While some security systems are smart, we like to say Vivint makes the honor roll. In fact, Vivint Smart Home offers cutting-edge security products that are surprisingly simple to use. It’s easily the most integrated system we’ve tried (think doorbell cameras, indoor & outdoor cams, smart locks, entryway sensors, touchscreen panels, the whole nine). In some ways, it feels like the future of home security. But we must say, Vivint isn’t for everyone.
We found it to be pricey compared to other systems. Also, the trial period is short, so you’ll want to be sure Vivint is your best buy before signing up. With that said, if you like user-friendly technology, and uber-smart features, you’re in for a treat. Read on for our latest hands-on review of Vivint. We’re sharing everything you need to know to make a wise decision — it’s all here!
Every home security system has its competitive advantage — you know, that one thing that sets it apart from the competition. For Ring, it’s their extensive lineup of products. For SimpliSafe it’s how easy their systems are to install and use. And for Vivint, we found it’s the sheer intelligence of their products that sets the brand apart. These systems protect against prowlers, sure. But Vivint also turns the average house into an all-around smarter home.
In using the system, we were able to run our security equipment right alongside appliances like lamps, smoke detectors, thermostats, our TV, and more. And we think you’ll like the control options. You can seamlessly control your Vivint devices in a few different ways, including:
We were pretty impressed with the Vivint Smart Hub, but we’ll unpack that in just a bit. You can also ask Alexa or Google Assistant to close your garage door, lock your house, and even stream live-video onto a compatible smart TV or display.
Feeling like a modern homeowner yet? It’s true that Vivint delivers the whole package when it comes to protecting your home and family in style. But again, it doesn’t come cheap. In fact, it’s quite pricey and probably only affordable for a portion of home security shoppers. Let’s have a look at the equipment prices and monthly fees.
Vivint offers professional installation. In fact, it’s required. But thankfully the installation fee is typically waived. This leaves two main expenses for you to consider: Equipment and Monitoring. Let’s dig into our findings.
Equipment – Vivint equipment includes a touchscreen Smart Hub, door/window sensors, motion sensors, and a grab-bag of wireless add-ons, including indoor and outdoor cameras, a doorbell camera, smart speakers, and the list goes on.
Monitoring – A monitored smart home system will notify first-responders like police, firefighters, or paramedics when your sensors are tripped. You can also call for help with a wearable pendant or a panic button. We’ll discuss why monitoring is a good idea in just a bit.
As for equipment prices, we purchased a starter kit for $599. We ran up an even bigger tab by adding extras like the Vivint Doorbell Camera Pro ($249), the Ping Indoor Camera ($199), the Outdoor Camera Pro ($399), a smart door lock ($149), and a few environmental sensors. So we invested well over $1,000 in Vivint — but we think you can get a great equipment package in the $800-$1,200 range when the dust settles.
Pro Tip: Finance your gear! You can pay in installments, so the equipment ends up costing you around $15 to $30 per month. If you go this route, you will have to sign a contract, and Vivint contracts range between one and five years in length.
The only other cost you’re on-the-hook for is the monthly monitoring fee. Vivint’s monitoring prices start at $29.99 per month, which is competitive compared to other professional home security systems at this price point. For instance, if you want home automation with ADT, you’ll be spending $40-$50+ per month. Note, however, that the more Vivint cameras you include, the higher the monitoring fee goes until you hit $59.99 per month.
Thankfully, Vivint keeps their monitoring simple by only offering two options. One is for basic home security, and the other is for home security + home automation and video. The two Vivint monitoring plans are:
So, you’re probably wondering if you really need monitoring. To that we say remember the age-old question from Philosophy 101: if a tree falls in the forest and nobody is around to hear it, does it make a sound? Well, ask yourself, if your home alarm sounds and nobody is around to hear it, is your home really protected? We think not.
FYI: If you already have a contract with another home security provider, your Vivint sales agent may offer a buyout to cover up to 12 months of that agreement. That’s an offer you probably can’t refuse.
The truth is, the best home security systems are always monitored. If you aren’t around to report a crime, fire, or a carbon monoxide leak, you can count on Vivint for backup. Of course, there are plenty of DIY options out there. But if you have the monthly budget to work with, we usually recommend signing up with 24/7 professional monitoring for total home protection.
If you pay for monitoring with Vivint, you’ll have a 24/7 cellular connection to emergency dispatchers. If a bad guy tries to break in, your security system will call for help automatically. We like this little extra peace of mind. Note that during testing, we found that their average response time is 10 seconds, which is faster than the industry average.1
Unfortunately, this is one of Vivint’s biggest weaknesses. If you don’t purchase your equipment outright, which can amount to $1,000+, then you’ll need to sign a long-term contract with the company. With that said, Vivint does offer no-contract home security if you pay for your equipment upfront.
So if you have the money, we recommend that you bite the bullet and buy your gear. Then it’s yours to own. Honestly, contracts aren’t a deal-breaker for us — especially with a reputable company like Vivint.
