They have similar aims in protecting people’s home while being trustworthy and not then surprising their customers with hidden costs or penalties.
They do have a lot of similarities in the way they go about achieving this but there are some important differences to be aware of.
You have the option of 3 levels of professional monitoring that you pay for on a month by month basis and can cancel at any time.
You install it yourself and this is very straightforward. They offer 3 levels of professional monitoring services and require you to sign a contract of 1 to 3 years.
The most obvious difference between the 2 systems is their approach to contracting for the monitoring service. With Simplisafe you are not contracted for a fixed term. You pay for it monthly and can cancel this payment at any time.
Frontpoint give you an option of contract length of 1 year and 3 years, and give you a rebate against the cost of the equipment depending on the contract term you go for – a $25 discount for 1 year and a $300 discount for 3 years. You pay for it on a monthly basis. If you cancel part way through the term you need to pay 80% of the outstanding value of the contract. They do make all the costs of the service and monitoring upfront and a contract length of 1 to 3 years is reasonable. At the end of the contract term you are rolled over into a new contract for 1 year unless you let them know before the end of the contract term.
Monitoring Fees & Services
Both companies offer 3 levels of monitoring but they do offer different services with in each of the levels, fortunately the differences aren’t as confusing as when looking at phone contracts.
The lowest level of monitoring for Simplisafe is Live Alarm (cost – $14.99 per month) which provides you with 24/7 monitoring. The system transmits alerts to the monitoring center and they call you and assess the situation. The equivalent level of monitoring from Frontpoint is Protection (cost – $34.99 per month). It covers intrusion sensors, environmental sensors and panic alerts.
The next level of monitoring is offered by Simplisafe. There isn’t an equivalent offered by Frontpoint. This monitoring is called Alert (cost – $19.99 per month) and in addition to the previous level’s monitoring you get text/email alerts to let you know of security incidents and when someone enters or leaves your home.
Next comes the Interactive monitoring – it is known by this name for both systems. Simplisafe charge $24.99 per month and Frontpoint $42.99 per month. This adds the ability to control your system with your smartphone for arming/disarming the system, checking on who is at home (great for seeing if your children got home safely) and making other changes. Frontpoint has an additional feature where you can control your lights when you add the Wire Light Control component. Simplisafe does not offer this type of component.
Frontpoint has one more level called the Ultimate plan – cost is $49.99 per month. In addition to interactive monitoring this level gives you the ability to add up to 4 cameras to your system, locks and temperature that you monitor and control yourself from your smartphone. There is not an equivalent service provided by Simplisafe.
To help in comparing these 2 systems I’ve worked through the total costs over 1 year and 3 year for both systems using the starter.standard kits they have listed on their site. To ensure they had the same components I have added a window/door contact to the Simplisafe starter kit.
The equipment I’ve included is a control panel (base unit and keypad for Simplisafe), 2 door/window contacts, 1 motion sensor and 1 keychain remote.
I chose the timeframe of 1 year and 3 years because that is the length of the monitoring contracts you can sign up to with Frontpoint (no contract required with Simplisafe).
You can add more security and environmental sensors to the system without affecting the cost of monitoring.
When you add cameras or home automation features to your system (available with Frontpoint only) you may need to upgrade your level of monitoring.
Simplisafe’s Live Alarm and Frontpoint’s Protection monitoring services are comparable services. The total cost for Simplisafe for 1 year is $424.83. Frontpoint is $794.83. For 3 years Simplisafe is $788.41 and Frontpoint $1,359.59
Both companies’ Interactive monitoring packages are similar except that Frontpoint gives you the ability to control your lights when the Wireless Light Control is bought. The total cost for Simplisafe for 1 year is $544.83 Frontpoint is $890.83. For 3 years Simplisafe is $1,148.41 and Frontpoint $1,647.59
Simplisafe’s Alert is not offered by Frontpoint and vice versa for Frontpoints Ultimate Package.
Simplisafe’s equipment is priced lower than Frontpoint’s components, so adding more components will increase the difference between costs for the two systems.
Frontpoint uses GE equipment which is regarded by many specialists to be amongst best equipment used in home security and is used by many security companies. Simplisafe use their own equipment and it has been noted in reviews that it looks a bit cheap and clunky, however, it is regarded as reliable and I’ve not come across any issues in my research.
I’ve estimated the cost of batteries based on the expected life of the batteries used in the devices.
The prices used in the calculation are those quoted on the respective sites on April 30 2014. The table below shows my calculations.
Frontpoint gives you the opportunity to include home automation with your system. In the interactive contract you can control your lights remotely and set them to come on and off at different times during the day. Upgrading to the ultimate plan gives you access to controlling the locks and temperature with your smartphone from anywhere you want in the world that you have internet access even when visiting “middle earth” in New Zealand.
As Frontpoint is z-wave (a wireless standard for home automation) compatible it is possible to add and integrate other companies’ devices to the system to give you more automation possibilities. The total number of devices that can be controlled and monitored with the system is 39.
