If you’re anything like us, you prefer sleek, simple, and streamlined technology. Thankfully, several home security systems fit that bill — but is Canary one of them? Is this “complete security system in a single device” really worth your time and money? We wanted to find out, so we rounded up their devices and ran them through our rigorous testing process. We think you’ll be surprised by our findings.
These wireless cameras are fairly easy to use. At the same time, they pack some decent AI technology into their little frames.1 The devices offer clear video, 24-7 live streaming, and person detection. If you’re on a tight budget, they have monthly plans starting at $9.99, or you can purchase the cams upfront and use Canary’s free plan.
While we didn’t find any glaring weaknesses with these cameras (all right, maybe one or two), there are some things to consider before jumping on the Canary bandwagon. For instance, if you want home automation features, you’re up Canary creek without a paddle.2 Don’t worry, we’re going to share it all with you today — the good and the bad. So, let’s dig in!
We’re not huge fans of pricey equipment, expensive monitoring plans, or long-term contracts (who is?). So, we figured Canary might do the trick for indoor video surveillance. Here is a breakdown of their prices:
|Type||Indoor||Indoor or Outdoor||Indoor|
You can also purchase Canary multi-packs, with different combinations of camera types at a discounted rate (starting at $199). Overall, the prices land in the low- to mid-range of the home security camera market. In fact, companies like Ring Alarm and SimpliSafe sell indoor cameras in the same price range (with better video quality and features).3 So, just know that you have options aplenty!
With Canary, you can also self-monitor your own system and dodge the monthly subscription fee. Otherwise, you can fork out $9.99 per month, or $99 per year, for their premium service, which includes video recording, 30-day video history, two-way talk, and other features that we’ll cover in a bit. Canary also offers “free” devices in some cases. But there’s a catch — you have to purchase a full year of their premium service. All things considered, it’s pretty cheap for what you get. But as you’ll see…you don’t get a whole lot.
We hopped on the Canary website to shop for their products. As mentioned, they only have three camera options, so you’d think it would be easy to choose a system and get going. Well, the way they structure their pricing is somewhat complicated compared to brands like Frontpoint and Nest. But this disorder wasn’t a deal-breaker for us. Finally, we identified a couple of cameras and signed up with Canary’s Premium Service.
FYI: We recommend choosing a company that is transparent and straightforward with their pricing and fees. This front-end experience is often a glimpse of what’s to come with customer service, tech support, billing, and other aspects of the company.
We actually picked up all three Canary cameras in a bundle package. The Canary View is their most popular camera, but it’s only good for indoor use. So, we also purchased the Canary Flex to mount outside alongside the Canary Pro, which is their all-in-one camera for home security and climate monitoring. We also bought some accessories, the Twist Mount and Secure Mount, both for the Flex cam.
All their devices come with a one-year limited warranty and a 60-day, money-back guarantee.4 From what we’ve seen, the one-year warranty falls a bit shy of the industry-standard warranty of two years. But we did like the 60-day, money-back guarantee.
Pro Tip: If a money-back guarantee is important to you, ADT offers the best guarantee we’ve seen in the industry. All of their plans include a 6-month money-back guarantee.5
Note that Canary doesn’t offer any entryway sensors to secure your windows and doors, which is definitely a weakness in our eyes. That said, the silver lining is that it’s much faster and easier to install than a traditional setup. In fact, we had our Canary cams up and running in under five minutes. And only the Flex camera required tools (a screwdriver for mounting). Simply place the device where you want it, plug it in, connect to Wi-Fi, and that’s it! You’re all set.
Our Canary cameras performed quite well. Each of the devices offered us 1080p HD image quality, night vision, and person detection. But we quickly found that not all Canary cams are created equal! For instance, the Canary Pro camera comes with features like a 90-dB siren (plenty loud) and climate monitoring. Then there’s the Flex, which we mounted in our front yard for outdoor surveillance. It was decent, but we felt that the Flex cam wouldn’t hold up throughout harsh winters or blistering hot summers. Finally, the View cam was a little too basic for our taste.
When the cameras detected motion, they immediately began recording HD video and audio, and an instant alert was sent to our mobile device. We’ve come to expect instant alerts with DIY systems. This feature allows you to open the mobile app and check on your home from pretty much anywhere. The cameras were surprisingly easy to access and control using the app.6 If smartphone controls are your thing, you’ll want to check out Vivint’s award-winning Sky app.
It’s also worth noting that the Canary View and Pro cams have a built-in panic button that will notify the monitoring center when pressed (if you have the premium service subscription). We tried it, and it was pretty responsive — with an average of 30- to 40-second response times. While it isn’t the fastest, we also wouldn’t label it as slow. You can also call for help right in the Canary app.
