on April 19, 2013
I just installed my Simplisafe system in about an hour! I spent about 3 months looking at different alarm companies, but ultimately chose this one and bought it from their website directly. I think a lot of the negative reviews on here are BS. This system has been reviewed on Amazon since 2009 and 10 of the 14 one star reviews were written in the last 3 months. I purchased this system for two reasons:
1. It cost only $411 up front and I own it. No lease, etc. (11 door and window sensors, 2 motion sensors, and 3 remotes)
2. No monthly contract. I got the $25/mo plan so I can control it from my smartphone.
I opened the box and planned where to put each sensor. They installed easily on each of my windows and doors. Just peel and stick, and for the record, they stick very well! I tried to remove one to reposition it, and it was not easy. I installed a motion sensor in my garage and two in my house. I placed them about 5 feet off the floor, positioned upside down, and they pick me up every time I enter the room. The motion sensors pick up movement straight out from the sensor and at a downward angle. I have a 100+ lb dog and was afraid of false alarms from the motion sensors. After positioning the motion sensors upside down, I crawled on my hands and knees all over the house and never set it off. The setup on the website was extremely user friendly. I was able to adjust the volume and duration of the alarm, label each sensor so I know which has been breached, and choose if I want the sensors to alarm immediately or give time to enter my PIN code. I am even able to open my windows about 1 inch to allow my evap cooler to work without triggering an alarm. If someone tries to open the window any further, the alarm will activate (about 2 inches).
The alarm system uses T-Mobile to send a wireless signal to the alarm company. The only problem for some customers could be a poor cellular signal in their area. I checked the T-Mobile coverage map prior to purchasing my alarm and my area has excellent coverage. I would recommend doing the same. I have sent 6 test alarms to the monitoring company so far and each time I received a text message and a phone call in about 20-30 seconds indicating they received my test. Their plans range from $15-$25/month. I chose the $25 plan. I can monitor my alarm status and activate/deactivate it from my Android phone wherever I am. I receive a text message every time the alarm is turned on, turned off, breached, or if my motion sensors detect movement. My alarm base also chimes each time a door or window opens. This is really nice to make sure my dog does not run away if I don't close my door tightly and it blows open, etc. I can even set "secret alarms" to notify my phone of movement but not call the alarm company. I used this feature in my garage, so I know if someone walks in there but I don't want the police dispatched.
I will briefly explain how the system works, for those who aren't sure. When the alarm is in "Away" mode: When a entry or motion sensor is breached, the keypad will beep quietly until you enter your PIN. The base unit which contains the cellular unit remains quiet. If you fail to enter the PIN code within 30 seconds (you can adjust the delay on their website)the alarm base will activate the siren and immediately alert the alarm company. The alarm company will call you and ask for a password to make sure you are okay. If you do not answer the phone or give the right password, they will call the local police. If the base unit is damaged prior to the 30 second entry period, no alarm will be sent to the alarm company. Because of that, I hid the base out of sight and deactivated the light to buy some time. After the 30 seconds, they can smash it but the police are still coming. "Home" mode works the same way except it disables motion sensors to allow you to walk around the house.
Simplisafe also recently added smoke detectors ($30) and carbon monoxide detectors ($50) to their options. I plan on buying one of each in the near future to alert the fire dept of problems when I'm not home. So far, I am very pleased with this purchase. It gives me peace of mind when I'm away and when I'm asleep. I have not been able to trigger a false alarm yet, but I will update if I experience any problems. If I had to think of anything negative, it would be the keypad. It looks a little outdated, but I can live with that.
UPDATE - I just installed my smoke detector. It was very easy to add to my system. I just logged in and typed in the serial number. I pushed the test button and received a call within 15 seconds from the monitoring company informing me they received my test. I am still very happy with this system. I have not had any false alarms and every test I have done has elicited a phone call within seconds. Hope this helps.
UPDATE 03/03/15 - Had it almost 2 years and still love it. The system works flawlessly and I still haven't had a single false alarm.
I write this from conviction that people thinking of investing in this alarm system alternative need a more thoughtful review than the many here who quickly post a gushing review and the few who post nonsense negative reviews.
1st Simplisafe is easy to install yourself and it is a quality budget alternative to the big alarm system companies (who rely on less than ethical sales methods) who relieve people of a few thousand dollars and lock them into an expensive 2 to 3 year monitoring contract.
The hardware is easy to install and get working & for less than $400 most people can seriously discourage felons from targeting their home. Simplisafe is much more up front & consumer oriented than other alarm companies BUT Simplisafe sales department does do its share of hype & exaggeration. You cannot install the sensors & motion detectors in the mindless simple way you are lead to believe. If you slap them up in a few minutes, you will regret it. Take a few minutes and determine the best places to position the sensors & detectors.
The advertising shows people just mindlessly sticking sensors and detectors around their house. Then, in response to criticism that people report their senors or detectors fell off, Simplisafe blames it on the owner for not (dah...) cleaning the area first. Even that is hype because cleaning is not enough. It's not wise to just rely on the sticky tape for the heavier pieces, especially the keypad and the motion detectors. Simplisafe techs know this which is why each sensor has a removable installation panel with two screw holes and screws.
There are two significant flaws in the Simplisafe system which Simplisafe advertising and information tip toes around and buyers do not realize until after they buy and install their system. I'll bet many long term Simplisafe owners still do not know about the flaws.
