Note: SimpliSafe recently added two-way audio to its camera. They also now offer self-monitoring.
So you want a home security system, but you don’t want to pay exorbitant fees or sign a long-term contract. SimpliSafe, known for its affordability and flexibility, might be a good option for you. They’ve protected over two million Americans and are the fastest-growing name in the security business today. But is SimpliSafe the right system for you?
In this review we’ll discuss what the system entails, how well (or poorly) it works, the setup required, customer support, and more. I purchased the Summerfort system, but there’s a few options for your house, apartment, or business. Right off the bat, I can tell you that SimpliSafe, from a pure visual perspective, is extremely unique. Its pieces don’t look like a security system, but more ceramic vases. If you’re looking for an old-school security system, this definitely isn’t for you.
There’s no time like the present- let’s begin!
SimpliSafe has easy DIY installation, great customer support, and flexible monthly contracting.
What’s in the SimpliSafe System?
When the SimpliSafe box came in the mail, I was more excited than a kid on Christmas morning.
SimpliSafe has about nine different systems with varying devices. I purchased the Summerfort System, which includes 19 components like:
- 1 Base Station
- 1 Wireless Keypad
- 8 Entry Sensors
- 2 Motion Sensors
- 1 Glassbreak Sensor
- 1 Security Camera
- 1 Panic Button
- 2 Key Fobs
- 1 Auxiliary Siren
- 1 Yard Sign
- 2 Window Decals
I’ll only be describing the parts of the Summerfort system in this review. What do all these things do? Let’s start at the very beginning (a very good place to start).
SimpliSafe Base Station
No matter which SimpliSafe security option you choose, it’ll come with two things: a base station and a wireless keyboard.
If you have a break-in, the base station is what alerts Simplisafe’s monitoring center and blares its 95dB siren. If you’re wondering how loud the siren is, it’s about as loud as a food processor or a belt sander. For those in urban areas who have never stepped foot in a kitchen or a wood shop, it’s about as loud as it is inside a subway car.
SimpliSafe recommends that you put the base station somewhere hidden so burglars can’t find it.
SimpliSafe Wireless Keypad
Ah, the wireless keypad. You probably have childhood memories of waiting while your parents manually armed it before leaving the house.
So what does the keypad do exactly? If an alarm is triggered, the keypad will beep to distract the intruders. Meanwhile, the base station will quietly alert the police and blare its siren. Think of the base station and the keypad as Batman and Robin. Even if the intruders smash the keypad, the base station’s still got your back.
Simplisafe recommends that you put the wireless keypad near the front door. What I like about the keypad is that it’s not constantly lit up; it only lights up when you touch it and otherwise goes dark. I also love the wireless aspect- the less cords, the better.
SimpliSafe Entry Sensors
As the name suggests, entry sensors detect when someone enters your home. They’re placed on the front and back doors of your house, plus any large and particularly vulnerable windows at ground level. Here’s how it works: the entry sensor attaches to the door or window frame, while a magnet goes on the door or window itself. If the sensor moves more than two inches away from the magnet when your system is off, the base station will play a chime. In short: if someone enters or exits your home, you’ll be the first to know.
SimpliSafe Motion Sensors
The motion sensors cover two main rooms with doors- usually a living room or a kitchen. It’s a pretty self-explanatory feature- if an intruder enters these rooms, the alarms can sense any movement within 30 feet. One thing I didn’t love was that the motion sensors’ field of view is only 90 degrees- I would recommend placing it in a corner for the best effect.
Of course, if you’re home, you can set the motion sensors on “home mode” so they won’t trigger. You can also leave certain sensors on even if you are home. SimpliSafe really lets you customize your experience, which is always a plus.
I know what you’re thinking- what if my pet is running around downstairs? Will the alarm go off and wake up the whole neighborhood?
The alarm can differentiate between people and pets based on the “unique heat signature of humans,” according to the SimpliSafe website. Any dog and cat under 50 pounds won’t trigger the alarm. Now, keep in mind that I haven’t actually tested this feature, as I’m pet-less, so I’m relying on SimpliSafe’s marketing team for this small aspect.
