ADT Home Security Review

Is the ADT security system all it’s cracked up to be?

ADT Shield
ADT
4.3 out of 5 stars
4.25
  • pro
    Reputation and experience
  • pro
    Smart home compatibility
  • con
    Expensive
Brianne Sandorf
Nov 14, 2023
Icon Time To Read8 min read

Is ADT right for you?

People trust ADT. It’s been around forever, so it’s definitely one of the best-known and most experienced home security companies out there. It shows its age by its initials: ADT stands for "American District Telegraph." In 1874, ADT as a home security system was born after creator Edward Callahan managed to connect 50 houses to the same telegraph call box to which they could all call for assistance.

But with that popularity, experience, and history comes a massive price tag. Is it worth it? After scouring through ADT’s offerings and customer reviews, we think it can be if you value its benefits enough. In this ADT review, we’ll talk about why we recommend ADT security services for users who want tried-and-true home security but not for users who want to save money.

ADT monitoring plans comparison
Monitoring plan
Price
Mobile app access
Smart home integrations
Details
Basic
$28.99
Icon No  DarkNo
Icon No  DarkNo
Secure
$45.99
Icon No  DarkNo
Icon No  DarkNo
Smart
$49.99
Icon No  DarkNo
Icon Yes  DarkYes
Video
$56.99
Icon Yes  DarkYes
Icon No  DarkNo
Complete
$59.99
Icon Yes  DarkYes
Icon Yes  DarkYes

Data effective 11/14/2023. Offers subject to change.

We recommend the Video plan

If you’re going to go with ADT, you’ll get better value with one of the more expensive plans. We suggest, at the very least, getting the Video plan. That way, you’ll have app access with your ADT alarm.

But if home automation is a deal-breaker for you and you have money to spare, we recommend going for the highest plan. With the Complete plan, you’ll gain video storage with your monitoring service. (That includes 24/7 video recording, which is arguably ADT’s best feature.)

With Complete, you’ll get mobile access, video storage, and home automation. That means you can add smart devices to your ADT security devices.

Best home security recommendations

Product
Monitoring price
Installation type
Contract length
Details
ADT Shield$28.99–$59.99/mo. Professional 3 years
Vivint$29.99-$44.99/mo.Professional No contract or 5 years
SimpliSafe$19.99-$29.99/mo.DIYNo contract
Frontpoint$49.99/mo.DIYNo contract
Brinks$39.99–$49.99/mo.Professional and DIY3 years

Data effective 11/14/2023. Offers subject to change.

ADT pricing and monitoring

ADT has some of the priciest home security packages on the market, which is a thumbs down. The prices are a lot, and so are some of the monitoring plans.

But the company also has a money-back guarantee for cancellations made 6 months after purchase, which is a thumbs up. However, they can only provide a money-back guarantee if the system or equipment issue cannot be solved by ADT.**

ADT professional monitoring plans
Plan
Price
Mobile app access
Smart home support
Details

Basic

$28.99
/mo
Icon No  DarkNo
Icon No  DarkNo

Secure

$45.99
/mo
Icon No  DarkNo
Icon No  DarkNo

Smart

$49.99
/mo
Icon No  DarkNo
Icon Yes  DarkYes

Video

$56.99
/mo
Icon Yes  DarkYes
Icon No  DarkNo

Complete

$59.99
/mo
Icon Yes  DarkYes
Icon Yes  DarkYes

Data effective 11/14/2023. Offers subject to change.

Pricing

We won’t lie: overall, ADT charges a lot more than most of its competitors. But if you want that brand name recognition, it comes at a premium.

ADT is probably the most trusted name in home security, and with good reason. It’s been around for over 147 years, and it offers professional monitoring with multiple monitoring centers.

Contracts

The typical ADT contract is 36 months, which is the market standard right now. Unless you’re in California—then you only need to commit to ADT for 24 months. More on that later.

Fees

Once you install ADT, you have six months to confirm the system and equipment work well for you. If you want to cancel at any time during those six months, ADT will refund your money only after attempting to solve system-related issues. 

Without any systemic issues, you have to pay 75% of your remaining contract as a cancellation fee.** That’s a pretty standard industry cancellation policy, but it’s still a huge barrier if you need to get out of your contract (especially if you’re canceling for financial reasons).

