A DIY home security system needs to be simple to use, not impossible to install and be able to be relied on when its needed to deter, detect, scare off criminals and/or help in identifying them when it has a camera.
Oplink and Simplisafe are both well regarded security systems that help in securing your family and home from break ins and other emergencies.
They are both wireless systems that you can install in your home quickly without having to drill into the walls to run cables.
An important part of the system is the monitoring. There is a choice of 2 ways for monitoring which are self monitoring or third party monitoring. They both have their advantages and disadvantages with self monitoring requiring you and named individuals being available to deal with alerts from the system. With third party monitoring a professional monitoring center receive the notifications from the security system and will dispatch emergency services if required. This is one big area of difference between the 2 systems.
To prepare this detailed comparison I’ve spent hours checking the specifications, supplier listings, manuals, customer reviews and asked questions of the suppliers. All this should help give you what you need to know to help you determine which one is right for you.
This is a very highly rated and popular wireless home security system. It is designed to work with a third party monitoring centre rather than to be self monitored. You can buy it and not pay the monitoring fees but it then is a standalone system that can’t be monitored remotely.
If you want 3rd party monitoring this has the best fee arrangement of all systems I’ve looked at. There is no contract required and you aren’t tied in for a long period. You pay by the month and it can be cancelled at anytime. The monthly fee is more affordable than most other companies fees.
It can be installed under an hour with simple to follow instructions. It doesn’t require an internet connection or landline but it does require cell coverage.
It sends notifications by cellular network and has an App that can be used to monitor the system remotely from anywhere you can get a signal.
The Tripleshield is DIY security system kit includes 2 cameras for video monitoring. It comes with entry sensors, motion sensors, siren and remote key fobs giving the basis for coverage of your home.
To completely cover a home it is best to buy additional devices.
Set up and installation is quick and simple. It can be done easily within an hour.
The system is controlled and monitored by an App on your smartphone from anywhere you can get an internet signal. It is a self monitoring system.
The basic functionality is free but this does give you a limited service. To use more of the functionality you are required to pay a monthly fee, which can be cancelled at any time. For an additional fee you can get cellular back up for use when the internet is down.
Video clips are store locally on a 16 GB flash drive that can be accessed remotely when paying the monthly fee.
To install and set up Simplisafe you don’t need the internet but it can help in setting up your account with Simplisafe and telling the system if you don’t want to set up a component. As it is a wireless system there is no drilling required. You can use the double-backed tape to attach the sensors to the walls and door/window frames. The instructions included are clear and easy to follow. The system should be able to be installed and set up within an hour.
To install and set up Oplink you need the internet, a compatible smartphone, and a spare port on your router. It doesn’t take long to have it fully installed, with it being stated it can be done in 15 minutes but personally I’d allow an hour. You use the included double sided tape to attach the sensors to the walls and doors/windows.
Both companies have good customer support now. Simplisafe seems to have always been highly regarded but Oplink initially had problems that they now seemed to have sorted out.
Simplisafe’s contact hours are 9.00 am – 6.00 pm – Sunday to Friday Eastern Standard Time, with Oplink’s being Mon.-Fri. 9am-7pm, Sat.-Sun. 10am-5pm Pacific Standard Time.
In this regard Oplink have better coverage for sorting issues as they are open for more hours and are available on Saturday. This gives more opportunity to contact them outside normal working hours when most people are more likely to be at home and have the system in front of them.
Third Party Monitoring
Oplink doesn’t offer third party monitoring, you monitor it yourself. This can be free to use but they do have premium services that give you the ability to add more sensors and cameras to the system and the ability review video remotely.
Simplisafe does provide the option to have a professional monitoring center monitor the system. If you choose not to pay the fee it continues to work but you don’t receive notifications and can’t monitor it remotely. When there is a security event the system sounds the siren only.
The costs of monitoring range from $14.99 to $24.99 depending on the features you want.
Cost And Features Comparison
For the cost comparison I’m using Oplink Alarmshield and the Simplisafe2 system as listed on Amazon on 28 September.
The Tripleshield system has 2 cameras in addition to security devices and costs $150 more than the Alarmshield for them. To keep the comparison simpler I’m ignoring the cameras. So, I’ve not looked at enough standalone cameras to add cameras to the Simplisafe system and they can’t be controlled separately. When Simplisafe adds cameras in December I’ll update the comparison.
To do this comparison I added components to each system to balance them up.
To the Simplisafe system I added 1 remote key fob only. This brings the total cost to $294.
For Oplink I needed to add 2 entry sensors to being the total cost up to $219.
The cost of components for the Oplink are cheaper that Simplisafe if you add further sensors which you may need to do to provide better coverage of your home. However, Simplisafe does have other starter kits that have special prices reducing the total cost.
Simplisafe does have a good track record of reliability whereas Oplink has yet to fully establish itself and is pricing the components, I think, to help do this plus to get you to pay the monthly fee.
With both systems you can use them without paying a monthly fee and the only ongoing fees would be the cost of batteries but you don’t get the full benefit of the system.
