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ADT Home Security System Review

SF Gate 9/30/2022 Aliza Vigderman
© Alexander Spatari/Getty Images

If you’ve heard of one security company, it’s probably ADT. The company, with its famous blue logo, has been in business for 145 years, making it the oldest home security company in the United States. 

ADT’s modern systems are updated with smart technology, but the service and equipment are more expensive compared to other security systems I’ve tested (where you can expect to pay hundreds or even thousands of dollars). However, if you’re willing to spend money on security, it’s one of the best security systems on the market, if not the best. 

Additionally, all ADT systems come with professional monitoring, which starts at $45.99 a month, one of the highest prices I’ve seen from any security company. That being said, if you want the best equipment, ADT’s partnership with Google Nest makes it a strong contender. Nest makes some of the highest-quality smart security cameras and video doorbells, which ADT can install and monitor for you. 

While it may not be ideal for the DIY customer, it’s a good option if you don’t mind spending a little extra for the safety of 24/7 professional monitoring — combined with the best IoT security equipment on the market today.

Key Takeaways 

If you’re looking for a dependable yet modern smart home security system and are willing to pay for it, ADT is a great option. Its partnership with Nest, in particular, makes ADT a lot more valuable; you can get top-of-the-market indoor and outdoor cameras that integrate seamlessly with your ADT system. If you’re looking for professional monitoring and installation, ADT is a solid and dependable choice. 

However, it won’t work for everybody. Professional monitoring is included with every ADT system, so if you want to self-monitor your system and avoid monthly fees, ADT may not be the best choice and you should explore other options on my list of the best home security systems. 

Similarly, if you want to save money and go the DIY installation route, you may want to look elsewhere. ADT requires professional installation with all of its systems, which is a hallmark of more traditional home security companies. With ADT, DIY is not an option. 

ADT Packages and Equipment 

ADT’s security systems have changed with the times and now include smart sensors, cameras, and control panels, plus voice control if you already have or want a smart home. Choose from three packages: Secure Home, Smart Home, or Video and Smart Home. 

Note that these were the prices as of September, 2022, but they are subject to change. Be sure to check ADT’s website to make sure you have the most up-to-date pricing information. 

For the most protection, including video and smart home automation, I chose Video and Smart Home. (Note that if you want to save money, plans start at $45.99 a month with the Secure Home package, assuming you paid $599 for your upfront package. Unfortunately, even the minimum is higher than other services I’ve seen like Ring Alarm, which starts at $20 a month.) 

With the Video and Smart Home package, I got alerts on my iPhone through my Google Nest Doorbell when a delivery person dropped off an Amazon package in the middle of the day. I could even see and tell him, via the camera’s speaker and telephone, exactly where to put my package, since package theft is a constant issue where I live. 

ADT’s partnership with Nest means that you can get the Indoor and Outdoor Nest Cams that work with your ADT home security system. These cameras are second generation and were formerly called the IQ cameras; they boast top-of-the-line features like 4K video and person detection. 

Infrared LED sensors let you see clearly at night, and two-way audio lets you speak through the ADT app to whomever the camera is recording. These cameras are among the most expensive on the market, but note that more affordable cameras, like the $34.99 Blink Mini, lack person detection. Instead, you’ll be notified of all movement, which could get annoying throughout the day. The footage is inferior as well, with quality at only 1080p HD compared to the 4K of the Nest Cams. However, if you’re okay with inferior artificial intelligence and video quality, you can save a ton of money by choosing Blink over ADT’s Nest Cams. 

I used the ADT Control app, formerly called ADT Pulse, to get notifications about my motion detector, video doorbells, and any alarms, whether they were false alarms or real threats. Many of the false alarms included things like leaves blowing in the wind across my lawn. However, at one point, I caught a package thief red-handed due to the Nest’s person-detection feature. Again, the two-way audio came in handy, clearly sending my voice through the doorbell’s microphone straight to the thief’s ears. 

I selected my ADT system over the phone and selected as many components as I could fit in my postage-sized apartment. Here is what I chose from:

I could either pay for my equipment upfront, or monthly over a five-year period. There’s no savings by paying upfront, but I recommend it so you can avoid being locked into a long-term contract. Now, back to the equipment. 

