We’ve consistently dinged connected-home systems—including the DIY Iris by Lowe’s—that don’t offer professional monitoring. A loud siren is good for scaring an intruder away, a security camera is terrific for collecting forensic evidence after a break-in, and getting alarm notifications on your smartphone is all well and good too. But nothing delivers the peace of mind of knowing that a professional is monitoring your system and can summon the police in response to a break-in, or the fire department when your house is ablaze.
So we think it’s a good move on Lowe’s part that the company will soon offer optional professional monitoring to its Iris by Lowe’s customers—and at a very reasonable price, too. Lowe’s press release includes a lot of caveats, though, about several of which we’ve asked for more details. Here’s what we know today.
When the service rolls out in the second quarter of this year, Iris by Lowe’s customers will be offered the option of professional monitoring, which will be subcontracted to United Central Control, Inc. (UCC). UCC—which has been in this market for more than 33 years, according to Lowe’s press release—will dispatch emergency responders to the subscriber’s home “in the event of an intrusion, smoke, carbon monoxide or panic alarms….” If this service is typical of others we’ve seen, UCC will attempt to contact you before they call emergency responders, to reduce the potential for false alarms that can result in fines in some cities.
This is very similar to what full-service connected-home service providers such as ADT, Vivint, Frontpoint, and others offer, but it looks as though Lowe’s’ service will cost considerably less: $20 per month, and that includes the Iris Premium Service—which costs $10 per month on its own—and cellular service for an optional GSM module that will keep your system connected to Lowe’s servers and to UCC’s service should your regular broadband service go down.
You will need to purchase the $50 USB GSM module to actually benefit from the GSM backup service, but the usual $5-per-month fee is rolled into the $20-per-month subscription fee (so you end up paying for something you’re not getting if you don’t purchase the Novatel dongle).
The best part of Lowe’s new service is that the big-box retailer won’t require you to sign a long-term contract for monitoring—you’ll be able to switch between the basic free plan, the premium plan, and the monitored-service plan as your needs change. You can read the details about the first two plans in our hands-on review.
As for those caveats: Lowe’s says the monitoring service will be available to “customers in select markets and where licensing allows.” The press release says the company will announce those markets at a later date. It also includes this somewhat curious statement: “A minimum of two monitored security devices will be required to help reduce false alarms….” While that’s not an onerous requirement—Lowe’s $99 Security Pack includes two door/window sensors and one motions sensor—we’re not entirely sure why it’s necessary to have at least two devices. We’ve asked for clarification and will update this story when we get it.