Updated August 13, 2016

SimpliSafe Review: Is the Security System Good?

Read more about SimpliSafe
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How good is this DIY wireless home security system? Read this article to see the pros and cons of SimpliSafe and how it compares to its competitors.

SimpliSafe

Overall Score

3.8

Discount

3.0

Home Security

4.0

Customer Service

4.0

Installation

4.0

Online Community

5.0

Yard Sign

3.0
5-point scale (the higher, the better)

Pros and Cons

  • No long-term commitment
  • Low monthly fee
  • Easy installation
  • Limited technology
  • Equipment cost

Bottom Line

Good basic home security for the money

In This Review:

Home security companies don't make it easy for you these days. You're often dealing with hidden fees, expensive equipment, and a long contract that's impossible to cancel.

SimpliSafe does things differently.

There are no hidden charges, no contract whatsoever, no installation costs, and low monthly monitoring prices - one of the lowest, in fact. Not only that, it offers all-inclusive monitoring beyond just burglary and is completely 100% cellular.

Sounds too good to be true?

Continue reading to find out what the catches are (if any) and whether Simplisafe delivers as a home security system.

10 Reasons to Choose SimpliSafe

© nola.agent (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr

SimpliSafe offers 10 benefits that make it a standout in the home security field.

  1. You're not tied down into a contract. Unlike other security companies that often require a three-year contract, SimpliSafe doesn't lock you into a lengthy contract to sign up for service. In fact, there are no contracts at all. And you can cancel any time you want without penalty.

  2. Your system goes where you go. Are you a renter? Not sure if you'll be staying put? Traditional security systems are hard-wired into your home, but with SimpliSafe, the equipment is completely portable and goes with you if you decide to move one day.

  3. You can skip the installation costs. Some security companies charge big bucks to have a pro come out and set up your system. With SimpliSafe, it's all DIY, so there's no extra charge and you can get your system up and running in under 15 minutes.

  4. The monthly fee isn't a budget-killer. One of the best things about SimpliSafe is the price. Monitoring starts at $14.99 a month, which is the equivalent of a nice lunch at your favorite restaurant. Even the highest tier is only $24.99 a month, which is half the price of other comparable companies.

  5. Neither is the equipment. You'll have to spend a little on equipment to get set up but you're not going to have to take out a second mortgage on your house to do it. If you're buying a packaged deal, you can get the basics for just $229 (more details later).

  6. You get all-inclusive monitoring. Even at the lowest tier, Simplisafe offers all-inclusive monitoring for burglary, fire/smoke, flood, freeze, and carbon monoxide poisoning (you will have to purchase the necessary equipment). Some other security systems only offer hazard monitoring at the higher service tiers.

  7. You can get your money back. SimpliSafe gives you the option to take your system for a test drive. You can get a full refund in the first 60 days if you're not 100% happy with it. Some other companies give customer shorter windows.

  8. The DIY installation is simple. You can be a technophobe and still get the system to work. SimpliSafe's equipment and the overall system itself are fairly straightforward, so you're not going to be tearing your hair out trying to install it.

  9. You won't need a landline. Some security systems offer only landline monitoring at the lowest price tier, but Simplisafe uses 100% cellular monitoring. You don't have to have a regular telephone line for it to work. And plus, burglars sometimes cut phone lines, so with cellular, you know that you've covered no matter what.

  10. You can get real-time alerts. SimpliSafe lets you create customizable alerts that you can send to your smartphone or tablet when your system is triggered, so you always know what's going on at home. Also, the SimpliSafe app allows you to check in on your home any time you want.

3 Reasons to Consider Another Security System

All the things we just mentioned make SimpliSafe look pretty appealing, but there are some shortcomings. We've come up with a few reasons why using a different system to protect your home might make sense.

  • If you really want video monitoring. Video cameras are everywhere these days, but SimpliSafe doesn't yet offer video monitoring. So if that feature is important to you, you're going to have to look elsewhere.

  • If you want the latest technology. Smart homes are all the rage these days, thanks to Z-wave technology. This nifty invention lets your security system "talk" to your other electronic devices so you can do things like switching lights off or turning down the AC when you're away. Unfortunately, SimpliSafe systems don't come with this technology - a definite drawback if you're interested in home automation.

