Rob Gabriele

It does a little bit of everything, and then some. No, not your hand-me-down Swiss Army Knife. We’re talking about the SimpliSafe Interactive monitoring plan, which we recently got acquainted with. And by “acquainted” we mean that we spent several days (and nights!) testing SimpliSafe to see how it stacks up against the competition.

SimpliSafe Base Station at Night

SimpliSafe Base Station at Night

As SimpliSafe’s premium plan, you’re probably wondering what to expect. Will it protect your home? How about video and home automation features? Is there an app? And how much will it set you back each month?

These are all great questions…

So we’re going to dig into the Interactive plan and tally up the pros and cons. To preface what’s to come, you should know that the Interactive plan strikes a solid balance of affordability and helpful features. But there are some (fairly minor) weaknesses that we’ll share with you as well. So without further ado, let’s right jump in.

FYI: We think the SimpliSafe Interactive plan is a stellar option for folks who want around-the-clock home protection, remote arming and disarming, video support, and some home automation features. But if you’re looking for a robust smart home ecosystem, there might be better plans out there.

A Snapshot of Features

True to form, SimpliSafe keeps things “simple” by only offering two monitoring plans, which we compare and contrast in this guide. Today we’re mainly concerned with the Interactive plan, which in our opinion is the best option for your money… and we’ll show you why.

But first, note that the Interactive plan includes the basics that come with the Standard Plan. This means you'll get 24/7 professional monitoring, environmental monitoring (fire, CO, etc.), and access to the SimpliSafe app for remote control and notifications. But that's where the similarities end. With the Interactive plan, you'll also get access to home automation, camera support and video recording, and a little something called “visual alarm verification.” Don’t worry, we’ll unpack these features in just a bit.

SimpliSafe Interactive Plan Features & Pricing

We’ve made the case before that the Interactive plan is worth the extra $10 per month upgrade. In fact, we wouldn’t really recommend the Standard Plan to most people, as it leaves a handful of great features on the table. For instance, the Standard plan has no home automation, which is a non-negotiable for us. Home automation doesn't just make life easier, it also helps you in securing your home, especially if you use home automation products like smart locks.

SimpliSafe Packaging

SimpliSafe Packaging

Have a look at SimpliSafe’s offerings side-by-side to see how their Interactive plan delivers the goods. It’s objectively better, plain and simple.

Standard Plan Interactive Plan
24/7 professional monitoring Yes Yes
Built-in cellular technology Yes Yes
Environmental monitoring Yes Yes
Visual alarm verification No Yes
On-demand video recording No Yes
Mobile app with instant alerts Yes Yes
Alexa and Google Assistant compatible No Yes
Price $17.99 per month $27.99 per month

Also, at $27.99 per month, we found it to be competitively priced compared to the industry average. It’s definitely not going to break the bank. Later in this guide we’ll show you how the value measures up against other popular monitoring plans. But to give you a sneak-peak, we think it hits the sweet spot for downright affordability and functionality. It’s not perfect, but then again, what is?

Now before we move on, it’s worth mentioning that we spent $301.56 on our SimpliSafe equipment package. It came with everything needed to protect our home, like entryway sensors, a motion sensor, a neat looking hub, and a SimpliCam indoor camera. Not bad for $300 out the door. All told, it was slightly cheaper than Ring Alarm, and a whole lot cheaper than DIY brands like Frontpoint (although there’s lots to love about Ring and Frontpoint).

Our Full Experience with SimpliSafe Interactive

We took SimpliSafe’s monitoring for a test drive — not just around the block, but around the country. That is, we left town while using the system, so we were able to see how SimpliSafe Interactive protected our house while at-home and while we were away.

But first things first… it’s important to know that we didn’t have to sign a contract with SimpliSafe. This is a growing trend among DIY brands these days. Unless you purchase a professionally-installed home security system, you shouldn’t have to sign a contract.

Pro Tip: You’ll get a 30-day free trial of the Interactive plan, and you can expect a 60-day guarantee on SimpliSafe equipment. So if you don’t like it, you can cancel your subscription and return the equipment. We always look for this type of flexibility when testing and ranking home security systems.

