If you want to keep your home safe from the occasional bad guy, but don’t want to pay the premium for a professional system, SimpliSafe is a security system that you can easily install yourself. Here’s how to get it up and running.

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There are many DIY security systems available on the market—including one from Nest—but you’ve likely heard of SimpliSafe since it’s fairly popular. It’s a system that you completely set up and monitor yourself, but it still comes with the option for 24/7 professional monitoring services that you can pay extra for.

SimpliSafe sells a handful of pre-configured packages, but you can also custom-build your own package to include the right amount of sensors, cameras, sirens, and more for your specific home setup.

Step One: Install the Base Station

Every SimpliSafe system comes with a base station. This is the main unit of the setup and the central hub to which all of the sensors and devices connect. It also houses the main siren and is used to communicate with SimpliSafe if you pay for the professional monitoring service.

All you need to do here is plug the base station into a nearby outlet. Make sure that it’s in a central location so you can hear the siren throughout your home. After you plug in the base station, it lights up to let you know that it’s ready to go.

Also, don’t forget to pull out the tab to activate the backup batteries.

Step Two: Install the Keypad

The keypad is how you’ll control your security system. You can also download the mobile app to your phone (iPhone and Android availability), but that requires you pay for 24/7 monitoring (more on that in just a bit). Otherwise, the keypad is your only choice.

Begin by peeling off the screen protector.

After that, pull the battery tag out to activate the batteries. The unit automatically boots up and begins searching for the base station.

You’ll then set up a master PIN, which is what you’ll enter in to arm and disarm your system. Once you enter it, click the right side of the screen.

Next, the keypad prompts you to install all of your sensors and devices, but we’ll start with the keypad itself. On the back are four adhesive strips.

Peel those off and stick the keypad somewhere near your front door (or whichever door you go in and out of the most).

After it’s installed, you can easily lift up on the keypad to remove it from its mount—you’ll need to carry it around as you install your other devices.

If at any point the keypad goes to sleep, you can easily wake it up by touching anywhere on the white part of the keypad.

Step Three: Install the Sensors and Other Devices

We’ll start with a door/window sensor. Pull out the battery tag and then press the Test button (every device has one). On this type of sensor, it’s a small button on the bottom.

The sensor’s LED light blinks a couple of times and your keypad shows that it found the keypad. The next step is to name the sensor from the keypad. It show a list of preconfigured names that you can choose from. Find one and click the right side of the keypad screen to confirm it.

After that, the sensor is ready to go and you can mount it on your door or window. Remove the adhesive strip covers and stick it to your door, making sure that when the door is closed, the magnet sits close to the sensor

The above steps are the same for any other device you want to set up, like a motion sensor, an extra alarm, more door sensors, and anything else that’s included.

The camera is the one exception, though—you’ll need the mobile app to set it up instead of the keypad (you can still use the mobile app without a paid subscription, but you’ll only be able to control the camera from it).

When you’ve set up and installed all of your sensors and devices, click the right side of the screen on your keypad where it says “Done” to continue.

You’ll then be asked to activate a monitoring subscription. This is completely optional, but you can head to the URL if you’re interested. Hit “Next” to continue.

Hit “Done” one last time to complete the setup process.

How the Different Modes Work

The SimpliSafe system comes with three modes: Off, Home, and Away. Setting the system to “Off” completely disarms it. The “Home” setting arms the system, but leaves out any motion sensors. The “Away” setting arms everything.

Setting your system to Home or Away mode is as easy as pressing the “Home” or “Away” button on the keypad. By default, there’s no delay when arming in Home mode, but there is a 30-second delay when arming Away mode so that you can leave your home before the motion sensors kick in. You can customize these delays in the settings if you want.

When you arrive home and your system is armed, there’s also a delay before the siren sounds. To disarm your system, press “Off” on the keypad, and then enter your PIN.

In the event of a break in, the siren sounds for four minutes (by default) and then shuts off. After that, the sensor or device that tripped the alarm is disabled until you’re able to disarm your system.

Should You Pay for 24/7 Professional Monitoring?

There are two subscription plans that you can choose from. The standard is $14.99 per month and comes with 24/7 professional monitoring. This means that if the alarm goes off, you’ll be contacted by SimpliSafe to confirm whether it’s a real or false alarm. If it’s real (or if they can’t get hold of you), authorities will be dispatched to your home to check things out.

The second tier is $24.99 per month, and on top of the 24/7 monitoring, you can also access your system from the mobile app and arm/disarm it remotely. You can also get alerts whenever the alarm goes off.

Without a paid subscription, your SimpliSafe security system is nothing more than an automatic loud noise machine to scare off burglars if they break in. This is probably fine for some people, but if you want the full security system experience (as most people do when they buy a system like this), then you’ll definitely want to pay the monthly fee for the 24/7 monitoring.

And if you plan on tying in SimpliSafe cameras, you’ll definitely want to pay for monitoring (or at least the $4.99/month camera-only plan). Otherwise, the camera is only good for live viewing from the app—it won’t trigger the alarm if it detects motion or record video at all.

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Craig Lloyd is a smarthome expert with nearly ten years of professional writing experience. His work has been published by iFixit, Lifehacker, Digital Trends, Slashgear, and GottaBeMobile.
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