Best Home Security System for Renters (After Extensive Testing)

As a responsible renter, nothing is more important to you than the safety of your residence. What you need is a reliable security system that can protect your home from any would-be robber that would pilfer your hard earned property. But with all the option on the market, what system is the best for you? Well after some extensive testing I finally have the definitive answer.

So, what is the best home security system for renters? SimpliSafe is the best security system for renters for three big reasons:

  1. There are no tedious long term contracts.
  2. The DIY installation is ridiculously simple.
  3. SimpliSafe offers all the security essentials of other companies at a fraction of the cost.

SimpliSafe is the heavyweight champ of the renter’s security world and for good reason. Let’s take a look at why this amazing system is exactly what you need to sleep soundly at night whether you are chilling at home, or traveling somewhere far away.

Why I Chose SimpliSafe

Any renter knows the pressure of keeping safe a space that you don’t own. It can be frustrating looking after your apartment or condo with little to no help from a landlord, especially if you live on the wrong side of a dangerous neighborhood.

You want a security system to give your home a bit more protection so you can leave your front door with better peace of mind. You want to feel safe, but you don’t want to spend an arm and a leg on an expensive security system with a million shiny features that you don’t need.

You also aren’t even sure if your landlord would want you drilling up your walls in order to install a security system.

So, what can you do?

Let me start off by saying SimpliSafe offers comprehensive solutions to all your security related questions at an affordable rate.

I was very impressed with their systems ease of installation and their great customer service

Here is a list of 9 of their security features and a brief description of each:

#1: 24/7 Live Alarm Monitoring

Description: Probably the most important feature,
SimpliSafe monitors your home not only for theft
but fire and carbon monoxide as well.

This is a standard feature.

#2: Cellular Connection

Description: SimpliSafe has partnered with Verizon and T-Mobile to provide a huge area of connection. SimpliSafe does not connect through landline. Everything is wireless which makes it that much easier.

This is a standard feature.

#3: Environmental Monitoring

Description: The most expensive damage to homes is usually caused by Mother Nature and not burglars. Protect your home from fire, water, and dangerous temperatures with SimpliSafe environmental monitoring (SimpliSafe smoke, and water sensors required.)

This is a standard feature.

#4: Arm Your System From Anywhere

Description:This very important feature is unfortunately limited to only those with interactive monitoring. With this feature, you are able to activate your system conveniently from your phone. Essential if you find yourself away from home often.

This is an interactive feature.

#5: Alerts Right on Your Phone

Description: Receive programmable alerts directly to your cellphone. This is a nifty feature that can inform you when someone opens your front door,
or even is moving around the front room. I had a lot -f fun playing with this feature. This is a must-have feature for someone who needs to keep an eye on your home at all times.

This is an interactive feature.

#6: Secret Alerts

Description: This is similar to the “alerts right on your phone feature”. Place sensors on sensitive doors like closets, liquor cabinets, and gun safes. When one of these doors is opened, your phone will get an alert but an alarm won’t go off. This is a nifty feature for families with curious kids or mischievous teenagers.

This is an interactive feature.

#7: Video Alarm Verification

Description: It is nice to have the option of dropping in on your home via camera whenever you want, but it is comforting to know that someone will
be guarding your home even if your eyes aren’t available. With video alarm verification, the folks at SimpliSafe will be able to visually verify and robbery as it is taking place. It’s like having a guard dog on duty 24/7 but without the mess.

This is an interactive feature.

#8: Unlimited Camera Recording

Description: All SimpliSafe products come with a camera that displays the live feed, but only with the interactive service do you get a camera that actually records. A feature that I wish would come standard, but the monitoring service is worth the extra cost. Thankfully, I didn’t have anyone try to break into my home while testing this service but as the CNET’s Editors choice for home security, you can be sure that SimpliSafe works. And works well.

This is an interactive feature.

#9: Smart Home Integration

Description: SimpliSafe is able to pair with Amazon Alexa, Apple Watch, Nest, and August products in order to improve your experience. Admittedly, other home security systems do have greater freedom to interact with 3rd party services, but SimpliSafe can integrate with the essential tech companies in a useful way.

This is an interactive feature.

The Difference Between Standard and Interactive

I’m sure that you have noticed the “standard” and “interactive” labels in the text above. These refer to the two monitoring plans that SimpliSafe offers its users. The standard plan includes the basic, essential services while the interactive plan has some not so necessary features, but a lot of great protection. Well worth the extra cost in my opinion.

