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SimpliSafe vs. Ring: Which home security system is better?

How do two of the most popular DIY security brands line up?

Editor's note, March 26, 2021: Ring has been called out for its partnership with local police departments in the US, leading privacy advocates to express concern about the data Ring shares with law enforcement and how they use that information. In December 2019, thousands of Ring users' personal information was exposed, leading us to stop recommending Ring products. Ring has since updated its security policies, from offering customers a Control Center dashboard allowing people to more easily access privacy and security settings to requiring two-factor authentication

We have resumed recommending Ring's products with this caveat: If you have concerns about Ring's privacy policies, make sure to familiarize yourself with its privacy statement. You can read more about how we factor Ring's privacy policies into our recommendations here. CNET has not and will not be issuing Editors' Choice awards to Ring while the company's policies around law enforcement and surveillance remain on their current course.


When it comes to DIY home security, SimpliSafe and Ring are two of the most popular systems around. The two companies both have an impressive lineup of devices and features and consistently rank among the best in the category

But SimpliSafe and Ring are successful for one main reason: flexibility. Both security kits can be fit to meet specific needs, whether you're in a tiny studio apartment or a large house. The ability to build out your security system according to what kind of monitoring you want, how many entryways you have, and what sorts of devices would be most useful means you get a much more personalized experience than with some other companies.

While Ring and SimpliSafe have a lot in common, some big differences in price, monitoring, customer service and privacy distinguish the services from one another. Keep reading to learn the big selling points for each security system and which is our favorite.

Read more: The best home security systems for 2021

Chris Monroe/CNET

SimpliSafe is a highly-rated home security company that combines affordable DIY security with professional monitoring service. The company has a lot to offer. In fact, it's been one of our favorite DIY home security systems for years.

Let's start by talking about SimpliSafe's equipment options. When you go to purchase your SimpliSafe system, you'll have two options. You can either choose one of their pre-designed packages or build your own.

SimpliSafe offers all of the equipment you'd expect of a home security systems, including:

  • Indoor/outdoor and doorbell cameras
  • Door/window and glass break sensors
  • Motion sensors
  • Panic button
  • Environment sensors for smoke, temperature and water
  • Smart lock
  • Siren
  • Keypad
  • Key fob (for disarming the system)

Systems start at $229 for a base station, motion sensor, door/window entry sensor and keypad. You'll probably want a kit with more than that: packages sell for up to $489, including various combinations of devices. The most expensive package includes a base station, four door/window sensors, two motion sensors, a panic button, a smoke detector, a keypad, a temperature sensor, a key fob, a siren and a flood sensor. Deals are fairly common, too: At the beginning of March, this package was selling for $318 and included a free security camera.

SimpliSafe also has a variety of options for its monitoring services. If you really don't want to pay for monitoring, you can stick with the free self-monitoring, which allows you to view your live video feed and receive camera notifications if there's movement in your home. That said, you won't be able to arm or disarm the system remotely and the base station won't be able to send you push notifications, say, if an entry sensor registers a door opening during the night -- in that case, you'd just get the siren sounding locally, which is still useful as long as you're in the house.

In most cases, you'll be best served using SimpliSafe with one of its paid monitoring plans. Both the $15 per month and $25 per month monitoring subscriptions come with professional monitoring, emergency dispatch and fire monitoring and dispatch. These also give you more features -- such as remote arming/disarming and push notifications -- and may earn you insurance discounts depending on your provider's policies.

Ultimately, if you're looking for professional home security at DIY home security system prices, then you'll find that with SimpliSafe.

Julie Snyder/CNET

Ring first appeared as a video doorbell company, but expanded rapidly after Amazon bought it in 2018. In 2020, Ring introduced the second generation of its home security kit, Ring Alarm. We named it the best budget DIY security system.

The company offers three pre-designed security packages ranging from five to 14 pieces, each scaled for a different size home. You can also build your own kit. Available devices include:

  • Keypad
  • Door/window sensors
  • Motion sensors
  • Panic button
  • Range extenders
  • Environment sensors for smoke, carbon monoxide and water

Ring also offers solar panels, which can power your outdoor camera and floodlights, as well as small solar charges for your Ring doorbell. You can also connect smart lighting, smart locks, smart speakers and a slew of other devices -- both from Ring and third-party developers like GE and Kwikset -- to the larger Ring ecosystem.

Like SimpliSafe, Ring allows you to monitor your own system for free -- you'll get access to your live video feed and motion-activated notifications. 

