Vivint Home Security Review 2019
This isn’t our first go-round with Vivint—we’ve reviewed it before. And we’ve always thought of Vivint as the champagne of home security systems. Sure, it has beautiful equipment and some cool technology, but the long contract and high bill every month might make you think twice about the splurge.
Lately, though, Vivint has introduced some flexible monitoring and financing options that make its feature-packed security systems more accessible. And if you compare it to the ADT, Vivint is downright affordable.
Vivint SmartHome monitoring and pricing
Vivint’s monitoring plans let you stick to basic security or opt for total smart-home support.
Vivint’s monitoring plans basically let you choose what level of service you want.
If you like Vivint equipment, but you don’t care if your thermostat knows when you come home every day, then Vivint has a plan for you.
On the flip side, if you want security cameras on every eave and never want to touch a light switch again, you can do that, too.
|Plan||Smart Security||Smart Home||Smart Home Video|
|Mobile app access?||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Home automation support?||No||Yes||Yes|
|Security camera support?||No||No||Yes|
|Contract length||0–60 mos.||0–60 mos.||0–60 mos.|
|Details||Get a Quote||Get a Quote||Get a Quote|
You’ll definitely pay more for a Vivint monitoring plan than you would through a DIY company like SimpliSafe or Cove. But, honestly, compared to the other traditional security providers out there, Vivint’s monitoring prices are pretty mid-range.
If you want access to all the cool smart-home gadgets that integrate with the Vivint system, then you’re gonna need the Smart Home or Smart Home Video plan.
But good news for your wallet: even if you go the minimalist route and stick with the Smart Security plan, you still get the same Vivint equipment and access to the mobile app.
Vivint’s contract terms go up to five years. We know, we know, we’re scared of commitment too, and that’s a long time. But we have to give it to Vivint: it doesn’t make you sign a contract.
Most traditional security providers make you commit to around three years. But with Vivint, as long as you pay for all your equipment up-front, you can go contract-free if you want to.
Don’t get too excited about your contract-free life just yet, though. Keep in mind that the up-front equipment bill is going to be a lot of money. Even if you get a super basic system— just a panel and a few sensors—you’ll be looking at over 500 bucks.
Vivint SmartHome technology and equipment
Vivint designs its own equipment and is usually among the first to come out with cool new features we all want to try.
Don’t get us wrong; the third-party stuff is still good. It just means you can get it from anywhere.
Vivint’s one of the few security companies that designs its own equipment in house. (Frontpoint’s another one.)
Vivint’s been one of the first (if not the first) to come out with some of our favorite security features, like putting an outbound call function in its Ping camera so your kids can call you from the camera to let you know they got home from school safely.
Basic security equipment
Vivint has all the standard stuff you need to keep your house safe from intruders, floods, fires, or even wayward toddlers.
Vivint SmartHome basic security equipment
- Door sensors
- Motion sensors
- Glass break sensors
- Smoke detectors
- Carbon monoxide (CO) detectors
- Water sensors
We wish we could give you prices for those baseline devices, but Vivint doesn’t put its prices . . . anywhere.
If you want to know how much your system’s going to cost, you’ll have to call in for a quote and, even then, you might not know the final price until your installation day. But plan on spending at least $550 for a base-level equipment package (or financing that cost over the length of a contract).
|Model||Ping indoor camera||Outdoor Pro camera||Doorbell camera|
|Field of vision||155º||140º||180º|
|4K image sensor?||No||Yes||No|
|Infrared night vision?||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Storage||Vivint SmartDrive*||Vivint SmartDrive*||Vivint SmartDrive*|
|Details||Get a Quote||Get a Quote||Get a Quote|
* Sold as a separate device
Vivint Outdoor Pro camera
Vivint’s new Outdoor Pro cam is its most impressive model yet. Similar to the Nest IQ Outdoor, the Outdoor Pro gives you a super clear HD view of whatever you point it at, and its 4K image sensor lets you zoom in really close on images and still see everything clearly.
That’s a lot of cameras and, normally, that many would slow down your internet connection. But Vivint’s Smart Hub control panel streamlines the bandwidth the cameras use so you can have more cams with less slowdown.
The Outdoor Pro also has “lurker detection” where it can alert you if it sees someone it doesn’t recognize. Plus, it has a “siren extender,” so if someone trips your security system, the camera will help sound the alarm and alert your neighbors.
Vivint Ping indoor camera
We didn’t even know we needed the Ping camera until it came out. If you have a nine-year-old who’s too young for a smartphone but old enough to stay home alone for a bit, then the Ping’s callout feature makes up for that landline you’ve never had.
Your kid just pushes a button on top of the camera and the Ping will call you through the Vivint app, so you can talk to your kid and also see what damage they’ve done to the living room.
