If you're looking for a new home security system, it's no surprise that you've come across these two names. No doubt most well-known, Vivint has been in the industry for just 20 years but has around 1.5 million customers across North America. NorthStar Home Security is a small to mid-sized security provider in Orem, Utah, that serves about 50,000 customers. The company offers flexible home security packages and options, including smart home automation and other features such as medical pendants and alarms. They have a 'B' rating with the Better Business Bureau (BBB). Let's look at both providers to see which offers you the best security services.
Vivint vs NorthStar Security - What do they have in common?
- Long-term contracts: With Vivint or NorthStar, you'll take out a 5-year contract for your security cameras.
- Professional installation: Unlike other home security companies, you won't have the option to do a DIY install to save money.
- Lifetime warranty: Whichever you choose, you'll enjoy lifetime protection in the form of a lifetime warranty, providing peace of mind to homeowners.
- Environmental sensors: Environmental sensors can prevent thousands of dollars of damage to your home if a flood or similar incident should occur. Both Vivint and NorthStar offer an array of sensors, including glass break sensors, flood sensors, and motion detectors.
- Mobile app: You can manage, arm, and disarm your security system remotely using the mobile apps. Our SecurityNerd rated the mobile apps similarly for performance, too.
Vivint vs NorthStar security: What are the differences?
- Security equipment: NorthStar's security equipment is partly provided by Honeywell Security; Vivint doesn't outsource.
- Coverage: NorthStar only covers around 30 states in the USA, whereas Vivint covers all USA states.
- Activation fees: NorthStar charges a $199 activation fee, far more expensive than Vivint's $99 activation fee. Vivint also seems to run more offers for free or cheap activation.
- Monthly monitoring fees: The monthly monitoring fees are pretty different, with Vivint's most expensive plan being neck-and-neck with NorthStar’s cheapest plan.
NorthStar Alarm Security - What you need to know
Here are the key things to consider when looking at NorthStar as a potential security provider.
NorthStar's professional installation fee is $199 no matter which package you choose, but they do sometimes run promotions that bring this cost down to $99. With professional installation, you don't have to worry about it at all.
As an authorized dealer of Honeywell security equipment, they offer well-rated, reliable equipment that can integrate easily with third-party automation devices. Packages are provided on a points-based system, for example:
- Window and door sensors: 1 point
- Motion sensor: 2 points
- Glass break sensor: 2 points
- Smoke alarm: 2 points
- Medical pendant: 1 point
- Keychain remote: 1 point
The phone app and products are compatible with a limited collection of third-party automotive tools. You can also purchase additional smart home products from your NorthStar security package. Equipment offered includes:
- Smart thermostat
- Smart door locks
- Smart garage door locks
- Voice control
Technically, the cost of the equipment is free. However, this is based on a 5-year contract. Installation costs are $199 or less if you find a special promotion. Monthly costs range from $54.99 upwards, and the activation fee is $199.
- Flexible packages: Every package is unique and customizable.
- Lifetime warranty: NorthStar offers a lifetime warranty that is quite rare, but Vivint does too.
- Pricing: Even when compared to traditional providers, NorthStar is quite expensive. The monthly monitoring service is costly, but the quick response and high-quality equipment make it worthwhile.
- Limited service area: Currently, NorthStar serves 30 states: Wisconsin, Arkansas, Illinois, Missouri, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama, Tennessee, Virginia, Georgia, Florida, Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia, California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Nevada, Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, Texas, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Kansas, Louisiana.
- Contract length: NorthStar Alarm Services only offers long-term services, with customers being obligated to sign up for 60-month contracts. This makes it an expensive ordeal to cancel or change contracts.
Vivint: What you need to know
Vivint offers great equipment installed by qualified technicians during a smooth installation process, you'll get an abundance of smart home options and they're even Z-wave compatible.
A professional installation technician will come and install your security system, talking you through anything you need at the same time. You don't have to worry about anything, but you should be aware that DIY installation isn't an option.
You can purchase your equipment as a package or on an a la carte basis:
- Security cameras
- Smart home devices
- Smoke detectors
- Motion sensors
- Freeze detectors
- Doorbell camera
- Control panel
- Carbon monoxide detectors
- Secondary keypad
- Panic pendant
- Pan and tilt sensor
Your system will be compatible with Nest thermostats, Amazon's Alexa, Google Home, etc. You can also purchase dedicated home automation features such as smart locks, garage door sensors, and video doorbells.
- Equipment costs: You don't have to pay any upfront costs as your equipment costs are paid monthly. Once your equipment is paid for, your monthly fee will be significantly lower. However, an essentials-only equipment bundle comprising a door sensor, motion sensor, smart hub, and yard signs will set you back at $599 (or $9.99 a month). You should contact Vivint for an accurate quote.
- Installation costs: Vivint quoted our SecurityNerd $100 for installation but did advise us that promotions occasionally reduce this to $0. You should ensure you check for active promotions.
- Monthly costs: Professional monitoring plans are available, and monthly monitoring costs are $39.99 to $59.99 per month, depending on how many cameras you have and whether you want video monitoring.
- Customization: You can customize your security equipment with the help of a professional; be mindful of upselling.
- Smart home options: You'll have an array of smart home options, from smart locks to smart thermostats and more, with Z-wave compatibility increasing the integrations available.
- Price: The price is relatively high; if you're looking to save some money, you should consider a DIY system.
- No satisfaction guarantee: While a lifetime warranty covers equipment, there is no satisfaction guarantee and there's only a 3-day return window.
Vivint Or NorthStar?
If you’re looking for a reliable alarm company with excellent response times and an array of smart home options, look no further than Vivint. NorthStar is great, but they’re a much less experienced company with a limited and confusing range of availability. If you’re looking for a DIY installation, flexible company that doesn’t put too much pressure on your bank account, you may want to consider other alternatives such as SimpliSafe or Frontpoint.
This article has been reviewed and approved by Officer Banta.
Officer Banta is the official SecurityNerd home security and safety expert. A member of the Biloxi Police Department for over 24 years, Officer Banta reviews all articles before lending his stamp of approval. Click here for more information on Officer Banta and the rest of our team.