Opinions: how reliable is IRIS for security?
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8 posts in this topic

I’m considering getting IRIS because I really like it’s potential, flexibility, and affordability.  But I’m mainly looking for a system that gives me reliable security monitoring, and I want to understand if the current IRIS version is a good fit for that.  I realize this may be nuanced and subjective, but please share your opinions (note: I’ve posted this to the IRIS official community, and got a good reply from an IRIS tech, but no user opinions so far….)

To be specific, I will compare IRIS to Abode and SmartThings, which I consider to be DYI systems with a similar set of features at affordable price.  Abode is limited with automation and supported devices, but it’s well thought-out for reliable and dependable security, and it just works out of the box in an “arm it and forget it” kinda way.  SmartThings has superior automation and integration, but users complain that it’s unreliable… e.g. often failing to recognize sensor open/close status, delays in arming/disarming, or in communicating notifications to the app, etc.  

Where does IRIS fit in that spectrum?  Browsing the forums, I see issues with devices disconnecting from network, not receiving push notifications, etc.  So, I get an impression IRIS is more like SmartThings – great for automation, but less so for security.  In my case, I’m away often and for long periods, and I need a system that will arm when I tell it to, will not be sending me constant false alarms (especially if I use police pro-monitoring), will keep most sensors working, and will not require me tinkering with it every week to fix issues.  It doesn’t have to be great, but it needs to be reliable in the basic security/usability aspects and not cause me major headaches while I’m away.  I’ve got a good reply from an IRIS tech and it looks like IRIS has a lot of intelligence to gracefully handle some issues, like requiring more than 1 motion sensor to trigger before an alarm, or letting me arm the system even if some sensors fall offline, and adding them automatically later when they come back…   Still, how isolated or widespread are this kind of problems with IRIS?  Is Iris a good solution for me? 

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Funny you should ask. Just last night, for the first time in over 6 months, for some reason the hub decided I left the house in the middle of the night and started to set the alarm. I know this because I heard the beep on the keypad right outside the bedroom and it woke me up. I had not set the alarm last night for some reason, so it was off. Looking in history it shows that I left at 3:27 am and ran the Away scene then that I returned at 3:30am and ran the Home scene. But in reality I disabled the alarm by the keypad so the Home scene never ran. Of course the Away scene, however that was triggered was not by me actually leaving. Only the wife and I were home and both asleep. My keyfob and phone are both in the house. I can only guess that the keyfob lost connection to the hub for those 3 minutes, but the battery level shows as 100% today.

 

Checking the hub from the app it has not lost connection or rebooted in over 3 days, so the hiccup is not there. My keyfob says it last paired on July 20, 2016. Same for the wifes' keyfob, been online since July 22, 2016.

 

False Alarm.png

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Smartthings has no built-in support for delayed alarm triggering so that you can use a keypad to prevent an alarm when you enter.  So, when you open a door, the alarm will immediately trigger.  You don't get 30 seconds to enter a code on a keypad to prevent the alarm.   And, once the alarm triggers, you must use the official SmartThings app to cancel it.  You cannot use the keypad to cancel an alarm once it is triggered.  Smartthings recommends using the app and geofencing to disable the alarm when you arrive.  This works most of the time, but sometimes it doesn't.  If you have a siren, the few times this happens are enough to remove the siren.   Also, you can't just give a cat-sitter a PIN to use for the alarm.  

HOWEVER, there are definitely ways to get entry and exit delays working in SmartThings with 3rd party apps/solutions posted in the forums, but it can be tricky to set up and maintain and are not supported by ST.  Other than that, I have no problems with sensors disconnecting  with ST (but I am using 100% z-wave sensors.)  If you are technical and don't mind tinkering with the system, it can be a good security system. 

