From installation to functionality, we can say that Vivint is night-and-day different from your average home security system.
We normally like to roll up our sleeves and install our own equipment DIY-style. But with Vivint, there’s none of that. They require a visit from a technician for installation — but here’s the thing, our experience with Vivint made us see professional installation in a whole new light; a better one, that is.
We had a new Vivint system installed in our home, and we documented the entire process for you. We’ll say upfront that it was nice not having to worry about missing critical steps in the installation process, or hitting roadblocks or snags. We just sort of kicked back and let our Vivint tech do his thing (OK, ok, we were actually busy scribbling notes and snapping photos for you).
So we’re sharing everything you need to know about getting set up with Vivint, the most intelligent and streamlined home security system on the market. We think you’ll like what we found. So let’s dive right in!
Vivint Installation Pros & Cons
Vivint Smart Home Pros
Your installation is only going to be as good as your Vivint technician, or “Smart Home Pro.” So we’ll quickly cover what to expect when it comes to manpower (or womanpower!).
So there we were, sitting in the living room enjoying our coffee, when the doorbell rang. It had been a few days since we took down our Ring Doorbell, so we got up and answered our door like they used to back in the 1900’s.
“Name’s Don,” the young man said. “Looks like you have a Vivint installation today.”
We sure do!
Don seemed like a nice enough guy, so we let him in.
First impressions matter to us. Some companies send out third-party contractors for installation, and their presentation and appearance doesn’t exactly inspire confidence (not that a zombie neck tattoo is a deal-breaker, but you know…).
Did You Know: Vivint mainly caters to homeowners who have the budget to invest in premium smart home products and services. As such, the company knows how important it is to keep up appearances and remain professional.
Don was clean-cut and decked out from head-to-toe in Vivint gear. No zombie tattoos… that we could see. We could tell right away that he was a Vivint employee, not a contractor. And we know from our research that Vivint takes their technician training seriously. Don even told us that he was flown down to Utah to go through weeks of intensive training, not to mention the several months working hands-on as an apprentice. Vivint does this better than any of its competitors.
All that to say, we were confident he would do a stellar installation job. Well, at least those were our expectations. Don’t let us down now, Don.
FYI: Depending on availability, Vivint can sometimes swing ‘Same Day Installation’. They used to promote this pretty heavily, but we think they’re doing fewer same-day installs these days, ever since business started booming. We set up our installation appointment 5 days out from our purchase date, which was by design.
Before we get into specifics of what to expect on installation day, we have a helpful chart to give you a birds-eye view of what’s in store. Have a look below for an overview of our Vivint installation experience. Note that your mileage may vary depending on the equipment you purchase.
Vivint Installation Overview
|Invasiveness (drilling & wiring)
|Time it Takes
|Walk-Through & Consultation
|Peel & Stick Sensors
|Glass Break Sensors
|Garage Door Opener
|Outdoor Camera Pro
|Ping Indoor Cam
|Doorbell Camera Pro
The Walkaround & Consultation
Before your Vivint Smart Home Pro gets to work, he or she will scout out the best locations for your sensors and cameras. In our full hands-on review of Vivint, we mention that we really liked this first step, especially since Don talked us through his thought process… from a burglar’s perspective.
For instance, he decided to install our Outdoor Camera Pro at the far end of our driveway, that way it would cover our front yard, driveway, and part of our side yard. There’s a specific tree in our yard that, according to Don, a criminal could use as an entry point onto our property. Well, not anymore! Sure, we’ve been doing this a long time, so we knew about these weaknesses on our property. But we reckon most people won’t. So we really liked this 20 minute “consultation.”
Although it was great that Don talked us through his initial thoughts, it would’ve been nice if he communicated with us more throughout the entire installation process. At times it felt like we were left in the dark about what he was doing and why. We understand; it's not easy to explain stuff while handling power tools, but we still think it’s worth mentioning.
Did You Know: Vivint is kind of a big deal in Utah. There’s the Vivint SmartHome Arena located in Salt Lake City, which is home to the Utah Jazz NBA team and has hosted the likes of One Republic, Imagine Dragons, and the Bieb’s himself.
Smart Hub Installation
The Smart Hub is the brains of the system. It houses the 110 dB siren, and it allows you to view your cameras, customize actions, and perform all sorts of other commands. This 7” touchscreen panel will mount directly to your wall, likely near your front door or somewhere central in your home.
