Update: Vivint now offers 24/7 professional monitoring and cellular backup for $39.99 a month plus $5 per camera for 14 days of cloud storage. Without this plan, your system will be a local alarm only. Also, Vivint’s professional installation is now free.
So you’ve narrowed it down to Protect America or Vivint for your home’s security system. I’m here to help make that decision even easier.
Protect America was founded in 1992 in the great city of Austin, Texas. By 2001, less than ten years later, they had installed $200,000 worth of security systems, the first with DIY installation! That’s a trend that’s blown up in the home security industry, so Protect America clearly knows what they’re doing.
Vivint, founded in 1999, currently has 1.3 million customers in the U.S and Canada after being acquired by The Blackstone Group in 2012 for over two billion dollars. Now, I know that what’s popular isn’t always right, but sometimes: there’s a correlation.
I’m ready to see whether Protect America or Vivint has a superior customized security system. In this review, I’ll go over my two systems’ key similarities, key differences, installation processes, monitoring options, customer support, and apps. Let’s get started!
Key Similarities of Protect America vs. Vivint
Before I go into too much detail, I want to tell you what Protect America and Vivint have in common.
- System components: The customized systems I bought from each company are pretty similar to each other in terms of components.
- Long-term contracts: Both Protect America and Vivint require that you sign contracts with a minimum term-length of three to three and a half years.
- Customer support reviews: Protect America and Vivint both have good overall ratings from Google.
Key Differences of Protect America vs. Vivint
Now the good stuff: the basic ways in which Protect America and Vivint are different from each other.
- Installation: While you’ll install Protect America yourself, Vivint provides professional installation on the house.
- Professional monitoring: Vivint doesn’t require that you do professional monitoring, while Protect America includes it for free with all of their systems.
- App ratings: The Vivint Smart Home app has good ratings, while the Protect America app was less well-received.
- Billing: You’ll pay for your Protect America system upfront and your Vivint system in monthly installments.
It’s finally time to open up my boxes and see what these systems are all about!
Protect America vs. Vivint System Components
At least physically, the customized kits I bought from Protect America and Vivint are pretty similar. Both include door/ window sensors, motion sensors, indoor cameras, and control panels. Protect America also gave me recessed door and window sensors, meaning they’re not visible, and garage door sensors. Vivint threw in a smart lock, a video doorbell, and a smoke and CO monitor.
Keep in mind that you won’t pay for Vivint up front. Instead, you’ll pay a monthly fee based on what equipment you have.
This can be seen as an advantage or a disadvantage. Personally, I’d rather pay for my equipment up front, but maybe that’s just me.
Protect America vs. Vivint Installation
Are you a do-it-yourself kind of guy, or do you prefer someone else to do it for you? If you’re the former, Protect America has DIY installation. If you’re the latter, Vivint requires professional installation. Let me elaborate.
Installing Protect America
Like I said, Protect America has DIY installation, but you’re not completely alone: you’ll be on the phone with a customer support rep. In my case, this was Tiffany, who was knowledgeable, courteous, and patient with me as we set up and tested the system. I love that Protect America gives you this help as it feels like the best of both worlds— I get the know-how of a Protect America employee without having to pay out the wazoo for it. The only negative to installing Protect America? The camera’s field of view is only 60 degrees, making placement a bit challenging. The ethernet cable didn’t help much either. Overall, however, I had a great experience setting up Protect America, and what’s most important is that it was completely free!
Since Vivint requires professional installation, I didn’t have to do a lick of work to set up my system. All I had to do was let the technician in. My experience with him was good— he was definitely well-versed in setting up the system and was very courteous of my home. I especially appreciated how he wore little booties around his shoes to avoid tracking in dirt! My white carpet is thankful. And the best part? I didn’t pay a dime.
Top System Installation
Whether you want DIY or professional installation is really going to determine who has the better installation for you. That’s why I’m taking the easy way out and declaring a tie for installation.
Protect America vs. Vivint Professional Monitoring
So you’ve installed your system and your home security is in the bag, right? Hold up— let’s talk monitoring. When it comes to monitoring your security system, you have two options. You can either self-monitor through your app or do 24/7 professional monitoring. In a nutshell, professional monitoring basically means that you’re not alone. In contrast, you’ll have a team of real life humans monitoring your system, and they can help you if there’s an emergency. They’re the ones who will check in if any of your alarms go off and contact emergency services for you if needed.
Protect America vs. Vivint Monitoring Options
While Protect America includes professional monitoring with all of its systems for free, Vivint requires that you pay a monthly fee for professional monitoring. The fee is completely based on the amount of cameras you have. If you don’t want another monthly fee on top of your equipment fee, you can self-monitor your system through the Vivint Smart Home app.
Cellular backup is another important component of any home security system. It ensures that your system will stay on in the event of a power outage. Protect America’s cellular backup costs aren’t so clear-cut, unfortunately. Instead, they’ll depend on your equipment and needs. Plans typically range from about $20 to $60 a month, and prices are negotiable. Finally, your hours watching Shark Tank will finally pay off! Vivint has cellular backup built into all of its products, so the cost is included into your monthly equipment fee.
