Updated August 13, 2016

ADT Review: Still the Best Home Security?

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ADT is certainly the most popular name in home security, but is it really the best? Our in-depth review will give insight into its pros and cons.

ADT

Overall Score

4.2

Discount

3.5

Home Security

5.0

Customer Service

3.0

Equipment

4.5

Mobile App

4.5

Packages

4.0

Cancellation

3.0

Installation

5.0

Yard Sign

5.0

Home Automation

4.0
5-point scale (the higher, the better)

Pros and Cons

  • Brand recognition
  • Professional installation
  • Long-term commitment

Bottom Line

Good home security system for long-term homeowners

Just having a commonly known brand name doesn't automatically make ADT the best security option for every homeowner.

In fact, you can easily find hundreds of complaints about ADT's customer service online.

But ADT has taken steps in recent years to try to improve its shortcomings (pushy salespeople is high on the complaint list) while at the same time trying to compete with the newer home security options on the market such as FrontPoint and Vivint.

Continue reading to determine whether the concerns outweigh the benefits, and explore whether ADT security will give you the features you most need in a home security system.

8 REASONS TO GET ADT

  1. You want a company that's well-known: ADT started in the 1870s as a telegraph company, eventually migrating to business security in the early 1900s. ADT is now a national home and business security company that participates in a lot of direct-to-consumer advertising, spreading its brand name by flyers in mailboxes and sales visits. It collected its 1 millionth customer in 1994 and claims more than 6 million customers now.

    No other home security company can match those numbers or ADT's longevity.

  2. But you also want modern features: ADT has managed to keep up with the times, and it offers you a way to control a great deal of your home from your phone. You can lock your front door with a swish on the phone from your upstairs bedroom and close the garage door you forgot to put down while you're at work. You can also check out video views from your phone while you're away and turn down the thermostat when the weather suddenly changes.

  3. You want professional installation: As part of the initial contract you sign, ADT will send an installer to your home to handle the equipment setup. You won't have to handle any of the setup yourself. For some people, this is a plus as it may give them more confidence in their system while others may see the installation as an extra cost they don't want to cover.

  4. You want the security of 24-hour monitoring: Unlike some other home security systems, ADT will monitor your system for any motion detection or tripped window sensors, alerting police and contacting you immediately. Some systems that claim to have 24-hour service just trigger a sound or let you know, via your app, that there may be a problem.

  5. You want more than just protection from burglaries: Depending on what service level you buy with ADT, you could get a warning anytime there's a sign of smoke, fire, flooding, and carbon monoxide. That's an all-around peace of mind when you need to be away from your home and belongings.

  6. You like to have reassurance that you'll get money back if things go wrong: ADT recently enacted a money-back guarantee for its service for up to six months, although there are several restrictions on this guarantee. This guarantee is only good for if there is something wrong with the service that ADT cannot fix.

    You may also qualify for a theft protection guarantee, depending on your service level. This can result in a reimbursement of up to $500 of your insurance deductible, should you suffer a theft loss. (Both offers should be read carefully - they probably won't be deal breakers for why you choose one provider over another.)

  7. You want same-day installation: ADT is a company that's large enough to have plenty of service personnel around the country. That means you can get installation of the equipment and home security service the same day you request it (with some limitations, of course). If you have just heard of a threat to your neighborhood or were recently burglarized, this could be a winning point.

  8. You may move in the future: You can migrate your ADT service to your new home with ADT's Mover's Guarantee. As long as you have been using ADT for at least two years, you will get a discount on new equipment (and most people who have done this report that they had to get new equipment upon moving). While the moving allowance is a nice perk, it is not a reason for renters to want ADT. Keep in mind, you'll end up signing another three-year agreement if you want to continue service when you move.

REASONS TO CONSIDER OTHER HOME SECURITY SERVICES

© woodleywonderworks (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr

  • You don't want to be locked into a long contract: ADT requires a minimum three-year contract for new customers. And those customers who move may need to sign a contract extension, equating to three years again. Some companies offer a two-year contract, while others offer month-to-month service with no contract (the downside is those companies don't offer equipment discounts).

    Remember, there is a 6-months money back guarantee, but this is only for if there is an equipment or service problem that ADT cannot solve. If you simply decide you're unhappy with it, we hear it's hard to get out of the contract.

