Canary vs. iSmartAlarm vs. Piper Home Security

Which home security system is right for you?

Finally, home security is affordable for everyone thanks to three forward thinking start-ups. All three start-ups were funded by early adopters via crowdfunded projects: Canary, Piper, and iSmartAlarm. Canary started like a hurricane crushing their fundraising goal by 1962%. However, the release of Piper has created a buzz around the product known as “the Swiss army knife” of home security. First to market iSmart wowed everyone in 2014. In fact, iSmartAlarm received the “Technology App of the Year” award at the 2014 International Consumer Electronic Show (CES) and they continue to introduce even more features every year since. All impressive but which one should you bring home to mama?

The below chart compares Canary, iSmart, Piper, and by request – Scout and Nest Cam.

Compare these Home Security System Features Side-By-Side

 canary security systemismartalarmpiperscoutNest Cam
Monthly Fee$0+$0$0$0+$0+
Home AutomationWorks with WinkProprietary with Z-Wave Option Coming SoonZ-WaveZigbee and Works with NestWorks with Nest
IFTTT Integration
Open/Close Sensors
Video Surveillance
Coming Soon
Camera Resolution1080p1080p1080pComing Soon: 1080p1080p
Camera FeatureWide AnglePan & Tilt or Wide AngleWide Angle*Coming Soon: Wide AngleWide Angle
Night Vision
Piper NV OnlyComing Soon
Video EncryptionAES-256 Bit EncryptionWEP, WPA, WPA2AES-128 SSL EncryptionComing SoonAES-128 Bit Encryption
Built-in Battery Backup
Android Compatible
iOS Compatible
iTunes App Rating
Google Play App Rating
Text Alerts
Push Notifications
Alert Phone Call
SecurityGem Tested
Where to Buy
canary security system
Monthly Fee
$0+
Home Automation
Works with Wink
IFTTT Integration
Open/Close Sensors
Video Surveillance
Camera Resolution
1080p
Camera Feature
Wide Angle
Night Vision
Video Encryption
AES-256 Bit Encryption
Built-in Battery Backup
Android Compatible
iOS Compatible
iTunes App Rating
Google Play App Rating
Text Alerts
Push Notifications
Alert Phone Call
SecurityGem Tested
Where to Buy
ismartalarm
Monthly Fee
$0
Home Automation
Proprietary with Z-Wave Option Coming Soon
IFTTT Integration
Open/Close Sensors
Video Surveillance
Camera Resolution
1080p
Camera Feature
Pan & Tilt or Wide Angle
Night Vision
Video Encryption
WEP, WPA, WPA2
Built-in Battery Backup
Android Compatible
iOS Compatible
iTunes App Rating
Google Play App Rating
Text Alerts
Push Notifications
Alert Phone Call
SecurityGem Tested
Where to Buy
piper
Monthly Fee
$0
Home Automation
Z-Wave
IFTTT Integration
Open/Close Sensors
Video Surveillance
Camera Resolution
1080p
Camera Feature
Wide Angle*
Night Vision
Piper NV Only
Video Encryption
AES-128 SSL Encryption
Built-in Battery Backup
Android Compatible
iOS Compatible
iTunes App Rating
Google Play App Rating
Text Alerts
Push Notifications
Alert Phone Call
SecurityGem Tested
Where to Buy
scout
Monthly Fee
$0+
Home Automation
Zigbee and Works with Nest
IFTTT Integration
Open/Close Sensors
Video Surveillance
Coming Soon
Camera Resolution
Coming Soon: 1080p
Camera Feature
Coming Soon: Wide Angle
Night Vision
Coming Soon
Video Encryption
Coming Soon
Built-in Battery Backup
Android Compatible
iOS Compatible
iTunes App Rating
Google Play App Rating
Text Alerts
Push Notifications
Alert Phone Call
SecurityGem Tested
Where to Buy
Nest Cam
Monthly Fee
$0+
Home Automation
Works with Nest
IFTTT Integration
Open/Close Sensors
Video Surveillance
Camera Resolution
1080p
Camera Feature
Wide Angle
Night Vision
Video Encryption
AES-128 Bit Encryption
Built-in Battery Backup
Android Compatible
iOS Compatible
iTunes App Rating
Google Play App Rating
Text Alerts
Push Notifications
Alert Phone Call
SecurityGem Tested
Where to Buy

Click here to view our Expanded Chart to include SmartThings in this comparison.

* Piper is listed as pan and tilt but it is actually a wide angle lens. The Piper camera can take a wide angle picture and you can zoom in and pan right or left within the zoomed area. Read our recent Piper Review here.

So what are these new start-ups all about?

They are do-it-yourself home security solutions that utilize the latest in mobile technology. They don’t come with contracts, they don’t have monthly fees, but they also don’t have professional monitoring. What they provide is a way for you to see what is going on in your home using a smart phone device for a very low cost. iSmartAlarm is a DIY home security service that starts with door/window sensors and can expand to video surveillance and home automation. On the other hand, Piper is video surveillance that can expand to Z-Wave home automation and Canary is simply video surveillance with proprietary home automation.

Piper is unique in that you can add door/window sensors to increase home protection. Unfortunately, Canary does not offer this option to their buyers limiting its ability to protect homes. The Canary team suggests you buy more Canary all-in-one units to scale your system and protect a greater area. While this would work, it is an expensive option and like it or not you do need to be able to monitor your entry ways for true home security.

How do you control them?

