Back in October, I shared our smart home and security system for the first time. About this time last year, we had a break in and opted to get security shortly after (read my initial post here). Fast forward to present time, we’ve been living with our smart home system for almost a year (10 months, to be exact), and I wanted to share my favorite things about it. I’ll admit, I’m not a techy type of person. In fact, I’ve had a new phone sitting in the box on my desk for months because I’m dreading switching things over from my current phone (even though Emmett assures me it’s a breeze). Don’t judge me, friends. I am who I am. I’m just not tech savvy, I don’t have a strong interest to learn, I’m pretty stuck in my ways, and honestly- I’m ok with that. However, despite my lack of enthusiasm for tech… I really do love our smart home system and use it multiple times each day. It’s easy, efficient, and makes life run more smoothly. It’s something I didn’t know I needed, wanted, or how much use it would actually get, until we had it installed. If you’ve been considering any smart home tech, I thought I’d share my favorite features from ours… the things we use most often and really appreciate. Click through to read about it, if you’d like. I also have some codes for free gadgets (like a doorbell cam, if you’re in the market)!
*While this post is not sponsored, I am proud to be a Vivint partner. All content, ideas, and words are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that allow us to create unique content while featuring products we actually use & enjoy!
1. Package Protection // Our doorbell cam is probably my personal favorite feature. Since opening the shop, we’ve been getting more packages than usual- one day I came home to 25+ boxes sitting on our porch (yes- that was a crazy moment). This is by far the most handy, functional tool because we usually have a handful of deliveries each week. Once a package is delivered, I get a notification on my phone, with the option to “protect the package”. If I click protect, and someone tried to take the package from my porch, an alarm would sound. Thanks to audio capabilities, I’ve given verbal consent for a delivery person to leave a package on multiple occasions, when a signature was required.
You can easily talk directly to the person (back and forth) through the camera. It’s also a great way to avoid a face-to-face conversations, which was awesome during quarantine (or when I just don’t want to answer the door, if I’m being honest). I’ve also avoided some door-to-door salespeople with that feature… a quick, verbal “So sorry, I’m not interested, but have a great day!” usually does the trick. Emmett always keeps tabs on our meal deliveries. We buy HelloFresh each week and he always makes sure the cold box doesn’t sit outside on the porch in the heat for too long. That’s the image below- our green meal box sitting on the front porch…
2. Security // While our outdoor cameras mostly capture a LOT of deer (we have notifications turned off for wildlife, so our phones don’t chime all day long), we were able to assist our local police department over the winter. Our neighbors had a vehicle break-in, and we were able to share footage. I’m also confident that’s why the individual avoided our home- because he noticed our cameras. At least three days a week, I work from home and am home alone. Having a system just makes me feel at ease- especially after our incident last year. We also arm our house when we leave and while we’re sleeping. You can set the system for staying or leaving. Feeling comfortable in our own home, in terms of safety, was a big reason we got the system in the first place.
3. Seeing Family // This is really just a fun feature for us, but Emmett and I are able to have spontaneous chats throughout the day. We’re notified when there is a person in front of our outdoor cameras, and you can talk to each other through the camera (it’s the little white & black box to the left of our sconce, pictured above). We have them on all sides of our house. When I’m working from home, I’ll take the dogs outside on the patio and Emmett will receive a notification that we’re in the backyard- so he’ll hop on to say hello and watch the dogs play. I’ve even had him troubleshoot the lawnmower through our security cameras… he was at work and I was trying to help with outdoor chores. He walked me through replacing the belt. It’s fun to see what the other is up to, and we also like to scare each other occasionally. Haha! Maybe that’s creepy and we’re just weird that we enjoy talking through cameras? I feel like if you have kids, this would be a great way to spy on them! I don’t know… it’s kind of a fun and easy way to connect. Anyway, I took a screen grab of that same scene (from above), so you can see what it looks like on the app, and how we talk to each other.
4. Safety & Alerts // This is one of those things that you hope you’ll never need, but could make a huge difference if the time comes. I have notifications turned on for any sign of leaking or flooding, carbon monoxide and fire, etc. Vivint actually has a dedicated 24/7 emergency response team who can cut off air flow to contain a fire, raise the temperature in your home to keep pipes from bursting, and dispatch immediate help. They even have thought of a secret security code that silently alerts help if someone follows you into your home and demands you disarm your system in front of them. I hope we never have to use any of those features, but I definitely have peace of mind knowing they’re in place. The last time we travelled internationally, a pipe burst, and our basement flooded… that totally could have been avoided if we would’ve had our smart home system at that time.
5. The Thermostat // This small update has been a game changer for us because we have two HVAC units and two thermostats (one for the basement & main level and one for the upper floor). We have the app set to specific temperatures for each, and it changes depending on the time of day and the weather. We’ve actually saved quite a bit of money on our utility bills, and I never have to worry about lowering the temp before bed (we like it a bit cooler at night, so it automatically adjusts). The last time we were away for the weekend, we had already hit the road and realized we forget to adjust the thermostat accordingly… with the click of a button on our phone, we were able to increase the temp- even though we were hours away from home. It’s very convenient!
