Vivint has rapidly become one of the most recognized names in the home security industry. Rebranding themselves with a new name in 2011, the company aggressively positioned themselves beyond just home security, including home automation options as part of their product offering. Vivint sells through local installation and sales personnel, and is especially known for aggressive sales tactics. The products offered derive from various manufacturers and are not proprietary technology.
Vivint systems have won several industry awards including winning the #1 ranking spot from Women’s Choice in 2015 for best home security system.
- Wireless – Vivint systems are completely wireless. They use all-cellular transmission systems that send the signals to the monitoring center. The home or business owner can also configure it to send texts and email notifications to all system users.
- Home Automation – The systems offer home automation or smart home service devices included in their top two package offerings. These include remote door locks, lighting and thermostat controls
- Customization and Choice – Users can add additional equipment at any time. Vivint top tier systems allow owners to choose whatever specified number of home automation products they want. The basic package components also allow for individual substitutions based on homeowners’ needs.
- Technology – Vivint has a keen interest in seeking out the best and most reliable home security technology available and providing it to their customers. The company adds new products to their line on a regular basis.
Vivint has had some problems in some areas, primarily to do with sales techniques, service, and pricing.
- Aggressive and Pressuring Sales Tactics – Four states, Ohio, Wisconsin, Kansas and Nebraska filed suits on behalf of consumers against the company in the past three years. Most of the complaints lodged by the state’s Attorney General’s offices involved misrepresentation and deceptive sales tactics. This has resulted in almost 3500 complaints lodged with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and BBB rating of B-.
- Pricing and Contract Length – The customization and technology of the Vivint systems come at a price. Their systems cost more than their top competitors do. The contract length is seventy-two months. This is two to three years longer than most other home security system monitoring contracts.
- Customer Service – Vivint receives consistently low rankings from customers for service. Chief among the complaints includes unanswered calls for assistance, lack of support once the new owner signs the contract and billing problems.
- Installation and Activation Fees – The company charges close to $199 for installation and activation. Service calls for installation of new equipment are expensive also though repair service is free. Vivint does advertise free installation for new customers, but activation fees may still apply.
Package Overview and Charges
Vivint offers three levels of home security packages requiring five-year contracts:
Home cameras are considered smart home services devices. There are indoor and outdoor versions. You can add more sensors or home automation products for an additional charge.
|Equipment||Smart Protect||Smart Protect and Control||Smart Complete|
|7" Touchpad Control Panel||1||1||1|
|Door and Window Sensors||3||3||3|
|Smart Home Services Devices (including Cameras)||No||2||3|
|24/7 Monitoring Services||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Home and Cloud Photo Storage ("Space Monkey")||No||No||Yes|
The 2Gig technology used in the Vivint systems transmits all data using cellular networks. The system uses AC power with battery backup. The Sky Control panel contains the brains of the system. All three packages provide a seven-inch touchpad loaded with the 2Gig software that enables you to access all the functionality of the system.
The sensors are simple to install. You place the sensors on the window or door using the double-sided tape provided. The smart home services devices are also simple to install.
The sensors require very little power, and the batteries should last for a number of years. Additional window or door sensors, motion and smoke detectors, key fobs or touch pads must be purchased separately.
There are several different types of sensors and detectors not included in the packages that can be bought:
- Glass Break Sensor
- Carbon Monoxide Detector
- Sky Control Panel
- Recessed Door Sensor
- Freeze/Flood Sensor
- Tilt Sensor
- Small Appliance Control (Controls Lighting Also)
- Panic Pendant
In addition to the sensors, Vivint offers six smart home services devices. You can choose which ones you want with the two higher-end packages, or you can purchase them as add-ons:
- Doorbell Video
- Smart Thermostat Control
- Remote Door Access
- Garage Door Controller
- Pan and Tilt Video Camera (indoor only)
- Fixed HD Video Camera (indoor only)
Vivint charges for installation and activation, so opting for Do-It-Yourself offers no incentive to the home or business owner. Installation and setup are quick, however. Changing the settings and customizing the preferences require only a few steps outlined clearly in the manual or through online prompts through the interface.
Touchpad Control Panel
The 7″ touchpad control panel has an LED screen with simple icons that allow one-touch activation or deactivation. For example, the home screen has a front and back door lock and unlock icon that allows instant control of the door locks. Arming and disarming work the same.
Door and Window Sensors
The wireless door and window sensors work have a built-in battery that is activated by releasing the protective tab. The sensor and bracket must be within a minimum distance after mounting in order to lock or arm properly. There is no need to drill holes in anything, and each can be fitted to just about any style or type of access point.
As with most sensors today, the bracket and sensor portions are held in place by magnets. Once the connection is broken, the alarm will activate.
The motion detectors have a reasonable range, of about 30 feet, with a 110° angle view and five-year lithium battery. The detectors are tamper-proof and come with different style mounting brackets depending upon where they placed. Pets up to 33 pounds will not set off the unit.
These units function like most wireless smoke detectors and react to smoke and extreme heat. They integrate, like all the 2Gig equipment used by Vivint, wirelessly with the console. Like the motion detectors, they have tamper-proof construction and a five-year battery.
The key fob operates from up to one hundred feet away and can arm or disarm you system with no time delay. There are a panic alarm button and a button that opens or closes your garage door.