  • You'd prefer DIY whenever possible: Newer security companies can give their customers more flexibility and freedom by providing them with stick-on wireless equipment that's easily installable. ADT does the installation for you, which means you pay for the labor costs that come along with that, including when you move.

  • You're concerned about customer service: While ADT has made strides to improve its customer service in recent years, this company still has some people who would not recommend it to their worst enemy. Keep in mind that the customer service reviews you find on the Internet tend to be about individual experiences. What happened to one person may not happen to you.

    However, the number of critical reviews about nightmares regarding ADT's customer service certainly raises a red flag. Most of them center on the customer feeling stuck in a contract and having a hard time unwinding from the service.

    And others are about reliability concerns. I have found dozens of reviews that described faulty equipment, incorrect installations, and service technicians who don't arrive on time. Installation may require two or more weeks of service visits, which means your service could be out of commission for that long.

  • You're concerned about false alarms: Frequent false alarms from home security companies have caused police in many locations to begin charging homeowners a service fee for each one. If your system malfunctions, you could end up with a police visit and a fee. Something as simple as the wind blowing open a door or a pet tripping a motion sensor could trigger a false alarm. And unfortunately, with some of the Internet reviews concerning faulty and incorrectly installed equipment for ADT, there's a chance you could end up with some false alarms while you get acquainted with the system.

COST

Depending on your plan, you'll pay between $28.99 and $58.99 per month for monitoring. Installation and equipment come at a variable cost, depending on the type of agreement you have. The $28.99 for the basic tier is lower than many comparable companies, but it's also more limited on what you receive.

The plan options are:

  • Traditional: This most basic plan only provides 24/7 burglary monitoring by way of landline. Cellular monitoring is an option at an additional cost. Fire/smoke, flood, or carbon monoxide monitoring are also optional. This plan does not include access to the mobile app, email/text alerts, or home automation.

  • Remote: With this plan, you get all-inclusive cellular monitoring for burglary, fire/smoke, flood, and carbon monoxide poisoning. You also get access to the mobile app and email/text alerts.

  • Video: This plan provides all the features of the remote plan plus video monitoring and home automation. You can remotely lock and unlock doors, turn lights on and off, open and close the garage, and control the thermostat. You also get video monitoring either in real time or play back.

Because each house has different needs, it's best to speak to an ADT representative to figure out the kind of monitoring and equipment you want. So it's hard for us to give you a ballpark estimate on cost. Please note that you would have to purchase the necessary equipment for any extra monitoring or smart home devices you want.

ADT APP

You'll need to subscribe to the ADT Pulse service, which costs more than the basic service, to make use of the smartphone app to control the system. Using the app, you can see your home's interior and exterior through the installed security cameras, arm and disarm the system, turn lights on and off, control a smart thermostat, and activate door locks. ADT even offers a medical alert option.

ADT SECURITY CAMERAS

With the installed security cameras, you can view live video through the smartphone app or through a computer connection. ADT also offers a digital video recorder, which will store the video captured with the cameras. Or you can set up the cameras to work in connection with motion detectors, starting the recording function whenever the motion detector activates. A 360-degree dome security camera is an option with ADT. There's also a day/night combination camera that works well in low light conditions. You will have to pay extra per month to add cameras to your system.

HOW IT COMPARES

There's no denying that ADT is the 800 pound gorilla in the home security industry. But they are facing nimble competition, with other home security companies offering more comprehensive protection, lower prices, and/or better technology.

If you want easy DIY installation and all-inclusive monitoring:
Frontpoint: Frontpoint attracts customers who are considering ADT partly due to their customer service reputation and the fact you can install its system yourself - and quite easily. You have control over where you put everything and you can take it with you when you move (something that is apparently difficult with ADT despite its advertised discount offer for moving customers).

Frontpoint offers all-inclusive monitoring (burglary, fire/smoke, flood, carbon monoxide) even at the lowest tier. Also, all plans come with cellular monitoring. ADT's lowest tier is landline (cellular optional) and only includes burglary monitoring in the base price.

Like ADT, you'll usually be tied into a three-year contract, but Frontpoint does give you a tiny bit of wiggle room if you're really unsatisfied right after you sign up. It gives you 30 days to return your system for a full refund - no questions asked. As for price, you'll pay between $34.99 to $49.99 per month, depending on how many bells and whistles you want, in addition to the cost of the equipment (which will cost you at least $100).