6. Assigned Codes // As we’re getting back into the swing of traveling and socializing more frequently, our unique codes have come in really handy. We have different codes (a specific number sequence) for the people in our lives who frequent our home- our best friends, the neighbors, our trusted dog & house sitter, etc. Whenever someone enters our home by punching in their assigned code, we know exactly who it is and are notified. I immediately see “Anissa entered through the garage” or “Angela opened the front door” on my phone. It helps us keep tabs on what’s going on, who is at our house, and assurance that our place (and dogs) are being taken care of while we’re away. We’re so lucky to have incredible people in our lives who are always willing to lend a hand.
7. Automation & Connection // Everything is connected and accessible at any given time. I notoriously leave home and think, “Did I shut the garage door?” I quickly check my app to see that the garage door is shut- or occasionally I actually do forget and can shut it right there on my phone. I can also lock & unlock doors, should anyone need to get inside (who doesn’t already have an assigned code), automatically arm & disarm our house, record video clips, or do anything I need remotely. Our household robot of choice (lol!) is Alexa, and it also syncs with that system… so I could say something like, “Alexa, lock the garage door” and boom- it locks.
It feels like there are hundreds of cool features, and not being a very tech savvy person- I probably don’t use the majority of them, but these are the ones Emmett & I constantly rely on and enjoy having. We also didn’t have to set anything up- the technician who came out last year to install our system did everything for us… because let’s be real- you know I don’t have the time or patience for tech. Anyway, I hope that was helpful if you’re considering implementing some smart home / security features! Those are the ones we use on a regular basis.
If you want to check out ways for disguising and styling tech or smart home gadgets in your house, check out this post! Most tech feels like an eyesore to me, but I will say- the Vivint gadgets we currently have are pretty sleek, minimal, and not very noticeable.
After setting up our system last year, I agreed to be a Vivint partner because we obviously use and love our smart home system, so if you have any specific questions- let me know and I’ll try to find the answer for you! Being a brand partner, I also have a personal customer service team that can help. Their phone number is (844) 654-5206 … you’ll hear my voice first, then you’ll be connected. I’ve got a special link you can click, if you prefer to do things online. Be sure to use my code ROOMFORTUESDAY for a free Doorbell Camera Pro, with the purchase of a system. You can find pricing, terms, and conditions here. Do you have any smart home gadgets you consistently use and love? I’d love to hear about them! Am I the only one around here that isn’t great at tech? For not being tech people, I feel like our home feels pretty high tech. Now- trying to figure out how to use our GoPro for our upcoming diving vacation… that’s a totally different tech dilemma. I’ll be watching YouTube tutorials on that one.
PeggiJune 9, 2021 at 5:18 am
Good morning! First of all, I don’t know your standard for “tech savvy”, but from my perspective you seem wildly proficient! Don’t knock yourself. Our home is extremely low-tech; no garage door opener or television kind of low tech. Our sprinkler system is on a timer…does that count?😂 That being said, I can certainly imagine the convenience of some of the features you highlighted. Definitely being able to check the thermostat or door locks after we’ve left the house would be handy and help with peace of mind. You wouldn’t believe the number of times I’ve turned around a mile from home just to be sure! I also feel like the camera feature could be useful for keeping tabs on the dogs; maybe I could rig an alarm for when Jason gets near my flower beds. (The look on Crosby’s face is priceless!) My only experience with a home security system was many years ago; yours certainly demonstrates the myriad improvements since then. All of the added features really do make it seem useful. And if you feel more secure in your home, it seems like a wise investment! (Also, I totally flashed on Dead to Me when you mentioned using camera footage to help the police.😉)
Cheers to a super Wednesday! (Is this week going fast, or is it me??)💜
SarahJune 9, 2021 at 10:26 am
Haha! Thanks Peggi! I feel like an old dog trying to learn new tricks when it comes to tech. I keep forgetting that you don’t have a TV! We can definitely count your high tech sprinkler system. We have one of those too, and it’s actually pretty neat… it knows not to water when it rains. So crazy! I used to the drive a mile, turn around, come home and check the doors, then hit the road again. My friend who is a psychiatrist told me a mind trick to help with that- make a weird noise (like a bird call, a duck quack, whatever, LOL!) or say a funny word out loud every time you shut the garage door, lock the front door, unplug an appliance (whatever it is you usually forget to do)… then you’ll more easily remember that specific moment, and if you locked up or did whatever it is you needed to do. Haha! I didn’t question her methods. We definitely keep tabs and yell at the dogs through the camera. We caught Cash in the garden eating our tomatoes a few times. I definitely felt like that scene in Dead to Me, when we were able to help the police. Ha! Cheers to a great Wednesday! This week really is flying by. Have a great day! xo
LaurenJune 9, 2021 at 7:17 am
Good morning Sarah! I’m in agreement with Peggi—you seem much more tech capable than you feel, but I completely understand your sentiments. I personally feel as though tech is something I frequently struggle with. It’s a win if I can figure something “techy” out on my own when Jeff is away. Speaking of…Jeff took a job at the start of the quarantine lockdowns that requires travel. As of right now the travel is pretty intense, while his company fulfills the backlog of work orders due to those same shutdown measures. There are times he’s gone for five days, home for two and back out again for another six. We don’t currently have a system of any kind for security, and we’ve discussed how helpful it could be, especially given our trusty guard dog has been gone for three years now. For me, having a system of some kind would offer much more piece of mind than our current state.
