Do you have your eye on Vivint smart home security? If so, you’ll be interested to hear about my experience testing Vivint at home for over a week (close to 200 hours!). I pushed the equipment to its limits and can safely say: This isn’t your average home security setup. It’s an end-to-end experience that’s fully customized to suit your home.
But as you might imagine, this premium experience comes at a premium price. Is it worth it? Hint: Yes. With that said, there are some things you’ll want to consider before pulling out your credit card.
Vivint is night-and-day different from any other system I’ve tried. It not only protected my home (entry sensors, cameras, the whole bit), but also helped capture some precious memories. More about that later …
So if you’ve got the budget to work with and want the best technology available, you’ll like what Vivint has to offer. Keep reading to find out if “the Mercedes of home security” is right for you and your family.
Vivint makes no bones about their target demographic. They market to homeowners who value top-shelf products and services, so you can expect white-glove installation and a security system that’s smarter than the competition.
You can also expect to control all of your devices from one central platform. There’s a lot of hype around Vivint’s mobile app and Smart Hub — so it’s exciting to try them out.
And finally, you can expect the Vivint system to be super easy to use. Building on the luxury car analogy: A Mercedes is loaded with great tech, and that tech makes the car easier to drive. You can look for the same standard with Vivint. Their advanced technology won’t complicate things; it’ll actually make everything run smoother.
Did You Know: Vivint has been around since the late ‘90s.1 But the company recently underwent an extensive rebranding, and they’re doubling-down as the top premium home security provider in the industry.
To get set up, just call in to speak to a Vivint representative. They’ll walk you through equipment options and help you choose a monitoring plan. Then it’ll be time to schedule your Vivint installation. I scheduled mine a few days out, but they’ve been known to do same-day installations, too. If you need it fast, go ahead and ask.
Here’s the Vivint gear I ordered and tested:
Most companies send out contractors to do an install, but not so with Vivint. The technician who came to my house was a Vivint employee (Don Benke) who arrived on time, dressed in professional Vivint gear. Here’s a pic.
One thing that might surprise you (in a good way) is the “installation consultation.” Your technician will walk you around your home (inside and outside), showing you sensitive access points … from the burglar’s perspective. This will take about 20 minutes, and it’s definitely something that will instill confidence if you’re new to home security.
Then there’s the cancellation agreement. Now this is critical: Vivint gives you a three-day window to cancel your service and pull the equipment. Most brands on the market give you 30 days to cancel, so that’s something to think about. In many cases, that short cancellation window may not be a big deal. After all, Vivint’s ideal customer wants top-of-the-line equipment and doesn’t mind paying for it, regardless of the commitment.
Once you sign on the dotted line, it’s installation time. Don said the installation would take at least three hours, since I was having one of everything installed. That’s a bit long to have a stranger in the house, but the time flew by.
One word of advice: You should be in a good frame of mind on installation day, because there’s a lot of information to take in. It’s not exactly overwhelming, but you’ll want to have plenty of coffee in your cup!
FYI: Vivint technicians wear little booties over their shoes so that they don’t track anything into your home. This is a nice touch!
One thing you may not love is Vivint’s stick-on sensor design (pictured below). These sensors just don’t have the aesthetic appeal you’d expect from a premium brand like Vivint. That said, you can upgrade to Vivint’s recessed door sensors, which I recommend. They hide in your door frame and are virtually invisible. Pretty neat.
At the end of your installation, your Vivint tech will hand you an electronic tablet and ask you to take a quick survey. Then, you’ll see a short video message from Todd Pedersen, Vivint’s CEO,2 who welcomes you to the Vivint family.
Though you may be itching to wrap things up and start testing your new system, the quick video is worth the watch. It’s a nice way to tie a proverbial bow on the installation. And you certainly don’t get that with DIY security systems.
At its most basic, Vivint will put a hedge of security around your home with entry sensors and any other equipment you choose, like cameras or a video doorbell. When the system is armed and someone opens a door or window, the 100 dB alarm will sound, and a signal will be sent to Vivint’s monitoring center. Rest assured, the siren is LOUD. When mine went off, it even rang through our outdoor camera, which gave the friendly USPS guy a good scare. Hey, it works.
