Sponsored by SAGE
In the past few years, I’ve seen a proliferation of home automation and home security systems aimed at DIYers. I’ve installed several of these systems and had some disappointing experiences. The first problem occurred when mounting the door and window sensors. To make the installation more DIY-friendly, one manufacturer relied on adhesive strips to secure the sensors instead of screws. That approach was good theory but fell flat in execution because the adhesive simply didn’t stick well and the sensors kept falling off. I also ran into some sensors that wouldn’t “pair” with the control hub. That required multiple sensor resets and numerous pairing attempts for each sensor. Then I ran into some pretty complicated system programming that alternated between a web interface and the system’s keypad. Based on my experiences with those self-install kits, I was a bit skeptical when I was asked to try the SAGE by Hughes system.
I visited the SAGE website and chose the SAGE security kit. Then I bought enough additional sensors to protect all the doors and windows that burglars might use to break in. The kit came with one motion sensor, so I bought an additional motion sensor to cover the basement area. Then I hit the “buy” tab, entered my credit card and the order was done. It arrived just a few days later.
My next surprise came when I opened the unit and found just a single sheet of instructions. I was expecting a manual. Then I discovered why the manual was missing—you really don’t need one. The single instruction sheet tells you how to hook up the hub to the TV, but the on-screen prompts take over from there. The screen instructions guide you through each step, starting with connecting the control hub to the Internet (Wi-Fi or Ethernet cable), and then registering the system on the SAGE website. Then you start activating and programming the individual sensors. The SAGE system allows you to custom name each sensor, such as: Rachel’s bedroom window, south basement window, garage door, etc. That’s a welcome change from the other systems I’ve installed where you had to accept the manufacturer’s predetermined labels.
Next, I applied the adhesive strips to the sensors and figured out where to mount it on the front door jamb. The battery cover slides up to renew the coin battery, so I had to allow for some clearance above the sensor. Then I calculated how many spacers to apply to the magnet so it would sit at the right height and no more than 1/4 in. away from the sensor. I removed the backing paper and pressed the sensor and magnet into place. They stuck like, uh, glue. SAGE clearly understands how important it is to use the right adhesive.
I installed sensors on all the basement and first-floor windows and doors, mounted a motion detector on each level, and installed the video camera. Then I downloaded the apps on my smartphone and tablets and went back into the programming menu to choose “rules” for each sensor. The custom rules feature is a major improvement over the other systems I’ve installed. SAGE allows you to choose when and how you’d like to be notified of sensor status changes, and it lets you configure your home automation products to fit your individual schedule.
I finished the installation by placing warning stickers on all basement and first-floor windows and doors and installed three yard signs—one near the front door and one on each side in the backyard.
The SAGE system has been up and running for a week, and I have to say it’s one of the most well-thought-out systems I’ve encountered. Programming on the TV is a lot easier than on a keypad or computer, and I like the fact that I can arm/disarm the system without using a dedicated keypad.
I’d like to add smoke and carbon monoxide detectors as soon as they’re available, and I would like SAGE to add a siren to the system. But I’m sure those are on the way.
All in all, it’s an extremely well-designed system, especially for DIYers.
— Rick Muscoplat, Contributing Editor