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SimpliSafe vs. Frontpoint

Home Forums Home Security Security Systems SimpliSafe vs. Frontpoint

This topic contains 18 replies, has 5 voices, and was last updated by  David DeMille 5 years ago.

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  • #1089 Reply

    Maru Quevedo
    Keymaster

    I have been researching home alarm systems for a few weeks now and my decision is between FrontPoint and SimpliSafe. Can someone help me out and tell me what the main differences are between the two companies?

  • #1101 Reply

    Joey

    I've owned the SimpliSafe system for over a year now and I am 100% satisfied with my decision. I too was in the similar situation because I didn't know who to pick.  My research showed me that the SimpliSafe system was the most affordable option out there.  They offer all the same features as the Frontpoint system just at a better price.

    Also, SimpliSafe manufactures their own products and stand behind their components with a three year warranty.  Most companies don't offer that!

    Their customer service is outstanding! Anytime I've had an issue, I just give them a call and they make sure it's taken care of.  They really put the customer first in any situation.

    Hopefully this answers your questions.

  • #1102 Reply

    Simplisafe does have a lot to offer and here are the primary differences that I found between them and FrontPoint:

    1. SimpliSafe does NOT have “smash and grab” technology comparable to FrontPoint. Instead, they have a base station that connects via dedicated cellular communication (this is the best communication method and is the same as the competition) to the remote monitoring center in NJ which is separate AND a keypad which are separate. If the Simplisafe base station were destroyed by an intruder, the monitoring station would not be aware of any issues and, thus no emergency would be detected or followed up on. In contrast, FrontPoint's Smash & Grab system notifies the monitoring station of an emergency when the control panel is destroyed.

      • However, the base station for Simplisafe must be placed at least 15 feet away from the keypad or it will not operate and it is encouraged that they be placed in different rooms. Further, if a sensor is triggered in the home, the base station will go completely quiet and all lights turn off while the keypad starts an alarm and flashing lights to attract the intruder towards it rather than the base station. So, in most cases, the base station would never be detected and thus would silently do its job of notifying the central monitoring station to send the police.
      • The only concern I would have with this system as it was explained to me would be (a) if someone who has been in the home has scoped it out and knows where the base station is to destroy it and disable your system before the monitoring station/authorities are notified; or (b) if you have a Simplisafe sign out front to let people know your home is protected BUT the burglar knows that if they find the base, they will be home free. This might argue to put up a different sign from whatever system you end up buying… (ebay sells them).
      • Note: The price for interactive monitoring (computer, smartphone apps, etc.) is $24.99 per month as opposed to $14.99 for regular local monthly monitoring.
    2. This second difference is likely not very important in your case but I wanted to share it just in case. Simplisafe does not offer any home automation options and does not plan to in the future. So, they have no intentions of ever providing the possibility to turn off and on lights, adjust thermostats, etc. remotely.
    3. No contract – you already know this one but I believe it is their biggest point of difference from the competition.
  • #1091 Reply

    a Security Professional

    It's amazing what little information that you're been told and then what you immediately believe and pass forward as FACTS.

    This is precisely why a proper and complete explanation is required so that you understand these different technologies perfectly so as not to be disappointed.

    There are very specific requirements in order for "Crash-and-Smash" technology to notify the monitoring station if the control panel is destroyed.  Your statement indicates that you believe this will happen 24/7.   It doesn't work like that.

    1. The control panel (alarm system) must be armed.  And
    2. The "Crash" part of the intrusion must be detected by a sensor such as a door contact, motion detector or glass breakage detector before the control panel is "Smashed", i.e. attacked and destroyed.

    If these two conditions are not met, you do not have functional "Crash-and-Smash" technology.

    Is the SimpliSafe (or any other alarm system) without "Crash-and-Smash" technology inferior?  ABSOLUTELY NOT!

    If you take the SimpliSafe base station and:

    1. Hide the base station inside a locked storage room.
    2. Put a door contact on the door to the storage room.
    3. Put a motion detector inside the storage room, and
    4. Arm the SimpliSafe security system.

    You've just created a superior version of "Crash-and-Smash" technology.

