September 26, 2013
Piper, Canary, and Wireless Home Security
Piper, Canary, and Wireless Home Security
Piper and Canary are two new entrants into the world of home security and they’re quite different from anything else in the market today. They’re both sleek, all-in-one security devices that contain an HD video camera and an assortment of sensors. Both were also crowdfunded on Indiegogo and are being offered as alternatives to the traditional home security system. Canary and Piper share the same selling point: that their new security system is a smarter and cheaper way for everyone to protect their home with. How is it smarter and cheaper though? After taking a look at both systems and comparing them to FrontPoint Security’s system, we’re not sure that these can be a replacement for a reliable wireless home security system.
A Smarter Security System… or is It?
Every new device that comes out today is being labeled as “smart”, and these two are no different. However, are they really smarter than FrontPoint’s wireless security system?
Both Piper and Canary are controlled by free smartphone apps that allow users to control everything from alarm settings to the live camera feed. We mention this because Piper claims this: that all the rules and the live video feed are communicated with the Piper system itself, as opposed to some server on the internet. You’ll never have to worry about the system not working if the internet goes out.
And while Canary offers the same feature, they also say that their security system is capable of “learning” your settings and your home’s “rhythms”. This will then allow your Canary system to produce smarter, more selective alerts. The issue with this is glaring. A security system should not be deciding on its own what warrants an alert or not. If something seems off, a warning and an alert should be sent.
Canary and Piper may offer what they claim to be the smarter system, but there’s no evidence that it’s actually smarter than any other security system already on the market. FrontPoint already offers a wireless security system that allows users to control their system with a mobile app (included free with interacting monthly monitoring). There’s also no need to worry about the internet connection going out because the system is wireless. A wireless security system from FrontPoint is also very customizable, capable of being set up for any kind of situation.
Finally, shouldn't a smarter security system also be safer? It’s not clear to us how removing the monitoring of a Monitoring Station can improve a security system. Here’s a hypothetical situation (one we hope that never happens): A burglar silently breaks into your home, while you’re there, and manages to sneak up on you before you even realize what’s going on. The Piper or Canary system will just be sitting there, watching the burglar take your things, while sending alerts to your phone while you remain incapacitated.
On the other hand, this situation would not have taken place with a monitored wireless security system. An alarm would have sounded, and the burglar would most likely have run away. But let’s say he didn't, so the alarm would be sent to the Monitoring Station, who would then try to contact you and then the authorities if you sent no response. Which chain of events sounds smarter?
Cheaper is Not Always Better
Naysayers will now be chiming in about the cost of monthly monitoring and the wireless security system itself. In terms of overall price, especially over time, there is no argument; Piper and Canary are cheaper.
Piper currently costs $210 as of this post, but will cost $230 per unit upon release. Canary units are at $200 as of now. For comparison, we put together a security system order that would offer the same features as Piper/Canary. This included a Motion Sensor, Smoke and Heat Sensor, Wireless Indoor Camera, and a Control Panel. The total for this FrontPoint system came out to be $528.96, but when factoring the $300 discount on a 3-year agreement (we offer varying lengths), the final total came out to be only $228.96, slightly less than a Piper system after release.
In addition, adding extra sensors to a wireless security system is going to be significantly cheaper than adding another Piper or Canary. The benefit is that you can choose exactly what sensor you’ll need for a specific room, rather than needing all the bells and whistles of a Piper or Canary that may go unused. So if you own a larger apartment or home that requires more sensors, it might make more sense to go with a monitored wireless home security system.
The only price category that a Piper or Canary has the advantage in is the monthly monitoring, mainly because they don’t have that option at all. This is extremely important. Piper and Canary are essentially offering a cheaper system, at the expense of additional safety. When the goal of a security system is to be the last line of defense for home security, losing an integral piece like a Monitoring Station doesn't seem like the best idea.
The Final Verdict
We think Piper and Canary’s attempts at innovating within the home security industry are fantastic. As an alternative security system however, the two don’t seem to meet the necessary requirements to be standalone home alarm systems. On the other hand, we could definitely see Piper or Canary working in tandem with a regular wireless home security system. Overall though, both Piper and Canary have limitations and cannot replace a smarter, monitored, wireless home security system.