Home Security system Reviews

August 9, 2016
BeOn Smart Security Light
SimpliSafe Home Security System KeypadBy

Like many new homeowners, I like the idea of securing my family and my house, but I don't like the idea of locking myself into a multi-year service contract during which I have to pay a high monthly monitoring fee. Also, drilling into my newly painted walls to install a complicated wired system isn't terribly appealing. As its name implies, SimpliSafe is a wireless security system that's truly simple to set up and use, and keeps your home safe from intruders and environmental threats like fires and floods. It's a seamless DIY system that succeeds quite well at what it sets out to do—secure your home easily and flexibly, letting you monitor everything remotely with an affordable monthly monitoring plan. But its focus is limited to just that. If you want to integrate a surveillance camera or other home automation devices with your security system, you'll need to look elsewhere.

Hardware and Monitoring Plan Pricing
One of the nicest things about SimpliSafe is that it's a completely configurable system, with five packages available. I tested the soup-to-nuts Ultimate Security package ($539.85), which includes 16 hardware components including the base station, a wireless keypad, a keychain remote, two motion sensors, four door/window entry sensors, a panic button, a 105-decibel siren, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, water and freeze sensors, and a SimpliSafe yard sign and window decals. The least expensive ($229.96) Starter package, which focuses on basic home security, includes the base station, a wireless keypad, one motion sensor, one entry sensor, a keychain remote, and the yard sign and decals.

Components can also be purchased separately to create your own package, or expand on one. If you have a lot of windows, for example, you might want a glass break sensor ($34.99) or extra entry sensors ($14.99 each; the system supports up to 41 total sensors). Or if there are multiple entryways in your home, you can opt for additional keypads ($69.99 each).

If you want a one-stop home monitoring solution that encompasses more than just security, adding environmental sensors makes sense. Smoke detectors are $29.99 each and you can hook them into your monitoring plan, which will alert you via email or SMS when an alarm in triggered and send first responders to your door in the event of a fire. The same goes for carbon monoxide detectors, which are $49.99 each. Freeze sensors ($29.99 each) alert you when the temperature falls below a certain point to prevent burst pipes, and water sensors ($19.99 each) detect and alert you of leaks and floods.

Prices for additional hardware are reasonable when you consider that extra entry sensors cost $39.99 each with Samsung's SmartThings Home Monitoring system. Even with the budget-focused iSmartAlarm , entry sensors are two for $59.99.

One thing you can't get: surveillance cameras. This omission is puzzling given that SimpliSafe's main goal is to notify you as to what's happening at home when you're not there. Integrating a camera, so you can see and record what's happening, makes perfect sense. And you can't add third-party cameras like the Nest Cam or the Icontrol Piper NV , since there's currently no support for Wi-Fi, Zigbee, Z-Wave, IFTTT, or other home automation protocols. That means no integration with lights, door locks, video door bells, or any other smart home devices. The company promises that a camera is in development, and should ship by the end of the year. We'll test it and update this review when it's available.

SimpliSafe Online Dashboard SettingsFor monitoring, there's a basic .99 per month Standard plan that includes 24/7 coverage. If a sensor is triggered, SimpliSafe will contact you, and if you don't provide a safe word that you designate during setup, police will be dispatched. For more per month, the Interactive plan adds SMS and email alerts, the ability to use the Online Dashboard for finer control of the system (more on that in a minute), and the smartphone app to arm and disarm the system. Another neat feature you get with the Interactive plan is the ability to set up sensors in an Alert Only mode, without triggering alarms. Have a well-stocked liquor cabinet and curious teenagers? You can put an entry sensor on the door and you'll be notified each time the cabinet is accessed. Compared with the Vivint Sky home security system, monitoring fees cost at least twice that of SimpliSafe, ranging from $50-$70 per month.

If you don't want to pay the monthly fees, SimpliSafe can be used as a local alarm. So when a sensor is triggered, it's up to you to contact the authorities. There aren't any contracts or commitments and you can start and stop service or change plans at any time. This flexibility is what makes SimpliSafe a compelling alternative to security systems like ADT or Slomin's, which require you to commit to multiple years of service with penalties if you break your contract.

Source: www.pcmag.com
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