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Best DIY Security System: Canary vs Piper vs iSmartAlarm vs Novi vs Ring

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There are two types of home security systems prevalent on today’s market: those with professional monitoring (by a central monitoring station), and those that are self-monitored (by you and your network of contacts). The former typically includes a fairly steep ($30-$75) monthly fee to cover the cost of the monitoring station, while with the latter you typically only pay for the equipment. Don’t want this added expense of monthly monitoring? Worried about false alarms and getting fined by your city? We hear ya! These are a few of the reasons that self-monitored security systems have become so intriguing. They put you in control of your system, and you have access to cutting edge “smart” technology that you can control from your smartphone! With these DIY (Do It Yourself) security systems you’re in charge of when the authorities are called to your home and how you secure your home.

101 on DIY Home Security Systems

First, some background on the terminology that gets thrown around, and which we ourselves occasionally use interchangeably:

  • DIY (Do It Yourself) can apply to any system, pro or self-monitored, that you can install without the assistance of a professional installer. The advantage here is that you typically know your home better than anyone, and can probably do a better job. You’ll see, it’s easy!
  • Wireless – Your home security system devices (also called sensors), are installed via sticky adhesives instead of having to drill and hardwire them in (something that’s a pain should you ever decide to move – with wireless home security, moving your system is easy (and free)).
  • Wifi/broadband – A security system that runs over your home Wifi or broadband network (ie. it will need to connect to the Internet).
  • Cellular – a security system that runs over a cell network, similar to your smartphone. Sometimes security systems use both Wifi and cellular.
  • Landline – a security system that runs over your telephone line. This typically only applies to older, professionally monitored systems.
  • Z-wave technology – a standard that allows smart home devices (think door locks, lights, thermostat, etc.) to be powered by and compatible with your home security system.

All in One Vs Separate Component Systems

When you think of a security system you probably think of a base unit with separate sensors (door, window, motion, etc.) like iSmartAlarm. While some of these systems are designed this way, others are “all in one,” meaning they are a single unit device with all the sensors built-in to it. For example, Piper and Canary (both reviewed in this article) are lone devices that include motion sensor and video footage. There are no door/window sensors that need to be installed. We will discuss more of this in each products’ individual review, but we wanted to give you a “heads up” on what to expect as you learn about each companies’ offerings.

What’s So Great About Self-Monitored?

Here are a few important things you should know about self-monitored home security systems before purchasing one:

  • There are no monthly contracts – that means you will not have to pay a fine if you cancel after a few months or years. This is similar to the “contract” you enter into with your cable television provider, for example.
  • All of the systems mentioned in this article are self-monitored. That means you, or someone in your network of contacts, are in charge of contacting the appropriate authorities if your alarm is triggered.
  • The only additional fee you may have (depending on the company you choose) is for cloud storage video recording. This fee pays for space on the cloud where your video camera footage and the activity noted by your sensors are saved.
  • No drilling into your walls. Everything is plug and play or peel and stick.

What You’ll Find On This Page

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Comparison Table | Winner Review |2nd Place Review | 3rd Place Review | Others | Video | Comments

Comparison Table

iSmartAlarm is a multi-component system, Piper, Canary and Novi are all in one systems and Ring is a doorbell camera. However, we feel all these systems can be used as their own independent security system. So, we’ll let you make the decision as to which fits your security needs.

 1st Place: iSmartAlarm2nd Place: Piper NV3rd Place: NoviCanaryRing
1st Place: iSmartAlarm2nd Place: Piper NV3rd Place: NoviCanaryRing
Read ReviewRead ReviewRead ReviewRead ReviewRead ReviewRead Review
View on AmazonView on AmazonView on AmazonNot AvailableView on AmazonView on Amazon
Visit WebsiteVisit WebsiteVisit WebsiteVisit WebsiteVisit WebsiteVisit Website
System Price$178.19$214.02$299.00$136.99$179.99
Power SourceAC/DC Wall AdapterAC/DC Wall AdapterBatteryAC/DC Wall AdapterBattery
Backup SourceNone3AA BatteriesNoneNoneNone
Motion-Activated CameraCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmark
Temperature SensorCheckmarkCheckmark
Air Quality SensorCheckmark
Humidity SensorCheckmarkCheckmark
Light SensorCheckmark
Warranty1 year1 year limited1 year limited1 year1 year
Field of ViewN/A180° Diagonal170°147° wide-angle lens80°
Night VisionCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmark
Siren110 dB105 dB90 dB90+ dBNone
Two-Way TalkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmark
Key FobCheckmark
Extra Motion Detector$23.99
Smoke AlarmCheckmark
Extra Entry Sensor$59.97 (two pack)
Smart Plug$39.99
Video Doorbell$179.99
Z-Wave, Zigbee, Insteon CompatibilityZ-Wave
Read ReviewRead ReviewRead ReviewRead ReviewRead ReviewRead Review
View on AmazonView on AmazonView on AmazonNot AvailableView on AmazonView on Amazon
Visit WebsiteVisit WebsiteVisit WebsiteVisit WebsiteVisit WebsiteVisit Website

