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
When it comes to protecting your family from intruders, you’ll want the best of the best. You’re going to want equipment that is easy to use, well-designed, and — most importantly — works when you need it most.
Both Ring and Vivint fit the bill in those regards and more. Both get high marks from us in terms of effectiveness, reliability, and technology. They’re affordable, easy to use, and will protect your family in a variety of ways.
That said, the two have very different approaches to home security. We’re going to get into all of that in just a bit, but one of the biggest takeaways is that Vivint is very much a hands-off security system — they have white-glove service for everything — whereas Ring takes a more DIY-friendly approach. They also differ significantly in terms of equipment offerings and monitoring service.
Before you commit to either system, it’s best to take a look at how they stack up against each other.
A few facts to get you started:
- Both systems offer indoor, outdoor, and doorbell 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 offers full integration with Alexa.
- With Ring, you can order online, over the phone, and even at some brick-and-mortar stores. With Vivint, your only option is to order over the phone.
We’ve tested both of these systems, and looked carefully at all their features, including Ring’s new pricing structure. 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
So first things first, we should talk about how these two systems are similar. There are quite a few features and functionality that Vivint and Ring share. Here’s a quick punch list.
- 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
- 24/7 professional monitoring available
So that’s about it for the similarities. Now we need to get into the really important stuff — how these two security juggernauts differ.
Differences: Installation, price, features
We found several differences between the Vivint and Ring home security systems. First up, you’ll pay more with Vivint. You may even have to pay for professional installation. Of course, you can finance your equipment (most people do), but that requires you to sign up for Vivint’s FlexPay program contract. In addition, Vivint doesn’t offer self-monitoring or month-to-month monitoring subscriptions, so you’ll also have to sign up for a 48-month monitoring plan, which means more money. But again, this is top-of-the-line smart home security we’re talking about.
Now we will say that at the end of the day, you’ll pay significantly less when you go with a Ring system. This might be a deciding factor for many, but there’s obvious trade-offs here. For one, you’ll have to install the equipment yourself or find the number of the friendly neighborhood handyman. Additionally while solid, Ring is a little lacking when it comes to the home automation features Vivint boasts.
Bottom line: If you do choose Vivint, most systems require professional Installation that 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
Ring’s doorbell video camera is far and away our favorite feature. Their video quality has made them stand out in the crowd from other security systems for years. Additionally, their coverage and user-friendliness are second to none. We were blown away by how much we could see when we linked our Ring doorbell camera to our Ring Alarm. The resolution and audio are crystal clear. Our favorite perk? You can easily install it yourself and be up and running in under an hour 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. Yes, Ring allows you access to lots of home automation through both Alexa and Google Home. However, that automation is piecemeal, made up of lots of products that work with the Alexa and Google Home ecosystem.
Pro Tip: Both Vivint and Ring offer environmental sensors that can alert you to dangers in your home, but they won’t protect you from these four toxic household gasses. Read up on that page to learn how to protect yourself!
Vivint, on the other hand, is its own self-contained ecosystem. You can choose from a comprehensive list of devices during the initial installation or purchase these later. Options include 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 Pro, only costs $20 per month, which is competitive with other prices 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, you will probably love its comprehensive coverage and be willing to sign a contract for it. 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
Like we said above, Vivint’s installation fee alone might cost you more than the price of a pretty complete Ring security package, but there’s a chance you might be able to get it waived — remember, it doesn’t hurt to ask.
As far as monitoring goes, Vivint’s Basic plan starts around $30 per month, and their Smart Home Plan starts around $40 per month. Your total bottom line is going to vary based on the equipment you select, and remember, Vivin’t doesn’t price things individually, nor are they transparent about their costs on their website. You’ll need to call them and speak to a representative. When all is said and done, though, expect to pay at least $600 up front unless you sign a contract to pay for everything 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 $3.99 per month, or $39.99 per year. This plan provides for video recording and sharing with one camera and stores all of your recordings on the Cloud. 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.
With the Protect Pro plan, you get video recording and sharing with unlimited Ring cameras plus professional monitoring. The Protect Pro plan costs $20 per month or $200 per year. 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||$259.99|
|14-piece Alarm Security Kit||8 windows or doors, 2-room motion||$419.99|
*Ring Alarm Kits do not include cameras.
Keep in mind, Ring often puts their equipment packages on sale, so keep an eye out here and on their site for the latest deals. You can also check our Ring sales roundup. We keep that up to date with the most recent discounts.
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.
Let’s start with Vivint. The company doesn’t even offer a DIY option. That means you have to set up professional installation appointment. And, they’re not kidding when they say you need professional installation. For example, the doorbell camera has to be wired directly into your existing doorbell wiring. Of course, installation isn’t free, and we never like it when a company forces us to buy services. Still, we have to admit that Vivint tech experts are incredibly knowledgeable. They knew exactly where to put cameras an other equipment so that every corner of our home was protected. As a bonus, they were also incredibly friendly. They even put little booties over their shoes when they came into our home.
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. But if you’re not the DIY-type, then Vivint is the better bet.
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.