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ByLidia Davis Home Security Writer

Lidia writes about home security, home automation, and online privacy for Reviews.com. She graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill with a bachelor’s degree in journalism.

Scout Alarm Review

In our review of the best DIY home security systems, we found Scout Alarm to be right on par with the biggest players in the game like SimpliSafe. Although it’s newer to the home security space, it fuses simple do-it-yourself methods and home automation opportunities with professional monitoring. In fact, Scout is keeping pace with the industry trends: Connected Trends & Disruption in Home Security reports that 52% of households likely to purchase a home security system within the next year are looking for self-installation options.

With Scout, there’s probably an integration available for the proprietary equipment it lacks — and this is by design. According to Daniel Roberts, CEO and founder of Scout, the DIY market is moving from the early-adopter, more tech-savvy population to the masses. And even though major players are technically competing against each other on some level, Roberts says they’re better positioned for the consumer if they work together.

“At the end of the day, we want to provide that core security experience, and if there’s anything — whether it be a voice or video product to augment or enhance that — we want to make that available,” said Roberts.

We spent several hours poring through Scout’s offerings, chatting with customer service and home security experts, and reading the fine print to see whether the provider lives to its claims — and industry demands.

The Claim

Total control of your home security experience — free of contracts, hardwiring, and hassles.

Is it true?

Sure. But there’s a lot to unpack within that “total control” claim.

We’ll admit, Scout offers a decent amount of flexibility when it comes to home security. Unlike traditional home security companies that require lengthy contracts, Scout Alarm allows you to opt in and out of your monitoring plan whenever you see fit. You can easily automate everyday tasks with a Scout system, as the hubs are Zigbee and Z-Wave equipped. This means you can sync peripheral products — like compatible outdoor lights and door locks — to your home security system and program them to react to the status of your home.

A Scout Alarm system should be relatively simple to install. But if you’re still wary of the process (along with your digital pairing and home automation skills), Scout doesn’t offer a route to professional help like Abode does with its HelloTech partnership. You’ll also find that Scout places a premium on self-monitoring at $10 — but accessing any of the more advanced storage and media features today will cost you.

While Scout offers a decent amount of environmental sensors and equipment, it only has one proprietary camera: the Scout Indoor Camera. Those looking to integrate outdoor surveillance directly into their home security system will have to look for third-party integrations.

Comparatively, we found Scout to be an easy, low-lift DIY home security system with a few minor gaps, like the lack of a proprietary outdoor camera or panic button.

Product Overview

Best for

Those who want to automate home security functions and feel confident managing their own device integrations.

Not for

Those looking for professional installation and bigger brand names in the home security space.

Features

Price* Plans: $10-$20/mo or $107-$215/yr, $99 camera, $229 Scout Small Pack
Standout features Several third-party integrations for optimal home automation, 60-day returns, 3-year warranty, UL-listed monitoring center
Number of locations / states served All 50 states
Ratings 3.2 out of 5 stars on Amazon, 323 reviews as of June 26, 2019
Services Home security, home automation
Fees $2.99/camera for cloud storage

* Prices may vary by packages and customized systems.

Customizable security

Scout makes the buying process relatively simple by giving you four preset packs and transparent pricing for all other, disparate pieces. And it doesn’t force you to be a customer in order to fully customize your system right out of the gate. You can either build your own system or choose from Scout’s packages — and if you need help deciding, you can contact a Scout representative. In general, deciding how many sensors, motion detectors, and cameras you’ll need depends on how many entryways and high-traffic areas you want to cover. And like traditional systems, Scout offers water, smoke/CO, and glass-break sensors that you can connect to the hub to receive corresponding alerts.

You can also customize how you want to finance your system (to a certain extent). Like abode, Scout Alarm offers to help you finance your system through a partnership with Affirm. (And, no, checking to see whether you qualify won’t affect your credit score.) Unlike some home security brands that reserve automation and management features for higher price tiers, you can take full advantage of mobile and email notifications, as well as cellular backup with a self-monitoring plan. If you decide one month you’d like the added protection of professional monitoring, all you have to do is flip the switch in the app. While there won’t be any penalties, your monthly bill will double to $20.

Ample room for automation

If you’re an avid smart home consumer, the good news is Scout plays well with others. In fact, it’s a close match for Abode when it comes to automation opportunities in the DIY home security space. However, what Scout lacks in proprietary equipment it compensates for by integrating with products from Google/Nest, Amazon, IFTTT, Philips Hue, LIFX, Yale, Kwikset, and more. For example, IFTTT integration allows you to utilize geofencing rules with your Scout system — or to arm the system by simply walking out the door.

Although the Works With Nest program is undergoing a facelift and becoming Works with Google Assistant, it’s important to remember that integrating doesn’t always mean fully fusing, especially when it comes to two different brands. You’ll still have to adhere to (Google) Nest’s rules when using a Nest Cam with your system. Nest products won’t change to “Away” mode by simply using a Scout keyfob — (the older) Works With Nest program requires you to verify the change on the Scout app. Scout won’t be able to reach authorities if your Nest Protect signals an alarm, although you will receive notifications on the Scout app.

Warranty and return policy come with little strings attached

Scout Alarm provides a full three-year warranty for all its hardware, so if a device is found defective, Scout will send a replacement free of charge. Along with SimpliSafe, it also has one of the most robust money-back guarantee periods of any DIY company we’ve seen — 60 days. For context, Abode and Frontpoint only offer 30-day money-back guarantees. A month is a decent amount of time, but two really allow you to get into the groove of actually using the system.

