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By Anne Dennon, Technology and Finances Writer

SimpliSafe vs. Ring Home Security Review

The home security market in 2019 is flooded with players, both old and new. While old-guard security companies like ADT are busy cranking up their technological prowess, home security newcomers like SimpliSafe and Ring are working out some of the systemic kinks. Age-old stumbling blocks to home security — like long-term contracts and clunky functionality — get the boot from these forward-leaning companies, which replace high monitoring costs at locked-in rates with cheap monitoring, a la carte equipment options, and far-ranging compatibility.

Of the multitude of flashy new home security systems, SimpliSafe and Ring are two advanced, well-functioning options that have received a lot of praise from tech journalists. Both stand out for their attractive pricing and sleek, multi-use devices. Here, we’ll flesh out the primary differences between these two top options to help you choose the one best suited to your home.

SimpliSafe vs. Ring Overview

SimpliSafe
Ring
Cost for basic plan $15 per month $10 per month
Monitoring DIY or Professional DIY or Professional
Fees Late fee Insufficient funds fee
Terms No contract No contract
Standout features 60-day trial 30-day trial

Monitoring

Home security monitoring comes in two flavors: DIY or professional. With a DIY home security system, all the sensors and cameras in your home communicate with you, and you decide whether or not the situation merits calling the police. With professional monitoring, a monitoring center fields incoming alerts and calls first responders on your behalf. If the alert is for breaking glass or a whiff of smoke, the timeliness of professional monitoring may avert crisis. That said, DIY is inarguably cheaper. Both SimpliSafe and Ring offer professional monitoring at highly competitive prices ($10-$15 per month versus an industry standard of around $40), and both give you the option to go DIY. Note that Ring’s DIY option, while incredibly cheap — $3 per month — isn’t free. You pay for data storage so you can review video footage.

Smart home capabilities

While traditional security may be the primary reason you’re building out a smart home system, the same devices that can detect a break-in can also let you know a package was delivered or your neighbor stopped by. Much of these capabilities boil down to the video recording and sensors provided by smart doorbells and cameras.

Ring offers five doorbells and three cameras a la carte, and 12 equipment kits ranging from the basic (five pieces) to extensive (20). SimpliSafe has just one doorbell and one camera and eight equipment kits. The doorbells of both providers let you keep an eye on what happens at your front door, talk to whoever rings, or simply review the video recording of their visit. Ring’s doorbells all offer essentially the same features but range in price from $100 - $250, while SimpliSafe’s option sits at $170.

The Ring Neighbors app allows you to share videos of potential burglars with your cul-de-sac, get alerted when neighbors do the same, and potentially crowd-source your way to nipping residential crime in the bud.

Compatibility

Every smart home is its own ecosystem, with coexisting devices all controlled through the same portal and linked by the same network protocol. At least, that’s the ideal. What you don’t want: disparate pieces of equipment that don’t communicate with each other and require individualized operation. When selecting a home security provider, consider your existing systems and devices. Which best works with what you’ve already got?

SimpliSafe works with both Google Home and Amazon Alexa, meanwhile Amazon-owned Ring functions best when used with Alexa. Also consider whether the smart home devices you already own were designed on a Works with Amazon basis or a Works with Google Home. A great home security system can serve as the foundation for a true smart home, with automated lights, thermostat, garage door, and more.

So, which is right for me?

If you... Then you should go with: Here's why:
Have Google Home devices SimpliSafe SimpliSafe swings both ways, making it a better fit for the Google-equipped home than the Amazon-affiliated Ring.
Have Amazon home devices Ring Amazon owns Ring, which means that it is only compatible with Alexa and you can score a deal if you strategize your shopping around Prime Day or Black Friday.
Want affordable equipment Ring Both Ring and SimpliSafe require you to purchase your equipment upfront, which makes for a sizable investment. Ring’s comparable options are cheaper than that of SimpliSafe.
Want professional installation SimpliSafe Both companies default to DIY installation — a money-saving feature for those who want it. Don’t have the time or inclination? SimpliSafe will send out a pro on request.

