Home Security Leaps into the Future with Nexia Home Intelligence

WRITTEN BY: Josh Smith

Graduation is just around the corner and soon you’ll be stepping into a full-time job, starting your career, and buying your first home. It’s a big deal. You’ll have a ton of worry in your life -- student loans, your mortgage, impressing your new boss -- so why add home security to that list? You never really think about it until you’re forced to think about it.

I know this because I’ve been robbed.

Because of that experience, and my passion for all things tech, when Nexia approached me about taking a look at what they offer I leapt at the chance. Nexia Home Intelligence, combined with Schlage’s hardware, was expected to create a warm bubble of security for my family. There are number of security systems available for residential (and commercial) customers, so some important factors to keep in mind are installation, quality, cost, and of course, accessibility. Above all though, the most important consideration is whether the hardware actually provides security or if it’s just a sense of security.

Nexia Home Starter Bundle (Bridge & Appliance Module) - The Bridge is the brain of the entire operation. This is what everything else you own will communicate with and this acts as a portal for your security monitoring. The installation was surprisingly simple, requiring access to a basic wall outlet and router. An AC adapter and ethernet cable are included, but the lack of options for connecting via WiFi was disappointing.

The Appliance Module is an interesting piece of hardware for anybody who’s not had experience with Z-Wave. It stays connected to the Bridge to allow you access to whatever is plugged into it. You can plug your television or anything else into it, but the most effective experience for me was a floor lamp. With that, I was able to control when it turned on or off and even set schedules from the online portal. Going on vacation? No problem, schedule it to turn on every day when you would normally arrive home from work, making would-be thieves think you’re home.

The last piece -- and most important for me -- that the Appliance Module offered was the ability to act as a repeater. The Z-Wave technology has a limited range and, while it doesn’t need to be as robust as WiFi, if you want total coverage of your home The Bridge itself might not be enough. As a repeated, it takes the Z-Wave “bubble” and sends it farther, increasing range exponentially.

Schlage RS100HC Home Door/Window Sensor - While it’s a small piece of hardware, it’s extremely important. This sensor records when a door or window has been opened and keeps a log of it for you to see on Nexia’s online portal. The drawback was the lack of immediate pings to my smartphone or tablet.

For instance, if the sensor is placed on a back door and the door is opened, I could certainly view that in the log, but I was unable to find a way that would provide me with some sort of pop-up notification indicating it had been triggered. Meaning you’ll have to actively monitor this through the portal, which isn’t entirely reasonable 100% of the time.

Schlage WCW100 Indoor Camera - This little device can be set on a desk (or any surface) or mounted on a wall to provide indoor monitoring for a specific area. It’s not USB-powered, so you’ll need a wall outlet nearby, but this is wired or wireless so access to a router isn’t required. It’s surprisingly light, so worry of it falling off of your wall is minimal .The quality of the live feed however, is not necessarily the greatest. The image is a bit pixelated due to the 640x480 resolution (30fps) and, while you can certainly monitor your home easily, getting detailed images to help identify someone in your home might prove a bit difficult.

A notification system is built into this device, too. While you won’t get push notifications to your mobile device, you will get an email sent if someone happens to trip the built-in motion detector. There’s also a mic and external speaker, though I was not able to monitor that remotely after my setup was complete. Perhaps it’s an advanced setting, but not one I found easily.

Schlage WCO100NX Outdoor Camera - Despite not having Z-Wave functionality, the outdoor camera can still communicate with the rest of your system through WiFi. This is also a fair bit heftier than the indoor camera, due to the design. It’s not made of aluminum, but it feels like it, and the AC adapter (and ethernet cable, if you choose not to go wireless) each come with a rubber stopper-like device that prevents moisture from ruining the camera.

The image itself is viewable during the day or the night, though my installation had it near an exterior light. Motion detectors allow it record footage of people coming and going, but at an additional fee (we’ll cover that later). It’s easily mountable, though not very low-profile. You can spot it easily enough, so savvy criminals may know ways to avoid the field of view and disable it entirely.

Schlage BE469NXCAM619 Deadbolt - This is my favorite piece of hardware in the entire group because it combines some amazing technology with a whole bunch of steel. It’s the hardest to install though, because you need to have a knowledge of both tech and home maintenance to even attempt putting this on your door. It’s not a daunting task at all, but for those who aren’t familiar with door locks or installation, you might want someone looking over your shoulder.

Once finished though, you’ll be protected by the highest rating for residential security available. It’s got a built-in alarm that has three modes, one for basic activity, one for tampering, and one for forced entry. Granted, I only tested “Basic Activity,” but other options are available. Further, you can assign a 4-digit combination to individual family members and then log when they use their code for entry. It’s a great feature for those with children who get home from school at a set time -- simply check the Nexia Portal and confirm that they’ve used their code at the appropriate time.

UPDATE: Referring to the ALERTS section; Nexia has confirmed that you can receive pings on your mobile or email about triggers to your sensors or any other connected device. Additionally, video recording up to 250 MB of storage is free.  An additional 1GB costs $1.99

Nexia Home Interactive - With all of the hardware installed, it needs somewhere to report to. That’s why you have the Nexia Portal at MyNexia.com. From here you can monitor your locks, cameras, and even your home temperature controls, should you install compatible thermostats. It’s this area that allows you to setup home automation, manage multiple homes, attach and confirm mobile devices for multiple viewings, and look at the log of your events. There is a fee of $9.99/mo, plus additional fees if you want cameras to record rather than just stream. Having a monthly fee is a little off-putting, considering there are options out there that have no cost, but for what you get, the monthly subscription isn’t excessive.

If you’re in need of home security hardware that’s easy to use, easy to learn, and provides options beyond something that a closed-circuit system would offer, you may want to look into Nexia.