SimpliSafe Pros & Cons
- No-Contract Professional Monitoring
- Self-Monitoring & Professional Monitoring Option
- Redundant Monitoring Method
- Evolving System With New Devices Coming Soon
- Low-Cost Monitoring
- Limited Device Lineup
- Functions As Local Alarm When Self-Monitored
- Lacks Cameras Besides An Indoor Camera
With SimpliSafe, professional monitoring is optional. Because of this, the only thing you need to do to get started is to buy the equipment. There are many ways to buy SimpliSafe's equipment, one of which is by calling SimpliSafe's phone sales department.
SimpliSafe doesn't require home visits unlike traditional alarm companies. However, you can call up SimpliSafe's phone sales department and discuss your security needs. A sales rep will help you pick out what sensors would best go with your system and help you make the purchase.
Another way you can obtain a security system is by shopping online. We find using the SimpliSafe online store the best way to shop online as it lets you custom build your security system. You start with SimpliSafe's two core components, the Base Station and the keypad, and then add whatever sensors and devices you need. You can also just choose one of the five pre-built equipment packages and then add extra sensors and devices before checking out. SimpliSafe also offers refurbished systems for up to 30% off the brand new devices. However, it currently only sells refurbished SimpliSafe Original (older) systems. Once your order is complete, SimpliSafe will ship the equipment to you.
You can also buy SimpliSafe equipment from third-party retailers like Amazon, Ebay, Best Buy, and even from a local hardware shop. If you purchase a system from a third-party retailer, you can choose from the available packages or add sensors and devices a la carte. The downside of shopping from a third-party retailer is product availability. Sometimes, all products are available; sometimes, they're not. Most of the time, retailers only offer equipment packages.
After obtaining the security system, you may or may not add monitoring right away. If you bought your equipment via phone support or SimpliSafe's website, you have the option to add monitoring right away. If you bought your equipment from a third-party retailer, you need to call SimpliSafe's phone support or visit SimpliSafe's website to add professional monitoring. You can get a professional monitoring subscription at a later date using the same methods.
SimpliSafe Equipment Review
SimpliSafe takes a generational approach to its security system. Our testers went hands-on with both SimpliSafe 2 (a.k.a. Original) and SimpliSafe 3 and they found out that SimpliSafe 3 is hands-down better.
SimpliSafe 3 Vs. SimpliSafe 2
SimpliSafe still offers the Original security system, now at a much lower price. In case you're tempted to purchase the cheaper security system, here are some reasons why you should really consider getting SimpliSafe 3 instead.
SimpliSafe Original Is Outdated
SimpliSafe Original was first launched in 2012. As you could imagine, the looks of its base unit and sensors are already outdated. Not only that, even the software is already due for an upgrade.
In 2016, a computer security company discovered a vulnerability that allows anyone with rudimentary hacking skills and equipment to disable nearby SimpliSafe systems by gathering users PIN codes. This hack can be executed even if the hacker is 200 yards away. This would have been fine if SimpliSafe could push over-the-air updates to SimpliSafe Original, but unfortunately, Original has a one-time programmable chip that is impossible to update.
SimpliSafe fixed this vulnerability in SimpliSafe 3. On top of that, SimpliSafe 3 was designed to support over-the-air updates, so if another vulnerability is discovered, SimpliSafe can easily push security updates to the system.
SimpliSafe 3 Is More Secure
SimpliSafe 3 also features enhanced encryption. According to team SimpliSafe, “they are now encrypting every single signal," from sensors to the Base Station to the monitoring centers and back.
SimpliSafe 3 Is Sexier
There’s nothing wrong with wanting a sleek piece of hardware. After all, the devices and sensors are going to be highly visible in your home.
Unlike Original, SimpliSafe 3's Base Station offers color choices, obsidian (black) or cloud (white), and features a much sleeker design. The sensors were also given a sleeker look and a smaller design. SimpliSafe 3 sensors are half the size of the original sensors, yet, they offer twice the range. Lastly, the keypad now features backlit keys, larger display, and soft-touch buttons.
