Vivint and Ring home security systems are both extremely functional. They offer a wide variety of features, but fall at opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to pricing, technology, and 24/7 monitoring. Have a look at how these two popular brands measure up against one another.
Overview: Ring vs Vivint
We’ve been singing the praises of Ring and Vivint for years. It’s easy to see why: both earn high marks for effectiveness, reliability, and technology. We know their reputations for customer service and tech support are stellar. And, after getting hands-on experience with these systems, we know they’re both extremely functional and offer a wide variety of features as well as plenty of pricing options.
But, as you’ll learn below, there are some big differences between the two companies that you’ll want to know about before pulling out your pocketbook or purse.
A few facts to get you started:
- Vivint requires professional installation, whereas Ring is DIY.
- Both Ring and Vivint systems are 100% wireless.
- Both systems offer indoor/outdoor cameras.
- You’ll need to sign a contract with Vivint, unless you plan to buy the equipment upfront.
- Vivint offers loads of smart home automation features and integrations, while Ring is limited in this category.
We’ve tested both of these systems, and we found that they each have a great deal to offer. The question is, which one is right to help protect your home and family?
Similarities: Total home protection with 24/7 monitoring
No matter which option you choose, with Vivint and Ring you’ll always have the option for indoor/outdoor cameras, door/window sensors to keep intruders at bay, and entryway protection with an HD doorbell camera (Ring is synonymous with doorbell cams!). While you do need professional installation with Vivint, you can always add more equipment later. Here are the biggest similarities we found between Ring and Vivint:
- Mobile app so you can monitor your home 24/7 via your phone
- Doorbell video camera with two-way voice
- Quality cameras for both indoor and outdoor use
- Visually appealing design
- Environmental sensors (flood, water, fire, freeze)
- Home automation (although Ring is limited here)
- 24/7 professional monitoring available
Differences: Installation, price, features
We found several differences between the Vivint and Ring home security systems. Starting with pricing and monthly fees, you’ll pay more with Vivint, and they sometimes charge for professional installation. You can buy the equipment for Vivint upfront, but that’s a very expensive avenue. If you choose to finance their equipment (most people do!), you must sign a contract to enroll in Vivint’s FlexPay program and pay for the equipment in monthly installments.
With Ring, installation is DIY, but it’s super easy (and free!). If you want an alarm kit for multiple zones in your house, you can choose from several different packages to find one that makes sense for your home. Keep in mind that Ring’s equipment is much cheaper than Vivint, but you won’t get the same cutting-edge features that Vivint offers.
Bottom line: If you do choose Vivint, you have to get a pro. Installation will cost you about $250, but look for special offers to get that fee waived. They’re pretty common.
- Ring offers easy, DIY installation
- Vivint must be professionally installed
- Vivint offers a lifetime warranty on most products
- Vivint offers cellular monitoring with much faster response times
- Ring’s system runs off of Wi-Fi with cellular backup
- Ring is much cheaper, but Vivint offers high-tech smart home features and better connectivity
Our favorite feature of Ring is its doorbell video camera. It’s what has made Ring stand out in a crowd of other security systems for several years, and its user-friendliness and coverage are second to none. When we linked our Ring doorbell camera to our Ring Alarm, we were impressed by how much we could see. The audio and resolution are crystal clear (although you should expect a one- or two-second delay when opening videos). Another perk for us? You can install it yourself and easily learn how to use it without professional help.
With Vivint, you can get complete home automation and a mobile app that allows you to operate almost every aspect of your system while you’re away from home. In using the products, the award-winning SkyMobile app and Vivint touchscreen control panel literally put our smart home features at our fingertips. Sure, it’s more advanced than Ring, but it’s just as easy to use as Ring. You’ll also be able to choose from a comprehensive list of devices to include in the initial installation or purchase later. This includes the video doorbell with two-way communication and indoor/outdoor cameras. You can also use a Nest thermostat in tandem with Vivint.
With Ring, you’re going full DIY, but don’t let that scare you. You can start with a base station, keypad, door/window sensors, and motion sensors. You’ll probably want to add a Ring Doorbell with two-way communication; again, this is Ring’s trademark device and a big reason why so many people (including us) love this system. You can also get additional door/window sensors and more indoor/outdoor cameras, as well as a range extender for $25. We found Ring’s devices to be easy for pretty much anyone to mount and set up.
All About Contracts
Most people aren’t particularly fond of contracts, and we’re most people. But if you want full home automation between your existing smart home devices and your new Vivint system, and you want to get it all installed professionally and without headaches, you’ll need to sign at least a four-year contract. If you would rather buy the Vivint equipment upfront, you’ll need to pay your FlexPay installments in addition to the monthly monitoring fees. This could cost you upwards of $50 per month or more. But as you’ll see, we think it’s a small price to pay for the total home protection (plus home automation) that you’ll enjoy.
Ring, on the other hand, does not require a contract. Instead, you’ll pay for monitoring on a monthly or yearly basis. Ring’s most popular monitoring plan, Protect Plus, only costs $10 per month, which is some of the cheapest monitoring in the industry.