Protect America vs. Vivint Contracts
Protect America has three-year, binding contracts for its cellular backup. You’re not paying for professional monitoring, of course, so there’s no contract to write! Vivint, on the other hand, makes you choose from a three and a half or five year contract for its monitoring. You can cancel anytime without a fee, but you would obviously need to pay for the remainder of your equipment. I’ll be honest: I’m not thrilled that neither company gives you a monthly contracting option. In short? Don’t expect much flexibility from Protect America and Vivint.
Protect America vs. Vivint Moving Policies
Moving your Protect America system? No problem. Just let the company know and they’ll send you a relocation key and update your information, no fees required. Unfortunately, if you want to move your Vivint system, you’ll have to pay another $129 fee for professional installation. You can either choose to move your panel and get new starter equipment or move your system. Either way, the cost is the same.
Top System for Monitoring
You can’t do better than free, and that’s why I have to give Protect America the crown for its monitoring. Plus, it has a shorter term-length option than Vivint, which I appreciate.
Vivint has 1.3 million customers in the U.S and Canada, plus professional monitoring and the highest-rated app of any security company.
We love Protect America for its integrations with Amazon Alexa, its great customer support, and its included 24/7 professional monitoring. All in all, we highly recommend Protect America.
Protect America vs. Vivint Customer Support
If you’re having any issue at all, you can contact Protect America or Vivint’s customer support team through phone or live chat. Both companies also offer a database of knowledge on their websites, which is always a good first place to look for help.
To see what real customers thought of Protect America and Vivint’s customer support, I checked out their Google reviews. Google basically takes all the reviews from the Internet and puts it in one convenient place, so it’s a great place to look for ratings. Protect America has a four-star rating on Google, while Vivint has a 3.8— both very impressive! Of course, I’m not going to take these ratings at face value. I want to look at the reviews mentioning customer support specifically. Out of the 15 reviews mentioning Protect America’s customer support, 13 were positive, or about 87%!
“I had several questions for Protect America and instead of calling I used the chat feature. It worked very well. The customer service rep was very detailed, very courteous, and very knowledgeable,”
wrote Adriene Mitchell in a five-star review. People had great things to say about Vivint in the 817 reviews on Google. Whether you go with Vivint or Protect America, you’re in pretty good hands support-wise.
Top System for Customer Support
Due to its higher overall rating, Protect America beats Vivint in customer support. So far it’s two 2-0-1, Protect America to Vivint. Can Vivint redeem itself in our final category?
Protect America vs. Vivint App
Finally, we have the systems’ respective apps. I’m looking for user-friendly, non-buggy apps that allow you to remotely control and monitor your security system. Are the Vivint and Protect America apps up to snuff?
The Protect America App
From the Protect America app you’ll be able to arm or disarm your system, livestream footage, and receive notifications. The app didn’t do that great ratings-wise. It has a 3.1 rating from the Google Play store, which is about the lowest I can deal with. Unfortunately, the Protect America app only has a 2.4 on the Apple store, making me question whether Protect America is a good security system for iPhone users.
The Vivint Smart Home App
Vivint’s app is one of the highest-rated security apps around. From the Vivint app, you’ll be able to arm or disarm your security system, control any connected devices you have, speak to and see visitors through your video doorbell, receive notifications, and livestream footage. With a 4.6 from Android users and a 4.5 from iPhone users, the Vivint Smart Home app definitely fits my very high standards.
Top System App
This one was easy, as Vivint has much higher-rated app than Protect America! At least they got one category— it’s better than nothing!
Recap of Protect America vs. Vivint
With DIY installation, free 24/7 professional monitoring, and fantastic customer support, Protect America is a better security system than Vivint, in my opinion. The only way in which Vivint is superior to Protect America is its app, so iPhone users beware if you’re doing Protect America.
I gave you my professional opinion, but I want to make sure I’m tailoring this review for you, you specifically. Let’s break it down even further.
Pick Protect America if you’d like…
- DIY installation: You’ll set up your Protect America system over the phone with customer support.
- Free 24/7 professional monitoring: Protect America includes 24/7 professional monitoring with all of its systems, completely on the house.
- Excellent customer support: Customers had great things to say about Protect America’s customer support system.
- Upfront payment: You’ll pay for all of your equipment at once.
Pick Vivint if you’d like…
- Professional installation: For $0, you’ll get your Vivint system installed by a professional.
- Option to self-monitor: Vivint doesn’t require that you pay for 24/7 professional monitoring.
- Highly-rated app: The Vivint Smart Home app has much higher ratings than the Protect America app.
- No cost for equipment upfront: Instead, you’ll pay for your Vivint equipment in monthly installments ranging from about $30 to $50.
Related: The Best Security Systems of 2019