Is Iris By Lowe’s Second Gen Hub A Game Changer?

6/2/16 UPDATE: IRIS First Generation Mandatory Migration to Next Generation Platform by June 30th, 2016

On June 30th, IRIS by Lowe’s will require all existing First Generation users to migrate their systems in order to be compatible with the new Next Generation platform. What does this all mean for existing IRIS by Lowe’s First Generation users? SecurityGem is here to help explain the process.

On June 30th, the end of this month, any First Generation IRIS hub will no longer operate and connect to any devices or alarms. This includes sensors, equipment, as well as the Iris from Lowe’s app or website.  This is mandatory and you won’t be able to keep your First Generation IRIS system operable after the June 30th deadline. It may be frustrating for some, but it’s a lot simpler than you might think. Plus, there are tons of benefits to making this update and having all users on the same, consistent platform in terms of innovation and customer service.

How do I transition to Next Gen for IRIS?

For existing users currently on the First Generation hub, you can register to get a new Next Generation hub for FREE and migrate your system on your own with ease. But do it before June 30th, or it may very well not be free after that deadline has passed. Keep in mind that you may get your new hub some time after the June 30th deadline if you wait until last minute, so your current hub may be temporarily inoperable until then.

Existing users can order a FREE Next Gen hub by visiting NewHub.IrisByLowes.com. Once you receive your fancy Next Gen hub, you’ll go back to the website and click the “Migrate Now!” icon to follow instructions to successfully transition your existing system over to the new platform. IRIS has provided more in-depth migration instructions here for further insight.

What are the expected benefits from the new IRIS Next Gen platform?

Anyone familiar with the security industry knows and understands the importance of innovation and staying open to upgrades for improved security and performance. The IRIS Next Gen platform is designed to be much simpler for users to manage with faster speeds and responses as well as allowing room for more customization and compatibility with the ever-growing world of home automation products and security devices. These are updates that the First Generation hub would eventually end up running into increased limitations with in terms of support and compatibility in the future.

We plan on doing a more in-depth review of the IRIS Next Gen hub and security system in the near future and we would love to invite more feedback from users as well! You can read more about the IRIS First Generation mandatory migration to the Next Generation platform here until then!


 

For the past year, Iris by Lowe’s smart hub has been lagging behind the competition. I attribute that to the fact that the best things about Iris comes with a price ($9.99/month to be exact) while most of the competition offer similar services for free.

Now Iris is bringing a second gen upgrade to its smart home family by releasing a new hub built with Microsoft Azure. Is it a game changer, or game over?

Upgrading is almost a no-brainer to those already invested in Iris. The second gen hub is offered to existing customers for free. You can go here to take advantage of the offer. Iris by Lowe’s will also be releasing a migration tool to help you transfer your current ecosystem to the new hub. To those that upgraded from SmartThings hub 1 to 2, this probably sounds like a slice of heaven and it is definitly a hub upgrade done right. In fact, most of the devices in your current ecosystem will work with the new hub.

However, a question still remains. Are the improvements enough to take Iris over the competition?

Where Did Iris Improve (And Where Did It Not)?

A Better App Experience

If you’ve tried the first gen Iris, you know it has flaws. One of which is the mobile app experience. You can’t do much with the app besides arming and disarming your system, changing between the preset modes, and checking your device status. It sucks because we rightfully expect home automation systems to be mobile, particularly if you’re also using it for home security purposes.

Iris by Lowe’s promised a new and improved app experience. According to Iris’s blog, they want to make sure that the app experience is as simple and beautiful as possible. The new app can customize device settings, help you add and remove devices, update your rules (or Magic as it was previously called), and more.

With the combination of the improved app experience and Lowe’s backing, the second gen hub is now more customizable. Lowe’s support enables you to add more compatible devices to your Iris. There are currently more than 75 devices that can be used with Iris. The devices use Zigbee, Z-Wave, and Wi-Fi and the new hub can also support Bluetooth.

Simplified Plans and Services

If you’ve been itching to know if the monthly fee has been removed, here’s your answer: NO. Unfortunately, Iris by Lowe’s did not fully remove the monthly fees, but they did cut back.

What used to be a number of different plans are now down to two — a Basic Plan and a Premium Plan. As a bonus, some of the features that could not be accessed with the Basic Plan are now available for free, like live video streaming.