Possible Drawbacks

Less Scout equipment

Scout only offers one camera option — the Scout Indoor Camera for $99. This makes the system slightly more limiting, even though you can operate a Scout system with Nest Cams (minus the doorbell). Again, you’ll still have to adhere to Nest rules when it comes to video and cloud storage. The Scout Indoor Camera comes with 1080p resolution, 115-degree field of view, night vision, and live streaming (but no two-way audio). So you won’t be able to communicate with family members (or burglars) through the app.

You also won’t find a Scout outdoor camera. Some experts claim that outdoor cameras that work with home security systems heighten protection and boost verification of false alarms. Joe Liu, CEO of Home8, says there’s no cut-and-dried answer for how many security cameras you should use. “The short answer is, wherever that critical path coming to your property, or where you feel the intruder may appear — that vulnerable spot, maybe the back door, maybe the front door,” Liu said. “Capturing [the video] is already after the fact. You want to capture what happens before the intruder breaks in.”

Self-monitoring comes at a cost

Unlike some DIY companies that don’t charge for self-monitoring (like SimpliSafe and Abode), Scout charges a minimum of $10 per month to keep everything up and running yourself. However, this price comes with cellular backup, which means your system will still work in the event your power goes out.

The Competition

  Scout Alarm Vivint SimpliSafe Abode
Our review Our review Our review
Professional monitoring $20 $40 $15-$20 $20
Monitoring options Professional, self Professional Professional, self Professional, self
Installation Self Professional Professional, self Professional, self
Available warranty 3-year 120 days 3-year 1-year
Home automation
View plans View plans View plans View plans

Scout Alarm vs. Vivint

Scout Alarm and Vivint are fundamentally different security companies — as Scout is purely DIY and Vivint is largely traditional (professionally installed/monitored). Both companies offer a decent lineup of home automation functions, but they differ in terms of pricing structure, contracts, and transparency. You’ll have to call Vivint in order to receive a quote on how much you could end up paying for equipment, whereas Scout Alarm provides pricing for all of its products outright. If you’re looking to go contract-free, Scout might be the better bet. Vivint requires a four- to five-year contract (if you don’t want to pay for equipment outright).

J.D. Power gives Vivint four out of five Power Circles — meaning most consumers are pleased with the service overall. Scout Alarm has not been rated by J.D. Power or Trustpilot, so visiting third-party sites like Amazon may be your best bet in gauging how customers feel about the service.

Scout Alarm vs. SimpliSafe

Scout Alarm and SimpliSafe both offer the best of both worlds between traditional and DIY monitoring. Neither company binds users to contracts, and both boast users can opt out of monitoring at any time fee-free. SimpliSafe’s self-monitoring plan is technically free, but it isn’t as heavily advertised or recommended. For one, if you don’t purchase a monitoring plan with SimpliSafe, you’ll lose access to mobile alerts. Scout Alarm, on the other hand, charges for self-monitoring but enables text and email alerts as well as cellular backup within that price. Scout Alarm also offers a tad more on the automation front, as SimpliSafe doesn’t offer Zigbee or Z-Wave support.

Scout Alarm vs. Abode

Scout Alarm and Abode are undeniably similar in design. Both allow you to opt in and out of monitoring at will, fee-free, and they both offer full suites of third-party integrations. However, you won’t find an opportunity to reach out to a professional for installation with Scout like you would with Abode. Both only offer one standalone indoor camera, but Abode CEO Chris Carney says an outdoor camera is on the horizon for the company.

In terms of free professional monitoring, Abode is your best bet. However, you’ll be forfeiting a few things that Scout Alarm includes in its $10 self-monitoring plan, like cellular backup. You also aren’t eligible for the Abode warranty under its Basic plan like you would be with Scout’s.

Scout Alarm FAQ

What does the Google and Nest merger mean for Scout Alarm?

If you’ve already merged your Nest and Google accounts, customer service says the Nest integrations will not work with your Scout system. We’ll keep you updated with movement in this particular space as we see it. Developers are encouraged to rework their systems to fit the Works with Google Assistant network (that will replace Works with Nest).

How does Scout Alarm protect my data?

Scout says all video footage is encrypted when sent to the cloud, and Roberts says all messaging is sent with AES 128-Bit encryption. “I would say that customers can rest easy with Scout and know there’s no ad platform, there’s no other product line that would benefit from the data of what’s going on inside the house, and we’re very sensitive about that,” said Roberts. But because Scout is so easily integrated with other devices, it’s still beneficial to read the privacy policy and terms and conditions of other third parties to gain a better sense of what rights each company has to your information.

What’s on the horizon for Scout?

Roberts says Scout doesn’t have a team of A.I. professionals to optimize video like Nest does. This is one reason why Scout partners with other major players — however, more Scout-specific equipment, including cameras, may be on the way.

“Without being terribly specific about our roadmap and what devices are coming out, we want to expand the perimeter. Obviously, you want to protect what’s going on inside, but once someone’s inside, they’re already in the home. I think that there some outdoor camera products that are very interesting to expand the perimeter and to work in tandem with the stuff that’s going on in the house.”

The Bottom Line

Scout Alarm is a solid option for those who feel confident in their own monitoring skills and are invested in smart home technology. Scout Alarm isn’t as robust in terms of proprietary equipment, but for a simple and easy DIY system that plays well with others, Scout has quite a bit to offer.

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