    Why have I indicated this as superior?  Because the base station (control panel communicator) is inside a locked storage room.  There's additional time and effort required for an intruder to attack the base station.  The locked storage room door provides additional protection of the control panel for when the security system is NOT armed.

    Think "home invasion" when your alarm system is NOT armed – – will your wireless panic button work if the control panel at the front door is immediately destroyed as your home is invaded BEFORE you can activate the button?

    This scenario will probably never happen to you – but that's not the point.

    If you've planned your security system design properly, several motion detectors will be triggered when the panel is armed BEFORE the intruder gets to the control panel, even as you're inside the home sleeping at night.

    Do you now understand why it is so important to understand alarm system design and to also know exactly how the different technologies such as "Crash-and-Smash" actually work?

    From my explanation, there is no advantage to having "Crash-and-Smash" technology if you can't understand how it works.  In fact, without this knowledge, you risk that it won't work at all.

    Also, you can achieve the same or superior security levels of "Crash-and-Smash" technology with other alarm systems – – IF you understand proper security system design and are willing to spend the extra money for additional sensors to achieve this level of security.

    The technology that will advise the monitoring station immediately (within 6 minutes) if a control panel is attacked, under ANY circumstances, 24/7 is NOT "Crash-and-Smash" – – it's "supervised heart-beats" or "internet polling".  Once the continuous polling or heartbeats stop, the monitoring stations knows that something is "up", whether or not the alarm panel is even armed.

    When you have full and complete information about how alarm systems actually work, you can design a proper security system from either FrontPoint or SimpliSafe.

    Otherwise, you may be wasting your money and sleeping with a false sense of security.

  • #1096 Reply

    a seeker of security

    The lowest level of monitoring choice from FrontPoint does not include "crash-and-Smash".  Only the interactive level and above monitoring levels include this service.  The representative told me that "crash-and-smash" is a protection service thru Alarm.Com.  I feel that unless the monitoring level chosen includes Alarm.Com services, "crash-and-smash" is not protecting the control panel.

    Since one of the great articles on this website from a security person suggested the use of a second control panel as back up to signal the monitoring service I inquired with a Frontpoint representative about this.  I inquired via email about utilizing a "second" control panel such as the talking key pad or the touchscreen control panel as a back up for protection as I do not need the interactive monitoring.  The response was "The Simon XT is the main control panel and has the cellular link which everything else runs off of. All other keypads would just be additional remotes for the main control panel."  I'm now waiting for clarification in regard to a second Simon XT providing this back up protection.

  • #1097 Reply

    a Security Professional

    You’re on the right path to understanding more about alarm systems.  "Crash-and-Smash" detection has nothing to do with "monitoring levels".  "Crash-and-Smash" detection is entirely dependent upon alarm system design.

    Control panel:

    This alarm industry expression refers to the main processor board which contains the communicator of the alarm system.

    Keypad:

    This is any keypad where you would input your access code to arm or disarm your alarm system.

    Here’s where confusion can occur:

    • A self-contained alarm system has the communicator built into the keypad (instead of it being a separate and unique unit).  So it’s the communicator AND also a keypad.
    • A touch-screen control panel is also a keypad.

    So you should be using the expression “control panel” only when referring to the actual unit which contains the alarm’s communicator.  Additional keypads (which don’t have a communicator inside of them) are not “control panels” – even if they are touch-screen models which control various elements of your home.

    The response that you obtained that “any other keypad is an additional remote for the main control panel” is entirely accurate.  Additional keypads are just that – keypads which work “off of” the main control panel.

    Back-up protection:

    Additional keypads do not provide “back-up protection”.

    The use of an additional keypad allows you to remove the main control panel keypad away from the front door and place it in a better, more secure and preferably hidden location of your home.

    The “protection” of the main control panel is provided by, and entirely dependant upon how many, alarm detection devices [such as a door contact, glass breakage detector, pressure mat, motion detector, etc.] which are triggered and activated [cause an alarm] as an intruder is making his way towards and trying to locate the main control panel which contains the alarm’s communicator.