Clearly, if you want effective smart home security but contracts aren’t your thing – and we completely understand if that’s the case – Ring is the way to go. With that said, if you can afford Vivint, it’s by far the better option. After all, Vivint ranks in our top 3 favorite home security systems (out of the dozens and dozens we’ve tried!).
Pricing – Vivint vs Ring
As we mentioned above, Vivint’s installation could cost you up to $250, but chances are you can probably get it waived. For home monitoring, you have a couple of options for purchasing Vivint’s 24/7 monitoring service: the Basic plan starts at $30, and the Smart Home Plan starts at $40. Total costs vary according to the devices you choose to include. And keep in mind, Vivint doesn’t price their equipment individually, so looking for pricing online is futile, you’ll have to call in. When the dust settles, expect to pay around $600 to get started, unless you sign a contract and pay for your equipment over time.
With Ring, you’ll pay less upfront, but of course you’ll spend more if you upgrade and add equipment as you go. If you buy Ring’s basic home security system directly from the company, it’ll run you about $199. If you just want the video doorbell, they start at $99 with the most expensive or “Elite” version topping out at $349.
If you sign up with Ring’s monitoring service, the Protect Basic plan starts at $3 per camera per month, or $30 per year. You can upgrade to the Protect Plus plan for $10 per month or $100 per year for an unlimited number of cameras and an extended warranty. You can also buy additional devices, like sensors and smoke or CO detectors, which range in price from $20 to $50.
|Ring Alarm Kits*||Coverage||Cost|
|5-Piece Alarm Security Kit||1 window, 1 door, 1-room motion||$199.99|
|8-piece Alarm Security Kit||4 windows or doors, 1-room motion||$249.99|
|14-piece Alarm Security Kit||8 windows or doors, 2-room motion||$329.99|
*Ring Alarm Kits do not include cameras.
Equipment & Packages
If you purchase a home security kit from either Ring or Vivint, you’ll get a base station, keypad (Vivint offers a sleek 7” touchscreen), and door/window sensors. You can also buy cameras separately from Ring and Vivint, and you can customize camera types, locations, and angles as you need to.
We think Ring takes the cake when it comes to security cameras and home surveillance. Ring offers five types of their doorbell cams, as well as a peephole cam which are great for apartments (or if you just like peepholes.) You can also choose from Ring’s indoor and outdoor cameras; we highly recommend the Spotlight Cam.
Note that Vivint offers fewer equipment options, but it’s all high-quality stacked with amazing features. For instance, their Video Doorbell Pro offers 1080p HD resolution, an impressive 180-degrees field of view, and active theft deterrents (lights & siren). But remember, Vivint does not list equipment (or prices) online, since they’re all about individual customization.
Keep in mind that all of this equipment can be controlled by a mobile app, which is free to download for both Ring and Vivint.
Installation & Set Up
When you read the word “installation,” does your blood pressure tick up a couple units? Yeah, ours too. It’s such a loaded word: even an installation as simple as putting up a shower curtain can end up causing headaches and mishaps if you’ve never installed a shower curtain before, or if you just lack handy skills.
From our hands-on experience with both products, we know that Vivint and Ring take very different approaches to installation. Vivint basically says, “Sit back and relax, we’ve got this.” Ring, on the other hand, says “You’ve got this, and we’ll show you how.” Both are reasonable schools of thought; it really just depends on the type of person you are.
Vivint does not offer a DIY installation option, which means you have to call them to set up professional installation. Among other functions, they’ll need to hardwire the Vivint doorbell camera into your existing doorbell wiring. We don’t love this about Vivint, but we also see the benefits of having a professional install it right the first time. Also, we found their tech experts to be incredibly knowledgeable and friendly. They even put little booties over their shoes when they came into our home. The little things.
On the opposite side of the spectrum, Ring’s home security system is completely DIY and won’t take you more than 30 minutes to install. If you don’t mind rolling up your sleeves and doing some light troubleshooting, this might be the option for you.
Summary: Vivint is King
Make no mistake: we’re really impressed with both Vivint and Ring. These systems are top-of-the-line in terms of features, monitoring capabilities, and service. But the fact that you have to leave Vivint’s installation to the pros should tell you all you need to know about how powerful (yet easy to use!) Vivint really is.
With Ring, you don’t need a single ounce of tech experience or skill to interact with any of their products – not the doorbell, not the indoor/outdoor cameras, not the alarm kit, none of it. Yet with all of that convenience, you still get many of the features that normally come with more expensive home security systems. To us, that’s a win-win.
Overall, we have to say that Vivint is the better system, with a couple of caveats to keep in mind. First, you’ll probably have to sign a long-term contract (no biggie if you’re planning on living in your home for a few years). You’ll also pay more for the system compared to Ring, but that’s to be expected considering its powerful security and smart home capabilities. And finally, the professional install isn’t our favorite. But if you can overlook these things, we think Vivint brings a whole lot to the table in terms of protecting your family and transforming your house into the smartest home around.