SimpliSafe was a simple and affordable DIY home security solution
SimpliSafe gave us so many choices during our evaluation of the fast-growing security company. Professional installation or DIY, self-monitoring or 24/7 professional monitoring, and Google Assistant or Alexa integration were just a handful of the many options we got to choose from. With so many possibilities, it’s no surprise that SimpliSafe rose in popularity so quickly since its founding in 2006. But was it enough to keep us secure at home? We tested out SimpliSafe’s security system products and learned a wealth of helpful info for potential buyers.
One of the first things we did after testing was break down our pros and cons for SimpliSafe security systems.
What We Like
- SimpliSafe integrated with both Alexa and Google Assistant, so we had no trouble controlling the SimpliSafe security system using only our voices.
- Installation was DIY or professional.
- SimpliSafe’s app made it easy to control our system remotely and livestream footage, whether we were using an iPhone or Android.
What We Don’t Like
- If we didn’t want to pay monthly fees, we wouldn’t be able to control our system remotely and would not have received alerts about an alarm going off.
- SimpliSafe’s indoor camera didn’t have person detection, so we got some false notifications from animal movement or cars on the road.
SimpliSafe Video Review
We also produced a video review of SimpliSafe!
What You Get/ Unboxing
SimpliSafe had six different packages available on its website, ranging from around $275 with a refurbished system all the way up to $490 for The Haven.
SimpliSafe Monitoring Plans Overview
|Package||The Haven||The Knox||The Hearth||The Essentials||The Foundation||Refurbished System|
|Learn More||View Package||View Package||View Package||View Package||View Package||View Package|
We bought the Summerfort system, which was later discontinued. It included common components like a base station, wireless keypad and entry and motion and glass break sensors. It also had the SimpliCam indoor camera, a panic button, key fobs, and last but not least, an auxiliary siren. We also added the SimpliSafe Video Doorbell Pro, which allowed us to view and speak with visitors, whether or not we were home.
A bit obsessed with home security, we took an interest in each individual component of the system. We worked to learn more about each part’s role.
The base station was the command center of the SimpliSafe security system.
In a nutshell, it connected all of the components to the SimpliSafe app so we could be notified of any activity (when we used the Interactive Plan, of course). It also connected to the professional monitoring center and played a 95-decibel siren if any alarms went off, which meant it was almost equal to a loud, high-pitched blender, in terms of volume. However, this wasn’t loud enough for us to hear on different floors of the house, which is why we purchased the auxiliary siren as well, detailed below. Despite our experience, the siren base station siren was sufficient for our friends who lived in a single-story apartment that covered less square footage.
The keypad was where we armed or disarmed our system using a passcode. One cool thing about SimpliSafe’s keypad was that it was tamper-proof. Even if an intruder tried to smash it, the base station would have continued working. We actually tested this out and tried to remove the keypad from the wall. We found that the base station stayed connected both to our app and to the monitoring center. Very cool!
These two-part sensors went on a door or window and their respective frames to tell us when it opened or closed.
After a bit of research, we determined that the ground level of our home was the best place for our entry sensors, as that was where intruders were more likely to enter. Of course, we also tried out the entry sensors and discovered that they notified us when they were moved about two inches apart from one another.
Our SimpliSafe motion sensors did exactly what they were intended to. They detected motion.
Originally, we placed the motion sensors in the middle of the wall but found their 90-degree field of view to be pretty limiting. We found their 30-foot range to be much more effective after we moved them into the corners of our rooms.
FYI: We placed motion sensors in corners to get maximum range.
Glass break sensors
Largely self-explanatory, the glass break sensors would have been very useful if an intruder decided to break a window instead of open it.
They also worked on sliding glass doors, where entry sensors were not tested. We didn’t actually break any glass windows to test the sensor out, but we did play a sound of glass breaking and found that the glass break sensor responded as we expected.
SimpliSafe had one option for its indoor cameras, which was called the SimpliCam.
We also received something called an Outdoor Kit, which was basically a weather-resistant case for the SimpliCam so we could use it outdoors. However, it didn’t protect the camera’s lens or power port, so it was fairly useless in the rain. Fortunately, we detailed some better options for outdoor cameras in our best outdoor cameras list.
