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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
Starter Home Defense
(economy)
Classic Master Ultimate
$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
Preferred Deluxe Premium Guard Protect Shield
$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 Shield Triple Shield Alarm 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 Classic Piper NV Piper Pro Piper Ultimate
$199 $279 $319.99-$389.99 $799.99-$979.99
1 Piper 1 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 Mini Alarm System Starter Kit Alarm System Starter Kit Plus Connected Home Starter Kit Mini Connected Home Starter Kit Connected Home Starter Kit Plus
$99.99 $159.99 Coming Soon $171.99 263.99 Coming 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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68 responses to “Best Wireless Home Security Kit: Scout vs. SimpliSafe vs. iSmartAlarm vs. Canary”

  1. Hey there! Abode is on our list to keep tabs on, stay tuned for a review. A major con of iSmart is the fact that once the internet goes down, or the power is out – the alarm doesn’t work, at all. While price point might be better than other systems, this is a major con that can put your home at risk.

    I hope this helps!
    Best,
    – Amy

  2. We do the best we can to stay cohesive in our recommendations site-wide in the research we present and our recommendations. That being said, there is always more work to be done. Thanks for pointing this out to us.

  3. Hi Adrian – The reason for this is because the pieces discuss two different topics. The article you’re commenting on refers to the Best Wireless Home Security Kit and compares Scout/SimpliSafe/iSmartAlarm/Canary, whereas, the other article you directed me to is discussing the best Unmonitored Home Security System. We’ve rated SimpliSafe the Best Wireless Home Security Kit based in comparison to the other 3, but feel it is not the best unmonitored system overall.

    • Thank you for the reply Lia. I understand, but I was not concerned that one ranked higher in one category vs. the other but that this review so many negative Cons vs the new review that has very little Cons. And these Pro’s/Cons are relevant for either topic. In the new review you have 3 total cons, in this review you have 7 total cons. The additional cons are poor quality, unit feels cheap, not great tech support, users struggle with 3g, no web app, limited to IOS, and you gave a link to MANY customers that “are extremely displeased with Piper”. None of this was mentioned in the new review found here: https://revert-asl-redrock.pantheonsite.io/best-home-security-system-without-monitoring/#piper. Which again seems relevant to both topics. I was ready to buy Piper after seeing the newer review, but after reading this one and all the horrible comments I don’t know now. That was my concern.

  4. Hi, can you put “encryption” for wireless security alarm system as one of the comparison feature? I had hard time finding wireless home security alarm system implements encryption on wireless communication (otherwise the PIN can be harvested). Could you mention it in the article if you know any system that has encryption? Thank you.

  5. Hi Slade – We are currently updating the ways in which we rank systems which is why there is a difference in the way these two were ranked. That being said, affiliate compensation does not affect the inclusion of vendors in our reviews. We pride ourselves on our unbiased reviews, which are conducted independently of affiliate negotiations. You can read more about how we deal with affiliate partners here: https://revert-asl-redrock.pantheonsite.io/disclosure/

  6. Use some old Smartphones and download the Alfred app. I bought some on ebay and I have 4 old phones being used as IPCams all around my house. I can turn the flash on, use night vision (not great), and talk to people in the room using the speaker on the old smartphone. I love Alfred. It is a free app, just have to get old phones to act as cameras.

  7. Hi Donna, have you heard of the Petcube? It’s pretty cool! It let’s you see video and talk to your pets during the day. It’s not a traditional security system, but it might be a good idea to check out. It’s about $149 on Amazon right now: https://goo.gl/E06rCE
    As far as a traditional security system goes (with professional monitoring), I’d recommend looking at SimpliSafe. Their motion sensor does not detect smaller pets and has capabilities to work with bigger pets too: http://simplisafe.com/pet-friendly-alarm-feature

  8. Hey Jordan – that’s a great question! Mobile integration has come far, however we still recommend monthly monitoring. The reason we do this is because there are a ton of factors that could interfere with mobile integration – for example, your phone could die, you could be in a meeting and have it on silent, or you could lose cell reception. We recommend monthly monitoring so there are more eyes looking out for you!

