Like most people, I like the idea of keeping my family and home safe, but I don't like the idea of locking myself into a multi-year service contract during which I have to pay a hefty monthly surveillance fee. SimpliSafe (from $245) is a DIYSmart home security systemEasy to set up and use, this protects your home from intruders and environmental hazards like fire and floods. It's a seamless system that does what it sets out to do quite well - easily and flexibly secure your home and remotely monitor everything with (or without) an affordable monthly plan. Offering an ideal balance of quality service, ease of use and value, SimpliSafe also received our Editors' Choice award for home improvement safety systemsAdobe IotaandWyze Home Monitoring. Additionally, PCMag readers have named SimpliSafe for the fifth consecutive yeartheir favorite smart home security system.
Prices for SimpliSafe packages
One of the best things about SimpliSafe is that it is a fully flexible system with five preconfigured packages. At the higher end there is the Haven package ($504) which includes 14 pieces of hardware including the base station, a wireless keyboard, a keychain remote, two motion sensors, four door/window entry sensors, a panic button, a 105 decibel siren , smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, water and freeze sensors, as well as a SimpliSafe yard sign and window stickers. The cheapest Foundation package ($245), which is designed for small households and focuses solely on basic home security, includes the base station, a wireless keyboard, a motion sensor, an entrance sensor, and the yard sign and stickers. You can often get deep discounts on these packs, or you can select components to build your own custom system from scratch.
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If you want to add one or more SimpliCam indoor security cameras, they cost $99 each. The 1080p, 140 degree rangeOutdoor wireless surveillance cameracosts $179.99. The $169Video Doorbell Prois a smart doorbell with a built-in 1080p camera while the $99Smart lockallows keyless entry. SimpliSafe doesn't usually offer packages that include cameras, the lock, or the doorbell; They're add-ons, although we've seen the company throw in a SimpliCam as part of a limited-time special price promotion.
Review of the SimpliSafe Home Security System
Additional components can also be purchased separately to create your own package or to expand one. For example, if you have a lot of windows on the first floor, you might want a glass break sensor ($34.99) or additional entrance sensors ($14.99 each; the system supports up to 100 sensors). If your house has multiple entrances, you can opt for additional keyboards ($69.99 each).
If you want a one-stop home monitoring solution that includes more than just security, adding environmental sensors makes sense. Smoke alarms cost $29.99 each and you can add them to your monitoring plan, which notifies you by email or SMS when an alarm goes off and dispatches first responders to your door in the event of a fire. Temperature sensors ($29.99 each) alert you if it drops below 41 degrees to prevent burst pipes, and water sensors ($19.99 each) detect and warn of leaks and flooding.
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(Photo: Zlata Ivelva)
Pricing for the SimpliSafe Monitoring Plan
For professional monitoring, there is a standard $17.99 per month plan that includes 24/7 coverage. If a sensor is triggered, SimpliSafe will contact you, and if you don't provide a safe word that you provide during setup, the police will be dispatched. You can also use the online dashboard to view a timeline of system events, but you cannot control the system remotely.
For $10 more per month ($27.99), the Interactive plan adds SMS and email notifications, the ability to use the online dashboard for finer control of the system (more on that in a minute), and the App for arming and disarming the system. You also get a 10% discount on additional devices and an extended warranty that covers the entire lifetime of all SimpliSafe products (without the Interactive plan you get a one-year hardware warranty).
Another neat feature that comes with the interactive plan is the ability to set up secret alerts. You can set certain sensors in an alarm-only mode without triggering alarms. Got a well-stocked liquor cabinet and unsupervised teens? Attach an access sensor to the door, set up a secret alarm in the app and you'll be notified every time the cabinet is accessed.
If you don't want to pay the monthly fees, SimpliSafe can be used as a local alarm. So if a sensor is triggered, it's up to you to contact the authorities. There are no contracts or obligations, and you can start and stop the service or change plans at any time. This flexibility makes SimpliSafe a compelling alternative to the competitionADTcommandorVivint Smart Home, where monitoring fees cost more, ranging from $50 to $60 per month. And with these full-service systems, you have to sign contracts and face heavy penalties if you cancel early. (More on that in our storyADT vs. SimpliSafe.)
Sleek hardware, easy setup
The pear-shaped base station that powers the system is 8.5 inches high and 4 inches in diameter at its widest point, with a blue light at its base - it glows steadily to let you know the alarm is on , and pulses to tell you there is a fault with one of your sensors. It's a lot slimmer and smaller than the original base, which looked like it was designed in the 1970s. And now the base station is available in black (Obsidian) or white (Cloud) to blend more seamlessly with your home décor.