 

ADT

Frontpoint

 

Benefits and Features

Home SecurityPlans start from $28.99/month to $58.99/month. All plans include 24/7 monitoring for burglary.
$58.99 ADT Pulse Video Plan includes remote secure video and smartphone control.
Plans start from $34.99/month to $49.99/month. All plans offer 100% wireless and cellular system with 24/7 professional monitoring. $49.99 Ultimate Plan supports video streaming, automated door locks, and advanced thermostat control.
Customer Service24/7 customer support and monitoring.Monday to Friday from 8am to 11pm Eastern. Saturday and Sunday from 10am to 6pm Eastern. 24/7 Monitoring.
Mobile AppADT Pulse app allows you to activate alarm, check sensors, watch live video feeds, control lights and appliances, adjust thermostats and view history of home activities. Available on App Store and Google Play.
Alarm.com mobile app
InstallationProfessional installation available.Do It Yourself: Most sensors are simply peel and stick.
Yard Sign
ADT-branded yard sign
Home AutomationADT Pulse allows you to arm/disarm your house, control your lights and thermostats, and watch live video remotely.Automate your lights, door locks, and thermostats using Z-Wave technology.
Contract
3 year contract
Equipment discount with 3 year contract. 30-day trial period.
Control PanelADT Pulse touchscreen control panel allows you to know alarm status, arm/disarm your alarm, control lights, check weather, and view live video from security cameras. Also allows you to quickly send an immediate alarm (medical, fire, or police).Standard control panel includes cellular technology. Optional touch screen control panel upgrade.
Door LockADT Pulse door locks allow you to remotely lock/unlock your door from any internet-connected device.Supports Z-Wave door locks.
Door SensorWired and wireless door sensors. Wireless door sensors can be installed yourself with no drilling or hardwiring necessary.Wireless door sensors. Recessed door sensors available. Garage door sensors available.
Glass Break SensorDetects if a pane of glass is shattered
Motion Sensor
Pet-friendly wireless motion sensors.
Outdoor Camera
Wireless outdoor camera (requires power)
Security Camera
Indoor and outdoor wireless camera options available (requires power)
Thermostat
Supports many Z-Wave thermostats
Touch Screen
Water Flood Monitoring
Window Sensor
Wireless window sensors.
Z-Wave
Discount
Home Security
Customer Service
Equipment
Mobile App
Packages
Cancellation
Installation
Yard Sign
Home Automation

ADT: Pricing information including fees, features and contract length was obtained on January 8, 2016 from published websites and is believed to be accurate, but not guaranteed.

Frontpoint: Pricing information including fees, features and contract length was obtained on January 13, 2016 from published websites and is believed to be accurate, but not guaranteed.

If you want the latest in home security technology:
Vivint: While ADT has been providing security for businesses for more than 100 years (and later homes), Vivint is a newer home security company. Vivint tends to make use of new technology options more quickly than ADT. It offers the latest gadgets, which include a cool touch-screen control panel and voice technology that allows you to control your house with just the sound of your voice.

As a trade-off, though, Vivint cannot match ADT's lowest priced packages. You'll also have a longer contract period with Vivint (42 months). Although ADT and Vivint have had quite a few customer service complaints in the past, both companies are attempting to improve their service.

 

ADT

Vivint

 

Benefits and Features

Home SecurityPlans start from $28.99/month to $58.99/month. All plans include 24/7 monitoring for burglary.
$58.99 ADT Pulse Video Plan includes remote secure video and smartphone control.
Plans start from $39.99/month. All plans include 24/7 monitoring, remote access, and touchscreen control panel. Smart Protect Plan starts at $49.99/month and Smart Control Plan starts at $60.99/month.
Customer Service24/7 customer support and monitoring.
24/7
Mobile AppADT Pulse app allows you to activate alarm, check sensors, watch live video feeds, control lights and appliances, adjust thermostats and view history of home activities. Available on App Store and Google Play.Vivint SkyControl Mobile App allows you to arm/disarm your system remotely, lock/unlock doors, adjust thermostat settings, view live and recorded video, and manage lights.
InstallationProfessional installation available.
Professional Installation
Yard Sign
ADT-branded yard sign
Home AutomationADT Pulse allows you to arm/disarm your house, control your lights and thermostats, and watch live video remotely.
Contract
3 year contract
3.5 to 5 years
Control PanelADT Pulse touchscreen control panel allows you to know alarm status, arm/disarm your alarm, control lights, check weather, and view live video from security cameras. Also allows you to quickly send an immediate alarm (medical, fire, or police).
Door LockADT Pulse door locks allow you to remotely lock/unlock your door from any internet-connected device.
Door SensorWired and wireless door sensors. Wireless door sensors can be installed yourself with no drilling or hardwiring necessary.
Glass Break SensorDetects if a pane of glass is shattered
Motion Sensor
Outdoor Camera
Security Camera
Thermostat
Touch Screen
Water Flood Monitoring
Window Sensor
Z-Wave
Discount
Home Security
Customer Service
Equipment
Mobile App
Packages
Cancellation
Installation
Yard Sign
Home Automation

