ADT Home Security Review 2020
If you’ve never heard of ADT, then we’re not sure where you’ve been the last 100+ years because that’s how long ADT’s been the biggest name in home security. And there’s a reason for the hype: ADT systems have a long history of reliable service.
But don’t think it’s all sunshine and roses just yet. ADT is a huge company that uses a network of third-party contractors to sell, install, and maintain its alarm systems, so you never know quite what kind of customer experience you’re gonna get. Plus, its smart home and camera monitoring plans are pretty expensive.
|Company||Monitoring price range||Contract||Smart home integrations||Learn more|
|ADT||$36.99–$62.99/mo.||36 mos.||Yes||View Plans|
Data effective 1/30/20. Offers subject to change.
ADT SafeStreets monitoring and pricing
Anything above ADT’s basic landline option gets pretty pricey. But ADT’s monitoring is super reliable.
All ADT systems are professionally monitored. That means if someone breaks into your house, or if your toddler has suddenly learned how to work a doorknob, a professional will respond to anything that triggers your system and call the police (or fire department, or paramedic) if they need to.
|Plan||Price||Connection type||Installation fee||Learn more|
|Complete Monitoring Bundle||$36.99/mo.||Landline||$99||View Plans|
|Premium Bundle II + Cellguard||$44.99/mo.||Cellular||$99||View Plans|
|ADT Command Tier I Remote Access||$52.99/mo.||Cellular||$99||View Plans|
|ADT Command Tier II Video Security||$58.99/mo.||Cellular||$99||View Plans|
|ADT Command Tier III Video Security + Home Automation||$62.99/mo.||Cellular||$199||View Plans|
Data effective 1/30/20. Offers subject to change.
You get to choose from two different connection types: landline and cellular. We really recommend going with cellular plus smart home support—which means subscribing to an ADT Command plan. And as cellular plans go, ADT Command’s base pricing is about as expensive as it gets.
ADT’s top plans are expensive. Really expensive. The average price for a professional monitoring plan is less than $40 per month. ADT’s Command plans start at $52.99 per month.
You’ll pay more for an ADT Command plan than you would for similar plans from other top security companies—like Vivint or Xfinity Home Security—so be sure it has the features you want before you jump on board. ADT does throw in some free starter equipment, but it’s hard to say if it’s enough to offset the high base pricing because ADT hides its equipment pricing.
Ah, contracts . . . we meet again. Unlike some flashy new contractless security systems out there, ADT does require you to sign a 36-month contract. That used to be the industry standard, but contracts are becoming less common. We’d love to see ADT offer more flexible contract options like Vivint, Link Interactive, Frontpoint, and a dozen other systems do.
On the bright side, you don’t have to sign on the dotted line until the end of your installation day, after all your equipment is up and in place. So you don’t have to worry that you’ll be signing on for a system that’s not even in your house yet. Just keep in mind those installation days can also be upselling opportunities for ADT, so keep an eye on your grand total.
ADT SafeStreets technology and equipment
ADT has a full range of basic security sensors and smart home options.
Basic security equipment
Whether you just want to secure your doors and windows or you want a fully armed fortress complete with flood sensors and smart lights, ADT has the equipment you need. The only downside is it’s a guessing game how much it will cost at the end of the day.
ADT doesn’t list its equipment prices online, or anywhere else for that matter. That’s because the prices can change depending on where you live, the details of your installation, which contractor installs your system—and probably the color of your left shoe, for all we know. Transparency is not ADT’s strong suit.
You won’t find out the total cost of the equipment you order until your installation date. We don’t like that you have to wait that long to know, but it helps that your installation is pretty flexible. If you decide you don’t want that third indoor camera or that fourth flood sensor, you can nix it from your final package.
We gotta say, if you want the best cameras around, then ADT is not our first pick. If you want an ADT system mainly for the cameras, then we’d say go with another system entirely. Sure, you’ll get basic features like night vision, but we’ve seen cheaper cameras with better specs from companies like Arlo and Nest, as well as from full systems like Vivint.
All of ADT’s cameras record in HD, but, except for one indoor model, it’s 720p, not 1080p. We’ve heard from ADT that more 1080p cameras are “coming.” But honestly, 1080p has been the standard for so long that that’s not a great response. Also, the standard indoor camera doesn’t seem to have a two-way audio function, which means you can’t use the camera to yell at your Labradoodle for jumping on the sofa.
On the bright side, both of ADT’s indoor cameras are wireless, so you don’t have to figure out how to MacGyver an Ethernet cable across your living room. (You’ll still need a power outlet though.)
ADT doorbell camera
ADT was a little late to the doorbell camera game. The Vivint doorbell camera was around for years before ADT got a model of its own. There were (and still are) endless DIY options like the Nest Hello, the SimpliSafe doorbell cam, the RemoBell S . . . we could go on.
Suffice it to say, we’re glad ADT offers a doorbell cam now. It gives you HD recording (although it’s still 720p). It also gives you two-way audio, so you can tell the Amazon delivery person to hide your new Nintendo Switch behind the potted begonia.
