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Comcast Xfinity Home subscribers can now add Nest thermostats and other connected-home devices

Michael Brown | Oct. 12, 2015
Some installations can be DIY projects, but anything involving the alarm system must be installed by a Comcast technician.

Comcast and Nest
Credit: Comcast

Comcast announced earlier this year that it was adding support for the Nest Learning Thermostat, August Smart Lock, Chamberlain MyQ garage-door controller, and the Lutron Caseta wireless lighting controller so that subscribers could manage those devices from the Xfinity Home app. Today, Comcast activated that support.

Customers can buy these devices on their own, and they can install them themselves. Many other connected-home and home-security service providers require the consumer to purchase the products from them and to pay for installation. Comcast does require, however, that one of its technicians install any new hardware that could trigger the alarm system. As with similar services from Vivint, ADT, Frontpoint, and other service providers, Comcast provides 24/7 central monitoring and will notify the appropriate emergency responders in the event of a break-in, fire, or medical emergency.

“Our professional installation requirement depends on the category of the product,” said Comcast Home SVP and GM Dan Herscovici. “Any life-safety device—a smoke detector, door/window sensors, motion sensors—requires a truck roll. Things like door locks and thermostats can be self installed.” Some smart door locks can be programmed to disarm the alarm system, but it’s usually a door/window or motion sensor that triggers the alarm.

Comcast and August smart lock
As with many connected-home systems, you can program the Xfinity Home system so that unlocking the door automatically turns on a light in the home... Credit:  Comcast

Herscovici also said that Comcast can often save new customers money by reusing much of the hardware from an existing system in the home. “We can take over 80 percent of a legacy security system,” Herscovici said. “We can take over the sensors and the control panel, if it’s compatible with our system. If the control panel is not compatible, we can replace it. There’s a flat $99 installation fee for that service. An appointment usually last two to four hours, depending on the complexity of the system. We’ll also warranty the devices after we take them over, and replace them if they fail in the future. The warranty lasts as long as you’re a subscriber.”

There are limits to that offer. “Generally speaking,” Herscovici said, “our philosophy is to be protocol agnostic. We support Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and ZigBee, but we are not currently using Z-Wave. We believe ZigBee’s mesh-network infrastructure is a bit more reliable, and ZigBee devices offer better battery life. We’re also participating in the Works with Nest program, but we’re only supporting the thermostat.”

Comcast’s protocol support shouldn’t pose much of a problem for most homeowners who might be interested in switching from their current service provider, because the vast majority of door/window and motion sensors—the most numerous devices in a home-security system—were invented before any of those protocols came along. As such, they’re as common as dirt and Comcast’s hardware should work with them. By the same token, most home-security cameras and thermostats use Wi-Fi.

 

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