You can also upgrade to the basic plan, which costs just $3 per month and gives you access to video storage, saving and sharing. But it's not until you upgrade to the most expensive plan, which costs $10 per month, that you get access to professional monitoring.

One problem with the Ring security system, however, is the question of the company's larger privacy practices. We've discussed them at length before, but essentially, Ring facilitates connections between police forces and customers -- and that leads to some ethically questionable (at best) situations. This might not bother you as an individual consumer, but it has larger ramifications for our society that remain only partially explored and it should at least give you pause before buying into Ring's larger ecosystem.

Which is best for you?

Both Ring Alarm and SimpliSafe are great DIY home security systems. The question is, which will work best for you? Well, depending on what you're most concerned about, the answer may differ. Here's how we break down the components of each system.

Equipment

You can't go wrong with the equipment options from either SimpliSafe or Ring. Both offer indoor, outdoor and doorbell cameras, door and window sensors, motion sensors and environmental sensors. Both also offer select smart home products, like Ring's smart lighting and SimpliSafe's smart lock. Regardless of what you're looking for in a home security system, chances are you can find it with one of these companies.

That said, Ring offers a little more smart home flexibility -- especially by working with third-party developers -- and SimpliSafe seems a little more focused on the security side of things, offering devices like glass break sensors and key fobs for disarming the system remotely.

Winner: Tie

Monitoring

SimpliSafe and Ring are remarkably similar when it comes to their monitoring options. Both companies offer free monitoring, which allows you to view your camera's live feed and receive notifications when there's movement in your home.

Both systems also offer two different paid monitoring subscriptions. Ring's $3 plan includes features such as video storage, sharing, saving and rich notifications. Upgrade to the $10 plan and you also get professional monitoring, extended warranties on your devices and 10% off select Ring products.

Like Ring, SimpliSafe has a cheaper monitoring plan ($15) which includes professional monitoring, built-in cellular connection and fire monitoring. The $25 plan includes many other features, including camera recording, priority police dispatch, advanced alarms and family/friend alerts, water and temperature monitoring -- and more.

If price is your primary concern when choosing a home security system, then Ring is the way to go. If you're less interested in the smart home angle and more in the pure security side of things, we give SimpliSafe the edge.

Winner: SimpliSafe (by a small margin)

amazon-echo-show-10-6

Since Ring is owned by Amazon, it works well with Alexa -- though SimpliSafe cooperates with the voice assistant, too.

Chris Monroe/CNET

Installation

SimpliSafe and Ring both have excellent installation options. Both systems are designed for easy DIY installation, which means most homeowners should be able to set their systems up themselves. Both also offer the option of professional installation for those who can't or would prefer not to install their own systems.

Winner: Tie

Home automation

Both Ring and SimpliSafe offer some of their own smart home devices. Additionally, both products allow for integration with other smart home products. But ultimately, Ring has a slight edge.

First, Ring is owned by Amazon, meaning its products are designed to integrate well with your Amazon Alexa products. Ring also has its "Works with Ring" program, which is a lineup of other smart home products that work with the Ring app.

Finally, though SimpliSafe does have smart home devices and their products integrate with other devices and voice assistants, integration is only available with the most expensive monitoring plan.

Winner: Ring

Customer service

J.D. Power ranked SimpliSafe as the top DIY home security system in its 2020 home security satisfaction study. Ring came in second place. Additionally, while both companies have an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau, SimpliSafe ranks slightly better in terms of customer reviews and complaints.

Winner: SimpliSafe

Warranty

SimpliSafe offers a three-year warranty on all of its products. If your product malfunctions and can't be fixed, they'll send you a new one. Ring, on the other hand, only offers a one-year warranty. Customers who want a longer one can purchase Ring Assist+, which comes with a two-year extended warranty.

Winner: SimpliSafe

simplisafe-3-24

SimpliSafe works well and it comes with lengthy warranties for all of its devices. If something malfunctions even a year or two after purchasing, you'll get a replacement.

SimpliSafe

Privacy

Privacy is a central concern for homeowners looking for a home security system. While Ring has improved their policies of late, they still facilitate connections with police departments and customer data leaks are fairly recent occurrences for the company.

Winner: SimpliSafe

The bottom line

SimpliSafe and Ring are two of the most highly rated DIY home security systems on the market. You can't go wrong with either option, but each system is better suited to a different type of customer.

If you're looking for the best deal, Ring will likely be your pick. If you're concerned about privacy or if you're looking purely for the best DIY security system, SimpliSafe will be the safer bet.