One of Vivint’s signature trademarks concerns what they claim is the best home security technology in the marketplace. Vivint obtains most sensors and other equipment from 2Gig. Everything is wireless and works over cellular networks. The units all use Z-Wave protocol standards to connect with each other or any home appliances.
The 2Gig company concentrates on the home security market. Vivint is only one of several home security companies that utilize 2Gig technology. Most of the equipment requires professional programming and installation. There is only a two-year manufacturer’s warranty though Vivint may replace them at no charge if they go bad. Despite its relative simplicity, and while it can be programmed by a handy do-it-yourselfer, Vivint does not advertise that and includes installation and programming as part of its package offering.
Vivint offers six types of sensors, three detectors and two types of specialty products.
- Door and Window
- Motion Detector
- Glass Break
- Recessed or Compact Door Sensor
- Tilt Sensor
- Freeze/Flood Sensor
- Carbon Monoxide
- Smoke and Fire
- Small Appliance Control
- Panic Pendant
- Sky Monkey (Home and Cloud Photo Storage)
Door and Window Sensors
The door and window sensors require little power. The batteries last approximately five years. The signal range is advertised as 350 feet, but this is unobstructed. The installation instructions recommend installing the sensors within 100 feet of the panel due to walls, furniture or other possible sources or interference. You may have to change the location of the panel to ensure the best possible signal strength. Often the sensor orientation may make a difference too, so prior to finalizing the location on the door or window they should be tested.
The sensors use a rare earth magnet inside the plastic casing. The dimensions of the magnet are L 1.3 inches x W .435 inches X H .312 inches.
The dimensions of the sensor, total weight 1.1 ounces (including battery) are L 2.59 inches x W 1.03 inches x H .49 inches. Both parts are housed in an off-white colored plastic case. The profile is small and unobtrusive.
Each sensor is made to withstand a temperature range between 32° F and 120° F.
The batteries, standard Panasonic CCR2032, has a pull tab and once activated can last for approximately 72 months. Change the batteries by pressing down on the plastic tab on the end of the case and removing the cover. Inside, the two round CCR2032 can be removed by taking a small flat-tip screwdriver and nudging them from the clip that holds them in place.
Besides the sensor unit and magnet, the sensor package contains two Phillip’s flat-head screws, one 2-pin connector with a 12-inch flying wire lead and an adhesive strip.
If you do add sensors and want to mount them yourself, there are several things to remember:
- Keep the sensors at least five inches off the floor to lessen the possibility of accidental damage.
- Do not mount the sensors in areas with a lot of moisture or where they may get wet.
- Make sure that the arrow on the magnet aligns with the mark on the sensor when the door or window is closed.
- When the door or window is closed, the magnet and sensor must be no further than .4 inches or 1 cm apart.
- Do not let the sensors or magnets rest directly on metal surfaces or anything metallic like foil wallpaper. Use plastic spacers as buffers.
- Don’t use the sensors in a room or closet that contains excessive electrical wiring or lots of metal objects. The sensors may not function, for example, in your furnace room with a large metal boiler and electrical wiring.
Prior to actually mounting the sensor, you should test them:
- At the touchpad control panel, press the sensor function and go to test mode.
- With the magnet and sensor in hand, align the magnet arrow with the mark on the sensor.
- Pull the magnet away. The control panel should indicate an alarm by a beep and/or flashing light.
Make sure you exit the testing mode before you mount the sensor. Testing should be down before installation and at least once a year thereafter.
Use the adhesive to hold the magnet to the door or window frame and to attach the sensor to the actual door or window.
The 2Gig motion detector units used by Vivint have a sensor range of about 30 feet x 50 feet. The angle of view is 110 degrees horizontally and 90° vertically. The wireless signal range is the same as the other sensors, 350 feet but with 100 feet still the recommended distance from the console. The unit should be mounted as high as possible on the wall to provide the maximum coverage possible.
