Making plans for our Smart Home system, our objective was to find a system that:
- Provides the functionality we were looking for
- Is both easy to use and easy to install
- Is low cost - avoids monthly service charges and fees
Among the systems we considered, Vera (getvera.com) offered the most functionality with no monthly service charge.
With Vera, we could: sound alarms when doors are opened or motion is detected; view our security camera from anywhere; turn on lights and switches either on a schedule or remotely from our phone; and adjust our thermostat from the comfort of a warm bed (or just before getting home).
What other options did we consider?
A close contender was Simplisafe, because of two reasons.
First, Simplisafe made it super easy to install their system and get it running. For each device, you just (a) pull a small paper tab to activate the batteries, (b) remove the backing paper on the mounting sticker, and (c) stick the device where you need it.
Second, like the Vera, using Simplisafe does not require paying a monthly fee.
However, Simplisafe can't do everything that Vera does. It is not really a home automation system, it is focused solely on home security. It could manage our sensors and alarms, but it wouldn't let us access the security cameras, and we wouldn't be able to control our lights and our thermostat.
Another runner up was Lowe's Iris system.
Like the Vera, Iris can do home control, climate control, and security. However, you can only control two devices for free. In order to control more devices, you need to pay a monthly fee. This was a deal breaker for us.
So if you want a simple, integrated, extensible and fee-free home automation solution, Vera could very well be the best option for you.
See which components we bought and installed: Vera Shopping List.