FLAW NUMBER ONE IS THE ENTRY SENSOR. They are excellent for your outside doors but inadequate for windows. The problem? Unlike the wired big alarm company alarm systems, Simplisafe sensors are "one size fits all" but what is good for a door is not good enough for windows. The 21st century home B&E is smash and grab. Unless you live in a high end home in an upper income neighborhood, you are at risk for an amateur smash and grab break-in or the new wave home invasion. Your break-in felon is most probably full-time party animals feeding some drug habit lifestyle. They usually break or cut windows, not carefully pry them open or try windows until they find one they can open. Simplisafe entry sensors work only when a door or window is properly opened.
Its best to use the motion detectors to cover entire rooms and their windows and use the entry sensors just for doors. You may also want to consider NOT using the SIMPLISAFE signs but buy ADT or Brinks signs and decals instead. Some party animal groups think their way to researching alarm systems on Internet and they know about cell phone apps that they can use to monitor police radio activity. Ann Arbor, Michigan just arrest a gang of four such felons. Alarms didn't stop them. A member was stopped with stolen property in his car. He told on the others so he could get off easy.
SECOND FLAW IS THE Alarm. It Is REMARKABLY WEAK! Do not simply rely on the ineffective alarm that comes in the base unit or simply on monitoring services. When seconds count, the police are always minutes away and their budgets are being seriously cut at the same time property crime is soaring. Buy the "extra siren" & mount it outside. The siren irritates the entire neighborhood. The felon isn't going to risk that rare neighbor who cares enough to look and call the police. Consider adding a wireless security camera. Mine sends condensed video to a remote 30 day DVR.
There are unemphasized positives about Simplisafe, namely the keychain remote. It includes a panic button which instantly sets off the alarm and launches the call center into action. Monitoring is only 14.99 a month. For an elderly relative living alone the panic button alone is worth the cost of a Simplisafe System. Seniors can use it to live more safely and 14.99 a month for home alarm, personal safety and health is a real bargain. Those EMT service call button services (Call for help) alone cost $40 or more a month!
on August 26, 2013
After resolving some initial issues, I am happy with my SimpliSafe system after a month of use.
I decided to purchase this system over others because:
(1) The system is cellular, with a battery back-up, so a burglar cannot disable it by simply cutting the phone line or power line. Most other companies either do not offer cellular monitoring at all, charge extra for it and/or only offer it as a back-up if the land line fails.
(2) SimpliSafe does not lock you into a monitoring contract. You pay a monthly fee for monitoring, and you can cancel the service whenever you want without penalty. Most of SimpliSafe's competitors require you to sign at least a three year contract.
(3) Price. SimpliSafe offers interactive monitoring for $24.95/month, which is significantly less than the competition. With interactive monitoring you get text alerts, can change the settings on your system (customize it) through SimpliSafe's webpage and can arm or disarm the system either through the webpage or by using the Android or iPhone app (they also offer less expensive plans if you do not want the interactive features, but I chose the interactive plan). The equipment itself is also less expensive than the competition.
(4) The system is easily expandable. You can add additional components whenever you want. Some other companies jack up the monthly monitoring fee when you add more components.
(5) SimpliSafe sells the system online or by the phone and you self-install it, so you don't have to deal with high pressure salespeople coming to your house.
(6) You can try out the system with no risk. You can return it for a full refund within 60 days if you are not happy with it.
I am not handy at all, but I was able to set up the system with relative ease. Most of the components attach with adhesive tape or, if you prefer, you can mount them with screws. I used the screws to mount an entry sensor on my garage door, since that sensor would be exposed to a lot more jostling than the others, and used the tape for all of the other units (except the smoke detector, which must be mounted with screws). The tape has been working fine so far. I believe the tape is 3M Command tape. If you buy Command tape directly from 3M, the instructions tell you to firmly press on the base of whatever you are mounting for 30 seconds and then let it sit for an hour before mounting whatever you are hanging. Although SimpliSafe's instructions do not say that, I would suggest sliding each sensor off of its base (like you would to change the battery), pressing the base firmly against the wall for 30 seconds, letting it sit for at least an hour, and then mounting the sensor.
The components are wireless and I am impressed with their range. I have a 2,400 square foot center hall colonial wood frame house. To test out the sensor range, I placed the base station (the brains of the unit) in a far corner of my house on the second floor. It was able to "hear" the entry sensors from every other location in the house, including the basement and garage.
I had cellular connection issues when I first got the system. T-Mobile is SimpliSafe's default cell provider. The T-Mobile coverage map showed that some areas near my house had excellent cellular reception, but that my neighborhood had only "satisfactory" coverage. In theory, "satisfactory" coverage should have been sufficient, but it was not. I was able to make a connection to the T-Mobile network, but it was not reliable. About half the time I could not access my system from the SimpliSafe webpage or app -- they would time out when attempting to access my system status. Occasionally I would not receive texts when the system was armed or disarmed and the event log did not show every arming and disarming of the system. I worked with SimpliSafe's customer service department (who were very responsive and helpful) to try to find a location in my house with better reception, but to no avail. In short, I was very unhappy with the performance of the system for the first few weeks I had it. Ultimately, SimpliSafe sent me a replacement Verizon cell module (they only recently started offering Verizon service as alternative to T-Mobile). The Verizon coverage in my area is much more robust than T-Mobile, and the new module solved my issues -- the system now works reliably. I receive text messages within seconds or arming or disarming the system and I am able to control the system using the Android app or the webpage. When you put the system into test mode, it sends a test signal to the monitoring service and, unless they are inundated with real alarm calls, they will call you to let you know they received the test signal. The service has called me within 30 seconds each time I have put the system in test mode.
