Wyze Home Monitoring review: A tremendous value for the price

Wyze Home Monitoring review: A tremendous value for the price

Wyze Labs has adopted the old razor-and-blades business model to enter the home security market: It’s giving away its Wyze Home Monitoring starter kit to consumers who commit to one year of its professional monitoring service. As is its wont, however, Wyze is severely undercutting the competition on price: $60 buys the hardware and a full year of monitoring.

At $60 per year, Wyze’s professional monitoring will dispatch law enforcement if the security system goes into an alarm state. Monitoring is outsourced to the third-party service provider Noonlight, and it costs about half what Ring charges for its Ring Alarm DIY home security system (that’s on top of the $250 Ring charges for its starter kit). Ring outsources its professional monitoring, too; as you’ll see, however, Ring’s offering is more robust overall.

Since Wyze’s service plan includes full support for just one home security camera, it’s conceivable that Wyze’s service could end up costing just as much as Ring’s plan. That’s because Ring includes an unlimited number of cameras—including its video doorbells and floodlight cams—in its plan. You can add more than one camera to the Wyze system, but you’ll need to pay for a Cam Plus subscription for the second and each subsequent camera to unlock all of those cameras’ features.

This review is part of TechHive’s coverage of the best smart home systems, where you’ll find reviews of the competition’s offerings, plus a buyer’s guide to the features you should consider when shopping for this type of product.
Wyze Home Monitoring review: A tremendous value for the price Michael Brown / IDG

The Sense Hub is the heart of the Wyze Home Monitoring system and can connect to your network via Wi-Fi or ethernet cable.

Without a Cam Plus subscription, Wyze security cameras are limited to capturing just 12-second video clips, with a 5-minute cooldown between each recording, and you won’t get features such as person, package, and vehicle detection. You can see a comparison of the two service levels on Wyze’s website.

A Wyze Cam Plus subscription currently costs $14.99 per year ($1.25 per month) per camera, so in the unlikely event you decided to deploy eight more cameras, Wyze’s monitoring plan plus eight Cam Plus subscriptions would cost about the same as Ring’s service plan. Perhaps I should say in the impossible event you’ll want to deploy eight more Wyze cameras, because the system is currently limited to supporting five. That just one of several reasons why Ring’s system is more powerful. Lots of other features I asked Wyze about are on the Wyze Home Monitoring product roadmap—with some planned for deployment in 2021—but they’re not available in this first iteration of the system. I’ll go into more detail on that later.

wyze cam Michael Brown / IDG

The Wyze Cam V2 is not included in the bundle, but it’s a great value for $24, and a Wyze Home Monitoring subscription includes Cam Plus service.

What’s in the starter bundle?

The Wyze Home Monitoring Bundle includes a base station—the Wyze Sense Hub—that connects to your home network (via Wi-Fi or ethernet cable); a 15-button, backlit keypad you’ll use to arm and disarm the system; two contact sensors you can attach to doors and/or windows; a motion sensor; and a couple of decals you can slap on your window to warn potential intruders that your home is protected by a security system. Advertising which home security system is protecting your home, however, is bad idea, because a well-educated intruder will know how to exploit any of its weaknesses (and the Wyze system has a significant weakness that I’ll get into later).

Wyze’s battery-powered motion sensors (AAA), contact sensors (AAA), and keypad (AA) communicate with the Sense Hub using unlicensed sub-GHz radio spectrum, which endows them with excellent range: Wyze specifies 500 feet indoors or 152 meters in an open field. In the real world, the contact and motion sensors triggered everywhere I tried them in my 2,800-square-foot home.

The keypad and motion sensor can be mounted to the wall using either the adhesive pads attached to them or with the provided screws (drywall anchors are also provided). The small-but-chunky keypad comes with a backplate that you can attach to the wall, so you can detach the keypad and carry it with you. You can deploy more than one keypad in case you want to install one at the front door and one at the back. The motion sensor gives you the option of corner mounting, which will enhance its coverage.

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