Best Wireless Home Security Kit: Scout vs. SimpliSafe vs. iSmartAlarm vs. Canary

Wireless security systems are typically cheaper, simpler to install, and easier to relocate than traditional wired systems. DIY wireless system kits are becoming more popular because they come with all the parts you need for comprehensive security monitoring, but don't a monthly monitoring fee. How do you know which one is best? Read more to see what your options are.

>>Price conscious? Compare the costs of our favorite home security systems.

Best wireless home security kits
SimpliSafe
Most flexible
Our rating:
4.3 out of 5 stars4.3
Scout
Best aesthetics
Our rating:
3.1 out of 5 stars3.1

Need to know before reading further

Because wireless home security kits are a relatively new development, there aren't many established companies in this field. There are some great startups 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: SimpliSafe and Scout. 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?

Several factors make wireless alarm system kits more appealing than a conventional wired security system:

  • These systems generally offer optional 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 rentals 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 is essentially no chance of false alarms with these systems.

 

What should I know about wireless home security kits?

Because wireless alarm system kits are self-monitored rather than professionally monitored, they are generally less expensive over time than traditional security systems. Self-monitoring also means you are responsible for 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 higher up-front costs and no monthly fees. We recommend professionally monitored systems over self-monitored systems because with a self-monitored system, you're more likely to miss an alert.

The majority of DIY wireless security system kits have cameras or door/window sensors that alert you when they detect motion or record video. 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 an expected or 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. These systems generally use apps to alert you when a sensor is triggered, so you won't be able to monitor your system without a smartphone.

Are all wireless home security kits self-monitored?

Currently, SimpliSafe and Scout are the only companies in this review to offer a professional monitoring option for an additional fee.


#1 SimpliSafe review

SimpliSafe
Our rating:
4.3 out of 5.0
4.3 out of 5 stars4.3
Plans starting at 
$14.99
/mo.

    SimpliSafe has complete, customizable package options and 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're away, showering, or sleeping. SimpliSafe allows you to add equipment to your system over time, making it a great option for anyone on a budget. Its packages includes keypads, sensors, detectors, and more. SimpliSafe is one of our favorite home security systems and is also recommended by financial expert Dave Ramsey.

    Note that if you opt out of the monthly monitoring package, your system acts as a local system. That means that if the siren goes off, it won't notify anyone. It will only make a loud alarm sound in the hope of deterring the intruder.

    >>Learn more: See what works with SimpliSafe

    Pros
    • Pro Bullet3-year equipment warranty
    • Pro BulletDedicated cellular communication with a remote monitoring station
    • Pro Bullet60-day money-back guarantee
    • Pro BulletBattery backup
    • Pro BulletIndoor security cameras
    Cons
    • Con BulletExpensive up-front equipment costs
    • Con BulletNo home automation features
    • Con BulletNo contract or price lock on monitoring or equipment
    • Con BulletExtra cost for access to interactive features

    Price and features

    SimpliSafe offers various packages to help keep your home secure. The packages are listed below, but you can also create your own system.

    Is SimpliSafe safe?

    Forbes released an article in February 2016 about a vulnerability in SimpliSafe's software. However, SimpliSafe has since put this concern to rest, saying the hack being discussed is very unlikely.

    #2 Scout review

    Scout
    Our rating:
    3.1 out of 5.0
    3.1 out of 5 stars3.1
    Plans starting at 
    $9.99
    /mo.
      Scout was launched February 2013 and has already made a big name for itself. It offers an interactive self-monitoring packages for $9.99 and a professionally monitored package at $19.99. We always recommend professional monitoring, but if that's not in the budget right now, self-monitoring is better than no monitoring at all.
      Pros
      • Pro BulletIntegrates with Nest, Amazon Echo, LIFX, IFTTT and Philips Hue lights
      • Pro BulletAttractive, modern equipment design
      • Pro Bullet30 day money back guarantee
      • Pro BulletGreat customer service
      Cons
      • Con BulletFewer equipment options

      Price

      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 Monthly: $9.99/month
      • Always On Yearly: $107/year
      • Always On+ Monthly: $19.99/month
      • Always On+ Yearly: $215/year

      Canary review

      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 (e.g., on an airplane, in a meeting, etc.). If it notifies you of an event, you have the option to call the police, sound the siren, or ignore it. The other people you have granted access to also have these options.
      Pros
      • Pro Bullet1-year warranty
      • Pro Bullet60-day guarantee
      • Pro BulletAir quality monitoring
      • Pro BulletAbility to sync up to 4 Canary devices together
      • Pro BulletSecurity camera with 1080p HD video
      • Pro Bullet12 hours of free cloud storage
      Cons
      • Con BulletNo door/window sensors
      • Con BulletNo 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

