Vivint Home Security ReviewBy - 04/07/2017
Our Overall Rating
The Bottom Line
Vivint Equipment & Protection
Security and Smart Home Packages
Vivint is a home security company specializing in smart home services. Of course, the services you receive will depend on the package you select.
- Vivint Starter
- Smart Protect
- Smart Control
All three monitoring packages include points usable toward security equipment. In theory, you can get the basic home security devices like motion sensors, smoke detectors, and open/close sensors. You can start with the basics and grow your system with additional equipment as needed, or you can start with a full blown smart home by adding things like cameras, thermostats, door locks, a doorbell camera, garage door controller, and connected smoke detectors. The Smart Control plan includes your choice of one or more smart home services.
|Mobile App Access|
|Special Feature||Vivint Live||Vivint Live||Vivint Live|
|Severe Weather Alerts||Tornado Only||Tornado Only||Tornado Only|
|Equipment Points||5 Points||7 Points||9 Points|
|Smart Home Services|
|Smart Home Equipment||Choice Between 2 Smart Home Devices or 1 Premium Service|
|Tech Support||Lifetime with $49 Service Call||Lifetime with $49 Service Call||Lifetime with $49 Service Call|
|Contract Length||60 Month (48 in AR, WI, CA)||60 Month (48 in AR, WI, CA)||60 Month (48 in AR, WI, CA)|
|Return Period||Right of Rescission Only||Right of Rescission Only||Right of Rescission Only|
|Get Quote||Get Quote||Get Quote|
What is Vivint SkyControl™ Panel?
All of Vivint’s security customers get an LCD touchscreen that acts as an all-in-one home security panel and a home management solution. The device is called the SkyControl. The SkyControl includes battery backup and a direct line of communication to the central monitoring center. The control panel uses cellular communication, which is considered to be the most secure form of communication for home security systems.
Vivint panels also enable Vivint Live. Vivint Live is a service included in all of the monitoring packages. It allows you to communicate through your panel to a security expert. If an alarm is triggered, the central monitoring center will try to reach you. If they can’t reach you, they will listen through the panel for anything that would indicate a problem, like footsteps or cabinets opening. If unusual activity is suspected, they will call for help on your behalf with evidence of probable cause, which will likely speed up police response.
Other Equipment Sold By Vivint + Cost
Adding security equipment to your Vivint package is slightly confusing. As mentioned above, they’ve moved to a point system. But that leaves a fairly big question mark: How much is a point worth?
Vivint has assigned a point value to the basic home security devices.
- SkyControl Panel | Included
- Smoke Detector | 2 points
- Door & Window Sensors | 1 point
- Motion Detector | 1 point
- Key FOB | 1 point
- Yard Sign | Included
Of course, this list doesn’t represent all the devices they sell. You can buy additional pieces of equipment, but additional charges may apply.
- Smoke Detectors
- Door and Window Sensors
- Motion Detectors
- Key Fobs
- Recessed Door Sensors
- Smart Home Devices
- Glass Break Detectors
- Flood/Freeze Sensors
- Carbon Monoxide Sensors
- Tilt Sensors (for a garage door)
- Small Appliance Controllers
- Panic Pendant
Vivint sells everything you need to keep your home safe. The big catch is that most of the time, you must be willing to sign the longest possible agreement to get the best deal. The details will vary from deal-to-deal, but typically their contracts range between 42 and 60 months. Compared to other security companies, 60 is an excessive number. The biggest concern being that it’s Vivint’s policy not to allow returns in the majority of cases. Is a 5-year term worth it? You decide.
Summary of Vivint’s Equipment and Monitoring:
- 24/7 Monitoring for Burglaries and Fire
- Monthly Monitoring Starts at $39.99 per month
- Two-way Audio
- Wireless Technology
- 2012 CSAA Central Station of the Year award winner
- Professional Installation Required
Vivint has multiple home automation options that use Z-Wave communication offered under the Smart Control package. With this package, your smart home can be controlled from your panel, computer, or your mobile phone. They offer small appliance automation, lamp automation, lock, and temperature automation, as well as video surveillance. The system allows homeowners to set rules like those designed to adjust your home to the perfect temperature for sleeping and waking up. You can also set custom notifications. For example, you can get a text when your door unlocks or if a window is opened. If you prefer, you can automate your automation.
Vivint Sky Assistant
Vivint also offers geofencing packaged under the name Sky, an interactive smart home assistant. Using intelligence gathered from your connected sensors and your phone’s location, Sky will make recommendations. For example, if it senses you’ve left the house without locking the doors and arming your security system, it will remind you to do so. If you prefer, you can set it to automatically perform the tasks for you and let you know when they’re done. But what makes Sky extra intelligent is its predictive behavior. Over time, it will learn your preferences and routines: waking up, leaving, sleeping, etc. Once it learns your patterns, it will adapt based on what it thinks you’re going to do. For example, it can predict when you go to bed and automatically adjust the temperature and security settings based on what you normally do. Communication is sent via push notification to the Vivint Smart Home app and also to the Vivint SkyControl panel. In addition, Sky takes voice commands via Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home (more on that later).
