SimpliSafe is a simple and affordable DIY home security solution
At this point in time, it’s nearly impossible to find a start-up that doesn’t claim it’s “disrupting” an industry, but SimpliSafe actually is. Unlike super-established traditional security companies, SimpliSafe gives its users a ton of options to choose from. DIY or professional installation? Check. Self-monitoring or 24/7 professional monitoring? Check. Integrations with Alexa, Google Assistant, as well as other connected devices from Nest and August? Check, check, check.
With so many options, it’s no surprise that SimpliSafe has risen in popularity so quickly, but is it enough to keep you and your family secure at home? Our experts tested out their security system and boy, do we have a lot to say about it.
For those short on time, let’s break down SimpliSafe’s main pros and cons.
What We Like
- SimpliSafe is integrated with Alexa and Google Assistant, so even the laziest of people will have no trouble controlling the SimpliSafe security system using their voices alone
- Installation is DIY or professional, again, for the less active readers among us
SimpliSafe’s app makes it easy to control their system remotely and livestream footage whether you’re an iPhone or Android user
What We Don’t Like
- If you don’t want to pay monthly fees, you won’t be able to control your system remotely or get alerted if an alarm goes off
- SimpliSafe’s indoor camera doesn’t have person detection, so keep in mind that you may get some false notifications from movement of any kind
SimpliSafe Video Review
Sick of reading? Watch our video review of SimpliSafe below!
What You Get/ Unboxing
SimpliSafe has six different packages1 available on its website ranging from around $275 with a refurbished system all the way up to $490 for The Haven.
|The Haven||$489.86||1 base station|
1 key fob
4 entry sensors
2 motion sensors
1 auxiliary siren
1 panic button
1 freeze sensor
1 smoke detector
1 water sensor
|The Knox||$449.87||1 base station|
1 key fob
6 entry sensors
2 motion sensors
1 auxiliary siren
1 smoke detector
|The Hearth||$374.91||1 base station|
1 key fob
3 entry sensors
1 motion sensor
1 auxiliary siren
1 smoke detector
|The Essentials||$259.95||1 base station|
3 entry sensors
1 motion sensor
|The Foundation||$229.96||1 base station|
1 entry sensor
1 motion sensor
|Refurbished System||$274.94||1 base station|
1 entry sensor
1 motion sensor
We bought the Summerfort system, which is no longer available on their website, but made of the exact same components like a base station, wireless keypad, entry, motion, and glassbreak sensors, the SimpliCam indoor camera, a panic button, key fobs and last but not least, an auxiliary siren. Since then, we’ve also tacked on the SimpliSafe Video Doorbell Pro, which lets you see and speak to visitors wherever you are.
Now let’s talk a little bit more about what exactly each component does, for those not as obsessed with home security as we are:
The base station is the command center of the SimpliSafe security system.
In a nutshell, it connects all of the components to the SimpliSafe app so you can be notified of any activity (given you sign up for the Interactive Plan, of course). In that same vein, it also connects to the professional monitoring center and will play a 95-decibel siren if any alarms go off, about equal to a high-pitched, loud 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. However, for users that live in apartments, the siren built into the base station should be sufficient.
Remember when Mom and Dad would punch in a few numbers when exiting or entering your childhood home?
The keypad is where you’ll arm or disarm your system using a passcode. One cool thing about SimpliSafe’s keypad is that it’s tamper-proof, so even if an intruder tries to smash it, the base station will keep working. We actually tested this out by trying to remove the keypad from the wall and found that the base station stayed connected both to our app and to the monitoring center. Very cool!
These two-part sensors go on a door or window and its frame to tell when it’s been opened or closed.
We recommend putting them on the ground level of a home, as that’s where intruders are going to enter, most likely. Of course, we tested the entry sensors out and found that they notified us when they were about two inches apart from one another.
Pretty self-explanatory, SimpliSafe’s motion sensors have a 30-foot range.