Did You Know: “Response time” is the time it takes for the monitoring center to process your alert and contact you. In our research and testing, we found Alder Security has the fastest response time in the industry at 3.4 seconds on average.
During our Canary tests, we called the customer support team a couple of times to see how the service measured up against the competition. Well, it wasn’t so hot — especially compared to leading brands like Frontpoint. We experienced longer-than-average wait times on the phone. And while the support staff was friendly, they lacked the “expert” feel that we’re used to getting from the bigger brands like Alder or even Brinks. That said, you might be able to find help through Canary’s online Help Center.7 The Help Center provides a database of how-to guides and troubleshooting articles for more immediate solutions.
We like that Canary keeps it simple by offering only two plans, one paid plan, and one free plan. The free basic plan is included with every camera and offers features like live video streaming, person detection, and one day of video history. The Premium plan costs $9.99 per month and offers 30-day video history, two-way talk, custom settings, and a two-year camera warranty. Also, if you commit to one- or two-year contract with Canary, the equipment becomes cheaper or even free. Here’s a quick look at the plans:
|24-7 Live Feed||Yes||Yes|
|Motion-Activated Recording||Video Clips||Full-Length Video|
|Video History||1 Day||30 Days|
|Custom Activity Zones||Yes||Yes|
|Warranty||1 Year||2 Years|
|Price||Free||$9.99 per month|
Canary didn’t exactly shine for us in the features and tech department. So, if you’re really on the hunt for high-tech home security with cutting-edge features, then we recommend checking out Vivint Security or ADT. As for Canary, the company does offer a handful of features that you might like, including:
One-Tap Access to Police, Fire, or EMS — A built-in panic button lets you call for help if a break-in or other crisis occurs. In our experience, this implementation was a nice touch (quite literally), and it gave us a little extra peace of mind.
Smartphone Controls — This level of accessibility is another feature that’s becoming standard across the industry. But we think Canary’s app rivals some of the bigger brand apps, like Ring Alarm and Nest Secure, when it comes to design and functionality. At any rate, you’ll like viewing your live video stream from your smartphone while vacationing in the Bahamas (or during your lunch break at work).
Person Detection — Powered by artificial intelligence technology, Canary cameras can distinguish between strangers or intruders and familiar faces like friends and family members. This ability reduces the number of false alarms with the Canary system.
FYI: We’ve tested a few different systems with AI person detection and facial recognition. Although it seems futuristic, the technology isn’t 100% accurate. So that’s something to keep in mind!
1080p HD Video Quality — Each of Canary’s high-resolution cameras offers crisp, clear image quality. But 1080p HD (with night vision) is the new norm for home security cameras. You can expect it from almost every company.
Two-Way Talk — We liked the audio quality in Canary’s two-way talk feature. However, it’s only included in the Premium Service Plan, which costs $9.99 per month.
Climate Monitoring — The Canary Pro cam offers temperature, humidity, and air monitoring via HomeHealth technology. While it’s a nice frill, we didn’t find it all that useful. However, if you suffer from severe allergies or other climate-related illnesses, we could see how this feature would be helpful.
Canary cameras might be a decent solution for folks who value simplicity and few moving parts. As far as indoor security cams go, we think the all-in-one Canary Pro camera is worth the price. But keep in mind that to access the more advanced features, you’ll have to pay $9.99 per month for Canary’s Premium Service plan. We didn’t love the Canary View or Flex models. The Canary View was too bare-bones basic, and the build quality of the Canary Flex didn’t seem adequate for extended outdoor use.
All in all, we feel this camera-based security system leaves something to be desired. We only had three cameras to choose from, while the top home systems offer between 5 and 10 cameras (or more) in their lineup. Also, there aren’t any door or window sensors, so you certainly won’t be getting total home security out of this system. But, if you’re just looking for relatively basic indoor cameras with a few bells and whistles, then Canary just might work for you.
No, Canary offers a no-contract basic plan for self-monitoring.
Canary offers easy DIY installation on their wireless cameras.
Each camera offers high-resolution 1080p HD video quality.
Canary cameras range in price from $99 to $169, which is about average for the industry.
Unfortunately, Canary only sells security cameras; they do not offer any entryway sensors.
Yes, the company offers a 60-day money-back guarantee.
Frankenfield, J. (2020, March 13). Artificial Intelligence (AI). Investopedia.
Home automation. (2020, April 13). Wikipedia. Retrieved April 14, 2020.
SimpliSafe. (2020). Home Security Shop.
Canary. (2020, February 20). Returns and Warranty.
ADT. (2020). Residential Security – Terms and Conditions.
Canary. (2020, February 26). Canary – Smart Home Security.
Canary. (2020). Canary Help Center.