Vivint Home Automation
Vivint is consistently one of our favorite security systems for a number of reasons, from their easy professional installation to their plethora of security and environmental monitoring devices. But here, we’re focusing on how Vivint fit into our smart home, automating actions and making our lives much more convenient. See, Vivint works with the Internet of Things, or IoT devices from third-party companies like Nest, Kwikset and Philips Hue, so we had a lot of fun having devices trigger one another, in addition to controlling them via our voice assistants. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
As we said, Vivint works with devices that they don’t manufacture, from smart speakers to smart thermostats, locks and lighting. We created various automations that had our Vivint security system devices trigger these other devices.
- Google Nest Mini: A $49 smart speaker from Google Nest, we used our Nest Mini to ask Google Assistant about our Vivint system or even arming it using our voices alone. We loved watching our Vivint Outdoor Camera Pro’s footage on our Nest Hub Max simply by saying, “Ok Google, show the backyard camera on the Nest Hub Max”. If you’re on a budget, the Nest Mini is Nest’s most affordable smart speaker.
- Nest Thermostat E: Our Nest Thermostat E learned our favorite heating and cooling schedule over time, even adjusting to whether or not we were in the room. Not only did we control our thermostat using both Alexa and Google Assistant, but we also hooked it up to the rest of the Vivint system. For example, during the summer, we had our thermostat turn off the central air conditioning when our system was armed, meaning we weren’t home. This way, we didn’t have to worry about turning the thermostat down manually every time we exited, which ended up saving us around 15% on cooling that same summer!
Money Saving Tip: On average, Nest thermostats save users between 10% to 12% on heating and 15% on cooling, which amounts to a savings of about $131 to $145 a year.1 Given that the Nest Thermostat E costs $169, this meant it could pay for itself in only a little over a year!
- Nest Learning Thermostat: Google Nest’s latest smart thermostat is the Nest Learning Thermostat, which is pretty similar to the Nest Thermostat E in terms of capabilities; however, it comes in more colors, has a high-resolution display as well as Farsight, which showed us the time, temperature and weather outside. We digress. To change the temperature, all we had to do was tell Alexa or Google Assistant to turn the thermostat up or down. In the garage specifically, we had our thermostat automatically turn down whenever we used Vivint’s garage door controller to open it up so that we wouldn’t be too hot exiting our car. Stepping out from our air-conditioned car right into an air-conditioned garage felt like the height of luxury, especially because it all happened automatically.
- Kwikset Smart Lock: Once you go smart locks, you never go back. Smart locks are one of the most convenient IoT devices, in our opinion. Rather than scrounging in a bag for a key or god forbid, leaving a key at the office and having to break into our own homes, we unlocked our door via a numerical code. If we were at work and weren’t sure if we remembered to lock the door, we could simply pull out the Vivint Smart Home app and do it remotely; it even notified us when we left it unlocked! To let in people when we weren’t home, we created up to 30 unique access codes in the same app, which came in handy when it came to plant sitters and friends visiting. On top of that, we made sure that as soon as our security system was armed, our doors would lock automatically. This took out the anxiety of worrying if our home was protected; as long as Vivint was armed, we were in good hands.
- Philips Hue smart lighting: Nothing sets the mood quite like lighting, whether it’s the fluorescent bulbs of a boring office or the soft yellow hues of a living room. We have a ton of smart bulbs from Philips Hue, so just like the smart lock, we had all of our lights go on “away mode” when our Vivint system was armed. What exactly is away mode? Well, given that most burglaries occur between 10 AM and 3 PM,2 we wanted to make it seem like we were home during those hours, even though if it was a weekday, we were at work. But rather than just leave our lights on completely, away mode has them turn on and off periodically, which more realistically mimics someone who is home. Combining smart home technology with smart home security? Sounds like our dream came true!
Aside from hooking up our Vivint components to other IoT devices in our smart home, we also controlled everything using our voices alone, when we were too lazy to reach for the Vivint Smart Home app.
Tip: Since Vivint works with both Alexa and Google Assistant, it’ll make a great addition to your smart home whether you’re in the Amazon or Google ecosystem.