Although I am satisfied with the system, there are some drawbacks you should consider before purchasing:
A) Unlike most of its competitors, SimpliSafe does not yet have glass break sensors which, to my mind, are an important piece of a complete home security system for the following reason: When the system is armed in the "Home" mode, the motion sensors are not active so you can walk around the house without setting off the alarm (this is the standard out-of-the box setting, though you can change it). I arm the system in Home mode at night because I have young kids who otherwise would trip the motion sensors if they woke up before me. Therefore, while I am sleeping, my alarm only will trigger if a burglar opens a door or window that has an entry sensor. If a burglar smashes a sliding glass door or window while my family is sleeping, he could enter the house without setting off the alarm and, if the noise of the glass breaking did not wake us, we would be completely defenseless. Therefore, I would feel more comfortable with glass break sensors. According to discussions on the user forum on their webpage, SimpliSafe currently is developing glass break sensors (indeed, the installation manual that comes with the system describes how to install them), but they appear to have been in development for more than 2 years and SimpliSafe has not offered a projected date when the sensors will be ready. *UPDATE: SimpliSafe started selling glass break sensors on February 13, 2014*
B) SimpliSafe does not have "crash and smash" technology. Here's what that means: In your standard GE Simon alarm system (the equipment used by many of SimpliSafe's competitors), the component that controls the system (the control panel) contains both the keypad that you use to arm and disarm the system and the communication device that contacts the monitoring service. When you enter your home through a door with an entry sensor, the system gives you a certain amount of time (the entry delay) to enter your code to disarm the system before an alarm signal is sent to the monitoring service. If an intruder is able to destroy the control panel during that entry delay period, the system would not send an alarm signal to the monitoring service and the police would not be dispatched This is referred to as a "crash and smash" because the intruder "crashes" into your home and then "smashes" the control panel before it sends an alarm.
Some of SimpliSafe's competitors (such as Frontpoint) solve this problem with what they call "crash and smash" technology. The "crash and smash" technology works by sending a signal to the monitoring service the moment any sensor is tripped. If you enter your code during the entry delay, the control panel sends an "all clear" signal to the monitoring service. If, on the other hand, the monitoring service receives no signal from your system at the end of the entry delay period, it assumes that the control panel was destroyed and treats the lack of an "all clear" signal as an alarm.
SimpliSafe does not offer this "crash and smash" technology, so if an intruder trips a sensor when entering your home but then destroys the communicator during the entry delay period, the system does not contact the monitoring service and police are not dispatched. However, SimpliSafe has attempted to reduce the likelihood of this scenario by separating the communicator (the base station) from the keypad. Because they are separate components, you can place the base station in a location where the intruder is unlikely to find it during the entry delay (the base station goes dark and silent during the entry delay so as not to give away its location). Destroying the keypad will not do the intruder any good because the separate base station will still send a signal to the monitoring service at the end of the entry delay.
There are ways you can make the SimpliSafe system even less prone to a "crash and smash." For instance, you could put the base station in a locked room or cabinet, which would reduce the likelihood that an intruder could get to the base station during the entry delay. Also, you can set certain sensors to trigger the alarm instantly (with no entry delay) if tripped. Therefore, you could put the base unit in a room where every point of entry is armed with either an entry sensor or motion sensor set to instant trigger (note that this only would work if the intruder did not first trip a sensor with an entry delay, because once a sensor with an entry delay is tripped, the instant trigger on any other sensor is disabled). Both of these setups only would work if the room/cabinet in which you want to locate the base station has a power outlet and cell reception.
In addition, the base station has a blue light that, under the factory settings, glows when the system is armed (the light goes off when a sensor is tripped). I changed the settings to disable the blue light on the theory that the light could give away the location of the base station to a burglar who cases the house before he tries to break in. Similarly, an intruder only will be looking for the separate base station to smash if he knows you have SimpliSafe. Therefore, you should not advertise that you have the system by putting SimpliSafe signs and stickers in your yard and windows. Rather, you can, as I did, buy a yard sign for a different security company off eBay. Likewise, since SimpliSafe uses its own proprietary equipment, the components look different than any other security system. A burglar that has done his homework will recognize that you are using SimpliSafe if he gets a good look at the components. Therefore, to the extent possible, you should attempt to mount the sensors in locations where a burglar will not be able to get a good look at them when he is casing the house (I realize this is difficult to do with entry sensors placed on windows or sliding doors). Also, since the SimpliSafe logo is on the keypad, it makes sense to avoid mounting the keypad in a location where a burglar can easily see it from outside the house.
Keep in mind that the "crash and smash" technology offered by others is not foolproof -- it only works if you design your system properly. Say, for instance, the control panel is installed near your front door and there is a window near the door. If you do not have an entry sensor and glass break sensor for that window, or if you do not have a motion sensor that would detect movement in the area between the window and the control panel, an intruder could enter through the window and smash the control panel without ever triggering a sensor, thereby defeating the crash and smash technology. To take advantage of smash and crash technology, you need to carefully design your system to minimize the possibility that an intruder could get to your control panel without triggering a sensor.
All things equal, I think I would have preferred a system with crash and smash technology. But all things are not equal -- the systems that offer that technology are much more expensive and/or require a long-term contract.
Having said all of that, it is worth noting that crash and smash technology (or the lack thereof) only is an issue if you are dealing with more sophisticated burglars who, knowing you have an alarm system, break in anyway on the theory that they can disable the system. Most burglars probably are not that sophisticated and may just move on to another house if they see you have an alarm, so installing any alarm (or, at least, making a burglar think you have an alarm), whether it has crash and smash technology or not, may well deter a majority of burglars.
