Scout Home Security Review


Looking for a hip home security company thinking, literally, outside the box to meet your home security needs? Meet Scout. The company offers a basic security setup that’s likely to appeal to the minimalists and third-party tool capabilities for home automation that are likely to equally appeal to the tech junkies.

As a DIY option for home security, you get to avoid costly installation fees. No fears, though, this isn’t hard labor or hours upon hours of self-installation. The price is reasonable, you can cherry pick your own equipment, and customer service is eager to serve. The two initial hold ups we predict potential customers might have are that Scout is ahead of industry trends and some consumers may not appreciate that most everything beyond basic security must go through a third-party.

THE BASICS

Approaches to home security monitoring services don’t get much more simplified than Scout.

They only offer two monitoring plans and one self-monitoring plan.

A good many security companies deal in one-size-fits-all packages, which often leaves customers either paying for equipment they don’t need or being forced to go all out when they want to start small. Scout doesn’t make customers buy an entire package of undesirable or unwanted equipment. This is a self-serve buffet. However, the buffet only has five pieces of equipment:

  • Control hub
  • Motion detector
  • Access sensor
  • Water sensor
  • Stickers & yard signs

Note that all technology equipment only has an individual 100-foot range from the hub. To extend that, more equipment must be added.

Scout is wirelessly controlled through smart devices like phones and tablets.

EQUIPMENT

1) Control Hub

Scout’s hub is where some customers may draw the line between hip and foolhardy. It’s no doubt an app-centered and device-centered company, and customers will either appreciate the innovation or prefer to stick to tried and true known capabilities and function of traditional home security.

Take a seat for this one. Scout’s system’s brain, or the hub, isn’t a control panel. While wireless, users must still must use an Ethernet connection and plug the hub into a power supply. Should you lose power, a lithium ion battery takes over for up to 12 hours. Should you lose internet, 3G cellular is your backup.

We feel there’s a lot of downside/upside to this approach. For example, you can only disarm the system using the app, meaning that anyone wanting to disarm or arm the system must have access to Scout on the mobile app. Without a keypad option, customers don’t have as much freedom in how they use the system and face a lot of potential complications. They can’t, for example, conveniently give the key code to family, cleaners, babysitters, etc. They must grant them access via the mobile app or grant them access to the mobile app. The upside is that there isn’t a keypad for guests wanting to tinker with the system.

2) Motion Detector

With a 90-degree viewpoint and 20-foot range, Scout’s motion detector is highly sensitive. Such sensitivity is often a problem more so than an asset in that it often causes wildlife and pet false alarms. ADT, on the other hand, has pet-friendly sensors for animals up to 80 pounds. If you want to know when anything and everything moves, Scouts sensor will work well for you. Otherwise, you may be sitting through a lot of non-threat alerts.

3) Access Sensors

Sensor batteries supposedly last three years, but we noted that some customer reviews argue a far less life than what Scout touts. Price is $29 per sensor. Each has a motion activated trigger and a temperature sensor. Beyond doors and windows, these sensors can be placed anywhere you don’t want someone to access without your knowledge - cabinets, closets, drawers, and so forth.

4) Water Sensors

Most homeowner insurers require extra coverage for water-related damages. Insurance aside, water damage is no easy fix and often makes the home uninhabitable for weeks to months. Scout’s water sensors are designed to be placed in areas with high-value assets, such as a home office, and areas susceptible to water damage, such as bathrooms and kitchens. You’re alerted at the first sign of moisture accumulation.

5) Stickers & Yard Signs

Customers receive complementary stickers and yard signs with their first order. These also sold individually if you ever need replacements. Research has shown that thieves and vandals are less likely to strike homes that advertise a security system is in place.

MONITORING

Sensors are tripped and/or your alarm goes off; what happens?

Option one: If you have Scout’s web-based, self-monitoring service, which we don’t recommend, then a very loud alarm siren is triggered.

Option two: If you have Scout’s standard Always On Plan, then Scout’s call center alerts you and/or the authorities.

Option three: For an extra $20 a month, you can upgrade to the Always On Plus Plan, which has 24/7 professional monitoring with emergency response.

Bottom line is simplified, albeit limited, monitoring services.

SMART HOME AND HOME AUTOMATION CAPABILITIES

Scout’s monitoring plan works great. That said, most customers won’t be thrilled to learn that Scout’s home automation subscription (access to the app) isn’t free. And, if you don’t buy the subscription, then all you’ll get is a siren and self-based web monitoring, which kind of defeats the purpose of a monitoring service for most people.

Customers can control lighting, thermostats, voice activation alarms, and video surveillance by integrating Scout with any of the following:

  • Z-Wave
  • Google Home
  • IFTTT
  • Echo and Dot by Amazon Alexa
  • SmartThings by Samsung
  • Hue lights by Philips
  • Nest thermostat, Cam, and Protect by Nest
  • Zigbee
  • LIFX

There are two main types of home automation technology - ZigBee and Z-Wave radios. Scout’s hub uses both. This basically just means that most any third-party equipment will work with Scout. Some home security companies use only one or the other, which limits the devices they can connect to their security system.

Still, considering the very basic level of monitoring offered; the necessary subscription; and that Scout doesn’t integrate with smoke, fire, or CO detection devices, Scout may just be too limited and demanding for the needs of some customers.