SimpliSafe 3 Has Wi-Fi
The original system's Base Station uses 3G cellular signal to send alerts to your smartphone or to SimpliSafe's monitoring center plus it supports landline monitoring as backup. On the other hand, SimpliSafe 3 simultaneously uses Wi-Fi and cellular signal.
Both the original SimpliSafe and the new one work with Nest Thermostats and August Smart Locks. However, SimpliSafe 3 catapults ahead with Alexa and Google Home compatibility. Using your voice, you can ask Alexa or Google Assistant to set your system to arm Home or arm Away and check the status of your security system. At this time, that is all the integration allows for, but it’s possible that SimpliSafe might expand the ability down the road.
In talking to SimpliSafe, we were told that they plan to focus on other integrations as well, including HomeKit. They also plan to create new SimpliSafe devices like an outdoor camera.
Aside from the major upgrades mentioned above, SimpliSafe 3 has minor upgrades that collectively make it a much better security system than SimpliSafe Original.
First is the new LED status ring and the speaker quality of the new Base Station. The Base Station provides voice feedback as you arm and disarm it and will even notify you if it’s running on battery. The chime also has a pleasing tone and you can adjust the volume from low to medium to high or you can turn it off. Separately, you can also adjust the volume of the voice prompts or even the siren. Again, you can choose from off, low, medium, and high.
The new Base Station also features an arm delay. From the app, you can set an entry and exit delay for Home and Away Mode. (SimpliSafe monitors using three modes: Off, Home, and Away.) You can view the countdown using the SimpliSafe app, but the Base Station also emits a chime and provides voice feedback. For example, it will say "Alarm Off" after the entry delay countdown.
SimpliSafe 3 Base Station & Keypad
The core component of every SimpliSafe system is the Base Station and the keypad. The Base Station is a Wi-Fi enabled device that connects and controls the entire SimpliSafe system. The keypad is simply a controller where you can arm and disarm the system by entering your PIN.
Most alarm companies use control panels, which is a basically a Base Station and keypad in one. The downside to this approach is that intruders can break in, smash the control panel before it sends an alarm to the monitoring center, and get away with the crime. With SimpliSafe, you can hide the Base Station away so that even if the intruder smashes the keypad, your system can still send alerts.
One of the key features of the Base Station is power and communication backup. According to SimpliSafe, it has a battery backup capable of powering the device for 24 hours. In our test, it only lasted for 8 hours. Why the huge difference? The culprit might have been Wi-Fi. When our testers simulated a power outage by unplugging the Base Station, they didn't turn off the router so the Base Station remained connected to Wi-Fi the whole time. As we all know, Wi-Fi is power hungry which might have been the reason why the Base Station only lasted for 8 hours.
During power outages or when the Wi-Fi is down, the Base Station uses cellular signal— the same type of signal used by your phone to send texts or place calls. This is a built-in feature, but take note that it's not activated by default. To activate the cellular chip, you must be subscribed to a SimpliSafe professional monitoring plan.
Another thing the base station is supposed to do is send you an alert if the system goes offline. Unfortunately, our testers struggled with offline notifications, a problem they also experienced with SimpliSafe Original. Most of the time, the base station would send a push alert informing our testers of its offline status. Sometimes it did not. And once, it sent a notification an hour after going offline. In general, we found that SimpliSafe had delays on occasion.
SimpliSafe also introduced Heartbeats in SimpliSafe 3. It's a fancy term for a feature that makes the Base Station regularly check your sensors and devices to ensure everything is working properly. If a sensor is disconnected, for example, SimpliSafe will let you know.
Aside from the Base Station SimpliSafe offers sensors. There are two types of sensors in general: security sensors and hazard sensors. Security sensors are dedicated to detecting possible intrusions, while hazard sensors detect risks that might cost you expensive repairs, injuries, or maybe even life.
Under security sensors, SimpliSafe offers an entry sensor (door/window sensors), motion sensor, glass break sensor, and panic button. With a professional monitoring plan, these sensors are designed to alert you or the monitoring center if they're triggered while your system is in armed mode (i.e. Arm Home, Arm Away), although you can configure how you want each sensor to behave. For example, you can set some of your motion sensor to only send an alert if triggered in Arm Away mode but not in Arm Home. The only exception is the panic button. It will send an alert whenever it's pressed regardless of your system's current mode.
