Vivint Home Automation

Vivint uses Z-Wave wireless technology to communicate with its smart home services devices. Most of the major appliance manufacturers use the Z-Wave protocols. Many allow their products to use not only Z-Wave but also wireless and ZigBee and other protocols. This allows the devices to “talk” to each other and enables the user to access and control them remotely. Since Z-Wave is one of the most popular, and most manufacturers incorporate it in their HVAC, coffee makers, and other products, the Vivint system has no problems connecting to most homeowner’s appliances.  To learn more about how home integration relates to security with Vivint read our full Vivint security review.

Choices

The company currently offers six choices of smart home service technology devices:

  • Smart Thermostat Control – $129
  • Remote Door Access – $129
  • Doorbell Video – $199
  • Garage Door Controller – $129
  • Pan and Tilt Video Camera (indoor only) – $199
  • Fixed HD Video Camera (indoor only) – $149

You get your choice of two of the above with the Smart Protect and Control package, and choice of three with the Smart Complete. You can also buy them separately and have them installed as part of your package.

Vivint runs specials whereby you get a certain dollar amount of equipment, and you get to pick which items you want from the smart home products or from among the sensors or detectors.

Vivint Thermostat

 

Smart Thermostat Control

Vivint’s 2Gig CT 100 smart thermostat control operates your HVAC system. It is a touchscreen device with a backlit LED that makes it easier to see in all lighting conditions. You can do things like change temperatures, set times for heat or air conditioning to turn on, set reminders for things like replacing filters or getting the HVAC system serviced. The unit runs on four AA batteries, accessed on the bottom of the unit, and they last for up to five years according to the manufacturer.

The CT100 has three different screens: HOME, MENU, and MANUAL.

Vivint CT100

HOME Screen

On the HOME Screen you select what you want to do by touching it, then using the +/- arrows to set the temperature or move through the choices.

The Mode button is in the bottom right corner (see diagram above). It quickly switches from HEAT to OFF, COOL to OFF and finally AUTO to OFF by touching the screen.

Other icons include the actual room temperature in the center, the target temperature in the lower left corner, a clock and a link indicator that will verify the unit’s Z-Wave wireless functions.

The indicators will blink when they are actively doing their tasks.

MENU Screen

Vivint Home Menu Screen

The MENU Screen is the screen where you change the basic settings and configure the unit. The essential elements that can be changed on this screen are:

  • Time
  • Using Fahrenheit or Celsius
  • Calibrating the Thermometer to Match Other Temperature Gages
  • Locking in a Program
  • HVAC Connection
  • DIFF

The DIFF allows you to set the differential temperature. This is the number of degrees between your target temperature and actual temperature. Once the temperature reaches the differential interval, the system will turn on.

For example, let us say you set the target temperature to 73° F, and the differential is set at 2°F. Once the actual room temperature drops to 71°F, a one-degree differential, the heating system will start up.

You can set the differential from 2°F up to 6°F (or 1°-3°C).

 

The only way to access the MANUAL Screen is touching the large current temperature display on the home screen. The MANUAL Screen is used to override the setting you may have made on the unit itself or through the app or Touchpad control panel.

You cannot access manual mode unless the screen is in heat, cool or auto on the home screen.

The controls are simple: you touch the +/- arrows to select the temperature you want and then touch the HOME Screen button. This overrides the system programming for turning on or off at specific times or intervals.

There is also a special manual override for heat pumps, the EMER function. Touching EMER disables the heat pump and whatever auxiliary heating system you have is the only heat available. Touch EMER again to OFF will allow the heat pump to operate again.

Remote Door Access

The remote door access unit is a Kwikset brand unit that is compatible with most home lock sets. The Vivint techs will remove the locket on your door and install the remote door access unit in its place. The Kwikset operates wireless and powered by four AA batteries that can be changed through the access panel in the back of the lock. The motorized deadbolt powered by the batteries locks or unlocks the door.