The motion detectors used by Vivint are PIR or passive infrared sensors. These are the most common type used in home security systems. They work by detecting the radiation emitted by objects moving within range. Objects can block the sensor by blocking the radiation.
There are two “pet immunity” settings for the motion units. Most homeowners opt for the 33 lbs. setting though the default is 55 lbs. At 55 lbs. however, it would be too easy for an intruder to possibly defeat the system. Also, the unit must be mounted so that the pet cannot come within six feet of the sensor.
These units are oval-shaped, unlike the door and window sensors which are rectangular, and have a rounded rectangular PIR inset. The sensor weighs 3.7 ounces and the dimensions are L 3.2 inches x W 2.5 inches x H 1.9 inches. The operating range temperature is the same as the door and window sensors: 32° F to 120° F.
To set the pet sensitivities and install the battery takes a few steps:
- Open the back of the case by removing the screw located on the bottom of the case using a flat-tip screwdriver.
- On the left is a clearly-marked “Pet” jumper. Move this to the left to set for 33 lbs. or to the right to set the default or 55 lbs. setting.
- On the right inside the cover, there is another jumper labeled “Sensitivity.” This must be moved to the left or on “LOW” if you want the 33 lbs. setting or to the right or “HIGH” if you want the default or 55 lbs. setting.
To test the motion detection sensor, first make sure the system is disarmed, then place a magnet over the arrow located on the plastic cover of the sensor. There is a red light by the arrow that will illuminate indicated the sensor is in test mode. As you move around the room, the light should flash every two seconds until you stop moving. This indicates the sensor is operating properly. Test mode automatically shuts off after one minute.
Sensors should be tested once a year.
Glass break sensor stays armed at all times. These types of sensors work by “hearing” the sound of breaking the glass and reacting by sending an alarm signal to the control panel.
The sensor is round and is similar in size and weight to a standard smoke detector. The dimensions are 4.55 inches x 1.9 inches and it weighs 5.1 ounces. Operating temperature range is the same as the other sensors.
The sensor range is about 15 feet, with a sensing angle of 360° if installed on the ceiling or 180° on the wall. It should be mounted at least 7 feet, but no higher than 10 feet above the floor and directly opposite the window or door area monitored. There are three Phillip-head screws and plastic wall anchors provided for mounting.
The user twists the cover counter-clockwise to remove it and replace the two CR123A Panasonic Lithium batteries.
If you suspect the unit may not be functioning, the only reliable way to test it is with a glass break simulator. Vivint technicians can do this. If you want to do it yourself, simulators cost about $60. To test the sensor, you push the button labeled “Test” on the cover and release it. The red LED light will illuminate and the green LED will blink once to verify that it is in test mode, which lasts 90 seconds. Activate the glass break simulator and the green LED should illuminate, followed by the red.
The recessed door sensor operates the same way as a regular door or window sensor. However, a recessed door sensor is constructed to allow you to mount it directly in the door or window frames. You must drill a hole in the door large enough to allow the plastic cylindrical sensor holder to be placed inside the door frame so that the actual sensor is flush with the door. The only visible part is the 1.6-inch rounded sensor. The magnet is mounted inside the door frame. When the door is closed, the sensors are undetectable. The dimensions are 2.8 inches x 1.4 inches by 4 inches. The sensor weighs one pound.
The directions call for drilling an 11/16-inch hole. However, most users who install it themselves claim that a ¾ inch hole works much better.
The RE 206 tilt sensor is one of the few Vivint products that are not from 2Gig. Resolution Products manufactures these sensors and they are consider one of the best available. Garage doors, hatches or anything that tilts when opened can be secured by this sort of sensor.
The dimensions are L 3.3 inches x W 4.1 inches x H 1.1 inches and it comes with four mounting screws. It can easily fit any sort of garage door. The tilt alarm activation angle is 45° plus or minus 15° upwards cone. The operations angle is 0° vertical and 90horizontal. The CR123A Lithium battery lasts at least five years.