Did You Know: If you choose to finance your equipment over time, Vivint’s contract lengths range from 42-months to 60-months, which is 3 ½ to 5 years in total.
After thorough research and testing, we give Vivint a strong overall rating of 9.0 for home protection and automation. They score higher than 9.0 for equipment, features, and technology. Since the intelligent systems are intuitive and simple to operate, we scored Vivint over 9.0 on ease of use as well.
Our lowest Vivint rating, 7.8 stars, is for customer service. We’d consider boosting this score if Vivint offered longer risk-free trials. It’s worth noting that you’ll only have a few days to cancel your contract without penalty. Typically, we like to see 30-day or 60-day money-back guarantees. And this might surprise you — Vivint’s biggest competitor, ADT, offers the industry’s best 6-month guarantee (with fine print, of course).
Since we wanted to find out what actual Vivint customers were saying, we collected ratings from 38 Vivint customers in late 2019 via an online survey. The majority rated Vivint “five stars” in most categories. One-star ratings from a few unhappy campers did drag the averages down.
We found that most Vivint customers indicated that they would “very likely” recommend Vivint to friends, which is great to hear about one of our top-rated home security systems. Still, Vivint isn’t for everyone. One woman commented, “The only improvement I really would like to see is lower prices so that more people can have the service.” Almost all of the Vivint users report a household income of at least $50,000, which seems to be the best financial fit. So if you’re looking for a cheap home security system, Vivint isn’t it (but you get what you pay for with most home security systems)!
All of Vivint’s packages come with the Vivint Smart Hub, which is the brains of the system. The Smart Hub is a 7-inch touchscreen tablet that attaches to your wall (and looks pretty slick!). When you aren’t using the screen for video or smart home control, it doubles as a digital picture frame to display pics of your kids or pups.
With our Smart Hub set up, we were able to view live-streaming video of our Vivint cameras. The picture quality was solid, and we were able to switch between our different devices quite seamlessly.
One of our favorite things about the Smart Hub is the home screen, which displays icons that allow for simple navigation. For instance, there are well-designed icons for “Panic,” “Emergency,” and “Fire.” We could sound the 100dB alarm right from the hub, and even get in touch with police, fire, or EMS. Then, using the built-in microphone and speaker (two-way talk), we could communicate with emergency personnel directly from the Smart Hub.
FYI: Other top brands like SimpliSafe offer a touchscreen control panel, but touchscreen panels are typically sold as a paid upgrade.
As with most security systems we’ve used, the basics are door and window entry sensors and indoor motion sensors (with one exception being Deep Sentinel). In our experience, Vivint’s smart motion sensors are especially intelligent and great for folks with pets, as you can set them to ignore your furry friends and only detect motion from humans. Vivint’s sensors are top-notch.
A doorbell camera protects your entryway and helps to create the illusion that you’re home — even when you’re vacationing in the Bahamas. Vivint’s doorbell camera offers infrared night vision, an impressive 180-degree field of view, two-way talk, and 30-second smart video clips (among other features).
Vivint’s popular Ping Indoor Camera and Outdoor Camera Pro and two very impressive devices. They offer high resolution, 1080p HD and 4K, which we really (really) like. Special features include pan & zoom and two-way audio. By default, the cameras save 20-second clips when triggered by motion. Note that you can also set the cameras for continuous video recording (CVR). Needless to say, these are some of the best (and most expensive) cams we’ve used.
Vivint’s smart door locks allow keyless entry. They can be controlled remotely so that you can lock or unlock a door using your iPhone or Android. Different smart locks work with Vivint, but Vivint emphasizes their partnership with Kwikset keypad locks.2
Smart thermostats make it easy to conserve energy and lower your utility bills. When your Vivint system senses that you’ve left home, the smart thermostat can adjust accordingly. You can also set your temps by voice (flex those vocal cords), using the Vivint app (a swipe of the finger), and the old-fashioned way by turning the dial (you know, for nostalgia’s sake).
We found that Vivint Smart Home works great with Nest thermostats and a smart thermostat called Vivint Element. Thankfully, we were able to control these devices straight from the Vivint app, instead of needing to manage separate apps for different devices. From what we’ve seen, this is where Vivint really shines — in integrating an ecosystem of smart products into one easy-to-use interface.
Not all smart home brands support smart plugs, but with Vivint, you’re in luck. A smart plug is a plug-in adaptor that makes any ordinary outlet, well, “smart.” With a smart plug in place, you can remotely turn on or off any appliance plugged into the outlet. Forget to turn off the iron? Just pop into your Vivint app to find out!
|Smart home Options||Primary Benefit||Type||Technology|
|Doorbell Camera||Advanced Detection & Deterrent||Camera||Intermediate|
|Indoor Camera||Motion Detection||Camera||Intermediate|
|Outdoor Camera||Motion Detection||Camera||Intermediate|
|Smart Locks||Worry-free Control||Automation||Advanced|
|Garage Door Controller||Convenience||Automation||Intermediate|
|Element Thermostat||Convenience & Energy Saver||Automation||Intermediate|
|Voice-Activated Home Automation||Automation||Basic|
Now for a lighting-round on the different home security and smart home devices sold by Vivint. Note that the options we list below are extensive (much like what we see with Ring).
