more intelligently make adjustments the longer the device is in service.
However, both are excellent options, so it is wise to just consider your personal needs when choosing one over the other.
For those who prefer different offering from a variety of manufacturers, you can select all-in-one smart home hubs designed to work with multiple brands. These allow you to coordinate all of your services through a central point, as well as a single app. For example, the Samsung SmartThings hub offers a strong amount of cross-compatibility and can also be connected to other Samsung SmartThings products like motion and intrusion sensors.
For people who have acquired smart home devices somewhat haphazardly over the years, the right hub can actually help you avoid having to rebuy technology you already own for the sole purpose of centralized management.
The important thing to realize is that there are numerous options outside of traditional telecom offerings. Some can be connected to monthly service plans without contracts while others work simply over your existing Wi-Fi. Depending on your exact needs and preferences, you can likely find much better deals and more capable equipment from specialists in the home security and smart home arena, all without having to sign two years of your life away to one company who may or may not change your price down the road.
So, before you commit to the XFINITY Home service, take a look around and see if another company can't just do it cheaper, but better as well.