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 them to be much more effective after we moved them into the corners of our rooms.
FYI: Install your motion sensors in corners to get the maximum range.
Glass break sensors
Also largely self-explanatory, the glass break sensors are useful if the intruder decides to break a window instead of opening it.
They also work on sliding glass doors, which the entry sensors may not. Now, 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 worked properly, as it listens for sound.
As far as cameras go, SimpliSafe has one option, an indoor camera called the SimpliCam.
Now, they also provide something called an Outdoor Kit, which is basically a weather-resistant case for the SimpliCam so you can use it outdoors. But we actually don’t recommend this option, because as we found out when we used it outside, the case doesn’t protect the lens or the power port, making it nearly useless in the rain. If you want other options, check out our list of the best outdoor cameras.
Pro Tip: Make sure to test out your components after you install them to ensure that they’re connecting with the app properly.
OK, we digress. The SimpliCam is a plug-in device and even has a stainless steel privacy shutter, for those wary of Big Brother always watching you, which we appreciated as we don’t want to be watched 24/7, especially when our security system was disarmed. But let’s talk about how well the camera works before we get too far ahead of ourselves.
- Video: Again, those not as enthralled by security cameras may not know that the current industry standard lies at 1080p HD, which the SimpliCam meets, blessedly. The field of view is wide at 120 degrees, but unfortunately, we couldn’t zoom in at all, so it isn’t the best option for capturing those fine details, whether it’s an intruder’s face or your kid’s homework. And it’s definitely not up to par with cameras with 4K display like the Arlo Ultra, which has twice as many pixels as 1080p HD. However, as you can see, we were able to watch Gabe clearly throughout the day without any problem, so although it’s not the best video on the market, it certainly gets the job done.
- Audio: On a more positive note, we loved using the camera’s speaker and microphone to talk to people remotely. This was a great alternative to talking to Gabe over Slack; rather, we could just pull out the SimpliSafe app and speak to him directly through the camera itself, which really came in handy for those little questions that pop up throughout the day.
- Night vision: Overall, we’d say that we were impressed by the SimpliCam’s night vision. As you can see below, we got a pretty clear picture of Gabe with absolutely no light coming through our windowless room. Now, some people may prefer color night vision through a bright white light in addition to infrared night vision. A camera like the Ring Spotlight Cam Battery has both, but we prefer infrared because it’s more inconspicuous (although Gabe knew of the camera, an intruder would not).
- Storage: When it comes to security camera storage, we prefer to back our footage up in two ways: locally, like on a micro-SD card or hard drive, and through cloud storage as a backup. While the SimpliCam lacks local storage or any kind, a bit of a bummer, cloud storage is available either on its own or lumped with professional monitoring. If you just want cloud storage only, you can pay $4.99 a month for a month of storage for a single SimpliCam, or for two to 10 cameras, $9.99 a month. This is a really good deal, especially if you have more than one SimpliCam. However, since we paid for the Interactive Plan, 30 days of cloud storage was included, which we then downloaded on to a hard drive for safekeeping. While we would prefer that the camera includes a slot for a micro-SD card so it can record directly onto local storage, it wasn’t that hard to back up our footage manually.
- Artificial intelligence: No, it’s not just something you see in sci-fi movies. When it comes to security cameras, artificial intelligence usually refers to person detection, meaning that you can be notified that a person was detected rather than movement. Facial recognition takes it a step further, identifying people specifically. Unfortunately, the SimpliCam lacks either, so we received a lot of false notifications from pets and even our robot vacuum. Using the camera outdoors, we received even more false notifications from cars driving by. If you want artificial intelligence, person detection is included with the Nest Cam IQ Indoor, and if you sign up for Nest Aware, you’ll also get familiar face alerts, dog barking alerts, person speaking alerts, and more.
Not near your phone or keypad? Use the panic button to contact emergency services with just the click of a button.
