Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Vivint Home Automation and Security - My Experience

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  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 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 (, 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 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 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).


  1. AnonymousJuly 24, 2013

    2203 installer code

  2. My understanding is that the installer code can only be entered within the first 40 hours after the system is installed or serviced by Vivint, after which time it is locked out.

  3. With that installer code I am able to access the z-wave installer console in mine... It has been 10 days since my unit was installed

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  6. I was able to add additional components about a month after the installation. I had to know the installer code which was published online by someone else. I hope that helps.

  7. I read something similar but don't believe it's true. I had a very similar situation as you but liked and bought the system minus the door lock (I didn't like the model they sold). A month or so after my initial install I found a z wave lock I liked and installed it. I had some difficulty getting the GoPanel to recognize the lock and called Vivint. They readily gave me the installer code (2203) and walked me through enrolling it to my system. I'm not really partial to the propriety way they operate either (there's a lot of z wave stuff out there that can't be integrated into their system yet) but over all I'm fairly satisfied.

  8. Thanks. How do you determine what z-wave stuff is compatible with Vivint?

  9. You could always go the other way around and not try to integrate everything directly into your Vivint App. Pick up a MiCasa Verde controller from Amazon for under $200 and integrate everything z-wave into that little guy ( which is now vera or veralite, last I looked). Then you've got all of your security through Vivint and you've got all of the other automation through Mi Casa Verde.

    1. Vivint tells their reps not to interact through social media with customers or other people. Vivint wants to deal directly with their customers via the corporate contact information. There are some good reasons for this. You know that you're always dealing directly with the company when you deal with corporate contacts. You will be contacting the proper location if you need to fix your account information rather than a rep that will need to stop his or her job (which is to find customers) in order to make phone calls back to corporate anyway to help resolve your issue. This direct to corporate contact also allows the company to know exactly what it's customers need, rather than getting the information second hand from a rep. Sometimes things get lost in translation or downplayed, or exaggerated. Anyway, direct contact with corporate is always better.

    2. You can always add more components to the Vivint system at any point in the future. Last I checked with customer service, they weren't sure of an exact limit but were aware of some customers that had approximately 40 devices in the home connected to the panel. The limitation on Cameras is that you can connect up to 4, but no other limits that I know of on components and since most of us don't really need 40 connections anyway it should be a problem.

    3. The new Vivint system that you heard about is called Sky Control, as opposed to the old Go Control, that you have. The components are all the same, except for the cameras and the panel. Both of those parts are proprietary to Vivint, but it is exactly as the rep stated, like an iPad. It's neat. The monitoring service is all in-house now, no more monitoring or apps. Vivint is controlling everything so you don't have to worry about fragmented service between different different companies (not that there was ever a problem before).

    4. The Mi Casa Verde controller, which is now referred to as Vera or Vera lite is great. A friend of mine at work has one. He's about as automated as the 'Jetsons.' When this guy's doorbell rings, he gets a text message from that vera controller and then he opens a little app on his phone and can see with a camera who is standing at his door. So back to the GE light switches and receptacles. If you can't integrate with Go Control, you can with Vera and it's probably a few dollars cheaper and more widely compatible with other products. The only difference that you'll notice is rather than having an app that's all inclusive on the phone, you just have two apps. But how is that any different than everything else that we do on our smart phone now? There's an app for everything. If anything, I kind of like knowing that I have two different sources to control my devices should I have a problem with one.

    5. Lastly, if you want to find more products that are directly compatible with your Vivint Go Control panel, do a search for 2gig and pick up their products. There are quite a few that will work for you with the controller. Everything else, run z-wave through mi casa verde/vera and you're set.

    Best of luck!

  10. 1) I completely disagree that "direct contact with corporate is always better." I think putting a gag order on your employees says A) corporate doesn't trust their employees to act professionally on their behalf (and so neither should I) and B) Vivint is more concerned with controlling the customers trapped in their snare than providing actual value to their customers. Social media, like blog posts, are read by prospective consumers. Do a great job at what you do, train great employees, empower them, give your customer so much value that they bring your next customer and your next and your next. Instead, I tried to do that, and because of the gag order, my sales rep FLAT OUT IGNORE ME. It made me feel like I was duped into this contract. I'm not sure how you think that is good business. It's not.

