SimpliSafe vs. Vivint — Differences Explained

SimpliSafe vs. Vivint

Nowadays, there’s a huge selection of smart security systems available on the market. Ranging from the most basic to the most premium protection, there’s something available for pretty much anyone. In the case of comparing SimpliSafe vs. Vivint, there’s actually a lot that these two systems have in common. The main aspect that sets these two alarm systems apart is that SimpliSafe is designed with DIY in mind, while Vivint has a professional handle every step of the process. Neither is necessarily better than the other, it just really depends on what you’re looking for.

It may seem like a great thing to let the pros handle your security installation and monitoring. After all, you want your system to perform flawlessly, right? Unfortunately, that professional touch comes with a premium price tag that makes Vivint non-viable for a lot of homeowners. SimpliSafe offers a lot of the same features, and if you’re comfortable following some simple directions, you can save a lot of money for minimal time investments.

Below we go into detail on the similarities and differences between these two security systems. Alternatively, you can use the navigation bar to jump directly to the sections that interest you most.

SimpliSafe vs. Vivint — Differences

  • Difference #1: 24/7 Professional Monitoring – When it comes to professional monitoring, there are some differences in the way the two brands handle keeping your home protected. SimpliSafe handles the contract for monitoring, but they actually hand off the actual surveillance to COPS Monitoring. This organization has a track record of quality service, but it’s worth mentioning that SimpliSafe isn’t handling the monitoring of your home themselves.

    Vivint, on the other hand, has their own professional monitoring team through Vivint Smart Home. Their collection of security professionals provides 24/7/365 home security services that are handled in house rather than contracted out.

    While it’s not necessarily a bad thing that SimpliSafe doesn’t handle monitoring on their own, it is nice to know that all of your home security needs are handled by the company themselves when you buy with Vivint.

  • Difference #2: Technology – There are also some differences in the technology that these two systems use to communicate. SimpliSafe communicates solely over WiFi, while Vivint uses WiFi and Z-Wave. Z-Wave, along with Zigbee, is one of the leading smart home communication technologies. This means that, by default, Vivint has many more options for smart home compatibility than SimpliSafe does. That doesn’t necessarily mean that the company is taking full advantage of the Z-Wave compatibility, but rather that the capability to communicate using those frequencies makes Vivint better suited for integration than you’d see with a WiFi only system like SimpliSafe.

  • Difference #3: Two-Way Audio on a Hub – With two-way audio on the hub, access to your family, visitors, or monitoring agents is just a touch away. Vivint’s built-in speaker and microphone is the perfect solution for communicating with your friends from across the home through your panel.

    SimpliSafe has no such feature. While this intercom functionality isn’t necessarily crucial for security, it does actually have some implications in the ease with which you can speak with your monitoring service. The lack of the two-way audio on the SimpliSafe is definitely unfortunate and detracts some convenience and utility from the alarm system.

  • Difference #4: Multiple Keypads Support – One area in which SimpliSafe does have an advantage is in its support for multiple keypads. With SimpliSafe, you can place an add-on keypad wherever it’s more convenient. Add in easy controls wherever you need them most, such as at garage door entrances, backdoors, or upper levels of your home. Since they’re battery powered, you don’t have to worry about hooking into a plug either.

    Vivint only offers access to a keypad on the panel itself, which pretty severely limits the ease of use. It’s one of the biggest drawbacks of an otherwise excellent system.

  • Difference #5: Subscription & Contracts – Both SimpliSafe and Vivint require a subscription to enable some of their features, but they approach their plans in different ways.

    First, let’s talk about SimpliSafe. There are two plans available: Standard and Interactive.

    Standard is the basic plan that enables 24/7 live alarm monitoring. It’s reasonably priced at $15 per month and gives you the peace of mind that your home is being consistently monitored by the security experts at COPS. The live monitoring is the main draw of this plan, but it also enables the cellular connection of the system as well as environmental monitoring (necessary to take advantage of SimpliSafe’s smoke, carbon monoxide, temperature, and water sensors.)

