Editor's Note: As of late-September 2022, SimpliSafe equipment packages are up to 20-percent off. Additionally, a free indoor camera is included in every package.
What happens when a rash of burglaries sweeps across a Cambridge neighborhood? Well, a couple of Harvard students get to work creating SimpliSafe, a wireless DIY home security system. That was back in 2006, and over the years SimpliSafe has grown into quite the contender in the industry.1
Still, SimpliSafe’s lack of smart home devices, plus its easy set up and not-so-high-tech equipment, sparks some concern. Is it too basic to protect our home? We wanted to find out, so we spent over 100 hours testing SimpliSafe, and we’re sharing our full experience with you today.
But before we dig in, now’s the time to mention that SimpliSafe is in our top 10 best home security systems overall. And on top of that, because of its DIY nature, it’s also one of the top security systems for renters. With that, let’s dive right in.
Read more about Travis and our methodology →
Our staff is great at researching and testing systems and comparing it to similar security options, but we wanted to see what SimpliSafe customers have to say about the product and the service they receive over time. As of April 2022, we’ve surveyed 20 SimpliSafe customers and asked them to rate SimpliSafe in 10 different areas, including their overall satisfaction with the system. Below is a summary of their ratings.
The buying process for SimpliSafe is as smooth as it gets. There’s no need for a consultation or a lengthy phone call with a sales agent who’ll try to upsell you. I just went to SimpliSafe’s website, picked a package I liked, and checked out. It’s almost as easy as ordering a t-shirt from Amazon.
My purchase was also risk-free since the equipment came with a 60-day return policy. If for any reason I wasn’t satisfied with it, I could return it and get my money back. Note that SimpliSafe even covers the return shipping cost.
Moving on, I went with the SimpliSafe Essentials kit, with a few extra fixin’s like additional sensors. It only took two days for it to be delivered to my doorstep. Here’s what came in the box:
Keep an eye out for any special promotions. Right now, you can get 20-percent off of your system, plus get a free SimpliCam indoor camera. That’s a $99 value right there.
When the dust settled, I’d spent a grand total of $301.56 for the equipment. Considering that most home security companies charge $500 to $1,000 for a package like this, I think I found myself a good deal.
That being said, buying from SimpliSafe means paying for the system upfront. There are no financing options or flexible payment plans, whereas more traditional companies let customers divvy up the equipment fee and pay over the course of one to five years.
Now back to the SimpliSafe system I purchased. First things first — installation. Actually, there really isn’t much to it. The word “simple” is in the name, so you can expect a fast and easy setup process.
First, plug in the base station. When it powers on, a soft blue light illuminates the base and a female voice says, “Welcome to SimpliSafe.” The silky-smooth robot greeting feels like it comes right out of one of those lucid dream movies.
Now, if you’re a Ring Alarm user who’s jumping ship for SimpliSafe, you might get confused at first by the arm/disarm colors being the opposite. That could take a little getting used to (and perhaps a false alarm or two). But hey, at least you’ll get to hear what the siren sounds like.
Next step: The wireless keypad will connect to the base station, and then it’ll walk you through the setup process. One thing you’ll notice is that navigation on the keypad is a bit unusual. You have to press on the screen itself to move through the menu. You don’t see this with other brands, so it may take you a bit to warm up to it.
Pro Tip: Since the keypad is wireless, it’s a good idea to take it with you as you mount your entryway sensors. This makes it easy to name each sensor location as you go. You don’t have this luxury when using wired keypads.
You’ll then be asked to choose a ‘Master PIN.’ Make this PIN memorable, as you’ll be using it constantly with the keypad. Then, all that’s left to do is connect to Wi-Fi.
The next part might shake you right out of the “futuristic feels.” When you customize device names, you have to go through each and every letter (and digit!) to select the character you want. Remember texting from your Nokia cell phone in 2001? It’s kind of like that, which is odd because touchscreen control panels are now commonplace.
