Hot in for review at The Tech Spy offices this week is the Yale Easy Fit SmartPhone Alarm.
This is Yale’s top of the range wireless alarm and being part of their ‘Easy Fit’ range promises to be a breeze to install thanks to all components being pre-paired. So, let’s get on with it….
Included is the control panel, keypad, siren box, dummy box, 1x standard PIR room sensor, 1x camera PIR, 1x door contact, Ethernet cable and all fixings.
The first step was to plug the control panel into my router using the supplied Ethernet cable and power it on. Next, I downloaded the Yale app to my iPhone and once installed, I created myself an account.
I was then prompted to enter the control panel’s MAC address to register the alarm and the app immediately picked it up. So far, so painless.
The siren box was the first thing to go up, and it really was as simple as drilling four holes in the exterior wall, screwing it in and switching it on. If you’ve ever had a wireless alarm where the components need pairing before installing, you will know my relief that the siren box remained silent during install!
With every wireless alarm I’ve installed in the past, the siren has gone off at some point while I’ve been 20ft up a ladder. Let’s just say that it’s not a pleasant experience and I dread it each time. Granted, that may have been me not pairing the siren correctly or triggering the tamper switch accidentally, but either way. I had no such problems this time.
The PIRs, door contact and keypad all have ‘knockout holes’ for screwing to the wall, but these need to be drilled rather than punched through. It’s simple enough however and took 5 minutes.
The keypad was mounted by the front door and the door contact was easily mounted on the UPVC patio door using the supplied adhesive pads.
The standard room PIR was easily affixed to the corner of the living room wall with just a couple of rawlplugs and screws, as was the Camera PIR in the kitchen.
And that’s it!
On opening the app (I am using the iOS version), you will prompted to login to your Yale account. Unfortunately this isn’t a one-time occurrence – you will be prompted to login every time you open the app unless it has recently been suspended to the App Switcher.
The app will however keep the username and password fields populated with the last successful credentials, which makes this a little less frustrating, but only if you’ve ticked the ‘Remember me’ box.
Hopefully with a software update, the app will skip this login page entirely and just use last configuration settings to take you directly to the main page. For now though, it’s just another page that needs to be loaded and clicked through before you can remotely arm or disarm the alarm.
Once logged in, the next step is to check that all of the accessories (devices) can be communicated with successfully.
Here you can see the 5 devices that ship with the alarm as standard:
You may notice that the Status column appears blank for every device. This is a little confusing at first, but blank means ‘Good’. If a device was offline, you would see a yellow exclamation mark in this column. I’ve tested this by taking devices well out of range and also by removing the batteries. A green tick would be more informative than a blank cell and this is something I will suggest to Yale.
The Walk Test
The Walk Test is an essential part of the install process that verifies the sensors actually pick up movement (or a contact break in the case of the door sensors). This involves pressing the Walk Test button at the bottom of the device page and then, quite literally, walking around the house. The PIRs should pick up any movement and an audible chirp should be heard from the control panel.
The door contact and normal PIR worked as expected, but I couldn’t get the camera PIR to pick up any movement as I walked around.
Try as I might, I could never get the camera PIR to pick me up. Biting the bullet, and going against every urge I had, I eventually succumbed to calling Yale’s support line. I explained the problem and they ran me through some tests, including re-pairing the device to the control panel, but to no avail. They promised to send me a replacement PIR which duly arrived a couple of days later for me to pair with the alarm and try again.
Even with the new PIR, it just would not pick me up on the Walk Test so I called Yale again. Their support representative informed me that the PIRs ‘sleep’ for 90 seconds after the last detected movement in order to conserve battery power and would therefore need a short period of time before registering any movements on the Walk Test. I tried this too, but even after 4-5 minutes of waiting out of sight, the camera PIR still wouldn’t register any movement.
They advised that for a proper test I should arm the system and then try to enter the building through the area monitored by the camera PIR.
Success! An immediate trigger of the alarm! Testing of the other area covered by the normal PIR also worked along with the door contact. So it transpires that the alarm is actually in full working order but the instructions regarding the Walk Test could do with updating. The camera PIR isn’t configured to trigger a Walk Test event – possibly due to the fact that there is much more hardware inside and still running off AA batteries – but it does work normally when the system is armed.
I also received a photo taken by the camera PIR during this ‘break-in’ which is stored on Yale’s server and accessible in the app:
Yale will keep a list of the last 100 images for you, which is more than enough and these can be passed to the Police in the event of real burglary. It should be noted the the camera PIR is assisted by a flash rather than any form of IR-assisted imagery.
The alarm supports up to 20 zones which can be individually assigned home/away/burglar/entry modes depending on what the normal method of access to your property is.
Let’s be honest though, the real reason for this alarm though is the remote arm/disarm. The amount of times that I’ve forgotten to arm my alarm long after I’ve left the house unattended for the weekend is staggering and I’ve been left contemplating turning around to go back or begging a family member to pop around to arm it. Well, forget those days, the future is here. It really is as simple as this screenshot would suggest:
Hit Arm to arm, Disarm to disarm, what could be easier?
A solid, modern, smartphone enabled alarm. 8/10
Once installed, rock solid.
Responsive and helpful customer service.
Confusing installation instructions.
App doesn’t auto-login.