ADT Security Review 2019By - 01/04/2019
Our Overall Rating
The Bottom Line
ADT Equipment & Protection Summary
(If you want to read about ADT’s newest offer (Command and Control) head here.)
I probably don’t need to tell you that ADT is one of the oldest and most well-known home security providers. That said, I’ll skip the introduction and head straight to the details.
ADT’s service is made of up equipment backed by monitoring. Their equipment is primarily made by Honeywell and DSC, two of the largest home security equipment manufacturers. The base of the system is the control panel; ADT typically uses the DCS PC 1500RK keypad or a PC 1500. The control panel communicates with sensors which are organized into zones and can protect different areas of your home. They offer PIR motion detectors, smoke detectors, heat sensors, glass break detectors, external sirens, indoor sounders, home security cameras, reed switches, and more. One of the most convenient devices is the key fob, which allows you to arm and disarm your home security system with the click of a button. The High-Decibel Alarm Siren is also worth mentioning; it signals not only threats from intruders but also fire and carbon monoxide.
Though ADT has made great strides in expanding the equipment they offer, they still go old school when it comes to installation. ADT requires professional installation. The cost of installation can range from $99 to thousands of dollars, depending on the desired package.
With your equipment in place, ADT monitors via six different UL listed monitoring centers. All of the centers are manned by professional operators who can notify you and the local authorities in the event of an emergency. Monitoring is offered via broadband, cellular, or a landline connection. Without a doubt, cellular monitoring is the safest option as it doesn’t rely on cables or wires; however, the option comes with a higher price.
Spoiler Alert If you choose ADT, we recommend ADT Pulse. I’ll start by outlining their Go Cellular option, in case you’re interested, but otherwise, skip straight to ADT Pulse to learn more.
Go Cellular with ADT Cellguard
ADT has recognized that with advances in technology, landline monitoring is no longer the best option for all homes. To help solve this problem, ADT offers Cellguard.
With cellular monitoring, your system is wireless. No more lines to cut for burglars, and you will never have to deal with disrupted landlines due to power outages or other issues. Surprisingly, cellular monitoring can protect over 98% of the US’ population. It’s a misconception that cellular security systems require a strong cellular signal; they don’t. In fact, you can potentially have a cellular alarm system in a home where you can’t make cellular calls. The system works like your cell phone but doesn’t depend on your cell phone. It also doesn’t interfere with your cellular network and doesn’t require an internet connection.
What is Cellguard?
Cellguard is not a single product, but a series of components. First is the security panel. You may be able to use an existing ADT panel, or you may need a newer model with a cellular chip. Once you have a panel with a cellular chip, your system is ready to communicate with the monitoring center through a wireless cellular network. Cellular can be your sole means of communication with the monitoring center, or if you don’t want to ditch your landline, Cellguard can be used as a backup form of communication. In this case, Cellguard stays “switched off” so long as the landline is active, but if your landline is disrupted or disconnected, it automatically “switches on”.
If you are looking into a new monitoring system with Cellguard, want to upgrade your system and go wireless, or simply want to add Cellguard as your backup system, you’re probably wondering how much it will cost you. The cost depends on the package, and Cellguard is offered in three ADT security system packages.
Total Protection Plan
At $44.99 a month with a one-time fee for installation and equipment, you can get ADT’s basic wireless system. This includes three entryway contacts and a PIR motion sensor that is monitored 24/7 by ADT’s monitoring centers. It also includes accessories like a keychain remote control, a digital keypad, high-decibel alarm, yard and window signs, and battery backup.
Cellguard + 2-Way Voice
Cellguard + 2-Way is a little more expensive than the previous package, but it includes 2-way voice – which allows you to communicate through the panel to the central monitoring center. It costs $47.99 per month plus installation and equipment fees.
In summary, ADT offers:
- Wired and Wireless Options
- Professional Installation (Required)
- 24/7 Fire and Burglary Monitoring
How Does ADT Compare Side-by-Side with Our Top-Rated System?
|Monitoring Cost Per Month||$44.99||$49.99|
|Rate Subject to Change|
|Installation||Easy DIY||In-home Technician|
|Minimum Contract||12 months||36 months|
|Return Policy||30 Days||0 Days|
|Equipment Warranty||Limited Lifetime||Fee Based|
|Move For Free||Limited|
|Our Review||Frontpoint Review||You Are Here|
|Learn More||Visit Site||Visit Site|
ADT Pulse Summary
Though ADT has several options, we recommend ADT Pulse, which is their popular smart home/home security offer. If you’ve read any ADT reviews online, you’re probably familiar with this option already.