      Tech specs

      • Height: 6 inches
      • Diameter: 3 inches
      • 1080p HD video
      • Night vision
      • Motion sensor
      • Microphone
      • 90+ dB siren
      • Temperature, humidity and air quality sensors
      • 147° (diagonal) field of view

      iSmartAlarm review

      iSmartAlarm
        iSmartAlarm excels in customer service. I contacted them via email, support ticket, and phone, and each time they were quick to respond and helpful. The major con 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. This poses a problem if 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.
        Pros
        • Pro BulletDoor/window sensors
        • Pro Bullet1-year warranty
        • Pro BulletGreat customer service
        • Pro BulletOne iSmartAlarm employee even exchanged texts with me to help install my iCamera KEEP
        • Pro BulletSpot and iCamera KEEP can be used on their own without a Cube One
        Cons
        • Con BulletWon't work during a power outage
        • Con BulletFalse alarms (possibly from the sun's movement through the window)
        • Con BulletDifficult to install the iCamera KEEP
        • Con BulletDelayed iCamera KEEP notifications
        • Con BulletApp 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)

        Novi review

        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.
        Pros
        • Pro BulletNo monthly monitoring fees
        • Pro BulletSyncs multiple sensors
        • Pro BulletOnline chat
        • Pro Bullet1 year limited warranty
        • Pro BulletDoubles as a smoke detector
        • Pro BulletBattery lasts 1 year (no wires or power cords)
        • Pro BulletCellular connection
        • Pro Bullet24/7 monitoring
        • Pro BulletAdjust sensitivity so pets don't trigger the system
        • Pro BulletSiren in every sensor
        Cons
        • Con BulletNo information out there on performance since it's fairly new

        Price

        • 4-in-1 Home Security Kit - $299 (includes base station and sensor)
        • Expansion Pack - $179 (additional sensor)

        Tech specs

        • 170° HD Camera
        • 90 dB siren

        Oplink review

        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.

        Pros
        • Pro BulletLive chat
        • Pro BulletFire sensors
        Cons
        • Con BulletMonthly fee for video
        • Con BulletMust pay $19.99/month if you want more than 1 emergency contact and SMS alerts sent to them

        Price and features

        Monitoring options

        Free

        • 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)

        $19.99/month

        • 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

        $29.99/month

        • For systems using more than 8 cameras and/or 24 sensors, or additional users

        Piper review

        Update!
        Take Note

        Piper no longer sells any equipment on its website. If you like what Piper offers, we suggest checking out Canary because it offers many of the same features.

        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 to command Piper to notify you and your emergency contacts when an alert sounds. 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.

        Pros
        • Pro BulletBattery backup
        • Pro BulletTwo-way audio, so you can say hello to a pet or loved one
        • Pro BulletHome automation
        • Pro BulletSecurity camera with ability to store up to 1,000 video clips in the cloud
        • Pro BulletEasy to set up
        • Pro BulletExtremely loud siren
        • Pro BulletConnect up to 5 Pipers
        • Pro Bullet1 year warranty
        • Pro BulletNo monthly fees
        Cons
        • Con BulletNo night vision for the Classic
        • Con BulletUsers report poor video/image quality
        • Con BulletUnit feels cheap
        • Con BulletNot the greatest tech support
        • Con BulletUsers struggle with using it over 3G
        • Con BulletNo web app, just iOS and Android

        Price

        Tech specs

        • 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

        >>Read our full review of Piper


        Skylink review

        I was excited to test out this 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. I had two main struggles: inserting the battery for the motion sensor, and configuring the settings. The instructions suggest to use a coin to open the motion sensor, but even that didn't work. I was so frustrated with it that I used a butter knife (not recommended) and finally got the sensor opened.

        Configuring the settings was a 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.

        Pros
        • Pro BulletEasy to connect the equipment to Wifi
        • Pro BulletLoud siren
        • Pro BulletWorks well after you've installed it and configured the settings
        • Pro BulletHelpful and nice support team
        Cons
        • Con BulletNo batteries are sent with the system
        • Con BulletHard to open the motion sensor to insert battery
        • Con BulletCheap feeling equipment
        • Con BulletMust change the settings for each sensor so the alarm isn't triggered while set to Home or Disarm
        • Con BulletOutdated 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? Or check out our list of the best overall security systems to see if they are there.