SimpliSafe Home Security Review 2020
SimpliSafe still shipping during COVID-19
SimpliSafe is still open for business during the COVID-19 crisis. And by "open for business," we mean shipping systems to your house where you can set everything up yourself. Not bad if you don't want to compromise social distancing by letting an installation tech come to visit. Plus, it doesn't have contracts, so you can cancel anytime you want without having to pay an arm and a leg in fees.
If you want all the swank and safety of a full home security system but you don’t want a monthly bill that costs as much as cable TV, then SimpliSafe is a pretty good option. It lets you order DIY, à-la-carte alarm equipment through the SimpliSafe website, and it offers professional monitoring for an impressively low price.
If you want a quick SimpliSafe review, then the system is really nice overall. (That’s why it made our Best Home Security System list.)
It’s super easy to set up, the SimpliSafe app works great, and the equipment has some cool features. The only reason we didn’t give it more stars is because it doesn’t have a ton of home automation options—yet.
|Equipment package||Package price||# pieces included||Learn more|
|The Fortress||$509||14||View Plans|
|The Haven||$489||14||View Plans|
|The Stonefort||$484||16||View Plans|
|The Knox||$449||13||View Plans|
|The Keep||$443||11||View Plans|
|The Stronghold||$424||13||View Plans|
|The Barrington||$388||8||View Plans|
|The Hearth||$374||9||View Plans|
|The Oakstone||$359||12||View Plans|
|The Bunker||$329||9||View Plans|
|The Sanctuary||$304||9||View Plans|
|The Homestead||$284||7||View Plans|
|The Bedford||$274||6||View Plans|
|The Essentials||$259||6||View Plans|
|The Nook||$254||5||View Plans|
|The Foundation||$229||4||View Plans|
Data effective 05/28/2020. Offers subject to change.
As you can see, SimpliSafe has a ridiculous number of packages with different combinations of equipment. Only the Haven, the Knox, the Hearth, the Essentials, and the Foundation are listed on the equipment page. But when you make a selection for one of those, you’ll see other packages pop up under “You Might Also Be Interested In.”
Right now, every SimpliSafe equipment package comes with a free camera on the side.
SimpliSafe security equipment
We like the simplicity of SimpliSafe’s equipment and the (wide) range of home protection devices you can get.
We previously reviewed SimpliSafe and didn’t super love the equipment. It looked like the kind of alarm system you’d see in your parents’ house in the mid-’90s. But in 2018, SimpliSafe made some upgrades, and now its equipment has much more of the Silicon Valley vibe we expect from our devices these days.
SimpliSafe equipment is still, well, simple. The system isn’t going to turn your home into a Jetson-esque, fully automated smart home. But SimpliSafe did add a bunch of new features to make its equipment more secure.
Simplisafe equipment security features:
- Simultaneous cellular and Wi-Fi connections. So if your internet goes out or you lose a cell signal, your system will still work.
- “SmashSafe” back-up. If an intruder destroys your wireless keypad or base station, your system will send out an alarm to the monitoring center.
- Base station battery backup. If your base station loses power, it still has 24 hours’ worth of battery backup juice.
SimpliSafe also gave its devices longer ranges and faster processing power, so everything works a little better.
What other security equipment does SimpliSafe have?
|Glass break sensor||$34.99|
|Carbon monoxide detector||$49.99|
|Video Doorbell Pro||$169.00|
Data effective 05/28/2020. Offers subject to change.
There is one tech highlight to SimpliSafe’s 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.
SimpliSafe base station
If you’ve had an alarm system before, you probably know most systems use a main control panel to communicate with sensors and sound alarms if someone cracks a window and creeps into your living room at 2 a.m. But SimpliSafe uses something a little different: a main console called the base station.
The base station communicates with all your sensors and devices (the wireless keypad is just there to turn things on and off). When you set up your SimpliSafe system, you just take the base station out of the box and plug it in. Easy peasy. We put ours right on the kitchen counter.
The base station does have a pretty bright light on the bottom that stays on all the time, so keep in mind if you put it in your living room, it might annoy you during movie night.
SimpliSafe mobile app control (be ready to pay for it)
Now that we’ve covered some good stuff, let’s talk about the bad. We have two main complaints about SimpliSafe:
- The extra cost for access to the SimpliSafe app
- The lack of home automation support
If you want SimpliSafe’s mobile app (and trust us, you do), then you have to subscribe to a SimpliSafe monitoring plan. And not just any SimpliSafe monitoring plan: the most expensive plan, the Interactive.
SimpliSafe monthly plans:
- Standard: $14.99 per month
- Interactive: $24.99 per month (This is the one you need to get the mobile app.)
To be fair, SimpliSafe plans are pretty cheap—especially by industry standards. But we still don’t like the mobile app being treated like an “extra” you pay a premium for. You need the mobile app to control your system from your smartphone and to get mobile alerts about any incidents.
SimpliSafe mobile app features:
- Arm/disarm system
- View activity log
- View live camera feed (if you have a SimpliCam)
- Get alerts when people arrive at home (like family members or babysitters)
- Monitor environmental sensors, including water and temperature sensors (so you know if your pipes freeze or if there’s a fire in your laundry room)
If you really don’t want to pay for mobile app access, you can still arm and disarm the system remotely using a key fob. The key fob is nice, but it can’t do nearly as much as the app can, and you still have to be in close range to your house. That doesn’t help if you realize at work that you forgot to arm your system that morning.
Home automation? Not much.
We’re big supporters of the smart home trend around here, and we love when alarm systems integrate with smart home technology. Unfortunately, SimpliSafe is a little behind the times on that front.
