We’ve warned you before on this blog about the dangers of using “do-it-yourself” alarm systems, and specifically the popular SimpliSafe DIY alarm system. However, new information has come to light that makes the problem even worse than we thought.
SimpliSafe markets itself as an alternative to “traditional” alarm companies such as Dynamark Security of Richmond, which use professional installers, robust customer support, and tried and proven alarm technology. SimpliSafe claims that all that fancy equipment and support provided by these companies simply adds unnecessary costs to the consumer, whereas their “simple” approach saves people money while still giving them the same level of protection.
We’ve always known this wasn’t true, but as it turns out the problems with the SimpliSafe DIY alarm system and others like it are far worse and more disturbing than we even imagined. Here’s what several independent investigations uncovered about SimpliSafe and other similar DIY alarm systems.
SimpliSafe Security Systems Use Ineffective Alarms and Sirens
The National Fire Protection Association publishes basic standards that all alarm systems should meet. These standards, contained in NFPA section 72, cover things such as the installation, location, performance, inspection, testing, and maintenance of home security systems. A study has shown that the SimpliSafe DIY alarm system does not meet these standards, especially when it comes to the actual alarm siren.
NFPA section 72 states that alarm systems that warn of burglary in addition to other hazards such as fire or carbon monoxide poisoning should have a distinct alarm tone for each type of threat. SimpliSafe’s system doesn’t have this capability.
So, in other words, if you have a SimpliSafe DIY alarm system and you are woken up in the middle of the night by an alarm, you won’t know whether your house is on fire or there is an intruder in your home. Perhaps they should start selling their alarm systems with an all-in-one shotgun and fire extinguisher, so that their customers can respond appropriately to an alarm.
Of course, in order to respond to an alarm you have to actually hear it. NFPA standards say that among other things, an alarm should be at least 15dBs louder than the ambient noise level where the bedroom in the home is located. Once again, in this area SimpliSafe falls short according to an independent study.
SimpliSafe Equipment Cannot be Monitored by Another Alarm Monitoring Company
One of the claims SimpliSafe makes in their marketing is that they don’t lock customers into “long-term” contracts like the “nasty” traditional alarm companies do. While it’s true that their customers can cancel alarm monitoring service at any time, what they don’t tell you is that their proprietary system doesn’t have the ability to be monitored by another alarm monitoring company ever. If you use the SimpliSafe alarm system and you want alarm monitoring, you are stuck using their monitoring service. The only way you could change monitoring companies would be to purchase new equipment from a different manufacturer.
Ironically, SimpliSafe subcontracts its alarm monitoring services to a central monitoring station that is also used by many of the same “traditional” alarm companies that it attempts to vilify. However, most traditional alarm companies—including Dynamark Security of Richmond–allow their customers to switch to a different alarm monitoring service when their contract is up.
While we believe that we have the best service in the area and have the testimonials from our customers to prove it, we want to give people the option to switch alarm monitoring services if they choose to. SimpliSafe does not give their customers this option. If their customers are not happy with their alarm monitoring service, they only have two choices—continue paying for the service anyway, or simply not use alarm monitoring. That means that their alarm would be nothing more than an expensive noisemaker—it wouldn’t alert authorities when it was triggered.
The SimpliSafe DIY Alarm System is Prone to Hacking
A recent investigation by Forbes found that with $50 worth of equipment and a few hours of work, burglars could easily disable a SimpliSafe alarm system from outside a home.
The same report also found vulnerabilities to hacking in many other home security systems, including those sold by Xfinity, Comcast, and Samsung.
Notably, there were no mentions in the report of vulnerabilities in equipment manufactured by Honeywell or GE. Dynamark Security of Richmond only uses equipment from these “traditional” players in the security business when we install an alarm system.
Their equipment has been exhaustively tested by UL and other independent agencies, unlike SimpliSafe’s equipment. According to another investigation, only two of the components of SimpliSafe’s system had been independently tested—the wireless smoke detector and wireless carbon monoxide detector. The rest of the equipment, including the all-important control panel, had not been tested.
The moral of the story is that sometimes things are done a certain way for a reason. SimpliSafe has tried to portray traditional alarm companies as old-fashioned and behind the times. However, the independent investigations cited above make it clear that the approach SimpliSafe takes to home security is simply unworkable. There’s nothing cutting-edge about using unreliable equipment, poor customer service, and deceptive marketing practices.
Dynamark Security of Richmond has been in the home security business for 30 years, and we’re one of the top-rated alarm companies in the Richmond area. That’s one tradition we don’t plan on abandoning any time soon.