ADT Home Security: What you need to know
ADT is America’s largest provider of best home security systems (opens in new tab) and it’s been going strong for more than a century. ADT prides itself on its flexibility, there are plenty of packages to choose from and they can all be customized to fit your needs. Whether you’re after the most basic home security monitoring service, or one that can work with your smart home, ADT has it.
Free cancellation: 6-month money-back guarantee
Security monitoring: Professional 24/7
Smartphone control: Yes (some options)
System price (starts at): Free
Monthly costs (start at): $24.99
Wired or wireless: Wireless
Video cameras: Yes (optional)
Installation fees (start at): $99
Since ADT is one of the most well-regarded security companies out there it can charge a premium for its monitoring services. That means you will likely end up paying more for it than you would for a rival like Brinks Home Security (opens in new tab) or Frontpoint (opens in new tab).
ADT Pulse is ADT’s smart home security product launched way back in 2010. It has evolved a lot since then and now packs all the features you’d expect from a smart security system. It can control most other smart products in your home, even if they haven’t been provided by ADT.
In an effort to keep at bay some of the home security companies nipping at its heels ADT now offers a rolling contract service. ADT has partnered with Samsung SmartThings (opens in new tab) to offer monitoring using Samsung’s comprehensive family of smart home safety and security products.
One thing that makes ADT different from other home security companies is that big pets won’t trigger its systems. Most security services can accommodate pets up to around 40 pounds before an alarm is triggered. ADT works with pets of up to 95 pounds, so if you’ve got a big dog (unless it’s a giant mastiff or Great Dane) you should be alright.
Packages: How much does ADT Home Security cost?
There are currently four main home security packages available from ADT. There is also a home security monitoring (opens in new tab) service if you opt for the ADT SmartThings service.
Unlike some other services ADT isn’t fully transparent with its costs. For example you need to call to get installation or equipment costs for some packages and calls can last up to an hour. Once on the phone they will try and sell you more products than you may need, however you might also get a package more tailored to your needs. Regardless, make sure you have done your research before speaking to an ADT representative so you have a clear idea of your needs and you don’t buy more than is needed.
The above prices are where each packages costs start, installation and monthly monitoring may end up being higher depending on your situation. Let’s look at these ADT packages in detail so you can see what you get for your money.
ADT Home Security review: ADT Basic
As the name suggests, ADT Basic is the entry-level monitoring package from ADT. In terms of equipment you get a digital keypad, three door or window sensors, an infrared motion detector a loud alarm siren and wireless keychain remote so you can arm and disarm your alarm from a distance. There are no smart home features here, but there is round-the-clock monitoring from ADT included.
Unfortunately this package is a landline one, which means it needs to be connected to a phone socket. There’s no cellular backup at all so if there’s a problem with your phone line and the alarm is triggered ADT won’t know about it. However, the audible alarm will still go off, and there is a backup battery that will keep the system active for up to eight hours in the event of a power outage.
The lack of cellular backup – or Safewatch Cellguard as ADT calls it – means we wouldn’t recommend this option to most people.
ADT Basic costs $27.99 a month and requires a 36-month contract. You don’t have to pay for the equipment, but it does have to be professionally installed by an ADT installer which costs $99.
ADT Home Security review: ADT Basic Wireless
ADT Basic Wireless comes with all the features of Basic, but crucially adds Safewatch Cellguard. This means that ADT will know if your alarm is triggered even if the phone lines are down.
This service comes at a huge premium, however. The cost of ADT Basic Wireless is $48.99 a month – $21 more than Basic and there’s still the $99 installation fee. That’s a lot more expensive than competitors like Brinks or Vivint that provide cellular safeguards on even their most basic packages. However you will need to pay up front or in installments for the equipment with those companies. ADT packages the cost up in the higher contract fee.
ADT Home Security review: ADT Pulse
ADT Pulse and ADT Pulse + Video are ADT’s smart home security monitoring packages. Once again you get all the ADT equipment you would with Basic, but you also get the ADT Pulse app, which lets you control your home security and compatible smart home products via your smartphone or tablet. You also get Cellguard as a cellular backup.
ADT Pulse + Video adds indoor and outdoor security cameras to the equation, which can be accessed via the Pulse app.
If you like controlling your security systems by voice you’ll be pleased to know that ADT Pulse supports Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. While there are apps available for Apple’s iPhone and iPad, the Siri voice assistant is not supported.
Installation for an ADT Pulse system costs at least $99, while the cost of the equipment will depend on your specific needs and the offers currently available.
ADT Home Security review: ADT SmartThings
If you’re willing to install your home security system yourself then ADT SmartThings is certainly the cheapest way of getting ADT home security monitoring in your home and you won’t be tied up to a long contract.
SmartThings is Samsung’s smart home system. It’s a solid system and for $199 you get the SmartThings ADT Home Security Starter Kit. This includes a 7-inch touchscreen security hub that can control all SmartThings compatible products. You can also get all the same controls via a smartphone app. There are also two door or window sensors and a motion detector and you can buy more as you need them. Crucially it also includes LTE cellular backup.