This is an important point about SimpliSafe. The hardware itself is streamlined and (almost) Apple-like in design.2 But it’s a different story with the software. The software is simple and lacks a certain panache that you get with more expensive systems that have touch-screen controls. Is this a deal breaker? It wasn’t for me. In fact, I welcomed the simplicity. But if you’d rather have a futuristic touchscreen panel for your home, check out our Vivint review for the best one there is.
FYI: The SimpliSafe setup and configuration only took a few minutes. So far, it’s the easiest and fastest setup I’ve ever done.
All that’s left to do, once the keypad is set up, is to mount the sensors. My system came with a bunch of entry sensors and a motion sensor, and they all had adhesive backings so you can just stick them wherever you want. I decided to place an entry sensor on every first-floor door and window, plus one on the bedroom window that is accessible via a second story patio. That way, all possible entrances are covered.
Next, I placed the sole motion sensor in the hallway. Instead of using the adhesive, though, I opted to use velcro to mount the equipment. The installation is just as neat, and the velcro makes it easier to take down the sensors in the future without leaving nasty adhesive stains on walls and door or window frames.
And that’s it! You’ll be up and running in 20 minutes flat. With other top DIY home security systems, the setup and installation are tolerable, but can feel like a chore. With SimpliSafe it doesn’t feel like a chore at all. It’s actually kind of fun.
With your system installed, you’ll notice that it’s rather dashing looking. Maybe not the entry sensors (those are a little chunky to be honest), but the base station is a sight to behold. It sits there and just … glows.
In some ways, it even conjures images of “Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark.” It might sound like a stretch, but take a look at it below.
Now before diving into SimpliSafe’s features and what it’s like to actually use the system, you should know about their monitoring plans.
We’ll cover that in a moment. But first, let’s take a look at a few quick stats on SimpliSafe:
|Standout Feature||DIY Setup|
|No. of Packages||5|
With that, let’s talk monitoring.
There are two SimpliSafe monitoring plans: Standard and Interactive. You can add Interactive monitoring at checkout and enjoy a 30-day free trial, but you can also activate either plan once the system is set up. Both plans give you 24/7 professional monitoring, but Interactive unlocks more, such as basic home automation and cloud video storage for up to 10 cameras.
$17.99 Per Month
$27.99 Per Month
|App Controls||App Controls|
|Push Notifications||Push Notifications|
|24/7 Professional Monitoring||24/7 Professional Monitoring|
|No Camera Recording||Recording for up to 10 Cameras|
|No Home Automation||Includes Home Automation|
Without a monitoring plan, you can self-monitor your SimpliSafe system, get smartphone alerts, and even watch live footage from your SimpliCams if you have any. This approach won’t cost you anything.
With either of the paid monitoring plans, on the other hand, you’ll get the peace of mind that someone has you covered if there’s an emergency. That someone is COPS 24/7, a third-party monitoring solutions provider that SimpliSafe partnered with to offer professional monitoring.3
In addition, the more expensive Interactive plan will also give you additional useful features, like cloud storage for up to 10 cameras so you can store recordings, access basic home automation, and even use voice control through Alexa and Google Assistant.
I definitely recommend going with a paid monitoring plan. At $27.99 per month, the SimpliSafe Interactive plan is more affordable than similar plans on the market, and it comes with camera support, professional monitoring, and of course SimpliSafe’s handy mobile app. Those features could easily cost you north of $40 per month with other security companies. And remember, you don’t have to worry about installation or activation fees.
There are no contracts with SimpliSafe either. You can opt in and out of the monitoring service whenever you want without facing penalties. And since the plans are paid monthly, you can pay as you go. That being said, once you sign up for monitoring, your plan will renew every month automatically, so if you plan to opt out the next month, you have to do so before the end of the current month.
FYI: We wrote a whole guide on the best no-contract home security systems if you want to learn more about how those setups work.
So, what was it that we liked about SimpliSafe that made us decide to keep it? Well, SimpliSafe makes a fine roommate, and it protects your home well. It’s also very easy to use and, besides a few minor hiccups, it’s pretty reliable.
First off, you’ll be able to arm and disarm your alarm using the SimpliSafe app, wireless keypad, or keychain fob. Using the keypad is straightforward. Just touch the keypad anywhere to wake it (pretty neat feature), enter your four-digit PIN, and press “Off,” “Home,” or “Away.”
