Piper Home Security Systemstars36Rating 3.6 Reviewed by Paul

 

The Piper Home Security System is a new smart and great looking security device. In our review we look at it in depth to see if the “smartness” is more than skin deep.

The Piper Home Security system is a HD camera, motion sensor, temperature sensor, zwave controller (home automation controller) all in one unit.  In addition it has a 2 way speaker and siren built-in. You can just have one device or link up to 5 together to provide a more extensive network.

                     buy5._V192207739_                       It is pre-programmed to work straight out of the box with minimal set up and installation required. It  records video clips when movement is detected and sends a notification to your phone so you can see the security event. The video clips are stored for free in the cloud.

Note: A new version has just been released called the Piper nv you can read my review of it here.

It started off as a crowd funded product but it has now been sold to IControl Network who are a leader in the smart home automation field  whose customers include ADT and Comcast, thus giving Piper more financial and technical support to grow and develop.

Installation

The set up takes minutes. It is a straightforward process. You just need to download the App and set the Piper up with your wifi and follow the instructions on your Smartphone. The longest part of the process can be waiting for the app to download.

If you just buy the 1 unit without door/window contacts the installation is as simple as plugging the unit in and putting on a shelf or attaching it to a wall in the best location to see the room, entrance or valuables you want watched. You can add another 4 units to be controlled by the app per customer account.

If you buy window/door contacts you’ll need to install the two part contacts at the door using the double back tape or screws provided and then set it up in the app (a simple process).

It seems this is one of the simplest set ups there is for a security system although some people do have problems with it from time to time when the WiFi does not connect properly. There are troubleshooting instructions on their site and you can also contact support for help.

Requirements for set up are: You need the internet and an Android or iOS device. It works with your local WiFI and the WiFi needs to be broadcasting on 2.4 ghz ,not on 5 ghz. The documentation you received with the router should have this information or you can check with the router’s manufacturer if you are unsure.  Also you need to have a minimum upload speed of 800 bps for it to work successfully.

Contract

There is no contract required or ongoing fees to use this system. You are not charged for the storage of video clips  in the cloud (1000 clips are stored for free before they start being written over at the moment). Most other systems including Canary (you just get the past 12 hours stored for free but do charge monthly for more) do not give you so much storage for free.

Support

Customer support seems to be responsive to questions and issues. They can be contacted between 6.00 AM to 5.00 PM Pacific Standard Time Monday to Friday by phone or email or using the help message box on their site.  It would be good if they offered coverage on the weekend when you may have more time.

When I requested information by email they were slow in responding but they were helpful and apologized for the delay. They were very quick with a response for my follow up question.

You can return the Piper within 30 days for a refund but this does not cover Z-wave accessories.

Piper Home Security System Cameras

piper home security system camera viewThe most popular version of this system includes one unit which includes 1 camera. You can add up to another 4 units to control at total 5 with one smartphone app account.

Unfortunately, the camera does not have night vision although the motion sensor does work in the dark. The only way to get round this to either keep the lights on or use a smart switch that turns on the lights when the motion sensor detects movement. The first 5 seconds of the clip will only record the darkness as the lights won’t be on at that point.

The company is just releasing a new version of the camera with night vision but it is going to cost more than the current device.  Canary that is releasing at the end of February will include night vision – you can see more here.
The camera gives 180 degree view of the room using a fisheye lens. This view can be segmented to give 4 views with gives a more flat view rather than rounded one you get with a fisheye.

You can use the app by moving and pinching your fingers on the screen to give a virtual pan, tilt and zoom experience but the camera lens itself does not move. The camera can has a 180 degrees range so your are just moving around that.

The camera is for inside use only and works with its’ back next to a wall so it can see all the room.  The range of view that it seems to work best for is up to 40 feet.

The specifications say it is 1080p resolution but this is spread over a 180 degree view so it does not look as  good as expected with it giving a grainy picture and the quality can be best described as average. This not what you expect when you see 1080p. And the view will deteriorate as the light dims during twilight or whenever the light is not at its strongest.

You can see what is going on in your home but it may prove difficult to identify a stranger.
The camera is on at all times but only records video to the cloud when there is a security event that you specify. That is, when the motion sensor detects movement or there is a loud noise it records the 5 seconds before the detected event and 30 seconds after and it can send you a notification to your phone and people’s phone you nominated that it has recorded a video and that an incident has occurred.

You can view and control the camera from your smart phone to watch a live feed at anytime and get 4 different views of the room to see what is going on. You can use this feature to check your children are okay or a worker in your home is doing what they are doing. With the 2 way communication you can also speak to whoever is in your home to give them a message and hear what they say in response. However, there is not currently a way to record the live stream  or to take snapshots with the app.

