We did a mid-year review of all the top home security systems, including new package and equipment offerings, price changes, updated or discontinued features, and the latest customer service reviews.
Vivint remains in our top three thanks to its impressive smart home integration and flexible approach to contracts and equipment purchasing options. Find out what's new with Vivint in our review below.
Vivint is a slam dunk for people looking to protect their home and enjoy the latest smart home tech. No other security company does a better job of marrying the convenience of smart home automation with the reassurance of 24/7 professional monitoring.
Plus, if you can afford to buy your equipment up front, you don’t have to worry about getting stuck in a long contract. But Vivint’s equipment is on the pricey side, and every system requires professional installation.
Data effective 09/13/2019. Offers and availability subject to change.
À la carte customization
Abundant smart home offerings
Portable, wireless equipment
Month-to-month contract option
High-end, proprietary equipment
Expensive up-front cost
Lingering customer service woes
Limited integration with third-party smart home devices
Vivint’s going to cost you more—that’s a fact. But you get what you pay for, and Vivint is one of the only home security companies that does security the way they think it should be done.
Instead of offering the same white-label equipment and cookie-cutter app that many other companies do, Vivint has made its own. This is a big reason why we think the company’s higher prices are worth it. And the addition of a no-contract option for professional monitoring shows insight and adaptability to the demands of home security customers.
Payment and Contract Options
Vivint offers two payment options. You can choose Vivint Flex Pay and finance the cost of equipment (which will be on top of your monthly monitoring fee), or you can pay for your equipment up front and pick up monitoring on a month-to-month basis. If you go the contract route, you’re looking at a commitment of 42 or 60 months (that’s five years!).
If you pick the no-contract option, the up-front equipment cost can run you upwards of $1,000 to outfit your home with the basics. That’s a lot of sticker shock, especially when you look at DIY security companies like SimpliSafe that offer basic equipment packages starting under $300.
Vivint isn’t going to be a cheap home security option, and we think that’s okay. It’s more of a luxury brand, along with ADT, that offers you a different home security experience—it’s perfect if you have a larger home or want complete customization.
For homes with multiple points of entry or busy households with lots of people going in and out the extra security proved by smart locks and alerts made a lot of sense. Not to mention the energy savings from a smart thermostat that helps compensate for doors with a never ending stream of traffic that sucks the life out of climate control systems.
Vivint Tech and Equipment
Rather than employing a third-party distributor, Vivint designs most of its own equipment. All devices function using Z-Wave and are wireless (including cameras and smart thermostats), which makes the equipment transportable.
Equipment That Moves with You
That means you can take your Vivint Smart Home equipment with you if you move. Or you can reconfigure your sensors without leaving giant craters in the walls. Not all home security systems that are as comprehensive and high-tech as Vivint are that easy to move—with ADT you usually have to leave all of your equipment behind and start over if you change your address. And because you own your Vivint equipment, you only pay for it once, which makes a big difference over the lifetime of your security system.
Vivint home security is 100% cellular, which is one of the most effective and secure connections for any security system. But without a Wi-Fi or landline backup (like Protect America or SimpliSafe), the cellular connection limits availability if you live in a rural area or somewhere else with little to no cell service.
Another caveat is the company’s insistence on professional installation. This ensures that your system is set up properly, but if you prefer a DIY solution like Frontpoint, this might make Vivint a less appealing option.
Vivint Smart Home Equipment
Vivint Ping Indoor Camera
Automatic Door Lock
Door and Window Sensor
Vivint Sky Control Panel
Vivint Element Thermostat
Vivint Tech and Equipment Standouts
SkyControl Panel and NEW! Smart Home Panel
On the whole, Vivint’s control panel offeringsare more advanced and user-friendly than what you find from other home security companies.
For years, Vivint has been a standout with its innovative Vivint SkyControl Panelthat was the first to offer built-in two-way voice communication. And now Vivint is making smart home and security history again with its new Smart Home Panel that will act as a smart home hub and can support up to six security cameras.
The coolest part is that Vivint has solved the problem of multiple cameras bogging down your home Wi-Fi connection. Because security cameras use Wi-Fi to stream live video, the more cameras you have, the slower your Wi-Fi gets. But the new Vivint Smart Home Panel has technology that lets you set up all the cameras you need to keep an eye on your home without eating up all your bandwidth.
Vivint is currently phasing out the SkyControl Panel and will soon be offering the Smart Home Panel exclusively.
