Is Vivint the best Home Security solution for your piece of mind?
We started looking into home security alarm and surveillance systems ever since there had been a slew of break-ins and home invasion burglaries in our neighborhood in the late 2016 time frame.
Knowing how vulnerable we were and how the local police department could only do so much (most of which is after the fact and not preventative), we decided to do something about it by procuring such a home security system.
We ultimately went with Vivint since it seemed to be getting good reviews, and we had friends as well as folks from a local Neighborhood Watch Facebook group that recommended them.
So we’ve been using this home security system for 5 years, and we thought we’d share our personal experiences with their service and their equipment.
That way you can leverage our real experiences and decide for yourself if this is the home security system that suits your particular needs…
What Is Vivint?
Vivint is a home security solution provider though they’ve been trying to tout themselves as a smart home solution as well.
What we got with the Vivint system was a doorbell (which doubled as a camera), a control panel, lots of battery-operated sensors, and some Wi-Fi equipment that hooked up with our existing ISP (internet service provider) router.
We also purchased an additional camera, which was integrated with the overall system seamlessly.
The control panel itself was a wall-mounted unit inside the house that allowed us to see what the camera saw as well as the status of the various sensors, while also connecting us with a Vivint office that calls us if an alarm has been triggered.
This office is also the primary conduit to calling the local police department if something’s wrong (e.g. their calls to us are not responded to or we’re in need of help).
The control panel can also communicate with our smart phone so whatever we can see through the control panel can also be seen through the phone.
Moreover, the control panel also allowed us to tweak the camera sensitivities as well as check the battery status of the various sensors placed around the house (primarily the doors and windows).
The overall system itself had to be professionally installed for proper registration and integration as well as the control panel unit and the cameras leveraging the home’s electrical wiring for both communications and power.
That’s pretty much it as far as what we got with the Vivint system, and it’s really nothing complicated.
Why Use Vivint?
When we decided to use Vivint, there were some key features in their offerings that appealed most to us, which we’ll run down in this section.
One of the main features of the Vivint system is how we were able to always keep an eye on our home through our smart phone.
Not only were we able to see our home through the Vivint cameras on our smart phones, but the push notifications were very fast as well as useful (especially compared to earlier versions of the Ring system that we also had for surveillance).
In fact, Vivint system’s notifications provided us a thumbnail image for each alert on our phone that gave us a quick at-a-glance look at what’s going on without doing additional swipes and taps on the phone.
That allowed us to quickly assess whether we needed to respond to the alert and intervene (e.g. whether we needed to answer the doorbell) or whether we needed to make adjustments to the camera’s sensitivity.
The latter became an issue when there’d be so many notifications that we stopped paying attention to them like the boy that cried “wolf” too many times (e.g. this tended to happen on windy days when the tree movements triggered the cameras).
Nevertheless, this remote surveillance feature was particularly useful when we were out and about running errands or even when we were on a trip.
The only time that we couldn’t respond to alerts in a timely fashion was if we didn’t have internet (e.g. we were all on a hike where there was no reception).
Nevertheless, I’d say the surveillance system was definitely one of the strong features of the Vivint system.
One thing that burglars don’t like is when they attract attention, which basically thwarts whatever nefarious activities they’re engaged in doing (or about to do).
And one way to draw that kind of attention to them, especially if they’re targeting your home, is an alarm system.
As far as the Vivint system goes, it blares a very loud and piercing sound that can be heard by much of the neighborhood (believe us, we’ve heard it blaring while we were inside the house)!
If we don’t happen to be home, we can also hear this alarm through our phone.
Regardless of whether we’re home or not, a triggered alarm draws a call from the central Vivint office who would check in to see if everything’s OK.
The next response depends on how their calls were responded to, which brings me to the next feature…
Police Call Outs
Speaking of alarms, when it’s triggered, after Vivint calls us, it also determines if they need to get the local police department involved.
This can happen if Vivint calls and there’s no response or if they call and our answers prompt them to inform the local PD about what’s going on with our property.
So having the local authorities plugged into our home security system gives us additional assurance that should our home be targeted for theft, the perpetrators wouldn’t have much time to operate before the cops show up.
Granted, we’ve seen instances where professional burglars have figured out how to do smash and grab burglaries in less than a half-hour, but at least that should deter the majority of thieves less likely to target a well-equipped home.
Indeed, when it comes to security, every second counts, and having the local authorites involved is yet another measure that Vivint can hook you up with in their comprehensive home security offering.
Piece of Mind
Given the benefits of Vivint mentioned above, we also realized that even just having the presence of cameras and the alarm system can be enough of a deterrent.
After all, if you were a thief, would you target a house with a camera looking at you or would you target a home without one?
As much as I’d hate to say this, but it’s the homes that are perceived to be easier targets that tend to be more victimized than those that appear to be better equipped.
We don’t live in a perfect world (and it’s getting more dangerous and uncertain as time goes on) so in order to have that piece of mind, we’ve learned that just having Vivint seemed to be as much of a deterrent as much as a response system.
So it’s all these things combined as well as the unintended benefits like the show of defense that really gave us that piece of mind that we can continue to enjoy living in our home in what should be a safe space.
What Are The Drawbacks Of Vivint?
Although Vivint has proven to be a pretty full featured home security system, we had encountered quite a few setbacks with them, which we’ll get into in this section.
Control Panel Freeze Ups
Within the first year of using the Vivint system, we already started to notice anomalous behavior on our control panel, which typically manifested in the form of hang-ups or non-responsiveness.
