(Last updated on April 21st, 2020)
In 2020, as a homeowner you have a wide range of home security providers to choose from, with SimpliSafe and Vivint being among the frontrunners in technology-based safety systems. To make a smart choice, you’ll want to know the details to determine which is the better buy in terms of both security and value.
This article takes a close look at the features of both services to determine which brand deserves the precious and trusted position of your household sentinel.
The New 2019 Landscape of Modern Security
Home security has changed a lot over the decades, and now incorporates smart technology and other advantages for optimum peace of mind. This also creates a much more complicated product and comparing two brands can be exceptionally difficult.
To make things easier for you, this article parses out the specific details of each service in a head-to-head, apples-for-apples comparison. These details include not only service features, but also price, installation, customer service and so on.
The article begins with a quick comparison, with a more detailed summary below. You can skip to the end for the winner, but each home is different, so it’s strongly recommended to take the time to read the details.
A Quick Rundown of Winners for Each Category
Here’s a direct, head-to-head look at who wins each category and why. After the quick rundown, a more detailed approach to each section is laid out better explaining why one company wins.
Winner: Vivint. Both companies offer very different features, but Vivint wins because it offers more modern smart home options which are increasingly important. Additionally, Vivint offers more advanced cameras. Vivint also offers all of their features with the most standard plan, with only live video feed access being limited to their premium plan.
Winner: SimpliSafe. Vivint offers a professional installation, whereas SimpliSafe features a do-it-yourself self-installation. It may seem counter-intuitive, but since you purchase the system from SimpliSafe, you have complete ownership and control over installation. Additionally, exhaustive documentation and support is provided, and ultimately installation should take under 15 minutes if you’re relatively comfortable with technology.
Winner: Vivint. SimpliSafe’s starting cost ranges from $250 to as high as over $900 and starts at $14.99/mo, because you purchase the system itself. Vivint’s starting cost is generally $99 with monthly fees starting at $49.99, because you are renting the system.
While SimpliSafe maybe more affordable in the long run, it will take a very long time to get there. Overall, however, this is going to be strongly a matter of preference and what you can afford rather than the total cost.
4. Customer Service
Winner: Vivint. Vivint features a dedicated support line answered by a centralized headquarters, whereas SimpliSafe requires contacting a local representative. Additionally, Vivint empowers you much more with smart home integrations and access to more features, leading to less reliance on customer support. Vivint also performs live monitoring in-house, whereas SimpliSafe outsources to a third-party.
Winner: SimpliSafe. Vivint requires a 5-year contract, whereas you purchase SimpliSafe’s system and can cancel monitoring at any time. SimpliSafe also includes a 3-year warranty on equipment.
To be fair to Vivint, a lifetime warranty is included with their service. It’s also only fair to point out that the contract is a necessity to allow you to pay off the system over time rather than up front, but it nonetheless is a contract and can’t compete with SimpliSafe’s no-contract model in terms of simplicity.
Winner: Vivint. Both systems are very popular, but Vivint has scored an edge with consumers thanks to smart home features. Vivint has also been around about seven years longer than SimpliSafe and offers a variety of other products through sister companies, such as Vivint Solar.
Overall Winner: Vivint. SimpliSafe and Vivint are very different systems in just about every way beyond their basic premise of modern technology-based home security, but Vivint provides a superior customer service experience, price, and range of modern features. Vivint is also the only realistic option for those who are not able to pony up the large expense of a security system’s devices upfront.
There are many caveats, however, so read on for a deeper analysis.
Breaking Down SimpliSafe’s Monitoring Packages
SimpliSafe offers two package plans, Standard and Interactive.
SimpliSafe’s Standard plan is $15 per month and features a monitoring service via a third-party monitoring network and does not allow for self-monitoring through apps or smart devices. Data is streamed through cellular towers.
For intrusion, SimpliSafe offers door and window sensors, garage door sensors, glass break protection, motion sensors, recessed door sensors, and crash and smash protection. Surveillance is handled through indoor and outdoor cameras, with event-triggered live surveillance. Cameras do not tilt or pan.
Additionally, SimpliSafe offers carbon monoxide, flood, temperature change and smoke alerts. A panic button and medical alerts are also available.