Once you press the button, the monitoring team will be alerted and your alarm will go off, so help is on the way faster than calling 911.
Another backup option is the key fobs, which basically combines the panic button and the keypad, allowing you to arm and disarm your system, minus the passcode, of course. We found that this came in handy when we were on a different floor of our home.
Maybe you have a large house or maybe your hearing isn’t what it used to be.
No matter the reason, the auxiliary siren is a good way to make sure you hear your alarm if it goes off. In terms of decibels, it sits at 105, meaning it’s as loud as a table saw. Water-resistant, you can also use it outside so the whole neighborhood can hear! We used it upstairs and found that it was a great way to stay connected to the base station and larger security system even a floor away.
SimpliSafe Video Doorbell Pro
Finally, there’s the SimpliSafe Video Doorbell Pro, a camera for your front door that let us get notified of any visitors, see them over livestream and speak to them through two-way audio.
Now, to use this doorbell camera, you’ll need an existing doorbell setup, as it’ll be hardwired into your home. Let’s take a closer look at how it performed.
- Video: We were very impressed with the Doorbell Pro’s video. Not only does it have a 1080p HD display with an 162-degree field of view, but it also has HDR, which helps with distortion from outdoor light. As you can see, it produces a beautiful picture which let us see our guests (and front stoop) very clearly.
- Audio: A standard feature of all video doorbells, the SimpliSafe Video Doorbell Pro has two-way audio which let us have conversations with our guests remotely. Given the number of packages we receive, this really came in handy to give the delivery people instructions.
- Night Vision: We appreciated the SimpliSafe Video Doorbell Pro’s infrared night vision, which definitely allowed us to see clearly at night.
- Storage: Storage is going to be the same deal as the SimpliCam; 30 days with the Interactive Plan, or if you don’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 has person detection, which is really helpful for a camera that’s facing the street. You won’t be notified of every car passing by, but just of actual human visitors. We had fewer false notifications with the Video Doorbell Pro than with the SimpliCam, 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’s actually very reasonably priced at $169.
Simplisafe also offers environmental monitoring, which in plain English means things like smoke and CO detectors plus freeze and water sensors, as well as a smart lock. Of course, all of these items can be controlled remotely through the SimpliSafe app, and you’ll be notified of any activity under the Interactive Plan.
Overall, we’re pleased with the physical components that SimpliSafe has to offer, although the SimpliCam is a bit lacking in terms of outdoor durability and artificial intelligence.
How Well It Worked
SimpliSafe was one of the easiest systems for us to get up and running and use on a daily basis, even as we’ve added various new components like the SimpliSafe Video Doorbell Pro. Nearly everything is wireless and in communication with the base station, which conveys information by speaking to you out loud, sending notifications to your app, and even changing the color of the LED strip at its base. Plus, once we installed the system, the firmware updates were automatic, so it didn’t require any maintenance post-installation.
Smart Home Features
SimpliSafe isn’t your grandmother’s old alarm system. It’s smart, which means it’s Internet-connected, and on top of that, it even works with the voice assistants Alexa and Google Assistant, under the Interactive Plan. Of course, we’re in both ecosystems, so we enjoyed using the voice assistants to control SimpliSafe, arming it in home or away mode as well as checking the status. We also hooked up SimpliSafe with our Nest thermostats and August smart locks and even created automated triggers like having our temperature drop as soon as the system was armed, meaning we’re outside of the house. We also had our locks lock when the system was armed, which really made exiting and entering the house a breeze.
Originally when we got SimpliSafe, we wanted to see what it was like to use without paying any additional monthly fees and found that it wasn’t the most functional. Unlike with Ring Alarm, we couldn’t control our system remotely or receive notifications, so it basically turned it into an old-school local alarm system. Then, we splurged for the Interactive Plan2, which is 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 think that the Interactive Plan was well worth it’s $24.99 a month price. Plus, contracts are monthly so we didn’t have to make a long-term commitment, which is great for renters like us (and let’s be honest, commitment-phobes). To learn more about SimpliSafe’s monitoring and cloud storage options, check out our SimpliSafe pricing page for more details.