Whenever this happened, we had to call the Vivint Support to let them know what was going on, and then they’d typically do a remote restart, which more often than not seemed to get the unit back to normal.
However, our first year saw more than its share of hang-ups, and I suspected that it had to do with a second non-doorbell camera that we used for our backyard sliding door.
I believe there might have been too much video footage and bandwidth usage that might have somehow honked up the Vivint Control Panel Unit, and thus we eventually returned that additional camera.
Whether by coincidence or not, the freeze-ups on the Vivint Control Panel went away for the most part after we didn’t have that additional camera.
Anyways, since those frequent incidents, there were a handful of more hang-ups over the years, and it called into question how reliable our control panel was.
During our first two or three years of using Vivint, false alarms were practically non-existent.
However, it was in our 3rd and 4th years (and especially in our 5th year) that we would get false alarms very frequently.
Since we would typically arm the alarm while we were asleep, the trigger would happen in the middle of the night, which prompted us to jump out of bed in a panic and get to the control panel as soon as possible.
We knew most of these alarms (if not all) were false because the panel would call out random sensor locations like the office window being open or the sliding door being open (when neither of them were open).
Even after replacing the batteries of each of the sensors (which was part of the support’s decision tree when troubleshooting), we still got frequent false alarms.
Indeed, it got to the point that we were hesitant to arm the alarms, which wasn’t good since this was something we paid for in our Vivint contract.
Speaking of contract, by going with Vivint, we were locked into a 5-year contract where the service costed us $51.47 per month over 60 months (or about $3100 with taxes taken into account).
On top of that, we also bought an additional camera that costed us $26.94 interest free over 60 months (or a little over $1616).
When you compare these costs with say Ring ($100/year for storing camera footage along with about $800 or $200 per floodlight camera, and about $300 for the doorbell camera), you’ll see that Vivint was an order of magnitude more expensive.
However, the thing you’re not getting with Ring is an alarm, monitoring, and integration with the local office and authorities.
Then again, we had so much trouble with false alarms that our use of Vivint was reduced to only surveillance in the last year-and-a-half of our 5-year contract term so it felt like we were overpaying for Vivint at that time.
Given all of the difficulties we’ve had with malfunctioning Vivint equipment, we had gotten quite familiar with contacting Vivint support.
We recognize that our experience should not be the typical Vivint experience, but you know none of that matters when it’s happening to you!
The frustrating thing with talking with Vivint support is that every time we’ve gotten in touch with a live person, we had to go through a long decision tree.
It was as if we were a new customer every time we’ve contacted support (you’d think our call history should have been in their system and our unsolved issues should be accounted for), and it tended to waste a lot of time.
Then, when we finally got an appointment for a service technician to come to the home (after the decision tree had exhausted all the remote steps and interventions), we’ve had a very hit-and-miss experience.
In the worst cases, we’ve had service technicians show up outside of the planned service window and then do nothing and call the job done.
Sometimes, we’ve had other techs who somehow made the situation worse and required us to make another call out to fix.
In the best cases, we had people who seemed to know what they were doing and were quite friendly.
Unfortunately, after all the support calls and service tech visits, our system still failed to function as expected, and that was when we started to lose hope that Vivint was the right solution for us.
Are We Still Vivint Customers?
When we first signed up for Vivint, it seemed like in the first two years of using them, things had been going pretty well for the most part (aside from the initial glitches with the Control Panel).
However, it was in our 4th and especially 5th year of using Vivint that we really had issues with equipment malfunctions.
In fact, the false alarms had been so frequent and unreliable, and the hit-and-miss support took so much of our time, that we eventually just stopped arming the alarm system altogether.
It certainly didn’t feel good paying for what should be a full-service security system only to have to fulfill our contract using this system essentially as an overpriced surveillance system.
The straw that broke the camel’s back for us was when we finally got a replacement control panel (thinking that was the last thing we didn’t try to fix), but when we did a hike in a no service zone, we learned that we got yet another false alarm.
Not only that, but the cops came out, inspected our home, and then sent us a letter about the cost of too many false call outs, and all this happened while we were doing the hike!
So not only were we paying for Vivint to fulfill our contract, but we were now starting to pay more money out-of-pocket for false alarms!
Indeed, when our 5-year contract was up, we didn’t continue the service with Vivint though we still have their equipment (as apparently all that money spent was for their equipment anyways).
Thus, we can still see what the cameras see through the control panel, and the alarm can still be armed and triggered, but the Wi-Fi push notifications and phone app features as well as contact with the Vivint office no longer work.
Even if we could arm the alarm system, we wouldn’t since we already know how prone to false alarms it is.
As you can see, we’ve had a pretty tumultuous time with our Vivint service primarily due to an unreliable control panel and sensors running out of batteries (something you have to replace frequently) resulting in too many false alarms.
It got to a point where we could no longer rely on the service as it was now costing us money for police to respond to the false alarms.
While we did enjoy the camera’s responsiveness and alerts with the thumbnails (great at-a-glance look at what’s causing the alert, which was something Ring didn’t have), the hit-and-miss support along with the faulty alarm sealed the deal.
Indeed, we stopped our service with Vivint after our 5-year contract was up.
So that’s been our experience with Vivint in a nutshell.
Is our anecdote more of an anomaly, or are we not alone in our escapades?
Whatever the case, we hope that this anecdote helps you decide for yourself if Vivint is for you.
If you have questions or comments, please leave them in the comment box below…
Vivint Smart Home
Vivint Smart Home comprehensive home security system
Alarm & Monitoring
Office & Police Support
Numerous False Alarms
Hit & Miss Support
Cost & Contract