Rob Gabriele

There’s lots to consider when buying a home security system. But in our opinion, the two most important things are the equipment and the monitoring. We like to ask: is the equipment high-quality with enough features to keep us happy? And does the monitoring offer fast emergency response and support for things like smart home automation and security cameras?

If you’re considering Vivint but want to know how their 24/7 professional monitoring measures up, you’re in the right place. We recently had a Vivint smart security system installed in our home, and we’re sharing our full experience with you today.

Vivint Security Equipment

Vivint Security Equipment

First of all, Vivint isn’t one of those security systems that you buy from Home Depot for a couple hundred bucks and set up yourself. The company caters to homeowners who have a healthy budget to work with (it’s not cheap!). That said, it carries a premium price tag for a reason: it’s one of the best options on the market, hands down.

It secured our home with high-tech — yet surprisingly user-friendly — smart components like an outdoor camera with deterrent features like a built-in siren. Unfortunately, Vivint requires professional installation. But honestly, you wouldn’t want to install their wired Outdoor Camera Pro and recessed door sensors on your own (unless you’re a regular Bob Vila).

So… that’s Vivint in a nutshell. Now let’s dig into your options for monthly monitoring, the different plan features, and what you can expect to pay.

What to Look for in a Monitoring Plan

We typically see DIY security companies offering two different subscription plans for monitoring. For instance, Ring Alarm and SimpliSafe a couple of different plan options. Ring has cloud storage plans for their cameras and a monitoring plan for Ring Alarm, while SimpliSafe has two monitoring plans plus two cloud options. But when it comes to professionally-installed systems like Vivint, note that you’ll usually have three options to choose from. We’ve seen this with Vivint’s main competitor, ADT home security.

Keep in mind these plans always come with 24/7 intrusion monitoring, but that’s where the similarities end. From there, you can upgrade to a mid-tier plan that offers support for smart home tech like smart thermostats and smart locks, smart lighting, automatic garage door controllers, and the list goes on. We normally see these plans ranging between $30-$40 per month.

Then the top-tier plans are all about home surveillance. So on top of intrusion monitoring and smart home features, you’ll also be able to set up security cameras and record footage around your property. You can even tap into your live-stream footage from your smartphone. You know, to catch bad guys in the act, or at least get up-close-and-personal with delivery drivers. These plans range in the $40-$50 per month price point, but we highly recommend them!

Needless to say, we went with Vivint’s premium monitoring plan called “Smart Control.” It set us back $55 per month, but it delivered the goods in just about every category.

Vivint’s Monitoring Plans

As mentioned, you can choose between Vivint’s three monitoring plans: Smart Security, Smart Home, and Smart Control. The latest Vivint plans and prices you see below are fixed, except for the Smart Control prices. For that plan, each camera you add to your system after the first two costs an additional $5 per month. So that’s something to keep in mind.

Vivint Subscription Plan Options Smart Security Smart Home Smart Control
Protection Level Intermediate Intermediate to Advanced Advanced
24/7 Cellular Monitoring Yes Yes Yes
Smart Home Automation No Yes Yes
Video Support No No Yes
Monthly Price $29.99 $39.99 $44.99+

We went with the Smart Control plan because we’ve heard great things about Vivint’s security cameras — especially the award-winning Outdoor Camera Pro — and we wanted to try them out. We purchased all of our equipment upfront, so thankfully we didn’t have to sign a long-term contract. But if you want to finance your Vivint gear over time, you’ll have to sign on the dotted line. The contract will be as long as your financing plan, and with Vivint, that's typically four to five years. That's a bit longer than ADT's contract, which is typically three years, but again, Vivint is ideal for those who are set budget-wise.

24/7 Monitoring – How it Protected Our Home

Fortunately, our home didn’t get burglarized while getting hands-on experience with Vivint (wouldn’t that be ironic?). But don’t worry, we ran the system through simulated break-in and package-theft scenarios. What did we find? Well, each time our alarm rang out, a Vivint emergency response agent reached out within 30-35 seconds.

FYI: During installation you’ll create a “safe word” that you must remember. Whenever your alarm goes off, the Vivint agents will ask for your safe word over the phone. If you can’t give it to them, they may have to dispatch police to your property. So make it memorable!

Now, a 30-second response time is standard for the industry. And in our opinion, 30-seconds is fast for monitoring, but it’s also enough time to disarm your system when you accidentally trigger it yourself (it’ll happen). So Vivint hits the sweet spot as far as response goes.

Another thing we like about Vivint’s 24/7 monitoring is that it uses a 100% cellular connection to connect to the central monitoring station. Keep in mind that most systems use a Wi-Fi signal with cellular backup. And as you know, Wi-Fi can go down, power can go out, and all this can interrupt your connection or totally boot you offline. So a full-on cellular connection — like we see with other top options like ADT and Frontpoint Home Security — can make all the difference. Thankfully, Vivint too offers 100% cellular monitoring, which helps to calm the nerves.

Vivint’s monitoring really starts to shine with security cameras installed around your home. Here’s the view from our Vivint Doorbell Camera Pro, which you can read all about that review here.

Vivint Doorbell Video Camera - Video Quality

Vivint Doorbell Video Camera – Video Quality

Digging Deeper – A Closer Look at Vivint’s Plans

Smart Security Plan: Basic Intrusion Protection

This is Vivint’s low-cost intrusion monitoring plan. We emphatically do not recommend this Vivint plan. We know that might sound harsh, but getting this plan is like buying a Ferrari and never going over 20 mph. Sure, the Smart Security plan will keep you safe. And yes, it only costs $29.99 per month. But you don’t buy Vivint to get basic protection — you buy Vivint because you want to outfit your home with smart security features from the inside out. That’s our take, anyway.

