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SimpliSafe Home Security System Review


SimpliSafe Home Security Review

We received a  SimpliSafe Ultimate Security System (Model SSCS2) to review and tell you about.

The SimpliSafe system has 17 pieces and retails for around $540.

What’s in the box:

1 base station
1 wireless keypad
2 keychain remotes (which cleverly doubles as a USB flash drive).
2 motion sensors
4 entry sensors
1 panic button
1 auxiliary siren
1 yard sign
2 window decals
1 smoke detector
1 water sensor
1 carbon monoxide detector
1 freeze sensor
1 free wireless keyboard


The SimpliSafe system arrives pre-programmed to work instantly. I did not need to monkey with any wires, or drill any holes in my walls. There are no installation costs because you install it yourself. The setup seems fairly straightforward. SimpliSafe has dozens of step-by-step videos to guide you through the installation process, which are really helpful. The voice prompts from the base station are a nice feature. They make setup and use much more user-friendly. It is very easy for the average person to install; you don’t have to be some sort of electronic genius to figure it out.

The thing is, I am kind of a electronic genius. I’m an electronics engineer, known to my friends as a whiz kid (well, pushing 50 now so not really a kid anymore… and frankly what is a “whiz” anyway? Isn’t that some kind of cheese?)  So, in all honesty, I might be a little hard on this bad boy. For the average Joe (ha, that’s actually my name), this is a pretty decent system. It’s easy to set up and use.  It does the job of monitoring stuff around your house. It does what a home security system should do.  To get the full benefits, you have to pay for monthly monitoring. That’s the part I struggle with.  I would like to be able to control it from my smartphone without paying a monthly monitoring fee. I’d like to check on things in the house, such as what the water sensor and CO2 sensors do, as a feature that’s built in without having to pay more.  I realize that might be asking a little too much.  But, I’m a cheap whiz kid. 😉


I like that they offer a 60-day window for refunds and they pay for return shipping. So you have 60 days to decide if you like the system or not. Also, the equipment has a three-year manufacturer’s warranty.


Like other home security systems, such as ADT (whose monitoring starts at $28.99 per month), SimpliSafe offers three different monitoring packages.

  1. It costs $14.99 a month for the basic plan which includes live monitoring and cellular backup.
  2. It costs $19.99 per month in order to receive SMS (text) and e-mail alerts.
  3. And, it’s $24.99 a month if you want to control your system from your smartphone.

Or, you can skip the cellular connection and live monitoring (in other words, don’t pay for the monthly monitoring service), which would give you a local alarm with no monthly fee. But basically, you’ll have the equivalent of a car alarm that will make noise locally and not do much else.

Like I said, I don’t like the idea of having to pay for monitoring.  It seems expensive, although to be fair even the highest level of monitoring with SimpliSafe costs less than the lowest level of monitoring with competitor, ADT. During setup and while SimpliSafe is functioning, you are constantly reminded that it’s not connected to a monitoring service. That’s a good thing if you’re planning on using the monitoring service, but a little annoying if you’re not.

One nice thing about SimpliSafe’s monitoring is that there are no contracts. You don’t have to agree to a 2-year service contract as you might with other home security systems. You pay as you go.

TIP: In Washington County, Oregon, you can be fined $500 if the police respond to an unregistered alarm signal! And in some parts of the country, the fine is even larger. In some cases, the police won’t respond to an alarm at all if it hasn’t been registered with a permit. Just call your local police department at their local, non-emergency number. Ask them what your city’s requirements are for home alarm systems. And be sure to indicate that your alarm system is self-installed.


  • With a monthly monitoring plan such as the ones Simplisafe offers, you can save up to 20% on your homeowner’s insurance!
  • Save 5% on your system with SimpliSafe Coupon Code SAFENOW
  • NO contract
  • Easy installation, no wiring, no drilling
  • Helpful voice prompts
  • Step-by-step instruction videos, if you need them
  • 60-day refund and 3-year warranty
  • Cellular backup with monitoring service eliminates the wire-cutting vulnerability of hard-wired systems
  • Sensors all run on batteries
  • Base station needs to be kept plugged in, but it has a battery backup that will keep running for four days. The battery automatically recharges once power is restored.