 BasicPremium
Remote On/Off
Schedule devices to turn on and off
(i.e. switches, recepticles, lights, etc.)
Stream Video
Create custom groupings of lights & switches
Alarm / Event NotificationsAccount Holder Only6 People
Activity Log24 Hours14 Days
Record Video
Remote Lock Automation
Receive notification when authorized users come and go
Remote Thermostat Automation
Create rules across the system to have devices trigger other devices
Upload your own images to personalize your app experience
Set rules for Iris to message you if loved ones' daily routines are out of the ordinaryAccount Holder Only6 People
Basic
Remote On/Off
Schedule devices to turn on and off
(i.e. switches, recepticles, lights, etc.)
Stream Video
Create custom groupings of lights & switches
Alarm / Event Notifications
Account Holder Only
Activity Log
24 Hours
Record Video
Remote Lock Automation
Receive notification when authorized users come and go
Remote Thermostat Automation
Create rules across the system to have devices trigger other devices
Upload your own images to personalize your app experience
Set rules for Iris to message you if loved ones' daily routines are out of the ordinary
Account Holder Only
Premium
Remote On/Off
Schedule devices to turn on and off
(i.e. switches, recepticles, lights, etc.)
Stream Video
Create custom groupings of lights & switches
Alarm / Event Notifications
6 People
Activity Log
14 Days
Record Video
Remote Lock Automation
Receive notification when authorized users come and go
Remote Thermostat Automation
Create rules across the system to have devices trigger other devices
Upload your own images to personalize your app experience
Set rules for Iris to message you if loved ones' daily routines are out of the ordinary
6 People

Improved Core Devices

And last, the hub, along with multiple sensors and devices have received a makeover. They are now sleeker, more subtle, with lower profiles.

  • Contact Sensor ($22.99)– You can use contact sensors to monitor things that “open and close” like doors, windows, cabinets, cupboards.
  • Smart Plug ($34.99)– Smart plugs can turn simple appliances into smart ones. Just plug each appliance into a smart plug and you can control them from your smartphone.
  • Motion Sensor ($29.99)– Motion sensors detect motion – self explanatory.
  • Help Pendant ($29.99)– A wearable panic button that you can press in an emergency to call for help. The pendant triggers an alarm when pressed and sends alerts to registered contacts.
  • Smart Button ($24.99)– The smart button is like a remote control to your connected devices. It can trigger an alert, scenes, or notifications. It also reads temperature.
  • Smart Key Fob ($24.99)– The smart fob is also a remote control to your Iris ecosystem, but it is customizable to fit your lifestyle. It has four buttons which you can set to control certain events.
  • Smart Keypad ($39.99)– A smart keypad gives you extended control of your alarm when pressed and sends alerts to registered contacts.
  • Smart Button ($24.99)– The smart button is like a remote control to your connected devices. It can trigger an alert, scenes, or notifications. It also reads temperatures.
  • Smart Key Fob ($24.99)– The smart fob is also a remote control to your Iris ecosystem, but it is customizable to fit your lifestyle. It has four buttons which you can set to control certain events.
  • Smart Keypad ($39.99)– A smart keypad gives you extended control of your Iris system. You can mount it on your bedroom wall to have a convenient way of arming/disarming your system. It also provides audible alerts when people enter or exit your home and can report the temperature.

Second Gen Hub Improves Home Security

Being a security-minded guy, I also looked up how Iris improves your home’s security. If you don’t already have an Iris, you can start with the Safe & Secure Starter kit which includes:

  • An Iris Hub
  • A motion sensor
  • A keypad
  • 2 Door/Window sensors
  • Iris window decal

If you already have a hub, your option is the $99 Safe & Secure Kit that doesn’t include a hub.

Of course, you can add cameras, lights, and sensors as you please.

Here’s the catch, the Premium Plan subscription is needed to fully enjoy the benefits of Iris’ protection.

Why?

With the basic plan, only one person is notified when an alarm is triggered. That could work if you live alone, but not if you have a family. On the other hand, up to 6 emergency contacts are notified if you have a Premium subscription.

Also, only activities for the past 24 hours are recorded with the Basic Plan while the Premium plan can log up to 14 days of activity history. Not a problem when you are home all the time, but might be a problem should you ever decide to leave the house for more than a day.

You also can’t create rules with a Basic Plan. Rules are one of the most efficient ways of protecting your home as it can make your devices trigger one another. Rules such as “If motion is detected, turn on the lights” are very handy when it comes to home security.

And finally, only Premium subscribers receive notifications when authorized users come and go.

Pros

  • Iris’ new app improves automation and security experience. Pairing and unpairing can now be done using the app, which is a lot easier than the previous one.
  • Wide variety of compatible devices to choose from.
  • Refined and simplified subscription plans.
  • New hub is free to existing customers. Even if you are not eligible for the free upgrade, its price is still competitive at $60.

Cons

  • Monthly fee is still intact. When will it ever go away?
  • You may find a few hiccups with the new app interface (because it is new) and the new hub.
  • Most devices from the previous hub will work with the new one, except for some. One example is the version one key fobs.

You can now order an Iris by Lowe’s second gen hub from Lowe’s online store.