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      January 19, 2019

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Iris vs SimpliSafe

Best Home Security Systems

To help you find the Best DIY Home Security Systems, TopConsumerReviews.com provides you with an in-depth comparison of Iris and SimpliSafe.

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Everyone wants to feel safe in their own home, no matter how big or small the residence. In the United States, there are over two million burglaries every calendar year, with losses averaging at least $2,000 per crime. Home security systems are the most popular, reputable way to deter would-be criminals and to catch them in the act.

However, many consumers are turning away from traditional home security systems which often involve lengthy service contracts, not to mention the installation of equipment and wiring that can leave unsightly holes in the walls - and that might not even be allowed by a landlord for those who are renting an apartment or house.

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Best Reviews

2019

DIY Home Security Reviews

3.5 stars
Iris

IRIS Visit Site

Features:

$14.95/month for all-inclusive professional monitoring plan

Free self-monitoring

90-day money back guarantee

Integrates with many third-party technologies such as Nest and Google

No contract

On the market for several years, Iris by Lowe's has had some challenges with reputation. Their original DIY home security products didn't offer any kind of professional monitoring, and users found their equipment to be buggy at best. However, over the last year or so, Iris has undergone numerous upgrades to try and keep up with the competition. So, how are they doing in that regard?

First and foremost, Iris by Lowe's now has options for professional monitoring - and they're priced much lower than comparable services offered by competitors. You'll have three options:

  • Basic: the most DIY plan, putting you in charge of monitoring your system and receiving notifications when alerts get triggered. You can manage components remotely, and it's up to you to contact authorities in the case of an emergency. The good news? It's completely free of charge. However, not all Iris systems/components may be included with the Basic plan.
  • Premium: for $9.99/month, you get access to additional features, such as 3GB storage of any video cameras in the system, a notification list for up to 6 individuals to receive alerts/alarm notifications, and other components for a more automated home experience.
  • Professional Monitoring: if you want the peace of mind of knowing that someone else is keeping an eye on you and your home, you'll want the $14.95/month plan. This plan includes all of the features of the Basic and Premium set-up while including full-service monitoring of burglary, smoke, fire, and carbon monoxide events. You also get 4G Cellular Backup service, should your system be disrupted due to an outage of your WiFi.

Compared with other services on the market, we were impressed by the pricing and intrigued by the possibilities. However, the Iris by Lowe's site doesn't make it easy to know what you'll need. When we clicked on the button to shop starter kits, we were taken to a dizzying array of possibilities. What do we need to get started? Is it included in this set or that one? It was hard to figure it out at a glance. At a bare minimum, expect to need the Iris Smart Hub ($69.99) and perhaps the Iris Security Pack ($109.00), which includes 2 Door/Window Sensors, Motion Detector, and Keypad. You can also look at the list of Iris Compatible Products (under the Products tab at the top of the site) and sort through the options according to Category, Use, Room, or Brand.

On a positive note, we really liked what we found on the Solutions tab: a sortable list of life situations that Iris can help manage, along with all of the necessary components and a rating as to the simplicity or difficulty of the set-up. For example, if you want to keep an eye on the kids when they get home from school, you can set up Iris to let you know that the door has been unlocked (or their key fob is present); the motion-activated camera can send real-time images to your smartphone, and there's even a smart plug for the TV so that they don't watch too many shows when they should be doing homework. Other configurations included Hands Off The Jewelry Box (or Cabinets), No More Smelly Cat (!), and Guest Room Perfection.

Iris is also one of the only DIY home security systems we found that has a specific plan for taking care of elderly or other family members who need extra supervision. Known as the Care system and included with the $9.99 Premium Plan (as well as the $14.99 Professional Monitoring Plan), this feature allows users to receive notifications when a loved one's routine changes: from refrigerator sensors to determine if the person has eaten that day to doors left open, movement sensors to see if he or she was up during the night, even medicine cabinet reminders to make sure that any needed medicines were taken. You can also purchase a Care Pendant, which features a large button that the wearer can press to alert others to a fall or other need for help.

Another plus for the Iris by Lowe's do-it-yourself approach to home security is that they are constantly expanding the third-party products that work with the Iris system. From Nest thermostats to Google Home, chances are good that you'll be able to use with your Iris home security system.

The biggest drawback with the system? It may be a little too DIY. We found numerous customers who struggled to get their system set up the way they needed it to be; while the installation of components typically goes off smoothly, there were more than a few who complained that it seemed to require a computer hacker just to get all of the components synced up and working properly with respect to the technology.

Fortunately, if you decide that your do-it-yourself home security project was more than you could manage, Iris by Lowe's does offer a 90-day money back guarantee.

In short, the low-cost professional monitoring options and integration with third-party technology make the Iris system attractive - but for non-techie homeowners and renters, the Iris home security system may be frustrating. And yet, Lowe's has brought the Iris system leaps and bounds from where it was in the past, and we expect good things to come as they continue to evolve their DIY home security options for even less technologically-savvy users in the future.