“Space Monkey” Home and Cloud Storage Device
Vivint markets this as not only a security photo storage device, but also one that allows users to upload and store photos taken with their smartphones and other devices. The Space Monkey resides wireless in your home and has 1TB of space. The images are also automatically uploaded to the cloud, so you have instant access whether at home or away through any connected device.
The mobile app can be downloaded on IOS, Android and blackberry. The systems admin user must first grant access before the user can control the system through his or her smartphone. Once permission is granted, users can control the alarm system as well as the smart home services devices like temperature controls, door locks or lighting.
Glass Break Sensor
The 2Gig glass break technology works on the same principal as all glass break sensors. They are a motion detector that detects breaking glass and that is always armed. The Vivint units have two test LEDs, are tamper resistant and have a 360° horizontal sensing angle.
Carbon Monoxide Detector
The carbon monoxide detector uses a chemical sensor that, along with the lithium battery, must be replaced every five years. Users mount the units on the ceiling or walls. Each has a shrill, 85dBa level audible alarm as well as wireless system connectivity that alerts the monitoring station. The unit casing is tamper proof.
Recessed Door Sensor
The recessed door sensor is only 2 ½ inches long. It detects opening or closing of the door using a rare-earth magnet, so mounting to the door does not use a bracket. The small profile makes it easier to place in an unobtrusive location in a window frame area or door.
The freeze/flood sensors are either mounted or placed in areas where a flood or water damage is most likely. The system will alert if water reaches a certain level or continuously moistens the sensor through spray or overflow. It also informs the system if the temperature within a certain radius drops to a pre-set level.
A tilt sensor is most often mounted on a garage door. When the door is opened, and the sensor on the door reaches a certain angle, the alarm signals the console that the door has been opened.
As with all alarm activations, the monitoring station will be notified when someone opens the garage. The system will send an email or text alert to the users.
Small Appliance Control (Controls Lighting Also)
The small appliance control works with lights, coffee pots or other appliances. The appliance plugs into the small, rounded box, and you must then program the sensor to be read by the system. Once activated, you can use your smartphone app or touchpad control panel to operate it. You can program the system to turn it on or off at a specific time too.
The panic pendant is a small device that can be worn or placed within 300 feet (unobstructed: doors, walls, and furniture will reduce the effective range) of the console panel. You must press it for 2-3 seconds for the alarm to activate.
The Vivint doorbell video unit mounts on the front door. When pressed, there is an audible tone and the video camera automatically begins recording. There is a built-in speaker and a microphone to allow you to converse with the visitors. If you opt for the remote door access smart appliance add-on, the user can pair the video with the remote door sensor and unlock the door if desired. The camera has good coverage, 180°, and includes a night vision infrared lens.
Smart Thermostat Control
The thermostat connects to your home HVAC system. It has a small backlit LED touchscreen and allows 7-day programming directly at the unit or through the touchscreen or smartphone controls.
Remote Door Access
The remote door access unit has a motorized deadbolt. You can use it in place of most standard door lock mechanisms. The face has a keypad to enter whatever access code you set. If someone tries unsuccessfully more than three times, the alarm will sound.
You can lock or unlock the doors from your smartphone app or touchscreen.
Garage Door Controller
The garage door controller is a small panel that you mount that allows you to enter your code to open the door. A wireless signal is sent through the system to alert when the door is opened or closed by the controller. Any text or email alerts will be automatically sent to your user group. A small beep sounds and a light in the panel flashes whenever the door is opened or closed also.
Fixed and Pan and Tilt Video Cameras
Up to five users can view the real-time streaming video simultaneously. The HD fixed camera has a stand and can be placed on a bookshelf or other flat surface. The pan and tilt can be mounted or set on a flat surface. The Pan/Tilt range is +45 to -45 pan and +22 to -35 tilt. Both have privacy buttons, and both can be connected to the internet wireless or with an Ethernet cable.
Neither camera is made for outdoor use. Vivint does not offer an outdoor camera.
Vivint does not make the programming or installation readily available to the Do-It-Yourself type of person. Vivint technicians install the new systems wherever you want and do the programming. The techs will also come out and install any additional equipment you may purchase later.
The user, however, can customize the alerts, arming delays, user access, and other features at any time.
Vivint began corporate life as APX Alarm Security Solutions in 1999 in Provo, Utah. The company began offering monitoring of alarms in 2006. By 2011, the company secured financing from Goldman Sachs for over $500 million, rebranded itself as Vivint and started a second company called Vivint Solar.
The Blackstone Group acquired Vivint in 2012, along with 2Gig that supplies most of the technology. The company is considered one of the best employers in the U.S.
In 2015, Vivint began a new Internet service, priced at $60 per month for 100Mbps: much cheaper than comparable cable packages.
We would love to hear from you regarding any comments about the Vivint system and anything you would like to share your experiences with using the system. All questions are welcome also.
Vivint provides a reliable system that gives the user lots of options, and is one of the better security systems we have reviewed. It is simple to use and offers plenty of customizable features. The main drawback is the cost as well as a five-year commitment. The high-pressure sales tactics also have alienated some buyers and potential buyers.
Vivint systems are for homeowners that do not have the time or inclination to install or maintain a system themselves. Vivint does everything for you (unlike a system like Frontpoint). The Vivint systems provide the latest in home security and home smart system interface technology and require nothing from the home owner other than paying the monthly monitoring fee.