Traditionally when you think of alarm systems, you automatically associate them as being system and service to install and keep. Sure, there are plenty of DIY home security systems out there, but most of them fall short of the ones with service plans. But getting an alarm system from the likes of ADT or Protect America is quite pricey. First there are the equipment and installation costs, and then there are the monthly service costs that usually cost between $50-$100 on average. Plus, most of these service plans require a nasty contract too. SimpliSafe aims to change all of that by offering a home security system that is as good as what the big boys offer, but without the “highway-robbery” prices. They have managed to accomplish this by offering a self-install system which helps cut costs. And not only is their monthly service fee reasonably priced, it’s also pay-as-you-go, without any termination or activation fees tacked onto it.
Recently the company introduced their second generation system. SimpliSafe 2 introduces a whole new suite of features that can even give more expensive services a run for their money. That includes a wireless set-up, and email and text messaging alerts. Our SimpliSafe 2 testing kit came with a slew of devices and accessories in the box, including entry sensors for doors and windows, motion sensors, a panic button, a keypad, and a keychain to arm and disarm your system. At first we were bit intimidated by all of the boxes, but within a half hour we had set up all of the devices around our apartment. Now only was the set-up process very straightforward, but the base station actually guides you with a built in voice! The keychain “remote” even doubles as a USB key which holds the necessary installation files to use when first setting up the system. We also found SimpliSafe’s customer service to be very friendly and patient with us during the testing process.
But besides for the easy DIY set up process, we also appreciate the fact that the Simplisafe 2 system is totally wireless. The base station actually operates over a built-in cellular module with a GSM SIM Card inside of it. So no landlines required, and you don’t have to worry about a burglar cutting the chords either. Furthermore, all of the entry sensors, motion sensors, and panic buttons are wireless and battery operated.
But what has really captured our attention about the new SimpliSafe 2 is its ability to send out email and text message alerts. The system will notify you if just about anything happens with your alarm system. That includes if a sensor is triggered, the base station is plugged out, the alarm is turned off, and more. We found the alerts to be super reliable and practically instant. Another neat trick of the system is that you can log in to your account online to turn off the alarm, should it go off while you’re away from home.
As a matter of fact, we were really impressed with SimpliSafe 2 right up until we went away on a 2 week vacation. One day while lounging around on a beach somewhere on the coast of Italy, we received an email letting us know that the alarm had been set off. We then received a phone call from the Emergency Dispatch center letting us know that the alarm had gone off, and that the police were on their way to check it out. Needless to say, we were quite unnerved, but tried to remain calm. The dispatcher told us that he would call us back once he had heard back from the police. Three quarters of an hour minutes later we still hadn’t heard from him, so we called back the emergency dispatcher. He then told us that the police had still not reported in. Panic started to settle in… not knowing what was going on back at home, was no peace of mind at all. When I asked to speak to someone at SimpliSafe, the Emergency Dispatcher said that SimpliSafe is a separate entity and that I should reach out to them by calling them directly. I then attempted to call SimpliSafe in an effort to possibly get some sort of status update, but they were not yet open for business, as it was it was too early in the morning. After that, we never heard back from the dispatcher and never had an update about what had actually transpired in our apartment.
There is no better way to ruin your day at a Mediterranean beach, then to discover that your apartment might be getting broken into, and that your thousands of miles away and can’t do anything about it – and there is no way for you to know what happened. The only saving grace in the situation was that I was able to log in to my SimpliSafe account online to disable the alarm. This way I could at least be confident, that I wouldn’t return home the following week, to an angry neighbor who would have experienced a piercing alarm sound indefinitely.
So it wasn’t until we returned home days later that we finally felt peaceful again about our apartment’s security. Fortunately, there had been no visible break in after all. Instead it seemed that the Wireless Sensor had fallen off the wall and accidentally triggered the SimpliSafe 2 alarm to go off.
As relieved as we were to find the apartment safe and sound, the experience with the alarm going off left us wondering where we should point fingers at. On one hand, the Emergency Dispatcher is probably the same one used by many other home security systems. On the other hand, we could also point fingers at our local police for their reaction to the dispatcher. Do we blame the Emergency Dispatcher for never following up to let us know what the police had discovered? Or do we blame the police for not reporting back to the dispatcher? Did the police ever actually go out to check if our apartment was being broken into? And if they didn’t, how truly useful is it to have alarm system with an Emergency Dispatcher on call? And of course, last but not least, is it SimpliSafe’s responsibility to make sure that the police are on the scene and that we are updated with progress about a possible break in?
Yet despite how frustrating this isolated incident ended up being, there is still a lot to like about SimpliSafe 2. It’s very affordable, easy to set-up, wireless, and the instant email and text message alerts tend to be very reliable. There is no question in our mind that SimpliSafe 2 is a lot better than some $300 stand alone home security system you’ll find out there. All in all, when it comes to technology, SimpliSafe 2 gets an A for ease of use and reliability. However the reliability of the Emergency Dispatcher service does concern us. Finally, we would also love to see a video surveillance option made available to work with SimpliSafe 2. As a matter of fact, we think that a system like DropCam would be a perfect fit for SimpliSafe. The reality is – that had we had a video surveillance system to use while we were on vacation, we would probably had rested much easier knowing that it had all been a false alarm.
Pricing for the SimpliSafe 2 equipment starts at around $269 for a kit with a Base Station and some sensors. The monthly service costs $14.99 for the basic service, while the 24/7 Total Alarm Monitoring + Online Command which includes Email and SMS alerts and fire, flood, carbon monoxide, and freeze monitoring, costs $24.99 and will be available soon.
The Good: Works wirelessly over a built-in cellular module, extremely easy to set-up on your own, no contract required, low monthly service fee, clean and modern aesthetics, now with configurable text message email alerts, you can turn the alarm off remotely via the web
The Bad: See the “incident” above – where wireless sensors tend to fall off walls without extra reinforcement and can set off the alarm accidentally, would love to see a video surveillance option, SimpliSafe customer support is not 24/7