ADT Command and Control ReviewBy - 01/11/2019
In 2010, ADT went all in on smart home security with ADT Pulse. At the time, it was revolutionary. They’ve since managed to acquire over 3,000,000 smart home customers. Fast forward almost a decade and the platform is now basic and at best built around outdated hardware. For ADT, the only way to bring something fresh and new to the market was to completely redesign their hardware and back it with a new app (ADT Control).
I was able to meet with ADT at Pepcom 2019, a media conference held before the start of CES in Vegas, and this is what I learned.
ADT Command & Control Hardware
The Control Panel
Let’s start with ADT’s refreshed line of hardware components. While everything I saw was ADT-branded, I recognized several of the devices as Alarm.com built and the panel itself looks a lot like Honeywell’s new panel, not that any of that is necessarily a bad thing. In fact, Honeywell’s panel is impressive and so is ADT’s.
The 7″ wireless touchscreen, called ADT Command, has all of the basics including a built-in camera that takes a snapshot when the system is disarmed or triggered, battery backup, Bluetooth, Z-Wave Plus, Wi-Fi, RF6, and a swappable LTE cellular module (AT&T and Verizon) that somewhat ‘future-proofs’ the device. (Think 2G sunset that left many security customers with equipment that no longer worked.) It’s also flash based so ADT Command customers can expect panel updates a few times per year. Finally, the panel can sit tabletop or you can wall mount it.
What makes the panel exciting is all in the details. First of all, you can control your smart home and home security devices from the panel, but you can also control scenes. For example, you might create a ‘Goodnight Scene’ that turns off your smart lights, adjusts your smart thermostat, locks your smart lock, and arms your security sensors. You can also initiate scenes using your voice as the panel itself has built-in Alexa capabilities. Of course, it can’t do everything Alexa can do, but it can do the basics like tell you the weather, time, etc.
Other Control Options
In addition to the primary control panel, you can purchase a secondary control panel (pictured above). This panel is portable and comes with a docking station that you can use to recharge it when needed. You can also tabletop or wall mount the docking station.
Second, ADT sells a keypad.
Finally, if you don’t want to use either panel to control your system, you can always use the app.
The primary control panel controls and supports all connected devices. It can connect to over 250 of them, if you so choose. At Pepcom, I was introduced to a sampling of ADT’s new sensors, including a combined smoke (photoelectric) and CO detector which also detects heat, a glass break sensor, key fob, door sensor, and flood sensor, but that’s only a slice of what they offer.
The downside here is that ADT is not forthcoming with information or pricing. If you want specifics on their system, you will need to set up an in-home sales presentation. I’ve gathered what I could below, but even then, pricing is not a guarantee. Depending on the monitoring plan you choose, which we will discuss below, you might be able to get a discount on equipment or a set package. Also, ADT’s go-to-market plan is not always corporate-to-customer. They often use ‘ADT Authorized Dealers’ who act as a go-between between you and ADT. Dealers are allowed some autonomy and pricing and service will vary from dealer to dealer.
|ADT Command Equipment||Price|
|Outdoor Night HD Camera||$250-$399|
|Indoor HD Camera||$199-$299|
|ADT Video Doorbell||$299|
|Kwikset Smartcode Lock||$175-$299|
|Yale Touchscreen Lock||$299|
|Yale Push Button Deadbolt||$199|
|In-Wall Light Dimmer||$69-$79|
Now let’s take a step back and brag on the sensors a bit. The new ADT Command and Control sensors do not meet my definition of attractive. Some of them are rather big and bulky. However, they are intelligent sensors. And yes, this is different from ADT Pulse. The difference is in the details.
In the past, sensors communicated at an elementary level using one-way communication (e.g. you open the door, the sensor sends something, you close the door, the sensor sends something). The new sensors provide ‘two-way’ communication, meaning the panel talks to the sensors and the sensors talks to the panel.
For example, let’s say you open a door. The sensor will send this information to the panel. If you open the panel and look at zones, you will see information about the panel. First, you will be able to see battery-life in real-time. (As a side note, ADT has improved battery life on the sensors with most promising a 7-year life.) Second, you can see if any of your sensors are having trouble. Third, you can see status such as ‘door opened’. Fourth, you can adjust sensor settings from the control panel. For example, you can change the sensitivity of your motion sensor to make it pet-immune for pets under 40lbs. Finally, the communication sent between the panel and the sensors is encrypted.
Smart Home Devices
We’ve already dived into the details of using smart home devices with the ADT Command control panel so you already know they offer light, lock, garage door control, and temperature automation. You also already know that the panel supports Z-Wave Plus.
As far as changes since their Pulse days, the lights and locks have not changed much, but the thermostat is brand new. Though ADT branded, it is the Alarm.com Smarter Thermostat, which is one I’ve tested before. While it’s a fine thermostat, I don’t like it as much as I do Nest or even ecobee. Thankfully, ADT Command & Control will continue to work with Nest. The integration gives you the ability to control your home’s temperature via the ADT Control app.
