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The Best Home Security System

(Source: thewirecutter.com)

Our pick sitting on a book shelf

Our pick

SimpliSafe

SimpliSafe is a flexible, affordable, and easy-to-use live-monitoring security option that offers the same essential security features as other systems. Furthermore, it’s one of the most reliable, with customizable alarm triggers and consistent monitoring response times. It’s also easy to set up and scalable to small and large homes, and it offers a variety of accessories to cater to more specific needs. And as of May 2018, it works with Amazon Alexa as well, allowing you to arm and check the system using only voice commands.

SimpliSafe offers the security-focused person just what they need, and doesn’t push more than what’s necessary for basic monitoring. Because of that, it doesn’t charge more than what the service is worth. The $230 Foundation package includes the Base Station, a keypad, one entry sensor, one motion sensor, a yard sign, and two window decals. (SimpliSafe is the only no-contract company we looked at that includes a yard sign in the starter kit.) For $15 per month, you can add around-the-clock professional monitoring and a cellular connection, so the system can communicate with the monitoring service without a traditional landline. The $25-per-month Interactive plan adds support for iOS and Android smartphone apps, push and email alerts, and 30-day event-footage storage for unlimited cameras. (If you opt for the $15 plan, you can add recording for $5 per month per camera. This addition maxes out at $10 for unlimited cameras, but at that point you should just opt for the Interactive plan.)

SimpliSafe is a no-contract security system, which means you pay for monitoring service on a month-to-month basis rather than on a long-term contract. It also means you may have to pay more up front for hardware than you would with some of the companies that want to lock you into a lengthy service agreement. However, paying for the equipment up front provides you with a lot of control over what you get, where you can put it, and how you use the service. You can start and stop the monitoring service as many times as you want. If you cancel, you lose the monitoring and remote access, but the sensors and sirens still work, so you’ll still have an alarm you can set when you’re home at night.

The SimpliSafe equipment is now in its third incarnation, which delivers its simplest and most stylish experience to date. The Base Station is curvier and the sensors are smaller, but the range is better, so you can place equipment almost anywhere in an average-size home. SimpliSafe is also the only no-contract system that provides a stand-alone, wireless keypad as part of the starter package; this keypad doesn’t need AC power, so you can mount it anywhere. Keeping the two pieces separate is a smart move, because even if a burglar manages to break the keypad, they haven’t actually disabled the system. The soft keypad buttons provide good feedback as you press them, and the system reacts quickly along with each press. SimpliSafe also preprograms the Base Station and devices to make installation easy.

A key pad, motion sensor, and door sensor sitting on a table

The Base Station is the brains behind the system. It includes Wi-Fi and (optional) cellular connections to the central monitoring station, which means it doesn’t need to be connected to a router, making it easy to place anywhere in the home. It also features a 24-hour battery backup, blue and red lights for alerts, UL certification, and an adjustable 95 dB siren—not the loudest alarm, but more than sufficient for the average-size home. (If you want to go louder, or you have a large home and need more than one siren, you can add a stand-alone 105 dB siren for an additional cost.) The Base Station provides voice prompts during setup, as well as when the system is arming, disarming, and triggered. When the system is triggered, the voice alerts you to enter your passcode before the system starts beeping. You can also integrate SimpliSafe into an Alexa smart-home setup, which enables you to arm the system in Home or Away mode or to check the system’s status using voice commands. (For security reasons, however, you cannot currently disarm the system using voice commands.)

SimpliSafe’s contact sensors for doors and windows are small enough to hide in white trim; the motion sensor is noticeable, but not an eyesore. The motion sensor is quick to respond, but in our tests it was never triggered by a 30-pound dog. SimpliSafe also sells extra entry sensors, water and freeze sensors, glass-break sensors, panic buttons, and cameras. You can also purchase additional window stickers and yard signs.

Although entry and exit triggers are customizable (up to 4 minutes, 15 seconds), the response time was always consistent: In every one of our tests, the COPS monitoring service called exactly 44 seconds after the alarm sounded. The service was also always polite; and for security, it requires a safe word to restore the peace.

We’re not alone in liking SimpliSafe. Though reviews of the third-generation hardware are scarce at this point, Home Alarm Report gave it a 7.87 (out of 10). That site’s biggest gripe is limited smart-home integration options, which the company only began to add in early 2018.

More Info: thewirecutter.com