A few months ago X-Sense reached out to me and offered to send me one of their home security systems in exchange for an honest review. I installed it (March ’22) and I’ve been using it for the past 3 months.
The X-Sense Home Security system is a kit to set up a basic home security system. It comes with entry sensors, motion sensors, and a base hub that’s equipped with a speaker/siren.
So far I’m impressed. It’s a really easy way to get a basic security system set up for a relatively small investment of time and money. It doesn’t come with all the options of a more expensive system, but it does a fine job of reliably sounding an alarm when an intrusion is detected.
You don’t have to pay a monthly fee, you don’t have to be a tech wiz to set it up, and you don’t need any special smart home devices to make it work. However, you do need a smartphone and about an hour to set it up.
- What’s in the Box?
- Detailed Description
- User Experience and Performance
- What I liked…
- What I didn’t like…
- What would make it better?…
- 3 alarm modes: Home, Away, Disarm
- Receive push notifications for alarm events
- Play custom chimes when individual sensors are triggered
- 105 dB alarm
- Security hub has backup battery
- Integrate with Alexa and Google Home
What’s in the Box?
1 security hub,
2 motion sensors,
4 entry sensors,
and 1 remote.
The security hub is the brains of the system. It is the siren and speaker for the alarm system. If your alarm is triggered, it will sound a 105 dB alarm. It also contains a backup battery that contains enough juice to power the unit for twelve hours.
The sensors communicate with the hub via a fast and reliable RF signal. In turn, the security hub connects to your home WiFi. Communications between the hub and your smartphone go through the cloud.
Once connected to WiFi, you can
- -arm/disarm the system using the app
- -receive push notifications when sensors are triggered
- configure custom chimes that sound on the hub when sensors are triggered
- -integrate with your smart home via Alexa or Google Home
The X-Sense security system gives you three alarm modes: Disarm, Home, and Away. To switch between modes, you can use the app, the remote, or automated switching via the smart home integration.
Home and Away modes can be custom configured. You choose which sensors will trigger an alarm, which devices will trigger a push notification, and which devices will trigger nothing. In Disarm mode, no devices will trigger the alarm or push notifications. However, the custom chimes will still sound.
User Experience and Performance
This is aimed at an entry-level DIY’er. It’s a low-cost, basic system that doesn’t require any special knowledge to install or use.
In my opinion, the best way to use this system is as a deterrent for potential intruders. Therefore, the most basic and most important function of this system is to sound an alarm if an intruder tries to enter my home. If it can reliably do that, then I think it’s easily worth the cost.
In order to effectively do that…
- The system should not be difficult to install
- The system has to be easy enough to arm/disarm so that it is actually armed when it’s needed.
- It needs to not be plagued by false alarms.
- The sensors need to signal the security hub reliably and quickly when triggered.
My experience installing the X-Sense security system was quick and painless. As long as you know how to download an app on your smartphone, you should be able to figure this out, too.
- The first step is to download and install the X-Sense app. Once you have the app downloaded, it will guide you through the installation.
- Then, plug in the security hub and use the app to configure the WiFi.
- Once your security hub is connected, you can use the app to pair each of the sensors. It works best to have the sensors near the hub when pairing, so make sure to pair the sensors before you install them in their final location.
- Finally, install the sensors in their final location using the pre-cut adhesive or the included screws and drywall anchors.
How to switch between alarm modes
In order to switch between alarm modes, you have a few options:
- Voice command (via Alexa or Google Home)
- Automated routine (via Alexa or Google Home)
- Geofencing automation (within X-Sense app)
In our house, we arm the system either
- at night when we go to sleep,
- or if we leave for an overnight trip.
I already have Alexa routines for “good night” (when we go to bed) and “goodbye” (when we leave), so for me the easiest way to arm the security system is by just adding it to these routines.
In order to disarm the system when we’re home, I’ve found the remote to be the easiest way. I keep it on the night stand and try to make sure I disarm it first thing when I get up. I don’t think my wife and baby would be very happy if I set the alarm off when I go for a 5am run. An Alexa voice command also works.
So far, accidentally setting the alarm off hasn’t been a problem.
It’s critical that the sensors respond quickly and reliably when triggered. If they don’t, the security hub won’t be able to sound the alarm to scare off intruders.
I tested the sensors by configuring the hub to play a chime each time a given sensor is triggered. This chime relies only on the direct communication (RF signal) with the sensors. It doesn’t rely on any cloud communication. During my testing, I found the X-Sense sensors to be fast (chime plays almost instantly) and very reliable.
The manufacturer claims a range of up to 1.25 miles for the sensors. However, I’m fairly certain that’s in open-air with optimal conditions. In practice, the range is much smaller, but will still be perfectly fine for most people. All of my sensors except for one are inside my house and within about 60 feet of the base unit. They all consistently show up in the app as connected with maximum connection strength (4 bars in the app). The one sensor outside the house is an open/close sensor on the entry door of my detached garage. It’s closer to 100 feet from the base unit and there’s a few walls in between. It usually shows up with only 2-3 bars, but still works reliably.