  • If you have a lot of ground to cover. SimpliSafe's security monitors have a range of up to 400 feet, which sounds great but the real-world range can vary considerably. Live in a larger home? Odds are that kind of range just isn't going to cut it and you'll need a system that's a little more hi-tech.

What's the Cost?

Let's be real here: Cost is can be a deal breaker.

The lower price points are a reason to give SimpliSafe a serious look. One thing we really like about Simplisafe is that they are upfront with their costs. There are no hidden fees. Unlike other home security companies that hide their pricing on the website, and you have to talk to a representative to get a quote which could add up to hundreds more than advertised, Simplisafe lays out all the information for you.

There are two service plan levels, both very reasonably low priced:

  • Standard plan: SimpliSafe's basic monitoring is only $14.99 a month. You get 24/7 professional cellular monitoring, which includes burglary, fire/smoke, freeze/flood, and carbon monoxide poisoning. Please note that you would still have to purchase the necessary equipment.

  • Interactive plan: In addition to the Standard plan, the Interactive plan at $24.99 a month offers access to the mobile app, text/email alerts, and the ability to set up customizable alerts for when certain parts of your home are being accessed, such as a medicine or gun cabinet.

Equipment: SimpliSafe offers five different equipment prices on its website. The 5-piece starter set is the cheapest at $229.96, which includes the base station, a wireless keypad, 1 motion sensor, 1 entry sensor, and one keychain remote. You'll pay the most for the 16-piece ultimate bundle, which is $539.85 and includes 2 motion sensors, 4 entry sensors, a panic button, smoke detector, and sensors for water, freeze, and carbon monoxide.

If you don't see a package you like, you can create your own custom version, which starts at $184.98.

Simplisafe also gives you the option to self-monitor your system so you can just purchase equipment and don't have to pay the monthly monitoring price. But keep in mind that if you want to do this, any alarms set-off will no longer report to the central system and you won't get any alerts. And you also no longer get access to the mobile app, so you have no way of disarming the alarm remotely.

For only the price of a nice meal, we recommend that you get the 24/7 professional monitoring.

Security App Monitoring

This isn't your grandma's alarm system. You should be sure that whatever system you go with offers remote monitoring - even if you don't want it right away, you might want it later. The SimpliSafe app can be used on iPhone, Android, and Windows phones. The $24.99 Interactive plan will unlock access into this app.

Here's what you can do with the app:

  • Arm and disarm the system
  • Check system status
  • Review the system event log
  • Check the temperature in your home
  • See alerts when a flood or fire sensor is activated

Since you don't get the live video stream or home automation capabilities with a SimpliSafe system, the app is somewhat basic. Still, it's helpful to be able to keep tabs on your system when you're on vacation, at work or just out running errands.

SimpliSafe Equipment

SimpliSafe gets attention for its lower price points, but what really and truly matters are the tools. Here's what you need to know when it comes to the type of equipment SimpliSafe offers:

  • Security cameras. They aren't an option with this system, so you're out of luck if you want to be able to see a live feed of your home while you're away.
  • Control panel. You'll get a keypad and a base station. The keypad is what you use to arm and disarm the system, and it beeps any time the alarm is triggered. The base station is what sends the signal that you need help to authorities.
  • Entry sensors ($14.99 each). Have a fear about a burglar climbing up a window into your bedroom? Robbers are, in fact, more likely to waltz in right through the front door. Windows on the first floor are also a popular target. SimpliSafe systems use door- and window-mounted sensors so that you always know when someone's coming or going.
  • Motion sensors ($29.99 each). A security system's ability to detect motion can be a godsend and a detriment if Fido keeps setting yours off. SimpliSafe's sensors aren't triggered by dogs or cats weighing less than 50 pounds.
  • Glass break sensors ($34.99 each). There's not much time to react when a burglar gets in. By noticing the sound of shattered glass right away, these sensors can give you some precious seconds to get help.
  • Panic button ($19.99 each). If you're at home when an invasion happens, press the panic button to instantly trigger an alarm.
  • Environmental sensors. Going beyond burglary risk, you can protect your house from other hazards too with carbon monoxide sensor ($49.99), smoke detector ($29.99), freeze sensor ($29.99), or water sensor ($19.99) for leaks and floods.
  • Yard signs. Putting burglars on notice that you've got an alarm system is a research-proven way to deter thieves. All SimpliSafe systems come with one yard sign (and you can order more for $3.99 each).