Once we were set up with SimpliSafe Interactive, we were placed in “practice mode.” If this is your first time using a home security system, there are some things to get used to, so practice mode lets you learn the controls without sending a signal to the monitoring center every time your alarm goes off. This mode lasts for 72 hours, then you’re live and connected to the emergency monitoring center. Of course, you can always ask SimpliSafe to set your system to ‘active’ right away. It’s your call.

Did We Feel Safe with SimpliSafe Interactive?

This is the acid test for any monitoring plan. If you don’t feel safe in your home, then all the extra bells and whistles are useless. So we staged a few break-in scenarios. Right away the C.O.P.S. monitoring center — which is the industry’s go-to for professional monitoring — fielded our “emergencies” pretty quickly. We experienced 20-second response times on average, which is a little faster than many other systems we’ve tried.

Here’s how it works. When we tripped a sensor and our alarm went off, we’d get a phone call from the monitoring station within 20-30 seconds. They’d ask us for our “safe word,” we’d give it to them, and they would verify the false alarm. Now, if you don’t say your safe word, or if the agent senses something truly suspicious, they will dispatch police to your home.

Did You Know: Both of SimpliSafe’s monitoring plans offer 24/7 emergency response. But only the Interactive plan will give you Visual Alarm Verification, a helpful feature that requires the SimpliCam to work.

This response happens fast, especially if you have the SimpliCam indoor camera, which comes with “Visual Alarm Verification.” In this case, the monitoring center will view your video to verify a burglary in process, which the police take more seriously than an “unverified” alarm. After all, false alarms happen all the time, wasting valuable police resources.

A final note here — we felt that the Wi-Fi connection was pretty secure and reliable. SimpliSafe uses T-Mobile and Verizon cellular backup, so if your Wi-Fi goes out you’ll still be protected. This isn’t as fast or reliable as, say, Frontpoint’s cellular monitoring, but it’s really the next best thing.

Bottom line: we felt safe. Dare we say… simply safe? Let’s move on.

SimpliSafe Interactive Mobile App Experience

SimpliSafe App - Overview

SimpliSafe App – Overview

SimpliSafe's mobile app provided us with all the controls we needed to monitor our system. The app itself gets a solid 4.8 stars in the app store, but if you read our review, you’d see that we peg it closer to a 4.5. It’s good, but not great.

We found the app to be fairly intuitive, with remote arming and disarming, instant activity alerts, the whole deal. We did, however, notice a slight lag when viewing our SimpliCam live-stream video. But this is nothing out of the ordinary; in fact, we normally experience a 3-5 second lag when viewing live video on a Wi-Fi connection. So it’s just something to keep in mind.

Pro Tip: You can fine-tune the SimpliCam’s motion detection within the mobile app, which might help with video lags. But if you have a strong Wi-Fi connection, you shouldn’t have too many issues here.

One thing we liked about the app is when we set up our SimpliCam, we received a short video clip each time our system’s status changed. That means if we were away and our home was burglarized, we’d get an instant video notification of the perpetrator! This sure beats a generic “Your Alarm has been Triggered” notification, which leaves you in the dark about any threats. We want video evidence. Is that too much to ask? Apparently not with SimpliSafe.

SimpliSafe SimpliCam Indoor

SimpliSafe SimpliCam Indoor

Fancy features aside, at the end of the day we really appreciate having the ability to remotely arm and disarm our system. So for this feature alone we think the Interactive plan is worth the money. With that said, it’s worth mentioning that some DIY home security systems include their mobile app for free. But too often you’re looking at a bare-bones mobile experience with a healthy serving of bugs and glitches. Not fun. Trust us on this… the SimpliSafe app makes the grade. But you’ll need to go Interactive to get it.

Unlocking Video with SimpliSafe Interactive

Video monitoring and recording is another important feature that SimpliSafe’s Interactive plan unlocks for you. Of course, you’ll have to spring for the company’s cameras — the SimpliCam, the SimpliSafe Outdoor Camera, or the SimpliSafe Video Doorbell. We tested SimpliSafe with the indoor camera. For $99, we think this little camera punches well above its weight class with 1080p HD resolution, two-way talk, and motion-triggered recording.

