Frequently Asked Questions

How HouseSetter℠ Works

How do I install Sherlock?

It’s as easy as it can be. You simply take Sherlock out of his box, plug him in and he’s on duty. Where you put him is completely up to you, but we’d generally suggest a central location, out of direct sunlight, with his camera pointed toward something you’d like to see while you’re away.

Do I need to pay for a phone line, Wi-Fi or internet connection to make Sherlock work?

No, Sherlock’s service comes with its own built-in cellular network connection that’s already included in his amazingly low monthly price. So for as little as $5/month you get to cut the phone or cable cord and save the $30-50/month cost of leaving them on in an otherwise empty home. And he’ll work anywhere in the U.S. that has Verizon cellular coverage.

Will I need a separate contract with Verizon?

No, we build everything you need into Sherlock, including his connection to Verizon’s award winning cellular network, and it’s all included in your HouseSetter subscription.

Does HouseSetter require a long term contract?

Absolutely not. We’re not big fans of typical bait and switch service plans that promise low prices until you read the fine print and realize you’re committed for three years or more. Once you’ve purchased Sherlock you can select either a quarterly or annual service plan, giving you complete control and flexibility.

Why do I need Sherlock if I already have someone watching my home?

Think of Sherlock as a substitute for a live-in caretaker that never sleeps (or raids your refrigerator) that you’d love to have but couldn’t afford. So you hire someone else who comes every once in a while, or ask a neighbor to look through your windows occasionally, but what happens in between? Sherlock is the 24 by 7, in between peace of mind that not only works for you, but works with your local helpers to sense and respond to small problems before they become big ones. Sherlock can even send his emails and texts to four different places, allowing anyone you’d like to be better informed and better helpers.

Where did HouseSetter come from?

Sherlock was invented by the team that launched the award winning OnStar business in response to the frustrating lack of a simple and affordable way to keep an eye on a seasonal home in Florida. One thing led to another, and the result is HouseSetter. The good news is that we already had experience building much of the technology into millions of General Motors cars and trucks. The better news is that we improved many things along the way, including having Sherlock designed and built in the U.S.A.

I have two houses, do I need two Sherlocks?

We understand that you’re away from different homes during different seasons, so we designed Sherlock to be extremely portable. After you head back up north after a winter in the sunshine, just put Sherlock back in his factory box (it was designed for multiple shipments) and mail him back down to Arizona or Florida or wherever and have a friend plug him in – now he’s watching your other place.  A little sad that you never spend time together, but don’t worry he’ll keep in touch! And if you’ve got a cottage you visit occasionally, he’s happy to stay there full time and share the place with you on weekends.

Can I customize HouseSetter’s settings?

Sure. In addition to always monitoring for power outages, you can individually turn Sherlock’s temperature and humidity alerts on or off, and also change the high and low triggers  to meet your specific monitoring needs. And while we like the name Sherlock, you can also change his name. Some prefer Fluffy or Mozart, others Maple Street or Boston. It actually comes in handy if you’ve got more than one so you know who is sending you reports and alerts. We even have one named Salty, we think he’s on a boat … or maybe at a pretzel factory, hard to tell.

About HouseSetter

Our Story

We founded HouseSetter in 2012 with the idea of providing folks with a simple, low-cost way to keep an eye on their house when they were away. And while it takes a lot of advanced technology to make that work, our primary focus is to deliver our service in a way that makes all of that complexity invisible so that we’re providing peace of mind instead of unwanted science lessons.

We’ve actually done something like this before, as our team brings together more than 50 years of experience launching and growing the OnStar business. With OnStar, the in-vehicle safety and security system offered on GM vehicles, wireless networks, advanced sensors, complicated software and countless other moving parts were all hidden behind three simple buttons. We believed that the power of the technology wasn’t in how many cool things we could make it do, but in how easily it could do a few important things, like automatically responding to crashes.

Time went on, a couple of us retired, and before long the idea for HouseSetter came along. It wasn’t something we planned – like most innovations it just snuck up on us looking like a new problem to solve. If you’re fortunate enough to be able to call a couple of different places home, how can you keep an eye on your “other place” while you’re not there? There were options, but honestly none of them seemed great for vacation home monitoring. Some were too much, some too little, but none felt just right.

Frustration led to an innocent little “wouldn’t it be great if…” discussion – and then we were hooked! If we could wirelessly connect millions of cars in a simple and affordable way, why not houses? The technology building blocks were remarkably similar, and substituting a house for a car felt like a fun new challenge.

When we got into the idea, it kept getting bigger. Keeping an eye on seasonal homes led to vacation cottages, storage units, homes whose owners travel a lot, and rental and commercial properties. The more people we talked to the more encouragement we got. And by starting this business from the ground up we’ve been able to do it our own way – like designing and building everything here at home in the U.S.A., which just feels right.

We’re excited to be working together again and proud to be able to bring Sherlock to life. We’re hopeful that we can do for homes what we did for cars, and ask that if you’ve ever got a need to keep an eye on your house while you’re away, you’ll give Sherlock a chance to be helpful.


Walt Dorfstatter, Joanne Finnorn, Chet Huber & Rick Lee