Wyze Home Monitoring
A tremendous value for the price, if you can live with its limitations
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: the hardware and a full year of monitoring.
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.
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.
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.
The two-piece contact sensors can only be mounted using their adhesive pads. These sensors are relatively small and unobtrusive, though they’re not the smallest I’ve seen. Relying on adhesive always makes me nervous, because I’ve never seen a species that didn’t eventually lose its grip. And for installations on doors, I prefer the barrel type that fit inside the door and door frame, so they are completely hidden. But for the price, who’s to complain?
Contact sensors can be programmed to send a push notification when the door or window is opened, when it’s closed when it’s been left open for a defined period of time, and when it’s been left closed for a defined period of time. Motion sensors send push notifications when they detect movement, and they can be programmed with three levels of sensitivity in case you find you’re furry friends are always setting them off.
Can Wyze Home Monitoring be expanded?
Since your home likely has more than room and more than one door and/or window you’ll want to monitor, you can expand the system with more sensors. The system supports up to 100, including a mixture of contact sensors, motion sensors, and keypads.
You can further expand the system by adding Wyze’s Wi-Fi home security cameras (up to five for this release, though Wyze says it will increase that number down the road). The company sent its camera connects to your 2.4GHz Wi-Fi network and from there to the Sense Hub. The other Wyze cameras you can link to the system are the Wyze Cam V2, the Wyze Cam Pan, and the Wyze Cam Outdoor. As I’ve already mentioned, a Home Monitoring license includes a Wyze Cam Plus subscription for one Wyze security camera; you’ll need to pay