SimpliSafe Glassbreak Sensors
Not so surprisingly, the glassbreak sensors sense when glass breaks (say that five times fast). That means that if a burglar breaks through your window, it will trigger the burglar alarm. Simplisafe recommends that you put the glassbreak sensors in any room with three or more windows on your home’s first floor.
SimpliCam Security Camera
What’s a security system without a camera? If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? What is the sound of one hand clapping?
I’ll be answering only the first question here.
The SimpliCam is, you guessed it, SimpliSafe’s indoor camera. I should mention up front that this camera cannot be bought alone. On the contrary, you can only buy the camera if you have SimpliSafe and paid monitoring. The camera also needs Wi-Fi and a power source.
If you read Security Baron a lot, you probably know about our necessary features test. Now, I know you don’t have all day, so I’m going to make this brief.
The SimpliCam, about 4.5 inches tall, consists of a black rectangular shape held up by a black curved base. On the face of the rectangle is the camera, which protrudes out- think of it as a pie on top of a table, but turned sideways.
Unfortunately, there is no mechanism that allows the camera to pan or tilt. Another drawback is that the camera is plug-in only. On one hand, this means that you’ll never have to worry about changing the batteries again, but on the other, this does limit the areas that you can use the camera. Combined with the lack of rotation, I’m not super impressed with the SimpliCam’s design.
I must say that I was a bit disappointed with the video quality. It’s at 720p, way below the industry standard at 1080p HD. The field of vision is 120 degrees, which is pretty good, but the camera doesn’t allow you to zoom in. Of course, one could argue that the video doesn’t need to be as good because of all of the security elements like the entry sensors, motion sensors, and 24/7 monitoring. Still, the video quality was not up to par with the rest of the security system.
The camera also lacks two-way audio, meaning you won’t be able to communicate with whoever is in the room. Why does two-way audio matter, you ask? Say an intruder is in your living room. Simply saying “get out” through the camera can spook them enough to abandon the crime scene altogether. It also doesn’t hurt to be able to speak to your loved ones from another room, especially if they are walking around with muddy sneakers.
The SimpliCam have automated night vision. While most security companies these days use infrared LED lights to power their night vision, SimpliSafe uses a bright white light, so the person being recorded will be aware of the camera. It’s obviously advantageous to record people committing crimes without their knowledge, so I wasn’t thrilled with the camera’s night vision.
Unfortunately, the SimpliCam has no local storage options. Instead, you can purchase 30 days of cloud storage under the Interactive plan, discussed below. While I am a bit unsatisfied with the lack of storage options, I will admit that they’re not as much of a necessity with the 24/7 monitoring.
Unfortunately, the SimpliCam has no artificial intelligence features like person detection, so you may receive some unnecessary motion notifications stemming from movement of pets or inanimate moving objects.
One nice thing about the SimpliCam is its built-in motion sensor. Like I said earlier, the motion detectors can identify humans’ heat signatures as opposed to animals’, so you’ll only be alerted when humans enter your home. In a way, the motion detectors act as person detectors, although they use different technologies to get there.
SimpliSafe recommends that you put the camera in a main hallway or in another room with a lot of foot traffic. You’ll be able to livestream the security footage from your phone, computer, or tablet.
SimpliSafe Panic Button
Simplisafe recommends that you put the panic button on the wall right next to your bed. It’s important that it’s easily accessible to you, even in the middle of the night. Pressing the panic button immediately triggers the alarm and alerts the monitoring team to check in on you. If you don’t answer the phone or give your “safe word” to the team, the team will tell the police that you’re in danger.
For businesses, the panic button can be programed to be silent, so you can get help without letting the intruder know.
SimpliSafe Key Fobs
What if you’re not near the panic button at the time of intrusion? Simplisafe gives you two key fobs which serve a couple of functions. You can use the keys to arm and disarm the system, plus, you can use the red button at the end of the key fob as a panic button. Think of the key fobs as car keys but for your home security system.
