Vivint Home Security ReviewBy - 11/11/2017
Our Overall Rating
The Bottom Line
Vivint Equipment & Protection
Smart Home and Video Monitoring Packages
Vivint is a home security company specializing in smart home services. They differ from other security companies in that they sell home security using a model similar to cellular service providers like Verizon and AT&T. Based on user reviews, they no longer bundle the cost of service and equipment together. Instead, they’ve separated the two and created an option to finance equipment or pre-pay. Currently, they have two baseline plans:
- Smart Home Monitoring
- Smart Home Video Monitoring
|Monthly Fee for Service||$39.99||$49.99|
|Equipment Minimum||$9.17/month+||$549.99+ Upfront||$9.17/month+||$549.99+ Upfront|
|Contract Length||42 or 60 Months||Month-to-Month||42 or 60 Months||Month-to-Month|
|Mobile App Access|
|Severe Weather Alerts||Tornado Only||Tornado Only|
|Smart Lights and Other Smart Home Services|
|Security Camera Features|
|Touchscreen||Vivint SkyControl Panel Included||Vivint SkyControl Panel Included||Vivint SkyControl Panel Included||Vivint SkyControl Panel Included|
|Door/Window Sensors||2 Included||2 Included||4 Included||4 Included|
|Motion Sensor||1 Included||1 Included||1 Included||1 Included|
|Tech Support||Lifetime with $49 Service Call||Lifetime with $49 Service Call||Lifetime with $49 Service Call||Lifetime with $49 Service Call|
|Return Period||3 Days||3 Days||3 Days||3 Days|
|Get Quote||Get Quote||Get Quote||Get Quote|
Vivint Equipment Cost
As you can see in the chart above, Vivint has two plans, but four payment options. Regardless of the monitoring plan you choose, you can decide to pay for all of your equipment upfront, or you can pay for it monthly.
Vivint Flex Pay provides you the option of financing your Vivint equipment purchase via Citizens Bank using a 0% APR installment loan. You can choose to finance for 42 months or 60, but your choice will affect your contract length.
Under the new model, all customers are required to purchase the $549.99 basic equipment package. If you finance the equipment for 60 months, your payment will be $9.17 monthly. If you prefer a 42-month agreement, your monthly fee will be around $13.00 per month. This price includes all of the equipment mentioned in the chart above: a touchscreen, a motion sensor, and door sensors. If you prefer a month-to-month agreement, you will need to pay the cost of the equipment upfront. You can even choose to finance part of your purchase and pay cash for the rest. The downside is that if you choose to finance any part of your equipment, you will be bound by your pre-selected contract length, even if you pay the equipment off early.
If you want to add additional equipment, you can again either finance or prepay for each device a la carte. While Vivint isn’t forthcoming with pricing, we’ve gathered these estimates over the years:
- Smoke Detectors: $120.00
- Door and Window Sensors: $60.00
- Motion Detectors: $120.00
- Key Fobs: $60.00
- Recessed Door Sensors: $60.00
- Other Smart Home Devices
- Glass Break Detectors: $120.00
- Flood/Freeze Sensors: $120.00
- Carbon Monoxide Sensors: $120.00
- Tilt Sensors (for a garage door): $60.00
- Panic Pendant: $60.00
- Small Appliance Controllers: Cost Unknown
What is Vivint SkyControl™ Panel?
One piece of equipment you won’t need to buy is the Vivint SkyControl™ Panel. All of Vivint’s security customers will get one of these multifunctional LCD touchscreens that act as both all-in-one home security panels and home management solutions. 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. It also communicates wirelessly with all of your connected devices.
Vivint panels also enable Vivint Live. Vivint Live is a service included in both monitoring packages. The service allows you to communicate through your panel with 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.
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
- Option to Lease Equipment
Home Automation Overview
Vivint has multiple home automation options that use Z-Wave communication offered through both Smart Home Monitoring and Smart Home Video Monitoring. Assuming you have the right equipment, you can control your smart home using your panel, computer, or your mobile phone. They offer small appliance, lamp, lock, and temperature automation. Vivint 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. Finally, you can add security camera surveillance and live video clips. This feature, however, is only available through the Smart Home Video Monitoring plan.
