Both Vivint and ADT provide expert home security system installation that comes with a free in-home security consultation. And both companies charge a $99 minimum installation fee. So when you’re picking the right alarm system for your home, it comes down to what your priorities are and what works best for your situation.
If you care more about the latest high-tech innovations, then Vivint probably has what you’re looking for. But if you want home security with a trusted name (that’s nearly enough on its own to stop burglars in their tracks), then an ADT monitored plan through SafeStreets might be the right security match for you.
To help you sort out the rest of the details, we lined up these two industry giants and compared everything from price and contracts to features and customer service. Read on to see how it breaks down.
The top two security systems with professional installation
Compare Vivint vs. Frontpoint
|Best for||Best home automation||Best reputation|
|Lowest monitoring price|| |
|Installation cost||$99||$99 minimum|
|Contract period||42–60 months*||36 months|
|Home automation rating||Cutting-edge||Standard|
Data effective 08/13/2020. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.
*No contract required with up-front equipment purchase
- High-quality equipment
- Mobile access for all monitoring plans
- Smart home integration
- Outdoor security cameras with infrared night vision
- Affordable basic monitoring plan
- Flexible payment options, including contract-free monitoring
- High up-front equipment costs for contract-free plan
- Longer contract lengths than industry standard
- Extra cost for video monitoring
- Decades of experience in home security
- Multiple monitoring stations for extra security and reliability
- Rapid response time for installation appointments
- Some equipment costs included with plans
- One app for security and smart home devices
- Higher monthly cost
- No outdoor camera through our recommended provider
- Long-term contract required
Vivint review: High-tech equipment and flexible payment
Vivint offers top-quality equipment, cutting-edge home automation, and 24/7 customer service. But Vivint comes with high equipment costs and longer-than-usual contract lengths (unless you can buy your equipment outright). The company offsets some of the sticker shock with flexible payment options, though, so it’s still one of our favorite security companies.
Vivint packs high-tech features into every one of its monitoring packages. Unlike much of its competition, Vivint gives customers mobile access to their security systems from the Vivint Smart Home app at every monitoring level.
But Vivint’s advanced equipment and tech features come at a price. The company has high equipment costs and contracts up to five years long—unless you can pay for your equipment up front. In that case, you can enjoy all the perks that Vivint has to offer without a long-term contract.
Vivint’s unique Flex Pay lets you pay for none or part of your equipment costs up front and spread the rest of the equipment costs out each month if you sign a 42- or 60-month contract.
Or you can go the contract-free route, which lets you pay for all your equipment up front and then pay only the monthly monitoring fee after that.
This flexibility is rare in the industry and helps take the sting out of Vivint’s more expensive equipment prices. But be aware that if you do get into a contract, Vivint charges 100% of the remainder of your contract if you cancel early.
Vivint’s top monitoring plan costs $49.99 per month, which is pretty standard for the security industry. Its basic monitoring package is priced at $29.99 per month.
While this isn’t the lowest monthly monitoring price on the market, it’s still a decent value. All Vivint’s plans come with cellular monitoring and remote access through its mobile app—which most companies charge more for.
Vivint mostly does professional installation (and charges a $99 fee for the service). Vivint also trains and manages all its installers and service techs, so there’s no confusion when it comes to who will be taking care of your installation needs.
Part of its professional installation service is an in-home consultation with one of Vivint’s home security experts. Before installing your system, they’ll give your home and property a complete once-over to identify security vulnerabilities. Then you can review the components of your home security system and make any adjustments you want after getting the insight of a pro.
Best of all, you don’t have to worry about messing up your home’s wiring or putting sensors in the wrong spot. Customers who installed their own DIY security system have shared stories about motion sensors that picked up all the outdoor action in their yard, which led to lots of false alarms. With Vivint’s professional installation, you won’t have that kind of trouble.
Vivint offers 24/7 customer service via phone and online chat. We love this around-the-clock availability for consumers—no one wants to be stuck with a malfunctioning alarm in the middle of the night.
When it comes to customer service ratings, both Vivint and ADT have mixed reviews. But Vivint has made it a priority to improve in this area, and the company has been recognized recently for its efforts. In fact, Vivint was rated number one in 2017 for customer satisfaction by J.D. Power.
But the company scored lower in the 2019 study, ranking among "the rest." We're not sure what changed, especially since Vivint's pricing and transparency improved in that time.
Features and equipment
Unlike most home security companies, Vivint manufactures most of its own security equipment. We like this because it leaves more room for innovation and true responsiveness to customer needs and wants.