    • Lia, I am looking for a home management system including security, but do NOT want an alarm company involved. I want myself and about three others to have full access via our cell phones. We can make decisions on the situation and not have false alarms going to the fire department/rescue/police. I recently turned in my gear to my volunteer fire/rescue dept. Price is also important, but secondary.

  9. i AM LOOKING FOR A SECURITY SYSTEM THAT CAN DOUBLE AS A VIDEO CAMERA WHERE I WOULD BE ABLE TO LOOK IN AND MONITOR MY PETS WHEN I’M AWAY NOVI SOUNDED GOOD SINCE MY PETS WOULD NOT TRIGGER THE ALARM BUT I DON’T THINK IT HAS THE VIDEO OPTION i AM LOOKING FOR WHAT WOULD YOU SUGGEST IN MY CASE ???

  10. You’re right, Scout does not offer a security camera which could be considered a con to users. However, it is IFTTT compatible which means it pairs easily with home automation products (like Nest) that do offer cameras (like Nestcam) to add on.

  11. Scout does not offer a camera. Why is this not listed as a con? This is a big letdown for a “security” system. Seriously, in this day and age, it isn’t difficult to integrate at least a 720p webcam into an app that ties into your system.

  12. Scout, iSmart, SmartThings, WeMo and myfox all work with Nest via IFTTT. I’d recommend looking into Scout since our team of experts rated it #5 in 2016 Top Home Security Systems. If you’re looking to add video, you can use Nest cam . This can be done with IFTTT (and Nest/Scout customer service help).

  13. I currently have ADT which is $50+/month for monitoring. I will be switching to Nest thermostat and 6 Nest Protects in my home. I’m looking for a security system that will monitor not only theft via sensors, but also be able to monitor my Nest protects and call monitoring service if triggered. Does Scout have the ability, via IFTTT or otherwise, to call the security system monitoring company if a Protect is triggered? If so, which security company has this ability (Scout, SimpliSafe, Canary, etc.)? I would also eventually like to add video – do I do this through the security company or through Nest via IFTTT or otherwise? Thank you!

  14. Hi Julie,
    I’m not aware of any home automation feature out there that will allow you to change your code from your cell phone. However, there are several alarm systems that let you set up separate access codes. Every alarm system has a “master code” which allows you to make changes to the system settings. But many companies allow you to add additional codes for family members, babysitters, neighbors, etc. These codes are separate from your master code and can be deleted or changed. You do have to be home and using the keypad to do it, though.

    Hopefully this helps. If we hear about a system that allows such a cool feature we will try to get a post up about it.

  15. Are there any systems where you can change your alarm code with your cell if you’re not home? For example, if you child gives a neighbor the code by accident and you want to change it but you’re not home, etc. Or if you’re letting a friend stay but don’t feel like letting them know the code forever.

  16. Great questions Peter. This is actually one of the main reasons we recommend going with a professionally monitored system like Frontpoint or Scout (Scout might be a good option for you if you’re ok with upfront equipment costs but want to minify long term cost/monthly cost). If that’s not what you’re looking for, I know Nest Cam can be viewed from a computer with an internet connection, so that might be worth looking into. Canary is currently only iOS/Android, but they say they’re developing a web app currently. I’m not seeing a web option for Piper either. Hope this helps!

  17. When it comes to video quality, I think it boils down to what you’re trying to achieve. If you’re looking for photo and video evidence you can provide the to the police in the case of a high-value robbery, then I’d recommend spending the extra money on a higher quality image. If you’re more concerned with knowing what’s going on at the location, and alerting authorities at the time of the incident, then 720 is plenty.

  18. Both the Canary and Piper systems look attractive to me, but I have one important problem: When I travel internationally, since my cell provider has very poor international service (absurdly expensive data download costs or voice service), I generally turn off my smart phone for the trip. It appears that both systems rely exclusively on smart phone aps. Is there any way to monitor either of these systems using a computer with internet access, as I routinely have such access when I’m traveling internationally? Even if I rent a smart phone for my trip (an option my friends often use), it would appear I could not access either system, since the ap would need to be initialized. If neither Canary or Piper would work, are there other systems that would work? Thanks for your help.

  19. I have a home security system that was wired when my home was built in 1995. What I would like to add to the system is cameras to cover the garage, front door, back door and the French doors off my great room. I believe that I will only need 4 camera with night coverage. And I am not sure if I need the 1080 to capture the pictures better. What would be the best for me without spending a lot of money?

