Note: SimpliSafe now offers self-monitoring.
You’ve probably heard of the show Shark Tank, right? Well, Ring Alarm started as a lowly contestant back in 2013. They didn’t walk way with a deal, but after a rebrand, Ring sold five million of their security systems and cameras. Not bad! Just last year, Amazon purchased Ring, allowing them to grow even further.
We’re putting Ring up against SimpliSafe, a smart security company started by two Harvard Business School students. I bought the Ring Alarm Security Kit from Ring and the Summerfort System from SimpliSafe. The two companies offer DIY installation, month-to-month contracting, and 24/7 professional monitoring— but which system comes out on top? In this review, first I’ll go over Ring and SimpliSafe’s key similarities and key differences. Then, I’ll go through installation, professional monitoring, customer support, and the company’s respective apps. By the end of the review, you’ll have a great idea of which security system is best for you. Let’s jump in!
Key Similarities of Ring Alarm and SimpliSafe
Before I go any further, I want to talk about what these two systems have in common.
- Average app ratings: Both the Ring— Always Home app and the SimpliSafe app have average ratings around 3.2 stars.
- Month-to-month contracting: Neither Ring nor SimpliSafe forces you to sign long-term contracts.
- DIY installation: You’ll install both systems yourself.
All sound good? Great. Let’s move on.
Key Differences of Ring Alarm and SimpliSafe
Now let’s see how these two systems differ, which is probably going to influence your buying decision.
- Professional monitoring: While SimpliSafe requires that you sign up for professional monitoring, Ring gives you the option to self-monitor.
- System components: Ring has a pretty minimalist, five-part security system, while SimpliSafe’s is about twice the size.
- Customer support ratings: Users had different things to say about SimpliSafe and Ring’s customer support systems.
Let’s see what these systems are made of.
System Components of Ring Alarm vs. SimpliSafe
I bought the Ring Alarm Security Kit, which comes with a base station, keypad, contact sensor, motion detector, and range extender. I already had the Ring Stick Up Cam Wired and the Ring Video Doorbell 2, so I’m going to use that with my security system. As you can see, SimpliSafe’s Summerfort is a bit more extensive, adding on a glass break sensor, panic button, key fobs, and a siren. I should note that SimpliSafe offers a video doorbell, but the system I bought didn’t include it.
Installing Ring Alarm Vs. SimpliSafe
Like I said before, you’ll install both your Ring Alarm or your SimpliSafe system all by yourself. While it’s more work than getting a professional to do it, you won’t have to pay an installation fee, a fair trade in my mind.
Installing Ring Alarm
When installing Ring, it’s important that you don’t try to sync up multiple components at once. I did, and it made the process take a lot longer than it should have. Unlike other security systems, syncing all the Ring components to the base station didn’t happen immediately. I’m not sure if it was my network connection or what, but the process took a bit longer than with other systems.
Another thing to note is that the contact sensors will go on your door or window in the opposite way you might be used to— the larger part goes on the door or window itself, while the smaller part goes on the frame.
In a nutshell, when you install Ring, I recommend following the video tutorials in the Ring app to a tee. If you do that, the process will take only about 10 minutes.
The SimpliSafe system is easy to install and doesn’t require any drilling or special tools. The sensors themselves are peel-and-stick, the most idiot-proof installation type of all time, and they felt very secure on the wall. Once I put up all my sensors, I just had to plug in my base station and sync my system together in the SimpliSafe app. A+ for installation!
Top System Installation
It’s no contest— SimpliSafe was much easier to install than Ring. For a company that prides itself on being simple, this definitely tracks.
Professional Monitoring with Ring Alarm Vs. SimpliSafe
What is professional monitoring? It means that a team of professionals will oversee your home’s security from their call center. If one of your alarms goes off, they will check in, and if necessary, contact emergency services for you. It’s really helpful if you’re away from the house or otherwise preoccupied when a security breach is occurring.
If you pay for any monthly plan from SimpliSafe or the Ring Protect Plus plan from Ring Alarm, you’ll receive cellular backup, which makes sure that your system will stay on even if the power goes out.
Professional monitoring is where Ring and SimpliSafe differ the most. While Ring gives you a self-monitoring option, all SimpliSafe systems require you to pay a monthly fee for professional monitoring and cellular backup. Let’s get more in detail.
Ring Alarm Vs. SimpliSafe Monitoring Options
A bit overwhelmed? Understandable. I want to elaborate on a few features that may not be common knowledge.
Custom Motion Detection
All Ring Plans have custom motion detection, which basically combines person detection and activity zones. Person detection is pretty self-explanatory— your Ring Stick Up Cam Wired or Ring Video Doorbell 2 will be able to tell the difference between people, pets, and inanimate moving objects like cars. That’ll lead to more specific and important notifications, as let’s be honest, you don’t need to know every time your cat moves.
Next, activity zones let you divide the area you’re recording into three parts, one of which you want your camera to focus on. For example, if you have the camera facing the outdoors, you can have the camera ignore the street, so you don’t receive tons of false alerts. Keep in mind that the SimpliCam from SimpliSafe can also recognize humans’ unique heat signatures, so it can tell the difference between humans and animals.
