SimpliSafe is a well-known OEM when it comes to home and business security systems and the company recently reached out with the opportunity to review that offering.
To be clear, this review involved a significant portion of the SimpliSafe ecosystem portfolio valued at $626. The company sent the Essentials Bundle, as well as three other accessories. It also included additional time for me to test out the paid services, which is where the value of this system becomes apparent.
I am comfortable saying that the rest of the components sold to work with the ecosystem almost certainly live up to those same standards. This is likely the most high-value solution available to anybody looking for complete security. That doesn't mean it's a perfect system. But that's going to depend on individual circumstances and is worth examining closer.
Without further ado, let's dive deeper into why that is the case and why this is likely the best solution for the money.
An entire security ecosystem, custom-built to fit your needs
Now, this isn't a standard, run-of-the-mill security system. SimpliSafe doesn't start with a big bundle, only getting bigger from there. It starts with the bare minimum. That's a battery-powered keypad for interacting with the system and a central hub that doubles as an alarm.
The company does offer bundles for those who already know what they want and who don't want to spend time custom creating them. But the initial buy-in tips the cost scale at $184.98, complete with free installation hardware. The two components then act as a base on which to build out a system that custom-fits the home or business it will serve.
That also includes window stickers and signs so that would-be bad actors know to stay away.
Components vary in cost but start out at a reasonable $3.99 for an extra yard sign. $14.99, buys doorway and entry sensors. SimpliSafe included three of those in my review bundle, perfect for my two-bedroom apartment windows. At $19.99 two more component types can be bought, including a water sensor and an extra panic button. There are panic buttons on some other components too but we'll discuss that momentarily.
Continuing along the incline on costs, $24.99 buys a key fob for easier access to arming and disarming the system. $29.99 buys smoke detectors and temperature sensors as well as motion sensors. For $34.99, buyers can get glass break sensors that can distinguish between broken windows and dishes breaking.
Those who have a larger home or business can get extra alarms via add-on sirens that sound at 105dB. Those cost just $59.99 per unit. $69.99 nets an extra keypad to serve multiple entryways.
Finally, cameras can be added for $99.00 or $169.00. That's the cost of indoor wireless video cameras or the Video Doorbell Pro cameras, respectively.
In addition to the entryway sensors and the basics, SimpliSafe sent me a bunch of those products to give me a better idea of how the entire system works. Those included a motion sensor, SimpliCam, and Video Doorbell Pro camera.
Relatively inexpensive, even in the plans
All of the components that can be purchased to go with a plan can certainly add up in cost. But comparatively speaking, the price isn't quite as high as it often is through other kits. Those kits don't always offer the same level of customization either and SimpliSafe has been consistently adding new sensors and features since it launched its first kit.
My SimpliSafe review kit was centered around the newest generation of products, as of this writing.
A more potent point of savings for this security setup, however, is visible when it comes to comparing the cost over time for what you're getting. For instance, a professional setup of whatever system has been chosen costs just under $80.
At an average cost of just 50 cents per day, customers can get started with some pretty advanced features. Those include professional-grade monitoring and police dispatch. In my own experiences, after one of my cats tripped the motion alarm, that monitoring is fast enough that the call had been placed before my smartphone received the alarm notification.
I checked the footage on my SimpliCam to verify that it wasn't a real threat before providing my safeword and other verification. The alarm was disabled and the entire process took around a minute and a half. It was exceptionally efficient. A slightly higher cost of around 89 cents turns on smart home integrations and adds video storage for thirty days so that there's a longer range of coverage if it's needed. That's $24.99 per month, around half the cost or less than the average security setup.
Those who don't want to pay won't get the extra features. The free plan also only protects one door and room, so the amount of addable equipment is lowered. No police dispatch is included. But it is possible to keep this system running for free, paying for service as it's needed. And that's a fairly big benefit for those who don't need the system to be on all of the time.
Getting everything installed
SimpliSafe is, without question, one of the easiest systems I've ever installed. The components are each essentially 'plug and play'. The instructions for turning on each device and setting it for sync are basically two-fold. Mount anything where it needs to go and press a button.
During the initial setup, the keypad takes over from there, asking what room the device goes in. I noticed it also allows for custom rooms. And most of the components don't require a power source either. Instead, they're driven by batteries that can be purchased in stores easily. Those last for up to years instead of weeks or months.
The most difficult components in my SimpliSafe review kit to install was the video doorbell and the smart door lock. For those who don't have experience installing a deadbolt or a doorbell, or who just aren't comfortable doing it, this is a job best left to the professionals.
