The touchscreen hub is intuitive
Automated rules are easy to set up
The system provides multiple devices for arming and disarming
A custom Gateway modem creates a reliable wireless network
You can see a live feed from security cameras on your television
The look and feel of the system is slightly outdated
The single indoor/outdoor camera is low resolution and lacks a privacy feature
Xfinity Home doesn’t offer a doorbell camera
Technicians don’t help you set up smart-home devices
Notifications and other functions have a slight delay
Xfinity Home Security
Installing home security sensors and cameras can feel like adding yet another high-tech system in your life. Why complicate things more than necessary? Xfinity, the popular provider of television and internet, simplifies things by having the cable company’s technician put sensors on doors, install cameras, and set up a touchscreen hub to manage how they work. You can also save on your monthly bill by bundling security with other home tech provided by Xfinity.
There are other advantages to Xfinity Home. You can arm and disarm the system—or glance at a feed from security cameras—using your television’s Voice Remote.
However, the convenience comes with drawbacks. The system lacks the most sophisticated interface and interactions offered by leading competitors. Its cameras are low resolution, lack a privacy function, and can’t do two-walk talk.
In our five-week test of Xfinity Home, the core system of sensors and motion detectors performed well. The touchscreen hub and mobile app are solid, although the design feels about one generation behind the times. If you want the latest and greatest in smart-home tech, then take a look at a dedicated security company like Vivint or ADT. But if aesthetic concerns are a non-issue for you, then consider joining the one million customers who use Xfinity Home to protect their homes.
Establishing an Xfinity Home account starts just like ordering television, internet, or voice services from Comcast. Give the cable company a call. Existing customers will use their current account. Of course, you should be prepared to go through an automated voice system before speaking with a representative about home security options. When we got through that minor hassle, the rep was knowledgeable and helpful.
I originally purchased a basic package which had four contact sensors, one motion sensor, a keypad, and a touchscreen hub. Now, in Feb. 2021 however, it should be mentioned that this plan is no longer available—the closest package they now offer is their Complete Home System Plan. The Complete Home System package comes with all the same devices, except it has five contact sensors instead of four. You'll be expected to sign a two-year contract for professional monitoring for around $20 a month. It should also be noted that the ability to purchase Xfinity Home will vary by area due to COVID-19 regulations and restrictions on professional, in-home installation. Be sure to call and confirm it's available in your area right now.
It's difficult to give a specific price range for Xfinity Home packages because prices vary quite a bit depending on your area. That’s because Xfinity Home, depending on your region, could offer special pricing and bundles with other Comcast services. A package like their Home Security Plan can potentially cost you as low as $30 per month and a Home Security Plus Plan can be as low as $40 per month. Prices can also vary depending on how many other Xfinity services are already provided to your home. While we prefer transparent and upfront pricing for home security, these Xfinity bundles can save you money.
The technician who came to install our system was knowledgeable and friendly. But don’t expect to hear about all the nuances of smart, perimeter-wide protection of your home or have a long talk about the relative virtues of using multiple window sensors versus using a single motion sensor to protect an entire area. Xfinity Home sends a pre-visit checklist to help prepare for setting up an account. But that doesn’t relate to choosing the devices.
Expect only the most essential security sensors and cameras, as well as a smart thermostat, smoke detector, and outlet controller. For other smart-home devices listed as “partners” on the Xfinity Home website, you’ll need to buy those directly from other sources. Xfinity retail locations in your region might sell lightbulbs and locks.
Xfinity Home is a professionally installed home security system that’s interconnected with your cable television and internet services. We did not previously have Xfinity cable television, so the first order of business was establishing television service and making sure that we had a fast, solid Wi-Fi network in the home. That meant upgrading to the Xfinity XB6 Gateway Modem—equipped with dual-band 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz router for long-range Wi-Fi.
Xfinity Home prefers that you rent the XB6 because it gives its technicians built-in diagnostics. But the rental does add money to your monthly bill. We later discovered that Xfinity will use your existing modem (by attaching an add-on piece of equipment) at no monthly cost.
The technician also plugged in a Wi-Fi “pod” repeater manufactured by Plume, a provider of home-based Wi-Fi mesh equipment and services. The little pods plug into an outlet automatically talk with the Xfinity modem to increase the reliability of system communications.
