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Vivint Smart Home Security review

Vivint Smart Home Security is a relative newcomer making big waves

Vivint Smart Home Security review
(Image: © Vivint Home Security)

Our Verdict

Vivint Smart Home Security offers first rate monitoring and installation along with some great products that can’t be found elsewhere. Unfortunately long contracts, 100% cancellation fees and being unable to use the equipment with an alternative provider bring its scores down some.

For

  • Great standard features
  • High-quality equipment
  • 0% interest on equipment purchase

Against

  • Long contracts (no contract if paying up front)
  • 100% early cancellation charge
  • 3-day cancellation period

Vivint only started life in 1999, but since then has grown to become a major player in best home security systems and automation. 

Vivint keeps it simple. There are just three monitoring packages to choose from and they all come with cellular backup as standard. Cellular backup means Vivint can still monitor your home even in the case of a power cut when WiFi may be down. All packages also include smoke and CO monitoring and medical alert monitoring, although you’ll need to purchase extra equipment to take advantage of these. 

Even though Vivint is a smart home company as much as a security company you don’t get smart home integration with every package. You also need to pay extra for video monitoring, although this is pretty standard for most companies.

Vivint is a professionally installed system, which means someone comes in your home and installs all the Vivint-branded equipment. However, this comes at a price. The equipment tends to be more expensive than competitors and you need to add the installation fees on top of that. If you’re handy, then it is worth looking at more cost-effective options like SimpliSafe or Brinks.

Product Specs

Free cancellation: 3-days
Security monitoring: Professional 24/7
Smartphone control: Yes
System price (starts at): $550
Monthly costs (start at): $29.99
Wired or wireless: Wireless
Video cameras: Yes (optional)
Installation fees (start at): $99

Packages: How much does Vivint Home Security cost? 

There are currently three home security system packages available from Vivint. 

Like ADT, Vivint isn’t fully transparent with its costs. It aims to get you on a phone call to discuss your needs, but at the same time the sales representative may attempt to sell you more than you need. The same goes for the installers that come to your home. 

Make sure you’ve done your homework and read this Vivint review before speaking to them. Vivint has had numerous complaints about its salespeople’s door-to-door sales techniques. If you do choose to go with Vivint make sure you do it via the website or by phone.

  • Vivint Smart Protect: Equipment starts at $549.99 | $99 installation | $29.99 a month monitoring | 42 to 60-month contract 
  • Vivint Smart Protect + Control: Equipment starts at $549.99 | $99 installation | $39.99 a month monitoring | 42 to 60-month contract 
  • Vivint Smart Complete: Equipment starts at $749.99 | $99 installation | $49.99 a month monitoring | 42 to 60-month contract

The above prices are where each packages costs start, installation and monthly monitoring may end up being higher depending on your situation. Let’s look at Vivint’s packages in detail so you know exactly what you’re getting for the price. 

Vivint Smart Home Security review: Smart Protect

Vivint Smart Protect is the first rung of Vivint’s monitoring plan ladder. 

It comes with the Vivint SkyControl touchscreen panel. This is a touchscreen tablet that communicates with all the compatible smart security and smart home products in your home and has a microphone and speaker for 2-way communication. You also get all the same features via the Vivint Sky app you can use on your smartphone. 

This package also includes a minimum of 2 door or window sensors and a motion sensor. The plan comes with 24/7 monitoring which can cover carbon monoxide, smoke and medical alerts, as well as security monitoring. You will need to purchase extra equipment from Vivint to take advantage of these features. 

Vivint Smart Protect doesn’t include smart home automation and video monitoring, you’ll need to upgrade your monthly package for those features. 

Vivint Smart Protect costs $29.99 a month and requires at least a 42-month contract. You can either pay for the equipment outright or add it to the cost of your monthly fee with 0% interest. The benefit of paying for it outright is that you won’t have to tie yourself up with the long contract. Either way it will have to be professionally installed by a Vivint installer with costs starting at $99.

The Vivant Sky Control

Vivant Basic comes with the Vivant Sky Control (Image credit: Vivint Home Security)

Vivint Smart Home Security review: Protect + Control

Vivint Protect + Control is a simple upgrade to the basic Smart Protect package and adds home automation to the mix. This means you can control other smart home products like smart thermostats, lights and locks from the Vivint Sky app or via smart voice assistants like Amazon’s Alexa or Google Assistant. 

