If there’s one thing that gets me excited, it’s smart home technology. As a thirty-something, home-owning, tech-savvy dad, that’s probably not too surprising! Over the last few years – and thanks largely to this blog – I’ve been able to get up close and personal with a fair number of smart home solutions geared at providing comfort, security and reassurance of the family home.
However, none of these combine elements of what I’d call a traditional home security alarm. My current setup allows me to view a live feed of my home and be notified if someone opens a door or if motion is detected, but it doesn’t provide a physical and psychological deterrent or make people in the vicinity know if I’m being burgled. This is something I’ve been slightly conscious of and is arguably a weak spot in our home security…
…or, at least it was! A few months ago, the folk at smart home security specialists Yale dropped me an email to see if I’d be interested in trying out their new, second-generation home security system which is part of they Smart Living Range – the Yale Sync Smart Home Alarm. Obviously, I said yes! So, below, you’ll find my review – covering installation and usage – of the Yale Sync Smart Home Alarm Family Kit:
The product is described as:
The Sync Smart Home Alarm puts you firmly in control, giving you peace of mind that your home is secure and protected. Features include:
- App control – Arm, disarm and manage Sync for peace of mind whilst home or away via the Yale Home app
- Mobile alerts – Receive real-time notifications direct to your smartphone so you’re always in the know
- Custom integration – Sync works with Amazon Alexa and Philips Hue for the ultimate security experience
- Distance protection – Working to protect up to 200m range, Sync has your outbuildings and sheds covered
- Wire-free accessories – Expand and customise your security system with battery powered accessories
- Remind me here – Geolocation reminders can remind you to secure your home as you arrive or leave
- Enhanced encryption – Keep your information safe with added protection for data security
- No monitoring fees
The Yale Sync Smart Home Alarm arrived in a box which contained one Smart Hub, one Siren, two Motion Detectors, one Door / Window Contact and one Keypad. There was also an instruction booklet (mainly pictures), two window stickers, the relevant fixings and batteries already in the products. First impressions were good and the plastic products felt sturdy.
Having flicked through the instruction booklet, installation and setup looked to be pretty straightforward. Yale do offer a professional installation service, however this comes with an additional cost of £220. As the system doesn’t need to be hardwired because it works on batteries and WiFi, I thought I’d attempt to tackle it myself as it didn’t look too difficult. Thankfully, I was correct!
The first step was planning how we wanted to set up our system. This involved deciding which external wall the Siren should go on, where we wanted to place the Door / Window Contact and where we wanted to put the Motion Detectors. The Smart Hub’s location was obvious as it needed to be connected to our router. After giving it some thought, I decided that the external Siren would go on the back of our house so it can be seen from the road, that the Door / Window Contact made most sense on our front door and that one Motion Detector would cover downstairs and the other upstairs. We also decided to keep the Keypad portable rather than fix to a wall.
Next, I downloaded the Yale Smart Living Home app (available on the App Store and Google Play) which would not only assist with installation, but then also be used to control and manage it afterwards. This was an easy process, which involved creating an account and following the step-by-step instructions. Having registered the Smart Hub via the app, I was instructed to connect it to our router and plug it into the electrical socket.
I then removed the battery strips from the various devices in order to activate them, then placed the devices roughly in the location they were to be affixed. This allowed me to test the radio signal strength of each device in each location to ensure that everything could talk to each other. This was a handy step to make sure that I didn’t fix something to the wall, only to find out that it couldn’t connect to the Smart Hub, then have to move it.
Next came the actual installation. I started with the upstairs and downstairs Motion Detectors which I attached to corners in the landing and living room. Rather than use the screws that came in the box, I decided to go with strong double sided tape (not included) to make the job slightly easier. We’re also hoping to get some work done in the house later this year, so this gave me the option of being able to move them at a later date with minimal damage to the walls.
The Door / Window contact came next – again, I went with double sided tape (which did come in the box) rather than screws and secured this on the inside of our front door. The bigger section of the device went on the door, whilst the smaller bit attached to the door frame. When the door is opened, the (magnetic?) connection between the two halves is broken to alert the Smart Hub.
Finally, it was the turn of the external siren. I’d hoped to put this high up on the front of the house, but there was no way I could reach with a small ladder. As such, Plan B was putting it as high as I could on the back of our house. Installation of this was a little trickier than the other devices because I was drilling into the wall from a ladder, but it was basic DIY. Just remember to ensure the alarm switch has been moved from ‘Off’ to ‘On’ – something I might not have done first time around…
Installation took no longer than 45 minutes and was easy to do thanks to the app’s install wizard and the fact that all accessories are pre-linked to the Smart Hub. Something I’ve not seen on any products I’ve had before is the security tamper mechanism – this was on the Siren and Door / Window Contact. This is effectively a spring which becomes fully compressed when installing the device. If someone takes the device off the wall, the spring pops out and triggers the alarm – again, something I learnt by mistake when installing the siren!
The Yale Smart Living Home App provides a single point of access and control for the Yale Sync Smart Home Alarm system once everything is installed properly. This allows you to do things like turn the alarm on and off, configure alarm settings and check real-time notifications and alerts. As such, it’s worth spending a bit of time initially going through the various menus to ensure everything is how you want it. The app is straightforward to use, but some options feel deeply buried, so you need to do a bit of digging.
