Lowe’s has had its own smart-home line, Iris, since 2012, but until now many functions were part of its premium tier. Say you wanted a light plugged into a smart outlet to turn on when someone or something triggers a motion sensor. It is a pretty basic smart-home function that is free and easy to create with HomeKit or If This Then That, but it cost Iris users $10 a month. Now the company is shifting some of these services to the no-cost option, while also introducing a $15-per-month plan that includes professional monitoring for burglars, smoke, carbon monoxide, and similar events.
The monitoring is provided by United Central Control, and Lowe’s is offering a variety of packages to get users started with the service: For $100, the security pack comes with a keypad, two contact sensors, and a motion sensor; the $70 hub is free. “We need to make it affordable,” Mick Koster, vice president and general manager of Iris, told Digital Trends. “We can’t be in this realm of $40 to $50 a month.” That is what you will pay for some professional monitoring services such as ADT. The hub works with both Alexa and Google Home, as well as smart devices from Schlage, First Alert, Honeywell, and more.
Some of the other tiers are changing, too. Iris’s $10-a-month premium service does not come with professional monitoring but is aimed at those with elderly parents. Called Care Service, it includes 3GB of cloud storage for security camera footage (the free plan is streaming-only video). Instead of putting contact sensors on windows, you could put them on the fridge and get an alert if your grandmother has not opened the door all day — a sign something could be wrong. “It’s turning the functions of the core sensors around,” said Koster.
Beyond professional monitoring, Lowe’s has big plans for Iris. “A lot of smart home data is very, very relevant for trying to stay in touch with what’s happening in your home,” Koster said. He adds that Lowe’s is already in the business of repairing appliances, so if your smart fridge starts indicating it’s having issues with the ice maker, Lowe’s could one day help schedule a repair person to come — with the replacement part already ordered in advance. If your water leak detector goes off, maybe Lowe’s will offer you a discount coupon on a Shop-Vac to clean up the mess. The question for Lowe’s, Koster said, is “how do we recommend services and products based on what you’ve shared with us and told us about your home?” The company isn’t going after people who want a smart home that turns on just the right music when they walk through the door, but those who want it to anticipate and preferably avoid minor issues before they become big problems.