SimpliSafe components on white background
SimpliSafe

SimpliSafe smart home security systems consist of a series of sensors and cameras that can be installed by virtually all homeowners. Is one right for you? Read on to find out.

Self Install Versus Professional Install

The world of smart home security systems is broadly divided into two categories: those requiring professional installation (like Vivint), and those that can be installed by oneself, without the need for company technicians to pay the home a visit. SimpliSafe falls into the latter category and, true to its name, is quite simple to set up.

The Base Station and Keypad

As with most home security systems, this one all starts at the base station. Available in either black or white, the cylindrical unit plugs into a standard outlet and requires no wiring. It can connect to your home’s WiFi system, has a backup battery that the company says can last up to 24 hours, and features a SIM card that allows the unit to operate even if power and Wi-Fi get knocked out.

Base station on counter
SimpliSafe

When there’s something wrong with a sensor, a blue ring around the bottom of the base station will flash. Also, when an alarm is triggered, the base station loudly and clearly tells you what’s going on, in addition to sounding a loud siren that goes up to 95 decibels.

While the base station is the heart of the system, the keypad is the brains. It also doesn’t need to be wired to function and simply sticks to the wall in a convenient location. The keypad has a small LCD screen that walks you through the setup instructions for all of your sensors and other peripherals, which are first activated by pushing a small button on each unit. It also allows you to make various adjustments to your peripherals, such as increasing the base station volume, changing the volume on the entry chime and doorbell, and adjusting the time in which the system arms or disarms when you come and go.

In a world that has gone a bit app crazy, it’s actually nice to be able to set up the entire SimpliSafe system without needing your smartphone by your side.

Keypad on wooden wall
SimpliSafe

Sensors and Cameras

SimpliSafe offers sensors and cameras that are on par with other major smart home security systems. In terms of protecting your home from intruders, there are two-part window and door sensors that trigger an alarm when they’re separated, movement sensors that use heat signatures to distinguish between humans and pets, and glass break sensors that can detect the sound of shattered glass from up to 20 feet away.

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When it comes to protecting your home from other hazards, SimpliSafe offers a set of hazard sensors, including a temperature sensor that will trigger an alarm if your home drops below 4┬░F, a water sensor that sounds when it gets wet and thereby alerts you to a leak or a flood, and smoke and carbon monoxide sensors.

Camera next to glasses on table at night
SimpliSafe

In terms of cameras, the system can handle up to four “SimpliCams,” which are pretty straightforward black video cameras that offer a 120┬░ field of vision, night vision, and two-way communication through a speaker and mic.

The cameras also use the same technology as the motion sensors to detect the heat signatures of human beings versus those of pets to trigger an alarm and/or a recording feature. The cameras are electrically powered, so they need to be placed by outlets, and there’s an outdoor kit that protects them from the elements that comes with an extra-long 25-foot cord.

Unlike other security cameras, the SimpliCam features a stainless-steel privacy shutter that covers the lens. By default, the cover stays down when the system is set to “home” mode and lifts when it is switched to “away” mode.

Extras and Integrations

SimpliSafe also offers a video doorbell that provides two-way audio, motion alerts, the ability to pan and zoom, and a 162┬░ field of vision. It requires a power connection, so unless you’re replacing an existing doorbell, this is one component of the system with which you might need professional installation help.

Doorbell outside home mounted on wood trim
SimpliSafe
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A second extra is a smart door lock that can be set to lock on a timer in case you forget to do it yourself, or you can program it to lock every time you arm the system and to open when you disarm it.

A keypad means that you don’t need to use a key and, as with other smart locks, you can provide different people different codes so that you know who’s entering your home at any given time. Like the August smart lock, the SimpliSafe lock installs directly over your existing deadbolt, keeping installation as simple as it is with the rest of the components.

Rounding out the system are key fobs that can arm and disarm the system (much in the same way that you use a fob to lock and unlock your car), extra sirens, and panic buttons that can be placed around the home for easy alarm triggering.

Pricing and Monitoring

Many home security system companies are a bit cagey with their pricing, preferring to get you on the phone before they reveal how much they charge. SimpliSafe keeps things pretty transparent. If you like, when you visit the company’s website, you can answer a few simple questions, and you’ll be presented with a suggested package to suit your needs. Otherwise, you can choose to go with one of the pre-existing packages.

As of June 2021, the Foundation package comes with a keypad, base station, motion sensor, and entry sensor for $229. The Essentials package adds two more entry sensors (a total of three) for $259.  Additional packages increase in price as more devices are added, topping out at the Haven, which includes 14 components for $489. Sales are often in effect, which can lower these prices significantly.

In addition to the package, you’re always free to purchase components individually. Entry sensors are $14.99 each, cameras cost $99, and key fobs are $24.99, for example.

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The cost of the gear is on the low side in the home security market. For example, Vivint, which is another major home security company, charges $50 for its entry sensors and $199 for its cameras.

SimpliSafe is also competitive in terms of the monitoring packages┬áthat it offers. It provides a basic plan at $14.99 per month, which includes a call to you if an alarm is triggered, followed by a call to the police if you don’t provide your safe word or you don’t answer. Stepping up to $24.99 per month gets you SMS and email alerts and gives you more of an ability to fine-tune the system using the app and an online dashboard. For $9.90 per month, you can also get a “self-monitoring” package that offers unlimited camera recording but no central monitoring. And, for the cheapest option, you can go with a doorbell or video camera monitoring package for only $4.99 per month.

You can still use the system without any kind of monitoring package, but you’ll have to be satisfied with the alarm sounding in your home and getting smartphone notifications only if the system senses an issue.

Compared to other security systems, which regularly charge upward of $50 per month for monitoring, even SimpliSafe’s full monitoring package—combined with a significant number of sensors, cameras, and peripherals—still represents an excellent value.

DIY Home Security

SimpliSafe Home Security

An inexpensive total home security system with transparent pricing, professional monitoring, and no contracts. You’ll just have to install it yourself.

Profile Photo for Michael Franco Michael Franco
Michael Franco is a freelance writer for How-To Geek. He has been writing about the serious and silly sides of science, technology, and home improvement for years. His work has appeared in Discover Magazine, CNET, Lifehacker, Islands Magazine, BobVila.com, Mindbounce, and various Discovery Channel properties.
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