Vivint Security is one of the smart home security systems available in the market today. If you are thinking of replacing your traditional security system with a smarter one, consider our take on this wireless technology.
Pro: home automation based features, easy to use, effective.
Con: some elements are overly sensitive, higher than average fee
Overview: Our overall experience with Vivint was positive. I loved the automated aspect and how easy it was to use with its smartphone based app. It performed exactly as advertised. I think they need to work a bit more on the sensitivity of the door bell camera/motion detector and I’d like to see a lower price point option.
Vivint Security Full Review
My wife and I occasionally discussed getting a new alarm system. Our old Brinks system has been inoperable for a decade. We never really made a decision on what to do. Along comes a Vivint salesman, a very good Vivint salesman. After demonstrating the system capabilities, he sold us a basic system install. Our system consisted of:
- A Wi-Fi home security/automation control panel
- A wireless motion detector
- A wireless combination doorbell/camera
- Two wireless device controllers
- A wireless camera
- A wireless thermostat
- A Wi-Fi push button door lock.
- An emergency call pendant.
Vivint Security Installation
Installation took about 3 hours, but that have been colored by the fact that my home is a 1973 with numerous ungrounded circuits. The installer was courteous and explained everything as he went.
The one thing that he did not explain well was the device controller. A device controller is a plug in power controller with two plugs on it. One is simply a power outlet, but the other is a controlled outlet. Plug a lamp into the controlled outlet and you can remotely cycle the lamp or program a schedule for it. They are a great idea in theory, but I learned that installation was not as intuitively obvious as I thought. After I hooked them up to two lamps, the lamps turned off and on, randomly, on their own. I’m sure if I had stuck with it further, the issue could have been resolved.
The main controller is fantastic. It is a pretty solid Wi-Fi based home automation control center. It has a 7 inch color screen and uses the Z-wave standard for its components, so you can add other compatible devices. The Vivint control panel managed all of the items listed above in an easy, intuitive manner. It can display the view from any camera on a very clear screen. I found it very simple to create a thermostat program, lighting program and set up the camera for general coverage in my home. Within an hour of the install technicians departure, I had everything set up and working (except the outlet controllers).
Highly Sensitive Camera
And then my issue started. While I love the idea that the doorbell has a camera, speaker and microphone in it. I am not sure that the camera is ready for prime time. The idea is that you can see who is at your door without having to approach it. The system allows you to talk to whoever is at your door. With the smartphone controller, you can talk to a visitor from anywhere that you have cell coverage. I love that idea. My issue with the camera is it’s sensitivity. The tech set the sensitivity at 50%. The next morning, I had 40+ notifications that someone was approaching my door before lunch. Nobody had really come to my door. OK, for background, I live in a suburban neighborhood built in the early 1970’s. We have lots of mature trees. The breeze gently bounces branches. I am also on a corner. The road along the side of my home is the second busiest road in the neighborhood. It is not unusual to get a car every minute or so hitting the stop sign at the corner of our lot. That intersection is within the field of view of the doorbell camera. So we turned the sensitivity down to 20%. That afternoon we got 17 false notifications. So we turned the sensitivity down to 15%. Still had issues. So we turned the notifications off.
I also really liked the combination of the wireless camera at the interior and the wireless, push button deadbolt. We quickly got spoiled to not having to dig out keys to enter the home. Simply hit the 4-6 digit combination, the bolt is electrically retracted and you can enter. Anyone that has to juggle packages and kids when entering the home is going to love this. Combine this feature with the camera and you get peace of mind. Whenever I got the notification that the door had been opened, I flipped over to the camera to make sure that it was my wife or one of the kids. For working parents this will be a very comforting thing. You can easily make sure that the kids are home and check on the babysitter any time you want. Vivint only provides one portable camera at set up, but the system will accommodate more. You don’t really even have to buy them from Vivint. They are readily available on Amazon.com
Vivint System Smartphone App
My favorite thing about the entire Vivint system is the smartphone App. The reason that we dumped Brinks way back in the day was that we were always forgetting to set it. The smartphone App allows you to quickly Arm or Disarm the system at anytime from anywhere. The first time this happened, I found myself sitting at our friends house trying to remember if we had set the alarm. No problem. I opened the App, set the alarm and for good measure, turned the AC up a bit to save energy while we were away.
Vivint Security Drawback
The only other “con” that I can pick on is the pricing. The monthly fee was $69.95. Generally, in my market the “usual players” run about $45.00. While $20 is not much for a lot of people, I am pretty cheap. I would like to see Vivint come out with a lower price point option. There are cheaper home automation controllers available. If you utilize the clients computer and smartphone to program and control, why do you need to install a $800 main control panel? Most people I know spend their lives within arms length of their smartphone. If I have that, I don’t need a color panel on the wall 30 feet away.
This last issue lead us to call Vivint and politely ask them to come pick up their system. I miss it, but between the doorbell/camera false notifications and the cost, my wife and I decided that we could not justify it. For those of you less cheap and a little more patient, this is a really great system.
This is a great system, with lots of great expansion possibilities. It’s emergency pendent device makes it particularly useful for the elderly or those with a medical condition. I would have loved to have had this system back when my kids where coming home to an empty house after school. If you are considering an alarm system, you should definitely visit www.Vivint.com.