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.

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.


  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.


  • 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.


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.


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.


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.


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).

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.

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 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.

Write to Kyle Schurman at feedback@creditdonkey.com. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for our latest posts.

Note: This website 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. You do not have to use our links, but you help support CreditDonkey if you do.

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