If you’ve been searching for a reliable self-monitored solution, then you might be familiar with SimpliSafe and Fortress. Both companies offer self-monitoring options without monthly fees and contracts. SimpliSafe also offers low-cost professional monitoring, while Fortress is planning to offer professional monitoring soon.
SimpliSafe vs. Fortress: Real Cost of Monitoring
|Home Automation||Interactive Plans + Work with Nest|
|Monitoring Method||Cellular||Landline, VOIP, or Cellular|
|Text and Email Alerts||Paid Monitoring Plans Only||Requires Paid SMS Card|
|Review||Simplisafe Review||Fortress Review|
|Setup Service||Setup Service|
Simplisafe has two professional monitoring plans. The first plan is called the Standard Plan, which costs $14.99/month and offers basic monitoring. Your system will be linked to SimpliSafe’s monitoring center where it is monitored 24/7. When one of your sensors is triggered, the monitoring center is notified. An operator will then call your phone number to ask if you’re okay. The alarm will only be dismissed if you provide the “safe word.” With Standard, you will also have access to live video streaming online or through the mobile app. However, if you want mobile alerts, including text alerts, be prepared to pay an extra $4.99/month. And if you want access to your recorded video history, that will also cost you an extra $4.99/month.
The second option is called the Interactive Plan, which costs $24.99 per month. Aside from basic monitoring, it extends service by adding email and text alerts, a Nest Thermostat integration and app access. Via SimpliSafe’s companion app you can arm and disarm your system and monitor activities.
Why are we telling you about paid plans if you’re only interested in self-monitoring? Because one day you might realize that you need professional monitoring, whether temporarily or permanently. If you have a SimpliSafe system, there are no contracts. You can subscribe or unsubscribe to professional monitoring on a month-to-month basis.
While you can self-monitor SimpliSafe, there is one BIG downside. If you choose to self-monitor, the system will function as a local alarm. It will be your responsibility to call the authorities and take action when a break-in happens. Self-monitoring does not include mobile app access or alerts, so you must be home in order to hear the alarm and take action.
Despite offering a self-monitoring option, Fortress isn’t entirely free from monthly fees.
Fortress’ SO3 panel uses landline and VOIP for communication, meaning you need to have a landline or VOIP connection to use it. This adds to the monthly cost. With a landline or VOIP connection, your SO3 system will be able to dial 6 emergency contacts and play a 10-second, pre-recorded message when an alarm is triggered. This service does not include text alerts or app support.
The S1 Stealth systems are similar to SO2, but support landline and GSM SIM cards for communication. The SIM card isn’t provided with the system, so you’ll have to buy one directly from Fortress. The card sells for $4.99, plus $7.99/month (for 200 call minutes). You will also be responsible for overcharges if you incur any. If a SIM card is installed to a GSM panel, it calls 6 contacts in sequence and sends a text alert to 3 additional contacts. If you are using a landline, text alerts are not available.
The third self-monitoring option is T6 Titan systems. It supports landline, VoIP, and cellular.
WINNER: It depends. SimpliSafe offers professional monitoring service. However, self-monitoring with SimpliSafe isn’t recommended because it lacks text, email, and app notifications. With Fortress, you’ll be able to receive call alerts and even text alerts if you choose to self-monitor.
SimpliSafe vs. Fortress: Home Alarm Systems
Home alarm systems are usually built around a control panel. The control panel controls all connected devices. SimpliSafe has one option for a control panel which consists of a base station and a keypad. Regarding equipment, you can build your own system or choose a pre-arranged package. Either way, you get exactly what you need and can always grow your system at a later date.
Fortress takes a different approach. It has three control panels and one hub to choose from:
- The SO3 panel for landline or VOIP users.
- The GSM panel for landline users who want backup cellular communication.
- T6 Titan if you want landline, cellular, and VoIP.
After you select a panel, you can choose from pre-arranged packages. Packages do not just expand in regards to equipment included; they also expand in capability.
WINNER: Fortress wins because they offer a wider range of options. However, SimpliSafe’s packages are simpler and 100% wireless. Plus, they offer a return period of 60 days compared to Fortress’ 30-day return policy. In general, we would rate SimpliSafe’s equipment as more reliable.
SimpliSafe vs. Fortress:
As described above, the control panel ties all your equipment into one system. It is the center of control and communication between the equipment, you, and the monitoring center.
SimpliSafe’s control panel, called the Base Station, is unique. It doesn’t have a keypad built into it like other panels. Instead, the base station is a cylindrical device that stands 11 inches in height.
- It is embedded with cellular technology, but you can connect it to a phone line or Ethernet cable if you want backup communication.
- It supports up to 41 sensors.
- It runs on AC but it has a backup battery that can power it for 8 hours.
- An 85dB siren is built into the base to sound in an emergency.
- A voice prompt will guide you through installation.
Fortress has three different panels, each one with its own strengths.
SO3 Control Panel
- It communicates via landline or VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol).
