If you’ve been searching for a reliable self-monitored solution, then you might be familiar with SimpliSafe and Fortress. Both companies offer self-monitoring options without monthly fees and contracts, making them ideal options if you're looking for a non-traditional security system without high long-term costs. If you're wondering which of the two is best for you, this comparison review will guide you towards making a decision.
SimpliSafe Pros & Cons
- No-Contract Professional Monitoring
- Option Between Professional and Self-Monitoring
- Affordable Monthly Rates
- Limited Device Lineup
- Functions as Local Alarm When Self-Monitored
- Limited Camera Options
Fortress Security Pros & Cons
- Wide Selection of Equipment
- No Monthly Monitoring Fees
- 3-Year Equipment Warranty
- Lacks Professional Monitoring
- No Home Automation
- They both sell their products online instead of employing door-to-door sales reps or selling through dealerships.
- Their products can function without a monthly subscription, allowing you to self-monitor your security system.
- Their products are wireless.
- They sell security products but have limited home automation features.
- They let their customers custom build their security systems instead of offering pre-built packages tied to professional monitoring plans.
- Equipment Selection — SimpliSafe offers one type of security system that supports a handful of sensors and devices; Fortress offers three types of security systems, each with strengths and weaknesses.
- Self-Monitoring — If you self-monitor SimpliSafe, it will function as a local alarm and won't be able to send you alerts remotely; Fortress Security can use your existing landline or broadband connection to send phone or SMS alerts or even push notifications via the Fortress app.
- Communication Method — SimpliSafe uses Wi-Fi to send alert signals with the option to add cellular monitoring; Fortress' systems can either use landline, Wi-Fi, and cellular signal to send alerts, depending on the type of system.
- Professional Monitoring — SimpliSafe offers optional professional monitoring; Fortress Security once teased about planning to offer professional monitoring, but they are yet to deliver it.
- Cellular Chip — SimpliSafe's base station has a built-in cellular chip that can be activated any time; Fortress' systems that support cellular monitoring require that you buy a Fortress GSM SIM card to enable cellular communication.
Sales & Pricing Comparison
SimpliSafe and Fortress are both focused on selling their products online instead of employing door-to-door sales experts like most traditional alarm companies do. If you want to buy products from either of the two alarm companies, all you need to do is go to their respective websites to shop there.
Among all alarm companies we've reviewed that offer professional monitoring, SimpliSafe is one of the least expensive options we've seen in terms of monitoring cost. Monthly rates start at only $14.99. With Fortress Security, there are no monthly monitoring fees as they only offer self-monitored systems. There are, however, monthly fees should you decide to add cellular backup via a Fortress GSM SIM Card.
As for the equipment, pricing depends on the type of system you choose. SimpliSafe 3 is the latest system from SimpliSafe and also the most expensive, with packages starting at just over $200. With Fortress, there are three options: SO3, S6 Titan, and S1 Stealth. SO3 packages start at $79.99, S1 Stealth at $129.00, and S6 Titan at $199.99.
As both companies offer contract-free, self-monitored security systems, equipment must be purchased upfront. Unfortunately, this also means that there are no financing options available. You must invest in the equipment in order to use the system.
Both SimpliSafe and Fortress offer self-installed security systems. They will deliver the system to your address and it's up to you to set it up the way you like. Should you run into problems, you can call their tech support for assistance. If you'd rather have a technician professionally install the system, SimpliSafe has a slight edge. They offer their professional installation starting at $79.
Key Features & Tech Comparison
SimpliSafe equipment lineup is limited to a few sensors and accessories, while Fortress has a wide variety of products. A typical SimpliSafe system includes a base unit, motion sensors, door/window sensors, and a wireless keypad allowing you to arm and disarm the system. With Fortress, each type of system is available in four packages: Starter, Classic, Deluxe, and Deluxe Pet. Typically, a package consists of a base unit or control panel, security sensors, and sometimes even life safety sensors such as smoke alarms.
SimpliSafe and Fortress don't offer smart home products, but both work with third-party smart home products. Fortress recently added an Alexa integration, allowing you to control your security system with your voice if you have an S1 Stealth or S6 Titan system. With SimpliSafe, the list of integrations is much longer. Their system works with Alexa and Google Assistant, August Smart Lock Pro, and Nest Thermostat. However, you must be subscribed to a professional monitoring plan in order to use these integrations.
Both alarm companies offer security cameras. SimpliSafe offers SimpliCam, a standard, wireless, indoor camera, and the SimpliSafe Video Doorbell Pro, a doorbell camera. Both cameras can work as a standalone device, but a cloud storage plan is required in order for them to record motion events. Fortress used to offer several cameras, but recently, they refreshed their lineup with Fortress My Sight. My Sight is also a standalone system, but instead of saving videos in the cloud, it wirelessly transmits videos to an included DVR.
Considering that smartphone access is one of the most important features in self-monitored systems, it's surprising to see that not all SimpliSafe or Fortress Security customers can use their respective smartphone apps. SimpliSafe customers can only use the app if they subscribe to the Interactive plan, which requires a $24.99 monthly subscription fee. Fortress Security customers don't need a subscription to use the app, but they must own one of the systems that can connect to Wi-Fi.
SimpliSafe and Fortress are known for offering self-monitored security systems. If something goes wrong, the system will let you know so you can call for help. Unlike professionally monitored systems, the responsibility of calling for help falls upon the user. SimpliSafe has a slight advantage because they also offer professional monitoring for a fee. However, in a self-monitored setting, the SimpliSafe system only functions as a local alarm. It doesn't send text or email alerts, and the only way it can send an alert is by sounding its siren.
Customer Service Experience
The benefit of choosing SimpliSafe or Fortress over traditional alarm companies is that there are no contracts, even with SimpliSafe's professional monitoring plans. This means you can use their service for as long as you want and cancel anytime without incurring penalties. Also, because there are no contracts, and because their systems are wireless, you are free to take the system with you if ever you relocate.
SimpliSafe and Fortress both require an upfront equipment purchase, but the good news is you can return the system if you find it not suitable for your home. With SimpliSafe, you have 60-day return period. With Fortress, you only have 30 days.
You also get a warranty on all your purchases from SimpliSafe and Fortress. Both companies offer a 3-year limited warranty on repairs and services.
The Bottom Line: Who Wins?
SimpliSafe and Fortress are both well-known players in the self-monitored home security industry, but if you compare them side-by-side, SimpliSafe clearly takes the lead. SimpliSafe has found a unique spot in an otherwise crowded market. Because of their unique setup, they are able to provide affordable monitoring services with no contracts and low monthly fees.
If you're interested in finding out more about SimpliSafe, you can read our SimpliSafe review. You can also check out our Fortress Security review to gain a deeper understanding on how the two companies compare to each other.