With the Oplink system you pay a monthly fee of $19.99 for getting up to 10 people to help with monitoring the system and control more than 12 sensors up to 24. To add more sensors and cameras you need to pay an extra $10 per month. This is more expensive when compared to other systems like the Piper NV.
With Simplisafe you have 3 levels of service for third party monitoring with the cheapest being $14.99 that provides only monitoring by the third party monitoring center, for $19.99 month you can receive notifications to your smartpone and for $24.99 you can also remotely control and monitor your system using an App for your phone.
Home automation is becoming a bigger part of home security or maybe home security is becoming part of home automation. But at this stage it is not part of Simplisafe at all.
With home automation you can control various appliances remotely with your smartphone and set schedules for when devices turn on/off or set rules when something happens then a certain action is taken – such as if motion is detected the lights turn on or when the owner’s phone comes within a certain distance of the home the door unlocks.
Oplink does have some home automation but it is limited to a smart plug at this time. This allows you to turn devices plugged into it on/off. You can only use Oplink devices as the system isn’t compatible with the home automation standard communication protocols of z-wave or zigbee – which allows you to add other manufacturers compatible devices to the network.
Simplisafe doesn’t have cameras but they are forecasting that they’ll be out in December 2015.
This is one of the big benefits for Oplink over most other self monitoring DIY systems is that it includes cameras as well as entry and motion sensors. The cameras have 640 X 480 resolution and a 66 degree field of view. The view is fixed. It has its’ own motion sensor. The image quality is reasonable during the day and night. Night vision is black and white.
The video it records on motion being detected is 30 seconds long. It is stored locally on a 16 GB flash drive. The video can be viewed locally or remotely (if you pay the monthly fee).
Protection Against Being Disarmed
When there is a power outage or internet outage you aren’t able to monitor the Oplink. You do receive notification if the company’s servers lose connection with the system which can alert you to a problem at home. It doesn’t protect it from being disarmed but this does give you the chance to check out the problem yourself or send someone to check it out. Unfortunately, this is normal practice for the newer generation of self-monitored DIY home security systems.
To protect from internet outages it is possible to pay an additional $10 a month for cellular back up which only works as a back up when there is an outage.
Simplisafe has a few features that make it harder to disarm. As it is a more traditional security system it has a keypad. But unlike other systems this is separate to the “brains” which are stored in base unit that communicates wirelessly with the keypad. If the keypad is destroyed the system will continue to work to notify the monitoring center and sound the siren.
It communicates with the monitoring center using the cellular network and your smartphone so is not dependent on the internet or landline. If they are cut it will continue to work.
If there is a power outage for whatever reason the base station has rechargeable back up batteries that supply power for up to 2 days.
With the Oplink system if you aren’t paying the monthly fee of $19.99 a month you can only have 2 people monitor and receive notifications. This can be a problem when there is a security event and both people monitoring the system aren’t available, then, there will be no response to the event as it is happening. The notifications can be sent by push and/or email notification via the company’s servers
If you pay the $19.99 you can have another 5 people receive notifications arm/disarm, monitor the cameras and watch video clips. It also allows you to have up to another 5 people receive notifications but they can’t access the cameras or video clips. It can be monitored by a PC as well as your smartphone.
To be able to remote monitor the Simplisafe system you need to pay a monthly fee. To receive notifications by email/SMS you need to pay the $19.99 per month fee. You can set up 2 primary contacts and a number of emergency contacts who only receive notification after emergency services have been dispatched.
The $24.99 fee allows you to also monitor the system remotely which allows you to see who has armed/disarmed the system and arm/disarm it remotely from anywhere you can get a signal to your phone.
With Simplisafe when you use third party monitoring you can get up to 15 – 20% home owners insurance discount but it does depend on the insurer.
With Oplink you can get up to a 5% discount but this also depends on the insurer and you have to ask for it.
Pets and Motion Sensors
To be able to fully arm the system if you have pets the motion sensors need to be able to detect the difference between humans and pets. Otherwise you can’t arm them as you’ll get a lot of false alarms as your pets move around your home.
The Simplisafe motion sensors are designed to ignore pets that weigh less than 50 lbs. The Oplink motion sensor can’t be set to ignore pets which is an issue if you have pets that you leave inside the home when you are away from your home.
Overall the Simplisafe is a higher rated system than Oplink. But this does come with a few caveats.
As home security system it is hard to beat when it is used as third party monitoring and you pay the monthly fee for it.
If you want a self-monitoring system it won’t send you notifications or allow you to remotely monitor without paying a fee (which also provides third party monitoring).
Also you can’t integrate it with home automation or cameras, so you need to buy and control these separately from other suppliers. This does have the advantage that you aren’t reliant on one provider for all this but it does make it more of hassle as you’ll need an additional App or more to achieve this.
As a self monitoring system Oplink is the better choice where you can control and monitor the system remotely but you are limited to what you can do without paying a monthly fee which does make it a more expensive option than other systems that are currently available. Having said that, it is reliable and is there when you need it. It does seem more robust than a number of newer systems. It also has the benefit of integrating the camera with a full home security system where most are either one or the other.
These are 2 very good systems and to get the full benefit of their different capabilities you are required to pay a monthly fee.
Filed under: Buying Advice
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