Do-it-yourself home security options seem to be by the day, and we've tested a lot of them. None of them have left us quite as impressed as SimpliSafe. With its wide variety of easy-to-install sensors, SimpliSafe protects your home in a way that's comprehensive and yet also remarkably user-friendly. The system is totally wireless and designed to keep running even if the power gets cut, and unlike most other DIY security kits, SimpliSafe features both live monitoring and a cellular backup. If something's amiss at home, you can count on your system to keep you and the authorities notified, no matter what.
SimpliSafe offers five different packages with a varying assortments of sensors, ranging in price from 9.96 to 9.85. That's quite a bit compared with other DIY options like the
iSmartAlarm Preferred Package or
Oplink Security's AlarmShield package, both of which cost $199. Also, unlike iSmartAlarm or
Viper Home, SimpliSafe charges monthly fees in order to unlock fairly basic features.
You'll need to pay .99 per month in order to receive SMS and e-mail alerts, and if you want to control your system from your smartphone, you'll need to increase that to .99 a month. Even if you aren't interested in any of that, you'll still be paying $14.99 a month for the live monitoring and the cellular backup (you also have the option of foregoing the cellular connection and live monitoring altogether for a fee-free local alarm, but that isn't an approach I would recommend).
With so many fee-free competitors, I was initially skeptical of SimpliSafe's value, but then I installed and tested a system for myself. The setup process was as easy as I've seen from any home security offering, and once I was up and running, each sensor aced my tests. The more I used the system, the more it impressed me with its thorough and thoughtful security coverage. By the time I was finished, SimpliSafe had me fully won over. It's an outstanding value, and a deserving winner of our Editors' Choice award.Plug the keychain remote into your computer's USB drive, and a a handy interface will pop up to walk you through the installation process. Screenshot by Ry Crist/CNET
The first step is to plug in the base station, which serves as the brains of the system. It's large, but unlike the core components of most other DIY kits, you won't need to plug it into your router, so you'll have some flexibility about where to stash it. Once the base station has power, the menu will show you how to set up each of the sensors in your kit. For each one, you'll simply need to pull a tab to activate the batteries, then choose a wall on which to stick it. As you set your sensors up, the menu will provide helpful pointers on placing them in the right spots. When you're done, you'll be able to customize your settings right on your computer - afterward, you'll plug the USB into a port on the top of your base station to automatically transfer your settings into the system within seconds.