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      January 18, 2020

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Vivint vs SimpliSafe

Best Alarm Systems

To help you find the Best Alarm Systems, TopConsumerReviews.com provides you with an in-depth comparison of Vivint and SimpliSafe.

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Increasing the security of your home is essential to protect yourself, your belongings, and your family. According to the experts, high unemployment rates and other economic woes in the nation are a factor in rising crime rates. With more than 2 million burglaries each year in the United States alone, and an average loss of over $2,000 per incident, it is well worth the investment to make sure your home is properly protected.

High-quality deadbolts and well-placed lighting on the exterior of your home can reduce the risk of becoming a victim. However, experience shows that skilled burglars can pick a lock, even a deadbolt, in a minute or less. On the other hand, crime data also demonstrates that criminals tend to avoid homes with an alarm system, to improve their chances of not getting caught.

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Best Reviews

2020

Alarm Systems Reviews

3.5 stars
Vivint

VIVINT

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Features:

FREE equipment and installation with some packages

Up to $198 in activation fees

Packages start at $53.99/month

If you want an alarm system with cutting edge bells and whistles, Vivint will probably get your attention. From Nest thermostats to Amazon Echo, Vivint's alarm systems let you change your home's temperature, keep an eye on your kids while the babysitter is there, or even remotely unlock your door from any internet-connected device.

Each of Vivint's alarm system packages include the following:

  • SkyControl Panel: described as "like having an iPad on your wall", it displays video, controls temperature, manages system options, and provides an intuitive smart home experience. Users can also talk live with a monitoring professional through the panel in an emergency.
  • Sky App: puts control in the palm of your hand through Vivint's smartphone app. Control your home's temperature, locks, lights and more, remotely arm and disarm your wireless home security system, even see live video of your front porch from the Vivint Doorbell Camera.
  • Home Security sensors and controls: all packages include 3 wireless door/window sensors, motion sensor, key fob, control panel, power adapter and battery, and cellular card that installs into the control panel. Other available products for Vivint's monitoring include doorbell and outdoor cameras, Ping cameras, 24/7 video recording, garage door controls, smart locks, Amazon Echo, and Element thermostats.
  • 24/7 monitoring

In order to set up your Vivint alarm system, you'll need to choose from one of their three monitoring packages:

  • Smart Protect, which covers the basics of door and window sensors, motion detectors, and smoke detectors. This plan starts at $53.99/month.
  • Smart Protect & Control, which includes monitoring of two additional smart home services. These services include a doorbell cam, door lock, thermostat, garage door controller, outdoor video, and HD video recording indoors. This plan starts at $60.99/month.
  • Smart Complete, which includes monitoring of three additional smart home services, as well as 1 Terabyte of secure cloud storage (which is strangely named "Space Monkey").

Vivint offers free equipment and installation with certain packages, which keeps them competitive with other providers of alarm systems. But, make sure to pay attention to the fine print before signing on the dotted line: depending on where you live, you'll need to make a staggering five-year commitment (four years in a handful of states) with a monitoring package of at least $60.99/month in order to qualify for the "free" equipment and installation. Vivint's site doesn't seem to indicate that they offer a customer satisfaction guarantee, making a five-year commitment (or paying the remaining contract balance) too much for many customers. Also, if you change addresses, you'll be assessed a $99 moving fee if you've been a customer of Vivint for less than 12 months; the fee is eliminated if you renew your alarm system contract at your new residence and you've been a customer for at least a year.

Vivint does have an optional warranty and service plan for an extra $10/month. Under this coverage, they will repair and/or replace any defective part of the alarm system at no extra cost. Without this extra Premium service plan, the warranty period is only 120 days past installation; after that point in time, Vivint will provide replacement parts at no extra charge, but you'll pay a $49 fee plus tax for the service call.

What's the bottom line for pricing on Vivint's alarm systems? The best answer is "it depends". Vivint does not make it easy to determine their package pricing, requiring customers to work with a company representative. (We even used the chat function on the website and got the answer that pricing is only offered over the phone or in person.) Many customer reviews complain about insistent salespeople coming to their homes late at night and rushing people into 5-year contracts without being open about the length of the commitment. And, with every feature you add, you'll pay more-so with base packages starting at $53.99, Vivint is easily one of the costliest alarm systems we reviewed.

We were pleased to see Vivint's A- rating with the Better Business Bureau. However, there have been almost 4,000 complaints registered with the BBB in the last three years.

