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Wyze Sense review: This $20 sensor system is a steal for security DIYers

Wyze Labs turned our conception of home security cameras on its ear with the Wyze Cam and Wyze Cam Pan. These two convention-defying cameras pack premium features like Full HD video, motion detection and tracking, and smart home integration into easy-to-install devices for just $20 and $30, respectively. Now they’ve done much the same by introducing a $20 home sensor system.

The Wyze Sense starter kit includes one motion sensor and a pair of contact sensors. Keeping with the company’s small-and-discreet design edict, each sensor measures just one square inch. Small sensors require small batteries, though, and Wyze says it knew it couldn’t deliver a reasonable battery life if the sensors connected directly to Wi-Fi. Rather than introducing a bulky hub into the system, the company came up with the idea of a tiny bridge, also just on square inch, that plugs directly into the Wyze Cam. Wyze says with regular use the button-cell batteries can last about 12 months.

The most obvious use for the sensor contacts is on doors, windows, and other points of entrance to your home. But they are inconspicuous enough that they can be placed on anything that opens and closes. Want to make sure your teens aren’t getting into the liquor cabinet when you’re out of town? Or the housekeeper isn’t rummaging through your jewelry box? Wyze even makes the novel suggestion of using one on your kibble drawer to make sure your dog is getting fed.

wyze sense fridge Wyze Labs

The Wyze Sense contact sensors can be used on anything that opens and closes.

The inclusion of a motion sensor might seem curious, since the Wyze Cam and Wyze Cam Pan both have their own, but there are places in where it’s just too creepy to install a camera: Bedrooms and bathrooms, for instance. Wyze’s motion sensor uses passive infrared light to detect radiant heat, so it should only be triggered by human and animal movement, significantly reducing false alerts

Setting up the sensor system is as friction-free as other Wyze products. The bridge plugs into the USB port at the back of the Wyze Cam, and you then pair each sensor to it by adding the sensor in the Wyze app and pressing a pinhole button on its side (Wizen graciously provides a tool for this purpose, so you don’t have to scare up a paperclip).

The two contact sensors got a workout after I place them on my front and back patio doors to monitor my kids’ entries and exits. Each time a contact was broken, I received a time-stamped alert on my phone that the respective door was opened, and likewise one that it was closed whenever contact was re-established. The motion sensor worked similarly, pushing a notification to me whenever it detected movement.

wyze sense app Michael Ansaldo/IDG

You can customize alerts for each of the sensors in the Wyze app.

Each individual sensor appears in the Wyze app’s list of connected devices along with its current status. Selecting a sensor from the list opens an event timeline listing all events associated with it in reverse chronological order. You can customize alerts for each type of sensor as well. You can receive alerts only when the motion sensor detects movement, is “clear,” or both. For the contact sensors, you can be alerted each time the door (or window, drawer, etc.) is opened and closed and also when it’s left open for a specified amount of time.

In addition to security statuses, the Wyze app also provides real-time data on each sensor’s battery life and signal strength and allows you to share access with other users via email address.

Bottom line

Like Wyze’s security cameras, the Wyze Sense is a winning combo of simple setup and great value. Pairing it with the Wyze Cam or Wyze Cam Pan gives a pretty solid security system for $40 to $50, a mere fraction of the cost for even the most affordable name-brand systems. That makes it well suited for apartment dwellers and others who don’t need, or can’t afford, more sophisticated systems or the backing of a professional monitoring service.

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