Vivint Smart Home Security Review
How We Reviewed Vivint
8 months of testing
2 plans evaluated
1 top-rated company
Vivint Smart Home Security Systems Review
Vivint has made a name for itself in the home security business for its focus on home automation and its highly rated customer service. With doorbell cameras, smart thermostats, garage openers, and more, Vivint allows you to build a smart home straight out of the Jetsons. And unlike its competitors, you won’t have to cash in for the highest-tier plan to gain access to these home automation features, making it a more affordable choice for home automation services and our favorite smart home security system.
However, be prepared to commit to that system you build, as Vivint only offers two payment structures. One option is to sign a five-year contract. This locks you in much longer than other providers, and if you’re in a temporary living situation, each move requires a $99 fee or contract renewal.
For those who don’t want those contract restraints, Vivint’s only other option is a month-to-month payment structure — with all equipment charges loaded upfront, rather than divided into manageable chunks on each bill. That’s a steep early investment, particularly for an extensive smart system. What’s more, 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.
Vivint is known for pairing home security with advanced automation technology. Vivint claims to “create simple, affordable smart home solutions.”
Is it true?
Yes. In our review of the best home security systems, we installed each system in our homes for eight months to test the purchasing process, install experience, 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.
Customers think Vivint is simple too. Its mobile app, which allows you to control and interact with your system, is rated 4.4 out of five stars on the iOS App Store. By comparison, Frontpoint’s app is rated a three out of five. You can expect transparent navigation and quick response.
Vivint also makes home automation more affordable than the competition. Its monitoring packages start at $40, or $50 with video monitoring. Home automation and smart tech capabilities with ADT or Frontpoint are only available at their highest tiered plans for $50 to $53. That said, your price ultimately depends on the equipment you purchase and the system you build.
People seeking home automation features
Vivint Smart Home Features
Vivint Smart Home Monitoring Plans
|Monthly price||Features unlocked|
|Smart Security||$40||Professional monitoring, voice control, remote app control, tech support|
|Smart Home Video||$50||30-day continuous recording for four cameras, video surveillance|
In J.D. Power’s customer satisfaction evaluation, Vivint ranked above all of the nation’s largest home security brands. It was the only company to earn a five out of five, and it steeply outranked ADT’s three out of five score. This kind of ranking is indicative of a company that values clear communication and quick resolution when issues arise. 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.”
Those high rankings don’t surprise us; when our tester installed the service in his own 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.
Vivint Smart Home app
Like with most system apps, the Vivint Smart Home app enables you to completely automate your system and control it from anywhere. You can monitor your surveillance and doorbell cameras, alter the temperature, arm and disarm the system, and create custom alerts.
Vivint’s app also has some unique features. You can set your doors to auto-lock at a specific time each night — so no wondering if you’ve forgotten to lock a door as your head hits the pillow. There’s also the option to disarm the system automatically after entering your pin; no need to race to the control panel. Each user in the household can create their own account, with limited permissions and personal notifications.
Vivint's list of integration options is pretty endless. From Amazon Echo to Nest, anything with Z-Wave protocol can be integrated into the system. Z-Wave is essentially the wireless language that devices communicate on, and the majority of the third-party smart tech market uses it. And unlike other security providers, you can purchase many of these smart devices from Vivint itself.
With Google Home, you can control your entire security system using your voice. You can also connect your system to Amazon Alexa for voice control, but the partnership means you’ll have a few more advantages with Google.
For example, most of Vivint’s equipment starter kits will now include two Google Home Minis. Vivint also now offers Google Wi-Fi mesh networks, an effective Wi-Fi system for larger homes that can help eliminate dead zones that may affect the wireless alarm system.
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 can help you customize a system that fits the design of your home and the lifestyle of those who live there — all without any obligation of purchase. It’s hard to know the exact equipment you’ll need, and this expertise could save you money. When we tested the system’s ourselves, our installation technician noticed we had a motion sensor we didn’t need, because our doorbell camera covered the same area.
You neighborhood watch just got smarter, with Vivint’s new app called Streety. Neighbors can share video clips and feed from their security cameras. The app is free and open to anyone, regardless of whether they’re a Vivint customer.
The app uses third-party verification methods to ensure only people living in the community (300-yard radius) can access the feed. And no worries if you’ve got a suspect neighbor, you can control who has access to your footage. There’s also a place to post messages, ask questions, and red-yarn any suspect activity. Those with a Vivint camera, can more easily integrate their feed into the app — while others will have to upload individual clips.
Vivint has traversed into the solar panel market and is quickly becoming one of the most popular solar companies. Solar panels may help offset the energy needs of an outfitted solar home — not to mention the fact that they’re eco-friendly. Vivint’s ease of use extends to the solar division: It handles installing and outfitting your roof with high-grade panels, and you can monitor the the panels’ energy production and usage with the Vivint app.
Short trial period and long contract
Unlike its competitors, Vivint doesn’t offer a 30-day trial period; you’ll have just three days after installation to decide if the system suits your home. And if you’ve signed the five-year contract, that’s a pretty short timeframe to confirm your long-term investment. You can also sign a month-to-month contract, but you’ll have to purchase your equipment upfront (upwards of $300 to $600).
Additionally, each time you need to move your system, a $99 fee will be added to your bill. Renewing your contract waives the $99 fee, but then you’re locked in for even longer. If you’re planning to move within five years, don’t have the budget for a large upfront cost, or aren’t sure you’ll love your security system — Vivint may not be the company for you.
No online ordering
Comparing prices and packages may be difficult with Vivint, as it requires you to call representatives for price specifics and ordering. Unlike other providers, you can’t visualize your package or build it in an online cart. It’s difficult to gather the information you need, particularly if you’re shopping around with multiple companies.
Vivint Smart Home vs. Frontpoint
For customers who are on the fence about a home security system, Frontpoint offers some wiggle room. Its trial period is 30 days, and you can choose a contract period of either one or three years. In our experience, Frontpoint was also attentive and helped our tester customize service to his home. Every one of its reps was patient, answered our many questions, and walked us through the basics of home security. If you don’t know much about the product, you can trust Frontpoint to get you what you need.
On the downside, Frontpoint’s smart home features were a little lackluster in comparison to Vivint. You can only purchase smart locks and light bulbs through the company itself; if you want anything more advanced, you’ll have to buy third party Z-Wave tech. Frontpoint also doesn’t offer professional installation, so setting up your home security system is a DIY project.
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. ADT gives you options for the aesthetic of your system. In addition to touchscreens, it offers simple old-school control panels and keypads. Its monthly monitoring starts a few dollars cheaper than Vivint; however, you’ll have to upgrade to its highest pricing tier at $53 per month to access the home automation features that come with every Vivint package.
ADT’s customer service also isn’t as well-rated as its competition, earning a lackluster three out of five stars from J.D. Power. Customers cite billing discrepancies, communication issues, and slow troubleshooting as reasons for concern. People who are seeking affordable home automation or solid customer support may be better off with Vivint.
Vivint Smart Home FAQ
How much does Vivint cost?
Plans start at $40 per month, or $50 per month with video monitoring services, although that price varies depending on the equipment you choose. 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, run 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. Be aware: There is a $99 moving fee each time you move, although signing a new contract waives that fee. If you’re moving but don’t want to maintain your system, you can transfer it to your home’s future residents.