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ByDanika Miller Writer

Danika Miller has been writing about the home security and home automation industries for Reviews.com since 2017.

Vivint Smart Home Security Systems Review

Vivint’s focus on home automation and customer experience make it a stand-out option for smart home security. With doorbell cameras, smart thermostats, garage openers, and more, Vivint allows you to build a smart home with the best of today’s technology, increasing your home’s safety and convenience at the same time.

These perks led Vivint to being named the top home security company in 2017 according to J.D. Power’s annual rankings. In the 2018 report, however, Vivint fell to third place. There are a few good reasons for Vivint’s downslide. Between pricey equipment, standard monthly monitoring rates, and long contracts, Vivint is not a bargain. Signing up requires a big commitment on your part no matter which Vivint option you take: Sign the five-year contract to pay for equipment over time, or shell out upfront for the devices, then pay for service month-to-month. It’s also worth noting that Vivint only offers a three-day trial on its product. If you’re not sure about which equipment you want out of your home monitoring system, you may want to look for a provider with a longer trial.

That said, ranking third out of an entire industry is nothing to sneeze at. Vivint offers a lot of value for smart home security customers and that’s reflected in its current customer satisfaction score from J.D. Power, which bests both the industry average and legacy players like ADT.

Vivint’s Claim

Vivint is known for pairing home security with advanced automation technology — it’s called Vivint Smart Home not Vivint Home Security. Vivint claims to “create simple, affordable smart home solutions.”

Is it true?

Yes. In our review of the best home security systems, we installed a slew of home security systems in our homes for eight months to experience the purchasing process, installation, and ease of use. Vivint nailed nearly every metric. Every piece of equipment, from the control panel to the doorbell camera, is intuitive, thanks to modern touchscreens and simple designs. We knew exactly how to use the system from the moment of unboxing.

Pros

✔ Customer experience
✔ App control
✔ Fully integrated smart home
✔ Free in-home consultation

Cons

✘ Short trial period; long contracts
✘ No online ordering

Vivint Smart Home Security Plans

  Smart Security Smart Home Smart Home Video
Price* $30 per month $40 per month $45 per month
Best For Low-tech home security A smart home equipped home sans cameras Total smart home automation
Professional monitoring
Mobile app access
Smart home support
Security camera support

*Plus equipment financing if paying for equipment over contract term

Vivint Overview

Advantages

Customer experience

In J.D. Power’s 2018 customer satisfaction evaluation of home security brands, Vivint came in third, behind only Brinks and AT&T. With four out of five Power Circles, Vivint stands well ahead of the industry average and scored a full circle more than ADT. This kind of ranking is a strong indicator of the positive experience you can expect as a Vivint customer. In J.D. Power’s press release about the award, it stated, “Vivint Smart Home performs well in high importance attributes: effectiveness of securing my home; ease of using the system; timeliness of resolving problem, question or request; and clarity of information provided for customer service.”

The high J.D. Power score dovetails with our experience with Vivint. When our tester had a Vivint system installed in his home, the technician came prepared with protective shoe covers and borrowed the vacuum to clean any mess after he was finished. He even noticed an extra camera our tester didn’t need and removed it from the bill.

All that said, customers complaints lodged against Vivint with the Better Business Bureau show further sides to the story. Most home security companies amass their fair share of customer gripes, and many boil down to consumers either being coerced into committing to an expensive, long-term system or simply failing to understand the terms of the contract they signed. Making sure you are fully informed about the fine print will go a long way toward ensuring your Vivint customer experience is a positive one.

App control

Beyond the standard smart home security app abilities — arm and disarm your system from anywhere, monitor camera footage, mess with the thermostat — Vivint’s app has some unique features. Each user in the household can create their own account, with limited permissions and personal notifications. And you can create sophisticated commands, like setting your doors to auto-lock at a specific time each night — no more wondering if you’ve forgotten to lock up as your head hits the pillow.

Fully integrated smart home

Vivint's list of integration options is pretty endless. Anything with Z-Wave support protocol can be integrated into the system, and that includes Amazon Alexa and Google Nest devices and controls. Z-Wave is the wireless language in which devices communicate; the majority of the third-party smart tech market uses it. Going a step further than the other security systems that offer Z-wave compatibility, Vivint sells many Z-wave smart devices of its own.

Free in-home consultation

Vivint’s experts can help evaluate what your home will need either on the phone or in person. The Vivint Smart Home Pros help you customize a system that fits your home and lifestyle. It’s hard to know the right equipment to pick, and having Vivint technicians weigh in before you make a purchase could save you from leaving blind spots in your security or overspending on devices you don’t need. When our tester had a consultation with Vivint’s installation technician, he advised removing a motion sensor from the order because a doorbell camera covered the area.

Drawbacks

Short trial period; long contracts

Unlike its competitors, Vivint doesn’t offer a 30-day trial period: You have just three days after installation to decide if the system suits you and your home. Contrasted with the five-year contract, that’s a pretty short timeframe to confirm a long-term investment. While you can opt for a month-to-month contract instead, you’ll have to purchase your equipment upfront (upwards of $300 to $600), so it’s a big decision either way. The stakes are raised a bit more by the fee Vivint charges if you want to move your system — $99 per move. You can get out of the fee if you renew your contract. But that’s not a savvy trade-off unless you were planning on keeping your Vivint system anyway — you’re locked in for another five years of payments. If you’re planning to move, or don’t have the budget for a large upfront investment, Vivint may not be the company for you.