Expanding the function of the panic button, you can choose between four alert behaviors for each panic button. The first option is Audible. This option sounds the alarm and notifies the monitoring center. They will call you before taking action. The second is Silent Alarm. This option notifies the monitoring center immediately. They will not call you first and the siren won't sound. Third, Fire. This option sounds an evacuation alarm and notifies the monitoring center. They will call you before dispatching help. Finally, Medical. This option also notifies the monitoring center and they will again call before taking action.
Under hazard sensors, SimpliSafe offers a smoke detector, temperature sensor, and water sensor. All three sensors behave. They are always on and always monitoring for hazards regardless of your security system's arming status. When they detect a potential hazard, they send a notification to the monitoring center and in turn, the monitoring center will call you.
SimpliSafe also offers security cameras. Currently, SimpliSafe has two security camera options. There's SimpliCam, an indoor camera with a 720p HD resolution, 120-degree field of view, night vision, motion alerts, and a built-in privacy shutter. It sells for $99. There's also a video doorbell option, the SimpliSafe Video Doorbell Pro, that features a 1080p resolution, 162-degrees field of vision, two-way audio, motion detection, and night vision.
Both cameras have the ability to record events, but they're only capable of storing videos to the cloud. They lack local recording. That said, SimpliSafe charges a minimal monthly fee for cloud recording unless you're on the highest tier of their monitoring plan. In that case, you get cloud recording for free.
SimpliSafe offers four add-on accessories: an extra keypad (same as the one that comes with the Base Station), a Key Fob, an extra Siren, and an extra Siren. The SimpliSafe 3 Base Station can support up to 100 sensors and devices, including keypads, key fobs, and sirens.
The Mobile App
Although not technically an equipment, the SimpliSafe mobile app plays a big role in the operation of the SimpliSafe system. However, you can only access the app if you're an Interactive plan user, the most expensive monitoring plan offered by SimpliSafe.
Over the past years, the app has received multiple upgrades. You can use it to arm and disarm your system; view event history; manage email, SMS, and push notification alerts; as well as manage sensors. With the app in place, you will also receive event notifications from your environmental sensors including freeze and water sensors.
In general, the app is easy to use, but it’s not flawless. Most of the issues can be resolved by deleting the app and downloading it again. However, some of the app’s problems persisted.
First, notifications were inconsistent. Most of the time, it sends push notifications and offline notifications; sometimes it doesn't. With a security system, "most of the time" doesn’t cut it.
Second, updating a sensor using the mobile app can take several minutes.
Third, the app doesn’t report sensor status in real time. To see the latest and greatest information, you’ll need to press a button to refresh the app. This means that you can’t quickly glance to check sensor status. For example, if you want to know if your windows are open, you’ll need to open the app, hit refresh, and then view sensor status.
Finally, even when the base station is dead, the app will appear to perform as if all is well. As an example, we tried to arm the system while the base station was dead. The app accepted the command, but of course, couldn’t complete it. Nowhere did it say, “Your system is dead. Charge it!” Instead, we received a generic error message.
The good news is the app continues to improve. From having low user reviews on both iOS and Android platform, it now holds 4.8 stars on the App Store and 4 stars on Play Store. Overall, we feel like the app is a step in the right direction. We've sees a tremendous amount of improvement when comparing our first experience to my current experience with the app.
The Web App
The most noticeable improvement was seen while testing the web app. In the past, the web app was dated and clunky. Now, it mimics the appearance of SimpliSafe’s mobile app. The web app also addresses some of the mobile app’s shortcomings. For example, at the very bottom of the screen, there is a warning regarding battery status.
The web app also provides extra control over your account. You can update and view your Safeword (the word you provide to the central monitoring agency to verify your identity), update your address, and even manage multiple locations.
SimpliSafe Monitoring Review
SimpliSafe offers two monitoring options: self-monitoring and professional monitoring. You can read more about Simplisafe's pricing information and deals here, but below you'll find some high-level detail about its monitoring plans.