Available with SimpliSafe’s Interactive Plan are secret alarms. What does that mean, exactly? Well, say you want to be the only one in your home that knows when an alarm goes off. Instead of having the alarm sound, a dead giveaway, you can silence the alarm and instead receive a mobile notification. This is a feature I haven’t seen from any other security company, and I can see it being useful for a liquor cabinet or safe.
Another feature only available with the SimpliSafe Interactive Plan is video-verified alarms. Say someone triggers your alarm. The professional monitors will be notified immediately via a one-minute clip of what’s happening. If they see a robbery happening in real time, they can alert the police for you. Studies show that video-verified alarms lead to higher arrest rates, according to SimpliSafe. Makes sense to me!
As you can see, SimpliSafe’s subscriptions are much more expensive than Ring’s, with its least expensive option coming in at about five dollars more than Ring’s most expensive. When you consider that Ring gives you twice the amount of cloud storage, the price difference becomes even more stark.
Ring Alarm Vs. SimpliSafe Contracts
Hallelujah! While some companies force you to sign binding, three-year contracts, SimpliSafe and Ring offer flexible month-to-month contracting. Ring also offers a one-year option which will lower the monthly cost slightly. Whichever contract you choose, if you cancel, you can rest assured that there will be no lousy fees.
Ring Alarm Vs. SimpliSafe Moving Policies
As both systems are self-installed, if you want to move you can just pick up your system and go without fees. Booya!
Top System for Monitoring
With Ring, professional monitoring, cellular backup, and remote control of your system will cost you a maximum of $10 a month. With SimpliSafe, the same features will cost you $24.99 a month. The choice is clear. For its affordability, Ring is the superior system for professional monitoring.
Customer Support with Ring Alarm Vs. SimpliSafe
Both Ring and SimpliSafe offer customer support over their websites and phones. SimpliSafe throws in an email option, which I like. As you can see, their customer ratings differ based on where you look. Both companies got perfect overall ratings from the Better Business Bureau, which means that they’re advertising truthfully and have responded to any customer complaints, among other things. However, both companies got around two stars from customers on the BBB, a notoriously tough crowd.
As the Summerfort system is not sold on Amazon, I looked at customer review for a similar SimpliSafe 12-piece system. It has a 3.5 out of five star rating, which is decent. The reviews mentioning customer support, however, were pretty mixed. While some said the people they spoke to were knowledgeable and helpful, others complained about being on hold for hours. The Ring Alarm Security Kit had similarly mixed reviews. While Ring has a lower Google rating, SimpliSafe has a nearly perfect 4.7.
Top System for Customer Support
While neither company offers consistently outstanding customer support, numerically, SimpliSafe won by only .025 stars, or only 2.5%. I have to give this small victory to SimpliSafe, although both companies could benefit from more customer support team members.
The Ring App Vs. the SimpliSafe App
The last thing I want to talk about is the systems’ apps. With a smart security system, your app is basically your mobile command center, so you want to make sure it easily connects to your system and lets you control it with minimal effort.
The Ring— Always Home App
From the Ring— Always Home app, you’ll be able to livestream footage, arm and disarm your system, control any and all connected devices, get crime and safety alerts from your neighborhood, receive notifications, speak through two-way audio, and review cloud storage. The app has ratings of 3.3 on both the Apple and Google Play stores, which is a bit lower than I’d like.
“App is nice and clean. Easy to use. A couple of annoying things/bugs: – schedules are not shared between devices. – you can get notification of an event, but when you go to check it in the app, it’s not there. After a refresh it may appear, but you can’t click on it. You have close and reopen the app to view,”
wrote Android user Luke Glanford in a four-star review.
The SimpliSafe App
The SimpliSafe app offers the same features as the Ring app, allowing you to control your security system, check out what’s happening on livestreams, get notifications, and review footage. Recently, the SimpliSafe app got an influx of good reviews, bringing its ratings up to a 4.8 in the Apple store and a 3.9 in the Google Play store.
Top System App
SimpliSafe wins for best app over Ring Alarm!
Recap of Ring Alarm Vs. SimpliSafe
So, which is the better system, Ring or SimpliSafe? The answer is that they’re both good for different purposes. So, I’m going to break it down another way.
Pick Ring if you’d like…
- Option to self-monitor: Ring doesn’t require you to pay a monthly fee for professional monitoring.
- Minimalist system: The Ring Alarm Security Kit is only made up of five pieces.
- More affordable prices: At $10 a month for professional monitoring and cellular backup, Ring Alarm has some of the lowest prices around.
For more information, check out our review of the Ring Alarm Security System.
Pick SimpliSafe if you’d like…
- Cellular backup included: As you’ll be required to pay for 24/7 professional monitoring, cellular backup is guaranteed.
- More extensive system: The Summerfort system I bought has more components than the Ring system, like a glass break sensor, a panic button, key fobs, and a siren.
- Easier installation: You shouldn’t have any trouble setting up your SimpliSafe security system.
Want to learn more? Read our review of the SimpliSafe Security System or learn about the best home security systems of 2019. For any additional questions or comments, leave a note below! I look forward to hearing from you.