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June 17, 2011 • Reviews

Vivint Adds Security and Automation to a 1970s Era Deckhouse, Part Two: Installation

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A few weeks ago I wrote about the fact that we were going to be adding an alarm system and a nice degree of home automation to our residence in New Jersey thanks to Vivint. Well, process is all but done and I thought in this second post we would take a look at what the installation process actually entailed. I set up a standard installation appointment with the company and was pleased to find out that, unlike so many companies, the guys actually showed up exactly when they said they would. And they were awesome. They explained what was going to be happening over the next few hours and then had a few questions for me.

If Justin and Carlos are any indication of the caliber of person Vivint hires this is a great company to deal with across the board. They were nice, agreeable, quite flexible and really incredibly helpful throughout the process.

Here’s a video look followed by some additional detail.

A closer look at some of the components.

 

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The Touch Panel

The first step was to determine where the touch panel should be placed. This is often an important step since the panel needs to be close to the main entrance/egress point in the house so that you can get to it to deactivate the system quickly. That is far less of a concern with this particular system since it can be fully manipulated on-line or through an iPhone or Android handset.

In addition, you don’t even need to connect it to a phone line since it has a built-in cellular chip. Yes, the system connects to the main monitoring station via a wireless cell system and it is not reliant on a wired phone. All you need to be able to use system is a power source. As a result, we decided to place the panel in the laundry room. It makes sense because it’s out of the way and has easy access to power. It also happens to be near the main point of entrance and exit in the house-the garage.

The touch panel went in quickly and the rest of the system followed with the same easy, wireless installation.

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Remote Keyless Entry System

Next up was the automatic wireless locking system for the door, which allows you to lock and unlock via the web or smartphone app. It also lets you, if you so choose, to turn the alarm system on and off as well. That means you can unlock the door and turn off the alarm before you even get close to the building.

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The remote locks come in two versions. One replaces a deadbolt while the other replaces a lever handle. There is no choice in style at the moment but there are a number of different colors from which to choose.

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We opted to use in lever handle since the door doesn’t have a deadbolt. Installation took a bit longer than planned but not because of the system. Rather, the door was a bit warped and it took some finagling to get everything lined up. Once we did we were good to go.

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The Thermostats

Our unique house has four different zones for heating and two zones for the air conditioning we put in. That means we could have six different thermostats. Unfortunately we weren’t able to replace the thermostat in the bedroom because the signal just wasn’t strong enough. If this was important enough to us we could have added in a signal repeater but it really wasn’t that key to the installation and functionality be wanted so we didn’t bother. We did, however, replaced the main thermostats that control the majority of heating and cooling in the house. I am now able to control what the thermostat is doing and the set temperature from the web or my IOS devices. It’s pretty awesome.

It also, as the company has explained to me, has the potential to save consumers a great deal of money. When you leave the house even if you forget to change the temperature you can now do it by picking up your phone or tablet. $25 in savings is coming and there are people who take it even more seriously who have saved $100-$200 per month.

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Motion Detectors

The motion detectors are wireless as well and went up in a few seconds. We put in two of them so that anyone coming into the house from any of the main entry points would not be able to go very far before tripping one of them. There are settings which can be used if you have animals so you don’t have false alarms but we’ll talk about those in the next post on using the system.

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Door and Window Sensors

The sensors for swinging doors are hidden away in the door jamb.

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They simply drill a hole into the door jamb and the top of the door, put in the wireless device and you never even know it’s there.

On windows that don’t have that ability, or sliding doors which don’t open and close in the same manner they use sensors that simply stick to the door frame and the door itself. They’re rather unobtrusive. Those went in within a few seconds as well.

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Cameras

The motion detecting camera was a bit of a project simply because it required connection with the router for initial setup. It required have to go to a web-based management system set up but then once that is done you can unplug the camera, put it in place, and plug it in to a power source.

It is the one part of the system that uses Wi-Fi rather than a cellular signal.

The one final piece are the remote plugs which simply plugged into any standard wall outlet. On one side they have a standard, constant energy flow and the other side looks the same but is able to be turned on and off remotely from the iPhone or Android applications, or via the web.

In other words, with the exception of the Main Panel and the door lock all of the other components are installed in a matter of seconds and then areset up by the panel to speak to each other.

The system we had put in was their security and home automation package. It runs $199 for the install and then there is a flat monthly fee after that. (The actual cost of the equipment alone is well more than ten times that.) Our system had a few additional items added in and they will customize what any homeowner gets although that can add to the initial upfront cost.

In all the system setup was remarkably easy and happened without any issue. It is so streamlined and has the added benefit of being almost entirely wireless so that you don’t even know it’s there. That’s a good thing.

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