No online ordering

Comparing prices and packages can be difficult with Vivint, as the company not only doesn’t publish pricing information online, but also won’t talk specifics over the phone unless you supply the specifics of your residence (address, security needs, devices wanted) for a custom quote. Unlike other providers, Vivint doesn’t allow you to construct your package and toy with the total by building it in an online cart. It’s difficult to gather the information you need, particularly if you’re shopping around with multiple companies.

The Competition

  Vivint ADT Frontpoint SimpliSafe
Compared to Vivint n/a The name recognition and long trial period are plusses, but smart capabilities cost more Fewer in-house smart devices, but no installation costs and shorter contracts Better priced and contract-free, perfect for those wanting a streamlined smart home
Install Professional Professional DIY DIY and Professional
Monitoring Professional Professional Professional Professional
Starting Price $30 $37 $35 $15
Package Options A la carte 5 3 6+
App Store Rating 4.5/5 4.6/5 4/5 4.6/5
Contract Length Monthly
60 months
36 months 12 months
36 months
Monthly
In Business Since 1999 1890 2007 2006
Warranty 120 days
Lifetime
90 days 3 years 3 years
Trial Period 3 days 30 days 30 days 60 days
View plans View plans View plans View plans

Vivint Smart Home vs. ADT

Trusting in ADT’s centuries of experience is easy — the blue octagon logo alone is enough to warn potential intruders that a house is well-protected. But does it stack up to Vivint in terms of tech? In fact, ADT has kept up with the curve, offering modern equivalents (touchscreen control panel) beside legacy equipment (simple, old-school keypads). That said, ADT’s pricing approach shows that new-age iterations of home security aren’t the company standard. You have to pay more for the same home automation features through ADT that you get at a lower plan tier and price point with Vivint.

Those seeking home security that centers home automation may be better off with Vivint.

Vivint Smart Home vs. Frontpoint

For customers who are on the fence about a home security system, Frontpoint offers some wiggle room. The 30-day trial period and manageable contract lengths (choose between one or three years) make opting into a home security system feel less weighty and final.

We had positive customer experiences with both Frontpoint and Vivint, but, unlike Vivint, we were also able to find tons of plan, pricing, and product information on Frontpoint’s site. Frontpoint doesn’t force you into a sales call just to do price comparisons. When we did need Frontpoint on the phone, like during the DIY installation process, we found the reps to be patient, attentive, and helpful.

If you’re cool with DIY installation and fewer built-in smart home perks (you can only purchase smart locks and light bulbs through the company itself), Frontpoint could be a better value, lower commitment home security option.

Vivint Smart Home vs. SimpliSafe

SimpliSafe, as the name suggests, emphasizes simplicity in home security. All the hang-ups we have with Vivint’s mode of doing business are blissfully resolved with SimpliSafe. No contract. Low monthly fees. Prices published online. You won’t find the same spread of smart home equipment, or the same focus on automation, but SimpliSafe offers the most important devices and features of modern home security (like smart cameras and video streaming) without Vivint’s high-stakes commitments to multi-year contracts and the expense of having a professional installed system moved to another residence. For most people, SimpliSafe is the better home security pick.

Vivint Smart Home FAQ

How much does Vivint cost?

Vivint is incredibly tight-lipped about pricing unless you are ready to buy. The customer support reps can’t offer any inkling of what a security system would cost, citing that both upfront and monthly costs depend on the devices you choose. Every system is bespoke; every price tag is bespoke. Generally speaking, monitoring starts at $40 per month — $50 per month if you have smart cameras and need to be able to stream footage. Vivint is unique in offering equipment a la cart — no pre-designed $200 packages here. When you call to order your service, the rep will walk you through designing your home and choosing your equipment. Installation is an additional $99, though this is sometimes waived for new customers.

Does Vivint require a credit check?

Yes. Pretty much every home security system will run a soft credit check when you request service. The credit check shouldn’t affect your credit score, but the outcome can dictate how much money you’ll need to pay on the system upfront. Some providers may deny service entirely if your credit score is bad.

Do you need a landline for Vivint?

No. Vivint is a completely wireless home security system and runs on cellular technology. This means there are no wires to cut and no holes to drill. If you live in a rural area with a weaker cell signal, then a wired system may be a more reliable fit.

Does Vivint service its equipment?

Yes. Vivint offers 120 days of free warranty on your equipment, after which you’ll have to pay a service charge. Alternatively, you can sign up for Vivint’s Premium Service for $10 per month and receive a lifetime warranty with free repairs and replacement.

What happens if I move?

You can take your Vivint service with you. But be aware: There is a $99 fee each time you move. Renewing your contract can waive that fee, but this of course locks you into another long-term Vivint contract. Another option if you’re moving and don’t want to maintain your system: You can transfer it to your home’s future residents.

The Bottom Line

For people looking to invest in a complete smart home, Vivint offers an impressive device lineup, sophisticated app controls, and stellar integration potential. But only serious technophiles need apply: The steep costs and serious commitments of Vivint make it overkill for anyone who wants simple home security or the money-saving options to DIY install or self-monitor. In this disruptive era for home security, companies that still require long-term contracts feel woefully outdated — an interesting adjective for a company that centers its offerings and ethos on cutting-edge technology. That said, Vivint wears the crown for a complete, streamlined smart home security system. It’s a robust option for anyone willing to invest in one. If you don’t want to commit to an expensive system or long-term contract, consider other home security providers like SimpliSafe and abode.

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