SimpliSafe vs. LiveWatch DIY Home Security: Alarm System Comparison

Mar 16, 2018 |

simplisafe vs. livewatch home security comparison

DIY Home Security: SimpliSafe or LiveWatch? 

If you’ve never had a home security system before, it can be a bit daunting to sign a multiyear contract. You don’t really know what you’re getting yourself into, and you don’t really know what you need just yet. No-contract home security systems can be a great option for new homeowners or those new to home security because they give you a chance to figure out what you do and don’t like without the long-term financial commitment.

SimpliSafe and LiveWatch both offer professionally monitored home security without a contract. Both are also wireless and self-installed, cutting out the go-between of an installer and reducing cost. They also both rely on a super-secure cellular connection rather than a landline and are known for their easy-to-follow instructions and general user friendliness—making either one a good option for home security newbies.

Key Differences

  • Home automation: LiveWatch offers a wide variety of home automation options, whereas SimpliSafe offers compatibility with only the Nest Thermostat.
  • Pricing: SimpliSafe is less expensive than LiveWatch, in terms of both equipment and monthly monitoring.
  • Innovation: SimpliSafe regularly updates its equipment offerings—the recent addition of the SimpliCam, for example—whereas LiveWatch’s offerings have been stagnant for a few years.

 The Ultimate Home Security Resource
It took hundreds of hours, but we’ve done the research—find the Best Home Security Systems of 2018.

Quick, Interactive Customer Service Goes a Long Way

SimpliSafe has been around only since 2009, but in those few short years, it’s earned a loyal customer base and an A+ BBB rating. This loyalty is due to its transparency and openness with its customers—it provides a comprehensive user forum, where many customers note (with surprise) that even critical feedback doesn’t get deleted.

Unfortunately, SimpliSafe doesn’t provide a customer support chat feature, but its responses to my emails were timely and impressively thorough. In all my interactions with SimpliSafe, I never felt like information was being withheld or obscured—a beautiful rarity in the home security world.

Although it doesn’t quite have the same kind of cult following, LiveWatch also has an A+ BBB rating and a user forum. To my delight, it also has a useful chat feature, where I could ask its representatives in-the-moment questions without picking up the phone. LiveWatch’s post-chat sales tactics (a handful of emails) were a little aggressive but not invasive in the way that some security companies are known to be.

No Contract Means More Flexibility

Again, the great thing about SimpliSafe and LiveWatch is that neither requires a contract, but each company’s approach is pretty different.

SimpliSafe’s no-contract policy is fairly straightforward: monitoring service is month to month and can be canceled and activated anytime with no penalties.

LiveWatch is a little more complicated. Technically it requires a contract for the first year, but you can terminate that contract at any time with no financial penalty. If you decide the system isn’t working out for you before your first year is up, equipment in good condition can be returned for a full refund. After the first year, you can pay for your monitoring month to month. If you decide to keep your system, after the first year, you can cancel your monitoring plan, keep your equipment, and self-monitor or have your system monitored by another company.

Differences in Equipment Warranty

SimpliSafe offers a three-year equipment warranty. It also offers a 60-day money-back guarantee, so you have a couple of months to decide whether or not the system is working for you and your family.

LiveWatch advertises a two-year equipment warranty, but customers can actually get a lifetime warranty if they ask for it. Again, you won’t get the lifetime warranty automatically, so be sure to ask for it when you speak to a sales rep.

Professional Monitoring Is Worth Paying For

SimpliSafe and LiveWatch both offer the option to self-monitor your system or to pay a monthly fee for professional monitoring. If you choose not to pay for a monitoring plan, your SimpliSafe or LiveWatch system will work only as a local alarm. If the system is armed and a door is opened, the alarm will sound, but neither you nor the authorities will be notified.

Compare SimpliSafe and LiveWatch monitoring plans

Here’s a quick look at how their professional monitoring plans compare.

SimpliSafe LiveWatch
Plan Standard Interactive Basic Mobile Pro Total Home Total Home + Video
Monthly Cost $14.99 $24.99 $29.95 $34.95 $39.95 $49.95
24/7 Professional Monitoring
Cellular Connection
Mobile Alerts
Remote Arm/Disarm
Home Automation

App Compatibility

With SimpliSafe, you get app compatibility only at the Interactive level—the Standard plan functions more like a traditional, nonmobile home security system. With the Standard plan, you’ll still get 24/7 professional monitoring—meaning alarms will sound and calls will be made in the event of a security breach—but you won’t be able to check in or remotely arm or disarm your system.

LiveWatch’s monitoring plans, on the other hand, all include mobile alerts on the LiveWatch app, though remote arming and disarming isn’t included in the Basic plan.

Camera Compatibility

Neither of SimpliSafe’s monitoring plans includes video monitoring. I’ll go deeper into the SimpliCam later, but to add video monitoring, it’s an additional $4.99 per month. If you add a SimpliCam but don’t add the monthly monitoring, it simply works as a live feed to your mobile device.

If you want video monitoring with your LiveWatch system, you must subscribe to its highest-tier monitoring plan, Total Home + Video. LiveWatch offers four different cameras: three indoor and one outdoor. We’ll get into the cameras’ details later.

