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On February 13, 2017, Vivint rolled out a changed business model for new customers, releasing all new plans, pricing, and contracts. These changes are in response to feedback from both customers and the home security industry about the high price of the company’s service plans, and in theory this re-structuring makes Vivint’s services financially accessible to a wider array of consumers.
We’ll go into more detail about this cost restructuring below, but at a glance, Vivint offers two payment structure options for new customers:
- Customer pays for all their equipment up front and pays for service on a month-to-month basis, without a contract.
- Customer signs a 42- or 60-month contract and finances any equipment they want to add to their plan.
For current customers, original contracts and agreements still stand, but they will have the option to switch to one of these new plans once they’ve fulfilled the terms of their current contract.
Read on to find out why Vivint has been ranked #4 in our top home security systems list this year as well as the ins and outs of its 2017 update.
- Receive a text, email, and notification through the touch screen panel if a disconnection with the central monitoring station happens
- Wireless system
- No drilling holes in your walls
- Easy to relocate
- Home automation options include remote control over door locks, lighting, and thermostat (via Z-Wave)
- Flexible financing plans available
- Lifetime equipment warranty
- Easy to use and understand
- Cellular monitoring on all plans
- Two-way voice between you and the central monitoring station
- Aggressive sales approach
- Expensive monthly monitoring
- Historically poor customer service reputation, including government actions taken up against the company (however, in the last few years Vivint improved its Better Business Bureau rating a full letter grade from a B- to an A-)
What makes Vivint different?
Award-winning proprietary designs
Unlike most home security companies, Vivint designs and manufactures much of its own equipment. Its home automation devices in particular are industry leaders, regularly winning awards for quality and innovation. Vivint still plays well with others though, and is compatible with a variety of other forward-thinking products, including the Nest Learning Thermostat and Amazon Echo.
Flexible contract model
Although both its equipment costs and monitoring fees tend to be higher than those of other companies, Vivint offers flexible payment options to make its services accessible to more people. We’ll go into more detail about its payment options below, but essentially, Vivint gives customers the option to either pay for equipment up front with no monthly contract or to finance their equipment, paying for it over the course of either a 42- or 60-month contract.
No need to worry about whether you are handy or tech-savvy enough to install your home security system—one of Vivint’s professional installers will come to your home to do it for you. As part of the new February 2017 update, Vivint no longer charges extra for installation. The outdoor camera and the doorbell camera are the only exceptions to this. The outdoor camera requires a $99 installation fee and the doorbell camera requires a $29 installation fee in addition to the cost of the cameras.
Because Vivint installers are paid on commission, they may try to upsell and suggest additional equipment on the spot, so be prepared for that. If you’re unsure in the moment about whether or not you need another piece of equipment, you can always think about it and add more items at a later time. If you prefer more flexibility with where and when your security system is installed, you may be better served by a do-it-yourself (DIY) system like Frontpoint or Protect America.
100% wireless and 100% cellular
Vivint’s wireless system saves you from needing to drill holes in your walls, and you’ll have the option to move the equipment around your house as your needs change. An entirely cellular setup means that your system communicates via cellular signals, rather than relying on a landline or Wi-Fi, which are susceptible to criminal wire cutting and power outages.
Vivint’s new pricing structure
Regardless of the payment plan you choose, Vivint simplified its three packages down to just two. The Smart Home package is for home security and home automation only and the Smart Home Video package is for home security and home automation as well, but includes video surveillance). If a customer has a Smart Protect package and wants to add video down the road, they will need to upgrade to the Smart Home Video package.
Both plans require purchase of a basic equipment package for $549.99, which includes the same features and equipment:
- 24/7 monitoring
- 1 touch screen Vivint SkyControl panel
- 4 door/window sensors for Smart Home/ 2 door/window sensors for Smart Home Video
- 1 motion sensor
From there, any additional equipment is priced individually and can be added à la carte. Again, if you have the Smart Home plan and want to add video capability, you’ll also need to upgrade to the Smart Home Video monitoring plan. If you’ve signed a financing contract, you can upgrade at any time, but you cannot downgrade.
If you choose to pay for all your equipment up front, your monthly bill will only be the monitoring price (either $39.99 or $49.99, depending on the plan you pick). If you choose the financing option, your monthly cost will be your monitoring plan plus your equipment cost over the length of your contract (either 42 or 60 months). The $549 basic equipment cost can be financed along with any additional equipment you may want.
If you want to lower your monthly bill but can’t pay for all of your equipment at once, you can pay for a portion of your equipment cost up front, and the rest will be financed over your contract period.
Costs are the same for every customer, regardless of the payment plan they choose. Vivint offers 0% APR when you finance, so in the end you’re still paying the same price for the equipment as someone who pays up front, just over a longer period of time.
If you’re financing some equipment and want to add additional items, this new equipment can’t be added to your original line of credit. You can either pay for this new equipment up front or wait until you’ve finished paying off the original financed equipment to open a second line of credit for the additional devices.
If your financial situation changes in the course of your contract—say you get a raise—and you can pay off your financing before the 42 or 60 months are up, you won’t be penalized. Again, everyone pays the same amount for their equipment, regardless of how quickly they do so. It is important to note, however, that paying off your financing early doesn’t mean you automatically switch to month-to-month monitoring. You’re still bound by the contract you originally signed, so you’ll still have to pay for your monthly monitoring for the rest of the 42 or 60 months.
Payment plans compared
To give you a better idea of what financing would look like, we’ve put together two hypothetical equipment packages and broken down the costs of equipment and monitoring over the course of a 42-month contract and a 60-month contract.