C) Although SimpliSafe has been saying they will offer video surveillance "soon" for more than two years now, they currently do not offer it and, in light of their inability to meet previous target release dates, there is no reason to expect they will anytime in the foreseeable future. Therefore, if integrated video monitoring is a priority for you, look elsewhere. That said, you can buy stand-alone web access video cameras that will record video whenever they detect motion (look up Foscams, for instance), so you can easily equip your home with a video monitoring system even though SimpliSafe does not offer it. The separate cameras are not ideal because they will not arm and disarm with the security system and the monitoring service will not have access to them in the event of an alarm, but if all you want is the ability to see what it going on in your home when you are notified of an alarm, they will do the job.
Before ordering SimpliSafe, I recommend that you read through the comments in the user forum on SimpliSafe's webpage. Some owners do not like certain features of the system that I do not find problematic. For instance, if you leave one of the entry sensors open when you leave the house, the system will tell you a sensor is open, but then will arm the rest of the sensors. So, in theory, your system could be armed even though your front door is wide open. Also, if one of your sensors is open when you attempt to arm the system, it will announce that a sensor is open, but it does not identify which one. I do not have an issue with either of those features, but some owners really dislike them. By reading the owner comments, you will get a better sense of whether this system will fit your needs. Incidentally, I give SimpliSafe a lot of credit for their openness. They allow all comments -- both positive and negative -- on their online forum and do not take down ones that are critical. Try to find another alarm company that allows its customers to speak so freely on its webpage.
I looked at several other companies before choosing SimpliSafe. Frontpoint was the runner-up. They also offer cellular service, self-installation, no contracts and a 30 day return period, but both the equipment and the monitoring service are considerably more expensive (they do offer a substantial discount on the equipment if you sign up for 3 years). Safemart also offered most of the options I wanted and their monitoring prices were more reasonable (though still more than SimpliSafe), but their equipment was much more expensive. Others like Protect America and Life Shield require you to sign a contract and charged much more for cellular monitoring. As far as I can tell from their (deliberately?) confusing webpage, ADT does not offer primary cellular monitoring, only cellular back up. ADT also requires you to sign a contract and they are not at all transparent about pricing. In order to even get a quote, you have to subject yourself to one their sales people.
Note that most of these other companies are selling the same hardware -- different versions of GE's Simon security system -- so the only real differences between the companies are their monitoring/pricing plans, installation (DIY vs. professional) and customer service. SimpliSafe, by contrast, uses its own proprietary equipment. In my opinion, SimpliSafe's equipment looks less sturdy and professional than the GE equipment, but I certainly am not going to pay more for aesthetics.
If you decide to order, discount coupon codes are available online. Just run a Google search for SimpliSafe coupon codes.
In sum, although SimpliSafe does have some shortfalls and may not be right for everyone, it would appear to be one of the best value propositions in the home security market.
on June 18, 2013
I installed this system on 06/14/2013. I did a bunch of research and found many of the online reviews to be dated and inaccurate since the new SimpliSafe2 came out in 2012. I absolutely love the system but if you don't think through your purchase you might be disappointed. Let's talk about the gotchya's:
1) Buy extra sirens! The base unit comes with an 85db siren and if it's the only one you have then the thieves will know EXACTLY where to find it and smash it before your 30 second entry delay is up. Extra sirens will beep on the entry delay and when in full alarm sounding mode they will drown out the base siren and the thieves will be less likely to find your base station and destroy it before the signal goes out to the monitoring company.
2) Buy extra motion sensors for rooms with your most vulnerable windows. If a thief smashes a window the entry sensor will never trip since it never moves. Security is always best in layers! I chose to add motion sensors for my doors as well so I have TWO layers of detection on all my most vulnerable entry points.
3) The cellular network used by SimpliSafe is T-Mobile. Make sure you've got a good signal. I'm in the middle of a major city so this is not an issue.
4) The wood screws that come in the package are not good for mounting entry sensors on steel/metal doors. You might need to make a trip to the hardware store for appropriate screws if you don't want to use the double sided sticky tape provided with the equipment.
Now let's move on to unadvertised, yet complained about, issues:
1) All new equipment can be mounted with screws. Take the extra time to screw things in. It will help prevent false alarms from stuff falling off doors and walls and the purpose of your system is to protect your life and property. The tape is good but screws will always be better.
2) The system is AMAZINGLY flexible and the website is awesome! Each sensor is unique and can be given a name. They can also be set to instantly trigger the alarm whether in home or away mode OR just send an SMS/E-mail when triggered. You can change the time of the entry delay for home or away mode. Sadly there is no exit delay for home mode which kinda sucks if you're leaving the house and your spouse and/or children are still inside. Eh, I have the $25 monitoring package so I can set home mode from my smart phone... The app is great too!
3) Only the base station talks to you. It would be nice if the keypads talked/beeped too.
4) The SMS & email alerts are fantastic. You can add as many as you like.
5) After it's all installed it takes the company 72 hours before they will begin to dispatch police for alarms. They call this a "Practice Mode". At first I was a bit irritated but after a couple days I learned to appreciate it. I accidentally triggered my alarm a few times because I forgot to take it out of home mode when I walked out a door. I've learned... thanks to the practice.