I’m so thankful you’ve shared the features you love and use most. Sometimes it can feel like there’s so much out there, and it gets overwhelming trying to question “what do we actually need?”…and it’s in that overwhelm of options that we freeze, and postpone making a decision.
I’m surprised at how clear the images are from your doorbell and cameras. I’ve seen several clips of footage or screenshots from other systems out there, and none have been as crisp and clear as what you’ve presented here. For me, that’s even more piece of mind. I also find it immensely useful that you can program separate codes for people frequenting your home. It seems Vivint has thought of everything with their system.
These are Jeff’s questions: How is the footage from your security cameras stored? Is it a dedicated cloud storage system? And is the video footage owned by you, Vivint, or another third party? (Google, etc)
What other systems did you look into before deciding on Vivint, and what was the selling point for you? We’ve looked into systems like Cove, but I don’t know how they’d stack up against a system such as this.
Everything you’ve brought up here is great selling points and gives me food for thought when we decide to move forward with our own security system. I’m happy you have found piece of mind with yours, and it’s been a great experience that you and Emmett feel equally confident about. I’m laughing at you spying on the dogs and scaring each other-that’s something we used to do with our baby monitors, so I completely get the humor!😂
Thank you for sharing Sarah, and have a lovely Wednesday!
P.S. I’m not sure my comment on Peggi’s wonderful guest post went through yesterday. I subscribed to comments as always, but didn’t receive the usual emails, and had to go back to see her responses. When I did, my comment didn’t appear on the page.☹️ Lol, technology isn’t my thing either. 😂🤣
SarahJune 9, 2021 at 10:19 am
Well thanks! It’s not my favorite home area. Ha! I definitely feel peace of mind at home with ours, and I can imagine since you’re home alone often- it would help to ease your worries. All of our cameras are very clear and easy to see… you can even pinch the screen and zoom in really close without it going grainy. I feel like Vivint really did think of everything. Like I said- there was a lot I didn’t know I needed or would use until we had it installed. To answer Jeff’s questions: our footage is stored on a hard drive that lives next to our wifi router (it is not cloud based). Although, I think you can choose what option works best for you (if you prefer the cloud), but Emmett opted for the physical hard drive (a hard copy or backup of our security footage, that is owned by us). Other systems we researched before landing on Vivint last year- Ring and AT&T. Vivint felt more intuitive, seamless, I liked the look of their gadgets better (more streamlined and minimal), and they had some cool features that Emmett really wanted (dialing in the settings on outdoor cameras, so that we didn’t get a million notifications thanks to deer, etc). We also liked the non security smart home options being in the same place or app… the thermostat, our fire & carbon monoxide detectors, integrated door locks we can close & open from afar, etc. They covered more “smart home” in general, as opposed to just security. Scaring each other has become a pretty funny game. Ha! I’m glad we’re not the only ones who do that. It’s especially fun when one of us is away traveling. I’ll be outside in the yard and I hear an “Ohhhh heyyy!!” from Emmett through the camera. Lol! Anyway, so happy you found this post helpful. I never know how into the home tech things everyone is, but it has been a game changer for us, so I thought it was worthy of sharing :) I’m seeing your comment on Peggi’s post yesterday! I’ll send her to a note to check it out. It’s hard to keep track of comments here on the backend of the site (they’re never in order, ugh). I bet she just missed it. Technology! Hope you’re having a great week… you’re SO close to being done with school!! xo
ColleenJune 9, 2021 at 9:14 am
Wow, that system is super slick! We have a system in both of our homes but it doesn’t compare to the advanced features you have outlined here. We never ever had a break in thank goodness 🤞 but I would see why you would invest in such a supreme operation. It pretty much has everything you could think of. Now I definitely would not use half of the features but Andrew would have fun all day long playing with a system like that. Haha! He is into the tech stuff and loves to mess with me too ☺️ He has freaked me out with our Ring on multiple occasions 😏
Glad to hear you now feel safe because our homes are our safe haven for sure 👍
Have a super fab day, it’s a hot one here 😎 and the pool is calling me ;)
SarahJune 9, 2021 at 9:49 am
It’s really intuitive and easy- we’re definitely happy with it! I’m so glad to hear you haven’t had to use your system for a break in. I have to laugh that Andrew also tries to scare you with your Ring camera. Emmett gets a kick out of making me jump or surprising me on camera. Haha! I’m glad we’re not the only ones who goof around with it. Have the BEST pool day. I wish I could teleport and join you, Colleen! xo