Then we were guided through installing two smartphone apps. The first one, xFi, manages the network and its connections, devices, and speed testing. Those network functions do not come with the main Xfinity Home app. Needing two separate apps is not an ideal customer experience, but after the xFi app is set up, it’s not required regularly. Some Xfinity customers might need two additional apps for account services and streaming media—creating a jumble of four different smartphone apps.
With the Gateway Modem up and running and the apps working as they should, you’ll have a secure wireless network (or SSID) for your security system. Your existing home Wi-Fi will operate on a separate network.
Before Xfinity showed up, our test home already had a Nest thermostat, Kwikset smart lock, and a Philips Hue gateway device for controlling a few lightbulbs. Xfinity technicians do not install any of these smart-home devices. It took a few tries over a few days to get the Philips Hue lightbulbs connected with Xfinity Home, a problem the technician knew about when installing the system, but did not help resolve.
However, Xfinity sells and supports Sengled smart lightbulbs that couldn’t be any easier to connect. Just screw in the bulb, use the “Add a device” function, and immediately you have a way to turn those lights on and off in the app. And you can easily set up rules like to turn on lights at a particular hour or when you enter through a specific door. Heads up to those with Nest and Ring devices—they are not included in the Xfinity app’s “add a device” section.
It was just as easy to automate the power to any appliance with Xfinity’s plug-and-play “outlet controller.”
During the installation, the quantity and location of door/window sensors and cameras was mostly left to us. The message was, “It’s your home, so it’s up to you.” We decided on a system with seven door sensors, two motion detectors, and two security cameras. After we selected their location, the technician was proficient with their installation, including the outdoor camera that required a modest amount of drilling and wiring. The tech also ran a set of diagnostics to ensure a strong signal to each device.
We thought about adding a third camera and more repeater “pods,” but those devices were not available in the truck. We strongly suggest making a detailed list of desired devices and make sure they are included in the order before an Xfinity technician arrives.
Finally, we walked through how the system works, the use of the touchscreen hub versus mobile apps, and how to name the devices. Again, Xfinity Home technicians were professional, helpful, and courteous.
How It Works
Xfinity Home provides no fewer than five different ways to arm and disarm the system:
- A small touchscreen by the front door
- The Xfinity Home mobile app
- The X1 voice-enabled television remote control
- A wireless button-based keypad
- Your Xfinity web dashboard
In principle, it can be advantageous to have so many access points. On the other hand, each one of the interfaces operates differently, so it takes time to figure out which controller should be used.
For example, the wireless keypad—ideal for keeping by your bedside—has a color indicator light but not a screen. An amber light indicates that one of your doors is open but no information about which one. The touchscreen hub, based on our experience, was the best way to arm and disarm the system—but doesn’t provide a way to set up automated rules. You do that with the smartphone app. Continuously recorded video is only viewable via the web dashboard.
The hub’s icons and fonts are large, bold, and a bit outdated. But we came to appreciate the screen’s simplicity and easy visibility. Whenever you’re ready to arm, push the giant “Disarmed” virtual button. Then select Home, Stay, or Night, enter your security code, and a two-minute countdown begins.
Like most security systems, the Home status turns on door/window sensors but bypasses motion detectors so you can move freely in the house. The Away mode activates both types of sensors. Night mode works just like Stay but gives you the option to enable motion detectors in low-traffic areas such as garages, attics, and basements.
If you opt for Xfinity’s Home Security Plus Plan, the video feeds are continuously recorded via a cloud-based virtual recorder. When the camera detects motion, a two-minute clip of the “motion event” is added to your timeline.
Unlike systems with state-of-the-art cameras, however, you can’t control the type of motion that triggers the motion event. You can listen to audio from the cameras, but there’s no two-way talk function to speak with a person at your door or in your yard.
These shortcomings aside, Xfinity Home could be the ideal security choice if family members don't have a smartphone or prefer not to use one. They can use the television remote to see camera feeds and arm/disarm. That can be done by pushing the microphone icon on the remote and speaking easy commands, such as “Xfinity Home, arm” or “Xfinity Home, show me back door camera.” TV junkies will also appreciate the ability to turn lights on and off without leaving the couch.
We appreciated Xfinity’s test mode, an easy-to-follow process to ensure that all the sensors are working—an important task that should be performed for any security system every month or so. The mobile app has a chat function to contact tech support. On one occasion, we had to wait for 15 minutes to chat with a tech agent who was not well informed. But on a second chat, we immediately reached a helpful agent.
