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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.

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 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 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 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

  • 3-year equipment warranty
  • Dedicated cellular communication with a remote monitoring station
  • 60-day money-back guarantee
  • Battery backup
  • Indoor security cameras

Cons

  • Expensive up-front equipment costs
  • No home automation features
  • No contract or price lock on monitoring or equipment
  • Extra 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.

PackagesStarterHome Defense
(economy)
ClassicMasterUltimate
Price$229.96$259.95
$199.99
$349.92$449.97$539.85
Base Station
1 Included
1 Included
1 Included
1 Included
1 Included
Entry Sensors
1 Included
3 Included
3 Included
6 Included
4 Included
Motion Sensors
1 Included
1 Included
1 Included
2 Included
2 Included
Wireless Keypad
1 Included
1 Included
1 Included
1 Included
1 Included
Keychain Remote
1 Included
1 Included
1 Included
2 Included
2 Included
Extra Siren 105dB
1 Included
1 Included
1 Included
Smoke Detector
1 Included
1 Included
1 Included
Water Sensor
1 Included
CO Detector
1 Included
Freeze Sensor
1 Included
Panic Button
1 Included
Packages
Price
Base Station
Entry Sensors
Motion Sensors
Wireless Keypad
Keychain Remote
Extra Siren 105dB
Smoke Detector
Water Sensor
CO Detector
Freeze Sensor
Panic Button
StarterHome Defense
(economy)
ClassicMasterUltimate
$229.96$259.95
$199.99
$349.92$449.97$539.85
1 Included
1 Included
1 Included
1 Included
1 Included
1 Included
3 Included
3 Included
6 Included
4 Included
1 Included
1 Included
1 Included
2 Included
2 Included
1 Included
1 Included
1 Included
1 Included
1 Included
1 Included
1 Included
1 Included
2 Included
2 Included
1 Included
1 Included
1 Included
1 Included
1 Included
1 Included
1 Included
1 Included
1 Included
1 Included

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 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

Cons

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

  • 1-year warranty
  • 60-day guarantee
  • Air quality monitoring
  • Ability to sync up to 4 Canary devices together
  • Security camera with 1080p HD video
  • 12 hours of free cloud storage

Cons

  • 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

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 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

  • Door/window sensors
  • 1-year warranty
  • Great customer service
  • 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

Cons

  • 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

PackagesPreferredDeluxePremiumGuardProtectShield
Price$199$249.95$349$299$399$499
Cube One
Contact Sensors
2 Included
4 Included
2 Included
4 Included
6 Included
8 Included
Motion Sensors**
1 Included
2 Included
1 Included
3 Included
5 Included
7 Included
Remote Tags
2 Included
2 Included
2 Included
3 Included
3 Included
3 Included
iCamera (1st Generation)
1 Included
Spot Camera$129
$69 each
$129
$69 each
$129
$69 each
$129
$69 each
$129
$69 each
$129
$69 each
Satellite Siren$39.99 Each$39.99 Each$39.99 Each$39.99 Each$39.99 Each$39.99 Each
iCamera KEEP$149.99 Each$149.99 Each$149.99 Each$149.99 Each$149.99 Each$149.99 Each
SmartSwitch$39.99 Each$39.99 Each$39.99 Each$39.99 Each$39.99 Each$39.99 Each
Packages
Price
Cube One
Contact Sensors
Motion Sensors**
Remote Tags
iCamera (1st Generation)
Spot Camera
Satellite Siren
iCamera KEEP
SmartSwitch
PreferredDeluxePremiumGuardProtectShield
$199$249.95$349$299$399$499
2 Included
4 Included
2 Included
4 Included
6 Included
8 Included
1 Included
2 Included
1 Included
3 Included
5 Included
7 Included
2 Included
2 Included
2 Included
3 Included
3 Included
3 Included
1 Included
$129
$69 each
$129
$69 each
$129
$69 each
$129
$69 each
$129
$69 each
$129
$69 each
$39.99 Each$39.99 Each$39.99 Each$39.99 Each$39.99 Each$39.99 Each
$149.99 Each$149.99 Each$149.99 Each$149.99 Each$149.99 Each$149.99 Each
$39.99 Each$39.99 Each$39.99 Each$39.99 Each$39.99 Each$39.99 Each

*(Additional $59.99 for 2)