With Vivint, you can stick with the basic sensors and cameras for a standard home security system, or you can create a powerful smart home complete with doorbell cameras, smart thermostats, automatic lights, and more.
The quality of Vivint’s equipment is one of the main reasons we recommend it, but keep in mind that high quality also means high cost, and it may not fit into every budget.
Overall, Vivint is focused on making its own smart home equipment rather than adding compatibility with the latest smart gadget to hit the market. But Vivint works with the Z-Wave devices it sells—and Vivint’s expert installers can integrate those devices with your system during installation.
The fact that you can control both your security system components and your smart home devices from the Vivint app is a big plus. A lot of security systems can work with smart home devices, but their apps don’t always integrate with those third-party devices. That means you can end up with anywhere from two to five or more individual apps to control everything—what a nightmare.
That said, if an integrated smart home is your goal, we don’t think you can do better than Vivint. It’s the best marriage between security and smart home that currently exists.
But if you’re not sure how long you’ll be in your current home, or if you rent, this is a less appealing option.
Vivint smart home compatibility
|Function||Vivint equipment||Compatible third-party equipment|
Vivint Smart Hub
Vivint Smart Home app
Door & window sensor
Glass break detector
Vivint keyless door locks
Kwikset smart locks
Vivint doorbell camera
Vivint Ping indoor security camera
Vivint Element thermostat
Philips Hue smart lightbulbs
Vivint Smart Drive
All Vivint equipment comes with a lifetime warranty for as long as you pay for a monitoring plan. (If you end your monitoring plan, the warranty on the equipment ends too.)
This extensive coverage is something we love to see, especially considering that some other companies—including ADT—charge extra for any kind of extended warranty.
>>Learn more: Read full Vivint review
ADT review: Experience, reliability, availability
ADT’s vast experience, excellent customer service, and multiple monitoring stations deliver extra protection and reliability. But ADT’s pricing is a bit higher than the competition’s without some of the same benefits.
ADT stands head and shoulders above the rest of the home security industry in terms of length of time in the business. With more than 140 years of experience, ADT is one of the most trusted names in the industry.
But ADT uses independent dealers to install and service equipment, which makes it hard to know what you’re going to get.
SafeStreets is our ADT dealer of choice.
SafeStreets includes basic home security equipment in its monitoring plans, which can save you quite a bit of cash up front. You’ll get a keypad, backup battery, alarm, motion detector, and door and window sensors.
While you’ll probably want to add on additional equipment like security cameras, more window and door sensors, and smoke detectors, the basic package is enough to get you started.
Plus, SafeStreets runs frequent specials, where you may be able to get up to $850 in equipment for free when you sign a monitoring contract.
ADT’s basic monitoring plan starts at $27.99 per month (slightly lower than Vivint’s basic package), and it’s monitored via landline. That’s good news if you live in a rural area or somewhere with a lot of cellular interference (like near mountains).
We strongly prefer cellular monitoring over landline because landline monitoring is susceptible to tampering (think wire-cutting), whereas a cellular system will still work even if your power goes out or your internet is disabled.
If you want cellular monitoring with ADT, your monthly costs start at $44.99 and go up for mobile access, video monitoring, and smart home integration.
Vivint offers cellular monitoring only, so if you have trouble getting reliable cell coverage where you live, ADT home security is the better option.
Like Vivint, ADT charges an installation fee. ADT and Vivint are close when it comes to the fee—both companies charge $99 except for ADT’s highest-tier package, which costs $199 to install.
SafeStreets can usually get an installer out within 24 to 48 hours of your order. And ADT includes a whole-home security consultation (similar to what Vivint provides) that helps identify your home’s vulnerabilities. Before starting the installation, the installer will give you their assessment and recommendations to maximize your home’s security.
Even with the security assessment, the installation process usually takes no more than four hours, so you don’t have to clear your entire day to be home.
ADT offers 24/7 customer service over the phone, through email, or via live chat. This kind of availability and a slew of other customer-first policies show that ADT values its customer base.
We especially like ADT’s theft protection guarantee. All ADT’s monitoring plans include up to $500 of theft protection if something happens while your system is armed.
ADT also offers a six-month service satisfaction guarantee. If you have a problem with your installation or service during the first six months of your ADT contract and ADT can’t resolve the issue to your satisfaction, you can get a full refund of monitoring fees and installation charges. But there are some restrictions, so be sure to talk to customer service for full details.