HOME SECURITY CAMERAS

Scout currently doesn’t offer proprietary camera equipment or services. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, as we will discuss under pricing in a moment. Third-party devices and monitoring plans, such as through NestCam, must be purchased if you want a home security camera with Scout. Of note, the same goes if you want glass-break sensors, fire and smoke detection, CO detection.

It would be nice if Scout offered more guidance on integrating services with their basic system. Seeing the options they recommend would be helpful. And, it would be fabulous if they’d expand their equipment buffet to at least give customers an option for in-house video-based solutions.

MOBILE CONTROL

You have two options for mobile control: integration with IFTTT or the Scout Alarm App. The latter is generally the preferred source. Scout’s app is compatible with android, iOS, and PC web browsers. Again, the app serves as the control panel, making mobile or PC control the sole points of access.

Key Scout App functions include:

  • When sensors go off, customers will receive SMS text, in-app notifications, and/or email alerts.
  • A history tab arranged by sensor, time, and date.
  • You can create your own presets or use one of the standard Home, Away, Sleep, or •Vacation modes.
  • Edit member list.
  • Edit member rights, granting them access how, when, and where you choose.
  • View all devices linked to the app.

CUSTOMER SUPPORT

The online ordering process was subpar in our humble opinion. A lot of the stock was very limited or even unavailable. Not good considering the already limited equipment options. We also found that previously offered options on products were discontinued, such as wood grain finishes. Not sure why Scout did that considering such finish upgrades set them apart from competitors in a market almost exclusively dealing in white finishes on security equipment.

Scout has a history of quick and efficient customer support. Our experience was an eager and knowledgeable agent to handle our issues that the video tutorials, FAQs, and forums didn’t cover. Bonus points for focus on the issues we needed handled over trying to upgrade our equipment or sell us additional products.

Another plus is the upfront and clear pricing at Scout. All prices, features, and pros(can’t really expect them to list the cons, right?) were labeled on the website.

Customers get a 30-day money back guarantee. It would be excellent if Scout offered a lifetime warranty on equipment, such as that offered by Vivint and Protect America.

Signing up for a yearly subscription over a monthly one will get you a 10% discount.

INSTALLATION

No hardware. No tools. No damage to exterior and interior property points. This really opens the door for renters to utilize Scout since there’s no permanent or semi-permanent mounting involved.

Installation consists of strategically deciding where to place the sensors and detectors and using the attached double-sided adhesive to mount. Equipment can be removed and remounted, at least a limited number of times, before the tape needs to be replaced.

PRICING

Again, Scout requires a monitoring plan subscription if you want anything beyond self-monitoring capabilities. But, the cost isn’t all that extravagant for a year’s worth of security.

All the offered sensors, adding a Nest Cam for video, and a one-year Always On Plan will cost about $550 after your 10% discount. Nix the Nest Cam, and your total is under $200. Not bad considering Frontpoint, for example, costs $50 a month for a plan with video access.

CONTRACTS

Unlike most other home security monitoring companies, Scout doesn’t have any official contract. Most name-brand and even newbie companies require anywhere from a one-year to a three-year contract. That’s a heavy burden on renters and homeowners unsure of their needs and living arrangements.

But, don’t rejoice just yet. Remember that mandatory subscription? Keep in mind that you’ll be locked in to either a monthly or yearly subscription for service if you want the Always On Plan or Always On Plus Plan, which is kind of, maybe, sort of a contract in of itself.

CUSTOMERS LIKELY SUITED/NOT SUITED FOR SCOUT

Scout is a very viable home security option for the ‘less is more’ crowd just wanting a basic DIY package of door, window and motion coverage at a reasonable cost.

No, or rather low, commitment mandates will appeal to those wanting to give home security a trial run or with unpredictable living arrangements. At most, there’s a one-year subscription, but those wary of that can still opt for the month-by-month subscription and forgo the 10% off bonus of the one-year subscription.

Those highly reliant upon their mobile and internet-connected devices may be thrilled by Scout’s sole use of app technology to control and access the system.

Traditionalists may, however, have a serious issue with the exclusive use of smart devices, both in how they operate the system, the need to plug the hub into a power and Ethernet source, and the combined reliability issues the former create.

We have a very difficult time recommending Scout for just the above reason. Reliability and freedom are two of the main components of a home security system. Scout could expand its customer base exponentially by simply giving customers the option of a keypad control or some other stationary physical device. If that’s not an issue for you, then Scout most certainly has plenty of attractive features, such as cost and automation capabilities, which we can recommend Scout.

KEY POINTS TO CONSIDER IN SELECTING SCOUT

In closing, here is a brief recap of the key points to consider in deciding if Scout is the right home security monitoring service for your home and family:

  • DIY setup with no damage or lasting impact to surfaces.
  • Good for renters and homeowners alike.
  • No official contracts.
  • Must get a subscription if you want anything past self-monitoring.
  • No keypad.
  • Must have Ethernet connection.
  • Access to data, arming, and disarming is through app via smartphone or PC browser.
  • Home automation through the security app.
  • Sensors are not kid and pet friendly.
  • Three simple monitoring plans.
  • Five equipment offerings.
  • No proprietary cameras.
  • Third-party integration for extended services and equipment.
  • Priced well-below competitors offering similar services.
  • Limited, complicated, and possibly less reliable home security features compared to competitors.
  • Helpful and knowledgeable customer service.

If you’re still unsure if Scout is the right home security provider for you, then be sure to check out our reviews of other top competitors and what they bring to the home security table.