Rob Gabriele

Just starting to explore Vivint? If so, you’re probably finding that it’s more than capable of turning the everyday home into something special. We’ve been testing Vivint in our own home for nearly a month now, learning all about its smart automations and integrations. And we can honestly say that it’s the single most advanced — yet easy to use — home automation system we’ve ever had our hands on.

Now that doesn’t mean it’s perfect. For instance, Vivint equipment is a bit pricey, and they do require professional installation which might be a turnoff for you. Don’t worry, we’ll discuss its shortcomings, but we’ll be focusing mainly on its strengths (it’s hard not to with Vivint!).

From Amazon Alexa voice control, to Kwikset smart locks, and everything in-between — after living with their products we can say that Vivint is a great option for homeowners who don’t mind spending a little extra for the smartest home on the block. Let’s find out why!

Vivint Smart Home Equipment

Vivint Smart Home Equipment

Vivint Works With the Following Smart Products & Platforms:

  • Nest Thermostat
  • Google Home
  • Amazon Echo
  • Philips Hue smart lighting
  • Kwikset smart locks
  • Garage door controller
  • Z-Wave

Installing Vivint Smart Home

First things first… installation. Since Vivint requires professional installation, we had a Vivint technician stop by our home for a professional install. If you’ve read our full hands-on review of Vivint, you’ll know that it took Don (our tech) a few hours to install the Vivint security system, indoor and outdoor cameras, a garage door controller, and the list goes on. In the end, we were glad we didn't have to do the installation ourselves. Not that we’re terrible with power tools, but as you can see below, a drill, among other tools were needed for the installation.

Sure, it’s nice to have DIY home security and smart home equipment, but there’s something to be said about the end-to-end installation experience that Vivint offers. Was it white-glove service? We wouldn’t go that far, but trust us when we say it was smooth sailing here.

Have a look at Don putting in our smart garage controller, which is one of Vivint’s smart home offerings.

Don, the Vivint Installation Technician, installing our Smart Garage Controller

Don, the Vivint Installation Technician, installing our Smart Garage Controller

Once our equipment was all set up, we were able to control everything from Vivint’s mobile app and Smart Hub. It’s worth mentioning here that Vivint does have one of the most integrated systems on the market. That means it all just… well… works. We opened the app and everything was right there to swipe, arm, disarm, turn on/off, or whatever else we wanted to do.

Here’s a look at the Smart Hub perched on our desk, with its Ping Camera sidekick…

Vivint Smart Hub and Ping Indoor Camera

Vivint Smart Hub and Ping Indoor Camera

FYI: You have options when it comes to controlling your Vivint smart home. You can pop into Vivint’s user-friendly mobile app, or use the 7” Smart Hub touchscreen panel, or you can even use your voice with Amazon Alexa or Google Home.

Our Experience with Vivint Home Automation

Built on Z-Wave Protocol

You’ll be glad to know that the Vivint platform operates on the Z-Wave protocol. This means any Z-Wave devices (smart lights, locks, thermostats… even smart toasters!) can integrate into your Vivint smart home system.

We typically recommend looking for a home automation platform that works with Z-Wave, as there are countless smart devices that work on the Z-Wave protocol. So it’s kind of a big deal that Vivint is all ready to run with Z-Wave right out of the box, as it were. That said, note that Vivint isn’t compatible with Zigbee, which is unfortunate but actually pretty common.

Did You Know: We’ve used a lot of smart home systems to date, and we’ve found that only premium systems — like those from Vivint, ADT, and Frontpoint — offer Z-Wave compatibility. So don’t expect it from every brand out there.

Smart Garage Controller

Another smart feature we used was the Linear garage door controller. We don’t think we purchased this upfront; rather, we think maybe our Vivint technician upsold us on this (sneaky guy), but we’re glad he did. This device allowed us to open and close our garage with our smartphone, from virtually anywhere.

Vivint Smart Garage Controller

Vivint Smart Garage Controller

For us, it worked great as an extra layer of security. If we were unsure of whether or not we closed the garage door, we just popped in the Vivint app to see. Notice the little “Overhead Garage” icon at the bottom of our dashboard. A quick tap is all it takes to close the cave.

Vivint Smart Home App

Vivint Smart Home App

Vivint and Smart Thermostats

Vivint claims they are “Green, in more ways than one.” Of course, they’re referring to how you can save the planet and save money by getting one of their smart thermostats. You can choose the Vivint Element Thermostat ($169) to help with energy spend, or go with the more affordable Nest Thermostat E ($119) which has a neat frosted display that we like. Vivint sells both of these devices, and both allow you to control your temps from the dial, your smartphone, and even your voice. It’s important to note that Vivint does play well with Nest products, which is always a plus in our book.

Philips Hue Integration

Here’s another convenient home automation. We tried to order some Philips Hue smart lights from Vivint, but they were completely sold out, which was a bit disappointing. Not a big deal, though, as we had a Honeywell smart switch and a couple of Nutone bulbs that work with Z-Wave. So we were able to set our lights to dim automatically at 7 pm, just in time for our nightly viewing of Braveheart (what? it’s a classic). And keep in mind these products seamlessly connect right into the Vivint app.