Once installed, it operates by a touchpad, key or through remote unlocking or locking using your smartphone Vivint app or the touchpad control panel.

Practically, you get the most functionality from the device by installing the doorbell video unit so that the user can see who is coming and going.

The auto lock function locks the door automatically if left unlocked for more than 30 seconds. You can disable this feature through a switch located in the battery compartment. If you flip the switch down, the auto lock is off.

Rekeying

The Kwikset lock used by Vivint lets the user rekey the system by his or herself without calling a locksmith. For example, if your current doors all use the same key, the remote door unit can be configured to accept that key also. You will need the small brass rod and the key that come with the Vivint door lock set.

Here are the steps:

  1. Insert the Vivint key into the door lock.
  2. Turn the key a half turn or ninety degrees to the right until it is horizontal.
  3. Insert the brass rod into the small hole right above the key until you hear a click.
  4. Pull the rod and key out, without turning, and insert the key that you want to work with the unit.
  5. Turn the key a half turn or ninety degrees to the left until it is vertical, then pull the key

The key will now work with your Vivint system.

There is no limit to the number of times you can set the lock to accept new keys.

 

Doorbell Video

The doorbell video camera lets the user see and record images of visitors. It also has an intercom function that enables you to speak and hear the person at the door through the touchpad control panel or the smartphone app when you are away. The video camera automatically takes and saves a thirty-second video clip whenever the doorbell is rung. The lens has a 180° viewing angle and night vision.

You can program the system to send alerts whenever the door is opened, or the doorbell activated and have it take a photo. Naturally, the functionality is increased when utilized along with the remote door access appliance but they are considered separate devices.

 

Garage Door Controller

The garage door controller lets you control your garage door from wherever you are located. You can open or close it, have messages sent to you whenever the door is accessed or send you regular reports. It has greater functionality with the tilt-door sensor installed. However, as will the doorbell camera and remote door access unit, Vivint considers them separate items.

The panel controller can mount anywhere. You can set a code to allow someone to open or close the door through the panel. A small bell will chime when in use, and the panel light will flash.

 

Pan and Tilt Video Camera (indoor only)

The Vivint pan and tilt camera is one of the few items not manufactured by 2Gig but is 2Gig sells them. It is an ADC-V610PT wireless unit, with recording resolution of 640×480 or 320×240, with two compression options: High and Medium. The unit uses battery backup and AC power. The fixed iris has a field of view at 43.6 (H) x 33.4 (V) degrees. The low light or night visions sensitivity is 1.0 lux @ F2.0.

The operating temperature range is from 32° to 104° so theoretically in a mild climate and a protected location, it could be placed outdoors.

The units come with a stand and privacy button. The dimensions are 3.2″ x 3.3″ x 3.9″ so it has a relatively small profile.

You can program the pan and tilt presets by name. For example, if the camera is in a location where it can view the kitchen or den, you can preset the unit for both. By pressing your preset, the camera will automatically set itself to focus on that area.

 

The ADC-V510 wireless camera has three recording resolutions and three compression options: 640×480, 320×240, 176×144 and high, medium and low compression options. The fixed camera low light sensitivity is different from the pan and tilt at .4 lux @ F2.0. Up to five users can view the images simultaneously.

This too has a low profile with dimensions, including stand, of 1.1″ x 3.5″ x 3.5″ and weight of only 4.3 ounces.

The operating temperature ranges are the same as the pan and tilt with AC and battery backup powering the unit.

Final Thoughts

The home automation offerings by Vivint rival the best available currently in the home security market. The pricing strategy can, however, make it costly if you want all the bells and whistles with your system. It can be tricky to optimize your system with only the options given as part of even the top-of-the-line Smart Complete package.

You will have to buy some additional sensors to obtain full functionality for some of the products, such as a tilt sensor for the garage controller and include both the door lock and doorbell.

Vivint has one of the most versatile and high-tech systems on the market today. The company appears committed to staying ahead of the competition by keeping abreast of the latest technology and adopting the best to use in their systems.

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