The best part about ADT’s system is that everything is integrated and Wi-Fi-connected. 

Take the flood sensor, for example. I am lucky enough to have a washer/dryer combo in my basement. However, when it started leaking one day, ADT alerted me through the app by utilizing the flood sensor that I’d placed on the ground. I wouldn't have found out about the flood until hours later, but since I was alerted so quickly, I could fix the issue before it became untenable.

Smart Home Integrations

Unfortunately, ADT is pretty light on third-party IoT integrations, working only with Kwikset and Liftmaster. Compare that to a system from Abode, which works with Philips Hue, Ecobee, LIFX, Yale, Kwikset, First Alert, and other brands. ADT isn’t the best option for someone with a plethora of internet-connected devices. 

Voice Control

I’m a smart home nerd, so I set up the camera, along with the rest of the ADT system, with Google Assistant. It was fun telling Google to play my outdoor camera’s footage on my Chromecast or to turn off cameras once I got home. ADT also works with Alexa, which isn’t unusual, as most security systems work with both voice assistants. 

I controlled ADT’s entire system using my voice alone, from disarming the system when I got home from work to turning on smart lights and even adjusting the thermostat. Better yet, I created automation so even the voice commands were unnecessary. 

A personal favorite? Having my thermostat adjust the temperature when the security system was armed when I wasn’t home. I’m a big AC user, but it’s not necessary to have the AC on when I’m out of the house. By automating this process, ADT ensured that I didn’t accidentally keep my AC on when I was gone, saving me money on my electricity bill. 

Professional Installation

Now, let’s talk about the installation process. I’ve tested dozens of security systems over the years, which means I’ve seen about every installation process there is, from DIY to professional. With ADT, you’ll never have to install your system yourself. Rather, a professional came to my house and installed the system for me while I watched TV. 

There is one disadvantage to professional installation: You have to pay for it.  Depending on the size of your system, installation fees are around $150. This fee is about 50 percent higher than the industry average of $100, but note that it could be much more expensive if you have a larger house, an expansive security system, and many smart home devices like a smart indoor camera. Installation fees are also subject to change, though, so be sure to check the website to see if any promotional deals are being offered.

Professional Monitoring 

Professional monitoring means that a team of people (yes, real people, not robots), is available to respond to anything that triggers an armed system, 24/7. 

For example, when my motion sensor went off while I was at work, ADT called me directly. I checked in on the app, saw that it was just my exterminator doing his monthly visit, and told ADT to hold off on calling the police. If I hadn’t answered, they could have called the cops for me, along with the fire department or even the local hospital. Professional monitoring can mean the difference between a home burglary or just a home burglary attempt. 

Of course, as with professional installation, professional monitoring will cost you. Monitoring plans start at $45.99 a month, an increase from the previous minimum of $40. This rate is definitely slightly high compared to other security systems’ professional monitoring services, which tend to be around $20 a month.  

Consider Abode, for example. I paid only $21.99 a month for professional monitoring for the first year. Again, if you're looking for the cheapest home security system, ADT is not for you.

Recap

The best way to see if ADT is right for you is to go on its website and build a package yourself. You’ll be able to see how much you can pay monthly with different equipment packages, or how you can lower your monthly cost by paying for equipment upfront. The alternative is calling ADT and speaking to someone from sales. Of course, there is one advantage to having to speak to an actual human: you can discuss your home, your family, and your needs, creating a system that’s customized for you, specifically. In my experience, the ADT representative was patient and helpful, describing the purpose of all the equipment and how monitoring and installation would work.  

You can expect to pay more if you live in a house with more than three bedrooms, or less if you live in a smaller house with three or fewer bedrooms. Since ADT is a national company, prices shouldn’t differ based on where you live.

Also, be sure to check the website for any new deals that could apply to you. The company frequently offers free or discounted installation, as well as deals or giveaways on hardware like the Google Nest Doorbell.

Another thing to keep in mind is that in this article, we’re only reviewing the flagship product from ADT. There’s also Blue by ADT, a DIY option. If you want the well-regarded experience of ADT for less money, Blue by ADT could be a fantastic alternative. 

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