Pricing

Note that the most expensive SimpliSafe monitoring plan is still cheaper than the lowest LiveWatch plan. If you’re just looking for a basic, low-cost home security system without home automation, SimpliSafe will meet your needs for $5–$10 less per month. If you do want to incorporate smart lighting and smart locks into your home security system, a few extra bucks per month for LiveWatch is still a good deal.

Equipment Packages Compared

Each SimpliSafe package comes with a base station, a wireless keypad, and a keychain remote. Each LiveWatch equipment package includes a different control panel, some entry sensors, and a motion sensor. After that they’re customizable.

Compare SimpliSafe and LiveWatch packages

Here’s how the rest of the SimpliSafe and LiveWatch package features compare.

SimpliSafe LiveWatch
Package Starter Economy Classic Master Ultimate Plug & Protect Basic Plug & Protect Complete
Price $229.96 $259.95 $349.92 $449.87 $539.85 $99 $99
Activation Fee $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $19.95 $19.95
Entry Sensors 1 3 3 6 4 2 4
Motion Sensors 1 1 1 2 2 1 1
Siren 1 1 1 Additional cost Additional cost
Panic Button 1 Additional cost Additional cost
Smoke Detectors 1 1 1 Additional cost Additional cost
Water Sensor 1 Additional cost Additional cost
CO Detector 1 Additional cost Additional cost
Freeze Sensor 1 Additional cost Additional cost

You can add additional equipment to any of SimpliSafe’s packages, or you can create your own package entirely. You’ll need at least a base station and a keypad, which together cost $184.98, plus at least one entry sensor ($14.99 each), so you’ll spend a minimum of $199.97 to start. The build-your-own page has a nice calculator feature where you can add items one at a time and see how your total cost changes with each addition.

LiveWatch offers two premade packages, but according to a customer service representative I spoke to, they’re also entirely customizable. I’ll go deeper into its available add-ons in the next section, but in short, LiveWatch offers a variety of additional environmental sensors, home automation devices, and camera options.

With its $99 equipment packages, LiveWatch is the much cheaper option, but note that neither of its packages includes environmental sensors (smoke detectors, etc.), whereas SimpliSafe’s Ultimate package includes four. Adding comparable sensors to a LiveWatch package would cost you an additional $226.

How Does SimpliSafe and LiveWatch Equipment Match Up?

Environmental Sensors

SimpliSafe offers four environmental hazard sensors: smoke, carbon monoxide, freeze, and water. The Classic and Master packages both include one smoke detector, and the Ultimate package includes one of each hazard sensor. Of course, you can add any of these to any of the smaller packages as well for an additional fee.

None of the LiveWatch packages include any environmental sensors, but it offers the following options as add-ons: smoke, carbon monoxide, and flood sensors.

Home Automation

SimpliSafe doesn’t manufacture any home automation devices, and its only compatible smart home device is the Nest Thermostat. This is a good start, but I’d like to see the company offer at least smart lighting control as well. Despite many complaints about its lack of home automation products on the customer forums, SimpliSafe has made no promises or indications of promises for additional devices or compatibilities in the future.

LiveWatch, on the other hand, offers a handful of Z-Wave options, including thermostats (but no Nest, unfortunately), door locks, and smart switches. These smart switches can be programmed to control lights, appliances, or virtually any other electronic device you can imagine.

Video Options

SimpliSafe has recently introduced its new SimpliCam. It’s indoor-only and equipped with night vision, audio recording, and a 120° field of view. It costs $99 up front and an additional $4.99 per month to monitor. With this monthly monitoring plan, you get the following features:

  • Livestreaming
  • Motion-activated recording
  • On-demand recording
  • Clip downloads (within 30 days)

LiveWatch has four IP camera options, and each requires the Total Home + Video monitoring plan to operate.

Camera name Hi-Res Indoor Wireless Fixed Indoor Pan/Tilt Outdoor Bullet
Price $199 $249 $329 $349
Resolution 720p 720p 720p 720p
Night Vision None 20 feet None 39 feet
Additional Features 360° pan/tilt 4 to 120°F operating temperature

Mobile Apps for Increased Functionality

The SimpliSafe app has between three and four stars on Google Play and iTunes. Users say it’s frequently updated and that the developers listen to customer feedback, but it has connectivity problems on older-model phones. Again, only the Interactive monitoring plan gets you app control of your system.

LiveWatch uses the Alarm.com app, which scores higher than four stars on Google Play and between three and four stars on iTunes. It’s always nice to have a larger developer supporting the app, but this also means the app isn’t quite as tailored to the system as it could be. Still though, it’s regularly updated and generally performs well.

Cost vs. Home Automation Options

There’s some give-and-take with each of these companies. In terms of both monitoring and equipment costs, SimpliSafe is a significantly cheaper option. LiveWatch’s advantage is that it offers a wider variety of equipment options, particularly home automation options.

SimpliSafe and LiveWatch are both decent DIY home security options, but if you’re looking for something that can do it all, check out our top-rated home security systems, where you can find plenty of options that have the best of both worlds.

Written by Suzi Brzezinski

Learn more

Share with your awesome friends.