All three devices can be controlled using an iOS or Android device. Canary and Piper offered both options in their pre-launch package and iSmart responded by releasing an Android version of their original iOS app. They all offer their service without monthly fees and without contracts. All three companies offer alerts to your phone should an alarm trigger. Piper technology will also allow you to setup a trusted circle network. Basically the system will reach out to those in your trusted circle if you are unreachable. iSmartAlarm has a similar technology that is based around a family alert system. If the alarm is triggered ALL family members will receive a text warning them to stay away until the home has been declared safe. The Canary app puts additional focus on temperature automation. It will allow you to track your home’s temperature, humidity, and air quality.

What about the technology?

All three companies offer video surveillance technology but they are all a little different.

The Piper camera offers a unique panoramic video that gives you a long view of your room in full 1080p. Their camera has a striking aesthetic that comes in your choice of a white or black finish. It also includes a sensor with a microphone, siren, and a motion detector. Live video is viewed from the Piper app and recorded video is included. Piper will only record video if a security event occurs. Recorded videos are usually 25 seconds long and Piper will keep up to 1000 snippets of recorded events in the cloud for free. Their Clip Saving feature allows users to download an unlimited amount of clips at no charge.

Piper announced a new camera at CES 2015 called the Piper NV. The Piper NV is exactly like the original Piper with a couple differences. The Piper NV offers night vision and they’ve also upgraded the camera to 3.4 MP to help improve the quality of the night vision. The only other difference is the price as the Piper NV, is selling for $279.00 on Amazon.

The Canary system looks a little bit like a fancy air freshener customized to be black, white, or silver. However, the Canary all-in-one system has advanced features including night vision, HD, a siren, motion detection, temperature sensors, humidity sensors, and air quality sensors. It also comes with a speaker and a microphone though it does not support two-way audio. The actual camera does not pan or tilt instead it uses a wide angle lens to cover a larger area. Canary offers limited cloud storage for free with premium plans as well. With the free plan, you will get access to recorded events that occurred over the last 12 hours. In addition you can save up to five clips on the Canary Cloud. Their entry level plan is $4.99 per month. With this plan you can permanently save 25 video clips and your cloud storage increases from 12 hours to two days. The next plan is $9.99 per month. It offers the option to bookmark 100 video clips and offers 7 days of timeline access. Finally the 30-day timeline plan is $29.99 per month. This plan offers unlimited video bookmarks. The premium plans also offer the option for unlimited video downloads where the free plan is limited to 3 lifetime downloads. Canary is also launching call-center backup rumored at $10 per month. More on this later…

Finally, iSmartAlarm has three cameras. They have the original egg-shaped iCamera that can pan and tilt a full 350, the iCamera KEEP, and Spot. The original iCamera’s rotation makes it unique. You can control the tilt and pan from your phone’s app to get a good view of your entire monitored space. The iSmart team allows users to enable automated emails with pictures that are sent when an alert is triggered.

The KEEP offers HD video with 350°x40° pan and tilt. The KEEP also has night vision and free video capture and storage. That’s right, free. According to iSmart it works like this,

When the iCamera KEEP detects motion, it will automatically record and store ten seconds of video at a time. You can watch, listen, and download the video. If an intruder walks into a room with an iCamera KEEP, it will begin recording. If an intruder moves to another room with another iCamera KEEP, that iCamera KEEP will begin recording. You can track movements and have video evidence of fiendish wrongdoers. The video recording and storage is free

And third there is Spot. Spot will start shipping next month and is half the size of the KEEP. Unlike the other camera options, it cannot pan and tilt but it features a wide angle lens and a few extra goodies like an SD card slot for local storage and sound recognition capable of detecting the unique sound made by smoke alarms and CO alarms. Like KEEP, Spot also offers free cloud storage.

What about Home Automation?

The Piper system allows for partial home automation. It acts as a Z-Wave controller but only for certain things and not for all things like other home automation hubs. Piper is compatible with these Z-Wave products found on Amazon and they promise to continue to grow this list. Currently Piper supports Z-Wave on/off switches, an outdoor smart switch, open/close sensors, range extenders, smart bulb, and a water sensor. They plan to test and expand into other home automation areas but are currently limited to around 100 appliances.

The Canary system has a built in automation feature that is focused around your home’s temperature, air quality, and humidity but can’t expand beyond that. The Canary team is focused on information, not automation and they have no plans to make the system more complex through automation. However, they have announced integration with Wink. Through Wink you can switch modes using the Wink app but you can also create a relationship between Canary and hundreds of Wink-compatible products using Canary’s geo-fencing capabilities. For example, you can set your lights to turn off when you leave home.

iSmartAlarms also offers home automation. They launched their IFTTT channel which will allow them to play with multiple other smart home devices. They’ve also started shipping their Smart Switch which acts as a small appliance module. Basically, it can automate anything that plugs into an outlet like lamps and small appliances. Even with so much existing potential to automate they are still planning more. At CES 2015 they announced plans to launch a Z-Wave stick that will plug into your existing iSmart hub to add the ability to connect to a few new iSmart devices like the multi-tone and LED strobe Satellite Siren, Water Leak Sensor, and indoor/outdoor multi-Sensor (temperature, air quality, humidity, and light sensors built-in). Their final announcement at CES 2015 was a smoke alarm. The iSmartAlarm Smoke Alarm can be used on its own or with an iSmart system. It uses photoelectric sensors to reduce false alarms but cooler than that – it can “hear” other alarms throughout your house so that they work together. Finally, they are starting to talk about potential HomeKit support.

How much do they cost?

  • The Piper base package is $199 which includes the camera only. You can expand the system and add door/window sensors for $49.94 per sensor. The Piper NV comes black or white and starts at $279.00 on Amazon. Be sure to read our full Piper home security review for more information.