Sky Mobile App
The Vivint Sky app is an easy way to keep tabs on your home 24/7 no matter where you are. You can check the live video feed from your home’s security cameras or remotely arm and disarm the alarm system from your phone. The app is comparable to the navigation you’ll find on the control panel, which makes flip-flopping between the two a bit easier. Plus, you get a live feed of all video cameras in your home.
We’ve said it before (and now we’re going to say it again!)—but you won’t find a security system with more smarts than Vivint. From security cameras and smart thermostats to automatic door locks, Vivint has a variety of home automation devices to choose from. Proprietary products (which make up the bulk of Vivint’s offerings) like the Ping Camera come with upgraded features like two-way voice and motion-sensing capabilities.
Vivint Smart Home Keeps Households Connected
For busy families, Vivint’s smart home capabilities can do everything from increasing face time after school (thanks to Vivint’s interactive smart cameras), to cutting down on wasted electricity with a smart thermostat that can be programmed to routines or adjusted remotely via the Vivint Sky app.
No matter how busy you are, Vivint’s forward-thinking smart home tech gives you the ability to manage (and protect) your home from anywhere and at any time. Because Vivint has integrated smart home with home security, all the different pieces work together—without having to buy different devices from a multitude of companies (and crossing your fingers that they’ll work together).
Here’s a rundown of the smart home perks that make Vivint stand out in the field of home security and home automation.
Watch and listen from anywhere. Vivint’s Ping Indoor Camera and the Vivint Doorbell Camera both use motion detection, two-way communication, night vision, and instant alerts to keep you in the know both inside and outside your home.
Keep things locked up tight. With smart locks, you can control access to your home even if you’re across town (or at the beach). Whether you have kids coming home after school or need to let in the pet sitter, you can skip making copies of keys thanks to easy keyless entry.
Save money and cut down on waste. The Element Smart Thermostat can help you save money every month. The thermostat learns your habits and adapts to your needs. If you usually turn up the heat before settling in to binge on your latest Netflix obsession, this thermostat might click on before you can grab a blankie.
Never leave the garage door open again. Vivint’s Garage Door Controller lets you know if you drove away without putting the door down—and you don’t have to turn around to go home and close it. You can use remote control to close the garage door from the gym, the grocery store, or your office.
Vivint Smart Home Compatibility
Surprisingly, Vivint has limited compatibility with third-party brands, but they make up for it with their full suite of proprietary smart home products.
The downside is if you’ve already started down the smart home path you might be disappointed to find out you need to buy duplicate items because the Vivint system isn’t compatible with what you’ve already got.
On a broad scale, Vivint is currently compatible with only Google Nest and Amazon Echo.
Smart Home Feature
Smart Home Hub
Amazon Alexa, Google Home
Vivint Element Smart Thermostat
Amazon Alexa, Google Home
Vivint Sky Control Panel Smart Home Panel
Amazon Alexa, Google Home, Nest
Vivint Smart Locks Vivint Doorbell Camera
Amazon Alexa, Google Home
Vivint Customer Service
This used to be one of Vivint’s weaker points. The company got off to a bumpy start when it first hit the home security scene, but it’s made big strides in this area over the past few years.
Vivint told us that customer feedback is a top priority and the company works hard to implement recommended changes. Those efforts seem to be paying off in accolades and higher ratings from both third-party sources and Vivint customers.
J.D. Power 2018 ranking: third highest for customer satisfaction¹
Trustpilot rating: 4 stars out of 5, Great
Vivint Smart Home app on Google Play: 4.6 stars out of 5
Vivint Smart Home app on Apple App Store: 4.6 stars out of 5
*Ratings as of August 2019
It’s nice to see customers rating their satisfaction higher, but Vivint doesn’t have a lot of customer-first policies. It doesn’t offer a trial period, and although you can get out of a long contract if you buy your equipment outright, Vivint’s contract terms are strict.
Unlike most other home security companies that require a 36-month contract, Vivint’s contracts range from 42 to 60 months—that’s five years. And its pricing is confusing. Vivint advertises a starting monthly monitoring fee of $29.99, but the fine print says there’s a required minimum service contract of $49.99 per month. It looks like the lowest monitoring price is only for those who purchase equipment up front.
It’s confusing information like this that leads to people feeling misled and can result in the type of customer dissatisfaction that’s hounded Vivint over the years.
We hope you want professional installation, because it’s your only choice with Vivint Smart Home. But we think that’s a good thing, especially when you’re dealing with this level of home security technology and smart home integration.
