SimpliSafe is designed for people who want home security with low prices, no fuss, and no long-term commitments. SimpliSafe has pretty basic equipment with none of the bells and whistles you’d see with a provider like Vivint, and you have to install everything yourself. Its equipment is also a bit too low-key for us to consider it a major tech player, and we’d like to see more home automation options.
On the upside, SimpliSafe lets you get essential home security for much less than you’d pay with other providers. For renters, budgeters, and anyone else who doesn’t need much more than an alarm from their home security system, SimpliSafe offers a solid, no-contract option.
|Monitoring price||Contract||Signal type||Learn more|
|$14.99–$24.99/mo.||None||Cellular||View on Amazon|
*Does not include price of equipment
We love the base station concept and the Nest integration option, but mobile control is clunky and lacking.
SimpliSafe creates its own security equipment, which is somewhat rare in the industry. We don’t see too many proprietary security designs, which means most systems are more or less interchangeable. Because SimpliSafe makes and sells its own stuff, customers get an easy buying process and know exactly what to expect.
That said, SimpliSafe keeps it, well, simple. It offers sensors and a super basic keypad. You don’t even get a mobile app unless you sign up for its top-tier monitoring plan.
To be fair, SimpliSafe’s “top-tier” monitoring plan is cheaper than most other companies’ basic plans, but still. We don’t like that you have to pay $24.99 every month if you want to control your security system from your phone—that feature seems pretty standard at this point.
What security equipment does SimpliSafe have?
- Entry sensor
- Motion sensor
- Glass break sensor
- Water sensor
- Freeze sensor
- Keychain remote
- Panic button
- Smoke detector
- CO detector
There is one tech highlight to SimpliSafe’s mostly underwhelming equipment: it’s a cellular system. That means you don’t need to connect everything to a landline or rely on a Wi-Fi signal for your safety—SimpliSafe uses a cell signal the same way your smartphone does.
Cellular is the most secure connection a home security system can offer, so as long as your location has a strong enough cell signal, we can’t recommend a better option.
Best security feature—the base station
Most security systems use a main control panel to communicate with sensors and sound alarms if intruders come creeping. But SimpliSafe does not. Instead, SimpliSafe uses a main base station that controls the sensors independently from the keypad you use to arm and disarm the system.
This proves pretty useful, considering burglars are fond of a little method called “crash and smash.” Most alarm systems have a grace period before they alert you to an intruder—usually about 30 seconds. Some burglars’ strategy is to break into a house, find the control panel (pretty easy because it starts making a beeping noise), and destroy it. If the control panel is offline, the rest of your security system is useless.
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A single base station supports up to 41 sensors.
With SimpliSafe, the keypad (a.k.a. control panel) doesn’t actually control anything. That’s all up to the base station. If you hide your base station in a discreet location, any burglar trying to “crash and smash” will find themself out of luck.
Plus, SimpliSafe’s keypad does start beeping when the system is triggered, which can trick intruders into heading toward the keypad, rather than the base with the actual power.
Prepare to pay extra for mobile control
So what is our biggest complaint with SimpliSafe? Easy—that would be the lack of mobile control.
As we’ve mentioned, you don’t get access to the SimpliSafe mobile app without subscribing to SimpliSafe’s $24.99 per month Interactive monitoring plan. In fact, without that monitoring plan, you don’t even get access to text or email notifications, or the online command center that allows you to customize alerts and alarms.
For real, SimpliSafe? A mobile app seems essential for the day-to-day. We don’t like it being treated as an “extra.”
That aside, the mobile app itself is pretty basic.
SimpliSafe mobile app features:
- Arm/disarm system
- View activity log
- View live camera feed (if you have SimpliCam)
Considering SimpliSafe is a basic system overall, it’s fine to have a basic app. Just include it with the base monitoring plan, and we’d have way less to complain about.
In place of a mobile app, SimpliSafe does give you a keychain remote with every system, so at least that’s something. It does feel pretty retro to us, though.
Home automation? Almost nonexistent.
We’re big supporters of the “smart home” trend around here, and we love when home security systems integrate with smart home technology. Unfortunately, on that front, SimpliSafe is severely lacking.
SimpliSafe itself doesn’t offer any “smart” home functions. As we’ve mentioned, even the basic security equipment seems dated as far as design and functionality are concerned.
The only gesture SimpliSafe makes toward home automation is its integration with Nest. If you use a Nest Learning Thermostat (which we highly recommend), your SimpliSafe system can help it learn your habits by telling it when you’re home or away (based on when you arm and disarm your system).
We hope the Nest integration means SimpliSafe will offer more home automation options in the future (and maybe update its own equipment design as well).
SimpliCam—not bad for $99
The SimpliCam represents SimpliSafe’s first foray into the security camera sector. You can use the camera only indoors, and it’s not too technologically impressive. But, it’s also pretty decent for its $99 price tag. (As a comparison, an indoor camera from Vivint costs around $150.)
So what do you get for your $99?