As far as monitoring goes, Vivint requires 24/7 professional monitoring. You can’t “self-monitor” your system even if you want to. Professional monitoring is a good thing in my book, especially since Vivint uses a cellular signal (as opposed to a Wi-Fi or landline connection). Cellular is the fastest and most reliable connection you can get, and Vivint makes our list of Best Cellular Home Security Systems.
The few times I tested the alarm, Vivint responded with a call in about 35 seconds. Not bad, but not great. It’s pretty much what you can expect these days. And the times I accidentally tripped the alarm (it happens!), Vivint gave a 30-second grace period to disarm it before reaching out. I’m not crazy about that delay, as a lot can happen in 30 seconds if a break-in occurs. If I had a choice, I’d rather they call right away, just in case.
Every time your alarm is triggered, Vivint will send an instant notification straight to your smartphone. That way you can open the Vivint app and check out the live video feed of your cameras to assess the threat. Sure, lots of home security companies offer instant alerts, but Vivint takes alerts to another level with all sorts of fancy customizations. (More about those later.) They also send email alerts (pictured below). If you don’t want them, you can unsubscribe.
Think of the Vivint Smart Hub as the brains of the system. It communicates with other Vivint devices around your home, and it has the built-in (uber-loud) siren mentioned earlier.
A lot of people choose to mount the hub in their entryway, with the cord hidden in the wall. (The Vivint installer will do this for you.) But you can also choose to keep yours free-standing, which is what I did. At any rate, it’s a solid hub with a 7-inch touch-screen display and built-in two-way talk. It even has a helpful weather forecast display.
The Smart Hub lets you arm and disarm your system, set custom notifications and rules, view your video cameras, and do almost everything the app can.
One of my favorite features of the Smart Hub is the camera view. It puts all of your camera streams side-by-side for easy access. Viewing video on the Smart Hub is much better than viewing it on your smartphone, because you’re able to pick up more detail and even pinch-and-zoom for the best picture possible.
You’re also able to speak to visitors using the Smart Hub’s two-way talk. That actually came in handy one day when I had special instructions for a delivery driver. Two-way talk is also a great way to scare off would-be intruders. Sure, a lot of security brands offer outdoor cameras with two-way talk and 1080p resolution. But as you’ll soon learn, Vivint’s camera is a step ahead of other top-performing cameras.
Finally, note that the Smart Hub must be plugged into the wall (standard AC outlet), but it is LTE cellular-connected with a 24-hour battery backup for good measure. In other words, your home will remain protected even if your power goes out, or your Wi-Fi isn’t up to snuff.
FYI: On installation day, Don warned me of another home security company that has been active in the area, attempting to sell their products as after-market integrations for Vivint. This is a predatory scam,3 so just be cautious and don’t trust every security salesperson who knocks on your door.
Whether you’re binging Netflix on the couch or away on vacation, you want your smart home security commands at your fingertips. Well, Vivint’s mobile app is an experience, to say the least. It ranks No. 1 on our list of Best Home Security Mobile Apps. Keep in mind, most home security systems come with app-based controls these days. So let’s focus on what sets Vivint’s app apart.
First off, the app has a sleek, modern feel. It’s clear that a lot of thought (and money) went into building it. It certainly isn’t clunky like some other home security apps I’ve used. Learning the app only takes a few minutes, and everything loads lighting-fast.
Swipe much? If so, you’ll catch on quick. Landing on the dashboard, you have the option of swiping left to arm in “Staying” mode, or swiping right to arm in “Leaving” mode.
The main difference here is that “Staying” lets you move about your home without tripping your motion sensors or indoor cameras, while “Leaving” arms everything so that not even a mouse can scurry about unnoticed. (Ok, it’s not that sensitive, but you get the point.)
