Canary Security — Motion Detection and 90db Alarm, Without Monthly Fees

You can easily monitor the levels of cooking odors and harmful gasses in your home. You just need an app in your smart phone and the Canary home security system.

But it doesn’t stop there — you can also have motion detection and a siren protecting your home, all without an alarm system’s expensive monthly fees. In this article, I will review how the Canary security system can be a full replacement of an alarm system and much more than just a high-end WiFi security camera.

How does it compare with full home security systems?

Back in the day I sold ADT home alarm systems door to door. Before you unleash your hatred towards door to door salesmen, hear me out because I have some good news later on.

While selling door to door, I heard all the reasons why not to get an alarm system. I have a dog. I have a gun. I have a lots of guns. One homeowner I met said he left his doors and windows open and dared anyone to enter his house without permission, pointing to his stacks of ammo and AK-47. Intense.

Most people would agree that an alarm system has value, but it’s also unnecessarily expensive. That’s why I am going to compare the Canary security device with a full ADT system.

90 decibel siren scares away intruders

Alarms don’t create a forcefield around your house to stop a burglar from smashing a window. But they can stop a stranger from rummaging through your entire house and stealing more than just the iPad on the kitchen counter.

Now for the good news I promised earlier: the Canary will do just as much as an ADT system in quickly causing a home invader to leave. Its blaring 90+ decibel siren will cause any intruder to flee before causing any real damage.

Police alarm response that finally makes sense

Where the Canary security really shines is getting a quick response times from police.

For comparison, with ADT and other alarm systems, when the alarm is triggered:

  1. After a certain amount of time of the alarm going off, an operator contacts the police about your property.
  2. The police dispatcher notifies officers on duty to assign one of them to visit your home.
  3. The police, who are probably annoyed by getting these calls all day, check on your house when they have time.

According to a Freakonomics podcast, between 94 and 99 percent of burglar-alarm calls are false alarms. These calls make up 10–20% of all calls to the police, and it cost American taxpayers $1.8 billion in the year 2000. This entire system is incredibly frustrating for police, who don’t have time to waste responding to false alarms.

Image courtesy of Canary

The Canary makes the alarms smarter.

  1. You receive an alert on your phone that your alarm is going off.
  2. You can view the live feed and history of footage to see why the alarm was triggered.
  3. If you see that something is wrong, you can call the local police or fire department. This gives you the power to decide if the police should come check on your home, instead of leaving the decision up to an automated system. Simply press Emergency Call and it will call your local police station for your home, helping officers respond quicker.
  4. After talking to you, the actual homeowner, on the phone (instead of a random agent at an alarm monitoring company) the dispatcher and police officers will know this is a real situation. They are more likely to escalate the issue and check on your home faster.

If you prefer to have a dedicated company monitor your home, you can also set up the Canary with a monitoring service.

The counterargument against the Canary security is that a home invader could steal the machine. But anyone stealing the Canary would be captured on camera, and all recordings are stored in the cloud. You can log into you Canary account to see who entered your home. Most burglaries are committed by neighbors or people you already know. That’s why getting an image of the invader is crucial to narrow down who actually broke into your home.

Easy DIY for door chimes and lawn signs

A big selling point for full alarm systems are the chimes that ring when a door or window is opened. Parents of teenagers especially love this. You’re probably thinking, “Canary can’t do that!”

Okay you are right, it can’t. But you can buy some absurdly inexpensive door chimes that double as alarms you can arm when you are out of town. They are only $20.

That’s great, but what about the sign that you get with an alarm system? That’s what deters most potential intruders anyways.

…Well, they actually have a sign on Amazon for a tiny fraction of an alarm system. Snag one of these legit-looking signs and most invaders will know that you have a home security system.

See? You really don’t have to pay high monthly fees for strong home security. Even with the extra add-on costs and a second Canary security device if your home is large, the cost will come nowhere close to the price of an ADT system.

Right now, ADT’s website offers video added to your system for only $49! Wow! But wait… hold on, this deal is only available with a $55.99 per month contract for 36 months, totaling a little over $2,000. So you can have ADT, or you can have TEN Canary security devices! As Admiral Ackbar would say…

Features Unique to Canary Security

Privacy mode

Image courtesy of Canary

Canary security is highly customizable and can you can easily change between different modes. In fact, the color of light shining under the Canary shows whether it is armed (green), disarmed (yellow), or private (grey). Some people might be accustomed to the simple arm and disarm of an alarm system, but Canary makes security even easier. It can detect when you come and go to automatically arm and disarm. When disarmed, the video and sound are still recorded, but the notifications are turned off.