Setup requires placing the base station in a central location within 400 feet of your sensors and 100 feet from your keypad(s) and plugging in the included power cord. The new base station integrates an 802.11n 2.4GHz Wi-Fi radio, adding another layer of connectivity to SimpliSafe's monitoring service. The Wi-Fi is a boon for those living in rural areas who couldn't use the monitoring service due to patchy cellular coverage. if you are worriedIoT threats, you don't need to connect SimpliSafe to your Wi-Fi network; Monitoring works fine without them, although you won't get firmware updates. In the base there is a siren, a backup battery that the company says should last up to 24 hours, and a SIM card for cellular communication.
(Photo: Zlata Ivelva)
The input sensors have also been redesigned and are much smaller (about half the length of before), squarer and have a more modern look. They run on inexpensive, user-replaceable CR2032 button-cell batteries, which should last an average of five years, and the system will alert you when they need to be replaced. Installation requires no wiring or drilling; I simply peeled off the battery activation strips, peeled off the backing of the 3M Command-like strips, and taped each component after naming and pairing it to the system (more on that below). The components are easy to move around without damaging your walls, and you can take the system with you to your next home, which is a welcome feature.
The keyboard, which also comes in black or white (and runs on four standard AA batteries), features the biggest design upgrade, with a 2.5-inch LCD replacing a tiny monochrome screen. Nice big, round, backlit rubber keys replace the tiny oval ones on the old keyboard. A proximity sensor is a nice touch, illuminating the keyboard for late-night use. The larger screen also makes the system setup process much easier as you simply need to pair all the components via simple step-through menus on the display. Each component has a small button that you press to pair it with the system. Once you've done that, the keyboard will guide you through the naming process. You no longer need to consult the user manual for setup instructions.
(Photo: Zlata Ivelva)
Setting up my test system, which included installing the keypad, pairing four input sensors, two motion sensors, the siren and environmental sensors, setting a PIN, and testing the system, took about 45 minutes. I'm confident that the Essentials package can easily be set up in less than 30 minutes. If you don't want to set up the system yourself, Pro Setup costs $99. The company covers everything with a 60-day money-back guarantee and a three-year hardware warranty.
Up to four SimpliCams will work with the system (although the company promises support for an unlimited number of cameras in the near future). Setup is easy and consists of entering your wireless network information and scanning a QR code in the app. (Unlike the system itself, Wi-Fi is required for the cameras to work.) The camera is a plain-looking black plastic rectangle — which houses a round lens, privacy screen, microphone, and LED indicator — that slides onto a black metal stand . At 4.56 x 2.55 x 2.08 inches (HWD) and 5.3 ounces, it's pretty standard in size so farsecurity cameras at homewalk.
The indoor camera is height and tilt adjustable, but it can't pan or zoom, although a 120-degree lens ensures a wide field of view. The attached flat cable is nice and long at 10 feet, giving you some flexibility in placement as it needs to be plugged into an outlet. The $19.99 Outdoor Kit add-on adds a weatherproof camera sleeve and 25-foot power cord.
The video is recorded in 720p but looks surprisingly good. It's also fairly smooth and never suffered from choppy performance in my tests - despite the fact that the camera only operates in the 2.4GHz band. When analyzing footage shot at an adjacent 1080pLogi-Kreis, which supports the 5 GHz band, video quality was comparable to the SimpliCam. Recorded audio is a bit muffled but still audible, although the camera doesn't currently support two-way audio. Night vision footage is clear and motion detection sensitivity can be adjusted in the app. Motion detection is based on the heat signature, allowing the camera to tell the difference between, for example, a spinning fan, a small dog, and an actual moving person breaking into your home.
Push-based alerts and a live camera feed are free. Capture, download, and share footage with an optional $4.99 per month/per camera plan. This allows you to allow SimpliSafe's monitoring center to display ongoing alarms and provide the police with a visual verification of the alarms.
The metal privacy shield on the camera is closed when the system is disarmed (off) or in home mode. It opens when you put the system in away mode and records when an event is triggered. It also records a short clip when you arm or disarm the system. And you can always view a live video feed in the mobile app or desktop dashboard, although the latter requires a Flash-enabled browser. Simply put, the SimpliCam isn't the most advanced home security camera out there, but it works well for its intended purpose.
A keen focus on simplicity, but always smarter
There is still no support for Zigbee, Z-Wave,IFTTT, or other home automation protocols. That means little integration with third-party cameras, lights, door locks, or video doorbells. In most cases you can install these devices alongside the SimpliSafe system, but you will need to use a separate app to control them independently.
The company's CEO, Chad Laurans, told me that this limited integration was intentional. The system is supposed to be, well, simple. While additional platform integrations are under constant review, there are no comprehensive plans in this regard.
