Vivint Home Security Review 2019

Vivint combines well-designed security equipment with price flexibility and full home automation support.
vivint smarthome logo
Overall Rating 4.5 out of 5
Top-notch equipment
Full home automation options
Confusing equipment pricing

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 plans and pricing overview
CompanyMonitoring price rangeContractHome automation integrationsLearn more
Vivint SmartHome$29.99–$44.99/mo.0–60 mos.YesGet a Quote

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.

Vivint SmartHome monitoring plans
PlanSmart SecuritySmart HomeSmart Home Video
Price$29.99/mo.$39.99/mo.$44.99/mo.
Mobile app access?YesYesYes
Home automation support?NoYesYes
Security camera support?NoNoYes
Contract length0–60 mos.0–60 mos.0–60 mos.
DetailsGet a QuoteGet a QuoteGet 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.

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Top feature
We really like that Vivint still gives you access to the mobile app on its lowest-level plan. App access should be an automatic thing, but some companies make you subscribe to higher-level plans before they’ll give it to you. (Lookin’ at you, ADT.)

Contracts

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.

Most traditional security providers use the same equipment. Whether you go with Link Interactive, Protect America, or even ADT, you’re gonna get just about the same third-party stuff.

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 control panel

Source: Vivint

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 security equipment

Source: Vivint

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).

Cameras

Vivint has indoor and outdoor camera models (plus a doorbell camera), so you’re pretty much covered if “surveillance fortress chic” is what you’re going for.

Vivint SmartHome camera specs
ModelPing indoor camera Outdoor Pro cameraDoorbell camera
Inside/outsideInsideOutsideOutside
Resolution1080p1080p720p
Field of vision155º140º180º
4K image sensor?NoYesNo
Person detection?NoYesYes
Lurker detection?NoYesNo
Two-way talk?YesYesYes
Siren?NoYesNo
Infrared night vision?YesYesYes
StorageVivint SmartDrive*Vivint SmartDrive*Vivint SmartDrive*
DetailsGet a QuoteGet a QuoteGet a Quote

* Sold as a separate device

Vivint Outdoor Pro camera

Vivint Outdoor Camera Pro

Source: Vivint

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.

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Pro tip
Vivint lets you add up to six cameras with its Smart Home Video monitoring plan for an extra $5 per month per camera.

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

Vivint Ping Indoor Camera

Source: Vivint

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.

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FYI
The Ping was the first indoor cam to have the callout feature, but now you can get something similar from other providers, like Link Interactive and Frontpoint.

Vivint SmartHome doorbell camera

Vivint SmartHome doorbell camera

Source: Vivint

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.

Home automation

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.

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Remember
If you want smart home functionality with your Vivint system, you have to subscribe to at least the Smart Home monitoring plan.

Mobile app

Vivint mobile app

Source: Vivint

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.

Car Guard

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.

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What if I want more than one Car Guard?
Then you just pay an extra $5 per month for each additional device. Vivint also lets you finance the device if you can’t pay $200 all at once.

Installation

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.

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Heads up
You can add or remove equipment from your system on installation day, and you’ll work with the technician to come up with the final cost for the tech and monitoring plan.

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.

Recap

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.

Sources

1. Better Business Bureau, “Vivint Smart Home

  • Terry H

    What a horrible experience with this company. My uncle has this system. He has been unable to use the 24 hour recording feature of this system since it was installed in July 2016. They have sent out someone to work on it 3 times. Each times they said it works great but he had his life threatened and called cops to show them the video and there’s no video. There’s no way it ever worked because I fixed it today in 5 minutes. The smart drive was plugged into the wrong piece of equipment. After talking to support he finds out that he is down for a 42 month contact instead 24. He was offered a credit of $15 after talking to numerous people. After over an hour on the phone he was refunded more money he is still stuff with the contract he did not agree too.