Self-monitoring is free. If you don't subscribe to a professional monitoring plan, you're automatically subscribed to self-monitoring. However, we don't recommend using this option. The biggest catch with self-monitoring is that your system loses the ability to send push, email, and text alerts Yes, we know, notifications are essential when self-monitoring, but the fact is, the system can't send any notification without a professional monitoring subscription. So how will your system notify you of alerts? Using the Base Station's siren. Is that enough? The best case scenario is that the intruder thinks the Base Station is connected to a monitoring station and runs away. The worst case scenario is that the siren fails to scare the intruder and you come home to a burgled house.
If you want real protection, we highly recommend getting a professional monitoring plan. SimpliSafe offers two professional monitoring plans: Standard and Interactive.
The Standard plan will give you 24/7 professional monitoring of security sensors and hazard sensors and also activate your Base Station's cellular chip.
The Interactive plan includes several additional features, like smartphone app access, customizable alerts, email and text alerts, video verification, cloud storage for security cameras, smart home integrations, and SmashSafe.
Let's start with app access. Using the SimpliSafe mobile or web app, you can fully customize and control your security system whether you're home or away. You can arm/disarm your system, setup rules for push notifications, and more. As already mentioned, app access can be very useful, so the Interactive plan is highly recommended.
With the Interactive plan, you can also customize how each of your sensor behaves. Security sensors, for example, can be disabled (no alerts whatsoever), set to Secret Alert (will send you a push, email, or text alert when triggered but won't notify the monitoring center), or set to Alarm (will send you push, email, or text alert and notify the monitoring center when triggered).
Video verification and cloud storage apply to those who bought security cameras from SimpliSafe. Video verification happens during an alert. Instead of only check the sensors that triggered, SimpliSafe's central station will look at recorded videos. One reason for this is to improve response time. Cops often prioritize verified alarms because it usually means the crime is in progress. It's a win-win for you and the cops. They catch the culprit, while your home is protected. Cloud storage, on the other hand, gives your camera the ability to record event videos. Events can be anything from events detected by your cameras' built-in motion sensors or events detected by your security sensors. You can define what events you want your cameras to record via the SimpliSafe web or mobile app.
One of the most impressive features of SimpliSafe's professional monitoring offer is the monitoring center itself. SimpliSafe has redundant monitoring centers, meaning it has monitoring centers in more than just one location. If a central station fails to operate, the other stations can temporarily takeover, so you're ensured that SimpliSafe is monitoring your home whatever happens. While most alarm companies have two or three redundant monitoring centers. SimpliSafe has an impressive six monitoring centers spread out across the country.
Unfortunately, having that many monitoring centers doesn't automatically make SimpliSafe's response time great. Depending on the volume of alarms at the time, it takes SimpliSafe anywhere between 15 to 60 seconds to call homeowners after their system pings its monitoring centers. Take note, however, that response time from the monitoring company doesn't account for how quick the authorities dispatch help to your house. Police response time depends on your location, the urgency of your alert, and the volume of reports they're currently responding to.
SimpliSafe Customer Service Overview
Although SimpliSafe has a new security system, its policies hasn't changed. First, it still offers no-contract monitoring, which speaks a lot. If you don't like their service, you can cancel anytime. The only way it can keep customers is by upholding its high-quality customer service standards. Second, SimpliSafe will let you move your security system in case you have to relocate. Moving your security system is free of any penalty. Third, it has a 60-day return period. Love your system? Keep it. Hate it? Return it and get a full refund, no questions asked.
Getting In Touch With Customer Support
Unfortunately, although its customer support can be very helpful when you need it, SimpliSafe can be a little slow in responding to customer calls and emails. One time, our tester had to wait 16 minutes just to be in touch with a live agent. The wait time is even worse if you're try to contact them via email. In the words of one Yelp Elite reviewer, "...if you need help, forget contacting SimpliSafe via email because they are nearly completely unresponsive."