Nevertheless there is oneAugust Smart LockIntegration (if you choose not to use SimpliSafe's ownSmart lock), and you can hook aNest-Thermostatinto the system to control the temperature in your home based on alarm modes. If you leave the system and activate in Away mode, the thermostat will also go into Away mode and adjust the temperature accordingly. If you disable SimpliSafe, the Nest will go into Home mode. This integration worked well in my tests.
With Alexa voice control, you can wake up your system or check its statusAmazon EchoDevices. Enabling the SimpliSafe Home Control skill in the Alexa app is easy, and commands like "Alexa, tell SimpliSafe I'm leaving" (to arm the system in away mode), "Alexa, tell SimpliSafe goodnight" (to to activate the system). in home mode) and "Alexa, ask SimpliSafe if my home is safe" (to get system status) worked well in testing. There was little delay between the voice command and the base station's announcement of status or changes to system modes. The Alexa integration only works with the new SimpliSafe hardware, and the system can't be disarmed by voice (for obvious reasons).
You can arm or disarm the system from your wrist if you subscribe to the interactive plan and download and install the SimpliSafe app on your Apple Watch.
How to choose a home security system
SimpliSafe in action
With only three modes available, arming and disarming Simplisafe is very easy. Home mode activates the door and window sensors, while Away mode activates both the entrance sensors and the motion sensors. Test mode helps you set up the system and allows you to regularly verify that all sensors are working. The base station will announce your actions loud and clear as you switch modes. The volume can be adjusted via the keyboard or in the app.
When the alarm is armed and a sensor is triggered, the keypad will beep and you have 30 seconds to enter your PIN. If you don't enter it, the base station siren will activate and send an alert to SimpliSafe, and the company will contact you by phone and ask you for the security word, which you provide during setup. If you don't get the call or don't provide the security word, the 911 dispatcher will send the police (or fire department in the case of the smoke detector). In 2022, SimpliSafe added text alarm notifications, allowing you to cancel an alarm or request emergency help with a text message. Even more convenient.
And I like that SimpliSafe contacts you first. For me, if I have an alarm system in my house, one of the biggest fears is when police officers show up at my door because I've gotten my PIN. For double security, the time for entering the PIN can be set in stages up to 250 seconds and varied by sensor.
In my months of testing, all of the entry and motion sensors worked flawlessly, and the base station and 105dB siren did their job, loudly announcing unintentional violations - and SimpliSafe's monitoring service contacted me promptly each time.
Online dashboard and mobile app
With the monthly interactive plan, you can use SimpliSafe's online dashboard or mobile app to control the system, including arming and disarming. From the dashboard, you can also view your system event log, change your PIN, assign up to four guest PINs, and select an optional duress PIN to use if an intruder forces you to disarm the alarm. If you enter it, the alarm will stop sounding, but SimpliSafe will immediately send the police. You can also tweak settings like siren volume, entry and exit delay time, and manage and rename sensors in the dashboard. But now, with the new system, most of those controls are also keyboard accessible, which is nice.
If you can afford the extra $10 over the standard monitoring plan, the ability to customize and control your system from anywhere offered in the app and online dashboard and app is well worth the price. You also need the Interactive plan to get the most out of the SimpliSafe Smart Lock and Video Doorbell. $28 per month is pretty reasonable considering similar plans with competitors like ADT and Vivint cost about twice as much.
SimpliSafe or something else?
As far as smart home security systems go, we really like SimpliSafe for its ease of use, flexibility, and price. It allows anyone to add a home security system in under an hour, learning how to use it is a breeze, and you don't have to sign any contracts to get access to affordable 24/7 monitoring plans that can be turned off at any time. The system offered all of those things before – add the redesigned hardware, an even easier setup process, and still low hardware and monitoring prices, and SimpliSafe earns our Editors' Choice badge for do-it-yourself smart home security systems.
If you're really into home automation, a system like Abode might be a more compelling choice, as it supports multiple smart home protocols and is compatible with many more existing devices. It also offers customizable hardware along with flexible, affordable monitoring. If DIY isn't your thing, take a look at ADT Command. It'll cost you a lot more and you'll give up the flexible monitoring plans, but you'll get a full-featured system and someone will come to your home and set it all up. For everyone else, SimpliSafe is worth a serious look.
SimpliSafe home security system
The Editor's Choice
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Affordable hardware with reasonable monthly monitoring fees
No contract required
Fast, easy installation
Cellular and Wi-Fi connectivity, the latter being optional
Stunning indoor camera
The final result
If you want to secure and monitor your home remotely without spending a bundle or entering into a long-term contract, there's a lot to like about the versatile and easy-to-use DIY SimpliSafe Home Security System.
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