  20. I think the point should be made that Simplisafe does not depend on your router to be used. That’s big in the fact cutting a cable or telephone wire and an internet alarm is useless. Systems that don’t have a battery back up can be disabled by eliminating the power to them. None of these affect Simplisafe. I just wish they would make the so far fictional camera a reality and hopefully not charge an outrageous amount for it or some optional additional fee.

  21. I just want something simple and I don’t know why it doesn’t exist — I want a cellular system with a battery backup. I want motion detectors and door/window alarms. I want multiple wall mounted panic buttons able to be used by kids, but not so able that they push them for fun. I want 3 buttons on the unit and panic buttons — fire, ambulance and police (a parent button might be good too). I want the cellular unit to call 911 and start playing a pre-recorded message “this is 555 Elm Street in Anytown, Anystate. The fire alarm has been activiated. Please send fire and rescue personnel” Why do I need to call myself or have a service? Does anyone know of such a beast?

    • That’s exactly what I’ve been looking for. There is great info in this article, but needs some updates. Some of the product line-ups have changed. I thought SImpiSafe was the best in this requirement, except that it lacked cameras. I just called them, and they said that is coming VERY soon. They cameras will be compatible with the existing system, so this seals the deal for me!

    • I’ve been told its a liability for companies to allow an automated 911, but still, just let US the customer add an IFTTT recipe and we can take the hit for it.

      But you’re so right on everything. I want a camera with NV and cloud storage, I want a motion detector, I want door sensors that tell me what door is open, and I want it all to be accessed on my phone app or a webpage. It shouldn’t be that hard. Not sure why its taking people so long. I also wish my Amazon Echo connected to more of these devices and had more security features. It would be nice to tell my Echo, “Contact 911” and it either patches me in through my phone OR just sends the automated recording….while simultaneously turning on my indoor and outdoor cameras to begin recording any possible evidence.

      Currently I have the Ring Doorbell, which I love. Just know that they promise a bit more than it can actually do…but at least I can know who is ringing my doorbell and such. I’m torn between getting the Piper, iSmartAlarm, or Canary for my indoor system. I’m leaning more towards Piper because it does have the 2 way talk, free cloud, backup battery, and night vision.

      • Hey Kimberly, thanks so much for responding so soon. I am very interested in the Wink and smart things technology in regards to home security. However, I just happened upon the Pisector 4g GSM alarm kit that has an app as well. This seems to be the course I may go for now.

  22. I find all of these wifi based systems to be a security risk. People will be able to intercept the wifi data. I want a wired version with all the same capabilities.

  23. DropCam is not a security system, but it essentially is the same as Canary, without the air monitoring. Canary (to it’s detriment) does not have battery back up or any option (at this time) for linked sensors. I think if Canary was able to sync with (say 3 to 5) DropCams and/or their own satellite sensors, it would be a coup. Adding battery back up and the option to link 5 or 6 door or motion sensors would be a huge bonus, even if they were optional and sold individually or in small add-on bundles.

    Any of these systems could be tweaked to be ideal as they all have cons at this time. If I had a smaller place, I would probably opt for Canary, but I have too many access points, a vulnerable electrical system (I guess I could run it through a small APS backup) and no ideal central point in my house to make best use of the camera and single location sensor.

    Thanks for all the work on this. I was seeking to compare Canary and SimpliSafe and was not aware of the other options out there.

  24. Kimberly Kurimski (Author) – nice article thank you very much but I’m calling you out on this statement made at the beginning of the article. “…you can choose SimpliSafe; start with self monitoring and then change to central monitoring …”
    There is no self monitoring option with SimpliSafe, if one opts out of the professional monitoring service of $14.99/month, the security system is then “simpli” a noise maker. “Simpli” put, if a sensor is tripped the included siren will go off (as designed) but that’s ALL that will happen. As a DIY and years of paying $$$$ to ADT and SLOMINs I was looking for an option to have alerts come directly into my Smartphone. Your statement led me (and I truly believe others) to think that the SimpliSafe allowed Self Service monitoring without paying the monthly subscription service. To be fair it still really is the cheapest around and the option of month to month without annual contact is appealing, the statement was definitely exaggerated. Please kindly let your readers know SimpliSafe does not offer true Self monitoring service.
    By your standards, my ADT system (monitoring system disabled by me, (customer service/billing issues) is also a self monitoring system because the local siren will still go off when sensor is tripped, I just wish I could control/monitor it via my iPhone.