SimpliSafe went out of their way to respond to customer complaints and address those issues in the SimpliSafe2. They also went out of their way to make the system easy to install and operate. It's really simple and intuitive. The setup CD had step by step instructions. I sent an e-mail with a question and they responded in a timely fashion. The website is incredibly easy to use and a very powerful control system for the alarm which was an unexpected surprise. Do your homework, be thoughtful about how and where you place your sensors, and you too should have a good experience with this system.
on November 8, 2011
I used to install alarm systems for ADT. With the high price of monitoring your home, and a 2 or 3 year commitment from most companies, this is the best system on the market for the price!! This system has it's own cell dialing system included in the cost. Other companies charge extra for this feature a month! I know most home robbers will cut the outside phone lines first. Most systems are wireless today and it only takes the average homeowner about 30 minutes to install the system, following the dvd and easy to follow voice prompts. It costs $15 a month to monitor it 24/7. Add the text and email feature for $5 a month and no CONTRACTS to sign, how can you go wrong? You Can't. I love the fact that I can add or move sensors anytime I want to. It has 3M easy mount tape to mount sensors. When you are satisfied with the system it also comes with screws to make it permanent. I recently had an alarm set off by my dog. Go figure!! I was out of town for the day and got a phone text about the motion sensor alarm. A minute later the monitoring company called me and I said dispatch the local police. They arrived 10 minutes later and called me to tell me they checked the premises and found no entry had accured. Great peace of mind while on a trip. I found it is best to install motion sensors upside down at about 4 1/2 feet off the ground. No false alarms since then. PS> If you are wondering, I do not work for Simplisafe!
on March 29, 2009
I purchased my SimpliSafe system a few weeks ago directly from Simplisafe.com. I opted for two extra door monitors and one motion sensor. I evaluated a number of options but had it narrowed down to SimpliSafe & InGrid. I chose SimpliSafe because of InGrid's monthly monitoring fee.
The comprehensive instructions provided made set-up a breeze; I was done in under thirty minutes. The system works great, hasn't yet had a false alarm (though I know they are unavoidable), and is easy to use regardless of whether you use the provided key fob to arm/deactivate the system.
The system is "smash and bash" resistant unlike oh-so-many other out of the box solutions out there, meaning even if someone comes in and smashes the keypad unit next to the door, the (hopefully hidden) base unit will still alarm and contact the monitoring center.
Additionally, all components have battery backup, it doesn't require a phone line or internet connection and - perhaps best of all - you aren't forced into signing up for monitoring service. If you do opt into the monitoring, it is a very low rate relative to the other guys ($15/month) and uses it's own cellular connection to the monitoring service.
There are, however a few minor cons:
-The provided door sticker looks a bit "Fisher Price." I ended up buying an ADT alarm sticker off eBay to serve as a deterrent.
-The base unit voice is relatively quiet, meaning if you want to listen to the voice prompts (which aren't necessary), the base unit will need to be near the primary entry/exit point of your home.
-Being spoiled by Amazon's incredibly quick shipping, my order took about five business days to arrive. Not bad at all, but it seems like a lifetime when you spend those five days watching horror movie marathons late at night ;).
on May 9, 2009
After combing the internet for DIY home security systems, I came across SimpliSafe. I just installed and tested the unit, and am so enthusiastic about it I notified my siblings about it. Now, I'm writing about it here, hoping to spread the word and support this great company.
Installing SimpliSafe is a piece of cake, and even fun. No knowledge of electronics is needed. There are no wires to hide or worry about. Directions are straightforward and complete. There is a great website and call-in service if you do have questions or problems, which seems unlikely.
The components are "stick on" but are designed so you can remove them easily without damaging paint, walls or woodwork. The tape itself is very strong, but in the remote case you have any doubts, you can screw the components on . . . but you won't want to. All components are of obviously high quality, and are neither large nor ostentatious. They can even be painted if you want them to fit in with your decor.
The system is totally wireless. The available window sensors, panic buttons, and motion detectors have long-life batteries and are linked to a keypad and a separate base unit that connects via satellite to a (peopled) dispatch center. You will not need to "hard wire" anything. Although you have the option to do so, you will not need to connect the base unit to your telephone line. If a prospective burglar cuts your phone line you will still be protected. That alone is one reason why you should consider this system.
The cost of the system is quite low considering the intelligent design and quality of it, and you can add components easily and cheaply. (I had initially thought to cobble together my own home security system, but was shocked when I saw how costly the parts would be.) You may get a break on your homeowner's insurance having it installed, saving you money. By the way, you -own- this system, don't rent it, and it is portable. If you move around, you take SimpliSafe with you.
In the event that someone trips a sensor accidentally, you can easily stop the system from notifying the (optional) dispatch service. On the other hand, if someone breaks into your abode and trips the alarm, the dispatch service will first try to reach you by phone, and failing that, will call the police. This is standard practice for burglar alarms, I understand, but if you elect to use the dispatch service it will only cost you $15.00 per month, and there is no contract to sign. Many companies (ADT, Brinks, etc.) make you sign a contract, then soak you at a high monthly rate. Not SimpliSafe.
I should mention the matter of pets and motion detectors. This was a big concern for me and my wife, for we have seven cats that just love to jump on furniture, run around, cavort, etc., and we thought they surely would trigger false alarms. Not so. Thoughtful placement of motion detectors obviated that concern. If you have a St. Bernard or Great Dane it might be another story, but the folks at SimpliSafe have work-arounds for such situations. By the way, the motion detectors cannot be easily defeated by people. I have tried to do so myself and have failed.
I have been very positively impressed by the folks who own and operate SimpliSafe. One of the primaries responded to an e-mail I sent him on a Sunday afternoon, and my posts to the company website have similarly been answered quite promptly. Incidentally, if anything goes wrong with your system, I understand you can return it within 60 days. I know I will not be doing that.
If there is a "downside" to SimpliSafe, it is that the sensors are currently limited to door/window entry, panic, and motion detection. The alarm itself is 85 decibels and goes off within your premises, is certainly loud but not ear-shattering. It seems management is working on a louder alarm, but I would like to see glass-break sensors and a weather proof, external alarm. Still, for the price you will pay, this system is well worth it, and provides exceedingly good home security for most purposes.
