Vivint Thermostat Reviews: Element Users Sound Off

vivint thermostat reviews

With all the smart thermostats out there, Vivint customers say look elsewhere

Vivint is a big company that offers home security, automation, and even roof-top solar. If you’re interested in moving forward with them, you want to be sure that their services and products are up to snuff.  Let’s take a look at their latest thermostat – the Element – to see what makes it tick, find out what customers say by looking at Vivint thermostat reviews, and decide whether moving forward with Vivint really makes sense.

Vivint is not the only company that offers smart thermostats, and the market is flooded with very similar offerings from a host of other companies like Apple and Google. Where does Vivint’s smart thermostat fall when compared to its rivals?

Who is Vivint?

Vivint began as a home security company and, while they still retain that core function, they’ve since branched out into the burgeoning home automation industry as well as solar. They offer a wide range of products with their services, including front and garage door controls, smart locks, doorbells with cameras (pretty cool, I’ve got to admit), and smart thermostats.

Since the company was founded in 1999 as APX Alarm Security Solutions, they’ve grown fast. They rebranded as Vivint in 2011 and the following year, the Blackstone Group purchased the company for $2 billion. As of 2017, Blackstone is reportedly interested in selling or going public with Vivint.

Vivint’s won quite a few awards over its lifespan, including highest customer satisfaction for security systems from JD Power in 2017, the 2017 Editor’s Choice Award from PCMag, ranked #22 on FastCompany’s list of the world’s most innovative companies, and claimed a spot on Forbes’ Most Promising Companies list.

Vivint is a growing company with unique products and plenty of recognition. So let’s see if their thermostat lives up to their own hype.

What makes Vivint’s thermostat special?

As of late 2017, Vivint actually offers two thermostats: their own branded smart thermostat and a Nest learning thermostat. While the Nest is super cool, today we’ll be focusing on Vivint’s own offering, the Element.

Vivint markets the Element as a key component within your smart home. Through their included Smart Home App, you can remotely control your AC or heat as well as your garage doors and locks – certainly useful if you’re on your way home on a cold day.

If you forget to change the temperature yourself, the thermostat’s ‘Smart Assistant’ actually adjusts your home’s temperature when you’re home or away, taking into account your location and climate. If you’ve got an Amazon Echo, you can also control your thermostat by voice – again, pretty cool!

Of course, Vivint isn’t the only one selling smart thermostats, there’s quite a few others: the aforementioned Google Nest, ecobee, and Apple’s Home to name a few. All these sleek devices are meant to do 3 things:

  1. Keep you happy and cozy in your home
  2. Save on energy bills by lowering/raising temperature (depending on the season) automatically while you’re away
  3. Look cool

All the smart thermostats above, and even programmable thermostats if used correctly, can fulfill all these goals. For example, Nest claims that their thermostat can save homeowners between 10% and 15% on their energy bills, around $130 to $145 a year. We can probably assume that any smart thermostat capable of learning your habits – which includes Vivint’s offering – can save close to this.

The Element comes as part of Vivint’s Energy Management System package, so you can’t just buy it a la carte. The Energy Management System is a step above Vivint’s basic Home Security package and, as of this writing, comes in at $59.99 per month for monitoring (and includes all the services of both packages) with a $149 installation fee.

With Vivint’s 5 year contract, that totals $3,748. If you’re only interested in saving money with a smart thermostat via lower utility bills, Vivint might not be your best choice. More on this later, however. For now, let’s get into Vivint thermostat reviews.

Overview of Vivint thermostat reviews

Since the Element is included as part of Vivint’s Energy Management System, let’s take a look at reviews of the service as a whole (numbers are current as of November, 2017).

Analyzing customer reviews on BestHomeSecurityCompanys, Vivint enjoys an average score of 2.1 out of 10 stars, based on 1,193 reviews. There’s really no beating around the bush here, this score is absolutely terrible. A full 662 reviewers gave them zero stars, while just 134 gave 10 stars.

Reviewers cite poor equipment quality and poor customer service from both technicians and phone support.

