Last updated: February 19. 2013 5:26PM - 491 Views

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Although they've been available for some time, home monitoring systems are just beginning to catch on with a broad audience.

A few weeks ago I wrote about the Belkin system that depended on Wi-Fi to manage appliances and electronics in the house.

Now, home supply retailer Lowe's has partnered with Verizon Wireless to enhance Iris, Lowe's home monitoring system.

Iris allows customers to receive emails, text alerts or phone calls when an event – such as a door opening or a motion sensor being triggered – occurs in their home. Upgrades allow the system to control temperature and electronic devices. The Iris system can be controlled from anywhere via a tablet or smartphone. The partnership with Verizon means that no Wi-Fi or broadband connectivity is needed to use the system.

The Iris system is extremely affordable for what it encompasses. Three packages are available; ones focused on either security or convenience are $179 each and a combination of the two is $299.

Iris can be controlled locally via a keypad and all elements are connected via the Iris Hub, which in turn connects to a Verizon USB modem to allow the system to connect to the Internet.

The low entry price and ease of integration makes the Iris system attractive. The fact that it's available from a local retailer is another point in its favor. As far as the tech-savvy required for operation – if you can use an iPhone, you can use Iris, and the direct connection with Verizon's USB modem means you won't have to figure out how to make it play nice with the Wi-Fi or Internet connection in your home.

It might seem like an extravagance at first glance, but if you've ever left for vacation wondering whether the oven is on or if you left the door unlocked, Iris offers something that many would consider worth the asking price: peace of mind.

Iris has been available from Lowe's since July, and customers will be able to take advantage of the partnership with Verizon starting on Nov. 21.

Nick DeLorenzo is director of interactive and new media for The Times Leader. E-mail him at ndelorenzo@timesleader.com.

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