Update: March 1, 2012. Since writing this review some time ago, I am pleased to note that Simplisafe has added different types of sensors to its list of options and that it is developing glass-break and smoke detectors. Loud outdoor sirens are also available. And, internet/cell access to your system has been added, along with a beefed-up central unit. Monitoring fees remain low, depending upon the options you elect. Whenever I am out of town and leave my home, I feel exceedingly secure knowing that the Simplisafe system is in place.
Update: March 31, 2013. I remain very enthusiastic about my Simplisafe system. The company continues to grow, but customer service remains excellent, and more products are in the pipeline. I just purchased a smoke detector for my home, and glass break detectors are under development. Carbon monoxide, water, and freeze detectors are available at this time. By the way, the batteries literally last for years without needing replacement.
on September 21, 2012
SimpliSafe Original Wireless Home Security System
If ever you've assembled furniture made in China or bought something else that was poor quality you'd know my frustrations with almost everything I buy today. Most companies are driven by accountants who only see the bottom line and reduce cost and therefore quality. It is one of the most annoying things in this grumpy old man's life that I rarely see products that are made with pride and constantly see products that are utter crap.
With some reservations I ordered the SimpliSafe security system expecting to be disappointed yet again. What sold me on the product was their easy to understand website and especially the installation video contained therein. Whilst there were a few negative reviews here, most were positive. The negative reviews in my view are completely unfounded.
At the time of writing I have had no verbal communication with SimpliSafe. It has all been done via the internet, flawlessly. That in itself is a never before achieved feat that exposes how well designed their website and products are. I have had no reason to phone them because their product worked perfectly out of the box. The components arrived all matched and instantly communicated with each other.
The products themselves felt heavy and well made. They all have lithium batteries which should last for years. The Key remote locks and unlocks the system as easily as unlocking a car. Effectively I can't see any reason to use the keypad. I would suggest that you buy a remote for everyone who accesses the house. The keypad isn't backlit but doesn't need to be, just mount it under a house light and the buttons are very easy to see. Setting the new password is a snap and covered in the very easy to understand instructions.
Another unexpected feature was the software contained in the USB drive on the Key remote. It allowed me to do all the setup using easy to understand software that runs on Mac and PC.
I only ordered the $15 a month monitoring as the other features seemed unnecessary. Most companies charge $40 or $50 a month for this service so $15 to me seems like a bargain.
Companies should strive to exceed their customers' expectations and SimpliSafe have exceeded mine.
on February 16, 2015
I've been dealing with alarm systems as an installer for a while. I know the market pretty well and I know there is no major difference between brands or monitoring companies. All alarm systems work pretty much same way. Simplisafe is cheap, so that was the main reason I got it. I want to add few cents as some reviews and some issues described are just funny for me. Certain people expect thing you can't expect from specific product. I.e. Simplisafe will not be liable for malfunction. Of course, no company will. If you think you can go to ADT after having your house robbed and they will pay you for your losses, you are wrong. In fact when I asked Xfinity if they could provide me with reliable system, customer representative just said "no". So do not expect that. Also, most of sensors come with sticky tape for mounting. Do not depend on it. Use screws. Screws that are supplied are a joke. I couldn't tell what they could be used for. They are just tiny. Go to hardware store and get right screws otherwise your sensors may just fall off triggering alarm. Also realize that even though sensors are "pet safe" if you have a small pet sitting 5 inches from motion sensor it will trigger alarm. Remember also that for monitoring with internet and phone access big companies will charge you upward of $60 a month. Simplisafe is $25. So make sure you compare apples to apples. Someone said that when you leave door or window open system will not notify you. It actually will and I think it's a great feature that you can leave window open and still turn on the system. Useful in the summer. One thing I really don't like, comparing it to Honeywell Lynx, is that you can't name you sensors. It is possible in your online account so when you get text alerts you know which sensor it is, but not possible for home use. I am used to hearing "Garage door" when wife comes home. This system will just chime, but won't say which door or window. You just know entry sensor was triggered. I'm really disappointed because it is something that could've been done just with a firmware update. No extra cost to manufacture. Overall it is a standard alarm system and will do its job like any other alarm system. I wish the keypad was a little more advanced. No backlight for keyboard is an issue. I just started using it, so I will keep posted if anything goes wrong.
on October 12, 2012
If you're like me, you HATE monthly reoccurring charges, such as cable, insurance, cell phone companies (I'm looking at you Verizon), etc. Why burn money every month on reoccurring charges? I like to have controlled costs and very little "renting" reoccurring charges. But, I also have a family and like to feel secure, along with getting the home owners insurance discount often offered with home security systems. I've used ADT, Brinks, Broadview, etc. at prior homes. However, when I moved, I wanted to avoid having a land line (cell signal is virtually radioactive in my house, even in the basement). However, the biggest problem I had was that most companies charged ridiculous rates for their wireless monitoring service ($5 additional was the cheapest I could find). In addition, the base monthly rate was fairly high, averaging about $35 (ADT was charging me $45 w/o the wireless), with Ackerman coming in the cheapest at $18 (w/ wireless, they were $23/month). I thought about using Ackerman because I preferred a "professional" doing the job, much like when I had ADT. But, when I experienced their sales rep, lack of customer service, and overall horrible experience, I knew they weren't a legit company I wanted to trust my home and money to. ADT and all of the other more high profile personal home security companies were far too expensive and I would either have to get a home line or pay extra monthly. So, I looked into "Do it yourself" home monitoring and found this company along with two others (one is sold at Lowes). This one seemed to have the best monthly price, price of equipment, and reviews, so I decided to bite the bullet and give it a try despite my hesitations of the unknown.