Even still, keep in mind that this selection is just a sampling of the products you can integrate into the Vivint Smart Hub. You’ll recall it’s Z-Wave compatible,3 so the third-party products that work with Vivint are vast and varied. Without further ado, let’s check out Vivint’s offerings.
|Equipment, Packages & Features||Smart Home||Smart Home Video||Equipment Type|
|Remote Secure Video||Not Included||Included||Feature|
|Remote Arm and Disarm||Included||Included||Feature|
|24-7 Continuous Recording||Optional||Optional||Feature|
|Door and Window Sensors||Included (4)||Included (2)||Sensor|
|Motion Sensor||Included (1)||Included (1)||Sensor|
Along with offering uber-smart home security features, we like that Vivint continues to think outside the box. Some of their unique services include Car Guard and Vivint Solar:4
This is another category where Vivint sets itself apart, for better or worse. The company requires professional installation; there is no DIY option. It’s also worth mentioning that Vivint often waives the installation fee. In other cases, it costs $49.99 and up.
Sure, we’d like the option to set up our own Vivint system DIY-style (it really can’t be that hard). But over the years we’ve come to appreciate their white-glove installation service. Vivint sends out highly-trained technicians who are friendly and knowledgeable, and they’ll even show you how to use your new system once it’s up-and-running. You can’t beat that!
In the past, Vivint experienced some customer service woes. In the early years, customers considered their door-to-door sales tactics to be too aggressive and deceptive.6 This resulted in a deluge of poor reviews and complaints against Vivint. However, they’ve improved significantly in this category since those days, as they mainly sign new customers via phone consultation now. So in our eyes, it’s pretty much water under the bridge.
Whenever we called into Vivint, the agents were more than helpful, without a hint of pushiness. But we’ve come to expect this type of service these days, especially with top brands like Frontpoint. Also, through our survey of existing Vivint customers, we found that users are happy with Vivint’s installation service, 24/7 tech support, and emergency call centers. Today, most of the complaints we see about Vivint involve disputes over their contract renewals.
Vivint launched in the late 1990s and grew up with the Internet. From the beginning, Vivint focused on 100% wireless systems for smart home security. Its closest competitor over the years has been ADT, a well-established giant in home security that has traditionally offered hardwired systems. While ADT has made great strides to go wireless, we think Vivint still has an edge when it comes to innovation and technology. Vivint designs its own products, whereas ADT uses third-party products, like control panels from General Electric.
Vivint designs their own equipment to stay one step ahead of competitors — and we must say, they do a pretty good job of it! If you want the latest home automation technologies, and you don’t mind paying for equipment upfront or signing a contract, we think Vivint is hands down the best home security option for you. If you’re a homeowner, it’s a safe bet. But if you rent, we think there are better options out there.
Also, if you’re looking for cheap and basic home protection, Vivint isn’t going to be a good fit. While it covers the basics like intrusion detection, it also does so much more (trust us, you can geek out for days on the smart home automation options). So if you don’t really care to transform your house into the smartest home on the block — and not everyone does — then we’d recommend that you continue exploring other options out there.
Vivint offers a number of different home automation tools and features. This includes garage door controllers, smart locks, video doorbells, and the Element thermostat. You can also link entry door sensors, window sensors, and motion detectors to it.
Vivint offers a number of different camera options. This includes both indoor and outdoor cameras that have motion detection. The company also has a video doorbell.
Yes, Vivint offers an app to manage your system. You can arm and disarm the system from the app. You can also see, in real-time who is outside your door. You can control your home automation, including the Element thermostat, lights, and locks using the Vivint mobile app as well. If you do not have the app, you can access the system online through your PC or tablet.
Yes, Vivint requires that you have a wireless internet connection in order to connect all of your home security system devices.
No, Vivint equipment only works as long as you have Vivint professional monitoring services.
No, you do not have to pay for Vivint’s home security equipment upfront. You can choose to enter into a four to five year contract using the Flex Plan. This plan requires a credit check. If you do not want to be in a long-term contract with Vivint, you can move to a month-to-month contract as long as you purchase the equipment upfront.
Yes, Vivint is compatible with Alexa.
Yes, Vivint is compatible with Google Home.
No, Vivint does not directly work with Ring devices.
Vivint.com. (2016, June 29). Monitored Alarm Systems Decrease Response Time for Emergency Events.
Vivint.com. (2020). Smart Lock (9910) – General Info and Specifications.
Z-Wave. Wikipedia. Retrieved March 4, 2020.
Vivint Solar. (2020). Solar Panel Provider.
CNBC. (2020, March 4). VSLR: Vivint Solar Inc – Stock Price, Quote and News.
Vivint. Retrieved March 4, 2020. Wikipedia.