    "Crash-and-Smash" technology is not the ONLY means of detecting a "Crash-and-Smash" event:

    The proper design of any security system ensures that an alarm condition MUST be detected and sent to the monitoring station before the communicator is destroyed.  In this regard, competent alarm professionals who have been hiding the main control panel with “layers” of detection devices in the pathway towards the communicator have been providing security against “Crash-and-Smash” long before the term became part of our vernacular.

    “Crash-and-Smash” incidences occurred more frequently due to increased criminal knowledge about bad security system designs – – specifically:

    1. Exposed alarm communicators
    2. No detection made as criminals approached the communicator, largely due to no motion detectors or motion detectors which followed the entry delay of the forced entry door contact [meaning the motion detector DID NOT work when an entry delay was active – even if that motion detector was not in the pathway of a keypad] and
    3. Easily compromised communication means, such as the use of a telephone line to send signals to the monitoring station.

    The patented technology of “Crash-and-Smash” is entirely dependent upon the front door contact being activated first, at the beginning of an entry delay, when the alarm system is armed, and BEFORE the control panel keypad which is at the front door is “Smashed”.

    This is an improvement over first generation self-contained alarm units which didn’t have this feature.  BUT – – this is not any different from a motion detector that will be instantly activated as an intruder enters the interior space of the home BEFORE the hidden communicator is located.

    With “Crash-and-Smash” technology, the front door contact is only one “layer” of detection.  By moving the main control panel/communicator/keypad into the interior of the home, you can provide additional “layers” with other alarm detection devices such as active motion detectors.

    With the knowledge of proper system design, you can have a home alarm system that satisfies your own personal needs and security level, whether you have an alarm system with “Crash-and-Smash” technology or not.

    In this regard, ANY alarm system with a cellular communicator, IF INSTALLED CORRECTLY, with enough ACTIVE components, will provide homeowners with the level of security they desire – – including the detection of a "Crash-and-Smash" event.

  • #1103 Reply

    Larry

    Great comments and great overall info on home security. Keep it coming! Thank you.

  • #1104 Reply

    a Security Professional

    You're welcome, Larry! If you have any other questions, please write back as I do check in on this site from time to time.

  • #1090 Reply

    nini

    We are seriously considering SimpliSafe for our new house, but one thing I do not like is that they don`t have glass break detectors… Do you think I should go for other providers because of that feature? And, what happens if a burglar cuts the glass and brings it down instead of smashing it? Will ANY sensor detect this?

  • #1105 Reply

    a Security Professional

    Hi Nini,

    You've been watching too many movies if you think that burglars can "cleanly cut glass" windows or doors at your home without shattering or breaking them.

    Make a phone call to your local glass / window supply outlet and they will confirm that in order to cut glass you must have access to both sides of the glass pane.  To cut glass: You must first score one side with a glass cutter and then bend and snap off the glass along the scored line – which is impossible to do with glass that is fixed inside a patio door or window frame.

    Additionally, some of the glass at your home is probably tempered – which doesn't cut easily at all but instead is designed to shatter into tiny pieces without any sharp edges.

    I'm assuming that you meant that SimpliSafe did not have wireless glass breakage detectors.  This could be resolved by using a hard-wired glass breakage detector that is then wired into a wireless door contact to transmit the signal back to the wireless receiver of the SimpliSafe alarm system – but this is not an easy fix for the typical end user since you must figure out a way to provide the (wired) electrical power necessary for the hard-wired glass breakage detector.  You also need a very specific model of wireless door contact that will accept the input wiring necessary from the hard-wired glass breakage detector.

    If you absolutely must include glass breakage detectors within your home security system design, then consider another alarm service provider if SimpliSafe cannot resolve your issues.

  • #1092 Reply

    Blanche homeowner

    I have been researching security features for my grandaughter's home. Suppose you are in an area without cellular reception or decide against that feature?  I assume that would mean protection would depend on a land line. Any safety features to make up for that weak point?  Am I correct in reading that some companies only offer cellular systems?  Thank you.

  • #1093 Reply

    guest

    Can someone tell me if there's an advantage to buying Simplisafe on Amazon.com vs on their website, Simplisafe.com?

  • #1094 Reply

    We did a quick search on Amazon.com and it looks like the Simplisafe package offered there is the $259.95 Plus package from their website. The seller is listed as Simplisafe, so in essence is probably the same thing you'd be getting on their website.