The sensors are the one part of the system that will require maintenance (changing batteries). They use the big 3V CR123A batteries so they should last a long time. X-Sense says they can last up to 10 years, but I’m guessing that’s based on some “average use” number. The actual longevity will depend on how frequently the sensor is triggered. For example, the front door in my home gets used maybe twice per day, while the back door gets opened probably 20+ times per day. Therefore, I expect the back door sensor battery to run out much sooner than the front door. That said, it’s been 3 months and all batteries are still reporting 100%.
What I liked…
Fast, reliable sensors
In my opinion, the most important and best part of the X-Sense security system is it’s ability to act as a deterrent by sounding the siren during an intrusion.
Sounding the siren relies on the communication between the hub and the sensors. In order for the siren to be an effective deterrent, this needs to happen quickly and reliably.
The sensors communicate with the security hub directly (no WiFi or cloud to slow them down), and I’ve found their response time and reliability to be really good. I have full confidence in the X-Sense system’s ability to sound the siren.
Each sensor has the option to create a custom chime that sounds on the base station when it’s triggered.
Since the sensors connect to the hub directly, these notifications happen almost instantly and are very reliable. You can choose a unique tone and volume setting for each device. For example, I set the tone for my front door sensor to a ding-dong sound.
Usually, the only time we use our front door is if we have visitors, so the ding-dong sound makes perfect sense. However, the back door is being used all the time by us when we’re home. Therefore, I set it to a quiet beep.
The only problem with these chimes is that if you turn them on, they are always on. It would be nice if they could be turned on/off based on the alarm mode.
Use your sensors with Alexa routines
Once you add the X-Sense skill to your Alexa app, you can use any of your X-Sense sensors to trigger Alexa routines.
Installing the system was pretty foolproof. I used the X-Sense app and it guided me step-by-step through connecting the hub to WiFi and pairing the sensors.
Mounting the sensors was fast and easy with the included pre-cut adhesive strips.
NOTE: I haven’t had any problems with the adhesive failing. But, if you do, you also have the option to fasten the sensors with screws.
What I didn’t like…
No third-party sensors
The only sensors that will work with the X-Sense hub are the X-Sense sensors. This seems to be the norm with these types of home security systems, so it’s not a big strike against X-Sense in particular. Personally, I’m not a big fan of when manufacturers lock you in to using only their hardware. It makes it less attractive to someone like myself that likes to tinker and mix and match.
But, if you’re looking for simple and foolproof, this is it.
Big, ugly sensors
The X-Sense sensors that you are locked in to using (see above) are big and ugly.
To be fair, when I first unboxed them I thought I was going to really hate looking at them once they were installed. But, now that they’re in place, I hardly notice them. Still, I would absolutely prefer something smaller that could be concealed more easily.
Push notifications are iffy
The notifications usually come right away, but sometimes they are delayed by a minute or so. This is a problem that’s very common in the smart home industry when relying on cloud communication, so it’s not unique to X-Sense.
For that reason, I view all communications that go through the cloud as “nice to have, but sometimes unreliable”. Consequently, I don’t think relying on them in any critical situation is a good idea.
What would make it better?…
Add a remote siren
There is no option to buy another siren, so you are stuck with the security hub as the only siren.
I have a detached garage, and in my experience garages like mine are a much more common target for break-ins than houses. It would be nice if I could have another siren mounted in the garage to scare off any potential burglar.
Integrated security camera
X-Sense sells a security camera, but it doesn’t work with the security system. It would be nice if I could get motion alerts from the camera, or use sensors to activate recording. I suspect that this is on their list of things to do, but at the moment it doesn’t exist.
Easy option to turn off notification chimes on the hub
I really like the notification chimes in certain situations, but there’s no easy way to temporarily turn them off.
One night we had a gathering with lots of people coming and going. Every time the door opened or closed, everyone heard the chime. The chimes became repetitive and annoying so I just unplugged the base station.
It would be better if the notification chimes could be controlled by switching the alarm mode. For example, ‘back door’ chime plays in “home” mode, but is silent in “away” mode.
Option to create custom alarm modes
I could use more alarm modes in addition to the default 3 modes (disarm, home, away). It would be better if I could create a custom alarm mode. For example, I want the system to behave differently when I am home working compared to home sleeping.
If you simply want a low-cost option that will scare away potential intruders, this fits the bill.
The X-Sense Security system is a good basic security system that’s easy to install and reliable enough to count on to sound the siren when a sensor is triggered. However, if you’re looking for direct integration with surveillance cameras, smart doorbells, smart locks, etc., you’ll have to look elsewhere.
Also, it does utilize a good integration with Alexa and Google Home. You can use the voice assistants to arm and disarm the system. In addition, you can use the sensors to trigger smart home routines. It’s not a system for hardcore smart home enthusiasts, but if you like to do some simple automation with your voice assistants, the X-Sense system should keep you satisfied.