We've been talking about getting a security system installed at our house ever since we had a few really shady characters at a garage sale that looked to be casing homes. I'd gone so far as to call ADT and request a quote, but we'd been playing phone tag due to my hectic schedule. And I figured my dogs, including a GSD, would probably set us low on the list of target homes for those unsavory dudes so it didn't seem pressing.
When I answered the door after work one night not too long ago, there was a Vivint sales rep trying to sell me on home automation. Anyone that knows me well, knows I seriously get into this stuff, with programmable Pronto remotes, RF modulators, IR repeaters, Red Eye remotes, and a regular shopper at SmartHome.com. So he was pretty much instantly talking my language. In fact, I showed him the wifi ready thermostats I'd already purchased and was planning to install.
In addition to the home automation spiel (locks, thermostats, and lights) they also offered a security service like ADT which included the installation of door sensors, fire/motion/glass breakage detectors, and IP cameras. They also told me that they're working on a garage door opener, a sprinkler system controller, an iPad controller to replace the dated looking go! controller, external cameras and more light components.
The install was free. The components were free. Just a monthly service fee ($70) a little pricier than ADT and a 5 year contract. Okay, the 5 year contract was a huge issue, but they said they'd install our stuff in our new home if we moved, the rate was locked for the duration of the contract, and it wasn't like we'd stop needing a security system.
I asked about the technology, z-wave, and the sales guy wasn't really able to give me much in terms of specifics regarding the technology. But I did a quick search on my phone via smarthome.com and found z-wave components. I asked if I could augment the system with 3rd party products and the sales guy said that I could as long as it was compatible. They also told me I could get on an email list to get new products installed as soon as they were offered by Vivint.
We signed up, and within 20 minutes I have 5 guys whizzing around my home installing a routers, a door lock, thermostats, a camera, and various detectors. They were done with the entire install in an hour. They trained us on the app we'd downloaded on our phones for free, had us talk to there corporate office to complete our payment/contract details and to verify they'd not used fraudulent sales tactics (they recorded the call) and left. We went to bed that night with a fully functional security system.
They weren't able to wire into my existing home wiring because it isn't connected to a security control motherboard. They said if I got it wired to a motherboard, they could come back to integrate it with the Vivint sytem, but that wiring the motherboard was a huge task. I need to research this still.
The next morning I noticed my name was spelled wrong on their website when I logged into my account (vivint.com), so I called the service contact number and was immediately talking to someone that solved my problem promptly and professionally. Nice!
I went to work feeling good but I still researched the company, since I knew I had my 3 day right of rescission in the contract I'd signed. Most of the complaints I found were based on aggressive sales tactics, but the sales guy had me at the words "home automation." So we moved the camera, and played with the system and pretty much loved it. It's reliable and easy to use. We told our friends and family about it. People were very interested. I looked up the sale guy's name on the internet and found him pretty quickly on Facebook. I sent him a Facebook note asking him if he had contact info I could give other people so that he could get the sale. He'd done a really good sales job so I felt confident sending him to my friends and work associates and thought he'd like the commissions. He never responded. (Red flag number one).
So now for the reason for why am I writing this post. I finally had some time to start looking at smarthome.com for additional z-wave components, like in-wall light switches using z-wave so I can control the ceiling fan and light, and a swimming pool pump z-wave controller, and miniblind controllers, and garage door openers. Vivint doesn't offer these products yet based on their website. I found what I thought I wanted and then went to Vivint's site to see if those components were compatible with Vivint's go! controller. But, oddly enough, I couldn't find any information on 3rd party z-wave component compatibility. I looked in my owner's manual to see if it talked about how to install them, and there isn't even a section in the manual for installing components. (Red flag number two).
So after much research online, I've come to the realization that the sales guy and the techs installing the system in my home had indeed lied to me and my husband when they told us that we could install 3rd party components and integrate them into our Vivint system. After some online digging in DIY home automation forums, I found that I would have had to change a security code on the controller within the first 40 hours after the system was installed or I'd be forever locked out of that controller. I figured this out about a week after the system was installed. So now it appears I must pay Vivint to add any new components, and those components apparently must be purchased from Vivint and if Vivint doesn't offer the products I want yet, I am pretty much out of luck until they do start offering it. Do I feel like I was duped? Yes, I do. Am I wanting to cancel my contract? No. I still like the security system and the remote access of my video camera, thermostats and locks. It's still a good value to me even without the home automation stuff I really want to do. But it's still a bummer.
At this point, I'm honestly considering just spending the $208 (on sale) to buy another non-vivint go! controller (the same exact controller that doesn't have the installation lockout controlled by Vivint) so that I can get update patches and can add my own components at will. Sure I'll still have the base security components on the Vivint system with the Alarm.com service. But the majority of my home automation will be controlled by the other controller which I have full rights to modify. Kinda stupid, but Vivint really isn't giving me much choice. I love the security system, and the company has been very professional (except for misrepresenting the 3rd party components limitations and omitting info on their customer lockout "feature") but if I want the cool z-wave stuff they aren't yet supporting, it's probably my only choice.
If you've found a work around to this situation yourself, please post me a comment. I'd love to learn what other options are available for home automation with my Vivint system (if they exist).