With that said, the deadbolt system here is unique. The smart deadbolt connects through the door to an existing deadbolt on the outside. That means that as long as there's a single channel deadbolt already installed, installation is absolutely a breeze. I simply removed the indoors half of the lock, and the new smart lock slotted over the top.
SimpliSafe includes all necessary hardware to make just about any kind of lock work within that description. The exception to that is deadbolts that are physically attached to the latch and a couple of similar circumstances.
Then, a keypad was installed outside above the deadbolt lock.
Syncing the device up, using the included wireless wall-mounted keypad, takes just a few clicks and, as with every other component, the system often notices it in advance. That reduces the clicks to just two, clicking to add and adding to a room.
The doorbell camera cannot be installed sideways. That bears pointing out because I failed to read the instructions properly and installed it sideways, to begin with. The result was extra unwanted holes in my building after I finally fixed it.
With that said, all of the required templates as well as almost all of the tools and installation hardware, with the exception of any drills or screwdrivers that might be required, are included. All of the other components, except for the camera, are installed via either sticky pad or with small screws at the customer's discretion. The camera sits on a shelf or other surface.
Performance, build, and battery life are each unexpectedly good
Of course, battery life with the components of this system is going to vary. For the Video Doorbell Pro, SimpliCam, and the central hub, for instance, everything is hardwired in. That's whether attached directly to wire as the doorbell is or plugged into a wall socket like the camera.
Each component utilizes different battery styles too. But each of those can easily be bought at just about any store since they're standard sizes such as double-A or watch-style button cells.
More importantly, the system alerts users when the batteries are getting low, so there's plenty of time to replace them as needed. The timing of replacements is better measured in years than weeks too. In fact, the entryway sensors can last more than a decade.
That would seem to imply that performance has to be scaled back to ensure things keep ticking along smoothly. But that's not the case here either. The build quality is also exceptional. Each of the components I received felt extremely well made, with no sharp edges and plenty of extra design features we'll discuss later on.
More importantly, it was easy to install each component without worrying I was going to break them. They feel exceptionally durable.
Performance met my build-derived expectations with just two exceptions. Namely, that's the Video Doorbell Pro and the motion sensor. Both issues are fairly easily explained too but easier in the former case. Although the system has a wireless range from between 700 to 800 feet, my apartment is coated in metal siding and the door itself has a metal exterior shell.
The signal on the door's keypad makes it through with no problem. But since the doorbell is offset and on the siding, the signal gets lost in between sometimes. As a result, it didn't always record video. Like the internal camera, video quality was pristine when it was working properly and the range of motion detection was exceptional. But sometimes there were missing parts of a clip or just an outright failure to connect.
As a doorbell, it still worked when it 'didn't work'. But it no longer gave me a way to talk to people outside with the built-in mic or see who was at my door as the indoor camera also does.
The issue with the motion detector, recommended to be placed in a corner away from interfering signals, was less clear. That was triggered, as noted earlier, by my cat. I can't say for certain but it seems like a seating area was too close to the sensor. So when my cat jumped onto the back of a couch right in front of it, she appeared much larger to the system. That triggered my alarm.
Everything else, from the door sensors to the keypads and the lock, worked exactly as I'd expected. That is to say, they worked without any issues at all whether used via the app, keypad, or voice — remotely or locally.
There are plenty of ways it prevents ways SimpliSafe prevents easy circumvention too
Now, aside from SimpliSafe components being relatively durable, small, and placed out of the way, there are several ways the system prevents easy circumvention too. That all starts with the fact that no plug-in is actually required for the system to work in a power outage.
Not only are most components battery-battery powered anyway. But the main hub and other equipment are also hardened with backup batteries. So if the power goes out, even if the internet goes too, the system still operates. In fact, the entire ecosystem continues working, according to SimpliSafe, for roughly 24-hours if that happens.
The mileage on that will likely vary, just as it does with other similarly equipped electronics. But it is a good measure to have in place. Would-be robbers or other bad actors can't just cut the power and call it good.
Moreover, the plug to the main hub features a uniquely shaped plug end. In short, a loop is incorporated there so that it can be fastened to the wall. A bad actor would essentially have to rip it out of the wall to stop it going off — only then to be foiled by backup batteries.
When it does go off, the sound is jarring and loud. It easily filled my two-bedroom apartment and some surrounding units too. Everybody is going to know something is going on. That means a potentially bad situation only becomes much worse for unwanted intruders. They aren't going to want to stick around.
