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’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 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.
✔ Customer experience
✔ App control
✔ Fully integrated smart home
✔ Free in-home consultation
✘ Short trial period; long contracts
✘ No online ordering
Vivint Smart Home Security Plans
*Plus equipment financing if paying for equipment over contract term
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.
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.
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.
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.