On a more positive note, it seems that SimpliSafe is slowly turning around when it comes to its customer support response time. In our most recent tests, we were connected to a live agent right away. Its email support hasn't improved much though, but SimpliSafe has been active on Twitter, so if you want to write them a message and hear from them immediately, that's a more plausible approach.
SimpliSafe’s customer experience team should take a second hit for their treatment of current customers during the product transition from Original to SimpliSafe 3. Our testing team owns the old system, which means they are technically customers, and yet, SimpliSafe never once emailed us to tell us about the new product. The company also continued to sell the original system to customers up until the day of launch without advanced notice, so there were literally those who bought new but obsolete systems. Plus, SimpliSafe still sells the original system on Amazon and on its own website.
Customer Simplisafe Reviews
SS3 is an improvement
Reviewed by Ron on Sep. 11, 2018
The dual cell wifi connection allows app or web arm and disarm to work much more quickly. Note about cell connections - default is T Mobile which may not work in your area. They have alternative cell cards you can ask for - if when you order, it ships installed, or you can install it yourself. SS2 owners were offered an upgrade path. Biggest upgrade problems - new sensors are small and often have tape over screw holes - that doesn't work, plus tape from old may tear your wall apart. CO and smoke back plates are identical making that part of the upgrade much easier. The keypads are a huge improvement and allow a high level of control in programming the system. If you upgrade, you need to go into the web app and 'activate' if you use central monitoring - which you should. Biggest problem so far - a detector 'malfunctions' without telling you what the problem is.
love the simplisafe equipment
Reviewed by Jose M. on Dec. 21, 2018
The equipment was about $207. and some change, the set up was actually easier than I thought overall it took me about an hour, did not really used the tape it brings for any item just used the screws. For the money and plans it cant be beat I know people that have OTHER company's and they pay $ 60.00 a month for the same items I have oh well won't change this company for anyone I'm glad I became a customer. Oh yes and customer service I never call my interaction with them has been via e-mail and they do know what they are talking about great service.
Decent for what it is
Reviewed by Rnt2u on Nov. 27, 2018
Simplisafe is a decent system for what it is. Basic protection for the average home. If you have a large home with lots of expensive valuables it's probably not for you. In that case, you'd likely want multi-layer protection. I just installed the new system which works very well as long as installed and set up properly. The sensors are a little big (but smaller than the previous model) and you cannot hide your magnet contacts inside a door or window casing like you can with a wired system. This system replaced a 25-year-old wired system with basic monitoring and no user access to programming etc. Simplisafe is by far much less expensive than the local companies and the monitoring is less expensive (with no contract). If I don't like it after a bit, I'll just go back and activate my old system, no harm no foul. The biggest drawback that I can see is that since it is not a wired system, batteries will need constant replacement. Remains to be seen how often. My biggest concern, however, is that the system will allow you to arm with an entry sensor open. While the keypad will indeed show you that one is open, you can still arm the system. In my opinion, you should NOT be able to arm the system at all with an open sensor, it should require you to close (or bypass) that sensor before the alarm will set. Personally, I would rather have to specifically bypass a sensor manually rather than accidentally be able to set the system with an open zone. Last but not least, there seems to be some concern about the base station being able to be disabled. While it may be possible, it's probably not likely especially if the station is well hidden and certainly no more vulnerable than if a burglar (that knew what they were doing) was to locate your panel in other systems within the allotted entry time. All in all, it seems to be ok so far. Time will tell.
Lack of Automation
Reviewed by Ken on Feb. 4, 2017
SimpliSafe is only as good as human memory. Most homes have several inhabitants all of whom must think and remember to activate the system when they happen to be the last person leaving the home. This provides a system that is wrought with error... human error. What's worse is that this situation is totally preventable. If SimpliSafe would simply integrate with IFTTT.com system activation could easily be automated and human error totally avoided. Why is it SimpliSafe is counter to this automation which could be accomplished with very little coordination?
I should have gone with Ring
Reviewed by David on Dec. 11, 2018
I installed 18 entry sensors (among other items) and even after cleaning the areas with alcohol, three of the sensors have already fallen off. That would have triggered the alarm had we not been home. I emailed simplisafe about this and told them I had lost the 72 tiny screws it came with since I wanted to just use the tape. They offered to send me three sets of tape or 10 screws. I'm just going to order a box of 100 from McMaster for $5.
