A lineup of Vivint products.
Vivint

With a series of sensors, monitors, and cameras all tied to a central hub, a Vivint security system leverages the connectivity inherent in the Internet of Things (IoT) to monitor and protect your home. Read on to find out if it might be a good fit for your home security needs.

The Smart Hub

At the heart of any Vivint smart home security system is a Smart Hub—a touch-screen panel that needs to be hard-wired to a power source. The Smart Hub acts as the central “brain” of the system and is the device to which all other sensors and monitors connect.

The Smart Hub also lets you monitor any cameras that you have installed directly from the screen, and it’s the device that will contact your monitoring service (more about that in a minute) should it detect an issue. It has a battery backup and can operate via a cellular LTE signal, so even if there’s a power outage or a disruption in your Wi-Fi service, the Hub will still operate and protect your home.

Man using touch-screen panel by front door
Vivint

The entire Vivint system can also be monitored and controlled from an app on your smartphone. Both the app and Smart Hub can also arm the system when you are away and control various other components.

A push-to-talk feature on the Hub lets you communicate with someone at your front door if you have Vivint’s video doorbell installed, and a panic button quickly connects to your monitoring service or local police department and lets you communicate right from the panel. The company also sells Emergency Pendants, small keychain-like devices that you can keep with you, which can be used to activate your alarm with the press of a button.

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Both the app and the Smart Hub can be used to program different actions based on your location. For example, if you are home, you might want your system to let you know if any windows or doors are opened, but to ignore any motion that it detects.

Sensors and Cameras

Beyond the Smart Hub, a Vivint system requires the use of various additional gear, depending on your needs. Two-part sensors are used to monitor your doors and windows. When the connection between the two sensors is broken, the system will know that something has been opened. If your system is disarmed or set to a “home” status, you can allow it to simply provide a chime to alert you. If you are away, disconnecting these sensors will trigger an alarm. The sensors are equipped with long-lasting batteries and do not need to be hard-wired.

The outdoor Vivint security cameras do, however, need to be wired into your home’s electrical system. Vivint offers both outdoor and indoor cameras that not only stream and record what they see, but that also allow you to communicate through built-in speakers and mics. Both types of cameras can be set to record motion when it is detected. The outdoor cameras have 4K sensors and 140-degree fields of vision, and they will activate a piercing sound and light ring when they detect an intruder, letting potential thieves know that they are being monitored. The indoor cameras simply plug into a standard outlet.

Vivint camera on marble counter
Vivint

Rounding out the security offerings from Vivint are motion sensors and glass-break sensors, which are pretty much self-explanatory. The battery-operated motion sensors are installed inside and can be set to not only trigger an alarm, but also to work with Vivint’s smart thermostats to adjust the temperature when you are away. Glass-break sensors listen for the high-pitched tones of shattered glass to initiate an alarm.

Monitoring

In the world of smart home security, there are both monitored and self-monitoring solutions. Vivint is a monitored system. While monitoring isn’t strictly required, if you forgo it, you can’t use the app to remotely monitor and adjust the system, and alarms won’t be forwarded to company representatives or local emergency services when triggered.

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At this time, basic monitoring starts at $20 per month. A smart home package that allows you to build routines between your devices costs $40 per month, and video monitoring costs $44.99 plus $4.99 per camera beyond your first one, also on a per-month basis.

Installation

Man installing camera on outside of home
Vivint

Another major differentiator in smart home security systems is whether they can be installed by the homeowner, or whether a professional needs to come out to get the job done. Vivint is a professionally installed system that currently costs a flat rate of $49.

Equipment Costs

While the installation fee for a Vivint smart home security system is reasonable, the equipment tends to be on the pricey side. For example, as of May 2021, each door and window sensor costs $50, glass break sensors and motion detectors cost $100, indoor cameras run $199 each, and the outdoor Pro Camera costs $399.

Additional Options

Square white thermostat on wooden wall
Vivint Element Thermostat

Not only can a Vivint system offer security options, but also, the company provides a range of additional gear that can keep your home sound beyond just detecting intruders. Freeze and flood sensors ($70 each) can let you know if a certain area of your home has gotten too cold or wet, and smoke and carbon monoxide detectors ($100 each) will alert you to those dangers. For complete smart home control, you can also add Vivint’s programmable Element thermostat ($169), a garage door controller ($99), a doorbell camera ($249), a variety of smart lights and outlets, and smart door locks. Control for all of these elements is provided through the Hub and the App as well as with voice commands through Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.

Is a Vivint Smart Home Security System Right for You?

So, should you add some or all of Vivint’s smart home features to your life? Well, that question mostly comes down to monitoring and installation.

If you want to have your home security system connect to a central monitoring station staffed with representatives who can check in with you when an alarm is triggered and alert the local authorities if necessary, Vivint certainly delivers. If you will feel comfortable without this kind of monitoring solution, however, there are a range of Wi-Fi cameras and sensors that you can install yourself much more affordably. These sensors will send alerts to an app on your smartphone only, so if you tend to have your phone with you all the time and feel comfortable calling for emergency services on your own, you can save some cash while still obtaining some peace of mind.

Also, if you’re not necessarily handy and tech-savvy, Vivint’s installation service is a bargain at only $50. For that flat fee, a pro will visit your home, attach and wire all sensors and cameras, connect everything to your Smart Hub, and show you how to use the system.

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If, however, you’re comfortable with basic installation procedures and have a good grasp of home networking, then you could assemble your own security system much more inexpensively. For example, instead of Vivint’s doorbell camera at $249, you could install a Ring video doorbell for as low as $60. Instead of the company’s outdoor Pro camera at $399, you can get a three-pack of Blink outdoor cameras for less than $200. And instead of shelling out $100 for each of Vivint’s door and window sensors, you can find a range of more affordable sensors in the $20 range by poking around the internet, including those costing just $14.99 from SimpliSafe, a well-regarded self-install security system.

The Full Package

Vivint Smart Home Security

An all-in-one smart home security system with professional installation, 24/7 monitoring, and remote controls. It works with Alexa and Google Assistant voice commands, too.

Michael Franco Michael Franco
Michael Franco is a freelance writer for How-To Geek. He has been writing about the serious and silly sides of science, technology, and home improvement for years. His work has appeared in Discover Magazine, CNET, Lifehacker, Islands Magazine, BobVila.com, Mindbounce, and various Discovery Channel properties.
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