We tested the Vivint home security system for almost two months and found it to be the best option on the market right now. And we feel that way for several reasons. First, the Vivint system is effective and has solid connectivity. Second, the dashboard and mobile apps are easy to use and fun to use. And it doesn't hurt that a commitment to customer experience drives Vivint's device selection - the set of components you need for a complete home automation and security solution.
We tested the Vivint home security system for almost two months and found it to be the best option on the market right now.
The slight downside is that the higher quality comes with a higher price. The Vivint is more expensive than competing professionally installed systems - although not by much, even compared to lower quality home improvement solutions. Luckily, you can spread the payments over 42 to 60 months without interest. Vivint also lets you pay for device costs all at once to reduce monthly bills and avoid being locked into a long-term contract.
With that in mind, take a look at our full review of the service below, from ordering, installation, functionality and more to see how it all works.
Buying a Vivint system typically starts with a phone call about your security goals. A sales representative will also ask about your home's layout and your desire for automated features like a smart lock, thermostat, and controllable lights. At this point, you make a pre-selection of sensors, devices, and a monthly monitoring plan.
You can also ask Vivint to send a "Smart Home Pro" to your home for a free personal consultation. This allows you to follow a careful planning process to choose the equipment you need. Note that Vivint Phone Agent and Smart Home Pro earn commissions. Customers have 3 days after installation to return the entire system and 30 days after installation to return individual products.
You should also know that Vivint complements its sales team with authorized resellers. However, Vivint dealers sell equipment and services at the same price as those offered directly by the company. And unlike other security companies, Vivint is always solely responsible for the lifelong customer relationship, including installation, service, support and professional monitoring.
On the planned assembly day, the technician arrived about 15 minutes early. It took him a full hour to walk us through the process of installing the selected equipment. "My job is to protect your home," he said. "Let's put security first and toys later," as for optional smart locks and voice assistants.
We went through each room to confirm which doors, windows and hallways should be secured. The installer advised us on what he called a "smart second line of defense" such as placing a glass break sensor where someone could smash a window rather than open a door.
Vivint technicians - who are company employees and not contractors - go through a rigorous training process.
Vivint technicians - who are company employees and not contractors - go through a rigorous training process.
Vivint components are solidly built. Its design is attractive. Our only complaint was that the door sensors only come in white. We would have liked a color that matched our natural wood. Smart Locks come in bronze, satin nickel, and polished brass.
Vivint deliberately does not offer an extensive catalog with hundreds of sensors, cameras, locks and thermostats. Jeremy Warren, Vivint's chief technology officer, told us it's a "curated ecosystem" for tight integration and quality control.
The installer walked me through the process of naming each device (e.g. bedroom sliding door, dining room lamp, etc.) and provided a guide on how it worked. But most of his time was spent running diagnostics to make sure the control hub, sensors, cameras, devices, and smart lock all had stable communications with each other.
Using a sophisticated and formal process, Vivint assigns a score to the system's various radio frequencies, Wi-Fi and cellular signals. The hub offers additional diagnostic and self-test tools so you know everything is working. Over the course of two months, we received multiple app notifications when a device needed a battery change or went offline for other reasons. (We find these reports reassuring because we've read many horror stories about consumers finding that an alarm system isn't working shortly after a break-in.)
Installation, which costs $99, took six hours. Vivint usually waives the fee, which is paid in advance, on promotions.
We believe that lighting is an essential part of home security. While Vivint sells a plug-in device to control outlets, as well as smart Hue bulbs, if a device switch (or wall control) is accidentally turned off, those devices will stop working. The solution is to replace your current lighting control with a smart switch from Lutron, Wink, or Wemo. However, Vivint technicians are not licensed electricians. So while they can drill holes and mount cameras and doorbells, they don't change the switches in the wall - it's left to an electrician or DIYer to make the upgrade.
How it works
There are two main ways users interact with a Vivint system - the Smart Hub and a mobile smartphone app. Some users prefer a control panel near the front door, while others like using the phone app. It's your choice.
The home screen is labeled "Security" in both the Control Panel and the app. You can see at a glance whether the system is set to disarm, full arm or full arm. The home screen also shows the status of any open doors or windows. This gives you a chance to walk around the house and shut everything down - until you get a message that says, "Everything looks fine. Your house is ready to be armed.” Or you can set the alarm to bypass any door or window that is open during the armed session. From the home screen you can also see the status of smart locks and lock or unlock doors with a single tap.
The security screen in the app gives you the opportunity to sound the alarm immediately. And a similar "+" button on the hub provides a way to instantly trigger panic, emergency, or fire.
If the fire button is held down for two seconds, the control center immediately calls the fire brigade. If you press and hold the panic button, the Smart Hub siren will sound and contact the central station, while the emergency button will contact the central station without sounding the siren.
We were guided by Vivint to use the 911 button to assess the monitoring center's response time. We ran this test twice. In any case, we talked to the monitoring center over the hub in about 10-15 seconds. (Don't worry, we explained to the rep that it was a false alarm.)
The next navigation icon is Cameras, which lets you view live and recorded video events and toggle privacy mode on and off. An activity clock icon links to a running log of all activity - opening and closing doors, motion sensors that detect movement, and detected people walking in front of the house.
The notification sound for each action can be individually adjusted via the hub – with a doorbell, piano riff or other sound effects. So you know which door has opened without looking up. Likewise, a subtle green light is emitted from the underside of the hub when all doors and windows are closed and the system is armed.
The notification sound for each action can be individually adjusted via the hub – with a doorbell, piano riff or other sound effects.
The power (and fun) of the Vivint system lies in setting up "custom actions" that link one device to another. Here are examples of roles you can configure:
- Turn on the indicated lights when you enter the house.
- Automatic disarming of the system after entering the code into the smart lock.