    Interactive is the more premium plan and is available for $24.90 per month. This subscription includes everything mentioned above, as well as the ability to control your system directly from your smartphone, mobile notifications, and secret alerts that can alert you when a sensor is tripped without setting off the alarms.

    In addition to the mobile support, Interactive also enables more features for video monitoring such as video alarm verification that provides a video feed for any suspicious activity to prevent false alarms and make identifying suspects easier in the event of an emergency. With this tier, you’ll have access to 30 days of stored recordings for an unlimited amount of cameras as well as smart home integration.

    The subscription model with SimpliSafe is actually one of our least favorite aspects of the security system. The fact that basic features like mobile access are locked behind the most premium subscription plans seems nonsensical, and really holds the model back from being a top performer despite everything the brand has going for it.

    Vivint offers two plans: Smart Home Security Plan which includes 24/7 monitoring, cellular, professional installation, remote app control, and smart home integration, and Smart Home Video Monitoring Plan, which includes everything from the Smart Home Monitoring Plan plus, as its name states, video monitoring support.

    Vivint offers long-term and month-to-month contracts. If you pay for Vivint equipment upfront ($549.99+) you can have a month-to-month contract. The other option is to pay out the equipment during 42 or 60 months, which means an additional $9.17+ monthly. That’s a great option if you don’t want to spend a lot up front, but it’s also quite a commitment for 3.5 years minimum.

    Ultimately, we aren’t really big fans of the subscription model for either system. With that said, SimpliSafe is certainly less expensive if you aren’t looking for a long term commitment. Having to pay a huge amount up front to avoid being locked into a contract for more than three years really holds Vivint back in our eyes.

  • Smart Home MonitoringSmart Home MonitoringSmart Home Video MonitoringSmart Home Video Monitoring
    Monthly Fee for Service$39.99$39.99$49.99$49.99
    Equipment Minimum$9.17/month+$549.99+ Upfront$9.17/month+$549.99+ Upfront
    Activation/Installation Fee$99+$99+$99+$99+
    Contract Length42 or 60 MonthsMonth-to-Month42 or 60 MonthsMonth-to-Month
    24/7 MonitoringYesYesYesYes
    Professional InstallationYesYesYesYes
    Mobile App AccessYesYesYesYes
    Event NotificationsYesYesYesYes
    Lock AutomationYesYesYesYes
    Severe Weather AlertsTornado OnlyTornado OnlyTornado OnlyTornado Only
    Smart Lights and Other Smart Home ServicesYesYesYesYes
    Security Camera FeaturesNoNoYesYes
    Return Period3 Days3 Days3 Days3 Days
  • Difference #6: Sensors – Both systems support a wide range of sensors, but Vivint has one major advantage: support for Z-Wave.

    With SimpliSafe, you’re limited to their own sensors. The lineup of sensors includes motion, entry, glassbreak, smoke, carbon monoxide, temperature, and water, so they have most of the bases covered; we do wish, however, that they gave us the option of adding in third-party equipment as well. Support for other brands would allow homeowners to completely customize the system to their will, and we’re definitely missing some of that flexibility with SimpliSafe.

    Vivint has an impressive lineup as sensors as well, with all of the sensors mentioned above as well as a Recessed Door Sensor and Tilt Sensor. In addition to these extra Vivint sensors, the support for Z-Wave also allows you to take advantage of a number of third-party options as well. Just keep in mind that Vivint doesn’t support all Z-Wave sensors, so if there are specific ones you had in mind for your system, you might want to check with support to make sure everything will work as planned.

    Long story short, both systems have a pretty impressive lineup of first-party sensors, but Vivint pulls far ahead with support for third-party options.

  • Difference #7: Remote Panic Button – One of the biggest areas that Vivint falls short is with the lack of a remote panic button. SimpliSafe has two options for remote access to a panic mode: a dedicated remote panic button as well as a button on the key fob. Hopefully, you’ll never need to take advantage of the feature, but in an emergency, having easy access to help even when you’re far away from your home’s panel can literally be the difference between life and death.

