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The Brinks Smart Security Essential system supports voice control and works with a host of Z-Wave components, but it requires a multi-year monitoring contract and takes a long time to set up.
Brinks Home Security offers several security systems for do-it-yourselfers looking to arm their homes with the latest security and smart home automation devices. These systems come with a 7-inch touch-screen control panel and motion and entry sensors, and can be configured with indoor and outdoor cameras and video doorbells. You can also add numerous Z-Wave devices such as thermostats, door locks, light switches, and garage door openers, and control them all with your phone or your voice. That said, the installation process took way too long in testing. Moreover, you have to enter into a three-year professional monitoring contract, and you’ll pay more for additional components than you will with our top DIY security picks, SimpliSafe and Wyze Home Monitoring.
Brinks Pricing and Features
Brinks offers three preconfigured packages and a bunch of add-on components. The Smart Security Essential package reviewed here goes for $199 and includes a 7-inch touch-screen control panel, a motion sensor, two door/window sensors, a yard sign and sticker, and a setup guide.
The Smart Security Complete package is $349 and comes with the panel, a motion sensor, two door/window sensors, a Skybell video doorbell camera, and the yard sign, stickers, and manuals. The most robust package, the Smart Security Ultimate, will run you $699 and comes with a motion sensor, three door/window sensors, an outdoor camera, a Skybell video doorbell camera, all of the yard signs, stickers, and manuals, and free professional installation.
To use the Brinks system, you have to commit to a three-year professional 24/7 monitoring plan that varies in price depending on which system you order. Monitoring for the Essential system will cost you $39.99 per month, while monitoring for the Complete system jumps to $44.99. The Ultimate system will cost you $49.99 per month.
In comparison, SimpliSafe’s interactive monitoring plan goes for $24.99 per month and Wyze charges just $4.99 per month for its monitoring service, and neither requires a contract commitment. Moreover, both the Wyze and SimpliSafe systems will continue to work if you cancel or suspend monitoring, but if you cancel your Brinks monitoring subscription, the mobile app will no longer work and you’ll be left with no emergency response features and limited control of home automation components via the panel.
The Android-based control panel measures 5.0 by 7.7 by 0.8 inches (HWD) and contains a 7-inch capacitive touch screen. It can be hung on a wall or placed on a flat surface using the included desktop stand. Inside are Bluetooth, Z-Wave, dual-band Wi-Fi, and cellular radios, as well as a proprietary RF radio that communicates with the sensors, an 85dB siren, and a backup battery that provides up to 24 hours of juice in the event of a power loss. The exterior holds a 5-megapixel front-facing camera that will capture images when an alarm is triggered or when someone tries to access the panel. It also has two microphones and stereo speakers for two-way audio with the monitoring center, a microSD card slot, and a power button. A power cord is hardwired to a terminal on the back of the panel.
The door/window sensors measure 2.2 by 1.0 by 0.5 inches and are powered by two 3V lithium batteries (included). They come with preinstalled double-sided tape for easy installation, and have a wireless signal range of up to 600 feet (open air). The motion sensor measures 3.2 by 2.4 by 1.5 inches, is powered by two AA batteries (included), and has an 80-degree detection radius and a 30-foot-by-50-foot detection range.
You can add up to 119 devices to the system including additional sensors, cameras, garage door openers, smart locks, thermostats, and more, but be prepared to pay a premium. For example, additional Brinks door/window sensors go for $29 each and motion sensors will cost you $59 each, compared with SimpliSafe’s price of $14.99 each for door/window sensors and $29.99 each for motion sensors. Wyze components are even more affordable: you can get three door/window sensors for $19.99 and motion sensors are $7.99 each. Other Brinks components are also pricey: a glass sensor will run you $79 and a smoke detector costs $89. These same components go for $34.99 and $24.99, respectively, when purchased from SimpliSafe, while Abode charges $50 for its glass break detector and $58 for a smoke alarm monitor for its all-in-one iota and Smart Security Kit systems.