 

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I have had my Iris system for over 4 years now and I have to say that it has served me well as a security system.  The handful of times that I have received a false alarm can be attributed to user error or as @sparc pointed out, key fob presence rules gone awry.  There have been some significant improvements since Gen 2 was first introduced and I would say that most of the connectivity issues are have been resolved.  Keep in mind that all these systems you are looking at use some type of wireless protocol and are battery operated so there is always a possibility for interference or power related issues that could cause a system failure. 

I would say that Iris would be a good fit for you and can honestly say that if I had to start over I would would more than likely stay with my first choice.  However, if you decide you want to include video surveillance as part of your security system there are better solutions out there than what Iris has to offer.

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"Keep in mind that all these systems you are looking at use some type of wireless protocol and
are battery operated so there is always a possibility for interference or power related issues that
could cause a system failure."

And that would be true no matter whose system you were using. If it has wireless and/or battery
powered devices then that possibility will always exist.

It did take some time but I would say reliability is as good or better than it was with the 1st Gen hub.

We don't have all the features that we had with V1, but as far as reliability I would say Iris has been
doing well for the past 6 months.

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I have used iris for security around 3 years now. I've only had a couple of false alarms in that time and I've found it to be pretty reliable. Once I had a newly install contact sensor that I didn't secure properly fall off a door, but that was user error. The other times it has been one particular motion sensor... it happened two times around the same time of day and same time of the year. I attributed it to something with the sunlight coming through the windows and shadows. If you have too many issues with motion detectors you can also enable a setting that requires 2 sensors to be tripped to trigger the alarm.
I will say I've had a few issues with keyfobs leaving and reconnecting in the middle of the night also, but there is always a good reason. We have a designated place to hang our keys, and if we put them where they go we've never had a problem. In the event my wife leaves her keys in her pocketbook and it gets placed in certain areas it can happen. Also with my keys in my pants pocket, if they end up at the bottom of a laundry pile it sometimes happens. I have also experienced this with low batteries.
I have found a few things to do to mitigate this issue.
#1 Have a designated place for your keys where they should have clear communication with the hub. Key hangers work well. Try to avoid placing them in wire frame baskets that might interfere with the signal.
#2 Ensure batteries are not low. This might sound obvious, but I've not found the battery monitoring in iris to be reliable.
#3 Create schedules for presence based rules. My keyfob rules which lock/unlock doors or modify the state of the alarm system are not active between midnight and the time we normally get up. This way, if something did go wonky while we were sleeping the doors would not be unlocking and nothing would change with the alarm. 

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I've found the system itself to be pretty reliable in regard to security. It's the monitoring service that worries me. See this post for a description of my experience:

Even thought I posted over a month ago, I've never received a response from an Iris representative in the community forum.  When I raised the issue with a Development Team member this week, he apologized profusely and said he would send the report up the chain again. He did say that I posted in a part of the community forum that may not be monitored as closely now that Professional Monitoring is up and running (It was an invitation-only section for early adopters of the service). I don't take much comfort in that, and still haven't heard anything back from my phone inquiries either.

I'd at least like to be told that the third-party monitoring service was made aware of their failure that night, and that more resources are being added to that service's phone staff.

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Thank you for all your comments.  I was mostly concerned about situations when I'm away for an extended time and my sensors just disconnect from the network and don't come back on their own, and there is no way for me to fix it, so the whole system becomes useless in the most critical task of keeping the house safe.  Or not being able to arm the system when I'm rushing out the door.  It seems like those kind of issues are relatively isolated and overall the system is pretty reliable.  If I have just one or two sensors disconnect couple of times a year,  that is tolerable (although I've also heard an anecdotal example of someone buying a 100ft cat5 cable so he could walk the IRIS hub around the house to re-connect the sensors, which sounded terrible).  I also like the fact that you can specify 2 devices to trigger an alarm, although I think this idea need to be improved to be more configurable as opposed to just specifying the minimum number of sensors.... for example, if my front door sensor it tripped, that alone should be enough to sound the alarm, but if a motion sensor is tripped, then you would want to wait for one more device to trigger, etc. 

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