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Home security is getting higher on many people’s agendas, but the cost of a major smart home system or the need to buy the parts piecemeal may put many people off. Fortunately, low-cost sets that can help secure a typical home, or at least add a sense of security are arriving on the market to meet our needs.
iHoan is one of these funny-sounding new brands, but it is a part of Chinese firm Xiaoan aka Shenzhen Security Group, which is a major provider of alarms and security systems.
So, the company has a solid product background with 15-years experience. While this iHoan brand only appears on Amazon from a few dealers, there’s nothing much to worry about with that.
While they could do more to promote the products on the strengths of the parent brand; as is increasingly the case, it is getting harder to tell products apart from familiar brands, as they mostly use the same components.
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The iHoan system provides a WiFi-enabled home cloud-based security alarm system, with a hub, a pair of contact sensors, motion sensor, and a smart doorbell.
A year or so ago, this lot would have cost around $300 but is available for $110 (For the latest prices and discounts, check here) and is currently on sale for half that amount, potentially making it quite a bargain.
The hub can provide audio with a 90-decibel siren and flashing light alerts when there is an alarm. It is Wi-Fi based and doesn’t need additional smart home technology to run.
It can support up to 50 additional iHoan wireless accessories, if you want to round out your smart home with its future products.
These will include a passive infra-red (PIR) motion sensor, door/window contact sensor, smoke detector, gas detector, IP camera, panic button among others, clearly the company has big plans.
The hub can be controlled through voice using an Amazon Echo with Alexa, and is easy to set up, while the An-Home app runs on iOS or Android devices to provide remote alerts and monitoring features.
The doorbell and other features link to the hub, which also work through the app, so you know if you’ve had visitors even if you’re at work or just around the corner.
Pros of the iHoan Alarm System
It won’t take long to set up this system with the waterproof doorbell and other sensors. Everything is battery powered, so there’s no wires to worry about, apart from the hub. That also means if you move between rental properties regularly, you can take this with you without fuss.
Each component is made of durable hard white plastic with deep blue accents for lighting or effect. Since everything is battery powered, even the hub has a lithium cell, then the system will still work with no power, but without the app support, as your WiFi will be down.
Download the app first, link the hub to your WiFi, then link the various sensors to the hub and you are ready to go. You can site the hub up to 200 meters from the doorbell, so signals shouldn’t be a problem for most homes.
The app allows you to set or disable the alarms for each part of the system, so you can leave the windows alarmed while you sleep but not worry about the cat setting off the motion sensor.
The app looks pretty basic but does the job and will show you who’s at the door, and allow you to disable the alarm if it is a friendly visitor.
System settings in the app allow you to set times when the alarms are automatically on or off, add in entry and exit delays for your comings and goings. For a Chinese app, the English is passable.
Alexa compatibility is a bonus, almost everything we see in 2017 is coming with the ability to be controlled by Amazon Echo’s smart assistant, and this is no exception. Set up and pairing is easy to perform and she can disable or enable the alarm for you as you leave.
Cons of the iHoan Alarm System
The cloud-storage issue might be a concern, especially with a company that has no obvious American presence. Which cloud provider are they using, what happens if the company decides to stop selling the product, and so on may be questions you don’t want to be answering if the product suddenly goes dead.
Assuming parent company SSG has done its research and is using commercial cloud providers, then you are at no more risk than with any other cloud-based security product.
Otherwise, we have a range of fairly basic components with very little specification information, but they work and provide a basic line of defence against intruders.
It is a shame there’s no camera as part of the package as that could help with identification and reassurance, but once the other parts of the system become available, then things could rapidly improve and you could get a decent all-round system for a low cost.
Not everyone can afford an expensive alarm setup, and when going for the something is better than nothing approach, then this is certainly not going to break the bank and provides a reasonable basic solution.
With most other basic kits starting at around $250, this could well tempt a few buyers to try it out.
If the company providing the iHoan brand to the west does manage to provide the additional components then this could be a neat little system to own, so it is probably worth waiting a while to see if the cameras and other gizmos do turn up before spending anything on this.
But, if you’re desperate for some reassurance then this is a lot better than nothing.
Patrick Sinclair is a geek; make no mistake about that. He runs All Home Robotics in his spare time so he doesn’t have to think about his depressing cubicle and it gives him an excuse to buy expensive gadgets to review!