I've now used this system for several months, and here are the pros and cons:
There is no shady sales person that comes to your house, that refuse to give you a solid quote over the phone, only to upcharge you DURING the install and after you sign the contract. This is what Ackerman security tried to pull on my wife and myself and exactly why we cancelled our contract (which they tried to tell us we couldn't). Other companies weren't as shady, but still made obvious attempts at upselling through scare tactics. With this system, what you buy is what you get, no hidden monthly costs or "after-the-fact" purchases. You order through a simple online system completely a la carte, or you can start out with the starter kit (perfect for an apartment) and then add on. You can also call in your order. You then have only one of two monthly possible charges, the basic monitoring which I got (exactly the same as my prior monitoring through the big name companies) where they call you and ask for the code when your alarm is set off, or the slightly more expensive version where you also get text alerts and smartphone app support (I think it is $25/month). Either way, the price is CHEAP. I pay $15 a month. That's it. No upcharge, no extra wireless charge, etc.
They are constantly improving their options. They now have flood detection, a more high tech base with more capabilities, and I'm pretty sure they have several other options to include video monitoring coming up as well as carbon monoxide detection, etc. If they don't have it now, wait a few months, they are always adding options. And best of all, you only have to pay for the equipment. For most like me, they have all of the basic equipment you need such as a panic button, remote, keypad with LCD display, motion detectors, window and door sensors, etc.
Price is almost the same as the "included" equipment with ADT, Ackerman, etc. The problem with the big companies is that they almost always offer supposedly "free equipment", but it is only the keypad, remote is NOT included, and a couple sensors, usually two or three, and maybe a motion detector. Most houses have at least six windows and two to three doors that need sensors. At my last house, I had to shell out $350 extra on top of the "free" equipment to equip my first floor and walkout basement doors and windows. What if you buy a house that already has an alarm system? At this house, it was already equipped with an ADT alarm, which Ackerman claimed they could use and save us money, but after signing the contract, the installation guy tried to charge $300 more for "additional equipment" needed to make it work and supposed faulty sensors. All this was told to us AFTER the installation guy to put in the new computer. News flash, the sensors in traditional wired home alarms are only two magnets with a wire going back to the brain. Why was he a) saying they were broken when they clearly weren't and b) charging $50 per unit?!?!? Anyway, this is just a perfect example a bogus upcharges you get with these companies trying to make an extra buck at your expense. I paid $400 for my entire basement and first floor coverage, to include 14 windows, three doors, the base, the digital key pad, detector, and remote (love having a remote!). I can add additional stuff at any time and the equipment is very competitively priced. It's more money up front for most, but honestly, I paid $100 more than my next best option and I own the equipment myself. Even if you didn't have to pay anything whatsoever from the other company for the equipment and installation, which is highly unlikley, your monthly charges will equal out in less than two years in most instances through companies like ADT (except for Ackerman). At only $100 difference, I paid the difference in compared to Ackerman's $23 wireless service in one year. Over the course of several years, you will make up for what you pay for your Simplisafe system many times over.
What people don't realize is that often, when your alarm is set, the call center that calls you is outsourced. These call centers usually provide alarm call center services to all the competitors. Because they use a certified call center, you get an Insurance certificate that you can use to get a home owners discount, just like ADT, Vector, Ackerman, etc. And best part, one time, when we accidentally set off our alarm, I asked the guy if this was the call center from SimpliSafe, he said he didn't know, they provided service to Simplisafe along with several other companies and listed off five other companies, including... ADT! It was some call center in Jersey. Anyway, same service, same discount, no big name company needed.
As I mentioned before, if you live in an area with decent cell signal, you don't need a land line with this! Has worked flawless so far for us.
The price is AMAZING!!! I saw only one company offer something cheaper, the one from Lowes (forget their brand they carry), but the reviews I saw weren't very good regarding the equipment, it lacked the diversity of equipment and services, and the cost saving was only two or three dollars a month. Otherwise, I am coming in a LOT cheaper than going through a major company. Must have made my neighbor upset, since he is an ADT sales rep.
There is no contract. At all. EVERY other company I called from the major retailers required at least two years to "subsidize" their installation and you couldn't get out unless you moved the service, require installation at the new place and a transfer fee. Some were as many as three years commitment. What if you move before then? With SimpliSafe, NO CONTRACT!
If you want, you can use your alarm without the monthly call center service, maybe you hit hard times or are moving, etc. Turn it off for a month or more, then turn it back on whenever you want!
You can move the equipment and service with you wherever you want. This is great for military families or renters.
Set up is EASY. Took me 30 minutes for a 4000 sq ft home, and I was taking my time to be careful. Units are preprogrammed before delivered.
OK, I know, this sounds stupid, but it's so true. I hate calling customer service lines, and while their customer service line has been perfectly fine when I've had to call them, their Facebook page is awesome! They honestly read all the comments and respond with answers to questions and solutions to problems. I wouldn't suggest this for major issues, but honestly, great resource, I rarely see other companies put the time and effort into their Facebook and timely customer feedback (usually get answers in a couple hours in FB). They also list new product announcements on there.
Online access to account, sensors, alarm history, changes to your system functions, etc. You don't have to go through a stupid key pad with either a tiny LCD screen and only numbers, or worse, only blinking LEDs to tell you you did something right or wrong.
The equipment felt a little cheaper relatively, not quite as quality as some other companies, most notably in the window/door sensors. Additionally, they use one AA battery in each sensor, so the sensors are relatively LARGE on one side. I do like the blue indication LED on them that blinks when the unit opens or closes, but overall, they aren't very low profile like wired sensors from ADT, etc. This became a problem with some of our windows which have the larger wood blinds that rub up against the sensors. The equipment works perfectly, but you can't help but notice that they are a step below in aesthetic and ergonomic quality.
