Scout DIY Home Security Tested

Author: Brian Rhodes, Published on Dec 11, 2015

This hipster startup claimed it would crush cavemen alarm companies, with a DIY disruptive offering.

Now in production, we bought a Scout Alarm system to see just how well it delivered.

The DIY alarm market has been getting a lot of attention, with mega funded Simplisafe making the most noise (see our Simplisafe Test Results).

We tested Scout, looking at the quality of the app, the range of the sensors provided, the system's hardware quality, and alerting capabilities, compared to Simplisafe and conventional intrusion systems.

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Key ********

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System **********

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System *******

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Deep *************

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Wireless ***********

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Market **********

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Our ************** 

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Comments (7)

Would this be considered a "pre-configured" system?

Aside from local sensor enrollment and user and zoning, yes.

The user spends no time configuring the panel to communicate with sensors/cloud, and if they want to just throw a four/five sensor system up with minimal tweaking, it will take about 30 minutes.

I use the large door panel (with the RFID reader) as my arm/disarm interface. It is not associated with a door, instead it sits on a wall with the associated contact tight up next to it.

While the door contacts are on the large side, once up after a while you hardly notice them.

The NEST integration is great as it pulls in the Nest protect smoke detectors so you effectively get a full Burg / Fire system that is monitored.

On the down side the cellular backup seems to only show poor connection regardless of where I have placed it in the house.

Thanks for the feedback. Scout is apparently working on an option to change 3G carriers if users have reception issues. I believe they currently use TMobile, but there are rumors (nothing official) they are going to also implement Verizon in the future.

One usability question: have you experienced 'false alarms' due to the PIR sensor tripping on pets? That particular aspect has a lot of users hot, and aside from the lens tape mask solution, no one has a suggested workaround.

Their original PIR was terrible so I have not deployed it and it as you said, does not deal with pets at all. I am waiting for a new version but I really want glass breaks too. Also on their list but down the road.

Why they have to develop their own from scratch instead of modifying an existing device that is proven seems odd.

Thanks for the info on the 3G. That will help.

Now... if you just had the option of using the NEST thermostat face to virtualize the dial on a padlock for a keypad... and incorporate its 150 degree presence sensor into the system for another sensor...

[Update]

Scout has announced an option to upgrade system/sensor firmware to use default Zigbee wireless.

This is a fairly drastic change, because it changes system design. Scout described them in an email blast:

Scout is ready to offer a more standardized approach, which is completely optional: a firmware release that uses Zigbee. In such a scenario, there is no mesh routing.

The Benefits:

  1. Longer battery life: Sensors will not route messages, so they “sleep” until they are triggered, which helps push battery life to 2 years or more.
  2. Integration with Zigbee devices: This gives the hub the ability to integrate with a number of third party devices.
The Tradeoffs:
  1. Range extender needed: Any sensors that are not within 100 ft. of the hub would need a range extender to connect.
  2. No battery backup for extender (yet): If the range extender is not plugged into a power supply with backup battery, that sensor would be offline in the event of a power outage
  3. No going back: Once you switch over to the new approach, we cannot switch the system back to the old firmware.
  4. Repair Sensors: It will be required that you to reinstall each sensor after they are successfully updated (Over-The-Air).

We are going to be working on creating a range extender that does include 24 hours of backup battery to eliminate the downsides of releasing this new firmware. That product will not be available in the immediate future, though. In the interim, there are a number of great range extenders we can recommend on the market already.

Overall, an option to move Scout to a default Zigbee network is an interesting one, given the wide array of sensors and hubs that then could be made to work with Scout. Lighting, thermostats, other contact/motion sensors, and door locks are just a few options of Zigbee products currently available.

Given that Scout's range already tested shorter than advertised (in our test, 30' vs claims of 100') and the core issue of battery life (that we did not evaluate over extended time), this optional unlocked firmware could be a good move for Scout.

Other DIY systems like Simplisafe do not offer similar 'unlocked' firmware options.

No going back: Once you switch over to the new approach, we cannot switch the system back to the old firmware.

Is this a scare tactic or is there some technical reason to not allow firmware downgrades?

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