    • Hi Alex, thanks for sending me this note. I definitely see where the confusion came from with that statement and I’m sorry for misleading you. I have since taken that part out of the article because although you can self monitor the system it’s not like other self monitoring systems where you can get notified via your smartphone.

      I spoke with a SimpliSafe rep to get an even clearer understanding and this is what I found out: If you choose to opt out of the monthly monitoring service you will not be notified directly of a triggered alarm. The calls/texts/emails that you get with the monitoring service will no longer be sent because they are all sent via the cellular connection from the Base Station. (Without the cellular module in the Base Station activated there is no way for it to communicate with you directly.) You are able to view your most recent alarms using the keychain remote and the Easy Setup Wizard software. The keypad will also let you know when an alarm has triggered.

      • Hi Kimberly!

        Thanks for the reply and thanks also for clearing this up! Greatly appreciated it. I loved reading about the other devices and I stumbled onto your article because specifically looking for a no fee solution and was zeroing in on the Canary with the 1080p resolution (in NV as well!!!). As I said extremely helpful!! 😀

        Regarding about the confusion on my end, my original text quickly cut & pasted from TABLET missed the one statement from the original article to really got looking into SimpliSafe.
        Quote “….However, you can self-monitor your Simply Safe system from your mobile device if you choose (and at no added cost)…”
        This is why I started contacting Simplisafe for follow up and was sadly disappointed when monitoring via smartphone was not available without subscription. 🙁
        Like I said fantastic article and looking forward to full reviews from you and your team for all of the other products named! Keep up the good work.
        -Alex

        • Glad we were able to discuss this, Alex. I’ve searched through the rest of our SimpliSafe articles and cleared up any parts I found that may be confusing (including the in-depth SimpliSafe review). I’m glad you brought this to our attention. That way no one else gets confused by SimpliSafe’s offerings!
          Best of luck securing your home!

  25. I have a Canary and have been trying to use it for about two months (I was an IndieGoGo backer, so I got one of the first batches being sent out). I can tell you that it is the least reliable piece of electronic equipment I’ve ever owned. It falls offline all of the time and needs a hard reboot (manually unplug) in order to get it back online — but then I just go through the same cycle again. I actually feel more uneasy having it than when I had no system at all. The end result is the same anyway, but now I have a pretty looking device that is as valuable as an empty can of soup sitting in my kitchen.

    • I also bought a Canary from my Verizon store. There they said that all I needed was an Internet connection, which I have. I told them that I had ATT’s fastest DSL and was told that was great. After setting up my Canary, it appeared to work just fine for the first 3 days, then went off line. After many calls to Canary and getting many differing opinions, the last person told me that my DSL line, which is Internet, is not fast enough in its upload need. No one went into necessary speed when I purchased it or I would have checked first. ATT’s U verse would work but it is not available in the S.F. Bay Area at this time and they have no idea when it will be. We are part Silicon Valley. Weird. Now, I have to either upgrade the Internet connection through some other source or sell the Canary. What still bothers me the most is how was it able to work so well for the first 3 days if the upload speed with my DSL line is not fast enough? Can someone explain that to me, please?

      • AT&T DSL upload speed is 384 Kbps. Here are the questions:

        – What is being uploaded?
        – Upload to where?
        – If upload speed is slow, then the data is just slowly uploading to “wherever”. How does that make Canary go off line?
        – What does it mean “work for 3 days”? Please give detail
        – What does it mean “went off line”? Please give detail

        Any IT guys can help to give suggestions by getting the answers from the above questions.

        • None of these systems are security systems. They are all designed to detect an intruder after they enter the premise instead of detecting them outside before they get in. They can all be defeated very easily with either $10.00 worth of hardware or a piece of software. None of them are encrypted and zwave makes makes it very easy to hack. Either go with an encrypted wireless system or go hard wired for maximum protection. And use a local alarm company who can advise you of the differences and draw backs of each kimd of system. Do not use what we call a lick and stick mass market system if you want real security.

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