The moment your alarm goes off, you should be notified right away. (Is that too much to ask?) Thankfully, most home security systems offer instant mobile alerts. But Vivint allows you to customize them. This is a big plus, as it helps you stay two steps ahead of burglars and thieves.
You can really fine-tune the notifications in the app’s “Device Settings” drop-down. Here’s a snapshot of what you can expect. And note that this is only half the list!
FYI: Vivint’s outdoor security cameras aren’t cheap. If you really want to secure your perimeter, expect to pay a pretty penny.
Here’s what those notifications look like on a smartphone. Remember, I opted for push notification alerts, but you can get these by SMT/text message and email as well.
The question is … how much of this will you really use? It’s true that you might see diminishing returns if you’re not into tech. Though Vivint is among the best home automation security systems, that doesn’t really matter if you’re not interested in building a smart home. So if you think advanced features are going to be wasted, you might want to check out a more straightforward system like SimpliSafe. Though SimpliSafe is DIY, their products and professional monitoring are top-notch. Read my in-depth SimpliSafe review here.
This is where Vivint’s intelligence really starts to shine. While it’s nice to be notified when, say, you leave your garage door open at night, it’s even better if Vivint automatically closes it for you at a predetermined time.
So one custom action (or “rule”) that I set went like this: “I want my garage door to close when a person is detected by any of my cameras.” Other custom actions that I set were:
As you can see, you can get ultra-specific if you want. Vivint certainly brings the customizations to the table, more than any other brand. The next best options for custom alerts and rules are offered by Frontpoint Security (read my Frontpoint review to learn more).
My favorite feature of Vivint is probably their security cameras. We’ll talk about them more here, but if you want to deep-dive into these devices, see my hands-on analysis of Vivint cameras.
Vivint’s indoor security camera, the Ping Camera, offers two-way talk, night vision, and other helpful features. It feels extremely well made and comes with a swivel mount (pictured above).
However, you won’t be crazy about the resolution on this camera. Vivint calls it 1080p HD (which it is), but in my experience, the image quality seemed more like something you’d get from a 720p HD camera, like the SimpliCam. No biggie, but it’s something to note. Here’s a picture from the camera.
That said, one great thing about the Ping camera is its One-Touch Callout. You’ll find a little button on the top of the device. Press it once and it’ll make a fancy chiming sound and send a smartphone alert. I used it once to call my wife, who was out grocery shopping, and she was able to hear me clearly through the camera’s speaker and microphone. This could be a great feature for parents with kids. There’s no fiddling with technology; one touch is all it takes to reach out.
The Outdoor Camera Pro is Vivint’s best product. Don was able to install this camera to cover the driveway, and it integrated seamlessly into my smart security system. How so? Well, whenever it sensed someone in the driveway or front lawn, it immediately began recording a clip and sent an alert to my smartphone. Day or night, it keeps you covered.
Here’s a short video taken by my Outdoor Camera Pro so you can see what to expect. (You don’t have to buy flowers for your wife, but it doesn’t hurt!)
The outdoor camera is hardwired, which is where professional installation really starts to make sense. It uses a Wi-Fi connection with a PoE Wi-Fi Bridge. The PoE is one of the best connection types in the industry. It’s fast and reliable.4 And since it’s hardwired, you don’t have to worry about replacing batteries. Have a look at Don and his giant drill.
Again, this device was a natural fit in my Vivint system. The image resolution is impressive with its 4K sensor with HDR for ultra crisp and clear video. The Outdoor Pro also has a built-in siren for active deterrence. Anytime the siren goes off on the Smart Hub, it’ll also sound from the camera. This is something Vivint calls Smart Sentry, and it’s great. Rest assured, it’s loud enough to leave your neighbors down the street wondering what’s going on!
While using Vivint, I welcomed some family from out of town. As their car pulled up, the push notification read: “Person Detected – Driveway.” Now, don’t let the person detection feature fool you; it sadly does not have artificial intelligence facial recognition like the Nest Cam IQ. (Read about that cool technology in our Nest Cam review.) However, it can tell the difference between people and, say, pets or other moving objects. At any rate, I was able to greet the family using the camera’s two-way talk — which is a rare feature in outdoor cameras.
