ADT Home Security Review 2021
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.
But with that popularity and experience comes a massive price tag. Is it worth it? It can be. In this ADT review, we’ll talk about why.
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|Company||Monitoring price range||Contract||Smart home integrations||Learn more|
|ADT||$27.99–$62.99/mo.||36 mos.||Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Z-Wave,||View Plans|
Data effective 02/10/2020. Offers subject to change.
ADT pricing, contracts, and fees
You pay a lot for ADT, but you get a long time to try it.
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 lenient money-back guarantee for cancellations during the lengthy trial period, which is a thumbs up.
|Product||Price||Connection type||Installation fee||Learn more|
|Essentials Plan||$27.99/mo.||Landline||$99.00||View Plans|
|Complete Monitoring Bundle||$36.99/mo.||Landline||$99.00||View Plans|
|Premium Bundle II + Cellguard||$44.99/mo.||Cellular||$99.00||View Plans|
|ADT Command Tier I Remote Access||$52.99/mo.||Cellular||$99.00||View Plans|
|ADT Command Tier II Video Security||$58.99/mo.||Cellular||$99.00||View Plans|
|ADT Command Tier III Video Security + Home Automation||$62.99/mo.||Cellular||$99.00||View Plans|
Data effective 02/10/2020. Offers subject to change.
As you can see, the more reasonable prices are for systems connected through a landline, not a cellular network. So if you don’t have and don’t want a landline, the cost quickly rises.
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.
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.
Once you install ADT, you have six months to decide if you like it. If you want to cancel at any time during those six months, you get off scot-free (theoretically; customer comments have shown it’s not always that easy).
After that, if you want out, 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 doesn’t make its own equipment but has a good selection.
ADT has a not-insignificant range of equipment, including the following:
- 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
Depending on which ADT authorized dealer you buy from, you can also get other equipment pieces, like the ADT doorbell cameras, flood sensors, and medical alert devices.
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 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 detector
Most smoke detectors tend to be pretty basic, so we’re digging ADT’s smart detector. When it goes off, it does the following:
- Sends you notifications
- Calls the ADT monitoring team
- Sounds a siren
- Shines lights
It’s also tamper protected and works in a large range of temperatures and humidity. Things don’t get much safer than that.
ADT security 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, the ADT 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 Command + Video Security plans, you can enjoy remote viewing, cloud storage, and 24/7 professional video monitoring.
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.
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 $62.99 in ADT’s cash register every month.
Speaking of the ADT app …
ADT Command (formerly ADT Pulse)
We’ve tried an old-fashioned ADT 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 ADT 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 ADT app. But, also in our opinion, it’s not cool that you have to pay $53 a month to use it.
That’s right, folks. You can’t use the ADT Command app without at least an ADT Command Tier I Remote Access plan. And that plan, in case you forgot, costs $52.99.
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 requires a professional’s touch.
ADT’s all professionally installed. (Blue by ADT, 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).
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 ADT customers have is the business model.
There’s ADT corporate, and then there are ADT dealers. These dealers aren’t like McDonald’s franchises. They don’t seem to have strong, centralized leadership from ADT to keep things consistent.
Instead, they use fragmented approaches to selling, equipment packages, and installation. That makes the ADT 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 ADT 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.
Recap: Is ADT good?
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, but the company gives you six months to make a final decision.
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 ADT dealer you use.
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.
Is your house ready for ADT?
If you go with the ADT landline system, you just need a landline. But if you choose a cellular home security system, you need internet. And if you decide to use the ADT Command app, you need a cell phone and a plan.
Recommended internet plans
We recommend getting better-than-average internet when you have home security. That way, your system won’t slow down your day-to-day internet use.
And, if you have cameras, you’ll want even better and faster Wi-Fi.
|Xfinity Internet - West||Blast! Pro||$80*||300 Mbps||View Plan|
|Verizon Internet - Fios Gig||Internet 400/400||$59.99/mo.†||400 Mbps||View Plan|
|AT&T Fiber||AT&T Internet 1000||$60/mo.‡||940 Mbps||View Plan|
Recommended mobile plans
To access your ADT app on the go, we suggest an unlimited data plan.
ADT has a long history and tons of past and present customers, so there’s a lot to talk about.
Should I get a landline system or a cellular system?
Typically, you should get a landline system in any of the following circumstances:
- You already have a landline
- You live in a rural area without good cellular connections
- You just want the bare minimum in security
A cellular home security system would be better in just about any other circumstance.
There’s a reason why landline systems are falling out of favor. With the advent of cell phones and advanced home automation, landline systems technologically lag. Still, they have their uses. (Although, contrary to popular belief, they aren’t necessarily safer than cellular systems, and here’s why.)
Why are ADT contracts shorter in California?
We wish we knew why Californians get a shorter ADT commitment! We haven’t found a reliable source that can clarify this.
Our best guess? California’s housing market is wild, so people may not be willing to commit to a security service for more than two years. But that’s just our speculation. If we get a better answer, we’ll let you know.
Will ADT raise my prices?
Based on the customer feedback we’ve seen, there’s a very real possibility that ADT will raise your prices at some point. Before signing up, you may want to ask about a price lock policy. Otherwise, you could find yourself unexpectedly paying even more in the future.
How many monitoring centers does ADT have?
ADT has six monitoring centers. Last we checked, ADT had more monitoring centers than any other company, making it the monitoring king.
What’s video monitoring?
Video monitoring = ADT will keep an eye on your camera feeds, too, not just your home security system. And since the monitoring is 24/7, ADT will see everything. (So be careful where you place the cameras.)
Just as a reminder, video monitoring is separate from the standard professional system monitoring. It’s only included in ADT’s top-tier packages.
I’m renting. Can I still get ADT?
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.
Can I buy ADT signs?
If you’re wondering if you can buy ADT signs, you may have had this brainchild: “Ah-ha! I can capitalize on ADT’s reputation by getting an ADT sign but no ADT equipment.”
If you already have an ADT system, you can use your account to buy signs. You can also find spare signs on Amazon.
We don’t necessarily recommend using a security sign for a company you aren’t using, but if you choose to do so, we suggest you at least have some kind of security system in place. An experience burglar will be able to tell that there’s no system, despite what the sign says.
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