PlanCost
Standard$14.99 a month
Interactive$24.99 a month

The standard plan is good, but if you want to make SimpliSafe worth it, pay the extra $10 a month and go for the interactive.

SimpliSafe Can Be Cancelled at Anytime

The most frustrating thing about being a renter is the peripatetic lifestyle. One day here, the next gone with no real sense of permanence.

As a renter, I in no way want to enter into a lengthy, expensive contract when I might be thrust out of my home at any time.

SimpliSafe resolved my issue for me and this is a huge reason why they are my first choice to any renter.

No contracts. Period.
It’s just common sense. No contracts mean we don’t get paid unless you’re happy. It’s exactly the way it should be.

SimpliSafe.com

Most security companies expect long term commitment from their users. That means you are roped into a 3-year contract if you want to use their services.

That might be OK if you owned the property, but you don’t and might be out at any moment.

This is were SimpliSafe is the hero for any renter.

SimpliSafe allows you to cancel or downgrade your service at anytime no questions asked.

So let’s say money is tight and you only want to activate your system during the holiday season when the crime rate is at its highest. You’re able to do that.

Or let’s say that you have the standard service, but want to upgrade for a couple of months just to see what it is like. You can upgrade for a month and downgrade again the next if you feel like it.

I tried this out to see if it was really that easy. The customer service guys were friendly and weren’t pushy at all as they walked me through the cancellation process.

The 24/7 monitoring is optional with SimpliSafe. Cancel your subscription at any time if you just want to use the equipment.

Payment is on a month by month basis which gives the user complete control of when and how they want to use their security service.

SimpliSafe is Easy to Install

If you’re like me, you have been suckered into plenty of DIY projects that promise “Only 30 minutes or less of your time to install guaranteed!“, only to be stuck scratching your head for hours over instructions printed in Swedish.

Pretty frustrating, right?

I am not a handy guy, which is why I was so pleased when I found out how easy SimpliSafe was to install.

I ordered “The Essentials” package off of the SimpliSafe website. I was told that the package included 6 different pieces (sensors, alarms, cameras, etc.) and that installation would take about 15 minutes.

You can imagine me rolling my eyes at such a bold claim, but what I found left me truly pleased.

SimpliSafe products are installed one of two ways, either:

  1. Plug it in, or
  2. Tape it to the wall

It really is that simple.

After following the very simple instructions, I had my security system armed and ready to go. This is one DIY project that you can actually manage to do by yourself.

SimpliSafe Has Competitive, but not Great Prices

I’m the type of renter that really likes to budget my money. I don’t have a ton of extra cash lying around, so I spend my money cautiously.

I really enjoy SimpliSafe’s product, but I will say that it is pricier than similar products on the market. Worth it in my opinion, but expensive nonetheless.

The down payment on the initial hardware is especially painful. Here is a list of all of SimpliSafe’s security packages listed on the sight and a list of their prices.

Package NamePiecesCost
The Foundation4$229
The Essentials6$259
The Hearth9$374
The Knox13$449
The Haven14$489

In addition to these packages, SimpliSafe offers “original” packages with an older sensor. Careful though, these sensors have been proven to be easily hacked. There aren’t a lot of tech-savvy burglars out there, but better safe than sorry.

Origianl PackagePiecesCost
The Starter6$244
The Standard9$304
The Elite11$334
The Beacon13$519

Here is a description of each package:

*Most SimpliSafe Products interact with cell signals and are completely wireless! Beware if you live in an area with spotty coverage, SimpliSafe may not work!

The Foundation

The Foundation is SimpliSafe’s most basic package and is perfect for small homes or apartments. It comes with a base station and siren, one keypad, one motion sensor, and one entry sensor.

The base station is the brain of all SimpliSafe security systems. Newer base stations (NOT original package) glow softly with a blue light when everything is set up and ready to go. If there is any security breach, SimpliSafe’s expert team will be alerted.

Along with the extra eyes of SimpliSafe keeping your home safe, The Foundation comes with a 95 DB alarm. 95 DB is about as loud as hearing a subway at 200 ft. If it doesn’t wake up the entire neighborhood, it will at least scare the poop out of any would-be burglar.

The wireless keypad is self-powered and doesn’t need to be plugged in to function. Install it (without needing to drill!) wherever is most convenient.