Now, what about false alarms? If you have the Standard or Interactive plan, the monitoring service is trained to respond when your alarm goes off. However, mistakes happen, so there’s a fail-safe built in. If you accidentally trip a sensor and the siren blares, just disarm it right away and the monitoring center will abort the alarm. If you don’t disarm, they’ll assume you may need help, and they’ll call to see what’s going on.
The few times I tested it, the monitoring center contacted me in just 20 seconds on average. As far as response times go, 30 seconds is the industry average, so 20 seconds is pretty fast. Here’s what this looks like in the SimpliSafe app.
If you’re like most people, you tend to use your smartphone for just about everything. Thankfully, SimpliSafe offers an intuitive mobile app that allows you to control your system from pretty much anywhere. A strong app experience is essential these days, and SimpliSafe really delivers here.
FYI: I managed my system with the app about 75 percent of the time. The other 25 percent of the time, I used the keypad.
The SimpliSafe app gets an impressive 4.8 out of 5 stars in the Apple App Store, with nearly 200,000 reviews. And it bats a strong 4.3 out of 5 in the Google Play store. After testing the app inside and out for several days, I rate it 4.5 stars. It’s good, but it’s not that good. I think companies like Vivint and Ring have SimpliSafe beat in the app department. (For more on how SimpliSafe stacks up against Ring, read our SimpliSafe vs. Ring Comparison.)
In the app, you’ll be able to set up custom notifications — sent via push alerts, email, and/or SMS text messages. Getting those instant alerts is extremely important, especially if you forgo professional monitoring and choose to self-monitor, which is why I recommend subscribing to one of their monitoring plans.
If you have a SimpliCam set up, you’ll also receive a notification with a short video clip every time you enter your home. As you’ll see in a bit, I experienced a bit of a lag with the camera footage, but it was nice to see video recording of our home right in the dashboard.
Overall, the app was easy to use and quite functional. It would just be nice if it had more customization features. As it stands, you’ll have to use the push button keypad to really fine-tune your system.
That cool glowing base station is BRIGHT. Though it’s nice to look at, there are times when the light might be distracting. (I had it set up in the living room, and it nearly blinded me 10 minutes into ”Braveheart.”)
But never fear, the keypad has an on/off switch for the base station light. It also has controls for the siren volume, chime volume, alarm delay, and other handy things.
This functionality is refreshing, as many DIY systems don’t offer it. SimpliSafe is simple, but it’s not lacking much. That said, don’t get the idea that the keypad (or mobile app) is super high-tech; it’s not. It doesn’t stack up to Vivint’s SmartHub or ADT’s touch-screen keypad. But it’ll give you just enough to scratch your ‘features and tech’ itch.
One last thought on additional features: You might want to consider buying an extra siren. If you live in a large home, it’s a good idea to put one near your front door. While burglars can gain entry from pretty much anywhere, believe it or not, most burglars are brazen enough to enter through the front door.34 So a siren in your entryway is a smart idea.
The SimpliCam is SimpliSafe’s indoor security camera with 1080p HD resolution, two-way talk, and instant alerts. It might not be the most advanced camera out there, but it does the job.
To set it up, just plug it into a wall (unfortunately, it’s not wireless) and follow the prompts in the app. Then you just have to name the “property.”
Once your SimpliCam is set up, you can open the app and view your live feed. Note that your SimpliCam will record a short clip every time your sensors are tripped or the system’s status changes. It’s a little much, but you can adjust these settings in the app.
The only issue I had with the camera was the lag. It lagged behind “real time” by about five seconds, and that’s plenty for security cameras. We’ve found that lowering the resolution helps with the lag, but it doesn’t fix it completely.
The SimpliCam needs a cloud plan to be able to record. That’s another blunder for the camera. While the SimpliSafe system as a whole doesn’t need a monitoring plan to be effective (you can self-monitor it for free), the SimpliCam needs a monthly cloud subscription.