Vivint Sky Assistant
Vivint 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 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
Your initial package will not include smart home equipment, which you’ll need to automate your home. Just like home security equipment, smart home equipment can be purchased or leased (42 or 60 months). Thankfully, Vivint sells everything you need to automate including innovative self-branded home automation products and third-party products.
Vivint Works With Nest, Amazon Alexa, Google Home, and Philips Hue
In addition to their own innovative product lineup, Vivint works with third-party devices.
Alexa and Google Assistant
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.
You can use most Alexa-enabled devices with your Vivint system including Echo, Dot, Spot, Show, and Plus.
Vivint also works with Alexa’s arch nemesis, Google Assitant. Vivint’s Google integration is similar to their Alexa integration. Via Google Home, Google Home Mini, or Google Max, you can lock your doors, arm your security system, adjust the thermostat, and control pretty much all of your Vivint devices.
If you want a smart thermostat, 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 the Nest Learning Thermostat or even Nest E will also open the door to the Works with Nest program.
Finally, Vivint works with Philips Hue. You can control your Hue lights via your control panel, mobile app, or even using your voice through Alexa or Google Assistant.
Hue lights can also be added to scenes. For example, at night you can arm your system, adjust your Nest Thermostat, and turn off your Hue lights using one command. You can even create schedules to make it look like you’re home when you’re not.
Vivint Ping Camera, and Smart Doorbell
Those who are subscribed to Vivint’s Smart Home Video Monitoring plan will have access to video surveillance features including access to 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 ($199) 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 whether or not to unlock your door from your phone. While I don’t own this specific smart doorbell, I do own a different smart doorbell and I am a fan. The Vivint smart doorbell has received high accolades from many hands-on reviewers.
Other Outdoor and Indoor Cameras and Vivint Smart Drive
Vivint also sells three additional home security cameras. All three cameras allow you to view a live feed and saved clips, even when you’re away from home. Video Clips are stored remotely and can be accessed using the mobile app or your computer.
First, they sell an indoor Pan and Tilt Camera which can connect over WiFi or Ethernet. The camera allows users to mechanically swivel the camera for a wider look at things. It has a pan/tilt range of +45 to -45 pan, +22 to -35 tilt. What’s interesting about this ability is that you can save preset positions. For example, you can save a view called “front door.” If your Vivint sensor detects activity at your front door, you can quickly access a view of your front door with one click.
Finally, they sell a Fixed Lens Camera (indoor) and an Outdoor Security Camera ($299.99). Neither camera can pan or tilt but they can do everything else the Pan and Tilt Camera can do. They can both be set to record when motion is detected by your motion sensor or if you scheduled to record during set times.
Vivint Smart Home For Airbnb Owners
Back at CES 2017, Vivint 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 rebrand. In 2014, they launched Vivint Sky, with a focus on smart home services complete with a proprietary app. And now, they are trying their hand at month-to-month contracts. In the past, they’ve fallen as low as an F rating from the BBB. Over the years we’ve seen that rating rise from a C+, to a B+, before falling to B, and then to its current level, a C-. Vivint’s reputation is anything but stable.
That said, Vivint recently (October, 2017) received a higher customer satisfaction score from J.D. Power than Guardian Protection Services, AT&T (Digital Life), and MONI. Also, they provide lifetime support to paying customers. If something goes wrong within the first six months of ownership, Vivint 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.
Finally, if you plan to move after purchasing a Vivint home security system, you might be okay. If you move to an area where Vivint provides service and you’ve been a customer for over a year and you sign a new agreement with the same terms as your original agreement, you can move for free. Otherwise, Vivint charges a $99 reinstallation fee.
- 24/7 Tech Support (Fee)
- 2013 People’s Choice Stevie Award
- C- Rating with the BBB
- Alerts Caused by Government Action
Vivint Customer Review
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