  • While I feel that the start-up costs and monthly fees are relatively expensive, they are still comparably better than other companies with similar services
  • I felt that some of the pieces look silly, but they seem to function fine so that isn’t a real big deal
  • I was surprised that there was no camera
  • For me personally, I would be more interested in the ability to have direct monitoring to my smart phone, not through a paid monitoring service
  • I would like to have remote access to the motion-, smoke-, freeze-, and water sensors just so I could know what was going on at home (and it would be nice if I could just get it to feed and water my dogs in the middle of the day, lol!)
  • In my opinion, the base system looks silly. It could just as well have been a square box that could be mounted somewhere, instead of looking like one of the “Cone heads” from Saturday Night Live in the late 70’s. The keypad resembles a vintage calculator.
  • One thing that I did not like about the keypad is that in order to have the backlights light up, you must press a key, and if you press a key, then you must enter a 4-digit code. Would be nicer/easier if they just had a “backlight” key. After all, in the dark you can’t see the keys to do all that
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DynaTrap Insect Trap (Get Rid of Bugs) Review


DynaTrap Insect Trap (Get Rid of Bugs) Review

The friendly folks at DynaTrap Insect Trap offered to send me a 1/2 acre unit to review and tell you about. Since we moved to Wisconsin and have a lake cabin about 10 minutes away from our new house, an insect trap is JUST what we needed!  The mosquitoes are SO bad this year. It is just awful! You can’t even sit outside after the sun starts to go down. They will eat you alive!

So, what did I think?  First, set up is a snap! All you do is take it out of the box and plug it in. You can hang it, or set it on a table. It can run 24/7, and doesn’t matter if it gets rained on or anything. Just set it, and forget it! 😉

The instructions suggest that it might take a few weeks to achieve optimal results. After plugging it in, it goes to work fighting insects, flying bugs, mosquitoes and everything you can think of in the creepy crawly category.

I didn’t notice a difference immediately, and sadly I waited until we needed the bugs gone to plug it in. But, literally within a few days there were fewer bugs.  After a few weeks (even at the LAKE where bugs usually win!) there are just NO pesky pests bothering us as long as the DynaTrap is there.  I know that’s probably hard to believe, but that is my experience.

For example, at the 4th of July party at the cabin, we were sitting around the campfire and my friend LeeAnn said, “wow, there are no bugs out here. They are out of control at my house.”  One by one everyone chimed in that the bugs are terrible this year “at their house.”  So I said, “I think it’s the Dynatrap!”  “No,” one person had read a news report that there were less mosquitoes temporarily. “What?? We’re in Wisconsin!  I think it’s the DynaTrap Insect Trap!”  Aye, my family. What can you do?  But, even now – three weeks later, there are virtually no bugs at the cabin. They are in full force everywhere else.

It really works.

Here are my favorite things about the DynaTrap Insect Trap:

  • It really works! Bugs are GONEZO!
  • No need to mess with it; leave it on 24/7 – rain or shine
  • Super easy to set up, just plug in and hang up or set on table
  • No zapping noise like old bug zappers (shudders!)
  • Takes no more electricity than a standard light bulb
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Craftsman Wood-Plastic Composite Storage Shed Review


Craftsman Wood-Plastic Composite Storage Shed Review

You can imagine how thrilled I was when offered a Craftsman storage shed to review and tell you about! Since we just moved to Wisconsin last year, we don’t have a lot of the things you acquire after living somewhere for a while. One of those things is a nice garden storage shed.  At our old house we had a Rubbermaid shed (and I use the term “shed” loosely here, it was kind of a hot mess, really).  It was the kind with a slide lid (the roof slid over for easier access).  It was not waterproof or water tight – not even a little bit. It was prone to popping apart which was really super helpful (read my sarcasm).  But, we got it free and that’s about what it was worth. When we moved, we gave it away again. Now it’s someone else’s problem.

The thing about Wisconsin winters is, you can’t get something that will cave in under the weight of snow.  It has to be sturdy! And, having something that’s going to leak is just asking for trouble. So, in my attempt to go shed shopping I thought we’d probably have to buy lumber and fuddle through building something.  My dad (who is good at everything!) used to build little storage sheds. They were adorable! And they were built to last. Most of them have lasted for more than 30 years now!

Okay, so I’ve painted a picture of my experience and expectations with storage sheds.  In short, unless my daddy built it – it’s probably going to be stupid.

