We found SimpliSafe to be as simple as the name implies. It’s so simple, in fact, that the company asks customers to set the system up themselves. Simpler still is the pricing. There are no long-term contracts here. Their lack of professional installation may be a dealbreaker for some, but for homeowners and renters looking for a scalable option, it’s hard to do better than SimpliSafe.
Before we even got our SimpliSafe gear in the mail, we took a closer look at SimpliSafe’s business model. In some ways, SimpliSafe is pretty familiar. They are a home security company that offers both equipment and monitoring. They differ from much of the competition, however, in the way that they structure their payments and contracts.
SimpliSafe’s DIY Netflix-style approach is worthy of our fast-moving era and is particularly suitable for renters — something that the company’s founders, then students at Harvard Business School, considered when they first dreamed up the idea of this non-traditional home security company.1
With sleek and minimalistic designs that transcend the models of traditional home security equipment, SimpliSafe manufactures their own security equipment. Their hardware is proprietary, so you’ll have to get SimpliSafe’s gear to use the monitoring subscription. SimpliSafe’s hardware uses wireless connections, so there isn’t anything to plug in, other than the power cord.
SimpliSafe can use cellular or landline connections to alert monitoring facilities if a customer’s system registers a security breach. The alert goes out to COPS, an award-winning monitoring company that SimpliSafe contracts for monitoring services.2 Monitoring runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Pro Tip: Cellular networks can sometimes be unreliable, and burglars and home invaders may cut landline connections before they strike. It’s wise to invest in a security system that can use both methods to reach monitoring centers.
Of course, this service is exclusive to customers who purchase a monitoring subscription. But SimpliSafe’s hardware does have limited functionality even if there’s no monitoring in place. The loud local alarm will still sound at a deafening 105 dB, potentially scaring off crooks.3 In our view, that’s a clear plus for SimpliSafe, though our experts always recommend professional monitoring for your security system.
SimpliSafe’s hardware and monitoring solutions can also help detect house fires and other disasters beyond burglaries.
SimpliSafe’s pricing system and lack of long-term contracts are the main features setting them apart from their competitors. But how does Simplisafe measure up in other ways? To find out, we installed our own SimpliSafe system. In our SimpliSafe review, we’ll break down the service’s performance in categories such as devices, monitoring, customer service, and value.
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 May 2020, 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.
Taking our SimpliSafe gear out of the boxes, we could tell right away what aesthetic SimpliSafe was embracing. These simple and elegant little devices, full of the bright whites and clean lines, are the sort of thing you might have seen on Apple products in the 2000s. The look almost feels retro now, as Apple and other brands have moved on from minimalist white to lots of stainless steel and matte tones, but there’s a classic simplicity to it.
The quality of these devices was, for the most part, impressive.
We spent a particularly long time analyzing the SimpliCam, which is the only SimpliSafe product that is designed and marketed as a standalone option as well as part of a SimpliSafe system. You don’t need a SimpliSafe Base Station to use a SimpliCam as a smart camera, though some key smart camera features are locked behind a monthly subscription fee. You can use the SimpliCam within a more extensive SimpliSafe system, which is what we focused on for this review.
SimpliCam devices top out at 720p, a little less than the 1080p-capable competitors like the Arlo Q and Ring Indoor Cam, not to mention they are for indoor use only. But we weren’t shooting a BBC documentary here, and we found that 720p was suitable for home security purposes.
Our SimpliSafe entry sensors were relatively small and matched the same simple aesthetic as the other devices. They are homely yet unmistakable. Little details like rounded corners typify SimpliSafe’s design approach.
The wireless keypad and base station have received a design overhaul since SimpliSafe’s early days, and our new ones felt much more modern than the ones we first checked out years ago. SimpliSafe’s old keypad wasn’t exactly ugly, but it looks like a relic next to our newer model. The new keypad makes full use of its surface area, covering virtually every space with either its display (wide and black) or buttons (big, round, and visually appealing).
SimpliSafe’s hardware lineup is missing at least one thing: A reliable outdoor camera. The SimpliCam is designed for indoor use, which left us without a sturdy option for outdoor video monitoring. We have to knock SimpliSafe there, but we were generally impressed with the breadth and quality of the hardware options. Here’s a look at some of the equipment:
Now onto something I know a lot of you are asking – pricing. It’s impossible to talk about SimpliSafe’s home security devices without talking about how different their pricing structure is from most competitors.
Most home security companies offer equipment and installation on the cheap, but then, they lock customers into long-term contracts at monthly rates that will eventually make up the difference. SimpliSafe rejects this model. There are no long-term contracts, just an affordable monthly fee for monitoring. Of course, this arrangement means that customers have to pay upfront for the equipment they need.