Cameras and Video Doorbells
With the right package, you can add indoor and outdoor cameras to your ADT system as well as their new video doorbell.
The new doorbell is now fully integrated where before they were somewhat dependent upon Ring, which meant that customers had to navigate between the Ring and ADT Pulse apps to get the full experience. The new doorbell can be viewed and controlled using the ADT Control app. I asked the ADT rep I spoke with at Pepcom if they still planned to work with Ring and he answered, “I don’t think so.”
Instead, they hope to win you over with better video analytics aimed at reducing false alarms and triggers. They’ve also included a two-chip design with one chip for the audio and one for video. This inclusion provides a better overall experience, especially a better voice experience.
Finally, there’s ADT’s integration.
Part of improved integration is what we’ve already discussed — full control from the mobile app. But it also means better integration with your other ADT Command products. For example, if someone rings your doorbell and you’ve realized you forgot to lock the door, you can do so right from the doorbell viewing screen.
The doorbell offers an HD 720p resolution and a 180-degree field of view. The estimated retail price is $199.
Works With Alexa, Google Home, Nest, and ADT Go
While the panel has built-in Alexa abilities, you can also use a standalone Alexa or Google Assistant device. Both voice assistants allow you to arm and disarm your system as well as control your connected smart devices using your voice. In order to disarm, you will need to create and speak a four-digit pin.
Alexa takes things a step further with Alexa Guard. When you leave the house, you can let Alexa know you are leaving by speaking the command, “Alexa, I’m leaving.” This triggers Alexa to take action. The device will turn into a listening device and will listen for glass breaking, the sound of your smoke/co alarm, and even the sound of your security siren. If it hears something, it will notify ADT’s monitoring center.
Next, ADT works with Nest. The integration gives you the ability to control your home’s temperature via the ADT Control app, but that’s it. While ADT works with Nest Thermostats, it does not work with Nest Cameras or their security system.
Finally, ADT customers also have access to ADT Go which is a rebranding of the Life360 app. Life360 is a family safety app that allows you to consolidate communication of your family members. Using its GPS abilities, you can also see where all of your family members are located. The app also offers 24/7 crash detection, local crime alerts, roadside assistance, and emergency response from ADT. Essentially, it allows you to take advantage of ADT’s monitoring center even when you are away from home.
You can read my hands-on review of ADT Go here.
Of course, ADT isn’t going to let you self-monitor nor will they monitor any of the equipment above without a commitment from you. Their contracts are 36 months in length and there is no trial period.
While ADT Command plans are yet to roll out, I was told that pricing on both equipment and monitoring would rival ADT Pulse.
Assuming this is true, Command’s entry-level plan should be around $49.99. This plan includes cellular monitoring, remote access, and phone alerts, but if you want more, you will need to step up.
PRO TIP: ADT uses six different UL-listed monitoring centers.
|ADT||ADT With Two-Way||ADT With Video||Frontpoint|
|Monthly Fee||$49.00||$53.99||$59.99||Get Quote|
|Rate Subject to Change|
|Burglary and Fire Monitoring|
|Installation||In-Home Technician||In-Home Technician||In-Home Technician||Easy DIY|
|Return Policy||0 Days||0 Days||0 Days||30 Days|
|Equipment Warranty||Fee Based||Fee Based||Fee Based||Limited Lifetime|
|Move For Free||Limited||Limited||Limited|
|Our Review||You Are Here||Frontpoint Review|
|Learn More||Visit Site||Visit Site|
ADT Customer Service & Support
With the rebranding, everything about ADT seems fresh and new, but it’s still the same company and the same customer support.
While ADT is not consistent in their delivery of support, they do currently hold an A+ rating with the BBB. In some ways, I feel this is in spite of the policies they hold which I feel are not customer friendly.
Let’s start with what they have going in their favor.
- They offer phone and email support.
- A+ BBB Rating
- Multiple Monitoring Centers
- Theft Protection Guarantee
Now let’s move on to things that are not in their favor.
- A confusing moving policy that penalizes those who have had their system for less than two years.
- They may hold the right to increase your monthly fee after a year. Check your contract.
- And yes, they make you sign a three-year contract.
- Tech Support is Complicated
Regarding tech support, some of ADT’s packages include a Quality Service Plan (QSP). Think of this as an extended limited warranty that remains in place so long as you continue to pay for monthly monitoring. This plan will cover your equipment that is defective for the first 90 days. After that, there will be a charge for service, most likely, a trip charge. However, this charge will be slight when compared to the charge for repairs when you do not have a QSP. If your monitoring plan does not include a QSP, you can add one for a few dollars a month.