Piper Security Review
Looking for some home automation capabilities and video monitoring when your not home? This nifty little device gives you a complete 180 degree panoramic view of your home that you can view at any turn from anywhere in the world, all via their mobile app. It provides you with home security, video monitoring/recording, and some cool home automation all packaged into just one little high-tech gadget. It is definitely a very convenient solution for a small home or apartment, but works just as well in larger residences.
This device started out as an Indiegogo project about 3 years ago. The project tripled its initial goal of $100K and managed to raise a whopping $300K+. Promising a cool new gadget capable of home security monitoring and home automation for a reasonable price. It was later released almost immediately within the US and a little bit later to many other countries.
The team behind Piper managed to stay pretty darn close to their already promised product design, features, and release date. That’s quite a feat in itself if you know anything about the crowdfunding world. Currently this system is available for purchase in single unit setups, along with other Z-Wave accessories and kits as extras. The baseline price is $199 for one kit and can soar as high as $799 for 3 cameras and 5 or more Z-Wave accessories.
How Does it Work?
Piper features many different things like a motion sensor, a microphone and a loud siren to help protect your home from any would-be intruder. It also has a battery backup that gives you that extra safe feeling. If the system detects a loud noise or any sort of motion while you are gone, it will automatically notify you with the captured video footage. Piper also lets you add trusted family members and friends to your emergency notification list just in the event that you are not available when the notification is sent.
The Piper video camera can pan, tilt, and even zoom in and out so you can see virtually any area within your home. It also boasts a pretty cool fish-eye lens you that allows you to see a much wider view and usually has a visible floor to ceiling aspect ratio. It also features something called a “quad view” which will give you four different views of separate areas in whatever room you choose. The device will record any events that you program it to in the app settings. As an example, when there is a loud noise detected, if someone enters the room with the camera, or when a door or window opening is detected. You have to remember though, if you live in a larger house, it can basically only see the room you have installed the surveillance camera in.
Piper NV App
Unlike most surveillance security cameras, this device can only be controlled via its mobile app, there is no Web or browser based main control panel. You can download their app for free and it is available in both the Google Play Store or iTunes Store. The Piper mobile app works with any iPhone’s newer than the 4S running iOS 7 or higher, and almost all Android devices running at least version 2.3.3. Navigating the app is fairly easy and doesn’t take very long to get the hang of it. The app itself is divided into 5 separate tabs; Dashboard, Vitals, Live Video, Controls and Rules. Tapping on any of these tabs will instantly bring you to the settings page for the specified tab.
The main dashboard basically serves as the app’s home screen. The top half of the home screen shows a dial with 4 different modes you can choose from; Stay, Away, Vacation and Notify Only. Tapping on any of those quadrants activates that mode and any of the specific settings you may have configured. The active mode is highlighted in red and all the other modes will be greyed out so you always know what mode you are currently in.
Right next to that dial their are some buttons for Settings, Events and Recordings. In the Settings menu you can configure your Piper and add or remove any custom Z-Wave accessories or sensors. The Events button will display a list of current events such as recent temperature changes or when/if any movement was detected. The recordings button obviously brings you to a screen where you are able to view and playback anything that your piper has recorded. Tapping the “Live Video” tab will open a full-screen surveillance live-feed from your device. There are controls that let you enable or disable the night vision, playback your voice via the speaker, control Z-Wave accessories with on/off switches.
Another pretty neat feature included with this setup is the use of a program called “Life360”, basically a mobile app ‘family locator’. In iOS terminology, it’s similar to the ‘Find My Friends’ feature where you can choose be notified when a person leaves your home and the system can be armed with the press of a single button. Regardless of who leaves the residence last, your house will always be monitored.
All of the many options and settings in the piper app are extremely easy to find and are explained to you in simple terms, meaning you don’t need to be super tech-savy to set this system up. The customer support and tech team are very easy to contact via email or web chat right on the Piper website. They seem to answer questions fairly quickly and most people say they are very helpful.