Did You Know: Don’t get SimpliSafe if you weren’t looking to pay monthly fees, as it’ll basically turn into a local alarm system.
During check out, SimpliSafe gave us some options when it comes 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 process was pretty easy. First, we plugged in the base station and from there, created a Master PIN in the SimpliSafe app. The app actually guides you through the entire process, from sticking your keypad on the wall to installing, testing and naming your devices. You don’t need to be a tech expert to install SimpliSafe, and the process shouldn’t take more than an hour, and that’s being generous.
The SimpliSafe App
Depending on which plan you choose, the SimpliSafe app is where we armed and disarmed the system, live-streamed footage, viewed cloud storage and system activity, set up smart platform integrations and secret alerts and received notifications.
The app has 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 security using SimpliSafe’s app.
SimpliSafe has a few options in regards to customer support, including a phone line, a user forum, and email address, plus a few user manuals online. Support is available via phone and email every day from nine AM until midnight, EST.
In installing, researching and testing SimpliSafe, we’ve had to reach out to their customer support via email a few times. Once, they responded within the same day, once, it took a day to respond, and once it took five days, so the average stands at two days, which is not bad. However, for the fastest support, users should call SimpliSafe directly. The email responses we did receive were very friendly and thorough, so overall, we had a good experience with SimpliSafe’s customer support team.
Overall, we would definitely recommend SimpliSafe as a security system, but it’s better for certain people more than others.
Who We Recommend SimpliSafe For…
- Anyone that wants professional monitoring and cellular backup: Available for as little as $14.99 a month, SimpliSafe gives you protection for a reasonable price.
- Someone that wants DIY installation or professional installation: No matter which option you choose, installing your system is something that anyone can do easily or affordably.
- A user in the Google or Amazon smart home ecosystem: SimpliSafe works with Alexa and Google Assistant as well as Nest thermostats and August smart locks.
Who We Don’t Recommend SimpliSafe For…
- Someone that wants to self-monitor: As you won’t get notifications or remote control of your system without paying for a plan, SimpliSafe isn’t the best option for those that want to avoid monthly fees.
- Anyone that wants a security camera with person detection: The SimpliCam is definitely lacking when it comes to artificial intelligence, but aside from that it’s a fine camera in terms of video, audio and night vision.
SimpliSafe is an affordable security system that works well, but not all of its parts are 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 have more advanced cameras, SimpliSafe does do a good job in terms of its other components as well as its flexible monitoring options and easy DIY installation. Whether you’re a renter or a homeowner, SimpliSafe is certainly trustworthy and made staying on top of our home’s security a breeze.
- Is SimpliSafe any good?
SimpliSafe is one of our top-rated security systems, with affordable and flexible professional monitoring, awesome smart platform integrations and impressive customer support and system components.
- Is SimpliSafe better than ADT?
SimpliSafe is better than ADT when it comes to installation, customer support, and pricing, but ADT has SimpliSafe beat in terms of their app and variety of system components.
- How much does SimpliSafe cost per month?
You can pay $0 for SimpliSafe a month, but you won’t have access to the app. If you want professional monitoring, then SimpliSafe either costs $14.99 a month or $24.99 a month. The former Standard Plan will get you environmental and professional monitoring plus cellular backup, while the latter Interactive Plan adds on remote control, notifications, cloud storage, and other features.
- Does SimpliSafe offer professional monitoring?
SimpliSafe does offer professional monitoring with either the Standard or the Interactive Plans. For users that only want 24/7 professional monitoring, cellular backup, and environmental monitoring, the Standard Plan costs $14.99 a month. For the entire package which adds on remote control, notifications, secret alarms, video verified alarms, 30 days of cloud storage plus smart platform integrations, the Interactive Plan costs $24.99 a month.
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