The good news is if you’re planning to use your SimpliSafe system with a professional monitoring plan, cloud recording that covers up to 10 SimpliSafe cameras is included in the Interactive plan ($27.99 per month). The less expensive Standard plan at $17.99 per month, however, doesn’t include cloud recording.
If professional monitoring isn’t your thing, you can purchase a separate cloud plan for your SimpliSafe cameras at $4.99 per month (one camera) or $9.99 per month (up to five cameras).
I did end up liking the SimpliCam. It was a great addition to our perimeter alarm. But as far as cameras go, there are better options. (Check out our guide to the Best Home Security Cameras.)
Pro Tip: SimpliSafe sells glass break sensors, too. Just don’t place yours in the kitchen, as even the sound of glasses knocking together can cause a false alarm. It’s happened to me!
I’m extremely pleased with the design and performance of the system. But no home security kit is perfect … not even one of our top-rated systems, SimpliSafe.
For instance, SimpliSafe’s bypass feature could use improvement. When arming the system via the app, it doesn’t send up a red flag if you’ve got a window or door open. It just turns the alarm on, with that opening unprotected.
With Ring and other systems, the app will ask if you want to bypass a tripped sensor (i.e., open window or door) before arming. This is important, because you may not know you’ve got something open.
Now, to be fair, the SimpliSafe base station does announce the bypass, but if you’re far away from it, you may not hear it. A two-step “bypass warning” in the app would be a huge improvement.
Another small gripe with SimpliSafe: motion sensor placement. With most systems, you can put these sensors a good seven feet off the ground, even if you own pets that the motion sensors need to ignore. But with SimpliSafe, dog owners have to mount the motion sensor four feet off the ground. That’s about the height of a light switch. Just imagine a chunky little sensor where a light switch should be. It’s a bit awkward. (If you’re a cat owner, you’ll mount it 6 to 10 feet off the ground, which is more in line with the norm.)
It’ll be nice to see SimpliSafe level-up their camera offerings in the months to come. In the meantime, since you can’t just ask intruders to kindly stay off your property, take a look at our guide to the best outdoor security cameras.
And one last thing in the complaints department. SimpliSafe could stand to be a bit “smarter” in some areas. That is, it would be nice to see better smart home integration, even if it made SimpliSafe a little less simple. As it stands, the system does work with Alexa and Google Assistant for voice control, but that’s about it.
I did feel protected in my home. And while away, I was confident that SimpliSafe would keep things secure — or at least notify me immediately should a break-in occur.
But for an affordable DIY system, I was most impressed by how conscientious the system seemed. That’s not something one typically says about a machine, but SimpliSafe sort of feels like a friendly little robot in the house.
For instance, the lady robot in the base station says “Alarm Off” in the evening as a friendly reminder to arm the system for the night. A very conscientious thing to do!
FYI: SimpliSafe also warns you when your batteries are running low. The company claims that battery life is approximately one year for the keypad and five years for sensors.
Also, on my third day using the system, I received a software update notification on the keypad. It said it would take about two minutes to update, but it only took four seconds. That’s like pulling a high number at the DMV and then being the very next person to be served.
Needless to say, the user experience is top-notch. SimpliSafe looks and feels like a system should look and feel. It’s sleek and kind of futuristic with intuitive functionality. Sure, it could use a touch-screen panel and an outdoor camera or two — but if you can overlook those minor drawbacks, SimpliSafe brings a lot to the table.
On the first day using SimpliSafe, I actually needed some help from the tech department to get squared away with monitoring. So I called in and spoke with a service agent named Khalil.
Khalil was friendly and professional, and he solved the problem in minutes. He even offered his personal extension for callbacks. I really appreciated this continuity of service. After all, it’s the worst having to explain your situation to one customer service rep, only to have to rehash it five minutes later with a different rep. (We’ve all been there.)
FYI: SimpliSafe also has an FAQ section, a troubleshooting forum, and email support services. You’ll find it all in the SimpliSafe app under ‘Help & Support.’
If you want extra peace of mind (especially while out of town!), you might want to look into SimpliSafe’s smoke and CO sensors, flood sensors, and freeze sensors. There isn’t anything particularly special here, as most home security companies offer environmental hazard monitoring these days. Still, these are nice options.