- Processor – TI DaVinci ARM SoC h.264
- Memory – 128 MB DDR2 RAM, 256MB flash memory
- Infrared motion detector good up to 30 feet
- Linux operating system
- Camera – 180 degree fish-eye lens, 1080p, HD video camera
- Siren – 105 decibel loud siren
- Internet – speeds of around 800kbs
- Color options – black/white
- Weight – 9.8 ounces
- Height – 6.5 inches
- Width – 3.5 inches
- Can be mounted on any wall or easily sit on any flat surface
Their mobile app can support up to 5 different Pipers (basically 5 separate rooms in your house) if one device doesn’t provide you with adequate coverage. This obviously works better for those with bigger homes but it can definitely get costly if you plan on adding a bunch more units.
- Piper Classic – $199
- Piper NV – $279
- Piper Pro – Starts at $299.99 (Piper with 3 accessories included)
- Piper Ultimate – Starts at $749.99 (Piper with 5 accessories included below)
Includes a door or window Sensor, Smart Switch, Smart Dimmer, Range Extender and a Micro Smart Switch.
Piper Security has the ability to turn your lights and appliances on or off while from anywhere at anytime with its nifty Z-Wave capabilities. You can even set it up to turn on or off when a door or window motion sensor is triggered. The app really does let you keep a close watch on your home’s environment while you are absent by always checking on the temperature, humidity, lighting, sounds, and motion sensors 24/7.
Z-Wave technology is a wireless communication protocol designed to help you control your home appliances remotely and wirelessly. Z-Wave technology is used in smart appliances, smart lighting, entertainment systems, and a ton more things. Z-Wave essentially makes it possible to control an ever-growing variety of devices that support this new Z-Wave protocol. Some of the newer door locks and home thermostats even integrate with Z-Wave.
However, a lot of surveillance cameras still do not support this sensor integration which can definitely have a negative impact on your homes safety in some cases. Adding the common door sensors to your system means you will be notified via the mobile app whenever a sensor is tripped. If a door or window with a sensor installed is opened by brute force when your system is armed, the siren will go off, if you still have it on in your settings.
The built-in siren in this device is pretty dang loud if you ask me. The alarm will obviously sound when a sensor is tripped and you are in “armed” mode but the app also features a manual “panic” alarm that can be activated from the app whenever needed.
All of these accessories and sensors can be configured within the different modes that were previously mentioned. Typical examples would be to fully arm your system when leaving your property so your home is completely secure, or set a parameter in the afternoon so you can move around within your house without worrying about tripping a motion sensor.
This system isn’t perfect, similar to almost all setups in the DIY space, Piper won’t contact the police if an event occurs. The device will only send you a notification and then you will have to decide how you would like to proceed with this information.
It integrates the use of Z-Wave technology but doesn’t feature a designated IFTTT channel, and easy integration with most main automation services is quite limited.
One of the most common complaints with this setup has been it’s rather choppy video quality at times, especially with the night vision version.
Like many of it’s competitors, it has became a popular choice because there are zero monthly fees or contract agreements. However, this also means there aren’t any options at all for professional monitoring and you could pay a hefty price for any additional equipment that you may need.
Piper definitely isn’t going to be as robust and advanced as a professionally-installed security system backed with a 24-hour monitoring service, but for a couple hundred bucks it’ll get you almost all of the same features. In reality, the only thing this device is missing is a professional monitoring and response team, so if you’re fine without that, this just might be your system. Installation is super easy and doesn’t take long at all, the fish-eye surveillance camera lets you keep an eye on quite a large area with just a single device and the wide range of available sensors make it very versatile. The addition of the Z-Wave compatibility further expands on the functionality to include not just safety, but also some cool and useful home automation. The lack of a Web/Browser-based main control panel may prove to be a problem for someone who doesn’t have a smartphone but c’mon, it’s 2016.
The combination of security and home automation really is hard to beat. If you’re willing to spend a couple hundred bucks to make your home safer, this device should definitely be on your list of systems to check out. This is certainly a decent option in the DIY realm, but for the ultimate 24/7 professional protection, you should look elsewhere.