Amazon Home Security Service: A Detailed Review

May 29, 2018

Soon, Amazon won't just be delivering boxes to your door; they're also sending people out to homes to install security systems.

Only a few months ago, they began to offer a selection of bundled home security products on their website using a selection of popular products in their catalog.

Their services include in-person visits from Amazon consultants to advise and install one of five home security packages, each sold at a flat fee ranging from $240 to $840.

Not included in any of the packages: professional monitoring services. If a burglar intrudes in your home or if a fire breaks out, you'll get a smartphone notification, but it's on you to contact the authorities.

Why is Amazon joining the home security market now?

Amazon, like Google, wants to take a different approach to security, using their powerful brand to introduce less tech-savvy consumers to smart home security products.

Amazon knows that there will be increasingly widespread demand for smart home security in the coming years, and they're placing a bet on the industry's future. Amazon's recent acquisition of smart doorbell startup Ring and the smart camera and doorbell startup Blink is a sign of things to come.

But while Amazon's motivations are easy to understand, their advertising of their home security service is not nearly as transparent, especially when it comes to their security system installers.
 

Who are Amazon's home security technicians?

Amazon calls them "smart home experts, not salespeople." It's not immediately clear who they are, based on Amazon's description.
 
Are they licensed to install security systems in every state? Would a Massachusetts-based Amazon technician undergo a CORI check?
 
We hope so, but the only thing we can say for certain is that they're Amazon employees.
 
The absence of specifics raises some red flags. Whenever you invite a technician in to work on your security system, it's essential that you feel comfortable with them walking around your house and providing them with sensitive information (i.e. the layout of your home or the locations of valuables).
 
While Amazon has a mostly positive brand reputation, consumers can't let them rest on their laurels.

Background checks are necessary to keeping information about your security system in the right hands. Make sure that if you do choose to pay for security system installation, you feel confident that they are trustworthy, highly-trained experts.
 

What products are in Amazon's home security packages?

Amazon lists out its packages using this chart:

amazonsecuritychart

Let's go through the full list of products one by one:

Amazon Echo Dot

This is a well-made smart assistant based on customer reviews (and my personal experience). It has a ton of features and integrations with other products to give you flexibility and smart home control.

What's concerning is that it reportedly has some data security issues. A little ironic, considering Amazon included their device in almost all of their security packages.

amazon echo dot(Source: Amazon)

A woman in Portland reported that Amazon's Alexa recorded a private conversation in her home and then sent that recorded audio to a random member of her phone's contact list living 176 miles away. The recipient immediately called the woman to tell her that her device had been "hacked."

Amazon apologized to the customer, but they have yet to offer her a refund or clarify whether this is a more widespread issue.

Philips Hue White Starter Kit

These smart light bulbs smoothly integrate with existing smart home kits and have excellent reviews. They might be on the more expensive end, but they definitely work well for the vast majority of users.

philips hue light(Source: Amazon)

One of the few drawbacks is that your phone has to be connected to your home's WiFi network to use it to control your lights. Otherwise, it's got everything you could want in a smart light bulb.

Mr. Beams MB360 Wireless LED Spotlight

This is Amazon's best-selling outdoor light. If you're looking for maximum bang for your buck, this device is all you need.

The brightness is relatively low for an outdoor light at 140 lumens, and won't be able to cover a large area like a backyard very effectively. But if you're taking your first steps into outdoor security or have a small yard, there's no need to get a fancy lighting system.

mr beam led light(Source: Amazon)

Despite being advertised as featuring a "weatherproof design for durability", users report running into issues after the light is exposed to heavy rain or snow. A number of people opened the light up afterwards to find that the internal parts had corroded due to moisture build-up.

Litom Outdoor Solar Lights

Another budget lighting option that functions well for the price point. Don't expect it to hold a long charge though; even under direct sunlight, the solar panels can only soak up enough energy to power the light for a few hours.

litom floodlight(Source: AliExpress)

As with the Mr. Beam light, users say these lights are also not waterproof (despite the product information saying it's IP65 rated) and can suffer internal damage due to rain or snow.

Oontz Angle 3 Bluetooth Speaker

It's not exactly a home security product, but it's a decent portable Bluetooth speaker.

oontz bluetooth speaker(Source: Slickdeals.net)

Amazon Basics 3.5mm Audio Cable

It's exactly what it says on the tin. Nothing fancy here.

Ring Video Doorbell 2

The Ring reportedly has excellent audio and visual capabilities. The app is easy to use, and the doorbell has the sleek, polished appearance of a premium product.