SimpliSafe Auxiliary Siren
The base station is not the only siren nor the loudest siren in the SimpliSafe Summerfort Security System. There’s also an auxiliary siren that’s 105dB, about as loud as a sporting event or table saw. It even works outside so you can alert neighbors of an intrusion. The siren is water resistant and can be mounted under an eave for maximum security. Even Sleeping Beauty would wake up from this siren!
Does SimpliSafe Work Well?
I found that the SimpliSafe system was pretty easy to set up, although I did have a small issue. Let me just say that in general, everything synced together really nicely, and that’s largely due to the fact that the system comes “pre-set,” meaning it knows how many pieces there are. So, if one of your entry sensors is not synced up, you’ll be alerted immediately- pretty cool, right? Keep in mind that you can always add devices to your system at anytime by ordering them on the SimpliSafe website and adding them in your SimpliSafe app.
That’s exactly what happened to me. I had setup my entire system and I got a display message on my keypad that said “Error, Sensor #4”. I looked on the SimpliSafe website under “Troubleshooting” and was told to move the sensor closer to the base station. Another solution was to replace the sensor’s battery, but I knew this couldn’t be it as I had just set the system up. Once I moved the sensor closer to the base station, everything worked perfectly.
What’s Setting Up SimpliSafe Like?
I’m really excited to set up this security system. The Simplisafe website says that it doesn’t require any drilling or tools, and should only take a few minutes. This was definitely true in my case. Mounting the sensors was as easy as putting a sticker on a notebook thanks to the adhesive tape.
Plus, the sensors didn’t fall off once I stuck them on the wall- they were there to stay. All I had to do was plug in my base station and sync everything via my app. All in all, it was a very convenient setup experience.
SimpliSafe has easy DIY installation, great customer support, and flexible monthly contracting.
Professional Monitoring with SimpliSafe
Like any good security system, Simplisafe is more than what comes in the box. The system also comes with professional monitors, trained to handle everything from intrusions to leaking pipes to the mold that’s growing in your basement.
How SimpliSafe’s Monitoring Works
No matter which monitoring plan you choose, you’ll get three basic services- 24/7 Live Alarm Monitoring, Cellular Connection, and Environmental Monitoring.
24/7 Live Alarm Monitoring
24/7 Live Alarm Monitoring means that professional monitoring specialists will monitor your home 24/7. If an intrusion does occur and the burglar alarms go off, the specialists will first call you to verify an emergency. If you verify the emergency or if they can’t reach you, they’ll call the police. Now, this is where cellular backup comes in handy…read on for more details.
A system is only as good as its cellular connection. After all, there’s not much that the monitoring professionals can do for you if they never got the message that you’re in trouble. Having a secure wireless connection is a non-negotiable when it comes to home security.
There are a few things that I look for in a cellular connection. I want something that’s exclusive to my security system– god forbid I can’t connect with the monitoring team just because I have Netflix on. I’m also looking for something that can’t be physically cut, i.e no cables. Finally, I look for a cellular connection that will work even if my power goes out.
Fortunately, SimpliSafe has built-in cellular technology that doesn’t require a phone line or an Internet connection, satisfying all my criteria. SimpliSafe has partnered with both Verizon and T-Mobile, covering virtually all of the United States. Plus, cellular connection is completely free, a nice feature as most companies will charge you for this.
The third branch of the monitoring is environmental and requires SimpliSafe’s smoke detector, temperature sensor, and water sensor (not included with the system I bought). Simplisafe doesn’t only protect you from burglars, but also from smoke and carbon monoxide. If an alarm detects dangerous conditions, the specialists will immediately dispatch firefighters. You’ll even receive a courtesy call for temperature and water alerts. Say a pipe is near frozen, meaning it can burst at any moment- the SimpliSafe monitoring team will let you know before this happens. It can even prevent water damage like mold and floods.
SimpliSafe Professional Monitoring Options
Simplisafe gives you two options for your monitoring system- the Standard plan and the Interactive plan. Let’s talk about each.
The Standard package includes 24/7 Live Alarm Monitoring, Cellular Connection, and Environmental Monitoring, discussed in detail above. It’s only 50 cents a day, or $14.99 a month. Compared to their competition, which typically charges over $60 for these features, this is a pretty good deal.