With this plan, a Vivint technician will come to your home to install the equipment (sold separately). But you won’t get cameras or any sleek home automation functionality. Rather, you’ll get a Smart Hub and door/window sensors like you see below. This way, any burglar or thief who targets your home will set off the alarm, and the monitoring center can dispatch police if necessary.

Vivint Door and Window Sensor

Vivint Door and Window Sensor

Did You Know: Our Vivint technician Don asked if we wanted recessed door sensors. These neat little sensors look different than the peel-and-stick sensors pictured above, as they bore directly into the edge of your door and door frame, making it invisible when the door is shut. This not only helps to reduce false alarms, it keeps your home looking clean and modern.

Vivint’s Smart Security (basic) plan offers reliable home protection, but we don’t recommend it, as you can get basic home security from DIY brands like abode for cheaper. Have a look at the next plan, Vivint Smart Home, which we do recommend.

Smart Home Plan: Intrusion Protection Plus Home Automation

The next tier up from Vivint’s basic protection is their Smart Home plan. This will give you everything included in the Smart Security plan, plus it unlocks a whole world of smart home automations for you. It’ll run you $39.99 per month, but you’ll be able to automate your smart lights and smart locks, regulate your temps remotely using either the Vivint Element Thermostat or the Nest Thermostat E, and on and on. And you’ll be able to control everything on a centralized platform in the Vivint app. Not bad, right?

Also, since Vivint is built on the Z-Wave protocol, you can integrate hundreds of Z-Wave smart devices into your system with this monitoring plan. Of course, this will cost you. But again, if you have the budget and want the smartest home around, Vivint should definitely top your list.

FYI: Vivint offers Amazon Alexa and Google Home integrations. What’s that? That means you can control your Vivint system using only your voice. We connected our Amazon Echo to Vivint and hollered commands from across the room — “Alexa, ask Vivint to arm my system.” Note that this does require the premium Smart Home plan.

Have a look below at Don, our Vivint technician, installing a smart garage door controller for us. Worried we left our garage wide open for the world? All we had to do was pop in the Vivint app to see the status, and if we did leave it open, a quick tap of the screen and voila! it’s closed. This is just one of the smart home devices we enjoyed using with Vivint.

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

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

Here’s what we can tell you: after using Vivint for nearly a month now, there’s no better system on the market for home automation. Now, this might surprise you, but we actually wouldn’t recommend the Vivint ‘Smart Home’ plan either. Here’s why: for $5 more per month you can get smart home automation plus video support. And trust us, you’re going to like Vivint security cameras. Let’s check it out.

Smart Control Plan: Intrusion Protection, Home Automation, and Video Support

This is where Vivint really delivers value as the most streamlined and integrated smart home security system in the industry. We signed up with the Smart Control plan for $44.99 per month. We added a few Vivint cameras which brought our total to $55 monthly (each camera adds $5 per month to your bill). Although Smart Control comes with all of the home automation features discussed above, it also comes with video support, which is a game-changer in our eyes.

Vivint Outdoor Camera Video Quality

Vivint Outdoor Camera Video Quality

Don installed a Ping Indoor Cam, an Outdoor Camera Pro, and the Doorbell Camera Pro. Consider this the trifecta of home surveillance, as it covered our living room, entryway, and driveway.

Again, all of the cameras integrate right into the Vivint app for remote viewing, or you can view your live-stream video on the Smart Hub (see below). The app offers incredible functionality, allowing you to set custom actions and custom notifications galore; Vivint performed better than any system we’ve seen in this category. Also note that these cams record clips that are stored in your Timeline for up to 30 days.

Is video totally necessary? Well, we think so. In our experience, Vivint cameras put that extra hedge of protection around our home. And since their cameras offer active deterrent features (think LED lights and sirens), they will give criminals a scare before they decide to jimmy our locks or smash our windows. So Vivint video is all about proactive security, which we like.

Live Video from the Vivint Doorbell, Viewed on the Smart Hub

Live Video from the Vivint Doorbell, Viewed on the Smart Hub

Our only gripe is the price. It’s not so much the Smart Control plan that’s expensive — as other top-rated security systems carry that $45-$50 per month price tag. Rather, it’s the cameras themselves that are pricey. Expect to pay $200 for the Ping Cam, $249 for the Doorbell Camera Pro, and $399 (gulp!) for the Outdoor Camera Pro. Is it worth it? If you want the best in smart home security, we say yes!

Can You Self Monitor with Vivint?

You cannot self-monitor with Vivint. The system requires that you have a monthly monitoring plan in place to use it. If this is a turnoff for you, have a look at some of the best self-monitored systems we’ve used.

But this wasn’t a deal-breaker for us. In fact, we don’t mind spending $30-$50 per month if we know our home is being monitored by the pros. And if we can get a little something extra in terms of smart home and video features, all the better! It’s one of those things that you can certainly live without… but once you have it, you won’t want to go back to the way it was.

FYI: If you don’t purchase Vivint equipment upfront, you’ll have to sign a 3- to 5-year contract to pay in monthly installments. It’s zero-interest financing, but we still recommend biting the bullet and paying upfront if you can.

The Takeaway

So… does it make sense to pay for a Vivint monitoring plan? To be honest, we don’t like two of Vivint’s three plans. Their basic option is just too basic. And the intermediate plan doesn’t come with video support. But their premium monitoring plan — the Smart Control option — is the best in the business.

If you’re a homeowner who’s looking for all-around home protection, smart home automation, and really neat video features, then we highly recommend investing in Vivint equipment and going with their premium monitoring plan. We used it for nearly a full month, and we have (mostly) great things to say about our experience. All in all, you definitely get what you pay for with Vivint.