Having the Interactive monitoring plan allowed us to view and record our live video stream from pretty much anywhere. As mentioned, we left town at one point, and it was ultra-easy to open the app and view our streaming footage. Thankfully, we saw zero activity, except for a few passing shadows at sunset — and the SimpliCam was smart enough not to trigger this as “activity.”

Note that many other home security companies charge upwards of $35-$45 per month for video support. So at $24.99 monthly, we think SimpliSafe Interactive is plenty reasonable.

Interactive Plan Plays Well with Alexa & Google Home

Another reason to consider going with the Interactive Plan is to access home automation features. While SimpliSafe is fairly lean in their home automation department, we still enjoyed a few smart features here and there.

For instance, we connected our Amazon Echo to our system, which gave us hands-free voice control. From there, Alexa did our bidding: “Alexa, ask SimpliSafe to arm the system,” and she secured our home without us having to lift a finger. SimpliSafe also works with Google Home, Apple HomeKit, Apple Watch, and August Smart Locks… but only if you go Interactive.

These are decent smart features, but if you’re looking to truly transform your house into a smart home, we recommend checking out Vivint or ADT’s offerings. Their equipment is pricier, and the monitoring isn’t cheap, but you’ll be able to set all sorts of home automations. Everything from smart lights to garage door controls, thermostats, and a whole lot more than SimpliSafe currently offers. Then again, sometimes simple is better.

How it Stacks Up Against the Competition

After extensively testing SimpliSafe Interactive, we found that it offers the ideal balance between affordability and function. We can see spending upwards of $25-$28 per month for a DIY system… but not much more. Of course, if we’re getting a more robust home security experience — with indoor/outdoor video, powerful home automations, etc. — then we’d spend more. But as far as DIY systems go, we think SimpliSafe is a no-brainer.

A step up from SimpliSafe would be Frontpoint Security, a DIY competitor that’s twice the cost at $49.99 for their Ultimate plan. Although it’s pricier, one advantage Frontpoint Ultimate has over SimpliSafe Interactive is Z-Wave compatibility. So if you’re a smart-home buff, it’s something to consider. Frontpoint also offers 100% cellular monitoring, which is the best connection type out there.

Then, a step down from SimpliSafe is Ring Alarm, another popular DIY option. The Ring Protect Plus Plan costs $10 monthly and includes video and some smart home integrations. Just note that with Ring Alarm you won’t get visual alarm verification, which can be worth its weight in gold if someone breaks into your home.

Here’s How SimpliSafe Interactive Measures Up

Monitoring Plans SimpliSafe Interactive Ring Protect Plus Frontpoint Ultimate
24/7 Professional Monitoring Yes Yes Yes
Connection Type Wi-Fi, Cellular Backup Wi-Fi, Cellular Backup 100% Cellular
Response Times (based on our experience) Fast ~20 seconds Standard ~30 seconds Standard ~30 seconds
Smartphone Controls Yes Yes Yes
Video Support Yes Yes Limited
Visual Alarm Verification Yes No No
Voice Controls (Alexa & Google Home) Yes Yes Yes
Z-Wave Compatible No Yes Yes
Monthly Price $27.99 $20 $49.99

Honestly, we love Frontpoint and Ring (both make our top 10 list!), but we still think SimpliSafe offers the best all-around value. If you’re concerned about limitations in the home automations department, don’t be. We’re betting that SimpliSafe continues to build out their integration offerings in the coming months and years. In fact, we’re seeing it already.

Final Thoughts On SimpliSafe Interactive

The question remains: is SimpliSafe Interactive the Swiss Army Knife of monitoring plans. Well, we’d say so. It does a lot of things pretty darn well. And although it isn’t the “sharpest” system we’ve tested, it offered us plenty of value at $27.99 per month.

Our only real gripe was with the limited outdoor video options. SimpliSafe doesn’t sell an outdoor camera yet. But this isn’t a complaint about their monitoring — it’s targeted more toward their equipment offerings. And it’s definitely not a deal-breaker for us, as there are lots of great standalone outdoor cams on the market today.

When the dust settles, we think you’d be hard-pressed to find a better equipment package and monitoring plan for the price. SimpliSafe simply does it better.