    Vivint has a panic button on both the main hub and the key fob, but they don’t have a dedicated panic button you can purchase separately. Chances are that you’ll have the fob on hand while you’re coming and going, but the lack of a dedicated button does mean that you won’t be able to place them strategically around your house for use in the case of emergencies.

    While both do a decent job of implementing remote panic features, SimpliSafe does pull ahead due to the inclusion of a button dedicated entirely to the panic function.

  • Difference #8: Installation – Another significant difference between SimpliSafe and Vivint is the installation process.

    SimpliSafe is set up to be ready to go right out of the box. Just plug in the base, hook it into your network, and then press a button on each of the sensors you’d like to add into your alarm system. Just follow the setup process on the keypad, and you should have your entire security system up and running in around 45 minutes.

    Vivint is on the complete opposite end of the spectrum and actually requires professional installation. The main reason for this is the SkyControl panel setup as well as the installation of outdoor cameras. While it’s certainly more expensive and more inflexible than being able to set things up on your own, Vivint allows you to let a professional handle the whole process from start to finish. For those who want to leave installation to the experts, Vivint may be one of our top picks.

  • Difference #9: Smart Home Integration – Both smart alarm systems actually have a decent amount of smart home integration.

    With SimpliSafe, you can use your Apple Watch to arm or disarm your system from wherever you happen to be. The sensors you’ve set near your entryways can also tell your Nest thermostat when you’ve left home, allowing it to adjust your home’s temperature in order to maximize energy savings. Integration between SimpliSafe and August Smart Lock also allows you to arm your system and lock your doors at the same time — making forgetfulness while walking out the door in the morning a non issue.

    Vivint also has a pretty impressive lineup of compatible products, although it doesn’t interface with as many smart systems as you’d expect given its Z-Wave compatibility. Still, you’ll enjoy integration with products like the Kwikset Smart Lock, Nest Thermostat, Nest Thermostat E, and Philips Hue. In addition to those third-party products, Vivint also offers a lineup of their own branded technology such as the Vivint video doorbell, Vivint Ping indoor cameras, Vivint outdoor cameras, garage door control, and thermostat.

    Ultimately, it seems like the two brands support a pretty similar number of products. Despite having support for Z-Wave, Vivint doesn’t manage to pull ahead by any significant margin.

  • Difference #10: Design – Lastly, there are some pretty significant differences in design.

    The SimpliSafe system has a minimalistic design that is easy to hide wherever you want. The Vivint has a beautiful 7-inch touchscreen display that makes controlling your home easy and intuitive.

    The Vivint is at a significant disadvantage in design from a security standpoint, as its very obvious and very vulnerable to damage from intruders. Since your control panel will have to be in a central location in your home, it’s pretty easy to recognize as a security system which can spell trouble in the event of a home invasion.


SimpliSafe vs. Vivint — Comparison Chart

SimpliSafeVivint
Hub to Router ConnectionWirelessWireless
Hub Battery BackupUp to 24 hoursYes
Two-Way Audio on a HubNoYes
Hub SirenYesYes
Extra Siren SupportYesYes
Hub SpeakerYesYes
Hub SensorsN/AN/A
KeypadSeparate, wirelessDigital
Multiple Keypads SupportYesNo
Key FobsYes (keychain remote)Yes
Disarm OptionsApp, keychain remote, keypadApp, keychain remote, keypad
24/7 Professional MonitoringOptionalYes
Basic Subscription$14.99/month$39.99
Advanced Subscription$24.99/month. Adds remote
app controls,
smart home integrations
$49.99
Contract RequiredNoYes
Remote Monitoring & NotificationsSubscription requiredSubscription required
Cellular BackupIncluded with paid plansIncluded with paid plans
Landline ConnectionNoNo
SensorsMotion, Entry, Glassbreak,
Smoke, Carbon Monoxide,
Temperature, Water
Motion, Entry,
Carbon Monoxide Detector,
Flood Sensor,
Recessed Door Sensor,
Glass Break Detector,
Smoke Detector, Tilt Sensor,
Flood/Freeze Sensor
Remote Panic ButtonYesOn main Panel
Video MonitoringYesYes, Video Doorbell & Cameras
Monthly Contracts AvailableYesYes
Google AssistantYesYes
AlexaYesYes
IFTTTNoNo
Other Smart Home CompatibilityApple Watch,
Nest Thermostat,
August Smart Lock
Kwikset Smart Lock,
Vivint Video Doorbell,
Vivint Ping Indoor Cameras,
Vivint Outdoor Camera,
Garage Door Control,
Vivint Element Thermostat,
Nest Thermostat,
Nest Thermostat E,
Philips Hue
TechnologyWiFiWiFi: 802.11 b/g/n @ 2.4GHz
Z-Wave
DIY SolutionYesNo
Professional Installation RequiredNoYes
ColorWhite/BlackMostly White