You can view the recorded video in fish eye view or quadrant view and use the virtual pan, tilt or zoom to get a better view of something.

If you have more than one device in your security network you view one camera at a time and scroll between them to see what is going on in different parts of your house.

Video Storage

The 35 second clips that the system records are stored on the company’s cloud server. They can be accessed from anywhere you can connect to the internet with your smartphone (iOS or Android). It stores up 1000 of these clips before it starts to overwrite the oldest one.

One of the shortcomings of the system is that the only place the clips are stored is in the cloud and it is not possible to download the video clips to another place on your own. To do this you need to contact Piper and they can arrange this for you. The company is working on this and will make it possible for customer to do this at some stage.

When viewing the videos you can play and pause but not fast forward or rewind or go through them frame by frame which can make it difficult when trying to stop a video at just the right spot to see what is going on.

Alarms

The Piper home Security System alarm is part of the control unit and is 105 db loud. This is as loud as standing next to a motorcycle. It can disorient the listener and is painful to listen to.  This in many cases may well be enough to scare away a burglar as they don’t like the attention but it won’t stop the determined ones. You’re neighbors are unlikely to notice the siren if you are in a house as noise levels drop quickly as sound moves away from the source.

The disadvantage with it being in the unit is that it lets the intruder know where the control unit is and they can either unplug it and take out the batteries or smash it to turn the alarm off. You do then get a notification that the unit is offline.

When the alarm is triggered it continues sounding until switched off by a user or after 5 minutes has elapsed and then resets itself.

Notification

Piper Home Security System black on shelfThe system can notify you in 4 ways: by push notification (the app sends a message to your phone), email, text message and phone call when there is an incident and you can then watch video of the event.

You can set how it contacts you or if it contacts at all by setting rules in the app – you can set different rules as to what happens depending on how the system has been armed – home, away or vacation or off.

When you are on vacation you may want someone else to be notified locally as well as yourself so they can take the necessary action as they are better placed to do so.  You do this by adding them to your trusted circle and set the parameters to say you are on vacation.  People added as backup contacts in the trusted circle can only receive alerts to events and do not have access to the live camera stream.

Some example rules you can have are-  When set at home you may not want video to be recorded when movement is detected nor have the alarm sound but you may want a notification. Also if you have window/door contacts you may want these to be armed and to trigger the alarm if they are opened but not be notified when motion is detected when at home etc.be

Remote Monitoring

piper home security system checking inYou can monitor your system remotely with Android or iOS smartphones and tablets and  talk to whoever is at home through it. There also the functionality to watch a live stream of the video to see what is going on at home.

From your app you are able to arm and disarm the system from anywhere you can connect to the internet and also check up on your home as well. It is very versatile in this respect.

You can set it up so all your family or people sharing your apartment (and select friends) can access the system to monitor and get notifications. There is no restriction on the number of people you can add. You need to set up a shared email address and register that along with  password information – could be a bit of a problem if your fall out with your room mates.

Battery

You can monitor your system remotely with Android or iOS smartphones and tablets and  talk to whoever is at home through it. There also the functionality to watch a live stream of the video to see what is going on at home.

From your app you are able to arm and disarm the system from anywhere you can connect to the internet and also check up on your home as well. It is very versatile in this respect.

You can set it up so all your family or people sharing your apartment (and select friends) can access the system to monitor and get notifications. There is no restriction on the number of people you can add. You need to set up a shared email address and register that along with  password information – could be a bit of a problem if your fall out with your room mates.

Sensors/Detection

The motion sensor contained in the controller is a passive infra red sensor. It detects movement by seeing changes in temperature. The sensor works in the day and at night (unlike the camera) and can sense movement up to 30 feet away. The horizontal angle it can detect movement is 120 degree so it will have blind spots at the sides if placed against a wall, so depending on what you are covering a corner is going to ensure it does not have a blind spot. Still 120 degrees is a wide field of vision for motion sensors of this type.

If you have pets you can change the settings of the sensor to make it less sensitive. It works using a slider on the app so you are likely to have to play around with it a bit to get the right sensitivity to ignore your pet. It is only by trial and error that you’ll get the right sensitivity there are no guidelines.

Door/Window Contacts

When you buy the device you get the HD camera but you do not get a door/window contact. This can be bought as part of akit that includes a door/window contact or you buy them separately.