- Alert or disarm the system at a specific time or at sunset/sunrise.
One of the smartest uses of a custom action is to use an outdoor camera's built-in siren when an alarm is triggered. In addition to the hub's 100-decibel siren sounding in your home, the outdoor camera's siren will sound an alarm for the neighborhood. It is one of many examples of how multiple devices can be combined. And Vivint recently started selling a car guard that easily attaches to a car's dashboard door. If Car Guard detects that the car is being disturbed in your driveway, it can instruct your outdoor camera to start recording.
These “custom actions” are also built in. So you don't need a complicated if-then equation. They're powerful, but quick and easy to set up.
Perhaps the greatest praise for Vivint's system is how quickly its operation becomes second nature.
Reliable communication:When you're looking for a home security system, it's easy to get distracted by things like voice assistants, Bluetooth speakers, and automated rainbow-colored light shows. But none of this matters for security if you don't have reliable, lightning-fast connections between your devices and the surveillance center.
For this reason, our favorite feature of Vivint is the company's underlying, redundant communications strategy. Many competing systems use your existing Wi-Fi network as the backbone. But Vivint goes a few steps further. But how? Vivint added additional ports to our router, including one for a Power Line Communications (PLC) connection between the internet and the Vivint Smart Hub. The PLC uses the electrical wiring in a house to send data. The external camera also connects to the PLC, essentially creating a wired system for devices far from the hub.
In some cases, Vivint uses Ethernet connections to reduce interference from cameras located at the periphery of a home. Other added ports created hard connections to the 24/7 hard drive for video recording and a bridge for Philips Hue lights. And crucially, the Vivint Smart Hub uses its own dedicated Wi-Fi network instead of connecting to yours.
See why these steps are important. A few weeks after installation we found that locking or unlocking our Kwikset Smart Lock took about 20 seconds to work. So Vivint's engineer again added signal repeaters for the hub's main 345MHz wireless signals and for the 900MHz Z-Wave network used to connect many third-party devices. Based on these strategies, the response time of the smart lock has been reduced to around one second. During the same visit, he updated the Vivint Outdoor camera's firmware, speeding up the talk function to facilitate conversations with people at the door.
Vivint Outdoor Camera Pro and AI-based Smart Sentry:
In April 2019 Vivint released a new outdoor camera - and it's fantastic. It features 4K Ultra HD capability with high dynamic range and a 140-degree field of view. With a pinch, we were able to zoom in on the scene with minimal loss of detail. Two far-field echo-cancelling microphones provided crystal-clear audio. It was also equipped with two-way talk and a siren.
The camera offers a Smart Sentry feature that sends a notification to the smartphone when it detects someone lurking in the driveway. To avoid false alarms, we use the app to draw boundaries to determine where the camera should look or miss. The camera's built-in intelligence can distinguish between a human and a passing car or a swaying tree. When a person is detected, a tone sounds and a red ring of light illuminates around the lens. The effect is that intruders look up just in time to take a picture and send it to our phone.
The camera offers a Smart Sentry feature that sends a notification to the smartphone when it detects someone lurking in the driveway.
When we clicked on the notification, we were taken to the app's camera section. And because we had Smart Drive, we could rewind the footage to see the full shot of a person approaching and moving away. Each detected action is marked on the timeline with a small white dot for easy identification. Without a Smart Drive, you get 14 days of clip storage per camera in Vivint's cloud. The clip duration for the Vivint outdoor camera is up to 90 seconds. The doorbell cam and indoor ping clips last 30 and 20 seconds, respectively.
Price and Fees
The Vivint Starter Kit costs $599. It includes the Vivint Smart Hub, two door/window sensors, a motion sensor, and a $100 credit toward additional sensors. For our system we have added this list of safety equipment:
- 7 additional door/window sensors: $350 ($50 each)
- 1 additional motion detector: $100
- 2 glass break detectors: $200 ($100 each)
- Vivint Außenkamera Pro: 399 US-Dollar
Had we placed our order there, it would have been around $1,650 - similar to the average Vivint order. But we went a little crazy and brought our order up to $3,173 with these items:
- 2 Vivint Ping indoor cameras: $398 ($199 each)
- Vivint Doorbell Camera: $249
- Vivint Smart Drive: 249 US-Dollar
- 1 CO-Detector: $100
- 1 additional water sensor: $50
- 1 smoke detector: $100
- Kwikset Smart Door Lock: $179
- 4 lamp modules: $200 ($50 each)
Vivint Smart Home Monthly Service Plan is $39.99 plus $5 per camera, which includes 14 days of clip storage per camera. If you have a Vivint Smart Drive, you can get 24/7 recording from up to four cameras for the same price per camera. We recommend Smart Drive, even at a relatively pricey $249, as it offers fast preview and rewind.
Vivint also offers a monthly Smart Security monitoring service for $19.99, which also requires the purchase of all devices. It's for a basic system that doesn't include cameras or home automation. According to Vivint, only about 5% of its customers choose this option.
The Competition: Vivint vs. ADT
Vivint is a professionally installed security system. As such, it should only be compared to other full-service systems such as ADT, Brinks, and Xfinity Home, and not DIY products. Unlike ADT, the most popular home security service, Vivint designs and manufactures nearly every product sold, resulting in consistently high quality products and services. ADT bundles devices with its services, so in most cases it charges a relatively high monthly fee indefinitely. On the other hand, Vivint separates device costs to reduce monthly expenses after full device purchase.
One of the best systems to protect your home.
Vivint is the obvious choice for the most dependable, dependable, and comprehensive home security system and surveillance service. With intelligent features, custom security measures such as the ability to trigger alarms from outdoor cameras, and nearly fail-safe powerline communication between the internet and the hub, Vivint offers worry-free home protection.