The Interactive not only encompasses the Standard plan- it has way more cool features.
Through the SimpliSafe app, discussed in more detail below, you’ll be able to arm or disarm your system, review the day’s events, and monitor your home’s temperature, burglar, fire, CO, and flood alarms.
You’ll also receive notifications about the day’s events. In real time, the app can notify you if the system is armed or disarmed, if the power goes out, and more. I also love that you can customize what alerts you get and how you get them, be it emails, texts, or calls. Plus, SimpliSafe allows multiple people to receive alerts, so you can loop in your significant other or family members.
One really unique feature of the Interactive plan is Secret Alerts. Say you want to know when an alarm goes off, but you don’t want anyone else to know. When your designated sensor activates, Simplisafe will alert you directly without sounding the alarm. It’s a great way to protect your liquor cabinets, closet, or safe while remaining in stealth.
If you do have an intrusion, you’re going to want to collect evidence for the police. That’s where the Video Verified Alarms come in. If a burglar triggers an alarm, the monitoring center will immediately receive a one minute clip of the event. After confirming that a real crime is taking place, they’ll alert the police of a burglary in-progress. The dispatch works fast, often getting the police to your home before the burglar leaves. Studies show that the video verified alarms lead to higher arrest rates, according to the SimplifeSafe website.
The Interactive plan also comes with thirty days of cloud storage for as many cameras as you want. You’ll be able to download, share, and livestream the footage whenever you want.
The final feature of the Interactive plan is its smart home integrations. I’m super impressed by all the platforms you can integrate with- there’s Amazon Alexa, Google Nest, Apple Watch, and August.
What does that mean for you? You’ll be able to tell Alexa or your Apple Watch to arm your system. If you have Google Nest’s temperature sensor, SimpliSafe can tell it when you’re home or away, saving you energy costs. Connecting with August means that your doors will automatically lock once you arm your system. I love the array of technology that integrates with SimpliSafe. It really puts the user in the driver’s seat and makes the entire security process way more convenient.
The Interactive plan costs 83 cents a day, or about $24.99 a month.
I love that SimpliSafe doesn’t force you into any long-term contracts. Living in New York City, I can never know where I’m going to be in a year. There’s so many factors that are outside of my control. What if my landlord sells the building? What if I win the lottery? What if I meet my soul mate and decide to move to the suburbs? SimpliSafe gives you complete flexibility with its monitoring, which I appreciate.
SimpliSafe Customer Support
Oh, the dreaded customer support line. Nothing is more annoying than having a product or a service breakdown and then being put on hold for an hour. That’s why we went on a mission to figure out if SimpliSafe’s customer support department actually supports its customers.
How SimpliSafe’s Customer Support Works
You can reach customer support everyday from nine in the morning until midnight, Eastern Standard Time. Another way to reach out is to email SimpliSafe through a form on their website. You can also check the user forums or download a copy of your user manual online.
While that’s all well and good, I want to hear about customer support from the actual customers.
SimpliSafe’s Customer Support Reviews
Internet reviews: love them or hate them, they’re a ubiquitous part of our society and actually a pretty great way to get data. We wanted to know what SimpliSafe customers thought about the product and services, specifically customer support.
As the 19-piece system that I got isn’t available on Amazon, I instead looked at reviews for a similar, 12-piece system. Like the Summerfort, this system includes a base station, a keypad, entry, motion, and glassbreak sensors, a key fob, and a security camera. Unlike the Summerfort, this system includes smoke and water detectors. I’ll be looking at the system’s overall rating and reviews mentioning customer support.
Overall, the home security system received a 3.5 out of five star rating, slightly above average. Customers were generally pretty happy with the system, with 75% of the reviews at five stars. Considering only 9% of the reviews were three stars or below, it seems like the product works well.
When I did a search for customer service specifically, 20 reviews popped up. Nine of them were five star, about 45%. In total, 70% of the reviews mentioning customer support were three stars or above– not half bad.