- Heat-based motion detection
- 120° field of view
- 720p recording
- Night vision
- Sound recording
What don’t you get?
- No two-way talk functionality
- No pan, tilt, or zoom
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SimpliCam tip: While all other SimpliSafe equipment runs on a cellular signal, SimpliCam uses Wi-Fi.
Overall, the SimpliCam’s not a bad deal, but keep in mind it does require you to sign up for SimpliSafe’s $24.99 per month Interactive monitoring plan, and even then, you get only livestreaming. Expect to pay an extra $4.99 per month if you want to record video or download anything. Oh, and that’s $4.99 per month per camera.
Remember: professional monitoring and video surveillance aren’t the same thing. No matter which SimpliSafe plan you get, you still get professional system monitoring, which never includes video monitoring. But if you want video surveillance you watch yourself? You need the Interactive monitoring plan. See here for more info on what “professional monitoring” means.
Part 1 of 2: the equipment cost
The downside of SimpliSafe’s contract-free model is that you have to buy all your equipment up front. Even so, you’ll pay much less for SimpliSafe equipment than you would for most other providers. For example, SimpliSafe’s Perimeter Defense equipment package costs $534.83 for 18 pieces of equipment. That same amount of money will buy you much less equipment from a provider like Vivint.
SimpliSafe Perimeter Defense package:
- 1 base station
- 1 keypad
- 1 keychain remote
- 3 motion sensors
- 8 entry sensors
- 1 panic button
- 1 extra siren
- 1 glass break sensor
- 1 extra keychain remote
Compare that to Vivint’s basic equipment package.
Vivint basic equipment package:
- 2–4 entry sensors (depending on your monitoring plan)
- 1 motion sensor
- 1 control panel
- Mobile app
You can spend $550 dollars at Vivint and get only a couple of sensors and a control panel, or you can spend $535 at SimpliSafe and get enough equipment to turn your house into a veritable fortress.
Plus, SimpliSafe offers refurbished equipment. Used equipment costs around 20–30% less than new and works just as well.
SimpliSafe’s online ordering couldn’t be easier
SimpliSafe offers nine equipment packages, so it’s easy for customers to order what they need. But you don’t have to restrict yourself to preset packages. SimpliSafe equipment is entirely à la carte, although a base station, keychain remote, and keypad are included with every system. Get what you want, skip what you don’t want, and go on your merry way.
We also like that SimpliSafe lets you order online. You can add equipment and check out in mere minutes. The ordering process for other providers routinely takes half an hour on the phone talking to a rep and setting an installation date for someone to come set up the system.
Part 2 of 2: the monthly monitoring
|Plan name||Price||Mobile control||Learn more|
|Standard||$14.99/mo.||No||View on Amazon|
|Interactive||$24.99/mo.||Yes||View on Amazon|
Monthly monitoring is optional with SimpliSafe. Just remember if you choose to go without it, the only thing deterring a burglar from stealing your TV is a loud noise.
Your security system will function as a “local alarm,” which means if someone trips a sensor, it will still set off a siren. But that’s it. Without monitoring, no one will contact you. You won’t get a notification. No one will call the police on your behalf.
Monitoring means there’s someone paying attention to your system who will call first you and then the authorities if an alarm sounds.
Honestly, with SimpliSafe, we see no reason not to get a monitoring plan. It offers only two monitoring plans, and the base plan is $14.99 per month. That’s really cheap by industry standards, so why not have the extra peace of mind?
SimpliSafe installation is totally DIY, and it’s easy. No drilling or punching holes in your walls—the equipment (like the sensor featured above) comes with adhesive strips, so you just peel the strip and stick the sensors where you want them.
Even setting up the base station and arming the system is pretty easy. You can follow instructions in the owner’s manual, but the easiest way is to use the keychain remote. The keychain remote has a USB port. Once you’ve plugged the base station into an electrical outlet, just plug the keychain remote into your computer and follow the instructions on the screen. Easy peasy.
Personally, we prefer professional installation when we can get it. It’s helpful to have a professional place the sensors, set up the various equipment pieces, and advise you on what you really need to secure your home.
But installation techs are also paid on commission, and their job is to upsell you. DIY installation lets you skip the sales pitch and reap the budgetary benefits.
The bottom line
For people who don’t want to spend a fortune on a home security system and don’t need a lot of tech to make them happy, we like SimpliSafe as a cheap, reliable option. The online ordering is great, the DIY installation is easy, and we like that the proprietary equipment uses a cellular signal—even if its design looks outdated.
We recommend you at least pay the $14.99 per month for a basic monitoring plan. We want to see SimpliSafe include its mobile app with that cheaper plan, but in the meantime, we still think it’s worth it to have backup in case your system is triggered.
If SimpliSafe sounds like it might fit your needs, you can check prices and system details on Amazon. If you’re not entirely sold check out our Best Security Systems review, or see how Simplisafe fared when it went head-to-head with offerings from Frontpoint or Livewatch.