Customer Service

If you need to ask a question about your system or you've got a problem, you can get in touch with SimpliSafe customer support by phone 7 days a week, from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. EST. You can also send your questions or concerns by email. There's no chat feature, unfortunately, which can be a headache if you need help outside regular business hours.

Installing the System

Installation is completely DIY, and there aren't any complicated instructions to read through. SimpliSafe pre-programs your system and sensors when you order your equipment. Once you get it, you plug in your remote keychain (which doubles as a USB drive) into your computer and install the SimpliSafe software.

From there, you plug in the base station, activate the batteries for each of your sensors, and decide where you want to put them. The next step is to customize your system settings and create your alerts. Once that's done, you plug the drive into the base station to transfer the settings over and you're good to go.

Negative Reviews

SimpliSafe has received positive reviews on the whole, but there are some naysayers out there. Several of the negative reviews we found involved a problem with the system itself. In some cases, customers were unhappy with the level of service they received when they called in with a problem.

A customer service representative from SimpliSafe did take the time to address all the negative reviews we found, but it wasn't clear how the various issues were resolved. There were also 19 complaints reported to the Better Business Bureau in the last 3 years. Thirteen of them stemmed from problems with SimpliSafe products and services. All of the complaints are listed as closed.

Common Complaints

Overwhelmingly, the two biggest issues with SimpliSafe seem to be problems with false alarms and the fact that customer service isn't available 24/7. Out of the two, the false alarm issue is the most worrisome because law enforcement agencies can charge you a fee if they have to respond to an alarm call when there's no emergency.

Tip: How to Prevent False Alarms

How It Compares

We decided to round out our view by comparing SimpliSafe to a couple of the most well known security systems on the market.

ADT. This household-name brand is different from SimpliSafe in many ways, starting with the cost. On the plus side, ADT systems come with Z-wave technology, a huge plus if you're looking to jump on the home automation bandwagon. That being said, the biggest downside of ADT is the fact that you have to sign a three-year contract to get service. And their lowest tier is still almost twice the price of Simplisafe and doesn't come with cellular monitoring or all-inclusive fire/food/carbon monoxide monitoring.

 

SimpliSafe

ADT

 

Benefits and Features

Home Security$14.99 Standard Alarm Monitoring
$24.99 Interactive Alarm Monitoring includes SMS/Email Alerts and Smartphone Control
Plans start from $28.99/month to $55.99/month. All plans include 24/7 monitoring for burglary.
$55.99 ADT Pulse Video Plan includes remote secure video and smartphone control.
Mobile AppSimpliSafe Home Security app allows you to arm/disarm remotely and monitor sensor status. Requires Interactive monitoring subscription plan and SimpliSafe2 system.ADT Pulse app allows you to activate alarm, check sensors, watch live video feeds, control lights and appliances, adjust thermostats and view history of home activities. Available on App Store and Google Play.
Home Automation ADT Pulse allows you to arm/disarm your house, control your lights and thermostats, and watch live video remotely.
Contract
No Contract
3 year contract
Control Panel
ADT Pulse touchscreen control panel allows you to know alarm status, arm/disarm your alarm, control lights, check weather, and view live video from security cameras. Also allows you to quickly send an immediate alarm (medical, fire, or police).
Customer Service9am to 6pm Eastern, 7 days a week. 24/7 Monitoring.24/7 customer support and monitoring.
Door Lock
ADT Pulse door locks allow you to remotely lock/unlock your door from any internet-connected device.
Door Sensor
Wired and wireless door sensors. Wireless door sensors can be installed yourself with no drilling or hardwiring necessary.
Glass Break Sensor
Detects if a pane of glass is shattered
Installation
Do It Yourself
Professional installation available.
Motion Sensor
Outdoor Camera 
Security Camera 
Thermostat 
Touch Screen 
Water Flood Monitoring
Window Sensor
Yard Sign
ADT-branded yard sign
Z-Wave 
Discount
Home Security
Customer Service
Installation
Online Community
Yard Sign

Blank fields may indicate the information is not available, not applicable, or not known to CreditDonkey. Please visit the product website for details.