SimpliSafe vs. Vivint — Things in Common

Vivint

  • Wireless Internet Connection – Regardless of your choice in system, you’ll be able to place the hub pretty much anywhere you please due to the wireless internet connection. While some security systems require an ethernet cable to hook them into the router, both SimpliSafe and Vivint allow you to install your system where you please rather than tying you into a location close to your internet equipment.

  • Cellular Backup – If your WiFi happens to go down, it’s important that your home continues to be protected. Fortunately, both SimpliSafe and Vivint support cellular backup. With the ability to transmit and receive data over a cell signal in addition to WiFi, you’ll still be able to receive notifications about suspicious activity even if your internet is down. Just keep in mind that cellular backup is only included in the paid subscription plans for these alarm systems.

  • Battery Backup – In the event of a power outage, the last thing you want to worry about is having your home’s security system compromised. SimpliSafe and Vivint both include battery backups that will kick in in the event of an outage, keeping your sensors powered until power can be restored.

    SimpliSafe can keep your security system running for a full day on its battery backup. Vivint doesn’t provide information on how long their battery backup lasts, which is a little disappointing, but at least the option is there and will provide an extra charge should your home lose power.

  • Remote Monitoring & Notifications – If you opt for the paid subscription, SimpliSafe and Vivint both include remote monitoring and notifications. Part of the appeal of any smart security system is the reassurance that your home will be safe while you’re at work or on vacation. Remote monitoring is great for those situations, and it’s even great to have as a backup while you and your family are relaxing at home. With quick access to security professionals in the event of an emergency, you no longer have to worry about being a victim of a home invasion without the tools you need to stay protected.

    One thing to keep in mind is that the only option for remote monitoring with these systems is through a monthly contract subscription plan. If you’d like the ability to activate monitoring for short periods of time, such as when you’re headed out on vacation, you might be interested in abode. Check out our take on abode vs. SimpliSafe for a better sense of how these two security systems stack up against one another.

  • Siren – Regardless of your choice in alarm system, you’ll have access to a built-in siren that will alert you of any danger and scare off intruders when a sensor is triggered. The siren on both models is built into the base, but both SimpliSafe and Vivint also offer additional sirens that you can buy and place around your home for optimal coverage. The additional sirens are also nice because they allow you to hide your base away in an area where it’s unlikely to be damaged by intruders, relying on the additional sirens to sound the alarm while keeping the main hub protected.

  • Key Fobs – While the primary way you’ll arm or disarm your system is probably through the keypad or perhaps the smartphone app, both brands also offer key fobs for easier control. Having access to a handy button with your key is a major perk, as it allows you arm and disarm your system without having to fiddle with a security code or pull out your phone. You’ll quickly see how useful the fobs are after a few instances of walking through the door with your hands full, and that one button control to arm and disarm is a godsend. Plus, you can distribute additional fobs to your friends and family to give them an easy way to get inside, too, without triggering any alarms.

  • Video Monitoring – Both SimpliSafe and Vivint offer video monitoring, although they differ in the type of recording equipment that they offer.

    SimpliSafe has their own 1080p camera, and with a $4.99/month subscription plan, you’ll have access to a whole host of cool features. Without any additional fees, you can live view your camera at any time. However, when you add in a subscription, your SimpliSafe video equipment will be able to record 60-second clips anytime it detects motion. This perk is incredibly useful, as it both allows you to detect false alarms, as well as collect key evidence in the event of an actual intrusion. Having that recorded footage can make the difference between the police being able to identify the perpetrator, and having them get away.