Here’s Chris describing his experience with customer service while trying to replace a broken camera:

“Had a faulty camera or sensor installed on Oct 18. Called to have replaced, couldn’t get someone out until Nov 16th. Escalated call and was told Nov 6th. I stated my desire to cancel. Was called by a manager on Monday Oct 23 and was asked if I’d be willing to keep the system if he could get someone out here on Weds the 25th. I agreed. Was given 12-2 timeframe. 220pm no call, no show. I submitted my cancellation paperwork and called service. They told me I was given a 12-4 timeframe, which I know is not accurate. Tech showed up at 525pm and didn’t even have the correct equipment.”

And another from John on both the equipment and service:

“Equipment is faulty, has not worked right since I had it installed. Have had to take off many days from work to accommodate service technicians. Vivint withdrew a large sum of money from my account for no reason, took a week to repay it and were not even repaying the correct amount until I corrected their mistake….again. This is the absolute worst consumer experience I have ever had in my life and I hope my review helps save some people the headache and stress of dealing with these clowns. Terrible service.”

As you can imagine, stories like this unfortunately abound. What do Vivint thermostat reviews say? While customer comments for it are rare, there are a few mentions.

Here’s Melissa:

“Security cameras, doorbell cameras, thermostat and other bonus selling features don’t work[.] Customer service is terrible with no resolutions[.] Expected to pay for un-working service[.] No care or concern for their customer satisfaction”

Another mention of a poor thermostat performance from Erryn:

“The door lock with the key pad no longer unlocks even with the key. The thermostat and the key lock (when it worked) burned through AA batteries like crazy. The camera was horrible so we never used it and the lamp timer was pointless so we never used it. Definitely overpriced. Customer service is okay.”

Overall, it seems like homeowners have pretty frustrating experiences working with both Vivint’s equipment and employees. Other review sites confirm these ratings: on BestCompany, Vivint enjoys a moderately-better 2 out of 5 stars based on 102 reviews.

Considering all poor customer reviews, it’s hard to definitively recommend Vivint. But before we slam the hammer down, let’s compare Vivint’s Element thermostat to a few others currently on the market.

Comparison to other thermostats

Is Vivint’s Energy Management package worth it?

For starters, it’s quite expensive. $3,700 is obviously much, much more expensive than just buying a thermostat yourself and hiring someone to install it.

A Nest thermostat – one of the more expensive offerings on the market – is currently under $250 (check current pricing). Even if you hire someone to do the installation, your total investment is under $400. Of course, you’re not getting the security features, cameras, doorbells, and monitoring that Vivint offers, but you are getting everything their thermostat offers:

  • Remote control of your thermostat via app
  • Software that ‘learns’ your lifestyle and adjusts temperatures accordingly
  • Nice, sleek appearance (in fact, Nest’s screen is multi-colored!)
  • Integrates with Amazon Echo

Nest even show you the weather and time on the screen – bonus! Of course, you can alternatively choose a Nest thermostat when entering into a Vivint contract, though I assume it will cost a premium over their own offering.

If all you’re looking at is financial savings, you could always buy a cheap programmable thermostat. We’ve all seen them before, and while they’re not as popular as they once were, if used correctly they can save you quite a bit on your utility bills.

Of course, the important part is ‘if used correctly’. You have to program it correctly and forget it. The temptation to constantly change the temperature to suit your mood proves too great for most people, leading to minuscule (or even non-existent) energy savings. That’s not to say it’s impossible by any means. Here’s a quick tutorial from the US Energy Department on how to program your thermostat to save energy.

With Vivint, you’re not just getting a thermostat, you’re getting full home security services and the first steps of home automation. Exactly how much that’s worth is up to you.

Is Vivint’s thermostat worthwhile, or just another piece of expensive automation?

If you’re looking for the whole nine yards with cool technology – and don’t mind a long-term contract – Vivint offers a smart thermostat with decent specs. However, their extremely poor online reviews lead us to be quite wary of their products and service, especially considering the multi-year contract.

If a smart thermostat is your #1 priority and you don’t actually need a full home security/automation service, just buy a thermostat off Amazon or at Home Depot and install it yourself (it’s really easy). Keeping your equipment and installation costs low is the first step toward saving money on your energy bills. If you think you have the will power, buy a programmable thermostat and use it – you can’t get cheaper than that!

Images under Creative Commons license via Flickr – 1, 2, 3, 4, and Pixabay – 5

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