At the bottom of the app (pictured above), you’ll see an “Events” tab. There, you’ll be able to pull up a running history of all video events or activities that occurred. You can also capture and save photos with the little photo icon. Finally, press the “Locks” icon and it’ll take you to the main dashboard to quickly arm your system.
Needless to say, there’s plenty of functionality with this outdoor camera. And that’s a good thing! It’s not the cheapest product in Vivint’s lineup. Expect to pay $399 for this camera. As far as outdoor cameras go, this is on the expensive side. Would I buy it again? Most likely. It also works great alongside the Vivint Doorbell Camera Pro. And that’s the genius of Vivint … every component acts as an integral piece of the larger puzzle.
As you’ll see above, the video doorbell sports a pretty slim profile with a modern black-and-white design. Anytime someone comes to the door, it will trigger an instant notification to your smartphone. This way you can open the app and view the activity in real time.
The motion detection works well … maybe too well. After the Video Doorbell Pro picked up a jogger on the street, I lowered the sensitivity from high to medium. (Bonus points if you can spot the jogger in the image below.)
You’re also able to reset the virtual “trip wire” on the camera. Once I stretched the trip wire’s perimeter to the very edge of the lawn (but no further!), I had no problems at all with false alerts. Here’s a sample video from the doorbell camera.
Thankfully, I had no package thefts or break-ins while testing Vivint. Here’s a picture (below) from the Vivint Doorbell Camera Pro as we said goodbye to our out-of-state visitors.
If you’re just looking for a camera system, there are stand-alone cameras on the market that are much more affordable. (Check out our guide to the best home security cameras.) But you should remember that Vivint cameras are naturally designed to integrate with the service’s broader smart home security system.
So if you do choose to go with Vivint, it’s definitely worth going all in with the Outdoor Camera Pro and the Doorbell Camera Pro. (Read our full Vivint Doorbell Camera review.) You can probably pass on the indoor Ping camera, though.
FYI: Looking for reliable entryway protection to keep porch pirates at bay? Head over to our full analysis of the Vivint Doorbell Camera.
Vivint has the smart home category dialed-in. If you want to use your voice to arm and disarm your system, or perform any number of specific commands, then you’ll be glad to know it works with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.
Plus, there are smart devices for purchase directly through Vivint. These include the Element smart thermostat, smart lock, smart plug, and plenty of smart environmental sensors like smoke detectors and flood sensors.
Finally, Vivint also works with Z-Wave and Zigbee devices, which means if you want to really transform your house into a smart home, your options are almost limitless. In fact, more so than any other system on the market, Vivint over-delivers when it comes to home automation.
Pro Tip: Pick up a Vivint glass-break sensor for an extra layer of protection — particularly if you have lots of windows in your home. These nifty devices can detect the high-frequency sound of glass breaking, and they’ll trigger the alarm which will (hopefully) make the bad guys tuck tail and run.
Beyond uber-smart home security features, Vivint thinks outside the box with unique services like Car Guard and Vivint Solar.
Car Guard adds wireless security to … you guessed it … your car. It lets you know if someone tampers with your vehicle or dings your door. Plus, you can enable GPS tracking. On installation day, Don actually had one stashed in his gear bag. Have a look at this nifty little device.
Then you’ve got Vivint Solar. This combines Vivint solar panels with Mercedes-Benz batteries. (See, the Mercedes analogy was spot-on.) And believe it or not, Vivint Solar is one of the biggest solar brands in the U.S. — currently available in 21 states.5 Now, we’re getting a bit away from home security, so let’s rein it in and quickly touch on Vivint equipment pricing and monthly fees.
I purchased a starter kit for $599 and added on extras like the Vivint Doorbell Camera Pro ($249), the Ping Indoor Camera ($199), and the Outdoor Camera Pro ($399). All told, it was well over $1,000. That said, my equipment was pretty extensive. You should be able to get a great Vivint equipment package for somewhere in the range of $800-$1,000. They’ll customize the system to fit your specific home, and you can always add to the system over time. Have a look at Vivint’s latest plans and pricing.