Oh, but wait. This is about the Craftsman storage shed. 😉

What’s in the box: well, everything you need to build it, silly!  You’ll need a few tools – actually just a screw gun, screw driver, rubber mallet and uh… well, check the manual but that’s all I can think of.  It comes on a pallet, delivered by freight right to your door. You can pick them up at a Sears store if you prefer to save on shipping costs.  Mine came via freight. It weighs 400 lbs! If weight is any indicator of quality, this is a real gem.

Some assembly required. There are 44 easy steps to put this bad boy together. Okay, that makes it sound bad. There are, but it is really very simple. I did it in about 4.5 hours BY MYSELF!  Yes, I am a girl, and yes I did it myself! 🙂  Okay, to be totally honest my 8-year old helped a little.  And by that I mean she handed me the screwdriver once and she picked up and played with the packing styrofoam.  Oh! And, there were two parts that I physically couldn’t do alone (you have to be in two places).  So, when hubby felt up to it he helped attach the roof and level the doors.

Prepare your base. Oh, wait, back up!  First step was making a surface that was level enough to build the shed. Before even getting to step 1 in the instruction manual, I made the ground level. I then added 2″ deep of pea gravel and 1 5/8″ thick cement landscaping pavers. That way my shed will be nice and level, and has a good solid foundation. You don’t have to do all that. You can build it on the ground or on a slab. You could build a wooden foundation. There are tons of options, but this worked best for us.

Okay, so THEN I put it together – mostly by myself…

Like I said, it went together in about 4.5 hours. I’m assuming if I had built it with two people (which is recommended) it would have gone much faster.  Unlike those sweet, adoring couples you see on home improvement shows that work well together, my husband and I work better when we’re not together. Not even in the same city. Don’t get me wrong, I like the guy, we just don’t work well together on projects like these. 😉

This storage shed is made of a wood-plastic composite. That means basically that it’s strong like wood but will last like plastic. It is very sturdy, unlike other plastic storage sheds I’ve seen. It went together easily, and except for a few bent pieces (probably happened in transport and not a huge deal), everything lined up perfectly.  There was only one place in the instructions that I should have paid closer attention, but that was my fault and I blame it on not taking a break for 4.5 hours. I was tired and not thinking straight.  Nothing bad happened, I just put 4 screws in too soon and had to remove them to attach the roof. Not a big deal.

In summary: The Craftsman storage building I received to review is impressive. It’s great looking, easy to build and offers a smart way to store your lawn and garden tools – or whatever you want to store. And, best of all, it’s built to last!

From the manufacturer:

Craftsman 7′ 6″ x 4′ Wood Plastic Composite Storage Building, 157 cu. ft. – Exclusive VersaTrack™ Compatibility

The world’s first DIY shed made of Wood-Plastic Composite (WPC) material, fuses the advantages of wood and resin to offer the best of both worlds. Craftsman 7.5′ x 4′ WPC Storage Building integrates the strength, rigidity, and natural beauty of wood with the superior durability and maintenance-free qualities of resin.

This shed’s composite material resists rot, rodents and corrosion and withstands all types of weather. It also requires no paint or varnish unlike traditional shed materials like raw wood or metal.

Even unskilled DIYers will have an easy assembly with this 7.5’x4’ shed’s pre-cut, pre-drilled tongue & groove panels. Wide double doors, plenty of natural light and ample airflow, and internal height of more than 8’, will make it an extremely comfortable storing space. Furthermore, the walls of this shed are Versatrack compatible, providing flexible mounting options of hooks, shelves, racks, slot walls or pegboards (not included) for freed up floor space and better organization of tools and equipment.

An environmentally-friendly shed, this storage building is made of residual wood fiber and recycled thermoplastics. Its elegant design and the reach beauty of its wood-grain appearance make it a perfect match for your home and landscaping.

Exquisite design. Unmatched sturdiness. Great longevity. Craftsman 7.5′ x 4′ WPC Storage Building has it all.

  • 0.8” double-wall Wood-Plastic Composite construction
  • Versatrack compatible for easy customization with hooks, shelves and more to meet your storage needs
  • Maintenance free: no rot, no rodents and no paint required
  • Full-length skylight and door windows for natural light
  • Steel-reinforced 3D tile roof
  • Stainless-steel locking system for added security
  • Eco-friendly: made of recycled thermoplastics and reclaimed wood waste
  • 157 cu. ft. of storage
  • 90.2″ x 48″ x 99.4″ exterior dimensions
  • 10-year limited warranty