The SimpliSafe app is easy-to-use, effecting a set-and-forget experience
A significant portion of the reason this SimpliSafe smart home security system received a 4.5-star rating via my review rather than full marks comes down to its smart home integration. It is a very easy system to use, as I'll cover in just a moment. But figuring out how to utilize SimpliSafe via Google Assistant — it also works with Alexa, August Locks, Apple Watch, and other ecosystems — is not easy.
When exploring SimpliSafe in the Google Assistant app, only two options are presented as examples. The app only says that I can "arm security" or "Set security to arm."
Those two commands lead to the assistant offering up other options. Specifically, it clarifies that users need to set "SimpliSafe to home" or "away" but exploration is really the only way to discover what works or doesn't. The system status and other details can be discovered that way too. But it isn't as intuitive as might be hoped.
Beyond those slight issues. There aren't many reasons to go to that length anyway, particularly if the keypad is placed by the exit or the key fob is used for the primary arming method. SimpliSafe built its system to be set and forgotten about until something goes wrong.
The keypad itself is removable from its wall bracket, making it easy to take around the house for setting up new components. That also makes it very easy to go through and test the products out. As noted above, everything is very plug and play. Once its set up, and the associated app is set up for deeper controls that we'll get to momentarily, it's fairly easy to just forget the system is installed until something goes wrong.
This is a full-blown security system, complete with special features
As noted above, SimpliSafe's security system is already comparatively complete for a cost that's somewhat less expensive than others. It's also highly customizable but that extends well beyond what components are installed, to begin with.
Digging into the app's settings, SimpliSafe allows users to center their experience around exactly how much security they think they need.
For starters, I had my system set up a bit differently than most might. That's mostly because of the false-alarm involving my pet. Instead of setting the motion sensor to trigger an alarm, I set it to send me a silent alarm notification. Then, I could check the cameras and see if anything was wrong for myself before taking action.
The window sensors served a similar purpose, but that was set to only work that way when the system was set to "home" — meaning that I was home as its designation implies. That way, I could ensure that nobody was sneaking out of the home over the course of my review without the risk of setting off an alarm and having the police appear at my door following a call from SimpliSafe's service.
In either case, I also had the system set to sound an audible notification sound when windows were opened up.
In the case of an alarm, other options are equally helpful and available too. For instance, the panic button can be set for use in any number of emergencies, starting from a more general problem or something more specific like a fire or break-in.
Settings exist to allow SimpliSafe access to cameras in the event of an alarm too. That means that security personnel and first responders are able to see or learn what's going on before they arrive.
Of course, users are able to set the volume of various things, such as the door chime, voice prompts, alarm sirens, and more. The same concept applies to the duration of alarms, time that elapses before the system is set and monitoring after being armed, and more.
Best of all, all of that is intuitive. SimpliSafe divides settings logically in the application, as it does the video capture timeline and entry timelines. Those are also individualized, allowing users to set things up exactly how they want for each individual room or entry point. The cameras, for instance, can be turned to a privacy mode, complete with a shutter that loudly closes and opens over the lens.
A duress PIN and custom PINs can be set as well, giving users a way to call for help even if they're forced to open their entryway or disarm the system. The latter PINs can be given out to other users, allowing them to unlock the system but not to access settings or cameras.
Is this really worth the money and the monthly expense?
Throughout my review of this SimpliSafe system, I couldn't find a single setting I wanted to set but was unable to. There weren't any features missing either. It's just a very complete system.
That, of course, doesn't mean this is a perfect system. Metal siding or walls are going to cause the range of the system to diminish significantly — to around 30 feet, in my case. So users may need to find a way to extend their network if that's the case. Moreover, AI integration and voice controls take a bit of getting used to since they aren't as intuitive as they could be.
But there are plenty of things that make this system well worth the money. To begin with, this is a complete security solution. Not only does the system link up to dispatchers for SimpliSafe. SimpliSafe will also dispatch first responders. And it will respond faster in many cases than a manual check of the system can be performed.
The SimpliSafe ecosystem is also entirely expandable and customizable. The system sent to me, totaling to just over $625 plus $25 per month is fairly extensive. But not everybody will necessarily need all of that. Or, if more is needed, that can be added too at any time with just a few clicks on the number pad. The company continuously adds new components to the system as well. That's in addition to improvements it makes to existing products.
All of those compound to make what could easily be one of the best security setups around.