ADT doesn’t always shine when it comes to customer reviews. In J.D. Power’s 2019 rankings, ADT received an “about average” rating for customer satisfaction, topping Vivint's score in the study.
Features and equipment
SafeStreets offers customers a free basic equipment package, but it also offers additional types of equipment, including indoor cameras, glass break sensors, smoke detectors, carbon monoxide (CO) alarms, a key fob remote, and a video doorbell camera with two-way talk.*
ADT uses a mixture of proprietary and third-party equipment, that’s all high quality and meets or exceeds current industry standards. We’ve been frustrated with the company’s slow movement to adopt the latest tech, but ADT is catching up.
If you want a central way to manage and control your home automation products, ADT has an app for that. ADT’s mobile app not only gives you remote access to your security system but also connects your smart home devices, so you have one app to work with instead of half a dozen. But you won’t get access to the app until the middle-tier plan, which costs $52.99 per month.
ADT’s smart home products are available through its Command Tier III package, which features wireless equipment. That means you can enjoy the benefits of a fully integrated smart security system whether you own your home or rent an apartment. We like this flexibility; it makes high-quality home security (and the latest smart home tech) accessible to people who don’t have a mortgage.
Note that the ADT Command Tier III Video Security + Home Automation is the only one that fully supports home automation integration, so if that’s a priority for you, choose that plan. It’ll cost you $62.99 each month for all the smart home features.
Warranty and service plan
Like Vivint, ADT includes a lifetime equipment warranty as long as you have an ongoing monitoring plan. It can also mean free home visits for equipment repairs. Unfortunately, ADT doesn't include the lifetime warranty in its base-level Essentials Plan.
>>Learn more: Read full ADT review
Our recommendation: Vivint
Vivint has the most to offer customers looking for home security with a hefty side order of home automation—and it does so at a reasonable monthly price. But both options can be the right fit depending on your needs.
- Vivint: If you want high-tech equipment, a mobile app, and smart home integration with every monitoring plan in addition to flexible payment options and customer support, this is the company we recommend. Read our full Vivint review to learn more.
- ADT: If you’re looking for an experienced company with a recognized name and quick professional installation—and you aren’t concerned about higher monthly costs—an ADT monitored plan through SafeStreets is the company for you. It’s also your best bet if you need a landline monitoring connection. Check out our ADT review to get more details.
How we chose
Most top home security companies offer DIY installation—it saves you money and gives you full control over where to place your security equipment in your home.
But you may be more comfortable with professional installation and appreciate having an expert advise you on where to place equipment and make sure it’s all set up and running correctly.
What to consider
How much does home security system installation cost?
The amount you’ll pay to install a home security system depends on a few factors. Are you going with a DIY system? In that case, most of the time all you’ll pay is your time and elbow grease. But if you choose a company that offers professional installation, you’ll likely pay an installation fee.
Most home security companies charge around $99 for a basic system install. But if you add extras like smart home devices, outdoor security cameras, or a video doorbell, that price could go up to anywhere from $199 to $499, depending on the company and the equipment.
Before you commit to a home security system, verify how much the installation costs will be and when you need to pay the fee. Some companies let you make a down payment when you call to order and then pay the balance after installation is complete.
What are the pros and cons of professional installation?
Professional installation assures you that your home security system is installed correctly and working properly. Most professional installation also comes with an in-home security consultation where an expert assesses your home to find security vulnerabilities and make recommendations.
The primary downside to professional installation is that you need to wait on an installer to get your security system up and running. In addition to waiting a bit before your home is protected, that could also mean taking time off work. Another minus is that you have to let a stranger into your home—but all the security companies we recommend vet and train their installers to ensure a safe experience for all involved.
What are the pros and cons of DIY installation?
DIY installation means you do all the work. You need to decide where to place sensors, cameras, and motion detectors. But you don’t have to wait around for someone else to get things set up, which means you might get your system on guard sooner than you would with professional installation.
If you’re uncomfortable with tech devices, you might be intimidated at the prospect of installing a system on your own. Don’t sweat it. We’ve found that most DIY systems are designed for those who lack confidence. Most DIY security equipment comes preprogrammed and ready to go. Plus, you can usually take advantage of online or telephone assistance if you get stuck.
Whichever type of installation you choose—DIY or professional—there are tradeoffs. DIY installation is cheaper, and you don’t have to worry about letting someone you don’t know into your home. On the other hand, professionally installed systems come with the reassurance that an expert put everything in place (and if anything goes wrong, you can blame them).
The right choice for you will come down to what matters most, and what approach feels most comfortable for your living situation and budget.