Best Wireless Home Security Kit: Scout vs SimpliSafe vs iSmartAlarm vs Canary
Why should you choose a wireless home security kit over a more traditional, wired security system? Wireless systems are typically cheaper, easier to install and are easy to relocate. DIY wireless system kits are becoming more popular because they come with all the parts you need for comprehensive security monitoring, but without a monthly monitoring fee. How do you know which one is best? Read more to see what your options are.
Need To Know Before Reading Further
Wireless home security kits are a relatively new development, therefore there aren’t many established companies in this field. There are some great start ups and crowdfunding campaigns on the rise, but they either aren’t available yet or are struggling to fix some of their quirks. There’s great potential for this category and once companies work out their customer service and get their products in top shape competition will be tough. Because companies are still building their reputation we have only chosen two picks for our winners: Scout and SimpliSafe. At this time, these are the only two companies we can firmly stand behind as viable security systems but we will update with a 3rd option once we feel another company has improved.
What are the Advantages of a Wireless Home Alarm System Kit?
There are many items that make wireless alarm system kits more appealing than an “old school” wired security system:
- These systems generally do not offer professional monitoring, so there are no monthly fees or contracts. This not only lowers the cost, but also gives you the freedom to stop using the system if you don’t like it.
- These systems are good for apartments, smaller homes or any place you are renting because you don’t have to drill any holes into the walls. This also makes the system easy to relocate. The sensors are all attached to the walls using adhesives, which you can install yourself (note that many professionally monitored systems are also wireless and installed by the user).
- There are also no false alarms, unless you call in authorities when they aren’t needed.
What should I know about Wireless Home Security Kits?
What makes a wireless alarm system kit appealing is that they are less expensive over time than traditional security systems. This is mainly because these systems are self-monitored and do not offer professional monitoring. This means that you are in charge of contacting authorities if there is a suspicious event in your home. Home security systems that offer a central monitoring station are generally less expensive up front, but there is a mandatory monthly fee. The DIY kits in this article have a higher cost up front and no monthly fees. A Secure Life recommends professionally monitored systems over self-monitored systems because of the difficulty monitoring your system by yourself 24/7 (for example, when you are asleep at night).
The majority of DIY wireless security system kits have cameras or door/window sensors which alert you when motion is detected or video is recorded. When you receive the alert it is up to you to decide whether authorities should be contacted. If you have a camera, you should be able to tell whether it’s the repair man or an uninvited guest, which will in turn help you decide whether or not to contact the police.
Do I Need a Smartphone?
One thing you’ll want to know before buying a wireless alarm system is that you’ll need a smartphone to self-monitor the system. An app is generally used to alert you when there is a sensor triggered so you won’t be able to monitor your system without a smartphone.
Are all Wireless Home Security Kits Self Monitored?
Currently, Scout and SimpliSafe are the only companies in this review to offer a professional monitoring option. However, it is important that you know that this is only available for an additional fee.
Scout was launched February 2013 and has already made a big name for itself. We’re fairly impressed with this company since we chose it as our #4 pick for overall Best Home Alarm System for 2016. They are one of the few wireless home security companies that offer professional monitoring, although it is required. We don’t see this as a con ourselves because we think professional monitoring is a must, however, some of you may prefer not having a monthly fee.
- Integrates with Nest, Amazon Echo, LIFX, IFTTT and Philips Hue lights
- Attractive, modern equipment design
- Monitoring starts at $9.99/month
- Ranked #5 in our Home Security System Reviews
- 30 day money back guarantee
- 3G backup if your Internet or power goes out
- Great customer service
- Monitoring is required
- Fewer equipment options
Scout lets you customize your security system. Below is the equipment you have to choose from.
- Scout Hub (1 required per system) – $129
- Door Panel (each comes with 1 RFID sticker and 2 key fobs – $69
- Access Sensor – $29
- Motion Sensor – $49
- Yard Sign – $10
- Key Fob – $4.99
- RFID Sticker – $2.49
Monitoring is required with any Scout alarm system purchase, and is it one of the only companies on this list that offer it, which we think is a big plus.