There is also a mode called Privacy Mode which will turn off the camera and sound, but continue to monitor the air quality. Most WiFi cameras do not have a privacy mode feature which is yet another added bonus for Canary. As expected, you can manually change these modes in the app.

Great Apple support

If you use an iPhone or have an Apple Watch you will experience great features Canary built for you. On the Apple Watch you can change the mode, see who is at home, and any recent notifications including a picture of the latest activity. On the iPhone 6s, you can use 3D touch to quickly jump to one of your cameras from the home screen or quickly view videos from in the app. They also have an iOS widget in the notification center to show the most recent activity.

Image courtesy of Canary

Homehealth helps you breathe

Image courtesy of Canary

What is Homehealth?

This is what really sets apart the Canary security from other cameras. Canary can view the air quality by measuring the levels of isobutane, hydrogen, methane, ethanol, carbon monoxide, cigarette smoke, and cooking odors. Although Canary clearly says this is not a replacement for a carbon monoxide or smoke detector, it is very good for keeping an eye on the air quality in your house. It can also report the indoor humidity and temperature.

Is it just a gimmick?

So why would anyone really care about this feature? Well have you heard of forest fires? Wildfires have been in the news nationwide the past few years. They pollute the air with smoke and make it difficult to breathe. Bringing home a sterile little newborn to a polluted environment is a scary thought for most parents.

Breathing in nasty air can also get adults sick. It pains me to say some Saturdays I never quite make it outside. Curse you, Netflix! When I finally head outside and breathe in, I realize that there’s nothing quite like clean, fresh air. Canary security can help you monitor the air in your home before it gets contaminated or even deadly. Most people don’t have a carbon monoxide detector (you should seriously get one right now), but they can monitor their air quality with Canary. This feature shows that Canary really is not just a standard video camera.

Canary vs. other WiFi security cameras

Video quality

The Canary is very competitive in price with other WiFi cameras with similar specs.

Canary: 1080p camera with a 147 degree viewing angle
 Nest Cam: 1080p camera with 130 degree viewing angle
 Arlo Q: 1080p camera with 130 degree viewing angle

Now, 130 degree angle is not bad, but the Canary is going to give you an even wider view. As a security device, this is important to keep in mind since Canary is designed to sit in the corner of a main part of your house and monitor as much as possible. Each camera also has night vision that works very well with a distance of around 20 feet.

Image courtesy of Canary

Storage, alerts and viewing options

Canary has 12 hours of free cloud storage playback — a great option without monthly fees. Nest Cam doesn’t offer any free plans for cloud storage playback. Arlo Q does really well in this area since it offers 7 full days of footage stored for free on the cloud. Canary, along with the other cameras mentioned, can send you push message alerts and show what is happening in real time on your iOS or Android phone.

How secure is it?

News stories have been popping up about security cameras being hacked and it’s definitely scary. Kids have even reported that they heard voices coming from a camera in their room — the voices were of a hacker who was watching them. When cheap, unprotected security cameras are connected to the Internet, it makes it too easy for hackers to take over. Do a simple Google search for “WiFi cameras hacked” and you won’t have to search far for frightening articles like this one where a two-year old was being watched on their hacked camera.

Canary is ultra secure

Canary takes security very seriously which is no surprise because their system is built on keeping people safe. As an Information Technology major with an emphasis in security, I can tell you that Canary’s security is the top of the line.

The Canary is protected using 256-bit AES encryption, HTTPS and Virtual Private Cloud. They use Amazon Web Services (AWS) which is renowned for their high privacy standards. Most companies, including Netflix, use AWS, due to its reliability and security. So if you are a little nervous about connecting a camera in your home and having the data stored in the cloud, you don’t need to be afraid because the cloud storage is through AWS.

On Canary’s website you can read more about how they have strict internal policies and third party audits to ensure your data is safe.

Downloading videos

This can be a con for the Canary if you’re on their free plan. You can only download 3 videos on their free plan, with unlimited videos on their extended plan. This doesn’t seem like a deal breaker, but more of an annoyance. It is difficult to think of a reason to download a video unless it was something out of the ordinary like a break-in. If you were just on the free plan and were reviewing 12 hours of free footage, it would be easy to take a screenshot of the video instead of upgrading just to download the video.
 Find out more about the Canary security system, or compare it to similar WiFi security cameras on our Security Camera comparison table.

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