Alexa, Amazon’s voice assistant, worked nicely with our Vivint system and its connected devices. We could have Alexa perform the following tasks for us, without having to lift a finger:
- Turn off smart lights
- Control smart thermostats
- Close the garage
- Lock doors
- Show our footage on different devices like the Echo Show 8
- Arm our security system.
We had similar capabilities with Google Assistant, like:
- Controlling our smart thermostat
- Unlocking our doors
- Arming our security system
- Showing our footage on devices like the Nest Hub.
The Catch: Monthly Fees with Vivint
While that all sounds well and good, Vivint’s not exactly the most affordable system around. Aside from the costs of the devices themselves, we had to pay a monthly fee to be able to remotely control our system in the first place. Also, we had to pay separately to use our cameras and another fee on top of that for cloud storage. While we weren’t technically required to pay any monthly fees, without them, our system would become local only, meaning we wouldn’t be able to control it remotely, watch footage from the Vivint Smart Home app, or receive notifications about our alarms. So, we broke down Vivint’s fees into three categories, attempting to make it as clear as possible.
Monthly Fees By Product
|Product Name||Smart Security||Smart Home||Smart Home Video|
|Flood/ Freeze/ Heat Sensor||✓||✓||✓|
|Garage Door Controller||X||✓||✓|
|Glass Break Detector||✓||✓||✓|
|Google Home Mini||✓||✓||✓|
|Nest Learning Thermostat||X||✓||✓|
|Nest Thermostat E||X||✓||✓|
|Recessed Door Sensor||✓||✓||✓|
|Vivint Element Thermostat||X||✓||✓|
|Monthly Price||$29.99||$39.99||$49.99 for first two cameras|
For the full package, we had to pay a minimum of $49.99 a month, which was a bit steep. Newer companies like Ring Alarm have completely disrupted the industry, offering live streaming, notifications and remote control of systems for free and 24/7 professional monitoring for $10 a month or $100 a year. With Vivint, it’ll cost at least three times as much. However, Vivint isn’t as steep as traditional companies like ADT, whose monthly monitoring costs can range up to $60 a month.
Camera Monthly Costs
More cameras means a higher monthly cost.
|How Many Cameras?||Price Per Month|
We had three cameras, although four was the maximum we could’ve had under one account. Given our addition of the Outdoor Camera Pro and Doorbell Camera in addition to the Ping Indoor camera our system came with originally, that brought our cost up to $54.99 a month, which included all our cameras and IoT devices. But there was one more cost we had to grapple with…
With storage, we could have gone one of two ways. The first way was to shell out $249 for the Vivint Smart Drive, which would’ve had our cameras recording 24/7. For the most coverage, we recommend the Smart Drive, even though it’s more than a little pricey. However, for our purposes, we were happy paying an extra $5 a month for 14 days of cloud storage. If you’ve been keeping track, that brought our total monthly cost with Vivint to $59.99, which is among the most expensive we’ve seen. It goes without saying that if you’re on a tight budget, Vivint is not the system for you.
Another Option: Vivint offers financing for those that can’t pay for their costs upfront. The contract length will equal the term length of the loan, typically 60 months or five years. Make sure you know how long you’re signing up for with Vivint!
The Vivint Smart Home App
No matter whether we were having our system trigger our smart lights or our smart locks, we created all the automated actions in the Vivint Smart Home app, available on iOS and Android. We also used the app to livestream footage from our cameras day or night, receive notifications when our cameras detected either people with the Vivint Outdoor Camera Pro and the Vivint Doorbell Camera or just motion of any kind with the company’s indoor camera. We also used the app to control our IoT devices remotely anywhere with a Wi-Fi connection. It was super convenient to be able to control so many different IoT devices in one app, and setting up the triggers was easy and dare we say fun.
In terms of smart platform integrations, Vivint is at the top of its game, with integrations with Alexa, Google Assistant and a slew of other third-party devices. Although they’re definitely not one of the most affordable security systems around, given the quality of their devices and how nicely they fit into our smart home, we think it was worth every penny. To learn more, our review of their security system or doorbell camera.
Nest. (2015). Energy Savings from the Nest Learning Thermostat:
Energy Bill Analysis Results.
JSU. (2013). Home Burglary Awareness and Prevention.