One of the key things to look at is the behaviour of the devices in your system. Basically, you have three alarm modes – (1) Disarmed, (2) Part Arm, and (3) Fully Arm. The first means that the system is off, the second means that some of the devices are turned on to protect a certain zone, whilst the third means everything is on. The app allows you to cleverly change the behaviour of your devices for each of these alarm modes dependant on your situation.
For instance, our Part Arm mode has the downstairs Motion Detector ignored because we use this mode when we’ve gone out but the dog stays in. This means that the upstairs Motion Detector is still on, as is the Door / Window contact, but movement from the dog downstairs won’t trigger the alarm. If we’re taking the dog with us, then we Fully Arm the system so that all Motion Detectors are on. You could do similar to Part-Arm downstairs when you go to bed.
You can also tinker with settings on individual devices. For instance, whether you want an entry and exit delay, how long you want the entry and exit delay to be, whether you want the LED on the Siren to flash and whether you want to hear a chime when the Door / Window Contact is opened. This is a really nice level of personalisation and means the system can be set to your preferences, for instance, I like a chime on the front door to alert me that it’s been opened as I’m often upstairs, I didn’t want the Siren box to produce a countdown noise and I like the Siren box to flash to indicate to onlookers that it’s working.
You can also manage your alert notifications, for instance, whether you want SMS, email or push notifications when the alarm is triggered or the alarm mode is changed. The latter means you can also set up notifications to be reminded to set your alarm when you’ve left the house through geo-location. I’ve found this to be really handy feature as I’ll sometimes forget to set the alarm when leaving the house in a rush, like on the school run in the morning.
Finally, the app also allows you to manage all users, set up different PIN codes, set up schedules for Smart Plugs, manage your Smart Locks and integrate with Phillips Hue Lighting (e.g. lights flash red when the alarm goes off). These are all nice additions to allow you to set your system up how you want, however we’ve not had a need to use this functionality yet, i.e. we only have one user and don’t own any other Yale products. Just to touch on the latter point though, you can expand the system through the purchase of additional products from the Yale Smart Living range.
In fact, you can have up to 40 devices connected to the system – this includes additional Motion Detectors and Door / Window Contacts, as well as other devices such as Remote Key Fobs, Smart Plugs, Smoke / Heat Detectors and Smart Locks. This is all done via the app using the ‘Add Device’ menu. The Smoke / Heat Detector is something that really interests me and I’ll be looking into the possibility of purchasing one of these in the future. Similarly, an additional Door / Window Contact for our back door would be handy.
If you’re not using the app, then the Keypad can be used to arm and disarm the alarm like in those dark times before smartphones were invented. We’ve used this method once or twice, but to be honest, the app tends to be our preference. In addition, the Yale Sync Smart Home Alarm can also be controlled by voice commands through Amazon Alexa. With a lot of households having these virtual assistants these days, controlling with voice is a great addition to the system – however, we use Google Home rather than Alexa, so it’d be nice to see Google’s own assistant added in the near future.
In terms of functionality and performance, I can’t fault it. We’ve had no false alarms and the Siren has gone off when I’ve expected it to, i.e. when I’ve purposefully walked through the door to trigger the sensor. When the siren has gone off, it’s loud and annoying – just what you want to gain attention! The yellow siren box and window stickers also add a visible deterrent that our house was missing before. The app has also worked perfectly – we all know apps can be glitchy but I’ve not seen any error messages, had the app closing itself or dealt with slow loading. All in all, I’m very impressed and like the reassurance and comfort the system provides.
The Yale Sync Smart Home Alarm Family Kit (IA-320) costs £279.98 and can be purchased from multiple places. As an FYI, if you’re looking for a slightly larger (and more expensive) kit, Yale also do a Sync Smart Home Family Kit Plus and a Full Control Kit which includes additional products to the version we have installed.
The Yale Sync Smart Home Alarm is a great addition to our home security and I’ve been really impressed with it. Our previous setup allowed me to monitor our home through the use of cameras and door / window sensors, however the incorporation of the Yale system boosts our security even more.
Not only does the yellow siren box and window stickers provide a physical and psychological deterrent to onlookers, but I’m able to be alerted and notified of anything happening in the house. For instance, I know if a Motion Detector picks up movement or if a door is opened, even when I’m not in the house thanks to the Yale Smart Living Home App.
Something I particularly like is the ability to either Part Arm or Fully Arm the alarm, and in turn, define the behaviour of all of the devices in either alarm mode. This means, when the dog is in the house, we can zone off part of the house and alarm the rest. Another great feature is the geo-location notification that reminds you via your phone to set the alarm when you’ve left the house – very useful.
Installation was easy thanks to it being battery operated (rather than hardwired) and because the devices are already pre-linked. I had it all setup and working with 45 minutes and it only required a basic level of DIY, i.e. using a drill and screwdriver. In terms of performance, I can’t fault the Yale Sync Smart Home Alarm – the Siren has gone off when I’ve expected it to, we’ve had no false alarms and the app has functioned as expected.
Integrating with Phillips Hue Lighting and Amazon Alexa are two nice features, however we use Hive and Google Home, so we’ve been unable to utilise these. Hopefully these will become compatible in the future as it’s a shame we can’t use the alarm to it’s full potential. Being able to expand the system with 40 devices from the Yale Smart Living range is great and I can see us adding Smoke / Heat Detectors and additional Door / Window Contacts.
The DADventurer Star Rating
5 out of 5 stars
Disclosure: This is a commissioned post in collaboration with Yale. We were also sent the Yale Sync Smart Home Alarm Family Kit for the purposes of writing an honest review.
Disclosure: This post includes an affiliate link(s).