Most alarm systems now come with either Z-Wave or Zigbee integration (or both if you’re Scout), which lets you add in third-party devices like smart locks and lights. SimpliSafe comes with . . . neither.
Don’t run into Scout’s open arms quite yet, though. SimpliSafe does have two smart home integrations:
- Amazon Alexa integration
- Google Assistant integration
The Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant integrations let you arm your SimpliSafe system with just your voice, so you don’t have to get out of your comfy bed at night when you realize you forgot to turn the system on. in the morning based on when you arm your system.
The voice assistant support is nice, but it’s not that impressive as home automation goes. And while SimpliSafe offers its own smart lock, we really want to see Z-Wave or Zigbee integration so users can add the smart locks (and other devices) of their choice.
SimpliCam: Not bad for $99
The SimpliCam is SimpliSafe’s first attempt at a camera. You have to keep the SimpliSafe camera 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 sensor
- 120° field of view
- 720p recording
- Night vision
- 30 days’ worth of cloud storage (with subscription plan)
What don’t you get?
- No two-way talk functionality
- No pan, tilt, or zoom
You can also get a $169 SimpliSafe Video Doorbell Pro if you want something directly on your door.
Overall, the SimpliSafe camera is not a bad deal (especially since you get a free one with every equipment package you buy right now). But keep in mind that if you want to record video or download anything from the camera’s livestream, you’ll need to pay $4.99 per month for SimpliSafe’s camera plan. Oh, and that’s $4.99 per month per camera.
The monitoring and equipment price
No doubt about it, SimpliSafe is substantially cheaper than other security options.
Because of SimpliSafe’s nice little DIY contract-free model, you do have to buy all your security equipment up front. But even with that initial cost, you’ll pay much less for SimpliSafe equipment than you would for most other companies.
For example, SimpliSafe’s Haven equipment package costs $440 for 14 pieces of equipment. That same amount of money will buy you much less equipment from a big-name provider like Vivint.
SimpliSafe Haven package:
- 1 base station
- 1 keypad
- 1 keychain remote
- 2 motion sensors
- 4 entry sensors
- 1 panic button
- 1 siren
- 1 freeze sensor
- 1 water sensor
- 1 smoke detector
In comparison, Vivint’s smallest and most basic equipment package will cost you $599.
Plus, SimpliSafe offers refurbished equipment. Used equipment costs around 20–30% less than new.
SimpliSafe’s online ordering couldn’t be easier
SimpliSafe offers five equipment packages, so it’s easy to find something with enough equipment for your specific house.
But you don’t have to restrict yourself to preset packages. SimpliSafe equipment is (almost) entirely à la carte. Get what you want, skip what you don’t want, and go on your merry way. Feel free to add that extra glass break sensor or another key fob.
Our tester system came with two sensors and a motion sensor. That was enough for us to secure two main doorways and cover the living room with the motion sensor.
We also like that SimpliSafe lets you order online. You can add equipment and check out in mere minutes.
Professional monitoring: How much is it?
SimpliSafe has two professional monitoring plans: the Standard, which costs $14.99 per month, and the Interactive, which costs $24.99 per month.
|Mobile app access|
|Smart home integration|
|Text or email alerts|
|Details||View Plans||View Plans|
Data effective 05/28/2020. Offers subject to change.
Professional 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 alarm 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 a monitoring service, no one will contact you. You won’t get a notification. No one will call the police for you.
Professional monitoring means there’s always someone paying attention to your security system who will first call you and then call the authorities if an alarm sounds.
SimpliSafe offers two different monitoring plans. The base plan is $14.99 per month. That’s really cheap by industry standards, but keep in mind that you won’t have remote access, which is kind of a ripoff.
SimpliSafe installation: just plug in, peel off, and stick on
SimpliSafe installation is totally DIY, and it’s easy. No drilling or punching holes in your walls (which is great for renters). Also, the equipment comes with adhesive strips, so you just peel off the cover and stick the sensors where you want them.
SimpliSafe security system installation steps:
- Unpack the base station and plug it into a wall outlet.
- Unpack the keypad and follow the instructions it gives you for setting a master PIN.
- Stick the keypad to your wall with the adhesive tape on the back.
- Follow the instructions on the keypad to install and name all your sensors, one by one.
- Put your sensors in their proper places using the adhesive tape on the back.
- Activate your alarm monitoring through the SimpliSafe web page.
The sensors are super sticky and definitely stay where you put them, but good news: they’re still safe for paint. We put the entry sensors and motion sensor on and took them off a couple of times, and our paint was left intact.
Even setting up the base station and arming the system are no big deal. Just follow the instructions in the setup guide or through the SimpliSafe app. We used the app, and it gave us step-by-step directions to get everything connected and ready to go.
Our whole system was up and running within 15–20 minutes.
Recap: Is SimpliSafe good?
SimpliSafe is pretty good. We see it as a cheap, reliable option for home security. The online ordering is super convenient, the DIY installation is easy, and the system worked great when we tested it.
On the other hand, we wish SimpliSafe had more home automation options and more integration with smart home devices. We’d also like to see an outdoor security camera (that isn’t a doorbell). And we’ve gotta be real—it’s a little much to pay $10 extra for mobile app access plus $4.99 per camera per month. It adds up fast. Still, you could pay for all that and still fork over less than you would with some big-box home security companies.
SimpliSafe package and pricing recap
Here’s a quick reminder of how much SimpliSafe’s main packages cost.
- The Foundation: $229 for 4 pieces, plus a free camera
- The Essentials: $259 for 6 pieces, plus a free camera
- The Hearth: $374 for 9 pieces, plus a free camera
- The Knox: $449 for 13 pieces, plus a free camera
- The Haven: $489 for 14 pieces, plus a free camera