Tech and Equipment
The first thing we noticed about the sensors was their size: they’re tiny! Each contact sensor is only about 1 inch square and 3/10 inch thick, making them both inconspicuous and versatile. The motion sensor is a 1 x 1 x 1/2 inch box. Each sensor runs on replaceable lithium coin batteries (included) that Wyze says will last about 12 months with regular use. Red indicator lights on each contact sensor illuminate whenever a door is opened or closed—same for the motion sensor when motion is detected.
Unlike other systems that require a hub, Wyze uses a bridge—which is also very small—that plugs into the back of your Wyze Cam or Wyze Cam Pan. The bridge communicates with the sensors using radio frequencies, and it lets the sensors use the camera’s connection to your Wi-Fi to send signals to the app without using up a lot of power from the sensors themselves. This means that the batteries in the sensors will last longer than other sensors on the market that connect directly to your Wi-Fi.
The motion sensor works using radiant heat, so it will detect people and pets without giving you false alarms from passing cars or lights turning on and off. The bad news about this kind of motion sensor—and about Wyze products in general—is that none are designed for outdoor use, so if you need exterior coverage you’ll have to look elsewhere. Wyze has announced plans for outdoor cameras sometime in 2019, but so far no word on outdoor motion sensors or other products we’d like to see in the Wyze lineup, like motion sensor lights.
Smart Home Applications
One of the reasons Wyze sensors are so small is thanks to their proprietary communication protocol that uses an entirely different language (radio frequency) than Zigbee and Z-Wave devices. Unfortunately, this special language means they can’t communicate directly with any other non-Wyze smart devices in your home.
While this shortcoming means Wyze probably isn’t the best smart security option out there, the good news is that Wyze is designed to work with IFTTT (If This Then That), Amazon Alexa, and Google Home. You can use these platforms to create scenes that incorporate your Wyze sensors with your other compatible devices to create a smart home. The bad news is that it might not always work with those platforms. We tested a Wyze IFTTT applet that’s supposed to use geofencing to “turn off push notifications when I am home,” but we continued to receive push notifications even when inside the geofenced home area.
Many of the other IFTTT applets do the same things you can already do through the Wyze app, like getting push notifications when motion is detected, so they’re a little redundant. But we do like the ability to use your Amazon Echo Dot or Google Home to enable or disable motion detection with voice commands when you wake up or leave the house.
Installation and Setup
Installing the Wyze Sense Starter Kit was a breeze. It took only about 10 minutes in total to set up all three sensors, and it was so simple even a child could do it. The only tool you need is a tiny pin device used to power on each sensor.
The hardest part of installation was deciding where I wanted my sensors to be. Since I already have a security system covering my doors and windows, I decided to have some fun with the little Wyze sensors. I put one on my refrigerator door, and one on the bedroom door of my hermit teenage son, so I could be alerted when he emerged from his cave. Each sensor has a peel-off adhesive backing to make it easy to attach to any surface.
App and Features
Unlike my current security system that only alerts me that a sensor has been tripped (e.g., “Alert: Back Door”) the Wyze app tells you whether a contact is open or closed (e.g., “Back Door Closed”). The app is well thought out, with customizable push notifications that let you determine which events trigger an alert, like when a door opens, when it closes, or when it’s been left open longer than a specified amount of time. The app storage keeps a history of all recent activity, with the most recent events listed first, and it shows the battery life and signal strength of all connected sensors.
In testing, I set the app to notify me when my fridge door was left open for longer than six seconds. I did get an alert when this happened, but the alert said “Fridge door has been open longer than 1 minute.” But when I checked with my kids and then tested it myself, the one-minute alert was sent after it had been open for six seconds. It may simply have a minimum open notification time of one minute.