  • #1095 Reply

    Jason

    Regarding buying on Simplisafe.com vs Amazon.com:

    • You pay $5 shipping via Amazon, but not through Simplisafe.com.
    • There are fewer package options and products available on Amazon.
    • If you google "Simplisafe Coupon Codes", you'll find a 5% off and a $25 off code that save a chunk of change on their website.

    There's no bigger fan of Amazon than me, but Simplisafe.com provides a better deal for their equipment.

  • #1098 Reply

    a Security Professional

    I have to agree, the key to a great system is design design design. Unless you have a system that has continuous polling with your monitoring company then your system options have different benefits. Bottom line is If your alarm is not armed and you do not have continuous polling, a hidden transmitter with a panic button is the best option (during the day when you are home and your system is disarmed). Second best option is a panic button with an exposed control panel (in this case you just have to get to the panic button before the thief gets to the panel). With FrontPoint, if they get to the panel and destroy it before you can hit the panic button then you are out of luck.

    I know a few people who have the base station for Simplisafe hidden behind a wall panel that no one would know existed even if they were looking right at it. Another person I know had a bookshelf which covered a recess in the wall that housed the base station. Both of these people had really good design. The thief would probably never find the base station. I could not find it and I was given unlimited time to look for it. If your alarm is armed and you do not have continuous polling then FrontPoint's system with smash and grab will immediately send an event notification to the monitoring center if a sensor is tripped. The center will wait for a disarm command. If not received they treat the event as a burglary and immediate call emergency services.

    This is the easiest system to setup (no need to hide anything) but no better than a well designed system with hidden/secured base stations. It just takes less work to setup. I personally use FrontPoint. I have my alarm on at all times though and having it on 24/7 is an option for me therefore smash and grab works well for me. My system only gets turned off and then right back on again when I am coming or going. Once you get into the mindset of just leaving the system on all the time then your system becomes even more effective. I have motion sensors covering all access ways and window and door sensors for when I have the motions off. With FrontPoint you can have the motion sensors turned off while the other sensors are armed if you need to move around an area that would normally be covered by the motion sensors. So there is no way anyone could get into my home without setting something off.

  • #1099 Reply

    the REAL “a Security Professional”

    I am the real "a Security Professional" who has contributed to several articles and made comments on this site.  If you would take the time to read what I've written, you'd recognize that I have indicated that I do not have a FrontPoint alarm system at my personal residence.

    While I do agree with most of your comments, by using "my name" you will mislead readers into believing that I am endorsing a particular alarm system or company.

    I am offering advice to help readers properly install ANY decent alarm system and how to learn which ones to avoid.  Proper security depends more on system design, product selection and installation. As such there are numerous alarm systems that I can choose from and use which will accomplish my requirements.

  • #9782 Reply

    MagnumsMom
    Participant

    What are “continuous polling” and “supervised heart-beats”? I’ve tried looking these terms up, and I just get a lot of industry stuff that assumes I already know.

    Also, I have 3 sets of sliding glass doors.  My intuition tells me I want glass breaks, but maybe I’ve been reading too much.  Are they necessary, in your opinion, if we were to install motion detectors properly?  We’re looking at SimpliSafe to keep costs down, but maybe FrontPoint would be worth the extra expense.  The whole thing is kind of confusing.  I’m just trying to see the forest for the trees.  Thanks.

    • #11137 Reply

      Hi Mary,

      “Continuous polling” and “supervised” heartbeats simply refer to the monitoring station regularly checking the connection to your home (ie. verifying that your system is being monitored properly).

      As for your glass doors, glass breaks can definitely detect the breakage, but not if they find a way to slide them open without breaking the glass. In either case, a motion detector placed to detect motion through the sliding glass door would detect the intruder as soon as they entered, broken or no broken glass.

      Here’s the contact info for Frontpoint and SimpliSafe:

      Please let us know whom you decide to go with!

  • #10982 Reply

    Steven Cox
    Participant

    I have been using Simplisafe for a long time now and I really love it. It works great and the price is right at no monthly costs. I would recommend it but I also sleep with my iPhone under my pillow… so there’s that.

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