ADT security equipment

ADT doesn’t make its own equipment but has a good selection.

ADT equipment package comparison
Plan
Base Price
# of pieces of equipment
Details

Secure Home

$474.50
6

Smart Home

$675.25
7

Video and Smart Home

$912.50
9

Data effective 11/14/2023. Offers subject to change.

What equipment ADT offers

ADT offers three packages at different price ranges. There is the Secure Home, Smart Home, and Video and Smart Home. 

Each of these packages includes the basic features: 1 touchscreen panel, 24/7 alarm monitoring, 3 sensors, and professional installation.

ADT has a not-insignificant range of equipment, including the following:

  • Control panel
  • Doorbell camera
  • Indoor camera
  • Outdoor camera
  • Siren
  • Glass break sensor
  • Shock sensor
  • Motion sensor
  • Carbon monoxide detector
  • Smoke detector
  • Smoke/carbon monoxide detector combo
  • Smart lock
  • Remote smart light module
  • Remote smart thermostat
  • Garage door controller
  • Smart LED light bulb

Your ADT equipment isn’t proprietary. It’s made by a third party, like Alarm.com or Honeywell. On the one hand, it’s annoying to pay so much for generic pieces. But on the other hand, you may be able to reuse them with another monitoring company after your ADT contract ends.

With that in mind, let’s take a close look at some of ADT's most unique equipment offerings.

ADT equipment security features

ADT's sensors have your bases covered

ADT shock sensor

This sensor shocks anyone who tries to break into your house. Okay, no, that sounds cool, but it’s not true.

The shock sensor detects shock waves a.k.a. any impact against your window or door. If someone tries to break glass or use a battering ram, you’ll know.

If you’re wondering, “How does that differ from a glass break or window sensor?” the answer is: it doesn’t really. It gets pretty much the same results, but with a different approach.

ADT smoke and carbon monoxide detectors

Most smoke detectors or carbon monoxide sensors tend to be pretty basic, so we’re really digging ADT's security detectors. When your device goes off, it does the following:

  • Sends you notifications
  • Calls the ADT monitoring team
  • Sounds a siren
  • Shines lights

ADT's smoke and CO detectors are also tamper-protected and work in a large range of temperatures and humidity. Things don’t get much safer than that.

Command smoke detector via ADT

Command Smoke Detector

Qolsys smoke detector via ADT

Qolsys Smoke Detector

Command carbon monoxide detector ADT

Carbon Monoxide Detector

Command smoke and carbon monoxide detector

Smoke & Carbon Monoxide Detector

ADT cameras

A lot of home security companies love to highlight their cameras. ADT isn’t one of those, and we understand why. To all appearances, ADT security cameras aren’t bad, but they’re not groundbreaking either.

ADT offers indoor, outdoor, and doorbell cameras. With a camera and one of the two ADT Security plans, you can enjoy remote viewing, cloud storage, and 24/7 professional video recording. And if you're a fan of Nest indoor, outdoor, or doorbell cameras, ADT is now promoting Nest equipment.  

ADT indoor pro HD camera RC845

Indoor Pro HD Camera

google nest indoor cam

Indoor Nest Cam

adt camera

Outdoor Nest Cam

Nest doorbell cam

Nest Doorbell

ADT home automation

You get good home automation with ADT with a higher-tier package.

ADT’s compatible with Alexa, Google, and the Z-Wave protocol, so it will connect with most smart home devices. And if you're 

If you just want to say, “Alexa, arm ADT,” then you can do that with your Echo, no sweat. But if you hope to open up the ADT app and control your lights, locks, and thermostat from there, then you’ll put at least $49.99 in ADT’s cash register every month.

Speaking of the app …

ADT mobile app (ADT Command, formerly ADT Pulse)

We’ve tried an old-fashioned ADT home security system that didn’t use Command. It wasn’t a bad experience, but the app would have made things a lot more convenient. It was hard to keep tabs on whether the alarm was armed or disarmed without physically walking over to it. And when we weren’t at home, we couldn’t check to see if we remembered to set the security.

