If you visit dictionary.com and look up the word security, you’ll find that the top 3 definitions are:
1. freedom from danger, risk, etc.; safety.
2. freedom from care, anxiety, or doubt; well-founded confidence.
3. something that secures or makes safe; protection; defense.
We all want to believe that the safest place is our home. But have you ever felt scared to be alone at night? Or maybe you have a large home and can’t go back to sleep when you hear a bump in the middle of the night. I’ll admit that I’ve had those feelings on occasion. As a result, I jumped at the chance to review the SimpliSafe 1500 Home Security system.
SimpliSafe systems are marketed for city / apartment dwellers due to the fact that they are extremely easy to relocate if you ever pick up and move to another home.
Before we go any further, I want mention that I reviewed the SimpliSafe without the 24/7 Emergency Dispatch subscription enabled. This is a $15 per month service that does not require a long term contract. Without that service, the SimpliSafe will still provide audible alarms, but it will not notify authorities when these alarms are sounded.
2 Entry sensors
1 Motion sensor
Extra adhesive strips
AC adapter for base station
Let’s take a look at the individual components that make up the system…
The base station is a White plastic tower that has 4 connection points.
Three of them are on the back, an AC adapter connector and phone line in and out connectors. I didn’t connect the phone line to my review unit, since I did not have the 24/7 dispatch subscription service enabled.
There’s also a USB connector on the top of the base station. This is used to easily program the alarm settings with the include USB remote control. More detail about that in a bit.
The wireless keypad module has a backlit LCD display and 15 buttons.
It’s designed to stick to a wall. On the back are two adhesive strips. These are special strips that can be removed without damaging the surface that they are stuck to. If you need to relocate the keypad, extra adhesive strips are included for this purpose.
The other components in the SimpliSafe system are the sensors, of which there are 3 types.
Entry Sensors (2 are included in the 1500 system) are two part magnetic modules that stick to doors or windows and sound an alarm when the two pieces are separated by more than 2 inches.
They are really easy to install, with peel and stick adhesive backs. Here you can see that I’ve placed the entry sensor so that the large part (with the small Blue LED) on the door jam and the smaller part on the actual door. When the door opens the magnetic seal is broken and an alarm is sounded. I installed one sensor on my front door and one on my sliding patio door in my basement.
In addition to the entry sensors, there is also a motion sensor that can detect movement up to 20 feet away and 45 degrees to the left and right. It even works in a room full of windows and will not be tripped by people walking by a window (unless the window is open). The motion detector is also pet friendly and should not detect pets that are under 30 pounds as long as they are unable to come within 2 feet of the sensor. I placed the detector on a shelf in a bookcase in my basement.
The 1500 system includes a panic button sensor. This can be stuck on a wall or just placed on a night stand in a bedroom. The top is one large button, making it super easy to press without even looking at it. Pressing and holding the button for more than 1 second will immediately cause the 85 dB siren located in the base station to sound.
The wireless range for the Entry, Motion and Panic sensors is about 400-500 feet with a direct line-of-sight. Of course they will also work also fine between walls and floors.
In addition to the panic button sensor, there’s a panic button located on the keypad as well as the keychain remote control.
The keychain remote has three buttons: Panic, Off and Away. The Panic button works just like it does on the larger Panic sensor as long as you are within 50ft of the base station, the off button will disarm the SimpliSafe system immediately and the Away button puts the system in Away mode.
There’s a heavy metal ring on one end of the keychain remote that can be turned to reveal an opening so that you can add it to another keychain.
Besides having a hand held controller for the SimpliSafe, the keychain remote can also be used to program the system. The cap pulls off to reveal a USB connector. When you plug the keychain into your Windows PC, it will auto load a wizard program that will allow you to customize different sensor settings.
You can use the program to add and remove sensors, designate when a sensor will be active. Entry Sensors can be enabled or disabled. Motion Sensors can be enabled during both Home and Away mode, only during Away mode, or disabled. Panic Buttons can be enabled, disabled or set to silent alarm. Keypads and Keychain Remotes can be enabled, have the panic button disabled, or be fully disabled.
For example, if you have a friend with a large dog visiting your apartment for a few days, you may want to disable your Motion Sensor (set it to be “disabled”) during her visit. When she leaves, you can change it back to the previous setting (the default is “Away mode”). If you have a large dog and will likely never be using the Motion Sensor at all, you can select “Remove” to remove it from your system. You can always add it on again later by going to Manage Components and then “Add Component”.
The wizard software (which does not have to be used to setup your system) will walk you step by step to setting up all the components.
I placed the keypad next to my front door.
And the base station on a small desk about 6 feet away. Notice that the base of the base station is glowing Blue. It does this when the alarm mode is set to Home or Away. When the alarms are off, the light is off as well. You can disable the light by using wizard program.
The base station also provides voice prompts that will say things like “Alarm On Home”, “Alarm Off”, “Exit House”, etc.
Up to 20 additional components can be added to your system, for a total of 26 components (note: the Base Station is not considered a component). The best part about using this system is that all the components are wireless. That also means that each module is powered by batteries (excluding the base station, which requires an AC adapter – but it has a battery backup as well). During setup you pull out tabs to activate the batteries on each sensor. Expected battery life is approximately 2 years for the Keypad and approximately 5 years for all sensors and the Keychain Remote. The Base Station batteries are rechargeable and will provide you with 8 hours of backup power. (After 5 years, you should consider replacing the rechargeable backup batteries.) The Keypad will alert you when any batteries are low so that you can replace them.
In action, the SimpliSafe system is really easy to install and use. There are 3 alarm modes: Off, Home and Away. Off mode should probably be pretty self explanatory 😉 You can immediately switch to that mode using the keychain remote. If you use the keypad, you’ll be required to type in the 4 digit pin number that you setup during the install process. While in Off mode, triggering of entry sensors (opening doors or windows) will cause a door bell like sound to play.
Home mode will cause alarms to sound when entry sensors are tripped, but will disable motion sensors. You use this mode when you’re in the house but still want to be protected.
Away mode is the one you use when you leave the house. This mode enables the entry sensors and motion sensors.
When alarms are tripped in Home and Away modes, the keypad will give you warning beeps for 30 seconds, giving you time to turn the alarm off by using the keychain remote or the keypad. If you don’t turn off the alarm, the 85 dB siren will sound for a default of 4 minutes (it can be set it for 30 seconds up to 8 minutes). At this point, if you have the 24/7 dispatch service, the system will send them an alert. They will then try to contact you to see if it was a false alarm. If you provide them with a predetermined safe word, no authorities will be dispatched. If they can’t reach you, the local police will be sent. When you press one of the panic buttons, the siren will play immediately and the dispatch will be notified.
I admit that my testing of the security system may seem limited due to the fact that I did not test the 24/7 dispatch feature. I do feel confident in the way the sensors preformed as I tested them extensively for several days and did not have any problems with them not triggering or triggering for no reason. The only issue that I had with the SimpliSafe was that the voice prompts occasionally stuttered. Instead of saying “Alarm Off”, it would say “AlarmAlarmAlarm Off”. I think I found the issue to be my painted steel front door. The weird stuttering only happened if the door was open. If you look at the image above, you can see that the door is between the keypad and the base station… This doesn’t happen all the time, so it’s hard to say.
I really like the SimpliSafe security system for its easy setup, expandability, custom setup options and ability to move with you if you relocate. I think the price for the system is really affordable when you compare it to other security systems on the market. It gets a thumbs up from me.
Extra keychain remotes are $14.99
Extra motion sensors are $14.99
Extra entry sensors are $9.99
Extra Panic sensors are $9.99