Vivint Smart Protect + Control costs $39.99 a month and requires 42-month contracts as minimum, although (as with all Vivint’s packages) decide to pay for the equipment up front and you can opt for a rolling month-to-month contract. 

Vivant Protect + Control allows the addition of smart home devices

Vivant Protect + Control allows the addition of smart home devices (Image credit: Vivint Home Security)

Vivint Smart Home Security review: Smart Complete

The most expensive monthly option is Vivint Smart Complete, which adds video monitoring to the Smart Protect package. 

Vivint Smart Complete only works with Vivint cameras, so you won’t be able to use any camera you have or that might have been left in your new home, for example. There are three cameras to choose from that range in price. 

The Vivint Doorbell Camera replaces your doorbell and lets you have a 2-way conversation with visitors via your phone or panel. It has a wide-angle lens to get everything in front of it in view and can also recognize people, so you don’t get alerts if you don’t need too. It also works at night too. The Doorbell Camera currently costs around $200, which is on par with similar offerings like the Ring Video Doorbell 2. 

The Vivint Ping camera also costs around $200. This is a small wireless indoor security camera that lets you initiate a video call to your smartphone or tablet. That means your kids can initiate a call with you quickly if something is happening in the house and you can talk to each other through it. This is a rare feature that could be useful in certain emergency situations. 

Finally we have the Vivint Outdoor Camera, which as the name suggests, can be installed outdoors without worrying about inclement weather. It doesn’t come with 2-way audio like the other cameras, though, and costs around $300. That’s a fair amount more than many other outdoor wireless cameras. ADT’s outdoor camera costs around $200, as does the Nest Cam Outdoor, while the Arlo Pro 2 costs $219.99. 

Vivint’s Smart Complete plan costs $49.99 a month and includes monitoring for two cameras. Additional cameras cost $5 a month each, plus the cost of the camera of course. You get 14 days of storage of 30-second video clips for that. If you want more you can also opt for the Vivint Smart Drive. This costs $249 and ups your Smart Complete plan to 30 days worth of recording for up to four cameras.  As with the previous plans you can get Vivint Smart Complete on a rolling contract if you pay for all the equipment at once, otherwise it’s 42 to 60-months, but you can opt for 0% finance with that.

The Vivant Doorbell Camera

Vivint Smart Complete features the doorbell camera for extra piece of mind and security (Image credit: Vivint Home Security)

Vivint Smart Home Security review: Cancellation and Warranty

Vivint offers a 120-day limited warranty for equipment, which is a little better than, for example, ADT’s 90-day offering. After the 120 days Vivint will still replace a faulty product free of charge, however you will have to pay a service charge for each visit. It also offers a Premium Service which means you won’t have to pay the service charge. This costs an extra $10 a month. That’s $3 a month more than ADT, but they also charge a $25 service fee if you call an engineer to your home.  

If you decide to end your contract with Vivint before its term is up then you will need to pay 100% of your outstanding balance. That’s the worst cancellation policy of any of the security monitoring companies we’d recommend. 

If you decide you are not happy with your Vivint system or service you may have a 30-day money-back guarantee. However, some contracts offer only a 3-day right of rescission so make sure you check your contract to understand your rights and how long you have to cancel your agreement without penalty. 

Vivint Smart Home Security review: App

The Vivint Sky app is available for Android and iOS smartphones and tablets. You can receive alerts and notifications from it and view the status of all your smart security products from the app. Like most security apps it also lets you view security footage from your cameras and provides the ability to arm or disarm your system remotely. 

You can also use the Vivint Sky app to set automation rules with other, compatible, smart home products. That means you can set smart lighting to come on at certain times, or your smart lock to unlock if a carbon monoxide leak is detected. 

Vivint uses Z-wave to communicate wirelessly with smart products. Some Z-wave-compatible smart home products will work with it, but not all. No Zigbee-only compatible products work with Vivint. Vivint restricts its platform a little more than other security companies so you won’t be able to use any cameras that aren’t supplied by Vivint, for example. 

