Vivint Home Security Review 2021
In spring of 2021, Vivint settled a $20 million lawsuit for continued deceptive customer service practices. As part of the court order, Vivint needs to instate an employee monitoring program to avoid similar problems in the future. Read the court order here.
We're disappointed that Vivint has been so lax with its salespeople behavior. In the meantime, if you still wish to buy a Vivint system, we strongly recommend calling on the phone instead of dealing with the door-to-door sales.
Vivint has top-notch smart home equipment and a no-contract option. It also has top-tier prices and a sometimes questionable customer service reputation. But overall, if you’re looking for the smartest system possible, we think it’s worth it to say yes to Vivint.
To get the most accurate review possible, we tested a Vivint system that includes all cameras, a Smart Drive, a flood sensor, a lamp module, and Car Guard.
|Company||Monitoring price range||Contract||Smart home integrations||Learn more|
|$29.99–$44.99/mo.||None or 60 mos.|
Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Z-Wave
Data effective 09/03/2021. Offers subject to change.
Vivint pricing, contracts, and fees
Vivint costs add up quickly
Vivint home security monitoring service starts at about $30 a month. If you want smart home integration (which we recommend), you’ll pay $40. And if you want video, you’ll pay a starting price of $45 a month. Oh, and for every camera you add to your system after the first one, it’s an extra $5 every month.
If you reach the six-camera maximum, that pushes you up to almost $70, which is more than ADT’s most expensive plan. And ADT’s no slouch when it comes to prices.
That’s not even counting the equipment costs, which typically start at around $599. We’ll dive more into the equipment a little later.
|Plan||Price||Smart home support||Security camera support||Learn more|
|Smart Home Video||$44.99/mo.|
Data effective 09/03/2021. Offers subject to change.
Happily, Vivint is one of the only professionally installed systems that doesn’t require a contract.
To our understanding, when you go the non-contract route with Vivint, you can cancel at any time, with no fees or penalties. The cancellation requires 30 days to take effect, so you’ll likely have one final bill to pay after you’ve formally canceled. But altogether, it seems like a relatively painless process.
However! You can only get the non-contract option if you pay for all of your equipment at the start. That means you’re looking at shelling out $600+ right off the bat.
If you can’t afford that, you must take a loan through Vivint and repay it over a five-year contract (in addition to the cost of your monthly monitoring fees). And yes, that’s two years longer than the average industry contract, which is a pain.
Five years is a long time, and you might need to cancel your contract. Last we heard, Vivint takes 100% of your remaining equipment and monitoring costs as a cancellation fee, unless you have extenuating circumstances.
Read How Much Does Vivint Cost? to get a fuller financial picture.
Vivint has a lot of unique smart home equipment
Most home security companies focus on, well, home security. In contrast, Vivint excels at smart home products.
That doesn’t mean that its security system is bad. We’ve used it for about six weeks, and we think it’s a perfectly good system. But to get the best use of Vivint, you need to go for a full-on smart home setup. So if smart home functionality doesn’t matter to you, a Vivint alarm isn’t your best fit.
Vivint also stands out because it makes the majority of its own equipment. Systems like ADT and local providers buy devices from third-party manufacturers. There’s nothing wrong with that, but when you’re paying sky-high prices for security, it’s nice to get something special.
Let’s take a look at Vivint’s equipment roster.
- Vivint Smart Panel (control panel)
- Door sensor
- Security sensor
- Motion detector
- Flood sensor
- Freeze sensor
- Glass break detector
- Smoke detector
- Indoor camera
- Outdoor camera
- Doorbell camera
- Vivint Smart Drive
- Smart lock
- Smart garage door opener
- Smart thermostat
- Smart plug
- Lamp module
- Vivint Car Guard
Vivint tends to offer customized packages, but their basic offering typically includes the control panel, two door sensors, a flood sensor, and a motion detector.
