Andrew Garcia

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Between these two security systems, our favorite is Vivint.

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SecureScore™: 9.1/10

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As a homeowner, a good home security setup can offer peace of mind. With the right system, you can enjoy 24/7 monitoring and see what’s happening on your property at any time throughout the day or night.

Vivint Smart Home Equipment

Vivint Smart Home Equipment

There are an overwhelming number of security systems on the market today, and sifting through them is no easy job. The long and short of it is this, though: A small number of systems are spectacular, considerably more will get the job done, and a larger number still aren’t even worth consideration.

But don’t worry. We’re here doing the legwork so you don’t have to.

We’ve taken the time and effort to understand the ins and outs of a huge number of systems — the good, the bad, and the ugly — and we’re ready to report back with our findings on each of them.

Today, we are doing a comparison of two of the most well-known names in home security: ADT and Vivint. If you’re deciding between these two brands, we have compared them side by side for you, looking at everything from pricing, to features, to ease of use, and more.

We'll offer our expert insight on areas where the two systems compete and let you know where the systems are the same or if the differences are negligible. Straight ahead is a comparison and contrast of two top-ranked systems to help you shop.

ADT Home Security Equipment

ADT Home Security Equipment

FYI: If you want to know what it’s like living with Vivint, check out our full Vivint review here. Or, if you think ADT might be the better option, you can read more about this popular brand in our ADT review.

Understanding the Differences

The first step when you’re considering any home security system is to understand all of the options available to you through the provider. You want to have a solid understanding of your must-haves, your nice-to-haves, and your deal-breakers. It’s good to have a budget in mind, and it’s also good to consider things like home automation — something both ADT and Vivint offer in spades.

We’re going to start with one of the biggest differences between the two brands —  contracts. Both companies require them, but the difference in length is significant. If you go with ADT, you will be required to sign a 36-month contract although that does include a six-month money-back guarantee. With Vivint, the contract requires a 48-to-60-month commitment.

Vivint Doorbell Camera Pro Installed

Vivint Doorbell Camera Pro Installed

FYI: Contracts and pricing are not “everything.” You should also consider the functions and features of each system so that you can make the best decision according to your specific security needs.

Another difference is reputation. ADT has been in service for over 145 years (almost as old as Canada!), and over the years they’ve built a stellar reputation for reliable home security. It all started when the company’s founder invented a system to send for help during a break-in using telegraphs.

This next difference could be the most important: their connection methods. Vivint uses cellular signal-based monitoring, meaning their systems send alerts through cellular connections much like cellphones. If you live in a place where there is strong cellular coverage, this isn’t an issue. However, if you don’t, you risk losing connection to your system, so it’s not the best security system for folks who live in rural areas.

On the other hand, ADT lends more flexibility to homeowners in terms of connection methods. It also offers cellular monitoring, but there are options for landline and broadband systems as well. This gives ADT a much wider area of coverage, as their systems can work in areas with poor cellular or broadband coverage, as long as a landline is available.

Finally, you’re going to see a difference in overall pricing — your equipment costs, your monthly monitoring bill, and the installation fees. In general, Vivint’s target customers are people who want really high-quality equipment, tons of features, and are willing to open up their wallets wide to get it. ADT casts a wider net, with system options available for a wider variety of security needs and budgets.

Comparing Similarities of Home Security Services

Alright, we’ve talked about their differences, but how do these two really match up in terms of essential qualities and services offered? Both ADT and Vivint offer top-of-the-line home security systems complete with professional installation and wireless equipment.

Full-home automation is also available, which can be a wonderful addition to the standard home monitoring systems by giving video surveillance to homeowners for an added sense of security. Using a mobile app, you’re able to know the status of your home instantly, anytime and anywhere. As a bonus, you can also include appliances, thermostat control, door locks, and more in your home automation setup. But after testing both systems, we have to give the edge to Vivint when it comes to smart home automation. It’s the best in the business in this category.

ADT Indoor Camera (left) and Outdoor Camera (right)

ADT Indoor Camera (left) and Outdoor Camera (right)

Vivint vs. ADT: Key Features to Look Out For

When you’re deciding between top brands like Vivint and ADT, sometimes it comes down to features. That said, it’s important to read all of the proverbial — or literal — fine print. The last thing you want is to land on one provider only to find out the feature you were looking for isn’t really offered, or you’ll have to pay more for it. The good news is ADT and Vivint both will work with you to make sure you’re getting exactly what you’re looking for.

FYI: For those who are a bit intimidated by the idea of DIY installation, you should take comfort in knowing that both ADT and Vivint offer professional installation and startup to make sure that all equipment is functioning properly and operational.