The first package is for a small one- or two-bedroom house or apartment with no home automation:
- $549.99 Basic equipment package (required)
- $69.99 x 3 Smoke detectors
- $69.99 CO sensor
Total equipment cost = $829.95
|Contract Length||42 Months||60 Months|
|View Plans||View Plans||View Plans|
|Monthly Monitoring Cost||$39.99||$39.99|
|Monthly Equipment Cost||$19.76||$13.83|
|Total Monthly Bill||$59.75||$53.82|
|Total monitoring cost over contract term||$1,679.58||$2,399.40|
|Total equipment and monitoring over contract term||$2,509.53||$3,229.35|
The second hypothetical package is for a larger two-story home with fairly basic home automation capabilities and video surveillance:
- $549.99 Basic equipment package (required)
- $69.99 x 5 Smoke detectors
- $69.99 x 2 CO sensors
- $69.99 Glass break sensor
- $149.99 Element thermostat
- $159.99 Door lock
- $199.99 Ping camera
- $199.99 Outdoor camera +$99 installation*
Total equipment cost = $1,918.87
*The outdoor camera is the only piece of Vivint equipment that requires an additional installation fee.
|Contract Length||42 Months||60 Months|
|Monthly Monitoring Cost||$49.99||$49.99|
|Monthly equipment cost||$45.71||$32.00|
|Total monthly bill (including $49.99 monitoring)||$95.70||$81.99|
|Total monitoring cost over contract term||$2,099.58||$2,999.40|
|Total equipment and monitoring over contract term||$4019.40||$4,919.40|
|42 Months||60 Months|
As you can see, the longer your contract, the less you’ll have to pay per month. Your interest rate will always be 0%, so no matter how long your contract is, in the end you’ll pay the exact same total for your equipment. Again, you won’t be penalized for paying off your equipment early, so if you can occasionally afford to pay more than your monthly minimum, you’ll lower your monthly bills in the future.
Other Vivint features worth knowing about
Space Monkey is Vivint’s cloud storage unit that holds 1 TB of data (about two million photos). Photos and videos from your Vivint cameras are automatically backed up to your Space Monkey device and to the cloud. Your data can be accessed from any Windows, Mac, iOS, or Android device. A Space Monkey device costs $249.99, and its cloud service is $10 per month.
Not only does Vivint make its own award-winning equipment, but it’s also partnered with some of the premier home automation companies to make certain devices compatible with the Vivint Smart Home system, including the Nest Learning Thermostat and Amazon Echo.
What Vivint customers think
Because it’s just now rolling out, the jury is still out on Vivint’s new package and pricing options, but these recent reviews from current customers should give you an idea of its customer service and equipment quality:
I have the numeric doorknobs, the motion sensors, the camera, the control panel and the thermostat. We just built a new home and we’re out here in the country so these features were important for us. The service is very good. My smoke detector is too close to my oven and every time the alarm goes off, Vivint calls right away and is right on their toes. Plus, the installer was very nice, personable, cleaned up his mess and everything was done to our satisfaction. Vivint is a nice system and I’ve enjoyed it. We have a lot of peace of mind; I can monitor my system from my phone and see what’s going on in my house when I’m away. I already recommended Vivint to several friends. -Maggie, Consumer Affairs 1/17/17
I had an impeccable experience from start to finish with my representative, Mr. Brandon **. I was one of the first houses in my neighborhood to get it, so naturally I was a little [wary] at first. Here I am 4 months later and I am absolutely in love with my Vivint system. I literally couldn’t imagine living without it. It makes my life substantially easier, as I can pretty much tap into my house at any time from my smartphone…even when I travel internationally. Customer service is always great too. I would highly recommend Vivint to anyone. -David, Consumer Affairs 1/21/17
We have had so many problems with this company: Outdated, faulty equipment, terrible customer service, charges that keep appearing on bill that we requested to be removed. No assurances that our requests are being heard and made. I wish there was a way to get out of the contract, but we cannot find one. -Kodi C., Better Business Bureau 12/12/16
[M]y husband and I love the equipment… easy to navigate, setup and daily use is superb! Here is the deal breaker. Customer service aspect is the thing nightmares are made of. You are on hold for a very long time, and the CSR’s product knowledge you get the feeling is not divided equally. One rep will tell you one thing and another says something different. Your direct questions are not answered straightforward. I won’t waste your time with the ridiculous contract lengths (5 Years) and we informed the salesperson we would be retiring 2017/2018 relocating to another state. He assured us that would not be a problem. We’ll see. […] Excellent product, but it should not be at the expense of excellent customer service/tech support. -S, Consumer Affairs 1/25/17
Vivint shows growth and promise
We love that Vivint has responded to criticism both by allowing customers to ease the blow of upfront costs over the course of several years and by allowing those who do pay up front to monitor their system without a multi-year contract. This restructuring shows that Vivint listens to concerns and adjusts accordingly, always improving its products and services. We’re waiting eagerly to see how consumers like Vivint’s new payment structure and whether or not it helps ease Vivint’s customer service struggles of the past.
Do we recommend Vivint?
Vivint is great for customers who want top-of-the-line technology with all the imaginable bells and whistles, including the convenience of professional installation. A system this comprehensive usually comes with rigid payment and contract options, so Vivint’s update is quite exceptional. Nowhere else will you find both this level of technology and options to either pay month to month or finance your equipment.
This level of quality and flexibility does mean you’ll pay a little more, so if you’d rather do a DIY installation and save on equipment and monitoring, check out some of our other top home security companies for 2017. With Vivint you get what you pay for, but there are a few cheaper options out there.
Do you think Vivint is a good home security provider? What do you think of its new pricing structure?