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Apartment Security System

Plug-n-Play Solutions

If you’re looking for an apartment security system, there are more options available now than ever before. One of the newest types, which I’ll refer to as “plug and play” systems, are the ultimate all-in-one devices. These systems will appeal to you most if you don’t want to make a project out of installing your own alarm system.

Even though these Plug-n-Play systems all require that you “self-install” them, installation is ridiculously easy, and often requires just minutes.

What is a “Plug and Play” Alarm System?

These apartment security systems typically consist of a single device that sits on a shelf or table. It continuously senses various conditions in the home such as motion, sound, temperature, among others.

When the unit detects a change in the normal activity in the apartment, it can react in several ways: Many units can sound a built-in siren, and send a text notification, video clip, or other alert to your smartphone or mobile device.

Depending on the notification you receive, you may want to view live video of your home to evaluate what’s going on. If you see a problem, you can then choose whether to call the police, a neighbor, or a friend, or check the home yourself. If you see that all is well, you can simply dismiss the alert.

These apartment alarm systems typically use an electrical outlet for the plug-in power supply, and a wireless connection to your home Wi-Fi network. This means that the “installation” is easier than even the simplest DIY home security system.

Plug and Play Apartment Alarms and Monitoring

Before going any further, understand that all of these plug and play systems are self-monitored. This means that you must take action to call police or others, or investigate on your own. These systems do not contact a central station like most hardwired or wireless security alarm systems you’re probably familiar with; nor do they use GSM or other cellular reporting/communication.

Read the details on my page about self monitoring.

How to Get a Plug-n-Play Apartment Security System

In a nutshell, here are the steps:

  • Find the apartment security system you like best. I’ve listed a few example systems below, but there are many others. Choose a system that will fit your needs and lifestyle, as well as your budget.
  • Purchase your chosen system, either online or through a retailer
  • Self-install the equipment (See above)
  • Allow the system to begin collecting data about the environment and activity in your home
  • The system will alert you to unusual activity; you respond as you see fit
  • You can manually check activity inside your home whenever you like, typically via your smartphone

A PNP apartment alarm system generally doesn’t use door or window sensors like a conventional security system; instead it monitors conditions inside the apartment such as motion, sound, temperature, and air quality. A few systems do offer optional motion alarm sensors to cover larger apartments.

Most PNP systems don’t even require you to arm or disarm them; they do it automatically (auto-arming). These systems also commonly provide a live video feed that you can view using your smartphone.

If you’re looking for a more traditional alarm system for your apartment with door and window sensors, see this page on the best wireless home alarm for apartments and small rentals.

I did not include the Simplisafe system in this section, because a typical Simplisafe system does require the installation of door and window sensors. Also, Simplisafe isn’t “automatic” and must be armed and disarmed by the user. If this sounds like what you’re looking for, you can find out more on my Simplisafe Security page.

I also didn’t include the Mace wireless home security system. It requires a land line telephone connection, manual arming and disarming, and uses traditional wireless door and window transmitters as the primary detection devices.

If Plug-n-Play systems sound more interesting to you, read on…

Plug-n-Play Apartment Security Systems

I chose these three PNP apartment security systems because they are good examples of their kind. All offer minimal setup, and are ready to use right out of the box. None of these systems require a monthly service fee or a contract.

Features and prices change constantly, so always check the seller’s specifications for any system you may be considering.

Canary        $249

Key features:

  • Video
  • Audio
  • Motion detection
  • Temp
  • Humidity
  • Air quality

Setup involves placing the Canary unit on a table or shelf, plugging it in, and connecting it to your WiFi network. Canary monitors activity and conditions in the home to “learn” what’s normal.

Canary has no keypad, but instead auto-arms and disarms based on your normal household activity.

When it detects unusual activity, it will send a notification and an HD video clip to your smartphone. You can view the recorded video, or watch live video to learn the current situation.

You then have the option to sound the 90dB siren, call authorities or a neighbor, or ignore the alert.

Canary is currently available through, various online security stores, and at The Canary website.

Piper        $199-$279

Key features:

  • Motion, sound, and environmental sensors
  • Optional door and window sensors
  • 105 dB siren

Piper combines video, security, and home automation functions in a single unit. You can remotely watch live or recorded HD video, and even pan and tilt the camera to see a whole room. You can also interact live with other family members with 2-way audio.

Piper uses Z-wave for home automation and scheduling of lights and appliances, as well as remotely controlling them.

Installation is simple: Download the app, plug in the Piper, and connect to WiFi by running setup.

The Piper apartment security system is sold through many retail outlets, including Walmart, Amazon, Best Buy, and Home Depot.

iSmartAlarm        $149-349

Key features:

  • Free iPhone and Android apps
  • Monitor doors and windows
  • Motion detection
  • Text, email, and phone call alerts
  • No contracts
  • Built-in 110 dB siren

The CubeOne unit is the “brain” of the system, and needs to be plugged in to power and connected to your Internet router. It supports iCamera video cameras (1st Generation and iCamera KEEP).

iCamera and iCamera KEEP are wireless cameras compatible with the iSmartAlarm CubeOne. Both are pan/tilt cameras that allow live video streaming and on-demand picture taking from anywhere using your phone. The iCamera is the more basic unit, while the iCamera KEEP is the HD model and includes audio and night vision capability.

Remote Tags resemble wireless 4-button keyfobs, but have a hidden twist. While they allow remote arming, disarming, and panic functions just like a regular 4-button keyfob, they can also be tracked. This allows you to monitor the presence of children and pets.

Contact Sensors are standard wireless transmitters triggered by a magnet. These can be used to detect the opening of doors, windows, gates, cabinets, or anything else you want to monitor.

A Smart Switch plugs in between the wall outlet and an electrical device. It can be used to monitor energy usage, and turn lights on or off manually or on a schedule. It can also be used to turn off appliances for safety when not in use.

The iSmartAlarm is available through many retailers including Best Buy, Apple Stores, Amazon, and Home Depot. Packages range from basic to premium, and cost between $149-$349.

Note: Prices above are approximate, and depend on the particular package you choose.

Manufacturers are constantly upgrading and changing features, and prices vary.

Always check the specifications of any system you’re considering, to make sure you get the exact features you need.

Is a PNP Apartment Alarm System Right for You?

PNP apartment alarm systems have only been out since around 2010, so we’ll have to see how effective and popular they become. If you’re an apartment dweller who doesn’t want to spend the time needed to install a regular DIY wireless alarm, a pnp system may be the perfect choice for you.

On the other hand, a plug-n-play apartment security system won’t be the best fit for everybody. If you’re comfortable with arming and disarming a “regular” security system where you’ve previously lived or worked, a wireless all-in-one system would probably be a good choice.

If you’re interested in a standard type of alarm system, why not get a few price quotes? Just answer a few questions below, and receive free quotes by email.

Related Articles:

Should You Self Monitor Your Alarm System?

Ademco Alarm Systems for Apartments

Ademco Lynx System

Simplisafe Security

Best Wireless Home Alarm System for Homeowners

5 Ways to Get a Cheap Home Security System

Product Links:

Canary Alarm System

Piper Surveillance System


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