The way they get around having individual installation capable without professionals is that each unit is battery powered, so no drilling and running wires. However, this means that every sensor has batteries. Batteries have to be replaced every five years. The good news is that they come with lithium AA batteries, and they are easily replaceable. However, this is a little bit of a hassle if you have a lot of doors, etc., and have to replace them all in five years. However, 30 minutes every five years for free installation? The base is wired and carries a couple day charge should the power go out. This is good, because you don't have to worry about losing functionality in the event of a power outage. However, this is still a little bit of a hassle and sensors like the main door will probably have to be replaced sooner than others that get triggered rarely. The good thing is the base tells you when a sensor is out.
In addition, to make the install easier, they use 3M adhesive tape on the backs. Mine have stuck perfectly thus far, but I would much prefer a sturdier way to install for those of us willing to put in the extra time, something involving nails/screws. I don't know what the longevity of 3M is, but I will keep my fingers crossed on this one.
The base unit isn't loud as I'd prefer. This might be fine for a smaller house or apartment, but for a larger house, you can't hear it that well from other floors. They do have an optional louder speaker that is more than loud enough (almost too loud), I just wish that they had offered a little more decibels in the base unit.
I like the fact that the base unit has a backup battery and love the blue LED indicator. However, I don't like the aesthetic style and it has to be within a certain distance from the key pad. I wish the base had a better range to communicate with the key pad so I could put it in a more discreet location, some people may not have a lot of flexibility in where to put this unit.
This isn't really their fault, more of a warning for those that order without reading the details from the company that are advertised on their page. They do say this isn't meant for large homes. I'm stretching the limits of this units range with my 4000 sq ft home (3000 on two floors and 1000 in a finished basement). I think they suggest 5000 sq ft is the max recommended for the sensors to communicate with one base. It works fine for mine, but any larger and this might pose a problem. I believe I have a fairly large house, but obviously, there are ones larger than mine.
Remote works, but the USB cap is poorly designed, it will not stay on. This is minor, and doesn't affect functionality, but it does make the remote look a little cheap with the cap missing, looks like a large USB stick on your keychain.
You MUST have good T-Mobile cell signal where you are. Mine is ridiculously good, but you really just need decent signal. If you are really rural where cell signal is nonexistent, wireless might not be an option for you. You can plug it in via Ethernet chord or phone line as well, if I'm not mistaken, and still enjoy a low cost alternative to the big companies.
You don't have as much customization options such as allowing for certain home functions like setting the alarm to only go off with certain sensors at certain times, etc.
Okay, so the lists look similar in length. However, most of my gripes in the cons are either warnings for certain customers that won't be able to use this, or, minor ones, ones involving aesthetics and ergonomics, not so much in functionality. I gave these mostly as a "heads up" to individuals. The truth is, I have zero regrets with this system. It works, it works well, there is zero fluff, they advertize what it does and doesn't do, and honestly, I basically get everything I got from the other companies, more in some instances since they are all about technology improvement and are constantly upgrading their equipment. If I have to sacrifice a couple minor things such as larger sensors or minor aesthetic or ergonomic flaws for all the benefits I get, count me in! LOVE IT! And best parts, no contract, commitment, shady sales guy, and the monthly price is AWESOME. I feel that I have a lot of perspective in this too since I've used several other companies before, all traditional type services. I would recommend this to anyone that fits in the categories I have mentioned needing an alarm. If you aren't frugal and don't mind wasting your money on more expensive monthly systems that lock you in, go for it, there's a sucker born every minute. Otherwise, buy this system!
*Update: Correction, it isn't AA lithium batteries, it is CR123A. Looks like AA, but not as common. Bad news, it costs $4.95 per battery! through SimpliSafe. Good news is Amazon has these batteries through companies like Energizer for $12 for an eight pack.
*Update 2 (1/7/14): Year and a half and going, here is the update so far. The base station does use AA's while the sensors use the CR123A. This comes in handy because the base pad batteries have already had to be replaced once due to low power after approximately 9 months. Uses 4 (I think) and are definitely cheaper (I purchase a ton at Costco at a time anyways for all of my remotes). I'm not sure if I had to replace them this early because it is the most used device (I use the keypad everyday) or because their original batteries were cheap knockoff brand, or both. I'm hoping my lithium batteries in next will last over a year ($1 a year investment). Replacement was dead simple. Pull off wall (plate stays behind), replace, pop back on wall plate. The sensors still work (I did have to reposition one because it was not close enough). The system works as I can attest to after accidentally setting it off several times myself and also while someone was housesitting once and I always get a call from the security company asking if everything is ok. Definitely a great product so far. If something goes wrong that will make me think otherwise, will be sure to update.
*Update 3 (1/8/15): Another year, and it is still working. Can't remember if I wrote this before, but here's a BIG tip, don't forget to write the serial numbers to each of the sensors in the booklet they provide so that when a battery dies, the keypad can tell you which one. The keypad tells you a serial number of what sensors battery is dead, but because I glanced over this instruction in the manual, I didn't notice this. Luckily, the battery usually dies quicker on the sensor being used more often, but, I dread to think what happens near the five year mark when they all start to fail and I don't know which one it is. Guess I'll just replace all of them at that time and write the serial numbers then. Otherwise, this thing still works and I have still accidentally set it off too many times to count (walking dogs at ungodly early hours) and they have still kept their low price the same, so while they may raise prices, they haven't so far. I'll keep my fingers crossed.