Customers can choose between four different Pulse packages with a monthly subscription fee that starts at around $50 per month. Packages are expandable and give customers the ability to control appliances from different locations backed by professional monitoring of security devices.
With a $49.99 per month Pulse package, you get all the basic home security coverage you need. You also get to control your system with a tablet, smartphone, or via a web portal. With the ability to remotely arm/disarm your system, set up email and text alerts, and create rules, ADT Pulse makes life easier. So, in short, is ADT Pulse worth the extra monthly fee? Yes, it’s worth it.
ADT Pulse Equipment Pricing
Getting pricing on ADT Pulse equipment takes an act of Congress. Okay, it actually just takes an in-home visit. And even then, pricing will vary from dealer to dealer. However, over the years, I’ve managed to gather pricing to at least estimate the cost for you.
|ADT Pulse Equipment||Price|
|Outdoor Night HD Camera||$250-$399|
|Indoor HD Camera||$199-$299|
|ADT Video Doorbell||$199|
|Kwikset Smartcode Lock||$175-$299|
|Yale Touchscreen Lock||$299|
|In-Wall Light Dimmer||$69-$79|
|ADT Pulse Dimmable Bulb||$59|
While ADT pricing is more expensive than most, you might be able to negotiate some equipment for free, especially add-on automation devices.
The backbone of Pulse is home automation, and this is made possible thanks to Z-Wave technology. However, not all Z-Wave devices will work with the system. The system works with a selection of pre-approved Z-Wave devices including Jasco light automation devices, Kwikset Deadbolt Locks, and RCS Digital Thermostats.
The system also works with an automated Garage Door Controller made by Nortek, though ADT sells it under their own brand. The Z-Wave controller includes a fast response, simple setup, and works even when the opener is set to “vacation” mode to protect against scanning devices and stolen remotes.
Pulse Works With Ring, Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and More
ADT backs their self-branded devices with third-party devices. For starters, Pulse is compatible with the Ring Video Doorbell. Customers can self-install or have their doorbell professionally installed. Of course, the integration works both ways. In addition to controlling your Ring doorbell through ADT Pulse, you can control ADT Pulse through the Ring app.
The Pulse app is downloadable via the Google Play Store for Android devices and iTunes for iPhones and iPads. The app can be used to view your system’s status, arm/disarm the system, check motion sensors, turn off lights, and lock doors. It displays a status alert when the alarm system is tripped, and a message is sent to the monitoring center who notifies the police if needed. Those with a Pulse system can also use the app to view surveillance footage of their home in real-time. There is also an ADT Pulse® Voice app. With this app, you can control your home’s smart devices with your voice.
Pulse also works with Amazon Alexa (Echo, Dot, Plus, etc.) and Google Assistant devices (Home, Max, Mini, etc.). Expanding on voice control, both assistants let you command your Pulse system using your voice. You can arm and disarm your system as well as control your connected smart devices. As disarming a security system with your voice can possibly be a security risk, ADT has safe-proofed this feature by requiring a verbal four-digit pin.
ADT’s Alexa integration also works with Alexa Guard. When you leave the house simply say, “Alexa, I’m leaving,” and Alexa will turn into a listening device capable of listening for glass breaking or even the specific sound made by alarms. If the device hears something, it will notify ADT’s monitoring center.
ADT Video Doorbell and Wireless Cameras
Finally, ADT Pulse works with the ADT Pulse Video Doorbell and Wireless Cameras.
The doorbell, launching soon, offers an HD 720p resolution and a 180-degree field of view. The estimated retail price is $199.
If you want something now, ADT sells the Pulse HD Indoor Wireless Camera for $199. The camera offers HD 720p recording using a 90-degree field of view. If you want an outdoor camera, they sell that too. The outdoor camera shares the same specs as the indoor camera but sells for $250.
ADT Pulse offers:
- Temperature, Appliance, and Lock Automation
- Video Surveillance
- Remote Arm/Disarm
- Voice App and Amazon Alexa for Voice Control.
Other ADT Options
In addition to ADT Cellguard and Pulse, there are other options.
ADT Go is available to everyone, even non-ADT customers can use Go.
ADT Go is a mobile app geared toward family safety. It provides family location and messaging services through a partnership with Life360. It also provides 24/7 crash detection, local crime alerts, roadside assistance, and emergency response from ADT.