How to compare home security companies

Installation

Gone are the days when getting a home security system meant booking an hour or so of a technician’s time to hardwire your home. Today’s systems are largely wireless, largely DIY-friendly. Most equipment kits, including those of SimpliSafe and Ring, are designed for simple self-installation. But if you would like to hash out device placement with someone who knows, or simply delegate the process of installing to someone else, note that not all companies give the option of professional installation, and still fewer offer professional installation for free. Seek out a company whose installation practices best match with your schedule and budget. Of the two companies compared here, only SimpliSafe can send out a professional to install your system.

Compatibility

Today’s home security systems are built to grow. Get a control panel, a camera, and a couple motion sensors now. Upgrade with further sensors, extra cameras, and home automation devices down the road. Building out your perfect smart home hinges on one factor: That they all get along. For this reason, purchasing your initial security package can be a big decision. It will serve as the foundation for the rest of your system. Look into the compatibility of your existing devices, and do a little research on the new devices that most catch your eye, to help you land on a system that integrates with both your existing and future home tech.

Price

Home security is a “system” because it comprehends many elements. So does a home security system’s final price. If you’re shopping with cost in mind, note that equipment, monitoring, and terms all impact your bottom line.

Neither SimpliSafe nor Ring require contracts, but that means the companies aren’t guaranteed your consistent payments. As a result, you have to buy all your equipment upfront. Other home security systems levy contracts that allow them to spread the cost of the devices out over months or years of service, or just offer them free of charge. On the other hand, those companies tend to charge around $40 per month for professional monitoring, while SimpliSafe and Ring give you the same protection for less than half that amount. Just as a base salary isn’t the entire compensation package, device costs and promotional subscription pricing alone won't give you the full picture of your home security costs.

Home Security FAQ

How do you prevent false alarms?

False alarms account for well over 90% of all alarms in the U.S. That’s worse than a bad track record, it’s a constant drain on first responder resources. As a response, cities nationwide have instituted home security system permits and fines (like this false alarm ordinance from Evanston, IL) for false alarms. Check with your local laws to see if you need to register your system (to avoid getting charged for failing to do so after the cops respond to your alarm). As for preventing false alarms themselves, make it a priority to review alerts before the alarm company dispatches the police. Set a special ringtone for your security app or have several members of your family signed up for alerts. Finally, make sure everyone who lives with you is comfortably using the system, including how to disarm it.

Do you need professional monitoring?

Professional monitoring makes good on the threat of a tripped alarm. If a burglar enters your home and hears the sirens, it means the police are on their way. Without it, it’s just a siren that, in the best systems, also sends detailed alerts to your phone about the nature of the perceived threat. Hopefully, you are able to quickly respond to the alert and dial the authorities yourself.

The choice of whether or not to pay the monthly charge for professional monitoring comes down to the level of protection you feel you need and how confident you are that you will be able to provide that protection yourself. Luckily, with SimpliSafe and Ring, opting for professional monitoring is not a big financial commitment. Both are cheap and, even better, easy to cancel.

SimpliSafe offers two monitoring plans, Standard and Interactive. If you want the added features of mobile control (arm and disarm your system remotely) and security alerts plus smart home integration, you’ll have to plump for the Interactive plan.

Ring offers just one professional monitoring plan, Protect Plus, but offers two options for the DIYer. Protect Basic allows you to review, share, and save video footage, but you don’t have to sign up for anything to get alerts and live video. Those capabilities come with the devices.

Can you take your home security system with you when you move?

In most cases, yes. If you have a DIY installed home security system with a company that operates nationwide (which is the case with both SimpliSafe and Ring), you are free to pack up and reestablish your system in your new home. If your system was hardwired, it may take two visits from technicians — one to remove and one to re-install — before you’re back up and operating. The other potential limitation is in territory. If you go with a regional company, they might not be able to service you after crossing state lines.

How secure is my security system?

No security system is 100% infallible: Anything that connects to a network has the potential to be hacked. However, most reputable companies update their devices and safeguard against cyber vulnerabilities on a pretty frequent basis. Plus, you can take some steps on your own to prevent your smart devices from being hacked.

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