- In case of alarm, it dials up to 6 preset emergency contacts.
- It supports up to 99 sensors, divided into 32 wireless zones.
- The panel’s battery backup runs for up to 72 hours.
S1 Stealth Hub
- GSM SIM card can be used as main or backup communication. It also supports landline connections.
- When alarms are triggered, it dials up to 6 contacts using your landline connection. When also used with a SIM card, it sends text alerts to 3 emergency contacts.
- It can support up to 100 sensors divided into 10 zones.
- SIM Card is not included, which means you’ll have to pay for call minutes.
T6 Titan Panel
- It supports landline, cellular, and VoIP.
- It has battery backup
- It has a colored display with helpful information
- It supports 100+ devices.
SimpliSafe vs. Fortress Security: Security Cameras
Security cameras are indispensable. You can use them to detect intrusion, you can use them to check on your home wherever you are, and if your home is burglarized, you can use your camera’s footage as evidence.
Fortress’s security camera works no matter what your system is as the camera stands alone. It connects to your home Wi-Fi, not to your panel or hub.
- Mobile App Live Viewing
- Motion Detector
- Automatic Recording to SD Card
- Pairs with all Fortress sensors to automatically record all alerts.
- 720p Resolution
- Night Vision
- No Cloud Recording
SimpliSafe’s camera is different. You can only fully use it if you’re subscribed to one of their monitoring plans. If you are, you can use the app to monitor your camera’s footage live. You can also pay an additional $4.99/month for 30-day cloud recording. Your videos are stored in the cloud for future viewing.
- Mobile App Live Viewing (requires Standard or Interactive Plan)
- Cloud Recording (Additional $4.99/month)
- Automatically Records Alerts from Sensors
- 720p Resolution
- Night Vision
- Fixed Indoor Camera
SimpliSafe vs. Fortress Security — Protecting You From Home Hazards
Floods, fire, and CO2 can be more damaging than a burglary, which is why many home security systems offer sensors that help monitor for these disasters.
SimpliSafe Smoke Detector
- Has a built-in siren which will sound and trigger a full-blown alarm when smoke is detected.
- Professionally monitored systems can send a text or call alert directly to you.
- It is compatible with all Fortress systems.
- It sounds an internal siren when smoke is detected.
- It triggers an alarm even when the system is disarmed.
- It has the option to send text alerts directly to you if used with GSM or Total Security panels with SIM card.
Carbon Monoxide Detector
Carbon Monoxide is a silent killer. It is colorless, tasteless, and odorless, which makes it impossible to detect without CO detectors. Most CO deaths occur while people are asleep. Because of that, every room should be equipped with a CO detector.
- It detects dangerous levels of CO within a room.
- It warns you with an audible voice when CO is detected.
- It prompts a voice call to alert you and call for responders. (With professional monitoring only.)
- SMS and email notifications are also available. (With professional monitoring only.)
- It detects all kinds of gas leaks including LPG, Propane, LNG, and Carbon Monoxide.
- It has a built-in 75dB siren and flashing LED light to warn you when danger is detected.
- It can be mounted on walls using nails or screws.
- It needs to be plugged into an AC 110v outlet.
Water sensors detect the presence of water where water shouldn’t be. Water sensors are best placed near pipes and drains that are not monitored regularly and places where flooding is prone, like the basement.
- Quick detection.
- Offers optional text and email alerts. (With professional monitoring only.)
- Completely wireless so you can easily install it where needed.
- Is compatible with all Fortress systems.
- Detects water as soon as it reaches the level of the sensor.
- Can notify you through text or call depending on your preference.
Freeze Sensor: It detects the indoor room temperature and warns you through text or email if your room is too cold.
Vibration Sensor: It works hand in hand with a door/window sensor. It can detect a forced entry by picking up vibrations even before the intruder breaks in. When vibrations are detected, it sounds an alarm and notifies you.
SimpliSafe offers an extra 105dB siren that lets out an ear-piercing alarm sound that has the potential to startle and deter an intruder. The siren is wireless and weather resistant. Besides the extra siren, SimpliSafe’s base station also has a built-in siren which will sound after it sends an alert to the monitoring center or you.
Fortress apparently loves a good siren. They have a variety of sirens, from wireless, wired, with or without strobe lights, and directly plugged into an AC outlet.
- Outdoor/Indoor siren 130dB (Compatible with all systems)
- Outdoor/Indoor siren 140dB with strobe lights (Compatible with all systems)
- Indoor Plug-In Siren 85dB (Compatible with all systems)
- Internal Siren 130dB (Compatible with all systems)
- Solar-Powered Outdoor Siren 130dB (SO3 and S1 Stealth Panels only)
Have you decided which alarm company is best for you? If you have further questions, don’t hesitate to leave a comment below. Meanwhile, you can check out our hands-on review of SimpliSafe and our review of Fortress Security to learn more. We’d also suggest looking at Frontpoint which is one of our top recommended professionally monitored home security systems.