This $230 home security system has made living in a high-crime area less stressful for my family
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- According to the FBI, property crimes rates have steadily decreased over the last 15 years, but burglaries still account for more than $15 billion in losses per year.
- A good home security system will not stop a determined burglar, but it does an excellent job of scaring away the vast majority of thieves.
- SimpliSafe is considered one of the best home security systems by experts and buyers alike because of its easy installation, endless customization options, and 24/7 professional monitoring.
- Starting at $229.99 on Amazon for the home protection system plus $14.99 per month for monitoring and police dispatch, SimpliSafe is relatively inexpensive and doesn't require you to sign a contract.
I live in Lansing, Michigan. My city has some of the highest violent and property crime rates in the United States. And, my neighborhood is among the worst in town. All of my neighbors have a story or three of someone breaking into their house and stealing whatever valuables they could grab quickly. In fact, a neighbor tells me that before I moved in, there were several burglaries in my house.So, when I came to town five months ago, I knew I'd need to take some protective measures to scare off ne'er-do-wells. Fortunately, SimpliSafe was game to send me a review unit of their all-new third-generation home security system to test out. Below are my experiences with it.
My first experiences with SimpliSafe
SimpliSafe's system uses Wi-Fi and cellular connections to send alerts. Each of the devices is also powered by batteries. This means that if the power is knocked out or your landline is cut, the monitoring stations will still get your signal. They have even made the keypad and base station "smash safe."
The review set included 10 pieces of security equipment:
- Base station - This is the brains of the operation. It also features the on-location siren that will hopefully chase off intruders. The base station communicates with all of the sensors, your smartphone, and the professional monitoring. SimpliSafe recommends installing this in a central spot in your home.
- Keypad - The keypad is installed next to your main entrance so you can easily enter your PIN to turn it off when you get home. It also tells you if the alarm has been triggered and if there are any software updates.
- Entry sensors (3) - These two-piece units go on doors and windows. They let you know when a potential point of entry is opened or closed.
- Motion sensor - This uses infrared technology to tell if someone enters a room.
- Glassbreak sensor - Installed on a wall or shelf within 30 feet of windows that are most likely to be broken into, the glassbreak sensor is triggered when it "hears" the specific frequency of glass breaking.
- Panic button - I put this by my bed - you just push it if there is a threat that the other sensors didn't pick up.
- Freeze sensor - This sensor monitors the temperature in your house and sends an alert if it gets too cold or too hot.
- Water sensor - If your basement is flooding, you want to know right away. The water sensor will alert you.
Installation of these units took a total of 45 minutes. This included reading the manual, installing the app, installing the sensors, and testing. There were no tools needed. All of the devices have adhesives on them that make it easy to stick them to the walls. They also come with screws if you want to mount them that way.
How SimpliSafe performed
With SimpliSafe, you can self-monitor or pay $14.99 per month (no contract required) for 24/7 professional monitoring. If you choose to self-monitor, the onus is on you to assess the threat and contact the police when you receive an alert. Self-monitoring fails when you are in a compromised position and cannot contact the police.With SimpliSafe's professional monitoring and police dispatch, they call you when the alarm is triggered. If you don't answer, they contact the backup number. If the secondary contact doesn't answer, then a SimpliSafe representative calls 911. Because of false alarms tying up police resources, different municipalities have different processes for these calls. For instance, in order for a third-party to contact police on your behalf, some cities require you to register your security system and also provide some sort of audio or video proof of a crime in progress.
I set off the alarm a couple of times. Within about 10 minutes of leaving the house after first arming the system, I got a call from SimpliSafe asking if I had an emergency event because the motion sensor had been triggered by my dog. I gave the representative my safe word, and there was no need for a police dispatch.
The setup guide directs you on how to place the motion sensor if you have cats or dogs but not both. I have two cats and a dog. I emailed SimpliSafe's customer service on a Sunday evening for help on the correct placement of the motion sensor, and they got back to me the next morning. The service rep recommended installing the motion sensor upside down about four feet above the floor. This is because the sensor doesn't monitor upwards. So, people four feet tall and taller will set it off. Four-legged creatures will not. Once I resolved this, I didn't have any other false alarms from the motion sensor.
The app is incredibly easy to use and makes it effortless to customize your experience. You can choose to get push notifications, SMS texts, or emails when any of your sensors are triggered. There is also an option to instantly sound the alarm. I set this up for when the glassbreak sensor is triggered.
Read more: The best home security products you can buy
Some concerns about the home security system
At 95 decibels, the alarm is quite loud, but it may not reach all parts of your home. SimpliSafe instructs you to install the base station in a central location in your home. At first, we figured that would be the second floor of our three-story home. But, from the first floor, where intruders will likely enter, the sound of the siren was not as intense as we would have liked. So, we moved the siren to the first floor. It would be nice if SimpliSafe offered a few sirens throughout the home. For $60, SimpliSafe offer an extra-loud 105-decibel siren that can be used inside the home or outside to alert neighbors.
I wanted to keep the key fob on my keychain for easy access, but I accidentally armed the system while it was in my pocket. At the time, I was next door talking to my neighbor and didn't have my phone on me. I faintly heard an alarm-like sound, but I assumed it was coming from elsewhere. Well, it turns out it was our system and my wife got a call from the SimpliSafe rep. Now, I just keep the key fob next to my bed to arm the system when I go to bed. I use the keypad when leaving the house.
Lastly, there's a reported hack that can disarm the second-generation SimpliSafe system. The signals for the new third-gen system are encrypted and should protect against this hack. If you are concerned about this, I recommend not advertising that you are using a SimpliSafe system. Instead, consider purchasing generic signs off Amazon or elsewhere. Either way, it's important that you advertise that you have a security system. That should be enough to deter most scofflaws.
Bottom lineEven the best security system won't stop a determined burglar. But, when it comes to opportunistic crimes, a security system should be enough to ward off most criminals. In the five months we've lived here, we haven't had any security issues. And, my wife and I sleep easier at night knowing that our home is being monitored 24/7.
Based on my experience, the third-generation of SimpliSafe's wireless home security system is everything it claims to be. I strongly recommend it for safeguarding your home.
Update 10/30/18: After this review was published, SimpliSafe contacted us to let us know about their video alarm verification. If you have the SimpliSafe Camera, the monitoring center will receive a short clip of what triggered the alarm and use it to verify the alarm for the police. They never have access to your camera so your privacy is protected. SimpliSafe says this reduces false alarms and often leads to faster dispatch and higher arrest rates.
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