**(Additional $34.99 Each)

Read our full review of iSmartAlarm

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

  • 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

Cons

  • No 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

  • Live chat
  • Fire sensors

Cons

  • 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

PackagesAlarm ShieldTriple ShieldAlarm C1S2
Price$149.99$299.99$239.99
OPU
Door/Window Sensors
2 Included
2 Included
2 Included
Motion Sensors
1 Included
1 Included
Siren
1 Included
1 Included
Remote
2 Included
2 Included
USB
1 Included
1 Included
IP Camera
2 or 4 Included
1 Included
Packages
Price
OPU
Door/Window Sensors
Motion Sensors
Siren
Remote
USB
IP Camera
Alarm ShieldTriple ShieldAlarm C1S2
$149.99$299.99$239.99
2 Included
2 Included
2 Included
1 Included
1 Included
1 Included
1 Included
2 Included
2 Included
1 Included
1 Included
2 or 4 Included
1 Included

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: 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

Cons

Price

PackagesPiper ClassicPiper NVPiper ProPiper Ultimate
Price$199$279$319.99-$389.99$799.99-$979.99
Equipment Included1 Piper1 Piper
(listed below)
(listed below)
Z-Wave Door/Window Sensors$39.95 each$39.95 each$39.95 each$39.95 each
Z-Wave Smart Switch$44.95 each$44.95 each$44.95 each$44.95 each
Z-Wave Outdoor Smart Switch$44.95 each$44.95 each$44.95 each$44.95 each
Z-Wave Water Sensor$39.95 each$39.95 each$39.95 each$39.95 each
Z-Wave Micro Smart Switch$4.95 each$4.95 each$4.95 each$4.95 each
Z-Wave Range Extender$24.95 each$24.95 each$24.95 each$24.95 each
Z-Wave Smart Dimmer$44.95 each$44.95 each$44.95 each$44.95 each
Z-Wave LED Bulb$29.95 each$29.95 each$29.95 each$29.95 each
Packages
Price
Equipment Included
Z-Wave Door/Window Sensors
Z-Wave Smart Switch
Z-Wave Outdoor Smart Switch
Z-Wave Water Sensor
Z-Wave Micro Smart Switch
Z-Wave Range Extender
Z-Wave Smart Dimmer
Z-Wave LED Bulb
Piper ClassicPiper NVPiper ProPiper Ultimate
$199$279$319.99-$389.99$799.99-$979.99
1 Piper1 Piper
(listed below)
(listed below)
$39.95 each$39.95 each$39.95 each$39.95 each
$44.95 each$44.95 each$44.95 each$44.95 each
$44.95 each$44.95 each$44.95 each$44.95 each
$39.95 each$39.95 each$39.95 each$39.95 each
$4.95 each$4.95 each$4.95 each$4.95 each
$24.95 each$24.95 each$24.95 each$24.95 each
$44.95 each$44.95 each$44.95 each$44.95 each
$29.95 each$29.95 each$29.95 each$29.95 each

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

  • 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

Cons

  • 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.

PackagesAlarm System Starter Kit MiniAlarm System Starter KitAlarm System Starter Kit PlusConnected Home Starter Kit MiniConnected Home Starter KitConnected Home Starter Kit Plus
Price$99.99$159.99Coming Soon$171.99263.99Coming Soon
Base Station
1 Included
1 Included
1 Included
1 Included
1 Included
1 Included
Door/Window Sensors
1 Included
2 Included
2 Included
1 Included
2 Included
4 Included
Motion Sensor
1 Included
1 Included
2 Included
1 Included
2 Included
3 Included
Keychain Remote
1 Included
1 Included
1 Included
2 Included
4 Included
Plug-In Receiver
1 Included
2 Included
3 Included
Indoor Wireless Camera
1 Included
1 Included
Packages
Price
Base Station
Door/Window Sensors
Motion Sensor
Keychain Remote
Plug-In Receiver
Indoor Wireless Camera
Alarm System Starter Kit MiniAlarm System Starter KitAlarm System Starter Kit PlusConnected Home Starter Kit MiniConnected Home Starter KitConnected Home Starter Kit Plus
$99.99$159.99Coming Soon$171.99263.99Coming Soon
1 Included
1 Included
1 Included
1 Included
1 Included
1 Included
1 Included
2 Included
2 Included
1 Included
2 Included
4 Included
1 Included
1 Included
2 Included
1 Included
2 Included
3 Included
1 Included
1 Included
1 Included
2 Included
4 Included
1 Included
2 Included
3 Included
1 Included
1 Included

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.

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