Easy automation: Most security systems allow you to set up automated rules that control the alarm and smart-home devices. Some of them can be overly complicated. But Xfinity Home’s mobile app displays automation rules in plain English, using web-style underlined links to change the parameters. Here’s an example:
- At 6:00 am, disarm security system.
Tap any of the underlined items to make a change. If I click 6:00 am, the next screen allows me to change the time, or switch it to sunrise or sunset. It’s just as easy to set the rule to, for example, arming the system at midnight.
We created another rule to turn on our living room light when we step into the room—and turn it off after 10 minutes. Here’s how it looks:
- When Living room motion detects motion, turn on
- Living room light and turn off after 10 minutes.
Notifications use the same simple process so that you can get an email, text message, app notification, or X1 message (sent to the television) when, for example, a specific door is opened or closed. You can also get a similar notification if the door does not open by a particular time—so parents of teenagers know if they’ve returned by their curfew.
You can even set up “scenes” that combine a set of rules. For example, a “Good Morning” scene could simultaneously disarm the system at sunrise, turn on a light, and warm up the house. Of course, many home security systems can do something similar, but not with the same level of ease.
Biometric security: When you set up Xfinity Home, you’ll establish a four-digit code to control the keypad. You’ll also need a passcode word. If the alarm goes off, the professional remote monitoring center will call your phone (and a backup phone number) to verify if it’s a real break-in or a false alarm. You confirm your identity by giving them your secret passcode. These settings are controlled via your smartphone app, which essentially becomes the key to the system.
As a security measure, the app confirms your identity when changing settings, including these crucial codes. Typing in your phone’s Passcode each time can be a nuisance. So Xfinity Home allows you to use your phone’s Face ID or fingerprint ID to confirm that you’re the one making the changes or arming/disarming the system. That’s a nice touch.
Prices and Fees
There was no mandatory upfront cost for Xfinity Home’s basic starter package at the time of my purchase. That’s usually how traditional security companies, including Xfinity, get you to commit to a two-year contract for professional monitoring. As of Feb. 2021, Xfinity Home's lowest priced plan, their Base Home System package—consisting of three door/ window sensors, one touchscreen controller, one motion sensor, and one yard sign—costs $360 upfront, as a one time payment. Or you can agree to at least $15 per month for 24 months.
Many homeowners will want to protect their homes completely and this package only covers one to two entrances. That's why it might be worth it to upgrade to the Complete Home System that includes all of the above, but adds the addition of a keypad controller and five door/window sensors instead of three. Below is the per-item cost of the equipment I purchased for my own home to give you a better idea of the price range you'll be looking at for each:
Door/window sensor: $20
Motion sensor: $40
Indoor/outdoor camera: $120
Zen Thermostat: $120
Smoke detector: $70
Outlet controller: $50
Wireless keypad: $40
The system that we installed consisted of 10 window sensors, a motion sensor, a keypad, and two cameras. We also added a $120 Zen Thermostat and $50 outlet controller. For that set of equipment, we were given the option to pay $720 upfront or finance it without interest at $32 a month for 24 months.
That’s in addition to the cost of professional monitoring and the $13 a month rented modem. Keep in mind that Xfinity Comcast frequently offers special prices when bundling home security with television, internet, and telephone. A company spokesperson told us that these deals commonly reduce the cost by about $10 a month.
Xfinity Home is a brand of Comcast. Working with a large national media-services company is a different proposition than getting home security from a firm that strictly focuses on home security. For example, competitors like Vivint will make sure you have the latest, greatest gear—and its technicians help you install and support smart locks, lights, garage openers, and personal assistants. Xfinity Home is a more generic offering.
That’s perfectly fine if you believe that protecting your home with a few sensors and a basic security camera is a commodity. Perhaps you’re perfectly fine not having a video doorbell. In exchange, you’ll save some hassle and probably a few dollars. As a bonus, you can use your big-screen television and remote control to manage the system.
Xfinity Home is a reliable home security solution. It works mostly like a traditional security company that locks you into a two-year contract. The gear might be slightly generic or lack cutting-edge devices like a video doorbell, but Xfinity Home provides a reliable service with professional installation and monitoring.