If you want to protect your home without losing your shirt, SimpliSafe is the best way to go. The company runs deals that start at $160 for a basic setup. But if you’re wanting a more robust system, you can still outfit your home for less than $400-$500. Remember, I purchased the six-piece Essentials kit and added some extra sensors. This secured my 2,800-square-foot home just fine — for a grand total of $301.56.
Pro Tip: Be on the lookout for SimpliSafe’s rolling deals. Last we checked, SimpliSafe was running a deal for 30-percent off new systems.
SimpliSafe offers five main equipment packages (see chart below), but you’re by no means limited to just these options. You can build your own kit by starting with the base station and keypad for $184.98 and adding on sensors ($14.99 each) and other goodies like a video camera ($99) or a video doorbell ($169).
|The Foundation||The Essentials||The Hearth||The Knox||The Haven|
|Current Deal: 40% off||$146.98||$164.97||$233.95||$278.92||$302.92|
|105 dB Siren||N/A||N/A||1||1||1|
And if starting from scratch sounds daunting, SimpliSafe has your back. They bundled together their most popular devices into 10 additional packages (!) beyond their five primary ones. To find these additional packages, first select one of SimpliSafe’s five primary equipment packages, like The Essentials.
On The Essentials page, you’ll see a section called “you might also be interested in.” There, you’ll find The Nook (five-piece), The Bedford (six-piece), and The Homestead (seven-piece). These are the supplementary packages most similar to The Essentials in price and composition. The Homestead, for instance, takes what’s in The Essentials and adds a key fob.
Couldn’t you just add that key fob onto The Essentials package separately rather than choosing The Nook? Yes. Either way gets you the same results (including the same price). But SimpliSafe knows that some people prefer browsing premade packages rather than dealing with add-ons, so they created these extra packages with all sorts of variations. It’s another way they’re looking to make things simple for their users.
When I set out to test SimpliSafe, I figured I’d miss out on critical features. But that just wasn’t the case. SimpliSafe has pretty much everything you look for in a home security system, minus outdoor cameras and advanced smart home integrations. I also felt safe and secure in my home, which is really the most important thing.
So is SimpliSafe worth it? Well, it certainly doesn’t rank No. 1 on our list by accident! It’s a safe bet, especially if you sign up for the Interactive monitoring plan with app-based controls. And remember, SimpliSafe has been known to throw in a SimpliCam to sweeten the deal. (I scored one for free!)
Although these systems aren’t packed to the gills with high-tech features, SimpliSafe offers stiff competition at an affordable price point. At the end of the day, the system is refreshingly easy to use, with just enough features to keep you happy.
SimpliSafe systems are 100 percent wireless and easy to install.
No, SimpliSafe is a contract-free home security system.
Yes. The $169 SimpliSafe Outdoor Camera offers 1080p HD resolution, a 140-degree field of view, color night vision, and digital zoom, all encased in a body that can withstand outdoor elements.
Not at all. In fact, we found that SimpliSafe is one of the most affordable systems on the market today.
Yes, you can self-monitor a SimpliSafe system. However, your alarm will not send a signal to the monitoring center. If you self-monitor, it’s up to you to call for help if in an emergency situation.
Kirsner, S. (2016, January 3). SimpliSafe’s success awakens sleeping giant. Boston Globe.
Segall, K. (2016, October 28). The key to Apple's success? Keeping it simple – from the man who put the ‘i' in iPhone. Wired.
Iboshi, K. (2019, March 8). We asked 86 burglars how they broke into homes. KGW.
SecurAmerica. (2013, July). Home Burglary Awareness and Prevention.
As Managing Editor for SafeHome.org, Rob Gabriele has written and edited over 1,000 articles in home security. His expertise is in smart home automation and home protection with thousands of hours of testing and research under his belt. Formerly a reporter and producer for the USAToday network, Rob has been a writer and editor for over 10 years. He holds a Master’s of Science with an emphasis on writing from the University of Montana, and he currently lives in the Reno/Tahoe area of Nevada.