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3 stars
SimpliSafe

SIMPLISAFE Visit Site

Features:

$229.99 for equipment starter kit

No contract

Monitoring plans cost $14.99-$24.99/month

"Perfect Fit" money-back guarantee

Frequently promoted by big names like CNET Magazine and Dave Ramsey, SimpliSafe offers home security systems with do-it-yourself installation. What makes them popular with a get-out-of-debt guru like Ramsey? That's easy: there's no required contract, and monitoring service fees are some of the lowest available, starting at just $14.99 per month.

As with all of the DIY systems in our review, you'll have to pay for your equipment: the intro package includes a little less than some of SimpliSafe's competitors, with just a base station and keypad, one door sensor, one remote sensor, and one keychain remote. This will set you back $229.99. Unless you have a small apartment/home, you'll probably need much more than that to get your home protection up and running; larger packages add the following:

  • Compact: for $244.99, you get one extra entry sensor (total of 2)
  • Economy: for $259.99, you get two extra entry sensors (total of 3)
  • Economy Plus: for $304.99, you get a total of 4 entry sensors and 2 motion sensors
  • Starter Plus: for $304.99, you get the Economy package plus a 105 dB siren

The trend continues, with additional sensors and features as you go up in price through the packages: Lookout, Classic, Master, and Ultimate. Of course, you can also use the Build My System tool to put together the exact components you want for your particular situation.

You may even be able to save more money if you're willing to use "pre-owned" equipment: SimpliSafe is the only DIY home security company to offer refurbished equipment for purchase. Your savings could be as much as 30% compared with brand-new components.

What about monitoring? SimpliSafe keeps things, well, simple:

  • Standard, which includes basic round-the clock protection via cellular or WiFi connection for $14.99 per month.
  • Interactive, which adds the functionality of controlling and monitoring your system via smartphone or computer. You'll get text/email alerts if anything sets off your alarms. They also mention a "Secret! Alerts" if you have sensors on private rooms, safes, drawers, medicine cabinets, and so on, but there were no additional details as to how you'd set it up or which sensors would be needed. This is $24.99 per month.

New customers will appreciate that SimpliSafe components come with a 3-year warranty, and the company offers a stellar 60-day satisfaction guarantee that allows for returns for any reason within that period.

However, SimpliSafe has a significant number of issues that may give you pause. First, you may have noticed that you'll have to pay extra just to use an app to control your system. With most of the DIY home security systems on the market, that functionality is included as part of keeping up-to-date with technology. It will then come as no surprise that SimpliSafe does not currently offer any integration with smart home products, such as Amazon Alexa, Google Home, or Nest thermostats. For the truly DIY-and-tech-savvy customer, this is a glaring omission.

And, we found more than a few reviews that described being awakened by false alarms more than once - but not hearing from the monitoring service for up to five minutes. Customers also had difficulties in getting timely responses from SimpliSafe's customer service department when they needed help with their installation or when components weren't working as expected. One of the most common issues was with respect to the cellular connection, trying to switch providers in order to work with the more reliable network in their service area.

Given how expensive the SimpliSafe equipment can be, we're glad that they offer a 60-day return window. If you like what this company has to offer, you'll have two months to put it to the test before deciding if they're the home security company for your needs.

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Continued from above

Instead, customers are opting to use DIY home security systems, which gives them the convenience of setting up their protection equipment exactly the way they choose and taking it with them when they move to a new home.

Of course, every good DIY home security system should be paired with common-sense protective measures, such as using top-rated deadbolts on all entry doors and making sure all doors and windows are secure before leaving home or going to bed in the evening. Home protection experts strongly prefer security systems that include 24/7 monitoring as well, for added coverage and peace of mind particularly when people are at home. Using live monitoring has been demonstrated to greatly reduce the likelihood of burglary or invasion, as most criminals want to avoid being caught red-handed.

An added perk to taking the DIY approach to home security is saving money. These systems tend to be less expensive to purchase and set up, and yet they are usually eligible for the same premium discounts on homeowners insurance: up to 20%.

When considering the various do-it-yourself home security systems on the market, what should you keep in mind? Each company differs when it comes to the type of equipment they sell and service, the ease of installation, and whether or not they offer live monitoring of your system. Keep the following criteria in mind:

  • Equipment Costs. What does the company include with its home security packages? How many sensors will you need, and what will you be charged to get the level of coverage you want? What will you have to spend to get any additional equipment that you need for your particular living arrangements?
  • Monitoring Service. Will your DIY home security system include any kind of monitoring, or is that left as your responsibility through online apps and other features? If 24/7 live monitoring is available, how much will it cost per month? If there's a break-in or other emergency at your home, will the service contact local authorities on your behalf?
  • Reputation. What do other customers have to say about the business, the equipment, and/or the service received? How easy is it to get help, either with your do-it-yourself installation or with the service? Can you expect a satisfaction guarantee or refund if you are unhappy with the home security service?

TopConsumerReviews.com has reviewed and ranked the best DIY Home Security Systems available today. We hope these reviews help you find the best do-it-yourself home security system that will keep you and your family safe for years to come!

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