DIY home security systems are great for keeping you safe, but what if you have an apartment? Can you use the same systems? You might be able to, but there is one important factor to consider. Many home security systems have permanent installation, which your landlord may disapprove of. If you want the best apartment security system, then you need to find a set that covers all your bases without needing permanent installation.
Setup and Installation
Since installation is so important for DIY apartment security, it seems like a good place to start. As we said above, you don’t want permanent security unless your landlord approves of it. That means you want a system that installs without any tools, drilling or nails.
We’ll be upfront and say that all three fit the bill. You can install Ring, SimpliSafe, and Cove in your apartment without your landlord getting angry. However, which one is the easiest?
Ring gives you simple, interactive instructions from the Ring app. Simply download the app, scan the QR code on the Ring security system, and it will begin telling you how to install everything. It’s incredibly easy and will take you step-by-step through the whole process. You even get a range extender to ensure that all the pieces can communicate with your WiFi, but smaller apartments may not need it.
SimpliSafe is easy as well, but not quite as interactive. You get paper instructions that are easy to follow, and the SimpliSafe app ensures that all the pieces communicate with each other. The app can be a bit finicky and it might take a few minutes to get the keypad running. After that it’s all smooth sailing.
Cove promises easy installation in 30 minutes or less (most likely less). The “Cove DIY Install Wizard” works right from the touch screen panel. You won’t have to configure WiFi or do anything complicated. Simply follow the instructions, place the equipment where it needs to go, and you’re all finished.
Ring is the easiest overall, but none of them are difficult to install. The absolute longest any of these systems should take to install is an hour, and that’s if you run into a catastrophic issue.
Setup winner: Ring
In some ways this category is a draw. All three ensure that fire, police, and ambulance are alerted in the case of an emergency or breakin. However, there is a difference in price and whether you even need professional monitoring. DIY monitoring means that you’re responsible for checking the security systems while professional monitoring means that you have a professional team watching your back.
Ring is the big winner here. They use Rapid Response and guarantee a 30-second response time. You can also give them three emergency contacts that will be alerted when the alarm is activated. These three people will be called and asked to supply a safeword. If no one answers (or none of them supply the safeword), then police are alerted to check your apartment.
Ring professional security only costs $10 a month, which is great, but you can turn it off for self-monitoring. If you aren’t too concerned with people breaking in and just want some piece of mind, then the DIY plan might be better for you.
SimpliSafe and Cove offer nearly the same packages. Neither have true DIY plans (though you can get some minimal protection without professional monitoring). They offer a $15 basic plan with 24/7 monitoring that ensures the authorities are alerted in the case of fire, water, or break ins.
The more expensive $25 plan gives you extra functions. For example, you can use your phone to arm or disarm the system. You can also use voice commands in the same way. While this may not seem like much, you won’t get phone notifications without the more expensive plan, so you may want to consider it.
Ring wins here not because it’s safer, but because it’s more affordable and has DIY monitoring. However, none of them are particularly expensive.
Setup winner: Ring
How does the security system feel? Is it durable and robust, or weak and cheap feeling? SimpliSafe wins here with Cove as a close second. Ring isn’t bad, but it loses this category by feeling like a budget system.
Ring comes with all the basics like a 24-hour battery, speaker, 104dB siren, sensors, keypad, and cellular receiver if WiFi goes down. The keypad could be better. There’s a backlight, but only once you start touching the keys. Everything feels light and cheap, like you could easily break it if you wanted to. This was to keep costs down, but maybe they did too good a job with cutting corners.
SimpliSafe feels heavy and robust, like a security system should. You get sensors, a base station, keypad and key fob. The 95dB siren is very loud and there is also a cellular receiver if WiFi goes down. While it sounds similar to Ring, there are some differences. The sensors are a little lighter and smaller, which makes them easier to install, and there’s a massive difference when you actually touch the hardware.
Cove is similar to SimpliSafe in that the pieces feel heavier and more robust. You get sensors, along with a pet-friendly sensor, a touch panel, and two remotes. One big advantage that Cove has is that it doesn’t use the traditional keypad. You instead get a touch panel that has more features and functions. This makes it easy to arm and disarm the system, plus it even stores messages such as updates or if the sensors were activated.
Cove is close, but SimpliSafe is just a little better overall. Ring isn’t bad, but it feels like a toy.
Setup winner: SimpliSafe
It’s hard to pick a winner here since all three are good, but have their differences that you should be aware of. All of them have accessories that make it easy to arm or disarm the system, and there are modes like home or away mode that you can switch between. Ring is our overall pick, but you might think differently.
Ring makes it easy to change modes from either the app or keypad. You can also set each accessory individually to either notify you specifically or to alert the police. You can also change the entry and exit delay between one to three minutes. There is a silent arm feature, but only if all the sound is turned off, which isn’t ideal.
The Ring app allows you to easily connect other people to the security system, and you can use Alexa to arm and disarm. Ring works great with Yale, Kwikset, and Schlage smart locks. You can even connect them so that they too can arm and disarm the system.
There are two small problems. Switching between modes can only be done once you disarm the system. Also, you’ll need to enter your PIN to cancel the exit delay. A little annoying, but not too bad.
SimpliSafe requires you to get the premium $25/month plan to change modes. This allows you to choose between Home, Off, and Away, and you get both a master PIN and duress PIN. You can change the entry delay from 30 seconds to 4 minutes, and the exit delay from 1 to 4 minutes. You can also choose to receive alerts by SMS, notification, or email.
While August smart locks integrate with SimpliSafe, it’s not perfect. Unlike Ring, where you can add other people, SimpliSafe only gives you one username and password that others will have to use. However, both Alexa or Google Home can be used to disarm the system. Also, SimpliSafe takes up to 24 hours to tell you an accessory isn’t working.
Cove’s most unique feature is the touch panel. This allows you to easily customize entry and exit delays for every sensor individually. You can set both regular and hostage passcodes depending on the situation, and you can add up to 20 different usernames and passwords for other people who will come into your apartment.
Arming and disarming the system can be done by the control panel, key remote, or the app. You can also enable notifications to go to your device so that you’ll immediately know if a sensor was activated.
Setup winner: Ring
All three are good, but what is the best apartment security system? While the build quality could be better, we give the overall win to Ring. You get more features, better smart lock integration, it’s easier to add other users, and it’s much more affordable. However, SimpliSafe and Cove hold their own. SimpliSafe feels better while Cove has a unique touch panel.
They’re all winners, and best of all, can all be easily installed in your apartment. You can even take them with you when it’s time to move. So, which do you think is the best?