    2) You're right, I can add new components to my Vivint system but yet A) Vivint has NOT contacted me once this past year to offer me new components, to tell me what is new, to upgrade to the new controller, to learn other ways to use my system, NOTHING! and B) the owners manual doesn't provide even a limited instructional section on augmenting that system and there is no section on their website telling me what 3rd party components are known to be compatible, right, they expect me to use their extremely limited set of components and pay their tech to come out to install it (because I want to pay someone else to do what I love to do)...oh right, because it's good business (NOT!) and C) they offer this handy little lockout feature so you can't do it without feeling like you're jailbreaking an iphone. Retarded.

    3) It's called Sky Control. I just learned that from my blog rant about Vivint. Why am I just learning that here? Why is it that Vivint hasn't offered me to upgrade to Sky Control? Not a single email from Vivint offering to let me upgrade. When I log into their website now, I have to click on the Go Controller instead of that shiny new looking controller to gain access. That doesn't make me feel good. There is nothing telling me about that shiny new controller or how I can get one too. So, what, am I trapped with the Go Control? Am I stuck using because of some B2B agreement that screws their customers even further? One can only assume. But, hey, I'm not bitter.

    4) I already have an INSTEON hub where I'm not linked into just ZWAVE. But the whole point of going with Vivint was to have a one-stop fully integrated solution accessible from one app on my phone or computer. You don't pay $75 a month for less than that. I'm underwhelmed.

  11. 5) The solution shouldn't be to use my INSTEON controller, it should be for Vivint to offer me components to augment my system, to empower me to do that. It's so small minded of them. I have four YEARS on my contract, and they could be making me not mind that, to encourage me to even spend more money with them, but no, I don't get info on their solar panels, on their new controller, on the new cameras and security service, on additional components I can add to my system (I don't even know if they've added any new ones because they never contact me with value-add content). Nope. I hear crickets . Nothing. I'm out here alone, paying my $75 per month for exactly what they sold me, and at this point my expectation is that at the end of my contract I'll still be paying for the exact same thing and feeling way more horrible about it than I already do. It didn't have to be that way. I wanted to love this company. I wanted to feel like it was a good decision. I tried to make it work. I searched their website looking for value-add. But it's clear to me now that Vivint doesn't care about me. I think they're happy to just have me keep paying on my 5 YEAR CONTRACT without lifting a finger to salvage the broken relationship I have with them. So I'll have to wait until 2018 to add an automated sprinkler system and an automated pool pump and spa controller, and an automated gas fireplace controller, and an automated garage door controller, and integrated light controls and, and, and. Why wait? Because I'm not investing another single penny until I'm free.

  12. So does anyone know how to add a device to the skycontrol panel?

  13. AnonymousJune 01, 2014

    From what I read, the Go!COntroller allows users to set up event triggered rules in the web app. I cannot do that in the SkyControl!! I hope vivint brings that feature into the skycontrol. It would be nice to schedule a lamp to come on at a specific time.

  14. AnonymousJune 20, 2014

    You need the access code which is 2253. With the code you have administration privileges and will be able to.add any device

  15. AnonymousJuly 05, 2014


    I ran across your blog while searching for something else Vivint related and felt I should add my experiences with their home automation. I have successfully added 4 Z-wave components to my Vivint system and I am able to control them from the app and even have rules setup online to manipulate their operation. Here are the two units I was able to add just by using the "Check Network" under the Services menu:

    - Jasco 45609 Z-Wave Wireless Lighting Control On/Off Switch
    - GE 45605 Z-Wave Technology Duplex Receptacle

    The Jasco switches work well as they are repeaters for the Z-wave system as I have one that probably would not work due to needing to go through 2 exterior brick walls to get from the Go! controller to the farthest switch. So yes it is possible to add without the installers code as I was able to use my user code any time it prompted for a number.

    *Update* I just tested access to the installers toolbox and my personal code that used to work no longer gains me access. I am able to use the installer code 2203 provider by others.

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