ADT vs Vivint: Which professional home security system is better?

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If you are thinking of getting a professionally installed home security system, chances are that at some point you will narrow down your choices for ADT versus lively – two of the biggest names in the industry. There is also a good chance that you have preconceived ideas about these companies and wonder if your intuition is correct or completely irrelevant.

For example, you probably noticed ADT’s blue octagonal yard signs your whole life, so you know the security company has been around for a while, but you wonder: has it kept pace? Vivint’s bold, bright orange signs have been popping up in trendy neighborhoods lately – all its advertising campaign feels new and fresh – but does the quality of its service match its hype?

When you compare ADT with Vivint, the surprises are many. Yes, at over 100 years, ADT is the oldest home security company in the industry, but that reputation has kept it up to speed with market innovations – wireless sensors, smart speakers and everything in between. Vivint is indeed a newcomer, but with an emphasis on the word relative – Vivint has been around for over 20 years now – almost as long as CNET, In reality.

And yet, when it comes to deciding which service we would recommend over the other, the difference between “old school” and “new school” turns out to be the deciding factor. We’ll explain a bit further, but let’s take a look at each home security company first, starting with the (relatively) newborn in town.

Ry Crist / CNET

If you’re looking for the biggest names and brains in smart home automation, Vivint easily fits the bill. The question, however, is whether the bill you’ll end up receiving from Vivint for all of these advanced technologies is right for you and within your budget?

Everything you can get with Vivint – door and window sensors, smart door lock, doorbell camera, smart thermostat, and more. – you can buy a la carte from Amazon and other retailers. Some gadgets, like the Nest Learning Thermostat or the Kwikset Smart Lock, are exactly the same as those available for sale elsewhere (usually for a lot less, thanks to Vivint’s big markup). Others, like Vivint’s smart-screen home hub, are easily replaced with other better consumer alternatives (like the Nest Hub or the Nest Hub Max) which are, again, often much cheaper when in use. are bought elsewhere.

So what do you get for all the extra money that Vivint charges?

Simple answer – convenience. You don’t have to install anything, you don’t need to connect everything to each other, and if something goes wrong there is a toll-free number you can call and Vivint will send someone to diagnose and fix the problem. problem. In other words, you never have to tinker.

If this sounds like something you’re willing to pay, you should be perfectly happy with Vivint’s offerings. (If not, maybe you should consider some DIY home security alternatives.)

Vivint says the average install package costs $ 2,400 for new customers – background calculations say you could get a similar setup for about half that if you installed everything yourself. Vivint also offers a professional monitoring service for $ 30 per month, which roughly matches the course of professional systems.

Vivint will let you spread the cost of installation over payments, but – and here’s the real kicker – Vivint doesn’t require any type of contract. If and when you’re ready to end the service, if you still have a balance, pay it off and voila. You have finished.

If only the same could be said of the other big name in home security …

Read our full Vivint Home Security review.

David Priest / CNET

The one area where you would think ADT is slowing down, it really isn’t – ADT’s technology is as state-of-the-art as any on the market. Although the company was founded in the 1800s, it is very much in tune with the times. Where the ADT system once monitored doors and windows with wired connections (run behind walls and under baseboards), nowadays everything is wireless.

You can get all of the same (or similar) gadgets and gadgets with ADT as you can with Vivint or any other brand – smart locks, doorbell cameras, security cameras, a connected thermostat. And ADT will now be part of the Google Nest line of smart speakers, smart displays and connected cameras.

ADT’s prices are rather steep than Vivint’s – most of its devices cost about the same or a little more than comparable devices from Vivint. A few cost a little less. Its monthly monitoring service is a bit overpriced – $ 39 per month for the basic service ($ 9 more than Vivint); $ 60 if you want to set up automations like turning on the lights when your deadbolt unlocks, for example. That’s $ 15 more than Vivint charges for a comparable service.

But beyond the safety equipment itself, this is where ADT’s service starts to fail – and quickly.

First of all, there is the control system for all this equipment. Vivint has a smart display that serves as a hub, as well as a mobile app and website, but the three work in perfect harmony with each other, allowing you to control any part of the system from anywhere. no matter which of them.

ADT’s setup, however, is a bit more… disjointed. ADT also has a hub, app, and website, but unlike Vivint, you can’t do everything on one of them. For example, the control panel (aka hub) allows you to arm and disarm the system and check security camera feeds and device settings. But if you want to set up a routine or access more specific settings for the device, you need to upgrade to the ADT Pulse app. To create more complex home automation, however, you have to move to the web portal, which means you have to use a laptop or desktop (and not everyone has one on hand). .

Not only is it frustrating and confusing having to use different tools to accomplish different tasks, but the user interface and experience is inferior to any of the above – as you would expect from a company that has done his weapons at the start of the automobile. .

But where ADT is really out of step with modernity is with its contract. You read that right: ADT still needs a Contract for the service. And the company includes positive punitive conditions if ADT customers want to exit sooner. Even if you pay for all the materials up front, the contract will still lock you in for 12 to 60 months (depending on the region), and the cancellation can cost up to 75% of the remaining balance of the entire contract.

With little (if any) advantages over other professionally installed systems, the required contract is the final nail in the coffin, placing ADT at the bottom of our list of favorite home security companies.

Read our full ADT home security review.

Conclusion: Vivint is better than ADT, but there are still better options

The winner of this round is Vivint. It’s cheaper for the same or similar equipment, offers a better user experience, and doesn’t require a contract. But there are a lot of conditions that we want to point out before calling the number on the bright orange sign in your neighbor’s yard to begin service in your own home.

First, our preferred security system installed by professionals is Xfinity, so you should check if this is available in your area (you can read our Xfinity vs. Vivint article for even more information).

But unless you’re so busy making money that you just don’t have time (even on weekends) to install your own smart home devices, you should at least consider DIY options. For most products, the DIY installation process is simple enough that you don’t need a lot of craftsmanship – or for that matter, a lot of time – to do it yourself.

You can save hundreds, even thousands of dollars, tinker it, and, once you sign up for a Professional Monitoring Service from Ring, which offers a $ 30 per month service, or SimpliSafe, which charges $ 25 per month for its best service, your experience will be quite similar to that of from someone who paid a lot, a lot more for their home security system.

But if you’ve got the cash to spend on a professionally installed security system – and playing around with smart home security gadgets isn’t your idea of ​​a fun and interesting weekend – and Xfinity does not serve the region where you live, we believe you will be perfectly satisfied with Vivint’s home security service.


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