We like that you get to see exactly what’s happening, and the added perk of a personal training session on how to operate your new home security system is a valuable bonus.
The biggest downside of pro installation is the time commitment—and if you work full time that could mean using up precious PTO hours. Vivint doesn’t have the best track record for quick installs, either. Depending on where you live, you could wait up to a week to get your system installed. That’s a long time for people who are eager to have their home and property protected after a break-in or buying a new house.
Another drawback is the installation fee. Vivint’s installation fees run from $49 up to $199. That isn’t the steepest in the industry, but it’s still an extra cost you have to plan for.
Vivint’s In-Home Security Consultation
As part of its top-tier offerings, Vivint is one of just a few companies that provides a complimentary security consultation. A Vivint security technician conducts an assessment that identifies security risks and offers solutions. The consultation ensures you have all the equipment you need to protect your home. And it makes sure that equipment (like window, door, and motion sensors) is installed in the right location to maximize your home’s security.
The assessment takes place in tandem with your professional installation. The plus side is that you can add equipment you overlooked or eliminate extras you don’t really need. But the biggest drawback is that this opportunity for positive customer interaction can come across as salesy, which makes it hard for some customers to trust the recommendations.
Other Home Security Options
If you’re still wondering if Vivint is the right choice to protect your home, here are some more options to consider. We can help you dig deeper into how Vivint compares to other top security brands—we already pitted them against one another.
No—unlike many of its competitors, Vivint does not have a money-back guarantee. To find out more, visit our page devoted to FAQs about Vivint.
Does Vivint have an equipment warranty?
Yes. Vivint has a 120-day warranty for its proprietary equipment, which includes its smoke detector, doorbell camera, motion detector, and outdoor camera. But Vivint will repair or replace equipment after the warranty period for a service charge (around $45).
And you can elect a Premium Service Plan, which extends the warranty for as long as you’re using Vivint to protect your home. If you purchase a third-party device that works with your Vivint system (like a Google Nest thermostat), the brand’s warranty will apply.
Does Vivint have an activation fee?
There isn’t an activation fee, but you will be charged an installation fee that ranges from $49 to $199.
Does Vivint have cloud storage?
Yes—it’s called Vivint Smart Drive. This convenient service, once known as Space Monkey, provides secure storage much like an external hard drive. It allows you to stream and seamlessly upload all security camera clips with little to no effort. So you can forget about losing any important security recordings or even family photos once a device has kicked the bucket.
Is Vivint’s mobile app easy to use?
Yes. According to customer reviews, the Vivint smart home app is very user friendly and offers an intuitive feel. Both iOS and Android users rate the app high, which isn’t always the case.
Is Vivint’s tech compatible with Nest or Amazon Echo?
Yes. Vivint is compatible with both Nest and Amazon Echo products.
Do Vivint’s home security plans come with yard signs?
Yes. But be aware that the sign is smaller than Vivint’s competitors’ signage. We recommend using a solar or battery-powered light to keep the sign visible at night as well as during the day.
Does Vivint have a smart garage door opener?
Yes. This is another security feature you can tack onto your alarm monitoring plan. Smart garage door openers can increase your home’s value and safeguard your valuables from thieves.
Can I control lights remotely with Vivint?
Yes—again, one of the company’s strongest selling points is the home automation capabilities.
Can I cancel my plan at any time?
If you choose to pay Vivint up front for the entire cost of your equipment, you’re automatically eligible for Vivint’s month-to-month contract and professional alarm monitoring. With this plan, you can cancel at any point in time. But if you don’t buy the equipment outright, you’re locked into a contract that could last up to five years.
Is Vivint also a solar energy company?
Yes. Vivint is the second-largest solar installer in the US. The company is committed to offering energy-saving solutions to homeowners through both solar energy and smart home options.
Vivint lets you take the wheel when it comes to putting together the right security system for your needs. Everything is 100% customizable, and you won’t find a smarter home security solution. But Vivint’s high-end equipment comes at a price and requires the expertise of professional installers.
Thankfully, the company has brought its monthly monitoring fees in line with industry standards, so you’re not going to pay much more for 24/7 protection from Vivint. Even so, DIYers and budget-constrained folks may want to look elsewhere for the right home security solution.
Rebecca has honed her safety and security skills as both a single mom and a college director. Being responsible for the well-being of others helped her learn how to minimize risk and create safe environments. Learn more