Modern home security entails much more than a few door sensors and a basic control panel. Home automation—from turning on certain lights when you’re away at night to chatting with a home assistant (think Google Home or Amazon Alexa)—is integrated with more and more home security systems. Link Interactive and Vivint are two companies that integrate home automation with home security particularly well, each with a wide variety of options and robust apps to advance not only convenience but safety as well.
Below we’ll compare the benefits and drawbacks of Link Interactive and Vivint to help you choose the right home security company to bring your home into the 21st century.
Before we get into the details, here’s a quick glance at some of the main differences between the two companies:
- Link Interactive has a historically better customer service reputation than Vivint, but Vivint has recently made changes to address customer concerns.
- Vivint has month-to-month options when you pay for equipment up front, meaning you’ll pay a significant amount in the beginning. Alternatively, you can finance your equipment when you sign a 42- or 60-month contract, meaning you’ll pay for your equipment gradually over the next few years.
- Link Interactive’s standard contract is 36 months, but it also has 12- and 24-month options for higher monthly costs.
- Link Interactive’s installation is DIY; Vivint requires professional installation.
Why customer service matters
Aside from the quality and scope of its equipment, Link Interactive consistently makes our top five list in large part because of its stellar customer service. Its no-pressure sales tactics, pricing transparency, and helpful phone support make the company stand out from its competitors and has earned it an A+ rating with the BBB.
Vivint’s customer service has been a bit more patchy over the years, but recent updates to its pricing structure may help address some of these concerns. In the past, customers have complained of pushy sales tactics, both over the phone and with the installers, and frustrating cancellation policies. We’ll get into more details about its new pricing structure in the next section, but, essentially, it now provides opportunities to pay only on a month-to-month basis when you pay for all your equipment up front.
A home security system is a significant investment, and with so many interacting features and devices, it’s inevitable that something will go wrong at some point. That’s why fast, friendly service is one of the first things we look for in home security companies—without it, your system won’t be as useful. With most systems, you’re also locked into a one- to three-year contract, meaning you’ll have to deal with a single company for quite a while. A pleasant and hassle-free customer service experience will minimize the stress that comes with system malfunctions or break-ins.
Vivint has uniquely flexible contracts
Link Interactive offers 36-month contracts, which is fairly standard in the home security industry. It also has shorter 12- and 24-month options, but with higher upfront and monthly monitoring costs. Most people go for the 36-month option, so any monthly prices you see referenced here are for that standard contract option.
Vivint recently overhauled the way it does contracts in order to offer more flexibility for its customers, and it now offers two pricing structures: paying for equipment upfront or financing equipment throughout your contract. If you pay for all your equipment up front you will only be held to a month-to-month contract. This means that each month, you pay only the monthly monitoring fee and you can cancel at any time. If you choose to finance your equipment, the cost will be added to your monthly monitoring cost and distributed over a 42- or 60-month contract.
These financing options are 0% APR, so you won’t pay more in the long run, it’ll just take you longer. If you have a little extra cash one month you can pay more than your monthly minimum, reducing your future monthly payments. Vivint’s plans are flexible, but only as long as you can afford to pay for all your equipment up front.
Installation: DIY vs. professional
Installation is one of the biggest differences between these two companies. Link Interactive’s installation is 100% DIY, while Vivint requires a professional. Neither charges installation fees (with the exception of Vivint’s outdoor security camera, which has a $99 installation fee, and the Vivint doorbell camera, which has a $29 installation fee).
*Update: Vivint no longer offers free installation. The installation fee is now $49.99.
DIY installation may sound daunting, but many Link Interactive customers say it is easier than expected. Link Interactive also provides extensive installation guides for you to peek at ahead of time and reference throughout the process. Just select your preferred control panel to get started.
A full professional Vivint installation should take about two to three hours. In that time the technician will also show you where all the equipment has been installed and how to use it. If you have any problems after that, you can contact Vivint’s customer service for more help.
Both Link Interactive and Vivint have 24/7 cellular monitoring, which means the system connects to the central monitoring station through cellular signals, like the ones your mobile phone uses. Traditional home security systems are connected by landlines or broadband, which is a problem when the phone lines or the internet goes down or if a potential burglar cuts your phone line.
À la carte equipment packages or award-winning designs
Link Interactive doesn’t have preset equipment packages—they’re all custom-built according to your needs, so you don’t have to pay for anything you don’t want. There’s a $99 equipment charge, but it can be credited toward your equipment purchase.
Vivint designs all of its own equipment and has won numerous awards for these designs in terms of both what the equipment looks like and what it can do. Vivint requires every new customer to purchase a starter kit equipment package for $599, regardless of which of the two plans they choose. This package includes the same pieces of equipment:
- 1 touch screen Vivint SkyControl panel
- Door/window sensors (4 for Smart Home, 2 for Smart Home Video)
- 1 motion sensor
- Professional installation
Choose a monitoring plan to meet your needs
Even though Link Interactive’s equipment is à la carte, you will need to select a package according to the level of monitoring you want. The Standard plan covers traditional 24/7 monitoring and environmental sensors (from motion to carbon monoxide). If you want app control and home automation, you’ll need the Gold plan. If you want video monitoring, you’ll need to upgrade to the Elite plan. The number and variety of devices you get is entirely up to you, but you’ll need to get the appropriate monitoring plan to support the equipment you choose.
You can add whatever devices you’d like to Vivint’s basic equipment package, but as with Link Interactive, you’ll need to choose the appropriate monitoring plan. Both plans include mobile app control, sensors, and home automation capabilities, but the Smart Home Video plan is required for any kind of video monitoring. Again, the cost of any equipment can be financed with a 42- or 60-month contract.
|Monitoring plan||Standard||Gold||Elite||Smart Home||Smart Home Video|
|Basic equipment fee||$99*||$99*||$99*||$599||$599|
|Basic equipment fee|
|Standard||Gold||Elite||Smart Home||Smart Home Video|
*Can be credited toward the cost of equipment
Warranties: Longer return policy or longer equipment guarantee?
When it comes to warranty policies, there’s some give and take between these two companies.
Link Interactive has a 30-day money-back guarantee and a three-year manufacturer warranty on your equipment—so your gear is guaranteed to last at least as long as your contract. Vivint, on the other hand, has only a three-day money-back guarantee, but a lifetime equipment warranty (as long as you’re a paying customer). Three days isn’t much time to figure out whether a system’s going to work for you, so if you’re unsure about getting a home security system, Link Interactive will give you more time to test the waters.
We recommend Link Interactive
Link Interactive and Vivint offer comparable home security and automation equipment and both have reliable 24/7 cellular monitoring. Their installation methods—DIY for Link Interactive and professional for Vivint—are a matter of preference for the individual customer. Vivint, though more expensive overall, is a great option if you want the latest tech, and it has more flexible financing options. The company’s new policies may help improve the customer experience in time, but for now it’s too early to tell. Link Interactive has a legacy of excellent customer service, from early shopping to the end of the contract, and for this reason, it’s our pick of the two.
What’s been your customer service experience with either Link Interactive or Vivint? Do Vivint’s recent changes make you more likely to go to that company for your home security?