Equipment:

  • Base Station
  • Wireless Keypad (1)
  • Motion Sensor (1)
  • Entry Sensor (1)

The Essentials

SimpliSafe’s most popular package and incidentally the package that I ordered myself. This package comes with all the same things as The Foundation but has multiple entry sensors.

I rent a small home with 3 doors leading to the inside (front door, backdoor, basement entrance), so this was the obvious choice for me. If you are renting an apartment with only 1 entrance The Foundation package seems like plenty of coverage.

Equipment:

  • Base Station
  • Wireless Keypad (1)
  • Motion Sensors (1)
  • Entry Sensors (3)

The Hearth

Everything included in The Essentials package plus a “smart” smoke detector and a key fob. I’m not sure what is so smart about this smoke detector besides the fact that it interacts with the SimpliSafe monitoring system, but that is what it is called on the website. Good marketing term either way.

The key fob is neat. It allows you to remotely arm your system much like an app would without needing the “interactive” service. I tested it out and it looks like the fob will work if you are within 30 ft of your home.

You won’t be able to mess with your system on your commute to work but it is a handy way to lock things when you are on your way out the door.

The Hearth also upgrades your alarm to 105 DB. That’s like being run over by a helicopter. Robbers will be rubbing their ears for a couple of days if they decide to break into your home.

Equipment:

  • Base Station
  • Wireless Keypad (1)
  • Motion Sensors (1)
  • Entry Sensors (3)
  • Smoke Detector (1)
  • Key Fob (1)
  • 105 DB Alarm (1)

The Knox

This package gives you all the goodness of The Haven but bumps up the number of entry and motion sensors just for fun. Advertised as a system for large homes with 4 plus bedrooms, no one will be breaking into your home with this behemoth of a security system.

The real treasure in this package is the extra motion sensors. Coupled with the instant messages on your cellphone, you will know if anyone even sets a toe in the kitchen.

Place the motion sensors in large rooms or hallways to get maximum coverage.

Equipment:

  • Base Station
  • Wireless Keypad (1)
  • Motion Sensors (2)
  • Entry Sensors (6)
  • Smoke Detectors (1)
  • Key Fob (1)
  • 105 DB Alarm (1)

The Haven

The Coup de gras of all your security problems. The Haven not only monitors against security threats but potential water damage as well.

A great feature in this package is the freeze sensor will send an alert to your phone if the indoor temperature of your home drops below 41 degrees Fahrenheit. This will help you prevent a pipe from freezing and bursting.

The Haven also comes with a panic button that can be pushed in case of an emergency. Push the button and call for medical help when you need it.

This package has fewer entry sensors than The Knox does, but the environmental protection makes it a better purchase in my opinion.

Equipment:

  • Base Station
  • Wireless Keypad (1)
  • Motion Sensors (2)
  • Entry Sensors (4)
  • Smoke Detectors (1)
  • Key Fob (1)
  • 105 DB Alarm (1)
  • Panic Button (1)
  • Freeze Sensor (1)
  • Water Sensor (1)

Build Your Own Package

If none of the packages mentioned above interest you, you always have the option of picking out your gear and building your own ideal security package.

Once again, I think SimpliSafe’s prices are fair and competitive, but not necessary the cheapest on the market. Here is a list of all the equipment and their prices:

Entry Sensor

Description:Burglars are most likely to go through your front and back doors and first-floor windows. Stop them cold with these sensors.

Price: $14.99

Motion Sensor

Description: Monitors an entire room for unusual disturbances. Is not bothered by pets. Try placing a motion sensor in a room with three or more windows instead of an entry sensor.

Price: $29.99

Simpli Cam

Description: Access a live feed of your home at any time from your phone, tablet, or computer. The Simpli Cam is most effective when placed in a room that sees a lot of foot traffic or at the end of a hallway.

Price: $99.00

Glass Break Sensor

Description:This nifty gadget is perfectly calibrated to detect the sound of glass shattering off a window. Pretty neat. Best used when placed in a window-filled room and paired with a motion sensor.

Price: $34.99

Panic Button

Description: Press this if someone breaks into your home while you are in it. It will immediately set off an alarm and dispatch the police. SimpliSafe recommends placing it in the master bedroom for easy access.

Price: $19.99

Smoke Detector

Description: A smoke detector with an obnoxiously loud alarm. I know people who claim to be able to sleep through anything but I bet this would give them a run for their money. Place one in every bedroom and you are bound to catch the fire while it is still small.