In the event of an emergency, professional monitoring is handled through COPS, a third-party national security company.
Their Interactive plan is $25 per month and provides connectivity with the SimpliSafe mobile app. You can not only monitor conditions but turn on or off functions remotely, as well as receive notifications for specific doors or drawers, and so on. The Interactive plan also provides basic interactivity with Alexa, Apple Watch and Nest.
Breaking Down Vivint’s Monitoring Packages
SimpliSafe offers two package plans, Smart Home and Smart Home Video.
Smart Home Plan
The Vivint Smart Home plan is $39.99 per month, is provides robust integrations with Alexa, Google Home, IFTTT and Z-Wave, as well as app integrations, email and text alerts and the ability to remotely arm or disarm the system’s components. Cloud storage of data is also available and holds 1TB of interaction data. Data is streamed through cellular towers.
For intrusion, included are door and window sensors, garage door sensors, glass break protection, motion sensors, recessed door sensors, crash and smash protection. Surveillance includes indoor and outdoor cameras, as well as doorbell cameras. Indoor and outdoor cameras can tilt and pan, and with the standard plan event-triggered surveillance is possible.
Additionally, the Smart Home Plan provides carbon monoxide, temperature change, flood and smoke alarms. There is also a panic button and medical alert feature.
In the event of an emergency, 24/7 professional monitoring is reachable through 2-way intercom, and police, medical, or fire department dispatch is integrated. Vivint has in-house monitoring rather than third-party networks.
Smart Home Video Plan
As you might expect, the Smart Home Video Plan adds live surveillance regardless without the need for event triggers to the Smart Home Plan’s features, and recorded video is accessible through the 1TB of allotted data.
Winner: Vivint. With a truly robust set of features, from app and smart home integrations to panning cameras, Vivint is a clear winner. While the basic Smart Home Plan does cost more than SimpliSafe’s Standard plan, it offers a significant amount of benefits that far outweigh the cost.
Getting Set Up with SimpliSafe’s Installation
With SimpliSafe, you are purchasing your system outright and must install it yourself. This means there is no installation or activation fee.
While this adds some complexity to the process, it allows you to customize set up at your own speed and add or remove components at will. For example, a customer may choose only a base station, a keypad, and an entry sensor. This runs $229.
There are five tiers all the way up to the special “Haven” package, which includes all of the components listed in the plan breakdown above.
Additionally, a wealth of documentation and tutorials are available, and sales representative assistance—as well as 24/7 customer support—relieves much of the burden.
Getting Set Up with Vivint’s Installation
With Vivint, the system is leased for five years. Because of this, Vivint systems are installed professionally.
While this relieves the burden of do-it-yourself installation, and there is no charge for the service or activation, this provides less ownership of how the system operates. For example, upgrading a package requires a lease extension, and removing components from the contract is not possible.
Of course, this also means the person sent to install the system will be doing the work and you, and any of your requests for how the system is installed, remain at the mercy of the installer.
Winner SimpliSafe. Because professional installation will surely appeal to many, these vastly different approaches are hard to weigh. Nonetheless, SimpliSafe wins as it provides more control.
A Deeper Look at SimpliSafe’s Value
SimpliSafe’s starting cost ranges from $250 to as high as over $900 depending on the chosen package. Realistically, the cost for most consumers is likely to be somewhere in the middle. Service itself starts at $14.99 per month, although you’ll likely opt for the peace of mind that comes with app integrations and alerts, bringing the cost to $25 per month.
This is relatively inexpensive for anyone looking for a barebones security system. It’s also notable that service can be canceled at any time, as you purchase the system up front.
A Deeper Look at Vivint’s Value
Vivint has no equipment starting cost or initial fees, unless you choose to forego leasing and purchase the equipment up front, which is a flat $549.99 since Vivint does not have a range of packages like SimpliSafe. Realistically, the total cost of equipment is probably comparable to what you will opt to purchase through SimpliSafe.
Monthly, you will spend $39.99 for the Smart Home Plan, or $49.99 for live video monitoring. Because the Smart Home Plan is quite robust, there’s a good chance you will opt for the basic package.
It is notable that short of purchasing the equipment outright, the service cannot be canceled, as the equipment is on lease for a five-year period.