Testing is done by simply tilting the sensor over 45° from the vertical and making the sure control panel receives an alarm signal.
The freeze/flood sensor is a Honeywell product. The 5821 has five different temperature ranges that it can be set for: hot, cold, refrigerate and freeze. There is an external probe for flood or water detection. These sensors are most often placed in bathrooms, laundry rooms or around appliances like dishwashers. They can also be used to sense the overall temperature of a room and alert the user if the temperatures drop below or above a certain level. The sensing ranges can be set by the home or business owner.
The units provide dual sensing capability: the can sense water or flooding as well as sense temperature changes. For example, if the temperature in the house drops below 45° F for more than ten minutes or thirty minutes, depending on how the operator sets the parameters, an alarm signal will be sent. If more than ¼ inch of water covers the probe, the same sensor will detect that.
The unit is powered by a 3V battery that lasts for approximately five years. The sensor dimensions are H 3.1 inches x W 1.6 inches x D 1 inch.
The Carbon Monoxide and Smoke Detector
These two wireless detectors work essentially the same as conventional detectors but are integrated into the Vivint home alarm panel and monitoring. Each comes with mounting screws and brackets.
Both operate using three AAA batteries that are replaced by twisting the base counter-clockwise. There are two important steps to that should be followed to ensure the unit operates properly after the batteries are inserted:
- After removing the old batteries, you must wait at least 20 seconds to allow for all power to be drained before inserting the new batteries.
- Insert the new batteries, ensuring the polarity diagram inside is followed, reattach the base and wait up to 30 seconds for the green light to come on. It should then flash about every 12 seconds.
The carbon monoxide detector uses a chemical sensing device and has an audible warning in addition to a wireless system warning. The smoke and fire detector has a chemical sensing device for smoke as well as a heat sensing device. It too uses audible and wireless warnings.
Small Appliance Control
The small appliance control is about the size and shape of a pencil sharpener. You plug any appliance into it and you can then control them through your home security system. For example, you can plug in a coffee pot, then program it through the control panel to turn on or off at a certain time. You can also use it for the lights in the house or any other appliance that runs on AC power.
The panic pendant is a very small sensor that can be worn around your neck. It weighs less than a ½ ounce with the battery and the dimensions are L 1.65 inches x W ½ inches x H .5 inches. In the event of an emergency, you press and hold the button for two seconds and an alarm signal will be sent to the control panel and monitoring station.
The transmission ranges is the same as the other sensors, 350 feet, but also like the other sensors, the effective range is closer to 100 feet. This is fine for most homes and apartments, but the range is limited if you are outside.
It is easy to test by putting the alarm system into test mode, then pressing and holding the button to confirm a signal is being sent and received by the control console.
Space Monkey (Home and Cloud Photo Storage)
The Space Monkey is currently the only proprietary device sold by Vivint. The unit looks like a small speaker and sits on a desk or shelf. Internet-based, the user must connect it using the Ethernet cable provided to his or her home network.
Once this is down, the software must be downloaded from the internet, www.spacemonkey.com/install. Follow the onscreen instructions to download and activate the software.
Any photos or images captured by the Space Monkey are stored directly on the home or business owner’s PC or laptop. A copy is simultaneously stored in the cloud also. The unit is compatible with smartphone cameras and when synced with the phones will store and allow instant access by any authorized user to any photos or videos. The Space Monkey has 1TB or storage space.
Vivint uses a wide range of solid sensor, detector and smart technology for its systems. Though most of the sensors come from 2Gig, Vivint has not locked itself into any particular company. Each of the sensors is highly rated. The freeze/flood sensor is considered one of the best and most reliable around. The Vivint sensors provide dependable and reliable service. The one drawback is ease of use: installing and programming them yourself is complicated and most owners will be dependent on Vivint technical support for any upgrades or changes to their system.
We would love to hear your thoughts or experiences with the Vivint line of products. Please let us know if you have any questions or have anything to add regarding the products reviewed. For our full review, look to our Vivint home security review page.