SimpliSafe: Pricing information including fees, features and contract length were obtained on August 4, 2016 from published websites and are believed to be accurate, but not guaranteed.

ADT: Pricing information including fees, features and contract length were obtained on January 8, 2016 from published websites and are believed to be accurate, but not guaranteed.

Frontpoint. Frontpoint's pricing is similar to ADT, with plans ranging from $34.99 to $49.99 a month. There's no installation fee; everything is DIY and the typical equipment package costs around $300, which is pretty comparable to SimpliSafe. You'll have to spend a minimum of $100 to get started and you're locked in to a 3-year contract.

Frontpoint systems support Z-wave technology (with compatible plans) as well as video camera monitoring. Like SimpliSafe, you only get a three-year warranty on your equipment versus the lifetime warranty that ADT offers.

 

SimpliSafe

Frontpoint

 

Benefits and Features

Home Security$14.99 Standard Alarm Monitoring
$24.99 Interactive Alarm Monitoring includes SMS/Email Alerts and Smartphone Control
Plans start from $34.99/month to $49.99/month. All plans offer 100% wireless and cellular system with 24/7 professional monitoring. $49.99 Ultimate Plan supports video streaming, automated door locks, and advanced thermostat control.
Mobile AppSimpliSafe Home Security app allows you to arm/disarm remotely and monitor sensor status. Requires Interactive monitoring subscription plan and SimpliSafe2 system.
Alarm.com mobile app
Home Automation Automate your lights, door locks, and thermostats using Z-Wave technology.
Contract
No Contract
Equipment discount with 3 year contract. 30-day trial period.
Control Panel
Standard control panel includes cellular technology. Optional touch screen control panel upgrade.
Customer Service9am to 6pm Eastern, 7 days a week. 24/7 Monitoring.Monday to Friday from 8am to 11pm Eastern. Saturday and Sunday from 10am to 6pm Eastern. 24/7 Monitoring.
Door Lock
Supports Z-Wave door locks.
Door Sensor
Wireless door sensors. Recessed door sensors available. Garage door sensors available.
Glass Break Sensor
Installation
Do It Yourself
Do It Yourself: Most sensors are simply peel and stick.
Motion Sensor
Pet-friendly wireless motion sensors.
Outdoor Camera Wireless outdoor camera (requires power)
Security Camera Indoor and outdoor wireless camera options available (requires power)
Thermostat Supports many Z-Wave thermostats
Touch Screen 
Water Flood Monitoring
Window Sensor
Wireless window sensors.
Yard Sign
Z-Wave 
Discount
Home Security
Customer Service
Installation
Online Community
Yard Sign

Blank fields may indicate the information is not available, not applicable, or not known to CreditDonkey. Please visit the product website for details.

SimpliSafe: Pricing information including fees, features and contract length were obtained on August 4, 2016 from published websites and are believed to be accurate, but not guaranteed.

Frontpoint: Pricing information including fees, features and contract length were obtained on January 13, 2016 from published websites and are believed to be accurate, but not guaranteed.

Bottom Line: Is SimpliSafe Worth It?

If you're turned off by the other prices you're seeing and you're not big on a bunch of bells and whistles for your security system, SimpliSafe may be a good choice for you. On the other hand, if you want something a little fancier and you don't mind parting with some extra cash, ADT or Frontpoint may be a better fit. But you'll giving up some freedom for those better known brands - you'll lose the no-contract benefit of SimpliSafe. The key is to fully research any security system you're considering before you commit so you don't end up with a dud.

(Additional Writing by Anna)

Rebecca Lake is a journalist at CreditDonkey, a home security comparison and financial education website. Write to Rebecca Lake at rebecca@creditdonkey.com. Our data-driven analysis has been recognized by major news outlets across the country and has helped consumers make savvy financial and lifestyle decisions. (read more)

Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are those of the author's alone. Please support CreditDonkey on our mission to help you make savvy financial decisions. Our free online service is made possible through financial relationships with some of the products and services mentioned on this site. We may receive compensation if you shop through links in our content.

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