We cover the Vivint cameras pretty thoroughly in our Vivint cameras review, so we won’t get too deep into that here. But we did want to call out that Vivint has all three camera staples: an indoor, outdoor, and doorbell camera.
|Features||Vivint Indoor Camera (previously Indoor Ping)||Vivint Outdoor Camera Pro||Vivint Doorbell Camera Pro|
|Field of vision||155º||140º||180º|
|4K image sensor|
|Outbound call function|
|Learn more||View Plans||View Plans||View Plans|
Data effective 09/03/2021. Offers subject to change.
Spoiler alert: the Vivint Doorbell Camera Pro is our favorite Vivint camera. It has people and package detection, a super-wide field of view, and a feature for protecting your mail from porch pirates. Vivint also just barely started selling the doorbell as a standalone device, so you don’t have to get a full Vivint system to use it.
You can also use the feature for another area on your property you especially want to monitor, like a pond or outbuilding.
Vivint Smart Drive
If you’re thinking of getting a Vivint camera or two, it’s worth considering the Vivint Smart Drive.
The smart drive is basically a DVR for your cameras. It allows you to store security footage longer, which is helpful. But the real virtue is the continuous recording.
That’s right! With the Smart Drive, your cameras will record all the time, not just when a motion event sets them off. That way, the cameras won’t accidentally miss something (which, sadly, happens with even the best security camera brands).
As far as we can tell, even when you have the Smart Drive, you have to pay the monthly per-camera fee. So the drive won’t save you any money, especially since you have to pay for it along with your other equipment, but it’s still useful.
Vivint Car Guard
We’re crazy about the Vivint Car Guard! Seriously, this is probably our favorite thing from Vivint.
Once we installed the Car Guard in Marco, our test Honda, the device gave us the following info:
- Notifications any time the Honda left a location
- Notifications when the Honda was disturbed
- Information about recalls for the Honda’s parts
- Information about maintenance needs
- Battery level reports
- Fuel level reports
- Vehicle trip history
Basically, any time anything happened with the vehicle, we immediately knew.
We loved the security we felt in knowing that if the car got damaged or stolen, we’d, one, immediately be notified and, two, be able to track its location. Not to mention the convenient maintenance info!
Vivint home automation
In addition to its proprietary smart home devices, Vivint has quite a bit of compatibility
Vivint works with both Alexa and Google.
With Alexa, you need to download two different skills to get full command of the smart home and security system, whereas Google requires just one integration with the system.
In both cases, though, you’ll have to practice specific wording to get the systems to do what you want. And note that while you can arm your Vivint system with voice control, you can’t disarm it without physically entering your code.
Vivint also works with most Z-Wave devices, which allows it to connect to some of the leading smart home brands.
While we’d also love to see some IFTTT or Zigbee compatibility, you’ll be able to get most smart home functionality with Vivint’s existing connectivity.
The Vivint app (once known as the Vivint Sky app) comes with every level of professional Vivint monitoring. With the app, you can arm and disarm your system, turn your smart devices on and off, look at your camera feeds, and check on your car (if you have Car Guard).
You can also use the app to set up smart home chains, similar to the ones you create with IFTTT. For instance, you can create a setting so that when your car arrives at your home address, the lights turn on and the door unlocks. This is the kind of functionality that sets Vivint Smart Home apart compared to other security offerings.
Vivint is installed by professionals
You won’t have to use a screwdriver or wire a camera to get Vivint in your home. But you will have to set aside a good amount of time.
Vivint offers consultations with a professional who will decide what equipment you need and where. We didn’t follow the usual consultation process, but to our understanding, the consultation and installation are done separately.
We did go through the typical installation process. Vivint told us our tech would arrive somewhere between 8 a.m. and noon. After the tech arrived, installation took another four-ish hours.
Luckily, the tech showed up close to the beginning of the window. If he’d arrived on the noonish side of things, the installation process would have eaten up a whole workday. That’s not great news if you have an inflexible schedule!
Overall, the installation process went pretty smoothly. The technician took most of our concerns into account when placing the equipment. But he was adamant about installing the outdoor camera in a location where we already had cameras instead of placing it in an area without camera coverage we’d picked out. And while he may have had a good reason for that, he didn’t clearly explain it.
Vivint customer experience
Vivint’s had a lot of ups and downs over the years
Vivint’s had something of a rocky reputation for a while.