Thanks to geofencing, you will be able to set up notifications to let you know who is where. For example, you can receive a notification when your kids make it to school or when they make it home. That same feature provides accurate emergency response, even when you’re away from home. If a crash is detected, ADT will send help. Alternatively, if you’re in a situation where you don’t feel safe, you can use the SOS Emergency Response feature. This feature is akin to panic button apps like SafeTrek. With the app open, you can press and hold the SOS button to call for help. ADT will first reach out to you. If they can’t reach you, they will dispatch emergency assistance.
ADT Go is a standalone offer and does not require the purchase of equipment or other services. However, it does integrate with ADT Pulse.
The service is free through March 2018. After that, there will be a charge for access. You can read my hands-on review of ADT Go here.
A second nontraditional route to ADT service is Canopy, maybe.
ADT was officially ready to protect your home using ADT Canopy. Canopy is a contract-free offer with the option of self-installing equipment. The first available integration included LG’s Smart Security camera, which was discontinued less than a year after launch. While the future of ADT Canopy is unclear, it’s possible that some options may be coming soon.
Pricing on Canopy, assuming they move forward with the idea, will depend on what service you choose. In general, it’s significantly less expensive than other ADT options. Through a hands-on experience at CES 2017, I learned that their Panic Response service will be the cheapest Canopy option starting at $10 per month with burglary monitoring starting at $24.99 per month.
The Canopy Mobile Panic service will work differently with different products. If you pair the service with a Ring Doorbell, you will still be responsible for monitoring the device, but will have ADT’s support. For example, let’s say someone rings your Ring. You check out the event, you don’t like what you see, you press the panic button, and ADT will call the police on your behalf. If you connect the Panic Response Service to your Samsung Gear S Smartwatch, you can use the watch app to press a panic button at any time to be connected to the ADT monitoring center.
More expensive services will pair with smart home hubs. Right now, ADT works with SmartThings and they’ve mentioned plans to work with Wink.
- Canopy is Contract-Free
- Works with Self-Installed Smart Home Devices
- Service Options Range From Panic Response to Monitoring
- Uncertain Future
ADT + SmartThings
Finally, ADT has a direct partnership with SmartThings that is based on the ADT Security Hub, a 7-inch touchscreen control panel with a built-in siren, battery backup, and a cellular chip. Instead of using your existing sensors, you will need dedicated SmartThings-ADT sensors. These hybrid sensors are the only sensors compatible with the ADT Security Hub. That said, you can add existing SmartThings sensors to the ADT Security Hub, but ADT will not monitor them professionally.
There are currently six SmartThings-ADT sensors and accessories. For security, they offer a motion sensor, door/window sensor, and a keychain remote with a panic button. Professional monitoring for intrusion and panic alarms costs $24.99/month. For life safety, they have a smoke alarm, carbon monoxide detector, and a water leak sensor. Professional monitoring for life safety with medical and fire dispatch will set you back $14.99/month. If you want to monitor for both life safety and security events, you can combine the two services for $34.99/month.
Unlike ADT’s traditional monitoring offers, the SmartThings-ADT monitoring plans are contract-free. You can opt-in and out without penalty.
The ADT Security Hub is available through Best Buy. The starter kit includes the ADT Security Hub, two door/window sensors, and a motion sensor for $499.99. Extra sensors are also available for purchase.
ADT Customer Service & Support
ADT offers customer support via phone and email. If the system begins to malfunction, customers are urged to call and set an appointment with a company technician, but it will cost you. If you don’t want to pay for support, there is a handbook that shows you how to test the system, but the process can be tedious. ADT security reviews online indicate most customers avoid the trouble of DIY support and opt to pay the monthly maintenance fee.
New service phone calls to the company may result in a transfer to a company known as Protection 1. Earlier in 2016, ADT announced its acquisition by asset management company Apollo which also owns Protection 1. The two companies, in essence, are now “merged”. Protection 1 serves customers out of ADT’s service region, and vice versa. However, ADT may not mention this relationship before transferring you.
ADT is an international company with a number of different locations, making ADT a good choice if your family plans to move in the near future. Customers who have had a system for at least two years are eligible for a free security system when they move and given a discount off the total installation price. This is not great news for customers who need to move before the two year period.
Another downside to ADT’s service is that they reserve the right to increase monthly fees after the first year. Although ADT is BBB accredited and holds an A+ rating, there have been over 4,000 complaints in the last 3 years.
- Relocation guarantee
- Service calls are priced depending on system configuration.
- Auto Renew Policy Warning
- A+ BBB Rating
- Theft Protection guarantee
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