- Always On – $9.99/month
- Cellular Only – $15/month
- Always On+ – $19.99/month
- Cellular Only+ – $25/month
SimpliSafe is one of the companies that has their system available for purchase now and is performing well. SimpliSafe has complete, customizable package options, which we like. SimpliSafe is the other wireless alarm system in this Best Wireless Alarm System Kit article that gives you the option to turn on central monitoring for a monthly fee so you aren’t responsible for responding to your own emergency – even when you are not home, showering or sleeping. With SimpliSafe, you get the feeling of what a “typical” home security system is like and it allows you to upgrade over time to a more complete alarm system. Included in their packages are keypads, sensors, detectors and more. SimpliSafe ranks 5th in our Home Security Rankings and is also recommended by financial expert Dave Ramsey.
Note that without paying for a monthly monitoring package your system acts as a local system. Meaning that if the siren goes off no one is notified. It only makes a loud alarm sound in the hope of deterring the intruder.
- 3 year equipment warranty
- Dedicated cellular communication with a remote monitoring station
- 60 day money back guarantee
- Battery backup
- No security cameras
- No home automation features
Price and Features
SimpliSafe offers various packages to help keep your home secure. The packages are listed below. You can also create your own system.
Is SimpliSafe Safe?
When Canary was put up on Indiegogo, customers were eager for an alternative to the typical home security system. The initial goal was $100,000, but the crowdfunding blew up to almost $2 million in just over a month. Canary has a motion detector that senses movement in the area and begins recording video. You can share access to your Canary with other friends and family. This can be handy in case you are unable to check your phone (i.e. on an airplane, in a meeting, etc.). In the case that you are notified of an event, you have the option to call the police, sound the siren or ignore. The other people you have granted access to also have these options.
- 1 year warranty
- 60 day guarantee
- Monitors air quality
- Sync up to 4 Canary devices together
- Security camera with 1080p HD video
- 12 hours of free cloud storage
- No door/window sensors
- No battery backup, must be plugged in
Price and Plans
Canary is available in black, silver and white.
- $199 Canary
- $379 Canary 2-Pack
Below are the storage plans you have to choose from.
12-Hour (Included): 12 hours of video history, 3 video downloads, 5 video bookmarks
- 2-Day ($49/year or $4.99/month): 2 days of video history, unlimited video downloads, 25 video bookmarks
- 7-Day ($99/year or $9.99/month): 7 days of video history, unlimited video downloads, 100 video bookmarks
- 30-Day ($299/year or $29.99/month): 30 days of video history, unlimited video downloads, unlimited video bookmarks
- Height: 6 inches
- Diameter: 3 inches
- 1080p HD video
- Night vision
- Motion sensor
- 90+ db siren
- Temperature, humidity and air quality sensors
- 147° (diagonal) field of view
I personally own an iSmartAlarm system and overall have had a pleasant experience. The major con I found is that iSmartAlarm’s iCamera KEEP takes snapshots instead of recording video. You must be watching the video live to capture a snapshot of your intruder. The iSmartAlarm system doesn’t take the snapshots itself. This poses a problem in case you are busy at the time your home is invaded resulting in no actual footage of the person. Aside from this, the camera performs well and the footage is clear. One thing they excel at is their customer service. I contacted them via email, support ticket and phone and each time they were quick to respond and helpful.
- Offers door/window sensors
- 1 year warranty
- Great customer service: email, support ticket, phone
- One iSmartAlarm employee even exchanged texts with me to help install my iCamera KEEP
- Spot and iCamera KEEP can be used on their own without a Cube One
- Won't work during a power outage
- False alarms (possibly from the sun's movement through the window)
- Difficult to install the iCamera KEEP
- Delayed iCamera KEEP notifications
- App needs some work: loads slowly, errors constantly and at times I am unable to login
Price and Features
*(Additional $59.99 for 2)
**(Additional $34.99 Each)
When the Novi is armed, it will send a picture to your smartphone of any potential problems it sees. You can then determine if you need to call the police, ignore the alert, or request another image. If you are unavailable, the base station will send the images to a preset emergency contact that you have designated. The system also learns your behavior, so if you forget to arm or disarm your system you will receive a notification. Novi claims that house cats and other animals will not trip the alarm because the sensor measures the body mass of an object. Novi has the potential to be one of our top 3, but we can’t be sure until the product has more review time.
