Pros / ADT's equipment return period is six months, the longest in our comparison.
Cons / The company isn't very transparent with its monitoring and device pricing.
Verdict / ADT competes with the best home security systems by offering a relatively fair contract and excellent equipment, though its pricing isn't particularly transparent.
It's little surprise that ADT is a well-known name in home security systems; the company's been around since 1874. This kind of longevity comes from continually innovating and adapting to stay competitive. The company has fairly competitive contract terms, numerous customer support resources and excellent equipment.
ADT's website lists three 24/7 monitoring plans starting at $28.99 per month for the Traditional plan, which is very competitive among systems we looked at. However, the company doesn't provide clear pricing for the other two plans on its website, Control and Video, though we found evidence through ADT resellers that these plans cost around $52.99 and $57.99 respectively, which is more expensive than similar plans from competitors. We were disappointed by this since most security systems list the prices for all of their plans online.
ADT's starting costs have a similar problem. The company only lists a $25 activation fee but goes on to state in its residential terms and conditions that "Service and installation charges vary depending on system configuration, equipment and services selected." This means you'll pay more than the $25 listed.
A contract with ADT runs three years and automatically renews on a monthly basis at the end; this is typical of the home security systems we reviewed. If you cancel early, you must pay 75 percent of the balance, which is fairer than the companies that charge 100 percent, but not as good as no-fee options. ADT gives you six months to return your equipment without paying an early-termination fee, which is considerably longer than most home security companies. While the company's contract terms for professionally installed systems aren't the best we've seen, they are fairer than the majority of home security systems.
While many of the devices are wireless, you cannot install them yourself, which takes some stress out of the process. The company requires professional installation as part of the service agreement, so you'll need an appointment. ADT offers a mobile app for remote access to your system, but this requires a special access fee and is only available if you subscribe to either the Control or Video monitoring plan.
You can contact ADT any time of day via social media, phone, email or live chat. Our contacts with ADT resulted in friendly, helpful customer service, although there was an emphasis on meeting with a company representative to determine security needs and costs. For more information, ADT has an online help center replete with informative articles and product documentation. Of particular note is the public-facing Legal Information page, which lists contract terms.
ADT also has a lifetime warranty on equipment to complement these customer support resources, though you need to subscribe to the company's Quality Service Plan (QSP), which adds around $7 to your monthly bill. If you choose to go without the QSP, you can expect a 90-day warranty. Of the companies we reviewed, only Brinks Home Security matches ADT in terms of customer support.
ADT integrates home automation and interactive controls into its residential security alarm systems through a service called ADT Pulse, which is available on the mid- and upper-tier monitoring plans. ADT Pulse is compatible with third-party smart home devices such as the Amazon Echo, Ring video doorbell and the Nest Learning Thermostat. You can also get security cameras and video-monitoring capabilities through Pulse to keep an eye on your house and loved ones.
Unlike most home security systems, ADT doesn't have any basic equipment packages that give you specific devices such as a control panel, entry sensors, motion detectors and key fobs. While this makes comparison shopping more difficult, it also means ADT doesn't require you to purchase equipment you might not need. Instead, ADT's sales team works with you or sends a representative to your home to find the right balance of equipment for your needs.
ADT's equipment selection is generous and lets you choose from a variety of security devices, including garage door controls, locks, smoke detectors, carbon monoxide sensors, medical pendants, thermostats, water sensors and sirens as well the cameras and smart home devices listed above.
Although ADT doesn't have a self-install option, you can get the ADT Home Security Starter Kit, which is a DIY option it developed with SmartThings. You pay upfront for the equipment and have two choices for no-contract professional monitoring. The first plan costs $14.99 monthly and monitors for safety hazards such as smoke and carbon monoxide. The second plan costs $24.99 a month for home security monitoring services. If you want both monitoring options, you pay $34.99 a month.
- Monthly Monitoring Fee
- Contract Length