Piper vs Scout vs SmartThings for Home Security

The list of crowdfunded projects continues to grow. I’ve heard several people say that the home automation market is becoming rather crowded. I would agree but through it all we are seeing better things doing bigger things. Even with so many crowdfunded security devices I would say that three of the most popular competitors in the DIY smart home security market include Piper, Scout, and SmartThings. They are similar in that they are crowdfunded, attractive, smart, and affordable but if you want to know how they are different keep reading.

Compare Features Side-By-Side

 smartthingspiperscout
Monthly Fee$0$0$0+
Home AutomationZigBee, Z-Wave, BluetoothZ-WaveZigbee
IFTTT or Works with NestIFTTT
IFTTT & Works with Nest
Video Surveillance
Coming Soon
Door/Window Sensors
Motion Sensor
Compatible Siren
Battery Backup
iOS Compatible
Android Compatible
Windows Phone Compatible
Text Alerts
Phone Call Alerts AlertsVia IFTTT
Via IFTTT
Professional MonitoringThrough Scout
Where to Buy
smartthings
Monthly Fee
$0
Home Automation
ZigBee, Z-Wave, Bluetooth
IFTTT or Works with Nest
IFTTT
Video Surveillance
Door/Window Sensors
Motion Sensor
Compatible Siren
Battery Backup
iOS Compatible
Android Compatible
Windows Phone Compatible
Text Alerts
Phone Call Alerts Alerts
Via IFTTT
Professional Monitoring
Through Scout
Where to Buy
piper
Monthly Fee
$0
Home Automation
Z-Wave
IFTTT or Works with Nest
Video Surveillance
Door/Window Sensors
Motion Sensor
Compatible Siren
Battery Backup
iOS Compatible
Android Compatible
Windows Phone Compatible
Text Alerts
Phone Call Alerts Alerts
Professional Monitoring
Where to Buy
scout
Monthly Fee
$0+
Home Automation
Zigbee
IFTTT or Works with Nest
IFTTT & Works with Nest
Video Surveillance
Coming Soon
Door/Window Sensors
Motion Sensor
Compatible Siren
Battery Backup
iOS Compatible
Android Compatible
Windows Phone Compatible
Text Alerts
Phone Call Alerts Alerts
Via IFTTT
Professional Monitoring
Where to Buy

So what are these new start-ups all about?

The home security industry hasn’t updated their model in years. Their model works for a select few but not for the majority. Today, the majority of homeowners want attractive technology that works with their smartphone and they don’t want to add a monthly payment to their utility bill. Also, the number of families renting versus buying homes is increasing. These DIY security solutions fill the void. They don’t require lengthy contracts, they give the power to the user, they don’t require monthly fees, and you can pack up and move them when your lease ends.

Piper is a video surveillance system that can expand to limited Z-Wave home automation. SmartThings is an open-source home automation system that can expand to a home security device. Scout is a home security solution that can expand to a home automation device. Are you still with me? In the end they can all do two things.

1. Help you protect your home.
2. Help you control your home.

(photo credit: Scout)

How do you control them?

All three devices can be controlled using an iOS or Android device. All three companies offer alerts to your phone should an alarm trigger.

Our reader Scott tested and reviewed the Piper  for us and we also tested the Piper nv in-house, we’ve tested SmartThings v1, and SecurityThings v2, and we’ve also tested and reviewed the Scout system. Our ranked list of self-monitored security systems is a great source for comparing these systems and others.

 

Phone App Comparison

 piperScout Alarm LogoSmartThings Review
iTunes Rating
Requires iOS VersioniOS 7.0 or lateriOS 7.0 or lateriOS 7.0 or later
Price for App UseFreeFreeFree
Google Play Rating
Requires Android2.33 and up4.0.3 and upVaries
Push Notifications
Where to Buy
piper
iTunes Rating
Requires iOS Version
iOS 7.0 or later
Price for App Use
Free
Google Play Rating
Requires Android
2.33 and up
Push Notifications
Where to Buy
Scout Alarm Logo
iTunes Rating
Requires iOS Version
iOS 7.0 or later
Price for App Use
Free
Google Play Rating
Requires Android
4.0.3 and up
Push Notifications
Where to Buy
SmartThings Review
iTunes Rating
Requires iOS Version
iOS 7.0 or later
Price for App Use
Free
Google Play Rating
Requires Android
Varies
Push Notifications
Where to Buy

 

 

What about the technology and what makes them different?