The door/window contact is in 2 parts – a sensor and magnet. They will fit on any type of door and window whether they slide open, open sideways or up and down as long as you can attach one part to frame and  the other to the door or window. When closed they need to be within 2 centimeters of each other to detect that the door is closed. When they are separated by more than this it will let the Piper know and trigger a security event.

Panic Button/Duress Codes

There is not a separate panic button or duress code (a code to enter that turns off the siren but lets the person(s) monitoring the system that you have been forced to do so).

The app itself does have a panic button that can be pushed if you hear an intruder in your home or for another emergency. The app now has a bedside mode which keeps the App on so it is available when you need it quickly and don’t have to wait for it to load.

Setting The Alarm

You set and disarm the alarm remotely with the app. This is the only way you can do this. There are 4 settings – Off, home, away and vacation and you can set rules for what happens when there is an event as to what happens when the sensors are triggered – they cover how you want to be notified, if video is to be taken or if the siren is to be sounded
The app can take a bit of time to load up sometimes (it closes down after a period of inactivity) – sometimes this is up to 20 seconds which can seem a long time when you are at your front door and wanting to turn the system off so you can enter your home without triggering the alarm.

Control Panel

Piper Home Security System on shelf in roomThis system does not have a control panel in the traditional sense. All control and set up of the system is done using the smartphone app. The only time you may need to touch the unit is to reset it by holding down the power button at the back of the unit.

The app is where you arm/disarm and set the rules and settings and add people to the system. It is quite simple to use however, it can take time to load up sometimes – up to 20 seconds in some cases which can seem like an eternity these days.

There are number of different screen you can access within the app. They are:

Dashboard – this where you can access all the settings and feature windows. There is a button in the middle where you arm the system in stay, home or vacation mode and also disarm the system. It also lets you know the number of events that have occurred and you can access the log from the screen and also the video clips that have been uploaded. You can also see the temperature in your home and local area.

Piper Home Security System black on shelfSettings – The settings window is where you control and manage the system’s settings. You can change and update your details in the my details section:

piper settings – name, pet sensitivity, alarm timer delays, temperature display, whether to be notified if system            notifies when it disconnects

trusted circle – add people so they can receive notifications of alerts if you select them in the rules section

Z-wave accessories is where you add or remove home automation devices

Video settings – this where you set the bit rate for connecting to your cell phone increasing this should improve the     quality but may slow down the frame rate

Multipiper management – this is where you can add up to 4 additional pipers to your network

About piper – lets you know the app and software version you are running

There is also a sign out button and help button to get more information on the screen

Vitals – At the bottom of the dashboard there is a button for accessing the vitals page. This gives you 48 hours of information in graph form of temperature, humidity, sound and motion levels.

Live video – this button is next to the vital button and is where you can view a live stream and control the view and use 2 way audio

Controls page – this is where you can set the smart switch settings – you can schedule them to come on at certain times or turn on depending on temperature or when the room gets dark

Rules icon – this is where you set what happens when motion, sound or a temperature is outside parameters is detected. This gives you the options as to how to be notified, whether trusted circle is to be notified, sound siren and/or turn on a light. You do this for home, away or vacation mode. You can also set notification settings for when the system is not armed.

Timers

Piper Home Security System ReviewYou can set the system to have delay period of 15, 30, 45 or 60 seconds when you arm the system to give you time to leave before it is fully armed. When you come home you also have set a delay between when the system detects movement to when it sounds the alarm of 15 seconds (this can’t be changed) to give you the chance to disarm it after you’ve opened the door.

Protection against it being switched off

When there is a power outage the system will continue operating for up to 6 hours as it has backup batteries but it probably won’t be able to notify you of any events because your wifi is probably down. There is no cell network backup like there is with the Scout Alarm (but you do pay a fee for this). However, you will get notified that the system is not online.

Coverage

The z-wave sensors have a range of 50 to 65 feet from the controller but this can be extended by other units relaying the signal and/or a range extender.

Wireless or Wired

This is a wireless system that uses your WiFi to communicate with your smartphone (WiFi needs to be on 2.4 GHZ frequency as it won’t work 5.0 GHZ).

It uses the z-wave protocol which operates around 900 mhz frequency  to communicate with other sensors , switches and other devices added to the security system.   Therefore there should not be any interference with your WiFi when controlling the home automation.

Zones

Zones do not apply to this system but you can name the control units so you know which one has been triggered which can be useful when you have more than one.

You can control up to 5 devices through one account but they can’t be set to respond differently to security events. This means when you set a rule you set it for all the Pipers in your network. So if one Piper detect movement all

Pipers will start to record video. It works the same way when a door/window contact detects the door/window is being opened the siren will sound on all devices when armed.

