Wyze Home Monitoring kit review: The best budget security system

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David Priest/CNET

Wyze is well known in the smart home industry for one thing: pushing prices lower than they’ve ever been. At a time when Wi-Fi-connected cameras were regularly over $100, Wyze launched a $20 smart cam. While video doorbells are still almost all over $100, Wyze launched (a slightly less successful) $30 doorbell cam. And earlier this year, Wyze entered the home security game with a $5-per-month professional monitoring.

Those prices are ridiculously low (I’ll show you exactly how ridiculously low later), but the question is, how does the technology perform? I installed the system and tried out the monitoring, and it was surprisingly solid — with one or two notable exceptions. If you’re wanting the sleek, hassle-free, integrated smart security experience of a professionally installed system, Wyze isn’t it. But if you’re looking for reliable home monitoring for a third of your monthly Netflix subscription cost alone? You can’t beat Wyze. And that’s why we’ve given this incredibly budget-friendly security setup an Editors’ Choice Award for 2021.

Like

  • The price
  • Smart home integration possibilities
  • Did I mention the price?

Don’t Like

  • No cellular backup
  • Limited 3rd party device integration in the Wyze app

How cheap is it really

Home security systems have a reputation for exploitative contracts and expensive monitoring subscriptions. While many companies are improving these — particularly by adding more transparency and removing contracts altogether — prices are still fairly high, especially for professionally installed systems.

To compare, Vivint and ADT charge $500-$600 for their base systems, which include a handful of sensors and a touchscreen hub. Comcast Xfinity’s base system is $350. Among DIY systems like Simplisafe and Ring, starter kits start at around $200 (give or take; sales are common) and include sensors, a keypad and a bridge.

Wyze’s system costs $50. Yes, fifty bucks. And it comes with one more door/window sensor than Simplisafe’s and Ring’s base kits (Ring does include a Wi-Fi range extender that Wyze doesn’t). In addition, you can add a 3-pack of door/window sensors for $20, a motion detector for $8 and a variety of Wyze cams for as little as $24. Again, those prices are pretty unbeatable.

OK, but what about monitoring? Surely Wyze can’t beat competitors on everything, price-wise.

Au contraire, reader. Wyze’s professional monitoring fee is $5 per month, compared to Simplisafe’s $15 per month and Ring’s $10 per month base plans. The professional systems from ADT ($39 per month), Vivint ($30 per month) and Xfinity ($30 per month) are even higher — and you often have to pay significantly more for home automation features and cloud storage for cameras.

Like many DIY home security kits, Wyze’s setup includes a keypad — along with two door/window sensors, a motion detector and the base station with built-in siren.


David Priest/CNET

Wyze includes all of its smart home features at no extra charge, and charges only $2 per month per camera for comparable cloud storage. What’s more, at the time of this review’s writing, if you pay for a year of professional monitoring ($60), you get the starter kit for free and free cloud storage for one camera for a year.

How affordable is Wyze’s Home Monitoring kit? As I said before, ridiculously affordable.

OK, but is it good?

The Wyze Home Monitoring security kit includes a hub with a built-in siren, two door/window sensors, a keypad and a motion detector. Setting it all up took me about twenty minutes, and went about as smoothly as most DIY security setups go these days. It wasn’t quite as easy as, say, Abode Iota’s setup — Abode’s devices come paired already — but it was relatively painless.

The door/window sensors worked as they do in every system, accurately indicating when an entry point was closed or open. The motion sensor never missed me walking through a room — even when I was over thirty feet away — but also wasn’t over-sensitive. It didn’t report tree branches waving outside nearby windows, for instance.

The keypad is small, but feels well-made. All of the devices are battery-powered and should last about 18 months before needing those batteries replaced, according to Wyze. The batteries are AA and AAA, which makes those replacements relatively convenient.

The Wyze app itself is also super simple to understand and navigate. One problem, though: If you want to use the Wyze app for home monitoring and smart home integration, you’ll need to use only Wyze devices — its connected bulbs, cameras, plugs, locks and so on. Granted, we’ve liked many of these devices, but it’s a more restrictive experience than what you might get with, say, Ring Alarm, where you can integrate some third-party gadgets from Yale, Kwikset and Leviton.

Door/window sensors can be hugely helpful gadgets for automating your house — just use them to trigger your lights when you walk out onto the back porch, or any number of other tricks.


David Priest/CNET

To integrate Wyze’s security system with other smart home devices, you’ll need to use other integration platforms, like IFTTT (an app that specializes in connecting smart home devices from different developers). For some people, this won’t be a problem at all — Wyze is a DIY home security system, after all, so taking the time to set up triggers between Wyze’s door/window sensors and, say, your Philips Hue lightbulbs may not bother you.

In fact, integrations with IFTTT can give you a ton of flexibility and freedom that you don’t get (or don’t get cheap) with higher-end home security systems. For instance, IFTTT can trigger connected devices like lights when a smart cam detects motion (and this can be accomplished using only Wyze devices). That level of depth isn’t possible even on our favorite professional security system, Comcast Xfinity.

In addition, Wyze works well with both Google Assistant and Alexa. You can call up live camera feeds on Nest and Echo smart displays, and control your Wyze smart locks with a four-digit PIN. As of now, however, you can’t arm or disarm your security system with a voice command and PIN.

The biggest drawback of Wyze Home Monitoring is the lack of cell backup. If your Wi-Fi goes down, the system will still detect breaches and set off the local alarm, but it won’t contact the monitoring service. Most professional and DIY alternatives offer cell backup (occasionally for a small price bump), so this feels like Wyze’s one big deficit compared to the competition.

Even if the power goes out, Wyze’s sensors can still communicate with the base station and set off your siren in case of emergency.


David Priest/CNET

That said, as long as there isn’t a power outage, monitoring seems to work well (and even if there is, Wyze still at least has battery backup to maintain the local security measures).

I tested Wyze’s armed modes (home and away), but I didn’t go through the process of triggering a real warning. According to the company, if you do so, you’ll get a text message within five seconds, a phone call within thirty seconds, and authorities will be notified within a minute — allowing you time to stop a false alarm, but also not wasting much time in case of a real emergency.

The best budget security system?

Wyze has jackhammered through the subfloor beneath another smart home gadget with the Home Monitoring system. It’s cheap, effective and… well, did I mention cheap?

Of course, that $50 price tag and $5 monitoring fee mean Wyze can’t compete with everything the pricier competitors offer, and cell backup is the most notable cut feature. But no cell backup is better than no professional monitoring — so if you’re between a fully self-monitored system and Wyze’s $5-per-month system, Wyze will give you the much better value.



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