Looking at Google’s customer reviews, SimpliSafe has a 4.7 out of five star reputation altogether. Over eighty percent of the reviews were five stars, with the second biggest category coming in at three stars. Looking at the reviews mentioning customer service, most people had good experiences. In the last two days alone, SimpliSafe received seven positive reviews that mentioned their customer service.
It’s important to keep in mind that Google does take into account reviews from other sites, meaning that some of the reviews could encompass Amazon and the Better Business Bureau.
Better Business Bureau
The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is a nonprofit organization which aims to improve businesses for the benefit of consumers.
Unlike Google and Amazon, BBB doesn’t just go by customer reviews. Instead, the BBB focuses on “how the business is likely to interact with its customers,” according to their website. They judge a business not on personal preference, but on more objective standards. Has the BBB received many complaints about the business? Does the business violate the law or government standards? Is the business advertising itself accurately?
The BBB gave SimpliSafe an A+ rating, which is great. That means that they adhere with government guidelines, haven’t had a ridiculous amount of customer complaints, and provide accurate information about their products and services. From the BBB’s standpoint, SimpliSafe is doing its job.
However, as far as the customer ratings go, SimpliSafe didn’t fare too well. In the past three years, they’ve had 153 people complain to the BBB. Out of these 153 complains, over 60% were regarding problems with the product or service. When I did a search specifically for “customer support,” I was bombarded by complaints of long wait times, echoing the negative reviews from Google and Amazon. In addition to the complaints, SimpliSafe has 77 customer reviews, with an overall rating of a little over two stars. “Expect a hold time of at least a half hour and an agent that is not sympathetic,” said Adam H last August.
It’s important to keep in mind that the people who write reviews typically either had an amazing experience or a really bad experience, so the reviews can be divisive. Altogether, I am going to conclude that the quality of the customer support really depends on who you’re speaking to. Some people had great experiences, some had bad, but there were few reviews that were in-between.
The SimpliSafe App
If your security system is a musical theater production, the app is the stage manager, controlling every single movement that happens on stage. You want an app that’s easy to use, that lets you customize your security system and livestream your footage. Is the SimpliSafe app up to snuff?
SimpliSafe App Features
From the SimpliSafe app you can arm or disarm your system, livestream your footage, and look at recent events to see who has entered and exited your humble abode. The app connects with all of your SimpliSafe sensors. It’s also where you can set up Secret Alerts, so you can finally catch your husband eating those doughnuts. Of course, these features are all part of the Interactive package, discussed in more detail above.
SimpliSafe App Reviews
Every app is going to say that it’s the best in the world. That’s why, when it comes to the SimpliSafe Home Security App, we rely not only on our intuition, but also on customer reviews. And for the SimpliSafe app, the reviews were extremely telling. Let’s see what customers on the Apple Store and Google Play Store had to say.
The SimpliSafe app only received a 2.8 out of five star rating, which is not great. The plurality of the reviews were one star, while the second biggest category was five stars. It’s safe to say that more people disliked than liked this app judging by its ratings on the app store.
Google Play Store
The app fares better on the Google Play Store with a rating of 3.3. While this isn’t a fantastic rating, it is firmly above average. In contrast to the Apple Store reviews, the majority of the customers who rated the SimpliSafe app on Google gave it five stars. One star reviews follow close behind, followed by four, three, and two star reviews.
SimpliSafe Security System Recap
What a journey we’ve been through together. Don’t worry, I’ll wrap it up now. SimpliSafe might be a good system for you if you’d like:
- No term-length contract
- Motion sensors that can differentiate between humans and pets under 50 pounds
- Integrations with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Apple watch and August locks
- Good customer support.
However, SimpliSafe might not be your soulmate security system if you definitely want:
- Ability to pan or zoom camera
- Camera quality of 1080p HD
- Two-way audio
- Local Storage
- Artificial intelligence
- A superb mobile app
If you’re still unsure, SimpliSafe offers a 60 day money-back guarantee– if you aren’t satisfied with your security system, they will give you a full refund including shipping costs. Accessories, batteries, and shipping are free.
SimpliSafe not for you? No problem! Learn about some more awesome options with the best security systems of 2019.