    In addition to the 1080p camera, SimpliSafe also just released a smart Video Doorbell Pro. The doorbell has a pretty impressive 162-degree field of view which should allow you to monitor pretty much the entirety of your main entryway. The doorbell is also equipped with two-way audio enhanced with noise and echo cancellation, so you should be able to easily hear and communicate with those who are at your door. On the more technical side, this smart device also supports heat signature detection and human motion detection, so it can easily tell the difference between a person approaching the door and an animal running by.

    If you opt for a single camera, you’ll have recording storage for up to 30 days for $5 a month. For just $10 a month, however, SimpliSafe will support an unlimited amount of cameras — so feel free to go crazy!

    Vivint has a pretty impressive lineup of cameras as well, with a Doorbell Camera, as well as more traditional outdoor and indoor 1080p cameras.

    The Doorbell camera’s features are pretty standard as far as smart doorbells go, with the ability to detect, auto-record, and notify when someone approaches your door. The wide-angle lens gives you a perfect view of the front of your home, and night vision capabilities allow it to record 24/7 — keeping an eye on your porch and protecting from package thieves and intruders alike. Built-in two-way talk is great for communicating with guests as you come to the door, as well as warn any would-be bandits away from your home.

    As far as the Vivint Outdoor and Indoor cameras go, all of these cameras feature Vivint Smart Drive — a playback service that comes with a Vivint Smart Drive, a 1TB, low-cost storage solution. Keep in mind that the Smart Drive app is slowly being phased out, however, with the app being removed from app stores on November 30, 2018 and no longer supported at all after February 28, 2019.

    Losing access to Smart Drive in the near future is definitely disappointing, although you’ll retain access to Vivint Playback — providing 30 days of continuous video recording for your smart home cameras.

    Adding outdoor cameras with Vivint is also pretty unique, due to the company’s new camera sharing app — Streety.

    Streety allows you to share your outdoor camera’s feed with your neighbors — defined as those who live within a 300-yard radius of your home. Those who you’d like to give access to do not have to be Vivint customers themselves — all they have to do is download the app.

    Sharing access to the outdoor camera is a great way for those in the neighborhood to collectively keep an eye on their property. Those who download the app will be able to request permission to view the feed, and you can feel free to distribute permissions as you choose and restrict access to annoying neighbors you’d like to block out.

    Streety is one of the most unique features we’ve seen in a security system and is one of very few instances where this protection technology extends its utility to those outside of the household.

    All in all, the two video monitoring services are pretty similar. SimpliSafe has a slight advantage in indoor monitoring with the automatic recording upon motion detection, while Vivint takes the edge for outdoor monitoring with a more impressive video doorbell and access to Streety.

  • Voice Control – Last but not least, you can arm your security system with Google Assistant or Alexa voice controls. For security reasons, you aren’t able to disarm using just your voice. But being able to flip on extra protection as you’re walking out the door using just your voice is a feature we can see ourselves using liberally.


SimpliSafe vs. Vivint — Our Thoughts

Simplisafe

When comparing SimpliSafe and Vivint, you’re essentially making a decision about whether you value lower costs and DIY setup, or a more expensive system with professional that handle your security every step of the way.

While having a security expert install your system may be convenient and make for better peace of mind, it’s also prohibitively expensive which makes Vivint far from the most economical model on the market.

SimpliSafe offers most of the same features, and even surpasses Vivint in a number of areas. Add to that the significantly lower price to get everything setup, and it becomes clear that SimpliSafe is the better product for the majority of users.

While Vivint is still there as a valuable option for those who are willing to shell out to have a professional manage all the details, we don’t feel that the convenience is worth the extra expense when SimpliSafe does its job so well.

For more information about SimpliSafe and Vivint security systems, check out our SimpliSafe Review — Things You Should Know and Vivint Home Security Review — Things You Should Know articles.

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Last update on 2019-12-08 at 15:59 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API