The Iris home automation system was developed and created by Lowe's, a trusted hardware and home improvement store. The Iris home automation system is available online. The company offers a choice of two starter packages. It is significant to note that the Iris Hub, which is required to act as a bridge for all of the connected products and the user's smartphone. The system offers both a free and premium plan, with an additional medical monitoring pendant available for an added monthly fee and the cost of equipment.
- Ease of getting started
- Choice in plans
Ease of Getting Started
The Iris home automation system offers affordable starter kits that make it easy to get started right away. For some of the more advanced features, the company recommends professional installation. These costs vary based on the system and features.
Iris is compatible with most Z-Wave devices, so users can add to their system easily. The process of pairing is fairly straightforward and has been compared to the process of adding wireless printers or connecting devices to a router. Those who are comfortable with doing either, should be comfortable with adding new products to the system.
Choice in Plans
Iris includes two options of monitoring plans-Basic and Premium. The Basic Plan is free. Those selecting the Premium Plan receive two months free and has a monthly charge of $9.99. The free trial allows members to decide if the service is right for them before being charged. Most customers find that the Basic Plan does not allow them enough flexibility and choose to purchase the Premium Plan.
The Basic Plan gives members the ability to do the following:
- Control devices, thermostat, and sprinkler system remotely
- Schedule devices to turn on or off
- Stream live video to their smartphone
- Receive notifications for alarms or alerts
- Review activity history log for the past 24 hours
- Lock or unlock doors remotely
- Monitor the interior temperature of the home
- Create rules for the household and be alerted to any changes to family members' daily routines
Users of the Premium Plan receive each of the above benefits, plus the following:
- Group lights and switches into custom groupings
- Up to six people can receive notifications for alarms or alerts
- Review the activity history log for up to the last 14 days
- Create on-command video recordings which also can be triggered by alarms or events
- Receive notifications when authorized users arrive or depart the home - such as when children leave for school and return home safely
- Create system-wide rule so that devices can trigger other devices
- Customize the dashboard with quick links to favorite devices
- Up to six people can receive messages if routines are out of the ordinary
Iris also offers a separate care plan for caregivers or family members of aging adults. This includes active monitoring, and care alarms/alerts to help caregivers ensure the people in their care are being looked after. Similar to medical monitoring programs, a separate pendant is purchased. Unlike other similar programs, the cost of the Iris Care Plan is significantly lower.
Iris by Lowe's home automation is compatible with most Z-Wave and Zigbee products.
In addition to the several Iris-branded products on their site, Iris by Lowe's system is also compatible with products from other home automation brands such as GE and Honeywell. Using the Iris basic service does not require any monthly charge, and there is no long-term contract associated with this system.
*NOTE: Iris charges $9.99/month to use services on top of the equipment price. This is why the initial price appears so high. The price includes the $9.99/month for three years.*
- High-tiered plan is average for industry
- No video download
- Problems with app and products
- Starter kits do not include hub
High-Tiered Plan Is Average for Industry
Iris offers a competitive product to several DIY hubs/sensors which are already on the market. For most of these, there is no monthly cost for monitoring. While less expensive than most of the full monitoring systems, the Premium Plan is not significantly different from the competitors to justify a monthly fee for many users.
No Video Download
Users can set up rules so that the system would automatically record when certain sensors are triggered, e.g. when someone crosses the threshold of the porch, etc. This can be useful if packages are stolen, etc., but the fatal flaw in Iris is that these videos cannot be downloaded so that
Problems with app and products
Customers have reported problems with the app which range from bugs to the interface being too cluttered. Iris recently released an update which was supposed to address glitches, but there has not been enough time elapsed to see if this has been the case with customers since the release.
Many of the Iris products have mediocre ratings on Lowe's site, which suggests that there remain some issues with the technology to work through. Again, time will tell, but it may be a concern for some.
Starter Kits Do Not Include Hub
Worth mentioning is that the Iris Starter kits sold by Lowe's do not include the Iris hub. Pricing for these kits and the number of sensors included is comparable to competing companies, but the starter kit is absent a critical piece of equipment, making the price per piece significantly higher for Iris starter kits.
The Bottom Line
The Iris home automation system is a simple solution which covers the security and comfort needs of the home. Many customers will find that the Basic plan is sufficient for their lifestyles at first, but as they become more familiar with home automation, they are likely to want more options and personalization in their home automation-requiring the Premium Plan and its features. The addition of a pendant for seniors or at-risk individuals is a nice touch and will help many families. Some may prefer to wait a bit longer before they commit to Iris to allow for the bugs to be fully addressed.
We recommend Iris by Lowe's for those looking for a system which grows with a family, as long as customers are aware of the various weaknesses with the system itself.