- No monthly monitoring fees
- Syncs multiple sensors
- Online chat
- 1 year limited warranty
- Doubles as a smoke detector
- Battery lasts 1 year (no wires or power cords)
- Cellular connection
- 24/7 monitoring
- Adjust sensitivity so pets don't trigger the system
- Siren in every sensor
- No information out there on performance since it's fairly new
- 4-in-1 Home Security Kit – $299 (includes base station and sensor)
- Expansion Pack – $179 (additional sensor)
- 170° HD Camera
- 90 dB siren
Oplink has various packages available for you to purchase, but to take advantage of them you’ll have to upgrade, which results in a monthly fee. This service goes from free all the way up to $29.99/month. Many of Oplink’s competitors offer these features at no monthly fee, so if price is a factor for you, we suggest you look elsewhere.
- Live chat
- Fire sensors
- Monthly fee for video
- Must pay $19.99/month if you want more than 1 emergency contact and SMS alerts sent to them
Price and Features
- 1 Owner and 1 Authorized User
- Unlimited live video streaming
- Arm/disarm system remotely
- Push notification to mobile app
Email notification to Owner (with optional event snapshot1)
- All Free Features
- Add up to 5 Authorized Users and 5 Emergency Contacts
- Videogram for event history
SMS alerts to emergency contacts
Voice call option for Authorized Users
Up to 8 cameras and/or 24 sensors
- For systems using more than 8 cameras and/or 24 sensors, or additional users
Piper’s wide camera lens allows you to view an entire room – great for loft apartments or condos. Piper offers security, monitoring and automation for your home. You can set up rules for while you are home, or away on vacation, that Piper follows so you and your emergency contacts are notified of the alert. Piper also integrates with Z-Wave technology to allow for home automation. Z-Wave is a form of wireless communication used for appliances to give you control of your home remotely. It allows you to turn lights and certain appliances on and off, change the thermostat, and more.
- Battery backup
- Two-way audio, so you can say hello to a pet or loved one
- Home automation
- Security camera with ability to store up to 1,000 video clips in the cloud
- Easy to set up
- Extremely loud siren
- Connect up to 5 Pipers
- 1 year warranty
- No monthly fees
- No night vision for the Classic
- Users report poor video/image quality
- Unit feels cheap
- Not the greatest tech support
- Users struggle with using it over 3G
- No web app, just iOS and Android
- Customers are extremely displeased with Piper, just checkout this comment feed
- 1920 x 1080 HD video
- Speaker and microphone
- Motion, temperature, humidity and ambient light sensors
- 105 dB siren
- 180° fisheye lens that you can pan, tilt and zoom
Skylink reached out to us and offered to send a security system for an honest review. I was excited to test out the system and had high hopes after testing out iSmartAlarm. Unfortunately, I had a lot of problems figuring out this system and I found that it was easier for me to have the system off than on. There were two main struggles I had: (1) inserting the battery for the motion sensor and (2) configuring the settings. The instructions suggest to use a coin to open the motion sensor. This did not work for me. I used multiple different forms of currency even (U.S. coin, Thai Baht and Indonesian Rupiah) and it still didn’t work. I was so frustrated with it that I used a butter knife. If you have the same problems as me be extremely careful, but finally, with the help of a butter knife, I got the sensor opened. But then, configuring the settings was a huge hassle, too. The system is automatically set to go off anytime a sensor is triggered, whether the system is set to Home or Disarmed. I’d be home working and suddenly my alarm system was going off. It was very frustrating, but once I figured it out it worked fine. I think this is something they should discuss in their instructions.
- Easy to connect the equipment to Wifi
- Loud siren
- Works well after you've installed it and configured the settings
- Helpful and nice support team
- No batteries are sent with the system
- Hard to open the motion sensor to insert battery
- Cheap feeling equipment
- Must change the settings for each sensor so the alarm isn't triggered while set to Home or Disarm
- Outdated looking app and site
Price and Features
Skylink offers many packages to help secure your home. Pricing details are available on their website and via Amazon but below are some of their starting packages.
How does Dropcam Compare?
Why isn’t Dropcam in this article? Good question! Dropcam is not a security system, it is actually just a camera. As you’ve read, all of the other systems in this article include sensors of some type, whereas Dropcam is simply a camera.
Is there another wireless alarm system you’d like reviewed in this article?
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