Unlike plug-in control panels sold by DIY home security companies (think SimpliSafe and Ring Alarm), the Vivint Smart Hub is installed in such a way that the power cord is hidden inside of your wall. Here you can see what we mean by seeing the back of the panel…
We’re all about a streamlined, modern look; but for purposes of testing and reviewing the system, we kept our Smart Hub freestanding. We advise against this, though. The power cord is spindly and quite stiff, and it’s really not meant to be exposed to the world. Although Vivint is technically a wireless system (it uses a 100% cellular connection), you’ll often see this type of thing with hardwired security systems. But trust us, you really want the clean aesthetics and convenient functionality of a wall-mounted panel.
Pro Tip: If you’re considering getting Vivint, it doesn’t hurt to start thinking of potential Smart Hub placement locations in your home. Your Vivint tech will have their ideas, but the truth is, nobody knows your home better than you. And since it’s wired into your wall, once it’s installed, it’s not easy to move.
FYI: When it comes to installing certain devices, there will be holes drilled into your wall. So if you don’t own your home, check out our roundup of better options for renters. That said, Don said he would personally come back to our home and patch any holes he made.
Door/Window Sensor Installation
We like to say that entryway sensors are the glue that holds a system together. Without them, you won’t have much protection from intruders (just don’t tell that to Deep Sentinel, a unique system that uses no entry sensors). And 95% of the time, we see door/window sensors go up in a flash with peel-and-stick adhesive. Here’s Don installing ours for us…
We have to say that Vivint’s entry sensors aren’t exactly our favorite (you can read our full take on Vivint sensors here). In fact, affordable DIY brands like abode have a better sensor design in our opinion. Vivint’s contact sensors are a little bigger and bulkier than we’d like, but they definitely get the job done. Here’s what it looks like mounted on our kitchen window…
Note that we opted for Vivint’s traditional contact sensors. But if we were set on keeping Vivint for the long-haul, we would have chosen their recessed door sensors. Although the recessed door sensors are more “permanent” than the peel-and-stick variety, the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages. We’ll discuss those next.
Did You Know: Our Vivint technician put on booties over his shoes before coming into our home so that he didn’t track any dirt in. He was coming in and out of our house for three hours straight, so we really liked the gesture. It’s the little things.
Recessed Sensor Installation
If you own your home, we think you’ll really like these sensors. Vivint’s recessed door sensors are pretty much invisible when you’re looking at a closed door, as they mount on the inside of your door, opposed to the contact sensors that mount where they can be seen.
Note that your Vivint tech will assume you want these recessed sensors installed. And although they have to bore into your door and door frame, the holes are practically hidden. In our opinion, this is where Vivint’s professional installation really starts to shine. We certainly wouldn’t want to install these ourselves. That said, have a look at the diagram below to get a better sense of the install.
Mounting the Motion Sensor
This part of the installation process was fairly straightforward. Don recommended mounting our motion sensor in our dining room, which also covers our front entryway. Then he got to work.
Like other motion sensors we’ve used, he screwed it into a corner about 7 feet off the ground. All very standard. But first we set the Pet Detection sensitivity to low by flipping a toggle on the back of the sensor. If you have a dog at home — especially a big boy over 50 lbs. — we recommend you do the same. This will help to minimize false alarms. Can you spot our motion sensor below?
FYI: Vivint doesn’t offer DIY home security kits. This makes sense to us, seeing that some of their equipment (like their outdoor camera) requires drilling and wiring. We can’t speak for everyone, but we’d rather not stress about installation when an expert can do it for a reasonable price.
Don also installed a glass break sensor downstairs, as well as a smart garage door controller in our garage. If you’re curious about Vivint’s smart home products, like automatic garage controls, smart thermostats and lighting, etc., then we recommend checking out our Vivint home automation breakdown.
Note that Don also wore a facemask the entire time, which helped us feel a little more at ease (having a stranger in your home doesn’t have to be anxiety-inducing). Here he is on his trusty ladder, getting us all ship-shape and ready to sail.
Vivint Camera Installation
If you choose to go with Vivint cameras, the installation really varies depending on the camera type. Note that Vivint sells an indoor camera, an outdoor camera, and a doorbell camera. And just so you know, you’ll have to choose Vivint’s premium monitoring plan to access video support. Here’s our roundup of Vivint’s monthly subscriptions services.
Ping Camera Setup
The Ping Indoor Camera only took about 5 minutes to set up and configure. This camera must plug into a wall (includes a 12 ft. power cord), so you’ll want to have it placed somewhere near an outlet. And like Vivint’s other cameras, it runs off your Wi-Fi, so here’s to hoping your Wi-Fi speeds aren’t as slow as molasses.
Similar to other indoor cameras we’ve reviewed, you can set the Ping cam on a shelf, say, in your living room. Or you can mount it on a wall. We like the swivel base and how the base plate can turn 90-degrees to mount to a wall. If you do want it wall-mounted, we recommend mentioning it to your installation technician. That said, we kept ours freestanding on our bookshelf.