Did You Know: You can finance Vivint’s equipment and pay in monthly installments over time. If you go this route, you will have to sign a contract of (typically) one to five years.
The only other cost you’re on the hook for is monitoring. Vivint’s monitoring prices start at $29.99 per month, which is competitive compared to other providers. For instance, if you want home automation with ADT monitoring, you’ll be spending $50-$60 per month. Note, however, that the more Vivint cameras you include, the higher the monitoring fee goes until you hit $59.99 per month.
Vivint keeps it simple here. They offer three monitoring plans starting at $29.99 per month and ranging up to $45 or more depending on how many cameras you have installed. It’s worth the extra $10-$15 per month to get video support, so if it makes sense in your budget, you’d be wise to consider the Smart Control plan.
|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|
Compared to other top professionally installed home security systems, Vivint’s monthly subscription fees are quite reasonable. If anything is cost-prohibitive, it’s the equipment, not the monthly monitoring. But remember, you don’t have to purchase the whole setup on day one. You can finance Vivint and spread your payments out over time.
Unfortunately, Vivint contracts are the company’s biggest drawback. If you don’t purchase your equipment outright, then you’ll need to sign a contract. If you buy the equipment up front, though, you’re off the hook. So if you have the money, it’s probably worth it to bite the bullet and buy your gear.
Once you’re signed up, Vivint will send you all of your paperwork in one email for your records.
As you know, the mark of any successful company is identifying a need in the market and then filling it with a high-quality product or service. Well, the folks at Vivint saw a need for premium end-to-end home security, and they were quick to create a solution.
There’s a lot to like about Vivint. Of course, comparing them to affordable DIY systems like SimpliSafe or Ring Alarm is like comparing apples to oranges. It’s a whole different experience. But you’ll love how smart and intuitive the Vivint system is. A lot of security companies claim to integrate everything into “one easy-to-use platform.” And some of them do. Vivint just does it better. It has a more intuitive feel, better features and tech, and equipment that’s built to last.
Now, that doesn’t mean it’s for everyone. For some people, it’s downright cost-prohibitive. But for those who have the money to spend, an initial investment of $600-$1,000 followed by monthly payments of $50 really aren’t that much when it comes to protecting your home and keeping your family safe.
Yes, Vivint has lots of home automation equipment, like garage door controllers, smart locks, video doorbells, and the Element thermostat. Vivint also integrates with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, as well as Z-Wave and Zigbee devices.
Yes, Vivint has a number of different camera options, including the Indoor Ping Camera, the Outdoor Camera Pro, and the Doorbell Camera Pro.
No, you do not have to pay for Vivint’s home security equipment up front. You can finance it over time by signing a Flex Plan contract of one to five years. If you choose to buy the equipment up front, no contract is required.
Yes, Vivint offers a lifetime equipment warranty (conditions apply). This is the best warranty in the industry.
It sure is! But professional installation is required, so you won’t have to worry about that.
Vivint. Retrieved September 25, 2020.
Bloomberg. January 7, 2020. Vivint CEO Todd Pedersen Interview. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/videos/2020-01-08/vivint-ceo-todd-pedersen-interview-01-07-20-video
Federal Trade Commission (FTC). (2020). Some Home Security Systems May Be Scams.
What is Power Over Ethernet (PoE)? Veracity Global.
Vivint Solar. (2020). Crunchbase.
Rob is a professional writer and editor with an expertise in all things home security and home automation. Rob currently resides in the Reno/Tahoe area, however, he has spent thousands of hours researching and testing home security systems in a variety of environments and geographies, giving him the unique perspective that there is no “one size fits all” solution in technology. Rob holds a Master’s of Science and is a former Producer in the USAToday network in NY. When he’s not demystifying the latest home security and smart home tech, you’ll find Rob playing chess or hanging with his family. Learn more about Rob here