June 09, 2011
| by Steven Castle
Cable giant Comcast is expanding its fledgling Xfinity Home Security service into six additional U.S. market areas.
The 24/7 security monitoring service was first unveiled in Houston in mid-2010 and is now being rolled out in parts of Philadelphia; Portland, Ore.; Jacksonville, Fla.; Sarasota/Naples, Fla.; Chattanooga, Tenn.; and Nashville. Additional markets will be introduced on a rolling basis.
Comcast is selling the Xfinity Home Security Preferred Package for $40 per month. The package includes four window/door sensors, motion detector, wireless keypad, keychain remote and a touchscreen controller. Energy management features such as wireless control of thermostats and some lights via plug-in lighting/appliance modules is extra. (See price listings below.)
The Preferred Package also includes mobile access via a free iPhone app, fire protection (equipment not included), email and text alerts, full touchscreen access, and video monitoring with cameras as an option. The Basic system, priced at $30, does not include these features, and comes with only two window/door sensors, motion detector and wireless keypad. Both packages offer cellular backup in the case of power outages.
The optional lighting and thermostat control allows users to program set times for lights to go on or off and for heating or cooling to reach predetermined set-points. The lights and thermostat can also be tied to the arm and disarm functions of the security system, so lights will go off and the thermostat set back as you leave the house to save energy.
As for installation, currently Xfinity is running an introductory offer for $199.
More Energy Management to Come?
Comcast is adding features and functions to Xfinity Home Security because “we didn’t want to come out with a plain vanilla security system,” says Comcast spokesman Charlie Douglas. He says some wireless light switches and in-wall electrical outlets that connect to the system will likely be introduced in the future, and there may be some energy monitoring functions and sharing of data so users can view neighborhood electricity consumption patterns.
The systems being rolled out in the new markets are using the former uControl platform, now owned by iControl (and called iControl SMA) and ZigBee’s wireless communication technology. Those in the initial Houston rollout will continue to use a different iControl platform using Z-Wave and may eventually be switched over to the other platform, says Douglas.
Comcast says Xfinity Home Security customers will also be eligible to receive up to a 20 percent discount on their homeowners’ insurance.
Here are the packages, as reported by our sister site, CEPro.com:
Basic security system with security sensors and cellular communications
Security, including cellular, plus basic automation including lighting and thermostat control; remote monitoring and control via web browser or smartphone, as well as email and text alerts.
Preferred with Video—$45/month
Preferred system plus support for up to five IP surveillance cameras.
Additional wireless devices (installed) cost:
- Motion sensor—$150
- Door/window sensor—$70
- Video camera—$150 (or two for $199 during promotional period)
- Smoke detector—$150
- Lighting/appliance module—$90
Steven Castle is Electronic House's managing editor. he has been writing about consumer electronics, homes and energy efficiency topics for two decades. He is also the co-founder of GreenTech Advocates