Winner: Vivint may be more expensive on a monthly basis but is by far the better value. Vivint’s price is higher due to equipment cost being factored into the monthly fee. In reality, both plans are comparatively priced, but you will be spending a large chunk of money up front with SimpliSafe.
Additionally, the robust features of Vivint make the price difference very reasonable—even though, in practice, the difference is simply spread out equipment costs.
4) Customer Service
The Level of Help Provided by SimpliSafe’s Customer Service
SimpliSafe customer service is in-house and provided regionally, while monitoring is through a third-party network. Those who are not familiar with the technology utilized may find they need a lot of contact with support. Additionally, because monitoring is tied to the hardware rather than robust app integration, customer support will need to be contacted more frequently.
The Level of Help Provided by Vivint’s Customer Service
Vivint utilizes centralized customer service and in-house monitoring which creates a more streamlined experience. Additionally, because the system integrates with so many devices and apps, customers are more empowered to take control of the system themselves.
These features require less reliance on customer service. This is particularly true for Vivint as even their basic plan offers these integrations.
Winner: Vivint wins here, because they better empower you. While both companies offer comparable customer service, Vivint keeps more of their services in-house for a more streamlined experience. Ultimately, however, being empowered with better technology means less reliance on the company.
Examining SimpliSafe’s Contract
You purchase SimpliSafe systems upfront, meaning you own the system outright. This creates a high expense up front but allows you to cancel your service at any time at will. Of course, you will continue to own the equipment and can reinstate service whenever.
This no-contract approach is highly unique in the industry, with most services, not just SimpliSafe or Vivint, requiring at least a 12-month contract. This makes home security more flexible than even owning most cell phones.
Examining Vivint’s Contract
Vivint is a heavily contract based system. As customers are leasing their systems, the price is spread out over a five-year contract.
This will seriously lock you down, although the obvious benefit is needing less cash up front. That said, a contract can be canceled at any time so long as the you can pay the remaining balance on your lease.
All in all, this makes Vivint attractive from a financial perspective, but if you’re uncertain about whether you’ll want a home security system for the long haul, you should tread carefully.
Winner: SimpliSafe wins when it comes to contracts, as you can cancel at any time. While systems do need to be purchased up front, there is less danger of you purchasing a system that you may not be able to afford in the future.
Vivint was established in 1999 whereas SimpliSafe was founded in 2006. This seven-year difference has given Vivint an edge in popularity, and it enjoys servicing over 1.3 million customers throughout the United States and Canada, as of March 2018. It’s also notable that Vivint has a number of other companies, such as Vivint Solar, allowing consumers to purchase a number of solutions for their home through a single company.
SimpliSafe has not disclosed the number of customers they hold since 2015, which at the time totaled 300,000. Regardless, this is substantially less than Vivint.
Winner: Vivint has captured a massive segment of the market in comparison to SimpliSafe thanks to their leasing model, integration with apps and smart devices and their multi-pronged approach to providing additional solutions such as solar panels to consumers.
SimpliSafe and Vivint are remarkably different companies aside from their focus on providing home security through modern technology.
The primary and most important difference for you is the payment model. Vivint is a leasing model, whereas SimpliSafe requires purchase up front. However, this also makes SimpliSafe much cheaper on a monthly basis and allows for service to be canceled at any time, as there is no contract.
However, we consider the best home security system to be Vivint. This is because Vivint offers a remarkable value for the price, and it is worth remembering that the price is relatively similar between the two services, but with Vivint’s price being spread out over a five-year period.
Vivint offers more advanced cameras, more services and device integrations with their most basic service, whereas even with the more expensive tier of service from SimpliSafe you will not have the same robust options.
That said, the decision of which company to go with will likely have a lot more to do with whether you can afford to purchase a security system or will need to lease it. For most consumers, leasing is attractive, even if it does lock them into a contract.
Home security is incredibly important, and you’re probably used to such pricing structures with automobiles, homes and so on. Paying for a service largely upfront without as many robust options is likely the less attractive option. Overall, however, both services may be attractive to a variety of different consumers.
If you prefer a cheaper, more barebones service and to not be locked into a contract, you will love SimpliSafe. If you demand more modern options or do not have the cash for purchasing a system up front, you will undoubtedly agree with our verdict and prefer Vivint.
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