Pro Tip: Before you invest in a security system, evaluate your home as a burglar would. Where are the access points? Do this, and you’ll know how many door and window sensors to buy.
SimpliSafe offers a ton of individual hardware devices, including glass shatter detectors, door and window sensors, motion detectors, surveillance cameras, and more. Let’s run down the list! We’ll include prices on this list, but we have to note that rates can differ in bundled deals, as some devices always come in the starter bundles, such as a keypad and base station. The price listed here would change if you added a second keypad to the same system.
|SimpliCam (Indoor Camera)||$99.99|
|Glass Break Sensor||$34.99|
|Carbon Monoxide Sensor||$49.99|
|105 dB Siren||$59.99|
The list of options is long enough to be daunting to first-time shoppers, but SimpliSafe stays true to their name. They simplify the process by offering bundled start-up kits.
There are a lot of different bundles, so customers should still expect to spend a little time figuring out the right fit. We found it to be worth our time, though, to pick out the right deal — it’s mostly just a matter of counting up the windows and doors you want to cover, adding in other wishlist items, and then comparing that list to the various bundles.
Choosing a bundle was a big decision, but we weren’t limited to our bundle for life. SimpliSafe also sells many of their products individually, making it easy for us to go back and pick up an extra camera or sensor to add to our system at some point down the road.
Thanks to SimpliSafe’s pricing structure, monthly rates weren’t tied to which starter bundle we picked, either. We’ll talk more about the bundles and their pricing in a later section.
SimpliSafe offers two different types of monitoring services on a month-to-month subscription basis. The monthly cost doesn’t include the upfront cost of getting your security system hardware, though, so we’ve listed that separately in the table below.
|SimpliSafe Plan||Upfront Cost||Monthly Cost||Installation||Features|
|Interactive||$229+||$24.99||DIY||24-7 monitoring, SMS and email alerts, remote arm and disarm|
Both plans include 24-7 monitoring services that are in line with what we see across the industry. Security breaches detected by monitored SimpliSafe systems alert the monitoring pros at COPS, an award-winning team that SimpliSafe contracts for their monitoring services. When our system was triggered, we got a call from SimpliSafe and were given a chance to use our spoken password to cancel the alert before they dispatched the authorities.
All of these features are comparable with what we’ve seen in our tests of competitor systems, including long-tenured security companies like Vivint. SimpliSafe fits right in with the competition.
Alerts can go out to SimpliSafe’s monitoring contractor using either telephone landlines or wireless cellular connections. The base station sends out the alert, so crooks have nothing to gain by smashing a SimpliSafe keypad — the alarm will still sound, and the signal will still go out. Placing the base station securely near the center of your home essentially ensures that crooks can’t stop the alarm and alerts from triggering by destroying gear near home invasion access points.4
SimpliSafe’s two monitoring plans differ in their support for SimpliSafe’s app and certain types of alerts. SimpliSafe only offers SMS (text) and email alerts, along with the ability to use the SimpliSafe app to arm and disarm their system remotely with their Interactive plan. We would love to see these features included in the base plan, but SimpliSafe’s subscription options are good values nevertheless.
Without monitoring services, SimpliSafe’s products still offer limited functionality. A SimpliSafe setup can still sound an alarm, but only those within earshot will be able to hear it, so customers need to keep the monitoring subscription if they want a monitoring center to detect the disturbance and dispatch the authorities.
Given how affordable SimpliSafe’s monitoring services are, they seemed like a no-brainer to us.
We had a very easy time installing and setting up our SimpliSafe system. That’s important because SimpliSafe’s installation process is one of the most crucial factors that distinguish them from their competitors.
Traditionally, home security systems have been sold and installed by local vendors, where a technician has to come to your house and wire gear into your doors, windows, and walls. SimpliSafe’s whole schtick is to eliminate this process. There are no wires with SimpliSafe. There’s no technician, either, and in some ways, there’s no “installation” at all. SimpliSafe’s process is more like a setup process for a new Alexa smart speaker or a smart TV.5 There are some things to plug into outlets and some in-app setup to establish wireless connections, but there’s not much more to deal with than that.
SimpliSafe’s installation is a “do-it-yourself” process, but calling this system DIY might overstate the difficulty of the setup process. As we tested the service, we found it was a breeze to set up.
FYI: SimpliSafe’s DIY installation is notably light on drilling, hammering, and wiring. That makes it ideal for renters.
Setting up our base station was as simple as plugging it into an outlet. While otherwise wireless, some SimpliSafe devices do need a wired power connection. Next, we set up our keypad with a PIN. Using that PIN, we registered the rest of the hardware, including motion detectors, door and window sensors, cameras, and so on. It took a little bit of time, but it was not at all difficult.