Dimensions

The dimensions of the control unit is approximately 3.5 by 5.5 by 2.5 inches.

Features

The Piper HD camera includes a HD fish eye camera, z-wave controller, motion sensors, loud noise detector, temperature detector and siren all in one unit.

Accessories

Piper Home Security System automationThe manufacturer says that it can control up to 232 z-wave devices.  It works with home automation devices such as window/door sensors, switches and light dimmers and range extenders. There is not a list of devices that it has been tested with but those in those categories should work.

The ones on its’ site are the ones that it has done the most tests with. It does not presently work with other z-wave controllers (it may do in the future).

Z-wave window/door contacts – these are in two parts for detecting the opening of doors and windows

Z-wave range extender – this extends the range that home automation devices can be away from the controller

Z-wave smart switch – these allow you to automate the turning on and off of lights and appliances automatically or with your app

Z-wave smart dimmer – you can use this to turn off lights or dim the light using your app

Z-wave micro smart switch – this fits in your walls to connect existing lights and switches to the z-wave network.

Pros

Piper Home Security System on corner of shelfEasy to set up and install and can be done in less than 30 minutes with little technical skill required.

As it only uploads when there is an incident it saves on bandwidth and usage limits

1000 video clips are stored for free on the company’s cloud servers

Good budget solution for apartments and small homes

It can manage up to 232 z-wave devices giving you a good opportunity to automate your home

Is easily portable to take when you move

Battery backup for when there is a power outage

Video is stored away from the system so can’t be taken by a burglar as it could be with a system that stores on a local drive.

No monthly fees or contract

Cons

Can be expensive for larger homes as you add additional units to cover the house

The camera does not have night vision and the only way this can be overcome is by either leaving a light on or having them switch on when the motion sensor detects movement

You cannot set a schedule for the alarm to be armed or disarmed

You can’t record video or take snapshots locally nor can you download from the cloud without help from Piper

You can’t use your PC to monitor and control the system

The app can be slow to open at times

Does not work with Blackberry or Windows phones

You are dependent on the company’s servers being up to be able to monitor and get notifications

Only a limited of range of z-wave devices have been tested to work with it

The system does not have a separate panic button or duress code. There is a virtual panic button within the app

The loud noise sensor is very sensitive and you may find that you will get a lot of notifications and/or the siren being sounded.

There are no smoke, CO,  fire or flood sensors. It does have temperature and humidity sensors but I don’t think these replace the need for a sensor for detecting smoke, carbon monoxide etc.

Piper Home Security System Consumer Ratings

Customers have given mixed reviews of their experience with using the system. Some are very pleased with the system but many are disappointed with their experience.

Most of those who are unhappy do not like the quality of video images which are grainy and that it does not have night vision.  Also another limitation is that you can’t download the video to a local drive so you can use to help identify an intruder etc without the help of Piper

There has also been issues with the app and systems reliability but this seems to have improved recently with the latest updates.

The positive reviews like the fact you get a lot more functionality in one unit compared to other security systems available and you don’t have to pay ongoing monitoring fees making it an affordable solution for apartments, small homes and businesses.

Piper Home Security System Price

The system is well priced for the functionality you get for a small home or apartment but it can get expensive if you have a larger home.

If you have more rooms where you want to monitor motion the cost is going to increase by $200 a time. So for a home where you assess the need for 3 motion sensors it is going to $600 plus you are likely going to want window/door contacts on top of that. If you want to cover doors and windows you may want at least 10 of these adding up to another $500 to the cost of the system. However, you are getting a camera in each room as well as motion sensor which offsets some of this cost. A dropcam pro camera costs $200 on its own doesn’t have a motion sensor.

The best price I found when searching was on Amazon. Click here to check the price: Piper Home Security System

Review Summary

Piper Home Security System blackThis is a good solution for a small apartment and home but it does have some shortcomings that negate its ability to be a fully integrated home security solution. The unit has some really great features but the lack of night vision, the grainy video and not being able to download the video clips (without help) are disappointing. Also there is no backup system for when the internet goes down.

The storage of video on the cloud, the 180 degree camera view, the 2 way communicator and motion sensor, the home automation controller and the quick set up are very good, but it can be an expensive solution if you have a larger home and require more than one room to be monitored. You don’t have to pay any ongoing fees which help to offset some of the additional cost but they do need to address the issues for it to be a full home security system.  It can be an affordable security system for small homes and apartments with some limitations.

Filed under: Reviews

Like this post? Subscribe to my RSS feed and get loads more!