To make sure a smart home or smart security product will work with your Vivint system make sure it is on this list. That list isn’t exhaustive and Vivint will work with most Z-wave smart locks and smart lighting. It also works with Nest thermostats, if you already have one installed. 

If you want to know more about the Vivint Sky app then watch this video.

Vivant Sky App for Android and iOS

The Sky App for Android and iOS lets you monitor and control your home on the move (Image credit: Vivint Home Security)

How does Vivint alert you when an alarm is raised?

Vivint has its own response center that will respond to a raised alarm any time of the day or night. Depending on the type of alarm it is Vivint will respond in different ways. 

If the burglary alarm is raised, because of a door or window sensor, then a Vivint monitoring representative will try to contact you via the Sky Control panel and ask for your verbal passcode. If no one responds then they will attempt to call you on your primary contact number and if that fails they will contact the local police and inform them. After that has happened your secondary and emergency contacts will be notified. In case of a false alarm the verbal passcode will be required to cancel the alert and authorities. 

Vivint systems also have a panic alarm. These can be set off from the panel or key fob, if you have purchased one. If you trigger the panic alarm then Vivint will follow the same process as with a burglary alarm. 

The response is different if you input a duress code into your panel. A duress code is a special code Vivint adds to your Sky Control panel which makes an intruder think you’ve disarmed the alarm, but have in fact sent a silent alarm to Vivint’s monitoring team. These alarms are very serious and in this case Vivint will silently listen for suspicious activity 30 seconds. If nothing is heard they will stop listening and contact the authorities. If they do hear something suspicious they will keep listening and contact the authorities.   

Since Vivint includes medical and fire alarm monitoring in its packages they also have processes for dealing with those. As you might expect if the fire alarm is raised Vivint will try to contact you but will contact the fire department swiftly. The same goes for a medical alert, although in that case they will contact your local emergency medical services.

If you don’t have smoke detectors or the Vivint Medical Pendant installed on your system you can still trigger a fire or medical alarm from the panel.

Vivint Home Security review: What the users say

Everyone’s experience with a service is different. Where one person may have had a great experience with Vivint, another may not have, so it’s worth looking at what other users say about it. It is worth noting that it’s more likely for someone to complain about bad service than complimenting good service. In this section we highlight scores for Vivint from well-established user review platforms, as well as awards it has won. 

Vivint Home Security came third in the 2018 J.D. Power Customer Satisfaction award, only just losing out to Brinks Home Security and AT&T Digital Life. 

Consumer Affairs gives Vivint a score of just under four stars out of five from 2959 reviews over the past year. Most complaints tend to stem from pushy salespeople not being completely open about the costs or services and added costs when moving home. Positive reviews focus on the quality of the products and expert installation. 

Vivint came third in the JD Power survey 2018

Vivint came in third in the JD Power survey 2018 (Image credit: Vivint Home Security)

Vivint Home Security review: Other things to consider

Before 2017 you never actually owned the equipment you used with Vivint, you just rented it. Many complaints stemmed from this from people wanting to move and realising the equipment would stay in the house unless they signed up to a new contract. Vivint has changed these terms and now you do own the equipment, as long as you buy it upfront or finish paying the installment plan that is added to the monthly contract fee.  

However, unlike with a more general system like Nest or Samsung SmartThings, it is unlikely you will ever be able to use your Vivint security products with another security monitoring provider. 

Vivint offers you two options if you decide to move home. The first is to get a brand new system for your new home. Of course this will come with extra costs for the equipment and will require you to sign up to a new monthly service plan. 

The second is to take some, or all, of the equipment from your old house and have Vivint install it in your new home for a $129. Your contract terms and monthly payments will remain the same, but you may need to purchase additional products of some are damaged or cannot be removed from your old home. 

Like most other security companies Vivint offers to move active military service members for free.

Should you try Vivint Home Security?

While a relative newcomer, Vivint has established itself as a home security heavyweight with top notch monitoring and installation. Products like the Ping camera also offer features you can’t get anywhere else. The only downsides are the long contracts, 100% cancellation fees and the fact that you can’t use the Vivint equipment with another monitoring provider, that is if you decide to ever switch.