So careful with using the tape for the sensors. They can possibly fall off and trigger the alarm.
SimpliSafe not that good for RVs
Reviewed by Mike on Jun. 4, 2018
I have this system and intended to have sensors on my outside storage compartments, my main door, a freeze sensor set up for heat mode (pets inside occasionally), and motion sensor inside. None of the outside sensors could read through the aluminum frame and skin of the trailer. So not a good option. Maybe if you want it for just the motion sensor it would be ok. Otherwise, pass on this option.
The BEST Security System!
Reviewed by Steve on Jun. 7, 2018
I have been a SimpliSafe customer for years and I absolutely love the product line. I have never had an issue with my system and it protects more than one of my properties without interruption. I had the SS2 for several years and my only issue at the time was that on occasion, one of my door sensors would drop due to the distance from the base. I worked very closely with SS regarding the issue and was able to trade in my SS2 for the new SS3 for no extra money. Now, I did not ever expect this type of resolution, as no business would typically do this. I have now purchased a full second SS3 system for my other house and I am excited about all the new features coming soon. HIGHLY recommend SimpliSafe!!
I love my SimpliSafe system
Reviewed by Emma on Jun. 26, 2018
The new SS3 is the best! We have all the components with no issues. We also now connected our August Lock with the SS3 system and when we arrive home, the system automatically disarms when we unlock the door. Great integration, awesome pricing, fantastic performance!
Reviewed by David on May. 4, 2018
Not "upgradeable". Similar to what you had said in your review, I asked specifically prior to purchase about 1 year ago if SS was working on home automation integration. They indicated that yes they were! So I purchased. Of course, now we find out, that you have to repurchase everything if you want it. No upgrade path is a pretty big deal with changing technology. Great way to alienate your customer base SS. The product works great standalone. I have no issues with this the original purchase #SIMPLIOBSOLETE
PISSED OFF !!!
Reviewed by ray on Mar. 24, 2018
I specifically asked about future upgrades and was told "none are currently planned" then the "new" system comes out within 5 months of my order!!! NO DISCOUNT IF I UPGRADE TO NEW SYSTEM !!! AND the systems will not work together!
Better than stated
Reviewed by Sarah Thibodaux on Sep. 12, 2017
Every time I called CS they were johnny on the spot. Helped me set up additional hardware. I ran a scan 200 feet from the BS, a motion sensor 300 feet into a metal building, another 325 in a different dwelling, and all communicate. I just installed a larger unit in my home. Do not believe all this negative bs from the hi dollar completion. Simple and it works. Also, this getting around and hacking the system, HOW, I get a notification 24/7 even when the power blinks. Simply works!!
enhanced communication (distance) between Sensors & Base-Station (or Repeaters)
Reviewed by Thomas on Jul. 14, 2018
Was rejecting SS2 since LONG house and steel in walls to diminish signal-strength. Was considering TRIPLE systems but triples monthly cost... so no longer competitive. SS2 had no repeater option, but (not-recommended hacks to increase sensor signal communication). SO... is there a step-up in strength-of-signal communication???
Not all that good
Reviewed by Larry on Sep. 5, 2017
In the period I have owned it, I have had several issues, and have had several interactions with their customer service. The customer service was pretty mediocre to bad...LONG wait times to get a person, and poor/incorrect information given when I did talk with someone.
Forbes recently wrote an article pointing out how easy it is for someone to "hack" the system, BTW...not reassuring!
Plus, everything about them pushes you towards their more expensive monitoring plan...their smartphone app is next to useless without it.
Reviewed by Tina on Sep. 4, 2018
I reached out, and left VM for customer service. Unaware that they called me (their number show up as "fraud" on my screening system), they left me a message. I answered - many times - the very generic e-mails I received, and left my cell # several times including good times to contact me. NOTHING! ! ..... but I keep getting these generic e-mails. YOU want to sell ME something....then call people back