We’ll give it to ADT on this one—it has full home automation capabilities. The system supports Z-Wave and you can add smart locks, lights, thermostats, etc. But there’s a caveat: you have to subscribe to an ADT Command plan. (Formerly known as ADT Pulse.)
We recommend ADT Command over your other options anyway, but it’s important to note because ADT Command doesn’t come cheap. You’ll pay more for a Command plan than you would for a similar plan from Link Interactive, Vivint, or Frontpoint (to name a few).
That said, ADT Command gives you access to cooler equipment, more features, and better integrations than the lower-priced plans. If you’re set on an ADT system, then we think a Command plan is worth it.
ADT Command (formerly ADT Pulse) features:
- Cellular connection and battery back-up (more secure than a landline connection).
- Complete control of smart home devices (like lights, locks, thermostats, smart outlets, and garage door openers).
- Access to the ADT Control mobile app, which lets you control every aspect of your security system and smart home from anywhere.
- Integration with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.
- Camera support and live video streaming. (If you want security cameras, then you’ll need a Command video plan.)
Like we said, you’ll need an ADT Command plan to get access to ADT’s Control mobile app. But once you have it, the mobile app lets you control your whole security system and all your smart home devices.
You can check your camera’s live streams from anywhere (if you have a video plan). You can turn on your house’s air conditioner before you leave work. You can even arm your security system with just your voice and your Amazon Echo (or Google Home).
If you want the full smart home experience, then you’re definitely gonna need the Control app.
DIY home security systems are all the rage these days. Abode and Ring Alarm are like the popular new kids at a boring high school dance. But sometimes you just want the professionals to do the work for you, and that’s exactly what ADT does.
When you order your ADT alarm system, you’ll set up an installation date for a professional to come out and set everything up. Then, when the tech gets there, they’ll put up your yard sign and install your control panel first, and then go through your house with you and identify any areas that could use a little security love.
There are a few benefits to the whole professional installation deal:
- You don’t have to do it yourself. Score!
- You don’t have to guess which windows need sensors or where just a motion detector will get the job done. These people are trained to know what should go where.
- You’re not gonna mess it up. Your alarm system will be up and running smoothly without you lifting a finger.
But what about the drawbacks of professional installation? There are a few of those, too:
- It costs a bit extra. (ADT’s installation fee starts at $99 and goes up to $199.)
- You have to be home and available for the contractor, which might mean taking time off work or finding someone else to entertain your kids. (The installation process usually takes 2–4 hours.)
- You don’t know how much equipment you’re going to end up with. (Which means you don’t know how much it will cost.)
The contractor will go over the final price with you before they install all your new equipment (except the keypad). You don’t have to sign off on anything you don’t want. That said, it can be frustrating to not know beforehand how much you’re going to have to pay.
What’s new from ADT in 2020?
ADT SafeStreets customer experience
ADT’s customer experience is unpredictable because it uses so many different retailers. We recommend SafeStreets.
Just like Forrest Gump and his box of chocolates, with ADT, you never know quite what customer experience you’re gonna get. Because the company uses multiple third-party contractors, your customer experience depends on which of those contractors you use.
We’ll make things a little easier for you: use SafeStreets. ADT itself doesn’t get great customer service reviews,1 but SafeStreets gets glowing recommendations on the whole.2 Plus you know you’ll get SafeStreets installation techs, which makes things a little more predictable.
ADT’s top systems don’t come cheap—but you get loads of extra features for that extra money.
ADT has a long history of providing reliable security systems backed up by professional monitoring. But is it the best alarm system for you?
Basic security equipment: ADT’s equipment isn’t the most exciting stuff we’ve seen, but it gets the job done. If you really want the good stuff, then spring for an ADT Command plan that gives you a touchscreen keypad and access to the mobile app.
Cameras: ADT cameras are okay. They’re still HD, but most of them record in 720p, and they don’t offer some features we expect from top cameras, like two-way audio. (The doorbell camera and the fancier indoor model do both have two-way audio, though.)
Home automation integrations: As long as you subscribe to an ADT Command plan with smart home support, then ADT has a ton of different home automation integrations. You can control everything from locks to electrical outlets.
Installation: ADT is strictly professional installation. Your installation tech will work with you to properly secure your home, but that does mean it’s harder to predict which equipment you’ll end up with (and how much you’ll pay for it).
Monitoring: If you subscribe to a landline or broadband plan, then ADT pricing is par for the course. But we recommend ADT’s cellular Command plans, which cost considerably more (even compared to competitors).
Customer experience: Customer experience is a little unpredictable because ADT uses multiple contractors for everything from sales to installation. (Which is why we recommend going through SafeStreets. It gets excellent customer service reviews.)
ADT security services are the best-known in home security for a reason, but keep in mind that if you want access to all its best features, then you’re definitely going to pay for them.
Still not sure if ADT is the right system for you? Check out our best home security systems review to compare all the top systems on the market.