Pro Tip: We made sure to test out each of the systems’ components after we installed them to ensure that they connected with the app properly.
The SimpliCam was a plug-in device and even had a stainless steel privacy shutter, which we liked on those days when we felt like Big Brother really was keeping tabs on us. Like most people, we weren’t interested in being watched 24/7, especially when our security system was disarmed. Through detailed testing, we learned a lot about what did and did not work well on SimpliSafe’s outdoor camera
- Video: Video quality for the SimpliSafe security cameras was 1080p HD, which was the current industry standard. The field of view was wide, at 120 degrees, but, unfortunately, we couldn’t zoom in at all, so we didn’t think it was the best option for capturing fine details, whether that meant an intruder’s face or kids’ homework. Not up to par with cameras that already employed a 4K display like the Arlo Ultra, which has twice as many pixels as 1080p HD, SimpliSafe’s video quality was much better than many cameras that still only produced 720p. We were able to watch Gabe throughout the day without any problem, so although it wasn’t the best video on the market, it certainly got the job done.
- Audio: We loved using the camera’s speaker and microphone to talk to people remotely. We just pulled out our SimpliSafe app and spoke to them directly.
- Night vision: Overall, we’d say that we were impressed by the SimpliCam’s infrared night vision. We got a pretty clear picture of Gabe with absolutely no light entering our windowless room. We knew some cameras like Ring Spotlight Cam Battery offered both color night vision through a bright white light combined with infrared night vision. Nonetheless, we still preferred the infrared on its own offered by SimpliSafe because it was more inconspicuous. Gabe may have known of the camera, as he tested it with us, but an intruder would not.
- Storage: We preferred to back our footage up in two ways: locally, on a micro-SD card or hard drive, and through cloud storage, as a secondary backup. While the SimpliCam lacked local storage of any kind, cloud storage was available either on its own or lumped with professional monitoring. If we wanted cloud storage only, we could pay $4.99 per month for a month of storage on a single SimpliCam, or $9.99 per month for storage on two to 10 cameras. We thought the $9.99 option was a really good deal, especially if we had more than one SimpliCam. However, since we paid for the Interactive Plan, 30 days of cloud storage was included. At the end of the month, we downloaded our video storage to a hard drive for safekeeping. While we would have preferred cameras that included slots for a micro-SD card, we didn’t find manually backing up our footage too difficult.
- Artificial intelligence: Person detection, technology used to identify the human form, and facial recognition, which took it a step further, identifying people specifically, were two forms of artificial intelligence used for security cameras when we conducted this review. Unfortunately, the SimpliCam lacked either of these technologies, so we received lots of false notifications from pets and even our robot vacuum. We received even more false notifications from other cameras about cars that drove.
SimpliSafe’s panic button enabled us to contact emergency services with just the click of a button. If we couldn’t reach our alarm or call 911, we weren’t left to deal with a tricky or dangerous situation on our own. Instead, we could simply reach for our panic button.
Once we pressed the button, SimpliSafe’s monitoring center was alerted and our alarm siren was turned on. It definitely had the potential to get us help just as quickly, if not sooner, than calling 911.
Another backup option was the key fobs, which basically combined the panic button and the keypad. These allowed us to arm and disarm our system, minus the passcode, of course. We found that this came in handy when we were on a different floor of our home from the keypad.
We discovered the SimpliSafe siren was beneficial in larger homes or for the hard of hearing.
The auxiliary siren was a good way to make sure we heard our alarm if it went off. In terms of decibels, it sat at 105, meaning it was as loud as a table saw. Its water resistance also made it possible to use outside. When it went off out there, the entire neighborhood could hear! We used it upstairs and found that it was a great way to stay connected to the base station and main parts of the larger security system while we were a floor away.
SimpliSafe Video Doorbell Pro
A front door find, the SimpliSafe Video Doorbell Pro, sent us notifications about visitors, let us view them over livestream, and allowed us to speak to them through two-way audio.
To use SimplSafe’s Video Doorbell camera, we needed to have an existing doorbell setup, so it was fortunate that we did. After hardwiring it into our home, we took a closer look at its performance.