All told, we were able to set up our system in less than an hour and with minimal frustration.
If even that amount of work seems like too much, customers can always opt for professional help. SimpliSafe offers “Pro Setup Help” for $79. There are ways that expert insight might help fine-tune a system — choosing the optimal location for sensors and the base station, for instance — but, in our analysis, professional setup is a luxury rather than a necessity. The typical customer is more than capable of tackling the setup process without professional guidance.
In our trials, we found SimpliSafe to be everything that the name implies. It was easy to arm and disarm the SimpliSafe system. By pressing “Off,” “Home,” or “Away,” on the keypad, we could quickly swap between a disarmed system and two different armed versions. We could do the same thing on SimpliSafe’s app, but only after we signed up for the fancier of SimpliSafe’s two monitoring subscription options. The functionality here is characteristic of home security systems, but SimpliSafe’s design evokes an Apple-like simplicity that sometimes escapes home security devices and apps.6
With that said, we would have liked to see a few more advanced features. There’s always a trade-off between broad functionality and simplicity, and SimpliSafe seems more focused on the latter.
It’s common these days for security systems to offer more than just monitoring. Many modern systems tie into smart home systems in various ways. They might build home automation features into their security devices and apps, allow third-party smart home hubs and interfaces to access and control security devices and hardware, or both. SimpliSafe has some functionality to offer in this department, as you can control the system via Alexa or Google Assistant.
But the relationship doesn’t go both ways. We were able to control SimpliSafe with third-party smart home hubs, but SimpliSafe offers only limited support for other smart home devices and brands. Customers with SimpliSafe’s pricier subscription plan can use it to interact with Nest thermostats, and that’s about it. There are workarounds — you could use IFTTT, for example — but we have to ding SimpliSafe on this aspect, even though they are hardly the only home security brand with this drawback.7
SimpliSafe’s monitoring is on the job 24-7, but that’s not true of SimpliSafe’s customer support lines. Customer support is available from 9 am to midnight, EST. That’s decent, but SimpliSafe is outdone by some competitors in this department: ADT, for example, offers customer support by phone 24 hours a day.
We gave SimpliSafe’s team a call to see firsthand what the customer experience entailed. When SimpliSafe’s customer service department is on the clock, they offer a pleasant experience to callers. We found that SimpliSafe has left early concerns about call wait times behind and now provides a better customer service experience. Wait times are now typically less than 10 minutes, though they can occasionally run much longer, presumably due to surges in call volume.
We’ve focused so far on the qualities of SimpliSafe’s products and services. But money matters here, too. What kind of value does all of this represent?
We found that SimpliSafe’s monitoring services were very affordable at $14.99 per month (without app support) or $24.99 per month (with app support). To get monitoring, though, you’ll need to handle the upfront cost of SimpliSafe devices. How much that upfront cost is will depend on what hardware you choose.
Did You Know: SimpliSafe’s pricing structure can save you money, but make sure that you’ve budgeted well enough to absorb the higher upfront cost.
Choosing which devices you need can be a little overwhelming. SimpliSafe simplifies things by combining their device offerings into various starter bundles, but there are an awful lot of those bundles. This selection is ultimately a good thing since customers have the flexibility to choose a bundle that suits their space, but it takes a while to read through the options.
|Monitoring Plan||Price||Equipment Quantity||Perks|
|The Haven||$391||14 Pieces||– Equipped to monitor for|
unexpected water damage
– Comes with a panic button
|The Knox||$359||13 Pieces||– Great for large homes|
with 4+ bedrooms
|The Hearth||$299||13 Pieces||– Offers smoke detection|
– Equipped with a 105 dB siren
|The Essentials||$207||6 Pieces||– Most affordable price for all|
the essentials of home security
|The Foundation||$183||4 Pieces||– Perfect for small apartments|
and single-family homes
With a range of monitoring plans and an option to customize your home security from the inside out using their Build My System tool, you can expect professional monitoring for an amazing price! Typical home security competitors like ADT offer equipment on the cheap and lock customers into long-term monitoring contracts that penalize early cancellation. SimpliSafe asks customers to pay for the equipment in advance, but the 60-day, risk-free trial period made it much easier for us to stomach. They offer month-to-month monitoring services on a subscription basis, but you can cancel at any time.
Generally, we believe that SimpliSafe offers tremendous value. Competitors that discount or waive equipment and installation fees also tend to charge more by the month and lock customers into long-term contracts.