Vivint SmartHome doorbell camera
We don’t know about you, but we love a good doorbell camera. Greet visitors without leaving the couch, skip the door-to-door salesmen, and tell the delivery guy to put your Amazon package on the side of the house—doorbell cameras let you do it all.
Vivint’s doorbell camera has (almost) OG status. It offered a doorbell camera before a lot of other traditional security companies hopped on the doorbell train. And Vivint’s model is still pretty good, although we’d like to see a resolution upgrade from 720p to 1080p.
Ah yeah, it’s Jetsons time. Okay, not quite yet—we still don’t have a robot maid. (We know, Roomba, you’re doing your best.) But automatons aside, Vivint makes it super easy to automate just about anything in your house.
Your system’s control panel uses Z-Wave, which is a radio frequency that lots of home automation devices pair up with. So along with the smart locks, smart outlets, and smart thermostats that Vivint sells itself, you can also add in a slew of third-party Z-Wave devices.
Vivint’s mobile app lets you do everything your control panel does but from anywhere. You can be sipping mojitos in the Bahamas and still see your camera livestreams and unlock your front door for the dogsitter.
If you’ve ever wished you could keep an extra set of eyes on your car—especially if you have a teenager who drives it—then Vivint’s new car monitoring device is a gift.
You can get Car Guard as an add-on to your Vivint system, or you can get it as a standalone device with a monthly subscription. Either way, you get a bunch of anti-theft, anti-vandalism, and anti-teenager features.
Car Guard features:
- Bump, tow, and theft alerts. (The device knows if the car just got bumped or if someone broke in and hotwired it.)
- Location tracking and geo-fencing (so you know if your teen driver goes out of bounds).
- Speed alerts (so you know if your teen is trying to relive The Fast and the Furious).
- Integration with your Vivint home security app and system (so you can set your lights and cameras to turn on if someone sets off your Car Guard).
- Car diagnostics (so you know when to take your car in for maintenance).
The Car Guard device itself costs about $200. If you want it as a standalone thing, you just have to pay $10 per month for access to alerts and the app.
All of Vivint’s equipment is professionally installed. So you will have to work with an installation tech who will come to your house and set everything up for you.
There are some downsides to professional installation. You almost always have to pay an installation fee (usually around $100), plus it takes up a pretty big chunk of time out of your day. But at least you know everything’s set up correctly right from the get-go.
Part of the technician’s job is to upsell you on equipment, so make sure you know how much you’ll end up paying before you sign on the dotted line.
Vivint SmartHome customer service experience
Vivint’s had some customer service complaints on the record, but at least it keeps its support staff in house.
Vivint’s had some struggles with customer service experience. (Note that BBB rating.1) Most of the complaints we’ve seen have been around salespeople, specifically the door-to-door ones. Some customers have been left not understanding their contracts or what exactly they signed up for.
If you want a Vivint system, we recommend calling in over signing with a door-to-door rep. Just make sure you understand how much you’re paying and what kind of contract you’re signing (if any).
In-house customer service
We will say this for Vivint’s customer service—it’s done by actual Vivint staff.
That seems like it should be a given, but a lot of security companies outsource their customer service centers, so the person you’re talking to doesn’t even work for the security company.
Everyone at Vivint—from the installation techs to the customer service reps to the monitoring staff—actually do work for Vivint, which should makes things a bit more cohesive.
Vivint has excellent equipment, and its current plans include more affordable monitoring options than Vivint’s ever had before.
Vivint is still a relatively “fancy” security system. It’s professionally installed, and its plan prices are still more than what you’d pay for Abode or SimpliSafe. But as far as traditional security companies go, Vivint is a solid choice for full home security and home automation.
- Basic security equipment: Unlike a lot of competitors, Vivint designs its own security equipment and offers a full range of security and environmental sensors.
- Cameras: Vivint has some really cool security cameras. Its Outdoor Pro camera is on par with the Nest Cam IQ Outdoor, and its indoor camera was the first to let you (or, more likely, your kids) make outgoing calls.
- Home automation integrations: Vivint equipment uses Z-Wave and lets you integrate with basically any smart home device on the market.
- Installation: Currently, Vivint offers only professionally installed systems.
- Monitoring and pricing: Vivint’s monitoring plans are pretty average as far as pricing goes, and you can add up to six security cameras to its video plan. (The price goes up by $5 per month per camera.)
- Customer service experience: Vivint’s had a slew of customer service complaints, but most of them have had to do with door-to-door salespeople. We recommend skipping the sales pitch and just calling in. We like that Vivint keeps its support staff in house.
Want to see some other options?
Don’t think Vivint sounds like your thing? Check out our reviews of these other home security systems.
1. Better Business Bureau, “Vivint Smart Home”