- Video: We were very impressed with the Doorbell Pro’s video. Not only did it have a 1080p HD display with an 162-degree field of view, it also had HDR, which helped limit distortion from outdoor light.
- Audio: A standard feature of all video doorbells, the SimpliSafe Video Doorbell Pro had two-way audio, so we got to have conversations with our guests remotely. This really came in handy when we needed to give instructions to delivery people.
- Night Vision: We appreciated the SimpliSafe Video Doorbell Pro’s infrared night vision, which allowed us to see clearly at night.
- Storage: Storage options with the SimpliSafe Video Doorbell Pro were essentially the same as they were for SimpliCam; 30 days with the Interactive Plan, or, if we didn’t want professional monitoring, $4.99 a month for 30 days for the doorbell camera alone.
- Artificial intelligence: Unlike the SimpliCam, the SimpliSafe Video Doorbell Pro had person detection, which was really helpful for a camera facing the street. We weren’t notified about every car that passed, just by human visitors. We had fewer false notifications with the Video Doorbell Pro than with the SimpliCam, too, which made staying on top of our visitors much easier.
All in all, we were very pleased with the SimpliSafe Video Doorbell Pro, and it was actually very reasonably priced at $169.
Simplisafe also offered environmental monitoring, such as smoke and CO detectors, freeze and water sensors, and a smart lock. All of these items could be controlled remotely through the SimpliSafe app. When we used the Interactive Plan, our system notified us of any activity.
Although we were somewhat disappointed by the lack of outdoor durability and artificial intelligence included with the SimpliSafe’s cameras, we were pleased overall by the physical components SimpliSafe offered.
How Well It Worked
SimpliSafe was one of the easiest systems for us to get up and running for daily use, even as we added various new components like the SimpliSafe Video Doorbell Pro. Nearly everything was wireless and connected with the base station, which conveyed information by speaking out loud, sending notifications to our app, and even changing the color of the LED strip at its base. Once we’d installed the system, the firmware updates were automatic, so it didn’t require any maintenance post-installation.
Smart Home Features
SimpliSafe was no old- school alarm system. It was smart and connected to both the Internet and voice assistants, such as Alexa and Google Assistant (under the Interactive Plan). We enjoyed using the voice assistants to control SimpliSafe, and were impressed that it only required a brief statement to Alexa in order to set our system in home or away mode, check its status, or arm or disarm it altogether. We also hooked up SimpliSafe with our Nest thermostats and August smart locks and created automated triggers. For example, our thermostat knew to drop the temperature as soon as our system was armed.
When we originally purchased our SimpliSafe system, we wanted to see what it was like to use it without paying any additional monthly fees. We found that, in this case, it wasn’t the most functional system. Unlike with Ring Alarm’s free plan, we couldn’t control our system remotely or receive notifications. Basically, it turned into an old local alarm system.
Then, we splurged for the Interactive Plan2, which was the “whole enchilada”: 24/7 professional monitoring, cellular backup, remote control, notifications, smart platform integrations, and more.
|Free Plan||Cloud Storage – 1 Camera||Cloud Storage – 2-10 Cameras||Standard Plan||Interactive Plan|
|24/7 Professional Monitoring||x||x||x||✓||✓|
|Video Verified Alarms||x||✓||✓||x||✓|
|30-Days of Cloud Storage||x||✓||✓||x||✓|
|Smart Home Integrations||x||x||x||x||✓|
Don’t get us wrong— we thought the Interactive Plan was well worth its $24.99 per month price. Plus, contracts were monthly, so we didn’t have to make a long-term commitment, which was great for renters like us (or commitment-phobes).
We found more pricing details on the SimpliSafe pricing page.
Did You Know: Without a monthly plan, SimpliSafe basically turned into a local alarm system.
During check out, SimpliSafe gave us some options when it came to actually installing our system. While we opted for DIY installation, there was an option to get our system professionally installed for $79 from an authorized third party. However, we found that the DIY process was pretty easy. First, we plugged in the base station. From there, we created a Master PIN in the SimpliSafe app. The app actually guided us through the entire process, from sticking our keypad on the wall to installing, testing and naming our devices. We didn’t need to be a tech expert to install SimpliSafe, and the process took less than an hour, if even.
