Introduction & Closer Look
Home security is important to all of us: we all have valuable or sentimental items that we want to protect and until now, the best way of doing that is by installing an alarm system at the cost of several hundred pounds, plus any additional subscription fees. Typically, when one of these systems is triggered, an alarm will sound and the alarm provider company may give you a call to check if things are OK. With the advent of the Internet of Things (IoT) and more affordable mobile services this has all changed. Y-cam, a well known player in the home security market, who until now have produced smart security cameras, have unveiled the Y-cam Protect Alarm, which is a DIY alarm kit that is modular, easy to setup yourself and is manageable from your smartphone.
The modular nature of the system, means you can add as many sensors as you like, so you can have full coverage of any access points to areas you want to monitor and by using both the internet and mobile service, you’ll always get a notification should it be triggered. The methods for detection are via door/window access or motion sensors and now more recently, includes the Y-cam EVO camera, that can start recording instantly when triggered.
The Protect Alarm system comes as a kit, featuring the hub, a motion sensor, access sensor and a key-fob to arm/disarm the alarm.
Starting with the hub, this is a relatively simple box, which contains the brains of the system. It also houses a backup battery, rated for 8 hours and the SIM card for dialing out if you have that particular subscription.
The top of the hub has the ports for powering itself, the network port for configuration and an antenna socket, should you wish to use it wirelessly.The supplied modules come disassembled, so that they can be activated and powered when you want to use them. Simply remove the tabs or insert the battery and they power up. The access sensor comes in two parts – one for the door/window, the other for the frame. It relies of magnets to determine whether the door or window has been opened. If this magnetic connection is broken, the alarm starts its alert procedure.The PIR or motion sensor is larger than the access module, but is plain in design. It has a 3M sticky pad on the reverse that allows you to stick it wherever you want to place it.The key-fob is small rectangular device, with several buttons on the top, and a loop for a key chain at the bottom. There are four buttons in total: Arm, Disarm, Home and a “plus” button for those with a plus subscription.So that is what the Protect System looks like, but what about the spec?
The system boasts a number of features and selling points:
Triple Layer™ Security
The average UK home broadband internet connection is down approximately 18 full days a year; With SIM card backup, Internet backup and 8 hour battery backup, your Y-cam Protect system remains fully operational, even if your internet connection is down or you have a power cut. Triple Layer™ means you benefit from high professional security standards, without the high cost.
Gives you Front Line Protection for your property and allows visual verification
Stay in control and check the status of your property’s security wherever you are via the free Y-cam app on iOS or Android. You can view recent activity, change settings, manage sensors and also arm/disarm remotely whenever you need to, e.g. to turn off the alarm if the cleaner is coming.
Trusted British Brand
Y-cam is a multi-award winning and trusted British smart home security brand that provides peace of mind to customers through their smart security products.
Tailor the system to your personal needs, add as many sensors and remotes as you like to fully protect what matters to you
All the information you need instantly to your smartphone no matter where you are
Stick and Go
Instant sensor set up, there are no running wires, no drilling holes, no professional installer required
Front line deterrent
The Y-cam Protect is a front line deterrent against unauthorised access to your home
The whole premise of it being a simple, expandable system is very promising, so let’s set it up and see how it works.
Setup & Operation
The first step for setting up the Protect system is to power up and connect the hub to your router. This must be done via the network cable. Once connected you can use the Ycam app from your smartphone to start the setup. It is a fairly straightforward process, however, the statement saying “No contracts or monthly fees required” on the packaging is a little misleading, as if you want to use the sim card feature, you need to pay for the plus service. Without that, you can only use Internet Only.
Once setup you can add new sensors to the system (last screenshot). To do this you just select the sensor, then input the sensor ID, which is on the device or its box.
When correctly setup, you then have this screen:
When you arm the system, it says “armed” in a similar voice to Amazon’s Alexa, followed by a beeping noise, which gives you a number of seconds to lock up/leave the area. If you then trip a sensor, you are presented with more beeping. You can disarm the system or it will then trigger the loud, but not loud enough, siren. When tripped you receive an alert via the app or if you have configured it with the SIM card, a phone call or SMS.
The aim of Y-cam’s Protect Alarm system, is to provide you with a piece of mind whilst you are out and about and to make sure you are alerted, should anything trip a sensor. The whole system has been designed so that it easy to setup and monitor, without the need for wires or even an internet connection.
Setting up the system was a piece of cake, with the hardest part, choosing where to mount the sensors so that they are fully effective – for instance, you don’t want the motion sensor pointing at a window, otherwise it’d be triggered constantly. Adding the sensors couldn’t be easier and the fact that you can add many of them is perfect if you want to protect a larger area – like the whole of your house. The siren could do with being louder, as if it is mounted internally (which it must be), then the noise is virtually non-existent if you are outside. Currently, it’d work well for monitoring an outbuilding such as a shed, as you can have the alarm in your house. Arming and disarming was also simple and easy to get into a routine. You can use the app or the fob. As mentioned before the packaging is misleading – you must purchase an additional monthly subscription to get the most of out it and make use of the SIM card.
The Protect Alarm is wireless (bar the hub), which is ideal as most off the shelf systems require the sensors to be plugged into the mains. They also communicate wirelessly with the hub, so you don’t need masses of cables everywhere. They sensors themselves are discrete and small, so they don’t clutter up the place – in fact they look very professional.
The app is relatively intuitive and easy to use and it ties in perfectly with your other Y-cam cameras.
There are numerous bundles available, however the most basic is £149.99, although is often on offer. The sensors cost £19.99 for the access and £24.99. Since writing this review Y-cam have since released a “Protect” version of their Evo camera, which starts recording when the alarm system is tripped – no word on whether it will work with the standard Evo model. Whilst the initial cost of the system is quite cheap compared to others on the market, once you’ve added on more sensors, it can get quite pricing and to make the most you need to shell out a minimum of £5.99 a month for the plus subscription.
I think it is great that Y-cam have produced such a user-friendly alarm system. It’s basic enough to be easy to setup and configure, but still provides a decent level of protection. The modular nature is a great approach, so you can add as many sensors as required to protect your property. I’ve yet to establish how long the batteries will last for in the sensors, so I cannot comment on that, but they are meant to last for quite some time.
My only real niggle is that the system is advertised as “No contracts or subscriptions required”, yet they are (albeit on a rolling monthly basis), to get the full benefit of system. I chose to setup the system in my office, which had full wifi, but if I wanted to use it in my storage locker, then I would have to fork out the month fee for the minimum plus subscription. Granted this subscription also covers the storage time for the videos recorded from other Y-cam products, but this is only of benefit if you actually use them.
Overall, I am impressed with the Y-cam Protect Alarm system – it’s a great first for myself and being a complete novice to it, I was surprised as to how easy it was to setup. It’s also a big plus that it ties in nicely with their cameras – so everything is under the one roof, but I have yet to hear back whether the Y-cam Evo camera I have can be upgraded to the “Protect” version, so it ties in with the Protect Alarm system – to be continued. However, with this aside, I am pleased to give Y-cam yet another award:
- Almost completely wire-free
- Easy to setup
- Ties in with other Y-cam products
- Multiple protection options
- Does require a subscription for full benefits