When customers have good experiences with Vivint, they seem to be extremely good. But when they have bad experiences . . . let’s just say the pendulum swings severely in the opposite direction.
As discussed in this Vivint review, the alarm system is very smart and relatively easy to use, and users love that. But Vivint suffers from repeated complaints about the following:
- Deceptive sales tactics, such as inaccurate initial estimates or misrepresentations of Vivint’s contract terms
- Contract confusion, such as contracts being renewed without the user’s express permission
Vivint has taken considerable strides in improving its reputation, and we commend the company for that. But we still see complaints about these issues more often than we would like to.
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 does work for Vivint, which should make things a bit more cohesive.
If you went with a company like ADT, it’s really hard to tell who the person you’re talking to works for or who’s doing your installation. (Most of the time, it’s not ADT itself.)
Recap: Is Vivint good?
Vivint is good most of the time
There’s a reason Vivint is one of our top-recommended systems.
While it costs a lot and has some work to do to improve its customers’ buying experience, it has excellent equipment and smart home compatibility.
Pricing: Vivint’s proprietary equipment, monitoring, and smart home functionality all add up to quite a bit. To get the best value for your dollar, you need to be all in with a full security and smart home setup.
Equipment: Vivint has some of the best equipment on the market. The proprietary products and their smart functions are what make Vivint a top system.
Home automation: Vivint offers tons of smart home devices, and it integrates with even more.
Installation: A Vivint representative will install your system for you.
Customer experience: Vivint’s reputation with customers is a little bumpy due to some questionable past events, but it’s slowly improving itself.
If you’re still not sure about Vivint, check out our best home security systems.
Is your house ready for Vivint?
Smart homes can’t be smart without internet and mobile phone access. To enjoy Vivint’s security and smart home products, you’ll need both.
Recommended internet plans
We don’t recommend Vivint for anyone with a slow internet connection. If you’re interested in Vivint but your Wi-Fi’s on the struggle bus, consider upgrading your package.
|Xfinity Internet - West||Blast! Pro Plus||$74.99*||400 Mbps||View Plans|
|Verizon Fios Home Internet||Internet 400/400||$64.99/mo.†||400 Mbps||View Plans|
|AT&T Fiber||AT&T Internet 1000||$60/mo.‡||940 Mbps||View Plan|
Recommended mobile plans
To get the most from a Vivint system, you’ll want a reliable phone with a reliable phone plan. We think unlimited data is the way to go with a smart security system, and we have some suggestions if you don’t have an unlimited plan.
Get answers to your lingering Vivint questions.
Can I get Vivint Solar with my Vivint Smart Home system?
Our understanding is that you can have Vivint Solar, and you can have Vivint Smart Home. But they’re separate entities, so you can’t get them bundled together.
In short, if you were hoping for a smart home system with solar attached, sorry. You’ll have to reach out directly to Vivint Solar if you want to power your smart home with energy from the sun.
Will my Vivint equipment work without paying monthly fees?
You won’t be able to reuse your Vivint equipment with another security service. And if you choose to stop subscribing to Vivint services, you won’t be able to use the equipment on its own either. Our research suggests that includes the proprietary smart devices, not just the alarm stuff.
Yeah, you paid for that equipment, so it’s a shame that it won’t work independently. But that’s typically how it rolls with these services.
There’s an exception, though. Vivint sells and installs some devices from other companies, like Kwikset smart locks, Nest thermostats, and Philips Hue smart bulbs. That equipment will work fine on its own without Vivint services. You’ll just have to use their branded apps, not the Vivint app.
What’s the benefit of professional monitoring?
Using the Vivint home security system monitoring service makes monitoring oh-so-easy. Vivint monitoring specialists will contact the authorities for you when an intruder breaks in or your smoke alarm goes off.
Professional monitoring doesn’t cross into the smart home realm, though. If you leave your door lock unlocked or a water sensor picks up on flooding, Vivint won’t respond to that. That’s your job.
Which home security system is the best?
The Vivint security system is at the top of our list because of its super-smartness. It’s not the cheapest, but it’s one of the best, if not the very best.
You can watch this video to learn more about how Vivint compares to other systems.