Simplisafe does not offer any of these features and because it is not z-wave compatible you cannot buy other manufacturer’s products to add to the system. At this time there are no plans to add home automation features. You would need to buy other supplier’s systems to be able to have these features but you would not be able to integrate them with Simplisafe.
Security And Environmental Sensors Available
Both systems have the following the sensors – door/window contacts, motion sensors, remote controls, monoxide detector, freeze sensor, water sensor, external siren (not offered by Frontpoint but can add a third party siren) and extra wireless key pad.
Frontpoint has a much wider range and if they don’t have it listed on their site you can use other supplier components that a Z-wave compatible (but check with them first). The extra devices they have are: glass break sensor, touch careen pad, garage door sensor and recessed door sensor.
This table lists and compares the features of both systems. You can page down or up by pressing the next and previous button at the bottom of the table. You can sort by using the arrows at the top of the columns and finally you can search the table by entering your question in the search box.
|Contract for Monitoring||No||1 or 3 years|
Cost per month
|Live - $14.99|
Alert - $19.99
Interactive - $24.99
|Protection - $34.99|
Interactive - $42.99
Ultimate - $49.99
|Cellular Networks Used||Verizon|
AT & T
|Can add cameras||No||Yes - Up to 4|
|Max Sensors/Devices Can be|
|Home Automation||No||Yes with|
(Wireless standard for home automation)
|Return period/money back||60 days||30 days|
|Manufacturers Warranty||3 years||3 years|
|Wireless Coverage||Up to 400 ft||Up to 100 ft|
< 2 hours
|User Codes for arming/disarming||4||8|
|Entry Delay||30 seconds||30 seconds|
|Exit Delay||30 seconds||60 seconds|
|Control Panel Brand||Own||GE Simon XT|
|Better Business Bureau Rating||A+||A|
|Angie's List||Super Service Award||Super Service Award|
Both companies have a very good reputation for offering very good customer service in helping with installation and any issues afterwards that may occur when being used. They both take a proactive approach to supporting their products and service.
Frontpoint are open for longer hours giving you more opportunity to speak to them outside of normal working hours whereas with
Simplisafe if you want to speak to them during the week you will probably need do this during working hours (depending where you are in the country). The monitoring service is 24/7 for both.
Frontpoint Hours: Monday to Friday – 8.00 am to 11.00 pm Eastern, Saturday to Sunday 10.00 am – 6.00 pm Eastern
Simplisafe Hours: Monday to Friday – 9.00 am to 6.00 pm Eastern, Saturday to Sunday 9.00 am – 6.00 pm Eastern
Both security systems are wireless which makes installation simple enough for most people to do it themselves. There is little DIY or technical knowledge required. The sensors are mounted using the double back tape that is included.
The equipment is pre-programmed to work together out of the box. You do not need internet access to get the system up and running. Of the two, the Frontpoint system is easier to install with all the sensors numbered and it being a matter of switching on the control panel and putting the sensors in place.
Protection Against Criminals Defeating Alarm System
Both systems communicate with their monitoring center over a cellular network so this avoids one pitfall those systems that use a land line. An intruder can defeat a system that uses a land line by cutting the phone cable outside the home thus preventing the signal from getting out.
When you subscribe to Frontpoint’s interactive or ultimate plans you get the added protection of their crash and smash technology. With this functionality if the system is armed and an intruder triggers a sensor an alert is sent to the monitoring center to let them know this is happened and it is set waiting for a signal from the control panel that the system has been disarmed. If the control panel is destroyed so a signal is not received by the monitoring center within the entry delay time then the monitoring center treats it as a security event and deals with it accordingly.
Simplisafe also have a system with dealing with the threat of the control panel being destroyed by the intruder before the notification is sent out. With most systems the keypad is part of the control panel which is the brains of the system and contacts the monitoring center. So, when it is destroyed the notification is stopped from being sent. Simplisafe have separated the keypad from the other functionality of the control panel. You now have a keypad for programming, arming and disarming, and a separate base unit (the brains). The base unit controls the system and communicates with the monitoring center. The base unit is located in an area separate to the keypad so if the intruder destroys the keypad the notification is still sent out by the base unit.
Both systems can be effective in ensuring a notification gets to a monitoring center even if an intruder destroys what they think is the control panel during the entry delay time period.
Simplisafe is a lower cost solution than Frontpoint for a monitored home security system. This does not appear to have noticeably reduced the quality of monitoring and protection even though the quality of components is not at the same quality standard as that offered by Frontpoint in terms of looks and feel. If you are looking for a security system that just monitors intruders and environmental sensors then Simplisafe can give this for you without being tied into a contract.
With Frontpoint you get the ability to add home automation and cameras to your system which can help to give you more ability to protect and monitor your home as well as the added convenience and fun of automation. You can control all of this with one App. So, you do not have the hassle of setting up multiple apps and systems or having to pay for additional monthly subscriptions and buy extra control panels or hubs. If you want these features now or in the near future then Frontpoint makes a very good choice.
Filed under: Buying Advice
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