As we mentioned above, Vivint’s home security systems operate using cell-based monitoring programs. This works really well for most people, but if you live in an area where cellular signal is sparse, that might mean Vivint isn’t a good option. ADT, on the other hand, offers both cellular and landline options, meaning they’re going to work for a wider variety of customers — particularly people who live in rural areas.

ADT also offers medical alert response services that can be added to monthly packages and contracts. If you’re caring for an elderly family member, this feature can certainly tip the scales in ADT’s favor.

Did You Know? Medical alert response has been proven to effectively save lives. If you or a loved one has a special medical need or condition, a medical alert response can be a great way to ensure that any medical emergency is addressed in a safe and timely fashion. So if you’re looking for an extra layer of emergency coverage, check out our rundown of the best medical alert systems.

Both Vivint and ADT do offer highly rated services for home protection, with the biggest variant involving the contract length and pricing. While some might find it worth the investment to have specific features, others might opt for basic coverage and simplicity.

Vivint Door/Window Sensor

Vivint Door/Window Sensor

Vivint vs. ADT Ordering and Pricing

Undoubtedly, ADT and Vivint are both high-quality home security systems with great customer service. However, if you are someone who prefers investigating your options and ordering online, you may be disappointed with Vivint. Vivint offers a spare website with minimal product and pricing information. They also require you to order over the phone.

ADT, on the other hand, offers a much more comprehensive website and the ability to order online or by phone. In the end, this may not seem like a big difference, but it’s one you should know about.

Pro Tip: Even the best security system can’t protect you from disaster. That’s where your homeowners insurance is going to be critical. Check out these holiday homeowner disasters and ask yourself if you’d be covered if they happened to you.

Next, Vivint is the less expensive option of the two with monthly monitoring rates of $29.99 to $44.99. However, this does not include the cost of the equipment, which is dependent on the equipment that you choose and which you are required to purchase. The more expensive package includes video and home automation. Here’s our latest roundup of Vivint’s plans, packages and prices.

ADT is more expensive, at least at first glance. However, note that their monthly fees include equipment rental. In a nutshell, you will pay between $45.99 and $59.99 for monitoring AND equipment rental with ADT. If you want to learn more about ADT’s offerings, check out our in-depth guide to ADT plans and prices.

Also keep in mind that you can finance your equipment with both companies. With Vivint, you’ll own the equipment and make payments on it over time. But with ADT, you’ll rent the equipment as long as you have their service.

We’d like to add that Vivint and ADT both require a contract. The typical contract term for ADT is three years, while it’s four to five years with Vivint. The only exception is if you buy your equipment upfront, in which case, Vivint will let you sign a month-to-month contract that you can get out of without penalties.

And here comes another differentiation between ADT and Vivint. ADT gives customers a 6-month money-back guarantee. During this period, if there are issues with the system that ADT can’t fix, it will refund all your monthly payments and installation fees. To learn more, check out our guide to ADT’s contract language and cancellation terms — we lay it all out in plain English for you, there.

With Vivint, there’s no such guarantee, and the window for getting out of the contract is only three days. After that, the contract takes full effect, and that means you’ll need to pay an early termination fee if you cancel.

Equipment and Installation

Knowing whether you’re able to install your own equipment or if you’ll need professional help is a major step in easing your home security startup. Vivint produces its own line of security cameras and other equipment, and Vivint has the best home automation technology available, including its own smart thermostat. A downfall to this is that Vivint is not compatible with any other brand devices, compared to ADT which gives you more options and flexibility.

Both brands offer professional installation, and the cost is one place where the brands are identical. You will pay between $99 and $199, depending on which package you choose.

Photo of our Vivint Installation Specialist, Don

Photo of our Vivint Installation Specialist, Don

Did You Know? ADT allows externally sourced monitoring equipment such as cameras, sensors, thermostats, and other home automation devices. This freedom to choose your exact equipment will always be up to you if you decide to switch to another home security provider.

Our Final Verdict on Vivint vs. ADT

Basically, both ADT and Vivint are wonderful, high-quality home security services that you really can’t go wrong with. Evaluating your home’s specific monitoring needs, the daily use of technology, and your desire for more synchronized applications are all vital when trying to figure out the right company to go with.

While some may be drawn to full-home automation, others might like the idea of basic monitoring on a budget. Take a moment to go over (and over!) the details, and ask for more information when necessary. After all, there’s really no such thing as too much research, especially when the safety and security of you and your loved ones are involved.

But to give you something to really sink your teeth into, we think Vivint is all-around better than ADT, but only slightly. Vivint’s equipment is top-notch. The system is fully-integrated for smart home automation. And Vivint’s professional installation is really something else.

Our Pick
Our pick is Vivint
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SecureScore™: 9.1 / 10 This rating is derived from our editorial team's research, hands-on product testing, and customer surveys.
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