Piper offers proprietary video surveillance. The Piper camera is a wide view panoramic camera. They’ve designed it with the wide view so that you can monitor 4 different views of one room at the same time. The camera records in 1080p. Though you will read that the camera will allow you to pan, tilt, and zoom up to 10x as needed this is only partially true. Piper’s wide angle lens allows you to pan and tilt within a zoomed section of the wide angle view. In reality, it is not really pan and tilt capable in the traditional sense. Their camera has a striking aesthetic that comes in your choice of a white or black finish.

The Piper camera is the Swiss Army Knife of home security. The camera is housed in the same piece of hardware that houses the microphone, siren, and motion detector. The camera is the only piece of hardware that Piper actually makes. As the camera has integrated Z-Wave technology you can combine it with other pieces of hardware to build a true home security system. Piper is currently authorized to work with a select group of Z-Wave home automation products.

The Scout system is made up of 4 pieces of equipment: the base station, door panel, open/close sensors, and the motion sensor. They plan to offer an HD Video Camera for $169.00 but currently you can only pre-order the camera. What sets Scout apart is the ability to add professional monitoring if needed. Professional monitoring is possible through the activation of the built-in 3G chip. Another advantage to activating the 3G chip is coverage when your internet is down and you are protected from power outages by the battery backup. Most DIY security systems are dependent upon internet and power but Scout has build-in features to protect your home regardless. Also, they have their own IFTTT channel that allows you to integrate with other home automation devices, they are part of the Works with Nest program, and you can add voice control through Amazon Echo.

All SmartThings spawn from the central hub. What sets SmartThings apart is their open approach to technology. The SmartThings’ team is constantly adding compatible hardware to their list of Things. They can connect with thousands of other products and are even open to certifying some brands you might assume would be competition. They are able to do this by inviting developers to create for them and by working with multiple home automation languages. SmartThings works with qualified Zigbee, Z-Wave, and IP-accessible devices. Their new hub has also added Bluetooth, but how this integrates into the plan remains to be seen. SmartThings has an IFTTT channel for even more creative connection to other devices and offers voice control through Amazon Echo. Finally, you can add professional monitoring to your SmartThings system through Scout’s professional monitoring service.

The new SmartThings hub offers greater home security advantage by offering battery backup and cellular connectivity. Perhaps the most exciting feature is that the hub works locally in addition to working in the cloud. This is the only device of the three mentioned that can do that.

How much do they cost?

That depends upon what you want them to do! Let’s create a case scenario for fun and so we can compare true apples to apples pricing. Let’s say that we need one motion sensor, 2 door sensors, 4 window sensors, and we want video surveillance (just to make it fair for Piper).

If we wanted to use Piper for this scenario it would be $438.70. This assumes you buy the sensors through Amazon which is less than buying through Piper directly. Also Piper recently dropped the cost per unit to $199 so this scenario assumes they keep the same price point.

Piper recently started selling the Piper NV. The NV includes night vision which is not included on the original Piper. The Piper nv sells for $276.99 on Amazon vs $196.80 on Amazon for the original Piper.

Scout would charge $578.96 for this scenario.

SmartThings would charge $402 for all 7 sensors and the required hub but as they lack video surveillance you would need to add an IP camera like DropCam Pro to the mix. This would bring our total to $602.

The Verdict?

If you want home automation that adds security the clear winner is SmartThings. If you want a home security system I suggest Scout with the addition of video surveillance. The reason I suggest Scout is that they offer optional professional monitoring, 3G backup, and battery backup for power outages.

Who do you think wins?