Mounting the Outdoor Camera Pro
The installation of the Outdoor Camera Pro is actually quite involved. In fact, we were a bit surprised by all of the drilling and wiring necessary. But trust us, once it’s up and running, this is one of the most advanced yet easy-to-use cameras we’ve ever experienced. Here’s Don drilling into our home with a 10” drill bit.
Once the hole was drilled, Don ran the camera’s ethernet cord through the wall and into the garage. As you’ll see below, it’s a fairly clean job, though we think it would have looked better if the wire ran vertically down the wall first, and then over to the outlet (but hey, you can’t have it all).
One thing worth mentioning is that the Outdoor Camera Pro runs off a Wi-Fi connection with a PoE Wi-Fi bridge. This means it taps directly into your Wi-Fi, and the single cord that you see above is simultaneously our data transporter and power cable. Pretty neat. We like the PoE setup, and we’ve found that it’s ultra-fast and reliable in terms of viewing, recording, and storing video data. Another benefit of this setup is that we don’t have to worry about changing batteries in the camera, which is always a drag with battery-powered outdoor cameras — especially in the middle of winter!
Doorbell Camera Install
The Vivint Doorbell Camera Pro is also a wired device. It will replace your existing doorbell and wire into your existing doorbell wiring. But again, your Vivint Smart Home Pro will bear this burden for you. The setup of this device takes about 10-15 minutes.
Pro Tip: One nice thing about the Doorbell Camera Pro is that it can also run off of batteries. So if you’d rather go wireless, just be sure to speak up on installation day.
Don also climbed his ladder in our home and installed the digital doorbell chime to our existing chime box. We’re not sure what happened to the plastic casing that covered our chime box. So Don, if you happen to have it in your tool bag, please bring it back. Of course, we’re always fiddling with the best doorbell cameras out there, so it may have been us that misplaced it. We’ll let it slide.
Check out the photo we snapped below to see what the Vivint Doorbell Camera Pro looks like installed. Note that it actually sports a smaller profile than other leading video doorbells, like the Ring Doorbell. And it feels quite sturdy and well-built for the weather. Winter is coming, and we’re pretty confident it’ll hold up well. You can read about our full experience with Vivint’s doorbell here.
Wrapping Up and Learning the System
Once all of our equipment was mounted in place, our Vivint technician Don handed us his tablet. On it was a video of Todd Pedersen, Vivint’s CEO, welcoming us to the Vivint family. And following the video was a brief survey where we could rate Don’s performance based on his efficiency, thoroughness, and other factors.
This took about 10 minutes in total, and we were happy to fill it out. It’s worth pointing out that we haven’t seen this type of end-to-end service in the industry — even with other top brands like ADT. This is “the extra mile” that ensures the Vivint experience will improve over time. That’s the hope, anyway. And why wouldn’t we want to contribute to that?
Finally, before Don left, he showed us how our new Vivint system worked. He gave us a quick tutorial on how to use the Smart Hub and the mobile app. This was all fairly remedial for us (we do this for a living), but we can see how it might be overwhelming if you’re a first-time home security buyer. So if anything goes over your head, don’t hesitate to ask your Smart Home Pro to slow down. It’s what they get paid to do. Take advantage while you’ve got them in your home.
Vivint Installation Fee
Our Vivint installation cost was waived — as we happened upon a deal that was floating around. Vivint often runs discounts on installation, and sometimes you’ll be able to score a deal for a free install. But if you do have to pay, you’re probably looking at about $100 when the dust settles.
With that said, your installation could cost upwards of $199 (or more) if you have multiple cameras that need to be installed. Overall, we think Vivint’s installation fees are fair. As far as professionally installed smart home security systems go, $100-$200 is par for the course. We recommend reading up on the latest Vivint prices here.
Final Words on Vivint Installation
Well, Vivint scored excellent marks with us on installation day. We do wish our Vivint tech was more communicative throughout the process, and we’re still not sure where our doorbell chime cover went, but otherwise we really couldn’t have asked for a better experience. We’d certainly do it all over again.
In the past we’ve mentioned our distaste with professional installation — as we like installing our own products. But honestly, having a professional set up our Vivint equipment wasn’t only more convenient, it was downright necessary (it would’ve taken us half the day to get the Outdoor Camera Pro up-and-running). It’s all part of Vivint’s premium offering.
So if you’re a homeowner with the budget to invest in a top-of-the-line system, and you don’t mind signing a contract, we’ll go out on a limb and say this one’s for you.