iSmartAlarm Review


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iSmartAlarm is our pick for best DIY security system. I have used iSmartAlarm and overall it has been one of the best security systems I have personally used. The installation process was easy except for the iCamera KEEP. Fortunately, customer service helped me through it. Overall, I had a great experience with customer service and contacted them many times. Each time they were very helpful. Their equipment isn’t the most attractive, but it performs well. My sister and her husband use iSmartAlarm’s Spot camera as a baby monitor and when the baby gets vocal (crying or just chatty) the camera sends a notification that the sound of a CO (Carbon Monoxide) alarm was detected. While this shows a very sensitive detection mechanism, in this case, it’s very wrong. In the end, I did have to contact customer service more than I wanted to, but they always answered my questions, had short wait times and helped me learn more about my system, which is why we have chosen it as our #1 pick.



  • Great customer service
  • Android and iOS app
  • Audio detection for alarms (e.g. CO detector, smoke alarm, etc.)
  • Add emergency contacts
  • Great equipment quality
  • Cameras perform well
  • Key fob is pretty handy and works within 30 feet
  • Easy and fast installation
  • Inexpensive home security option
  • No notifications for motion sensor alerts
  • Delayed notifications
  • No backup source
  • Inside only


  • iCamera Keep – $178.19
  • Spot –$84.99
  • Motion Detector – $23.99
  • Door/Window Sensor (two-pack) – $59.97
  • Smart Switch – $39.99
  • Preferred – $148.40 (includes 1 CubeOne (the brain of the system with siren built-in), 2 contact sensors, 1 motion sensor, 2 remote tags)
  • Deluxe – $184.99 (includes 1 CubeOne, 4 contact sensors, 1 motion sensor, 2 remote tags)
  • Premium Package (Video Camera Bundle) – Out of stock (includes 1 CubeOne, 1 iCamera Keep, 2 contact sensors, 1 motion sensor, 2 remote tags)

Tech Specs

  • 1-year warranty
  • Night vision
  • 110 dB siren

Coupon Code

iSmartAlarm savings vary based on the season so click this link to make sure you get the best deal.

Read our in-depth iSmartAlarm Review

Piper NV Review

Piper NV#2

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Our second pick for best DIY security system is Piper NV. Piper is a lone device that monitors video, temperature, light and humidity. It does not have separate components like iSmartAlarm or what you’d consider a typical security system to have. What makes it great? It’s easy to install, offers two-way audio and has decent customer service. It is one of the few self-monitored systems that supports Z-wave technology. Where does it lack? This camera can only be used inside, and it is not weatherproof. There are also reports of this camera malfunctioning and the software lacking functionality.



  • Motion detection activated
  • View video remotely on iOS and Android
  • Two-way audio
  • Temperature, light, humidity sensor
  • Easy installation
  • Piper does a good job responding to Amazon reviews
  • Battery backup
  • Supports Z-wave
  • Indoor only
  • Reports of some cameras malfunctioning
  • Software could be improved
  • Video is a little shaky


Tech Specs

  • 1-year limited warranty
  • HD camera
  • Field of view: 180° diagonal
  • Night vision
  • 105 dB siren

Coupon Code

There are no Piper security coupons available.

Novi Review

Novi Security#3

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Novi rounds out our top three for the best DIY security system. The Novi camera attaches to your ceiling and can only be used inside. It is a lone device as well, similar to Piper above. What makes it stand out from the competition is that inside each camera is also a smoke detector. So, instead of having multiple things attached to your ceiling, Novi can cut that number in half. The downside is, it takes only photos, not video, but you can take as many photos as you want with Novi.