Therefore, in our opinion, it’s better to have the app. But, also in our opinion, it’s not cool that you have to pay at least $50 a month to use it.

That’s right, folks. You can’t use the ADT Command app without at least a Smart plan. And that plan, in case you forgot, costs $49.99.

It’s not typical to charge for app access in the home security industry, and to be honest, we find it offputting. App access seems like something that should be included with all packages.

ADT-Control-App-Arming

ADT installation

ADT requires a professional’s touch.

ADT security systems are all professionally installed. (ADT Self Setup which is self-installed, is a whole other service.)

You don’t have to lift a finger during the actual installation process, but you do have to block out a time to be home when the techs arrive (and pay the installation fees).

Can you move with ADT?

ADT doesn't have a moving policy on its corporate website. Based on customer experiences, it sounds like you can buy out your contract, transfer it to the new homeowners, or move your service to a new dwelling. But even if you take your service with you, ADT may require you to pay off your old equipment in full and/or pay for upgrades at the new place.

ADT customer experience

Your level of customer service will rely heavily on the dealer you buy from.

Don’t get us wrong. A lot of ADT customers are happy with their service. But like with any company, there are some things ADT could do better.

According to Consumer Affairs and the BBB, one of the biggest roadblocks of using an ADT dealer is the business model.

ADT doesn’t work like McDonald’s franchises. ADT dealers don’t always have strong, centralized leadership to keep things consistent.

Instead, they use fragmented approaches to selling, equipment packages, and installation. That makes the customer experience far from consistent, and therein lies a lot of potential for frustration.

Speaking of frustration, we see the following main complaints against multiple dealers:

  • Unexplained fees
  • Unexpected charges
  • Misrepresented services

We don’t love that the same types of complaints pop up repeatedly. It’s not a good look for any security company.

Beware of ADT imitators

We’ve heard of alarm companies that pretend to be ADT dealers but aren’t. If you didn’t reach out to ADT yet ADT salespeople show up on your doorstep, hold off on signing anything until you do more research. Those folks may not be from ADT.

How does ADT compare to other companies?

ADT is one of the most expensive national home security companies. Only Vivint comes close in price.

But ADT also has a longstanding reputation that makes its prices worth it for those who want a guaranteed security brand.

ADT pricing compared to other home security systems
Product
Monitoring price
Installation type
Contract length
Details
ADT Shield$28.99–$59.99/mo. Professional 3 years
Vivint$29.99-$44.99/mo.Professional No contract or 5 years
SimpliSafe$19.99-$29.99/mo.DIYNo contract
Frontpoint$49.99/mo.DIYNo contract
Brinks$39.99–$49.99/mo.Professional and DIY3 years

Data effective 11/14/2023. Offers subject to change.

Recap: Is ADT a good security system?

ADT solutions fill a lot of needs if you’re willing to pay the price.

ADT is familiar to people. It’s synonymous with home security. And if you don’t need all the bells and whistles, or if you don’t mind paying extra to access them, then you’re going to be satisfied with ADT.

Let’s walk through what you can expect with ADT one more time.

  • Pricing: ADT’s prices are sky high if you want anything other than a landline system.
  • Equipment: ADT equipment is fairly generic and might be reusable for another monitoring company.
  • Home automation: The ADT system is compatible with most major smart home devices. You just have to pay extra for app use and full automation.
  • Installation: Sit back and relax while the professionals do all the installation work.
  • Customer experience: Your customer experience will largely depend on the dealer you use (if you choose not to go with ADT corporate).

But if you’re tired of paying a ton of money for home security, or if you want a DIY system, or if you’re just looking for something different, ADT isn’t the end-all-be-all. Check out our best home security recommendations for plenty of other options.