The main issues people have is that its detection feature can be a little inconsistent. Sometimes it detects cars going down the street in the distance; sometimes it fails to recognize people walking up the porch.

ring video doorbell(Source: Google Express)

Even with a strong WiFi signal, the Ring may have difficulty getting a strong link to the router, causing the connection to fail and be unable to record any footage if it detects movement.

It also requires a paid $30 subscription to review a past event. For most people, being able to review past footage is an important feature to have on any camera. Those who do not pay the subscription fee must press a button on their phone within seconds of an event occurring if they want to save that footage and avoid the cost of cloud storage.

Although Ring is flashy and cool, we prefer its competing product, the Skybell video doorbell, as it has better integration with Honeywell's Total Connect app. We've also tested it extensively and found its performance to be more reliable than other products

GoControl Z-Wave Siren and Strobe

A deafening siren with a strobe light that integrates well with smart home tech. Not a whole lot of customization as to how you want to set this up, but it certainly does everything it promises to do.

gocontrol zwave siren(Source: Home Depot)

There were some reports of users dealing with repeated false alarms coming from this device for no particular reason, but that seems to be the exception rather than the norm.

GoControl Essential Z-Wave Home Security

Another budget security product. Sensing a pattern here? Amazon is focused solely on people who want everything at the lowest price point possible. Although these products lack many features of real security systems, they're easy to set up and use.

gocontrol(Source: Amazon)

While cheap products can help introduce new people to affordable home security products, it creates a new problem: the product quality just isn't there.

According to one user:

  • The motion sensor is not very sensitive. It needs about 5 seconds of motion to detect movement.
  • It can sometimes take several minutes to realize that there is no longer any motion.
  • The rear of the sensor has mounting holes that expose the internal parts, so you risk water damage if you mount it outdoors.

Yi 1080p Home Camera

Good news: cheap, reliable device that has all the functionality you need from an indoor camera

Bad news: by purchasing this camera, you hand over access to a significant amount of your data to the company. The user agreement and privacy policy also lets the company view, record and share your footage with third parties.

yi camera(Source: Groupon)

Privacy is important to us; that's why all data in your security system is scrambled using advanced encryption methods so that no one can intercept your data or remotely disable it. Future-proof home security also means cybersecurity so that your important data stays in your hands.

Wink Hub 2

A decent entry-level smart home hub for people who do not require precise control of their devices. It's easy to configure, and the app works well.

However, the Wink Hub 2 is not capable of more complex functionality; for example, it cannot fine-tune smart lighting settings like ramp rate, number of steps, and LED indicator behavior.

It also lacks a battery backup in the event of power loss.

Awair Glow

It's an air quality monitor that doubles as a smart home plug adapter. The idea and design are excellent.

Everything seemed fine on the outside, but we ran their reviews through Fakespot and found that 65.8% of their reviews were rated "low quality". 

awair glow(Source: Fatherly)

Fakespot is a website that detects fake Amazon reviews (many of which are written by bot accounts). Their algorithm analyzes user profiles and scrapes information from every review they've written to compare the wording against reviews written by other known fake profiles.

If a user behaves similarly to that of a bot account (short, generic wording, all 5-star reviews, etc.), Fakespot regards that review as "fake." In this instance, they believe that Awair Glow's reviews are evidence of "high deception."

Aeotec Water Sensor

aeotec-z-wave-water-sensor-6-packaging(Source: Aeotec)

Intended to detect flooding before it gets out of control, much like the flood sensors that well from Honeywell. An overwhelming number of reviews suggest that this a well-made, reliable product.

Conclusion

Amazon has rounded up the cheapest, highest-rated products on their marketplace, bundled them up into packages, and added about 20-30% additional cost on top of it to cover labor.

We can see from this that Amazon is targeting audience is consumers who are just starting to make the transition into home security. Typically, these customers are more price sensitive and only want the most basic functionality initially.

The hope is that they'll see the value in the technology over time and want to invest more into smart home products down the line.

What's concerning is that some buyers might get the idea that these products will provide them with adequate protection from burglary or fire.

In addition, there are clear signs that some of these smart home products have severe privacy issues. Amazon and Google might be collecting tons of data already, but that doesn't mean we should hand it to them on a silver platter.

Peace of mind means you (and your data) are completely safe. Read the Ultimate Home Security Guide below to learn more about what constitutes a comprehensive, full-featured home security system.

Download the Ultimate Guide to Home Security and learn:

  • Top 5 misconceptions about home security
  • How to assess vulnerabilities in your home
  • Why home security is about more than preventing burglaries
  • Cutting-edge security equipment: how home security has changed
  • Monitored vs. Self-Monitored Systems
  • Local vs. National Security Companies

... and more!

Download Ultimate Security Guide
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