Piper, Canary, and Wireless Home Security

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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.

Comments (6)

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  1. J

    The specs on the Frontpoint cameras are vastly inferior to the Piper Nv and others on the market. Will you enable your system to accept outside products or are you setting up a closed ecosystem?

    • Gilbert Cho

      Hi J, that’s a great question. Currently, our system is only compatible with our proprietary cameras, as well as a limited selection of “third-party” equipment, which you can find here listed here: http://www.alarm.com/overview/empower_devices.aspx. We like to narrow our equipment list to ensure that our customers have a smooth experience right out of the gate, and also to be able to quickly troubleshoot should any troubles arise.

      However, we know that there’s been a bit of a “boom” in the security industry with all kinds of new systems and technology popping up. We are keeping a very close eye on the new tech, but want to ensure the safety and reliability of these products before even considering integrating them.

  2. Reader 1.0

    I came across this blog while researching home security options and I felt the comparison is a bit bias; However since this is a “front point security” blog, I see why. Unfortunately here’s the problem. Some individuals, such as myself, do not own a home, but instead rent (military). For me a long-term contract is out of the question. Very few major home security monitoring companies offer month-to-month and if they do, the price is outrageous. And yes, some companies also offer to transfer services if you move but that means I have to pay someone from said company to remove all the hardware and then re-install it into my next home and then pay a transfer fee. We all know that is not going to be FREE. No, thanks. Another problem is that if you do choose a major home security service you pay those hidden fees, including additional costs if you do not want to use your system through a phone line. I noticed it wasn’t mentioned that Piper comes with a alarm if it detects motion so yes, you would be notified of an intruder. Piper also allows you to add features, such as alarms for windows being opened, so I am not sure what you mean by “all the bells and whistles” included in Piper, because it’s not included. The real difference between a big company that monitors your home and you doing it yourself, is 1.) someone else has the ability to call the police for you and 2.) you save money over the years doing it yourself.

    • Peter M. Rogers

      Hello, Reader – and thanks for your comment. There is certainly an onslaught of new entrants, of which Piper is only one, into the home security space. Most of these solutions are of the “MIY” variety, which means “Monitor It Yourself.” We have posted often on what we think the drawbacks are of such systems, and it’s interesting to note that some of these start-ups are talking about evolving into a system with a professional monitoring component – the only truly reliable method to protect your home and family. What happens if you miss that signal? What if it’s a fire? And do you know that your local police will take a call from you, calling from who-knows-where, asking them to send a cruiser to your home for a non-verified alarm? There are more questions, but that’s a start. Until these systems are professionally monitored we really do not consider these companies as true competitors, or as companies that can honestly offer peace of mind.

      Another big point of differentiation is that in addition to being MIY systems, they are broadband-centric – meaning they use the Internet to communicate. We think that is bad idea, as the Internet is demonstrably less robust or reliable when compared to the cellular network, and the Internet connection is just as easy to cut with a $3 pair of wire cutters as a traditional phone line. Again, some of the new entrants have discussed the addition of a cellular connection – which to us means that at least they get that part.

      As for some of the specifics of your comment: FrontPoint does offer a one year contract for those who want such a solution, and there is no charge to move the system with you (we make that as easy as possible, and it’s one of the many things that our customers really like about our approach – and our service level). And since our system is easily set up by you (usually in about a half hour, as it arrive fully programmed), that removes any kind of service charge for labor. I hope that this gives you some answers where there appears to be a bit of confusion. Thanks again for your comment.

  3. Reader 1.0

    I came across this blog while researching home security options and I felt the comparison is a bit bias; However since this is a “front point security” blog, I see why. Unfortunately here’s the problem. Some individuals, such as myself, do not own a home, but instead rent (military). For me a long-term contract is out of the question. Very few major home security monitoring companies offer month-to-month and if they do, the price is outrageous. And yes, some companies also offer to transfer services if you move but that means I have to pay someone from said company to remove all the hardware and then re-install it into my next home and then pay a transfer fee. We all know that is not going to be FREE. No, thanks. Another problem is that if you do choose a major home security service you pay those hidden fees, including additional costs if you do not want to use your system through a phone line. I noticed it wasn’t mentioned that Piper comes with a alarm if it detects motion so yes, you would be notified of an intruder. Piper also allows you to add features, such as alarms for windows being opened, so I am not sure what you mean by “all the bells and whistles” included in Piper, because it’s not included. The real difference between a big company that monitors your home and you doing it yourself, is 1.) someone else has the ability to call the police for you and 2.) you save money over the years doing it yourself.

    • Peter M. Rogers

      Hello, Reader – and thanks for your comment. There is certainly an onslaught of new entrants, of which Piper is only one, into the home security space. Most of these solutions are of the “MIY” variety, which means “Monitor It Yourself.” We have posted often on what we think the drawbacks are of such systems, and it’s interesting to note that some of these start-ups are talking about evolving into a system with a professional monitoring component – the only truly reliable method to protect your home and family. What happens if you miss that signal? What if it’s a fire? And do you know that your local police will take a call from you, calling from who-knows-where, asking them to send a cruiser to your home for a non-verified alarm? There are more questions, but that’s a start. Until these systems are professionally monitored we really do not consider these companies as true competitors, or as companies that can honestly offer peace of mind.

      Another big point of differentiation is that in addition to being MIY systems, they are broadband-centric – meaning they use the Internet to communicate. We think that is bad idea, as the Internet is demonstrably less robust or reliable when compared to the cellular network, and the Internet connection is just as easy to cut with a $3 pair of wire cutters as a traditional phone line. Again, some of the new entrants have discussed the addition of a cellular connection – which to us means that at least they get that part.

      As for some of the specifics of your comment: FrontPoint does offer a one year contract for those who want such a solution, and there is no charge to move the system with you (we make that as easy as possible, and it’s one of the many things that our customers really like about our approach – and our service level). And since our system is easily set up by you (usually in about a half hour, as it arrive fully programmed), that removes any kind of service charge for labor. I hope that this gives you some answers where there appears to be a bit of confusion. Thanks again for your comment.

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