Last September we had an uninvited visitor to our home. He won’t be back for at least two years. Possibly four if he doesn’t behave himself. But regardless, one has decided to upgrade the security arrangements at Chez Denness, pronto. Actually, it was on the agenda from the moment we moved in last July. There is an alarm pad, wired into the mains with its own switch and sensors throughout the property.
The switch in the fuse box was off, however, and we had not a clue what the pin codes for the alarm pad might be. The fitted alarm didn’t meet my specific requirements anyway. For a start, I don’t want to have to pay someone to come and fit, repair or maintain my alarm. I definitely don’t want to have to pay monthly fees for monitoring the system.
What I really wanted was a new fangled smart alarm. Home Automation is the new big thing and I want in. So I searched through the options, investigating the features, considering the drawbacks and weighing up the pros and cons. I looked at systems by Canary, D Link, Netamo, Honeywell and many others. But one stood out. One ticked all the boxes. Just one. So I bought it.
I now have a Piper NV Smart Home, unboxed installed and keeping a wary eye out for anything unusual or untoward. The NV sounds for Night Vision. Even in the darkest hours, my Piper is operational. It’s about the size of the average little speaker that you’d plug into a computer and can sit on a stand or be mounted on the wall. The latter, I suspect, would make it a bit more secure.
Unlike a standard home alarm system, the new smart systems are all rather vulnerable to being stolen themselves. This is one of the bigger drawbacks, but I can live with it. By the time a villain has the chance to pop the Piper in a bag, I will have been alerted, and will have a 25 second video clip of the chap or chapette at work. Unplugging it won’t immediately stop the siren either. He’ll continue to de deafened by the 105db siren until he’s found a screwdriver to undo and remove the battery backup.
The Piper is operated entirely by my iPhone. It has three modes which are customiseable. Disarmed, Armed Away From Home and Armed At Home. The latter is for security at night when we have retired for the evening. I can choose what the Piper does when it detects motion, a loud noise or a sudden temperature change. There are options to sound the siren, call me, send an email, record and upload a video clip, send a push notification or to do any of these to alert specified people in my ‘trusted circle’.
When we’re away from the home, I have it set so that it will simply call me and record a clip. I can then look at the clip or view the camera live and decide whether or not the siren needs activating. And then call the police if necessary. When we’re at home, at night, the siren sounds. If someone has entered the property, I’d rather like to be woken up. I sleep pretty soundly, as last September proved. It still records a clip, of course.
I’ve tested the system extensively over the last couple of weeks. The motion sensor works perfectly and there have been no false alarms. Mrs P also tests the system every day when she gets home from work. She can also arm and disarm the system from her phone when she remembers. No worries. At least I know she’s gotten home safe and sound. There’s a two way microphone and speaker at play, so I can preted to be the alarm and admonish her.
There is another drawback. If I am out and about but away from both wifi and cellular connectivity, then I am not going to receive any alerts. It’s not a big drawback for me. I’m so rarely ‘disconnected’. And besides, if I know that I am going to be out of touch for a prolonged period I can have the alerts sent to another person instead. It’s not a deal breaker for me.
It also has a Home Vitals panels to record indoor and outdoor temperature, humidity levels, light and noise levels. It’s a nice extra touch, albeit surplus to my needs. One other important additional feature is the ability of the Piper to link to other Z Wave compatible products. I’ll fit a couple of extra Fibaro motion sensors to other rooms later.
I love the Piper system. I think it’s brilliant. Versatile, extendable and what you pay (about £200) for the unit is all you pay. It’s just part one in my home automation plans for 2017. In a couple of weeks we are having a new smart thermostat installed. Hive, by British Gas, costs £250 including installation and will be yet another part of my life embedded into my iPhone.