Price: $29.99

Temperature Sensor

Description: Triggers if your home drops below 41 degrees Fahrenheit. Burst pipes, common in the winter, can cause thousands of dollars in flood damage that won’t be covered by your average homeowner’s policy. Better to prevent damage than to repair it. Place it near the thermostat for the best results.

Price: $29.99

Water Sensor

Description: Place it on the floor next to a household water source (sink, toilet, water heater, etc.) to find leaks before they become unmanageable. Water damage is very expensive. You can never be too safe.

Price: $19.99

Keypad

Description: An extra keypad can be installed anywhere for convenient access. Put them next to garage doors, or in the upper rooms of your house to make things easier.

Price: $69.99

Key Fob

Description:It works just like the key fob on your car. It is a good idea to give anyone frequently coming and going from the house an extra key fob. Both my wife and I have a key fob so we can easily arm and disarm the security system as we please.

Price:$24.99

105 DB Siren

Description: Blow the eardrums out of any ne’er-do-well knocking at the door with nefarious purposes. These things are really loud.

Price:$59.99

Base Station

Description: The brain of your security system. You need one of these bad boys to control everything else.

Price:$114.99

SimpliSafe Has a Great Return Policy

If you are at all like me, then you love to try things out before you commit to buying. Luckily SimpliSafe offers the perfect “test run” before you decide to buy.

Before you buy any package or piece of equipment from SimpliSafe try out their 60-day free trial.

Examine and play with all of their equipment. See if it works well for your home.

If you don’t like it, you can send it back no questions asked. They will even pay for the cost of shipping.

This was a huge factor that helped me decide to buy. I’m a skeptic at heart, but when I saw the equipment for the first time I knew it was quality stuff.

Don’t be afraid. Give it a shot! You can always return it if you don’t like it.

I have 19 sensors, 3 motion detectors and a couple of panic buttons for over a year now. I had two sensors that used batteries at an accelerated rate. They were replaced under warranty and since then, no problem. The company stood behind them 100%.

Bill G, A SimpliSafe Customer

SimpliSafe Always has Awesome Deals

I am a bargain hunter and SimpliSafe has some great bargains. If you don’t feel like paying the full price for a brand new security system, you can check out the deals page for used or equipment that is on sale.

The page is right on their website and super easy to use. If you are interested check it out here.

SimpliSafe Works Well with Pets

When I first got this security system, I was scared that my dog would set it off every time I armed it and left the house. Luckily, that wasn’t an issue at all.

SimpliSafe equipment is calibrated to catch humans and not pets.

According to the SimpliSafe website, pets under 90 lbs should pose no problem for the system.

I have two pets, a cat and a French bulldog. Both are fairly active and neither has managed to set of the alarm yet.

Tough going if you have a large animal as they are fairly prone to set off the alarms.

Every Rose Has its Thorns: Problems with SimpliSafe

While I’m overall very satisfied with SimpliSafe as a security system, that doesn’t mean it is without its flaws.

While I personally haven’t run into any problems with equipment malfunction other people have.

One dissatisfied customer had this to say about SimpliSafe’s equipment:

While it is easy to set up and a cool concept – the equipment is not reliable at all. I have three cameras fail in four months and numerous issues with disconnecting components. Then when you call customer service you are often on hold for 30 minutes or more. Not worth the investment until they get better more reliable equipment.

Diane, A SimplieSafe Customer

I have also heard a lot of people complain about lousy customer support, but I have a different experience.

Every time I have called with a question I have been quickly attended to and in a friendly manner. I don’t think that I have ever been on hold for more than 5 minutes with these guys.

One problem I did have was with installation. If you don’t stick your sensors on right the first time they are difficult to peel off and replace. They even peeled the paint off of some of my walls!

Be careful during set up and make sure you get it right the first time.

Overall, I have thoroughly enjoyed SimpliSafe. It performed better than any other system I tried out. The app is super cool and the installation really easy. Give it a shot and I’m sure you will think the same!

Related Questions:

What is the difference between monitored and self-monitored security systems? A monitored security system is watched 24/7 by a professional company that will alert you of any problems, while a self-monitored system is patrolled by only the owner of the system.

SimpliSafe could be either one. You can pay to use the monitoring service to have your home professionally watched or you could choose to do it yourself.

How difficult is it to self-monitor your home? If you have all the necessary equipment, it can be fairly simple to monitor your home by yourself. The most important things to have are a camera and some type of alarm. Remember, thieves usually flee at the first sign of danger. Turn on your alarm and most burglars will be sent packing.

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