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SimpliSafe Home Security review: This system lives up to its name

Jake Widman | Jan. 4, 2016
SimpliSafe promotes its home-security system as a less-expensive alternative to professionally installed systems you can buy from service providers such as ADT and Vivint.

SimpliSafe gallery

SimpliSafe promotes its home-security system as a less-expensive alternative to professionally installed systems you can buy from service providers such as ADT and Vivint. You buy the equipment outright, install it yourself, and there’s no long-term contract—even if you sign up for the optional monitoring service.

But before you jump on this deal, know its limitations: The SimpliSafe system doesn’t support smart door locks, lighting controls, security cameras, or programmable thermostats. So if you’re looking to convert your house into a smart home, this isn’t the way to go.

Even if you don’t care that entering the right code in your deadbolt can automatically disarm your alarm system, or that a camera gives you a remote look at your house if the alarm goes off while you’re away, we consider lighting controls to be an important part of a home-security system. Here’s why: We like the idea of having the lights turn to frighten an intruder who trips the alarm, and to light your way out of the house if your smoke detector or carbon-monoxide detector warns of dangerous conditions inside.

SimpliSafe base station 
This columnar base unit is the heart of the SimpliSafe system. It monitors all the sensors and houses a siren and a GSM module, among other things. Credit: SimpliSafe

So we’re dinging the SimpliSafe system reviewed here a half-star for not having those features. If those shortcomings don’t bother you, you can mentally add it back, because it’s otherwise a very good product. Installation, for instance, is very simple and do-it-yourself—no technician needs to come out to your house, and you can take the equipment with you if you move. SimpliSafe offers professional monitoring on a subscription basis, but that service is optional and there's no long-term contract. I’ll go into more detail on that later.

The base unit is the core of the SimpliSafe system. It's an 11-inch-tall rounded tower that houses a siren, a buzzer, a speaker, and a GSM module that establishes a cellular connection to the monitoring office. (A burglar can easily defeat an alarm system that relies on a landline by cutting an exterior cable.) The base unit runs on AC power, but has a battery backup, so a burglar can’t defeat the alarm system by cutting off power to your home, either. SimpliSafe says the battery will last at least eight hours.

The other core component is a keypad that you mount near your door. You’ll use this to activate the alarm when you leave the house, and to disable it when you come back. While you're home, you can arm all aspects of the system except for the motion sensor, so you have protection while you're home, too. Apart from the base station, everything else runs on battery power, so you don’t need to worry about stringing wires all over the house.

 

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