The system can be controlled using the touch-screen panel, a mobile app, or a web console. The panel’s home screen displays the date, time, current weather conditions, and large colorful icons that tell you the system status (Armed Stay, Armed Away, Disarmed). Armed Stay enables the door and windows sensors but not the motion sensor, and Armed Away enables all sensors. Tap the weather icon to see a four-day forecast for your area. On the right side of the screen is an activity window that tells you if a sensor has been triggered and its current status. The panel will also emit a voice alert telling you if a door or window sensor has been triggered.
If there are any messages, alerts, or alarms, a red dot will appear in the top right corner of the screen. Tap the dot to open a screen where you can see an activity history with event details. Here you can also view video tutorials. At the bottom of the screen is a Panic button. Tap it to open a menu where you can send alarms to the oolice and fire departments. There’s also an Auxiliary button that will connect you to the Brinks 24/7 emergency response center.
To adjust speaker volume and screen brightness and to access system settings, photo frame settings, and language settings, swipe down from the top of the home screen. System settings include Display, SD Card, Temperature, Device Status, Automation, and Advanced Settings. You need to enter a user code to access the Advanced Settings menu, where you can run system tests, add devices, change Wi-Fi settings, reboot the panel, configure panel sounds, and add Bluetooth devices.
The mobile app, powered by Alarm.com, lets you do everything that you can do with the panel but also lets you create Scenes to control multiple devices with the touch of a button. For example, you can have the system go into Disarm mode and turn on lights (if installed). You can also control any installed locks, lights, thermostats, and cameras, configure geofencing settings that will automatically arm and disarm the system depending on your location, and enable/disable notifications.
The Brinks system works with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant voice commands, but doesn’t support IFTTT applets that allow IFTTT-enabled devices to work with each other.
Installing and Using Brinks
In our tests, installing this system was more trouble than it needed to be and required an activation call that lasted over an hour. I started by following the instructions on the box topper to enter Brinkshome.com/install in a web browser. I clicked Get Started on the opening page, entered my phone number, and plugged in the panel.
I powered up the panel and used the gray bar at the top of the screen to open the Settings screen. I tapped Advanced Settings, entered the default user code, and tapped Wi-Fi. Then I selected my home SSID, entered my password, and was instantly connected to my network. After this I performed a dual-path Wi-Fi test, which tests both Wi-Fi and cellular. Here’s where I ran into my first hiccup: The cellular test failed and I was unable to complete the installation process as instructed. I tried a few more times before calling tech support, and was informed that cellular service would be initialized during my activation phone call.
Tech support connected me with the activation team, initiated a system reboot, and made it through the cellular test. We then tried performing a two-way audio test that connects the panel to the response center, but that test failed twice. Finally, the technician forced a two-way test from their side of the server and the system passed the test.
Next, I received an email asking me to create a username and password and had to answer questions about my house size, how many people live in it, and who supplies my electricity. After this it was time to add the sensors, so I went to the Settings menu on the panel, tapped Advanced Settings, and tapped Installation. I selected Security Sensors from the list, tapped Auto Learn Sensor, and triggered the door sensor. It was immediately recognized and added to my device list. I repeated this for the window and motion sensors, and the system installation was complete. I downloaded the mobile app, logged in, and was finally ready to go.
Once everything was up and running, the Brinks system worked well. All of the sensors were very responsive and immediately triggered alerts on the panel, sent push notifications to my phone, and sent text messages informing me of an event.
The touch-screen panel was also responsive, and made arming and disarming the system and configuring system settings easy. Additionally, the system responded instantly to my Alexa voice commands to Arm-Stay, Arm-Away, and Disarm the system.
If you’re looking for a professionally monitored DIY home security system that will also control Z-Wave devices such as smart locks, light switches, and thermostats, the Brinks Home Security Essential system might be right for you. It showed excellent sensor response and responded flawlessly to Alexa voice commands in testing, and the 7-inch touch-screen panel is responsive and easy to use. That said, the installation process was problematic and time-consuming, and add-on components are relatively expensive. Moreover, you have to commit to a three-year monitoring plan.
If you’re unwilling to enter into a multi-year monitoring agreement, consider our Editors’ Choice for DIY home security, the SimpliSafe Home Security System. It’s very easy to install, offers self-monitoring and flexible professional monitoring options, and its components are reasonably priced. If finances are tight, the Wyze Home Monitoring system (also an Editors’ Choice winner) is the most versatile and affordable system out there.