A two-year contract with a typical competitor can cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $1,000. Two years of SimpliSafe’s pricier monitoring plan costs $576 (plus tax), leaving you $400 or so to spend on equipment before you break even. Factor in their flexibility and SimpliSafe looks pretty good.
Of course, not everyone will be keen to pay a large sum upfront, so we recommend working through some more precise mathematics once you narrow down your options. Overall, SimpliSafe looks like a great value to us.
SimpliSafe’s sentiment on contracts is the single most important thing that sets them apart from their competitors. SimpliSafe’s stance on long-term contracts is simple: they don’t have them.
SimpliSafe customers can sign up for monitoring services for as little as $14.99 per month. Customers can cancel at any time. This arrangement is in stark contrast to the long-standing industry norms that most competitors still follow. Two-year contracts remain more or less the industry standard in home security, and you can expect to lock in monthly payments for at least that long if you choose competitors like ADT or Vivint.
As we’ve already discussed, there’s a trade-off to consider here. Many of SimpliSafe’s competitors offer devices and installation services at significantly reduced costs. The long-term contracts allow companies to offer this discount because they ensure regular payments from customers for months and months to come. SimpliSafe offers affordable monitoring services with no commitments, but customers must pay for their security equipment upfront. SimpliSafe’s monitoring only works with their hardware, so there’s no way around this initial expense.
Even with this trade-off in mind, we have to give SimpliSafe credit for offering an alternative to the industry standard. SimpliSafe’s flexibility makes them a particularly good choice for renters or folks who think they might move soon. And they make little long-term difference to other customers. In our view, SimpliSafe’s take on contracts solves problems with the old model without creating too many new ones.
Getting a close look at SimpliSafe’s products was essential to evaluating them. Check out the video version of our SimpliSafe review to see SimpliSafe’s products for yourself. We’ll show you some of the SimpliSafe equipment that we tested, and we’ll explain what we liked — and didn’t like — about our SimpliSafe experience.
After extensively testing our SimpliSafe system, we found that SimpliSafe is everything they promise to be. It’s a simple, affordable, and flexible home security system that’s a breeze to set up and use. We love that SimpliSafe doesn’t lock customers into long-term contracts!
We’re not easy to please here at SafeHome.org, and we did take issue with some aspects of SimpliSafe. We would have liked to see better smart home integration features, even if that made SimpliSafe a bit less simple. The upfront costs of equipment exist by design and enable SimpliSafe to offer affordable monitoring without long-term contracts, but they’re nevertheless tough to swallow. It would also be nice if SimpliSafe’s customer support lines were open around the clock.
But these issues are relatively minor compared to SimpliSafe’s virtues. Their contract policies are a breath of fresh air in the industry and are, in our view, well worth the one-time burden of equipment costs. The DIY setup process is incredibly easy, and the wireless devices are easy to relocate.
SimpliSafe’s approach won’t benefit everyone. But it’s difficult to imagine a customer for whom SimpliSafe’s contract-free approach would be a dealbreaker, and it’s easy to imagine a customer for whom it would be a lifesaver. SimpliSafe is a fantastic modern system that has a lot to offer homeowners and even more to offer renters.
SimpliSafe does not require Wi-Fi, though it may make some things easier. The alarm will sound either way, and if you have monitoring, it can use the base station’s built-in cellular connection.
A professional monitoring plan is not required. Professional monitoring plans are offered, but you can self-monitor if you choose.
SimpliSafe does not require any contracts. Professional monitoring services are paid for on a month-to-month basis.
The system is wireless and can be installed in under an hour.
Yes, SimpliSafe offers smoke detectors.
Yes, SimpliSafe works with Alexa. It won’t work with the original SimpliSafe systems however.
Yes, SimpliSafe does work with Google Home.
SimpliSafe now has a video doorbell camera designed to be mounted and used outside. However, the SimpliCam is designed to be used indoors only.
SimpliSafe has a rechargeable backup battery that lasts for up to 24 hours in case the power goes out.
The wireless sensors have a range of 400 feet.
SimpliSafe offers a 60-day money-back guarantee that includes free return shipping. After that, there’s a three-year warranty that covers your equipment if something malfunctions.
Kirsner, S. (2016, January 3). SimpliSafe’s success awakens sleeping giant. Boston Globe.
COPS Monitoring. (2020). Why COPS?
Iboshi, K. (2019, March 8). We asked 86 burglars how they broke into homes. KGW.
SecurAmerica. (2013, July). Home Burglary Awareness and Prevention.
SimpliSafe. (2020). Installation Help for the All-New SimpliSafe.
Segall, K. (2016, October 28). The key to Apple's success? Keeping it simple – from the man who put the ‘i' in iPhone. Wired.
IFTTT. (2019). What is IFTTT?