The SimpliSafe App
For the plans that allowed it, the SimpliSafe app was where we armed and disarmed the system, live streamed footage, viewed cloud storage and system activity, set up smart platform integrations, created secret alerts, and received notifications.
The app had awesome ratings, a 4.8 for iOS3 and a 4.5 for Android4, and we definitely agreed with the ratings. It was easy to stay on top of our home using SimpliSafe’s app.
SimpliSafe had a few options for reaching customer support, including a phone line, user forum, and email address. A few user manuals were available online as well. Support was available via phone and email every day from 9 a.m. until midnight, EST.
We reached out to customer support via both phone and email. For the most part, we felt SimpiSafe’s email customer support was timely in response. Once, they responded within the same day. Another time, it took a day to respond, and once it took five days, so the average stood at two days, which was not bad. However, for the fastest support, we had to call SimpliSafe directly. That considered, the email responses we received were very friendly and thorough, so, overall, we had a good experience with SimpliSafe’s customer support team.
Who We Recommend SimpliSafe For…
- Anyone that needed professional monitoring and cellular backup: SimpliSafe was available for as little as $14.99 a month, and offered protection for a reasonable price.
- Someone that wanted DIY installation or professional installation: No matter which option we chose, installing our system was something that anyone could have done easily or affordably.
- A user in the Google or Amazon smart home ecosystem: SimpliSafe worked with Alexa and Google Assistant as well as Nest thermostats and August smart locks.
Who We Don’t Recommend SimpliSafe For…
- Someone that wanted to self-monitor: As we didn’t get notifications or remote control of our system without paying for a plan, SimpliSafe wasn’t the best option if we wanted to avoid monthly fees.
- Anyone that wanted a security camera with person detection: The SimpliCam definitely lacked when it came to artificial intelligence, but aside from that, it was a fine camera in terms of video, audio and night vision.
SimpliSafe was an affordable security system that worked well, but not all of its parts were created equal. We were a bit disappointed with the lack of artificial intelligence in the SimpliCam, which resulted in some false notifications. Plus, the Outdoor Kit didn’t do a good job protecting the SimpliCam in the rain. While other companies had more advanced cameras, SimpliSafe did a good job in terms of its other components, flexible monitoring options, and easy DIY installation. Overall, SimpliSafe certainly proved trustworthy and made staying on top of our home’s security a breeze.
- Was SimpliSafe any good?
SimpliSafe was one of our top-rated security systems, with affordable and flexible professional monitoring, awesome smart platform integrations and impressive customer support and system components.
- Was SimpliSafe better than ADT?
SimpliSafe was better than ADT when it came to installation, customer support, and pricing, but ADT had SimpliSafe beat in terms of their mobile app and variety of system components.
- How much did SimpliSafe cost per month?
When we paid $0 for SimpliSafe a month, we did not have access to the mobile app. If we wanted professional monitoring, SimpliSafe charged either $14.99 per month or $24.99 per month, depending on our plan choice. The former Standard Plan got us environmental and professional monitoring plus cellular backup while the Interactive Plan added on remote control, notifications, cloud storage, and other features.
- Did SimpliSafe offer professional monitoring?
SimpliSafe offered professional monitoring with either the Standard or Interactive plans. If we chose the Standard Plan for $14.99 per month, we got 24/7 professional monitoring, cellular backup, and environmental monitoring. If we selected the Interactive Plan for $24.99 per month, we got the entire package, which included the Standard Plan plus remote control, notifications, secret alarms, video verified alarms, 30 days of cloud storage, and smart platform integrations.
SimpliSafe. (2020). Home Security System Shop. simplisafe.com/home-security-shop
SimpliSafe. (2020). Monitoring Plans. simplisafe.com/choose-monitoring2
Apple App Store. (2020). Simplisafe Home Security App. apps.apple.com/us/app/simplisafe-home-security-app/id555798051
Google Play. (2020). Simplisafe Home Security Mobile App. play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.simplisafe.mobile&hl=en_US