Methodology

When rating home security services, and specifically with this ADT security review, we frequently consider the following points:

  1. Price: We understand that affordability is a significant consideration for homeowners seeking reliable security solutions. We carefully analyze the pricing structures of ADT's home security services to determine the best value for your investment.
  2. Equipment: The quality and range of equipment provided by a security service can greatly impact its effectiveness. We thoroughly examine the security equipment offerings, assessing the reliability, durability, and technological advancements of the equipment to ensure it meets the highest standards.
  3. Smart home integrations: In today's interconnected world, the integration of security systems with smart home technology has become increasingly important. We evaluate the compatibility and functionality of each service's smart home integrations, ensuring seamless connectivity and control over your security system.
  4. Security cameras: Surveillance cameras play a vital role in deterring potential intruders and capturing crucial evidence in the event of a security breach. We carefully assess the camera options offered by different services, including their resolution, field of view, night vision capabilities, and additional features.
  5. Customer experience: A positive customer experience is paramount when it comes to home security services. We consider factors such as responsiveness, professionalism, and the overall satisfaction of customers to gauge the level of service provided by each company.

In addition to these fundamental points, we conducted an in-depth review where we placed particular emphasis on two additional aspects:

  • Installation Type: We recognize that the installation process can greatly influence the overall user experience. We examine the installation options provided by each service, including professional installation and do-it-yourself (DIY) setups, to evaluate the convenience, reliability, and ease of use for homeowners.

  • Video Storage: The ability to store and access recorded footage is a critical aspect of any home security system. We carefully analyze the video storage capabilities offered by each service, including factors like cloud storage options, storage duration, and accessibility, to determine the level of convenience and security provided.

For this particular review, we also lived with an ADT home security system for a few weeks to get a more detailed experience.

ADT FAQs

ADT has a long history and tons of past and present customers, so there’s a lot to talk about.

You can contact ADT customer service at this number: 1 (800) 587-4198

If you’re a renter, you probably shouldn’t get ADT. And that’s okay.

ADT’s long-term contracts and more permanent installation methods make it a bad fit for most renters. But hey, there are lots of other security systems designed for you.

And don't forget about ADT's DIY home security system option: ADT Self Setup. With no term contracts, ADT Self Setup is a convenient (and cheaper) option for renters. 

We rate ADT 4.25 out of 5. It's a well-known and reliable company that has been in the business longer than any other home security company. Because of its reputation and reliability, this trustworthy brand will be sure to make a potential home burglar reconsider breaking into your home when they see your ADT equipment. 

If you opt to pay for the more expensive plans ADT offers, a professional will take care of everything for you, from installation all the way to 24/7 monitoring. That's as reliable as it gets.  

Saving money, mostly.

You’ll also get unique equipment over the more generic items that ADT uses. Plus there’s something to be said for moving away from the giant monolith of historic home security systems and trying a smaller service.

Of course, there are some drawbacks to picking the smaller, self-monitored service. You won’t have as many features or access to some equipment, like the ADT medical alert. Yes, that’s right—ADT has an entire medical alert system for aging in place and other medical needs.

With ADT Express Pay you can pay your ADT bill without having to sign in to your MyADT account.

Once you're on the MyADT homepage, scroll to the bottom of the page and choose Make a One-Time Express Payment. From here, you'll just need to provide your Customer Number and the first five numbers of your billing zip code. Easy peasy!

You can also sign up for automatic payments with ADT EasyPay, so you won't even have to think about payment each month your ADT bill is due.

To enroll in ADT EasyPay, follow these steps:

  1. Under ADT's Bill & Payment Summary section, click Sign-up for ADT EasyPay
  2. From here, make sure to pay any outstanding balances since it's possible you'll wait up to two months for your EasyPay enrollment to finish processing.
  3. Once enrolled, you can adjust any payment methods or account settings by clicking on Manage EasyPay on the Overview screen.

** ADT Money-Back Guarantee: Money back guarantee only applies after ADT has made attempts to resolve a system related issue and has not been able to resolve that issue within the first 6 months of your contract. Equipment must be fully removed before a refund will be processed. Conditions preventing normal system operation cannot be caused by the customer.

Brianne Sandorf
Written by
Brianne Sandorf
Brianne has a degree in English and creative writing from Westminster College and has spent 6+ years writing professional, research-based content. Before joining Reviews.org, she wrote safety and security content for ASecureLife.com. Her pieces and quotes are published across the web, including on MSN.com, Social Catfish, and Parents.com. Hobbies include wearing a seatbelt, wearing a life jacket, and keeping her arms and legs inside the ride at all times. Contact her at brianne@reviews.org.

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