In general, Vivint's alarm systems leave us with mixed feelings. If your security system must have the most high-tech components and you've got money to spare, Vivint isn't a bad option to consider. Just don't overlook the fact that you're making a five-year commitment, and be prepared to assert yourself to get help from customer service if you experience any problems with your equipment post-installation. Vivint earns good marks for their alarm system packages.

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3 stars
Simplisafe

SIMPLISAFE

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Features:

$229.99 for equipment starter kit

No installation fees

No monthly contract

Monitoring plans cost $14.99-$24.99/month

Promoted by celebrities such as Dave Ramsey and more, SimpliSafe sells wireless alarm systems with do-it-yourself installation and zero long-term commitments. Like the majority of no-contract alarm systems, SimpliSafe does require customers to buy their equipment outright. With a minimum price of $229.99 for the starter set, that's not an insignificant amount of money, but their low monitoring costs of $25/month or less definitely result in savings over time when compared with most contract-based alarm systems.

What comes with the SimpliSafe starter package? Best for dorms, small homes and apartments, this set includes one base station and wireless keypad, one entry sensor, one motion sensor, and one keychain remote for $229.99. Larger packages include the Economy package, which adds two more entry sensors for a total cost of $259.99; the Classic package, which adds a smoke detector and siren to the Economy set, for a cost of $349.99; the Master package, with a total of two motion sensors and six entry sensors, along with the smoke detector and siren, for $449. 87; and, finally, the Ultimate package for $539.85, which includes two motion sensors, four entry sensors, the siren and smoke detector, along with a panic button, water sensor, carbon monoxide detector, and freeze sensor.

If you need some extra savings, SimpliSafe is the only alarm system we found that has the option of buying refurbished equipment. You could save as much as 30% on the purchase of your package if you're comfortable with using pre-owned gear.

SimpliSafe breaks down their monitoring packages into two basic plans:

  • Standard, which includes standard round-the clock protection.
  • Interactive, which allows you to access the app to monitor your home activity and control settings directly from your laptop or smartphone. We also saw several references to a Secret! Alerts bonus that can alert you when someone opens a private area (for example, a gun safe or a liquor cabinet) but we couldn’t find further information as to which sensors would be necessary or to set that up within the alarm system.

We were impressed by SimpliSafe's free shipping on all orders, a 3-year product warranty, and an excellent money-back guarantee for 60 days after purchase.

But, we felt that SimpliSafe came up short in two critical ways. First, most modern alarm systems include the use of technology to control everything from arming the system to changing the temperature in the home, while SimpliSafe charges more (via the more costly monitoring plan) just to be able to use their app to change the system's settings. With respect to technology, SimpliSafe also doesn't yet offer thermostat controls, door locks, or camera monitoring, though many of their competitors do.

In addition, we were dismayed by a significant number of customers who complained that they woke up multiple times to false alarms, and that the monitoring service took up to five minutes to contact the homeowner in response. Those same customers often had problems getting a prompt reply from SimpliSafe's customer service department when attempting to get to the bottom of the problem (which often seemed to be related to switching the alarm system's cellular connection from T-Mobile to Verizon or vice-versa).

Because of the expensive start-up costs and the less-than-perfect customer reviews, we encourage you to start with one of the smaller, less expensive packages for your SimpliSafe alarm system. This will give you the opportunity to fully test the system and use the 60-day return policy if necessary. SimpliSafe earns a good rating.

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Continued from above

Alarm Systems have a wide variety of features, coverage, and price points. Some Alarm Systems charge hundreds of dollars for installation in addition to their monitoring services, while others offer free equipment and/or installation along with a monthly monitoring contract. The best Alarm Systems provide customers with flexible options with respect to installation and home phone line requirements.

As you consider which Alarm System will best meet your protection needs, it is wise to have a grasp of several common features offered by home security companies. These include:

  • Monitoring Service. Does the company provide live, round-the-clock home monitoring with live representatives who will respond quickly to contact authorities in the event of a burglary or other incident?
  • Equipment and Installation Costs. Is there a charge for the initial equipment package, or is it included with the monitoring service? How many sensors are included in that package, and how much will it cost to get the number of sensors your home needs? Will you be charged separately for installation?
  • Guarantee. Are you protected by a satisfaction guarantee and/or a warranty on your Alarm System equipment?

TopConsumerReviews.com has reviewed and ranked the best Alarm Systems available today. We hope these reviews help you find the right alarm system to protect yourself, your property, and your loved ones for years to come!

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