Although we couldn’t score Philips Hue lights this time around, we’ve used these smart LED bulbs in the past, and we have (mostly) positive things to say about them. Since Philips Hue comes with a little hub with a built-in speaker, you’ll enjoy native hands-free voice control. And of course, there’s the Vivint app integration, which means you can control your lights from your smartphone, set your lighting to turn on automatically when you come home, automatically dim for movie night, and the list goes on. But it’s not cheap — you’ll pay upwards of $150 or more for Hue.

Works with Smart Locks

We’re also really liking the Vivint/Kwikset partnership. If you’re not familiar, Kwikset is one of the leading smart lock brands. They have an extensive list of products, but as far as we know, Vivint only sells the SmartCode 888 model ($139) which we show here…

Vivint Smart Lock Options

Vivint Smart Lock Options

In our experience, these smart locks are top notch even without the Vivint integration. But if Vivint sets you up, you’ll be able to lock and unlock your door from the app, get instant alerts when you leave your door open, etc. You can also give out up to 30 unique access codes, which is enough for the kids, the dog-walker, caretakers, and your in-laws (maybe scratch that last one). At any rate, we’re all about smart locks, as keys just feel so last year.

Vivint and Amazon Alexa

Let’s be honest, Amazon’s Alexa needs no introduction. It’s the most popular voice assistant on the market, so it’s no wonder that most home security companies offer this integration. With Vivint, the integration only took us a few minutes, and it allowed us to arm and disarm our system by voice.
One night, we couldn’t find our smartphones to arm our system, and the Smart Hub panel was clear across the house. So a simple “Alexa, ask Vivint to arm my system” was all it took to secure the castle. We used Alexa for all sorts of other tasks, too. For instance, we had voice control over our garage door, smart lock, cameras, you name it. Just keep in mind that you’ll want to get the Complete skill, not the Basic skill. The Basic skill can only control smart lights and thermostats, while the Complete skill controls more devices than you can shake a stick at.

FYI: For security reasons, you can’t disarm your home or unlock your doors with Alexa. If you could, a would-be burglar could come to your doorstep and shout “Alexa, disarm my home!” and he’d have a field day in your home.

We mostly use Alexa by way of Amazon’s Echo device. You could get an Echo Show smart display, but we recommend saving your money since Vivint comes with a touchscreen smart panel anyway. Note that other brands, like Ring Alarm and SimpliSafe, play well with Alexa. But the truth is, Vivint has a vast range of capabilities compared to those more basic systems, so you can simply do more with your voice.

Vivint and Google Home

We’re not big Google Home users, but Vivint also brings this integration to the table. Since Google Home is now technically Google Nest, you can bet that all Nest products will work just fine here. So you can say things like, “Hey Google, am I protected?” or “Hey Google, arm Vivint to away.”

If you’re already running a Google Nest smart home ecosystem at your place, then we’d also recommend checking out ADT and Brinks, both of which play well with Google. In fact, ADT, Brinks, and Vivint are all on our list of the best security systems that work with Google Nest. As with Vivint, you’ll be able to use your Google Home Hub, Google Home Mini, Nest Hub, and similar products with these brands.

Did You Know: Vivint also sells a smart smoke detector, flood and freeze sensor, and CO detector. If it works in your budget, we always recommend getting set up with environmental hazard detection, as they can save your house and your life.

Vivint Smart CO/Smoke Detectors

Vivint Smart CO/Smoke Detectors

Choosing the Right Vivint Subscription

Not all Vivint monitoring plans are created equal. In fact, the lower-tier plan doesn’t support smart home automation at all. That’s why it’s important to know what to ask for. If you want to get the most out of Vivint, we definitely recommend the Smart Home Video plan. It’s only a few more dollars per month than the middle-tier plan, but it lets you set up Vivint’s award-winning Outdoor Camera Pro, as well as their doorbell camera and indoor camera.

At the very least, though, you’ll need the Smart Home plan if you want access to home automation features. Here’s a look at Vivint’s latest plans and pricing.

Vivint Smart Home Monitoring Plans

Smart Security Smart Home Smart Home Video
Intrusion Protection Yes Yes Yes
Smart Home Capabilities No Yes Yes
Video Support No No Yes
Monthly Price $29.99 $39.99 $44.99

Vivint Contracts

It’s also worth mentioning that you’ll need to purchase all of your Vivint equipment upfront, otherwise you’ll have to sign a 3- to 5-year contract with the company. This, along with their higher-than-average equipment prices, has always been our biggest hangup with Vivint. That said, their smart systems usher in a whole new experience that you just don’t get with even the best DIY brands. So again, if you’re a homeowner who wants the Mercedes of home security, we think this is the best option out there for home security and smart home automation.

Our Verdict on Vivint Automation

If you think flipping switches with your fingers is so 20th century, we’re right there with you. Thankfully, the folks at Vivint have delivered the goods and offer everything (and then some) when it comes to smart home automation. We were able to control our garage door and thermostat from our smartphones, and since Vivint runs off the Z-Wave protocol, we have almost limitless device integrations (we’re talking well into the hundreds).

We also liked the voice control options with Amazon Echo and Google Home. But really, we’re seeing hands-free voice control from almost every brand nowadays. Where Vivint really excels is with their mobile app and Smart Hub; all of our smart home equipment integrated into one easy-to-use platform, which we could instantly access from the app or hub.

And remember, with Vivint you can set custom rules and customize your notifications to your heart’s content. So if you have Vivint on your mind, just be sure to spring for their Smart Home plan so that you can access all of this and more. We think you’ll be more than happy with the end-to-end experience that Vivint is well-known for.