  • Battery lasts 1 year
  • No wires or power cord
  • Android and iOS app
  • Add emergency contacts
  • Adjust motion sensitivity
  • Photoelectric smoke detector in every sensor
  • Made in the U.S.A.
  • Doesn’t take video, takes photos instead
  • Inside only
  • Not much feedback online from customers
  • No backup
  • Firmware problems in the past


  • Starter Pack – $299.00
  • Additional Camera – $179.00

Tech Specs

  • 1-year limited warranty
  • 720p HD camera
  • Night vision
  • 90 dB siren

Coupon Code

There are no Novi security coupons available.

Canary Review

Canary SecurityView on Amazon
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Canary is designed similarly to Piper with no separate components, instead, it is an all in one system. Canary is a lone device that not only provides video monitoring but also monitors air quality, temperature and humidity. The camera is motion-activated so it only records footage when an “event” occurs. The Canary has high-quality audio and has optional video storage if you want to save and share videos. Why aren’t they in our top three? Overall, we feel Canary could improve its performance, reputation and quality of equipment.

Canary Flex is a new security device that is weatherproof so that it can be used both inside and outside. It can be used plugged in or wire-free. Unfortunately, there’s no feedback on the performance of this camera yet since it’s so new to the market.



  • Canary Cloud offers access to events from the past 12 hours for free, and you can bookmark up to 5 videos
  • Great customer service
  • Ability to add emergency contacts
  • Air quality, temperature and humidity sensor
  • Android and iOS app
  • 60-day money back guarantee
  • Inside only
  • Buyers say software needs some improvements
  • Can only connect up to 4 devices
  • Must be plugged in 24/7, no battery backup
  • Some lagging


  • $136.99 for one Canary or $317.82 for two pack
  • $179.00 for one Canary Flex
  • Free Shipping
  • Canary Cloud
    • 2-day storage: $4.99/month or $49/year
    • 7-day storage: $9.99/month or $99/year
    • 30-day storage: $29.99/month or $299/year

Tech Specs

  • 1-year warranty
  • 1080p HD camera
  • Field of view: 147° wide-angle lens
  • Night vision
  • 90+ dB siren

Coupon Code

Canary products are generally discounted from MSRP on Amazon.

Read our in-depth Canary Review

Ring Review

Ring DoorbellView on Amazon
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Ring has some pretty cool equipment. Known for its video doorbells, Ring also has an outside security camera. You can sync your equipment together so you can watch for any suspicious activity around your home. The outdoor camera is 100% wireless, and you’re notified when the battery gets low so you can recharge it. This is one of our favorite things about Ring because you can truly install the camera wherever you’d like, and you never have to put money into the power source. However, there is no free cloud recording so to take full advantage of your camera you’ll need to pay the monthly or yearly fee for each device.



  • Battery lasts 6 to 12 months and is rechargeable
  • Weatherproof
  • Attractive equipment
  • If your equipment is stolen, Ring will replace it for free
  • Android and iOS app
  • No backup source
  • Outdoor only
  • No free cloud recording
  • No siren
  • Cannot add emergency contacts


Tech Specs

  • 1-year warranty
  • Field of view: 80°
  • Night vision

Coupon Code

There are no Ring security coupons available.

Redefining Home Security with DIY Wireless Home Security Systems

More and more people are moving towards DIY solutions because they not only cover home security, but they also include home automation controls. Find out why these solutions are gaining popularity.

A Burglary Costs More Than a Security System

The cost of a security system is much less than the cost of being burglarized. A home invasion is estimated to cost victims about $20,000. That includes items stolen and needing replacing as well as criminal justice fees. And don’t forget about the emotional toll it can take your family and you on. Having a burglar enter your home and ransack it doesn’t only create physical damage but it also makes you feel less safe at home. Help your family feel safe today.

What elements are important to you in a home security system?

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Kimberly researches everything before she buys. She wants to make sure she is getting the best bang for her buck by purchasing the best product/service, which is why she loves her work. She has a degree in Multimedia Journalism and has been researching and writing professionally since 2013 to help consumers make more educated decisions.

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1 Comment on "Best DIY Security System: Canary vs Piper vs iSmartAlarm vs Novi vs Ring"


I’ve been looking to switch to DIY self monitoring from monitored security because we moved to a place that’s more secure and I don’t see the need to pay a lot for the extra protection but do like to have peace of mind. Anyone have experience with any of these top companies that can help make my decision easier?


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