Just to confuse things a little more there are three monthly subscription options with SmartThings.
ADT Home & Life Safety Monitoring offers 24/7 professional monitoring in case of smoke, fire, carbon monoxide and water leaks. This service costs $14.99 a month.
ADT Home Security Monitoring offers more traditional 24/7 professional monitoring for intrusions and panic alerts. This service costs $24.99 a month.
The ADT Total Security Bundle combines the two other bundles and provides an overall saving of $5 compared to having both other packages separately. It costs $34.99 a month.
All these packages are offered on a monthly rolling contract, you can cancel at any time as long as you give one month’s notice.
ADT Home Security review: Cancellation and Warranty
ADT offers a 90-day limited warranty for equipment. This isn’t very long considering you’re signed up for at least 36 months. However, it does offer what it calls the Quality Service Plan (QSP) which is, in essence, an extended limited warranty. Some packages bundle this in so do make sure to ask if it is included, if not it generally costs $7 a month. If something goes wrong with your ADT home security system (and it’s not your fault) then you only have to pay $25 to get an engineer to your home to fix it. Other companies offer longer standard warranties, but don’t offer extended warranty at all.
If you decide to end your contract with ADT before the 36 months have passed then you will need to pay 75% of your outstanding balance. This is a little more generous than some other providers.
ADT Home Security review: Pulse app
The ADT Pulse app is available for Android and iOS smartphones and tablets and lets you receive alerts on your device. It also lets you monitor and control all of your ADT security devices and arm or disarm your system. You can even view and record live footage from your security cameras, if you have any installed.
The Pulse app also works as a control for other smart home products. So you can use it to unlock a smart door lock, turn on a smart light or even adjust a smart thermostat as long as they are compatible. You can also set automation rules so, for example, you can set your smart lighting to turn on at a certain time, or when you come home.
ADT uses Z-wave to communicate wirelessly with smart products. Most Z-wave-compatible smart home products should work with it, while Zigbee-only compatible ones won’t. If all that jargon confuses you then here is a list (opens in new tab) of all the devices that ADT says work with Pulse so you can check on a product-by-product basis.
If you want to know more about the ADT Pulse app then watch this video (opens in new tab):
How does ADT Home Security alert you when an alarm is raised?
ADT has a response center that will respond to a raised alarm any time of the day or night. Depending on how you’ve chosen your system to be set up either a loud alarm sounds and a signal is sent to ADT or a silent alarm is triggered and an alert sent to ADT.
An ADT monitoring professional will then attempt to contact you using the 2-way voice feature in the control panel, or via your home or cell phone. You will be asked to provide a password to verify your identity and ensure you’re not an intruder.
The ADT responder will then guide you through what happened and will be able to identify which of the sensors triggered the alarm. If an incorrect password is given, or no-one answers then the responder will assume there’s an emergency. Since ADT knows exactly where you live, they will contact your jurisdiction directly, rather than having to be routed through 911. This can save time.
You can also assign other people to be contacted in case of an alarm. They will be contacted by phone.
ADT Home Security: What the users say
Not everyone’s experience with a service is the same so it’s worth looking at what other users say about it. It is worth noting that it’s more likely for someone to complain about bad service than complimenting good service. In this section we highlight scores for ADT Home Security from well-established user review platforms.
Consumer Affairs gives ADT a score of a little more than three stars out of five from 1128 reviews over the past year. Most complaints tend to stem from people using authorized dealers and costs escalating at the point of install or when wanting to move home. Positive reviews focus on the great customer service, quality of monitoring and professional expert installers.
ADT Home Security review: Other things to consider
ADT offers a service if you move called “Safe Move”. This offers savings towards the installation of a new system.
Unfortunately ADT pushes you to buy new equipment for your new home (at a discount) and sign a new 36-month contract. You must also have been with ADT for at least 24-months prior to moving.
Most other security companies let you take the equipment with you to your next home and don’t have contract stipulations, although some have moving fees.
If you’re planning to move within the next three years then ADT is not the best choice of home security monitoring, unless you opt for the ADT SmartThings package which you can take with you.
On the other hand if you move into a home with an ADT security system already installed then you can take advantage of it and sign up to a monitoring only contract.
ADT offers a 6-month money back guarantee if it is unable to resolve your issue with the service. This is very generous compared to other security companies. As with all guarantees there are terms to be adhered to so make sure you check your ADT Money Back Service Guarantee Certificate for full details.
ADT also offers monitoring for flooding, fire and carbon monoxide for an added cost. You will also need to buy specific sensors for each. These also work with the SmartThings package.
ADT’s customer service is open 24/7 so if you have a problem with your equipment you can call them any time day or night. Not all security companies offer this, even if they offer 24/7 monitoring.
Should you try ADT Home Security?
ADT has been around longer than almost anyone in the business and offers an array of packages to suit every homeowner and combine them with excellent monitoring. The downside is that they tend to be more expensive than the competition, especially for key features like cellular backup or if you’re planning to move.
If you value good customer service, expert installation and ease of use above all else then ADT is right for you. Otherwise we recommend looking at Vivint’s and Brinks’ home security offerings instead.