ADT: Pricing information including fees, features and contract length was obtained on January 8, 2016 from published websites and is believed to be accurate, but not guaranteed.

Vivint: Pricing information including fees, features and contract length was obtained on January 8, 2016 from published websites and is believed to be accurate, but not guaranteed.

If you don't want a long-term commitment.
Simplisafe: SimpliSafe is a self-install wireless home security system that has no long-term commitment and a low monthly fee. But since there's no long-term contract, you'll be required to pay for the equipment up-front.

 

ADT

SimpliSafe

 

Benefits and Features

Home SecurityPlans start from $28.99/month to $58.99/month. All plans include 24/7 monitoring for burglary.
$58.99 ADT Pulse Video Plan includes remote secure video and smartphone control.
$14.99 Standard Alarm Monitoring
$24.99 Interactive Alarm Monitoring includes SMS/Email Alerts and Smartphone Control
Customer Service24/7 customer support and monitoring.9am to 6pm Eastern, 7 days a week. 24/7 Monitoring.
Mobile AppADT Pulse app allows you to activate alarm, check sensors, watch live video feeds, control lights and appliances, adjust thermostats and view history of home activities. Available on App Store and Google Play.SimpliSafe Home Security app allows you to arm/disarm remotely and monitor sensor status. Requires Interactive monitoring subscription plan and SimpliSafe2 system.
InstallationProfessional installation available.
Do It Yourself
Yard Sign
ADT-branded yard sign
Home AutomationADT Pulse allows you to arm/disarm your house, control your lights and thermostats, and watch live video remotely. 
Contract
3 year contract
No Contract
Control PanelADT Pulse touchscreen control panel allows you to know alarm status, arm/disarm your alarm, control lights, check weather, and view live video from security cameras. Also allows you to quickly send an immediate alarm (medical, fire, or police).
Door LockADT Pulse door locks allow you to remotely lock/unlock your door from any internet-connected device.
Door SensorWired and wireless door sensors. Wireless door sensors can be installed yourself with no drilling or hardwiring necessary.
Glass Break SensorDetects if a pane of glass is shattered
Motion Sensor
Outdoor Camera
 
Security Camera
Thermostat
 
Touch Screen
 
Water Flood Monitoring
Window Sensor
Z-Wave
 
Discount
Home Security
Customer Service
Equipment
Mobile App
Packages
Cancellation
Installation
Yard Sign
Home Automation
Online Community

Blank fields may indicate the information is not available, not applicable, or not known to CreditDonkey. Please visit the product website for details.

ADT: Pricing information including fees, features and contract length was obtained on January 8, 2016 from published websites and is believed to be accurate, but not guaranteed.

SimpliSafe: Pricing information including fees, features and contract length was obtained on August 4, 2016 from published websites and is believed to be accurate, but not guaranteed.

BOTTOM LINE

ADT has spent the past few years really attempting to clean up its image in terms of failed equipment, a spotty service record, and poor customer service. The company has also responded to a growing number of competitors by adding new features, like its app that allows you to control the system through a smartphone or the addition of "smart home" automation features.

It's tough to know whether these actions have had any real impact on the number of customer service complaints against ADT. Again, opinions on customer service are personal, based on individual experiences. But if you're someone who can't stomach customer service problems, ADT may frustrate you quite a bit.

Still, ADT receives an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau, and its basic security contract is competitively priced. Just be sure you fully understand any contract that you're asked to sign, and keep in mind that price and equipment promises made by ADT salespeople might not be the same as what appears in the contract.

Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are those of the author's alone. Please support CreditDonkey on our mission to help you make savvy financial decisions. Our free online service is made possible through financial relationships with some of the products and services mentioned on this site. We may receive compensation if you shop through links in our content.

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