Summary of Vivint’s Smart Home Offer:
- Vivint SkyControl
- Lighting-Enabled, Lock, and Temperature Automation
- Video Surveillance
- Remote Control via Smart Devices with Sky Assistant
- iOS, Android, & Blackberry
- Windows phone users can use this
Smart Home Equipment
The Smart Control package includes your choice of one premium or two standard smart home services. The standard services include the Vivint Doorbell Camera, Indoor Camera, Thermostat, Garage Door Controller, and Door Locks/Deadbolt. The Premium offers include the Outdoor Camera (adds another $69 to the installation fee) and Vivint Playback. Of course, you can add more services, but additional charges may apply.
Vivint Ping Camera and Smart Doorbell
Vivint has added two innovative products to their smart home lineup: the Ping Camera and Smart Doorbell. The Vivint Ping Camera was launched at CES 2016, where I went hands-on with the device. The camera is the industry’s first two-way talk camera with one-touch call-out. Keep in mind that this isn’t your ordinary two-way audio camera. Beyond home security, Vivint Ping is also a family communication hub. At the top of the camera sits a button. When pressed, the camera will enable a Skype-like call between whoever is in your home and you – assuming you are connected to the Vivint mobile app.
The camera also includes a 140-degree wide-angle view, live streaming, FHD 1080p resolution, and the ability to set custom alerts and notifications. It can also record video in 20 second Smart Clips with on-demand access through the mobile app.
Vivint’s smart doorbell also falls into the home security camera category. It’s a camera and communication device all rolled into one. It offers a 180-degree field of view, two-way talk, night vision, live streaming, and integration with your Vivint smart lock. It works like this – someone rings your doorbell, you get a notification on your phone, you open up the notification, view who it is, talk to them (if you want), and then you can choose to unlock your door from your phone or not. While I don’t own this specific smart doorbell, I am a smart doorbell owner and fan, and the Vivint smart doorbell has received high accolades from many hands-on reviewers.
Vivint Works With Nest, Amazon Echo, and Google Home
In addition to their own innovative product lineup, Vivint has announced that they will work with Nest and Amazon Echo. I demoed Echo with the Vivint Smart Home at CES and was surprised to learn that you can use the device to voice control locks. While it also does the usual – gives you voice control over your home’s temperature, small appliances, and security system – the ability to lock your door using Echo is unusual.
It CAN NOT unlock your door or disarm your system.
It CAN lock your door and arm your system.
This limitation is for your security.
As of now, Echo is confined to being a reactive device, but Vivint hopes to build real intelligence into the partnership over time.
Vivint also works with Alexa’s arch nemesis, Google Home. Vivint’s Google Home integration is similar to their Alexa integration. It allows you to lock your doors, arm your security system, adjust the thermostat, and control pretty much all of your Vivint devices. But there’s one tiny detail that sets it apart from Amazon’s Alexa: It can understand the context of conversations. For example, you can tell Google Home that it’s nippy, and it will understand that you want to make your home warmer, thus, adjusting your thermostat.
In regard to smart thermostats, Vivint has two options. The first option is their own smart thermostat, Vivint Element. If you want a thermostat that blends into your environment, it’s a great option. If you want something that stands out, Nest is a great option. And adding Nest will also open the door to the Works with Nest program.
Vivint Smart Home For Airbnb Owners
Back at CES 2017, Vivint has rolled out a partnership with Airbnb for hosts in both the U.S. and Canada. The partnership allows you to access your Airbnb account via the Vivint app. Using the app, you can control your smart home devices and enable a better guest experience. Imagine this: Your guest arrives. They ring the Vivint Doorbell Camera, and you use two-way audio to welcome them. They already have a keyless entry code as it was provided to them when they booked online. After they check out, their keyless entry code automatically expires, and you use the app to adjust the temperature to something more eco-friendly while also arming your security system. The only downside? The monthly fee. But for absentee owners, it might be a fee worth paying.
Smart Home Buying Tip: If you aren’t sure if you want to start with home security or with smart home security, we advise you start small and work your way up. Vivint allows you to upgrade your packages and equipment at any time without penalty. Downgrading a package is a different story.
Customer Service & Support
While Vivint excels in technology and automation, they fail when it comes to customer service. They’ve rebranded multiple times, trying to shake their history, but they continue to struggle. In 2011, APX Alarm changed its name to Vivint in an attempt to re-brand. In 2014, they launched Vivint Sky, with a focus on smart home services complete with a proprietary app. In the past, they’ve fallen as low as an F rating from the BBB, but recently, that rating has improved to a C+, to a B+, and now to an A-. Is this the start of something great or mediocracy at best? While I can’t say for sure, my recommendation is to find a company that can provide technology with a smile.
Vivint does provide lifetime support to paying customers. If something goes wrong within the first 6 months of ownership, they will cover you free of charge. After six months, service calls will cost $49. The good news is that it’s $49, never more. The bad news is that not only will you incur a charge, but it also takes time to schedule and meet with an in-home technician. The warranty covers defective parts as well as damage from normal wear-and-tear. If you request a repair that falls into a different category (abuse, neglect, neediness), you will be charged additional fees.
- 24/7 Tech Support (Fee)
- 2013 People’s Choice Stevie Award
- A- Rating with the BBB
- Alerts Caused by Government Action
Vivint Customer Review