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How easy is it to install a smart home security system?

There are a lot of smart home security systems on the market. They all claim they can be easily installed by any old Tom, Dick or Harry, and don’t require a professional to do it. We were curious to see just how easy, or indeed difficult, it is to secure a home with one of these systems, so we decided to put the claims to the test and try installing a security system for ourselves.

For our test, we chose to use our Editor’s Pick for the best home security system, SimpliSafe’s The Tower kit.

How to install a home security system SimpliSafe The Tower with numbers

Included in the kit: 

  1. SimpliSafe sign and stake
  2. Two Entry Sensors
  3. SimpliCam
  4. Outdoor camera
  5. Base station
  6. Keypad
  7. Motion sensor
  8. Device installation instructions

In our test, we used the manual that came with the kit, read the instructions carefully and worked at a steady pace.

Time to install: Around an hour – 40 minutes to install all devices; 20 minutes to run through setup via the app.

1. Download the app

The first step was to download the app and sign in to our account. This was simple – searching for “slimplisafe” on the Google Play Store was enough to bring up the correct app. Signing in required verification of our phone number via a text message code, but was otherwise straightforward.

2. Plug in the base station

How to install a home security system image1 base station

The SimpliSafe base station comes with a power adapter, which connects to the device via a micro USB connection. The manual advises this is placed in the centre of the home, so we chose the living room.

3. Install the keypad

How to install a home security system image11 back of keypad

The back of the keypad has four strips of adhesive tape affixed to it, so no drilling or screws are required to attach it to a wall. We wonder how long the adhesive will last, but for now the keypad is firmly in place. It would be nice to have the option to attach the keypad with screws.

How to install a home security system image8 keypad on wall

Switching on the keypad prompts you to set a four-digit master passkey and connect to wifi, then you’re good to move on to installing the devices.

4. Install the motion sensor

How to install a home security system image4 back of motion sensor

Like the keypad, the motion sensor has strips of adhesive on the back, so it’s easy to install in the corner of the living room. For pet owners, there’s an option to install it ‘upside down’ so it won’t be set off by large dogs or cats.

How to install a home security system image13 motion sensor on wall

Note: you’ll need to pull out the battery tab before attaching in a corner; we had trouble removing it once the device was in place.

5. Install the entry sensors

How to install a home security system image10 entry sensor in hand

We opted to install one of these on the front door, with the other on the patio door. Installation was nice and simple, with markings on the two parts of the device to indicate which way up they should be placed, and a blue LED light to test functionality (two blinks for door open, one blink for door closed).

How to install a home security system image3 entry sensor on door

6. SimpliCam installation

How to install a home security system image2 SimpliCam power cable

To attach the power cable to the camera, you’ll need to slide it off the stand, thread the cable through the hole, connect, and then slide the camera back in. We placed this so it can see activity in the living room.

7. Install the outdoor camera

How to install a home security system image12 outdoor camera on table

The final device to install is the outdoor camera, which comes with separate instructions. The first step is to charge the battery – this comes with a USB connector and no plug, so you’ll need to use something like a phone charger to power this up.

How to install a home security system image7 installing battery outdoor cam

Once charged, the battery can be inserted after unscrewing the front of the camera. There’s also a waterproofed USB slot on the camera so it can be charged without having to remove the battery.

How to install a home security system image9 mounting plate

There are two options for mounting the camera: a tripod screw on the bottom of the device, or, as we elected to use, screws to mount to a wall or fence. To use these you’ll need to remove the magnetic mounting ‘arm’ from the device, and screw this to the surface you want to mount it to. The camera is then simply attached back to the arm and rotated to get the best view.

Some DIY experience is required to mount this camera on a wall, especially if it’s a masonry wall, and you’ll need a drill and/or screwdriver to do this.

8. System set up

First up, you need to connect the app to the base station – this is done via scanning a QR code on the bottom of the base station. Once that’s done, the system checks for updates. It took our station about five minutes to download the software and update.

How to install a home security system image 5 system setup
Each device is added to the system in turn (SimpliSafe)

Next, you use the app to connect each device in turn. The process is very simple to follow: you select the device you want to connect via a menu, then press the connect button on the device. At this point the device or station will say which device it’s connecting to. All you need to do then is name the device or tell it where it’s located: front door, living room, etc.

The only difference is with connecting cameras, which need to connect to your wifi as well as the base station. This is done simply by showing the camera a QR code. It takes a couple of minutes to connect and the video feed is displayed in the app.

9. Ward off unwanted visitors

How to install a home security system image 14 SimpliSafe sign in garden

The final step is to mount the SimpliSafe sign and place it somewhere any would-be trespassers can see it. Also included in the pack are two SimpliSafe window stickers.

Summary

Installing SimpliSafe’s The Tower kit was quick and simple, with clear instructions. We were suitably impressed with how the system setup helped us with spoken prompts and were never left wondering what we were connecting and if it had been successful or not. The only questions were about how the adhesive will last on the keypad and motion sensor. 

The only part of the installation that required any DIY experience was the outdoor camera, but otherwise anyone could manage this straightforward installation and get it up and running in around an hour.

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Nick Jones

Editor in Chief

Nick Jones is a highly experienced consumer journalist and editor, who has been writing and producing content for print and online media for over 25 years.

He has worked at some of the UK’s leading publishers including Future Publishing, Highbury Entertainment, and Imagine Publishing, with publications as diverse as Homebuilding & Renovating, TechRadar, and Creative Bloq, writing and editing content for audiences whose interests include history, computing, gaming, films, and science. He’s also produced a number of podcasts in the technology, science, gaming, and true crime genres.

Nick has also enjoyed a highly successful career in content marketing, working in a variety of topics such as health, technology, and finance, with market-leading global companies including Cisco, Pfizer, Santander, and Virgin Media.

Now the Editor-in-Chief of the Independent Advisor, Nick is involved in all aspects of the site’s content, where his expertise in finance, technology, and home products informs every article that’s published on-site. He takes a hands-on approach with our VPN content, penning a number of the articles himself, and verifying that everything we publish in this topic is accurate.

Whatever the area of interest he’s worked in, Nick has always been a consumer champion, helping people find the best deals and give them the information they need to make an informed buying decision.