ADT Home Security Review

Our Rating 3.5

ADT makes it nearly impossible to price their packages without an in-home visit, but through a series of calls, chat sessions, and a visit to their booth at CES, we were able to gather generalized base pricing and information.

ADT has made great strides to stay current and they continue to be willing and open to working with others. Yet, their door-to-door sales model remains antiquated and they use up-sell tactics and fine print in ways that I’m not okay with.

How does ADT compare to our #1 pick, Frontpoint?

Company
Visit Website
Phone
Package NamePulse Remote ArmInteractive
Monthly Price$47.99$44.99
24/7 UL Listed Monitoring
Locked-in Rate
Remote Access and Control
Light Automation
Home Automation LanguageZ-WaveZ-Wave
Landline or CellularBroadband with Cellular BackupWireless Cellular
Fire Monitoring
Carbon Monoxide MonitoringOptional
Free Mobile App
Extreme Temperature Monitoring
Installation DIY or ProfessionalProfessionalDIY or Optional Professional
BBB RatingA*&A*&
Contact Length36 Months12-36 Months
iTunes App Rating1.5 Stars3.5 Stars
Google Play Rating3.3 Stars4.4 Stars
AdditionalOptional Flood MonitoringCrash and Smash Protection
Return Policy0 Days*30 Days
Visit Website
Phone
Company
Visit Website
Phone
Package Name
Pulse Remote Arm
Monthly Price
$47.99
24/7 UL Listed Monitoring
Locked-in Rate
Remote Access and Control
Light Automation
Home Automation Language
Z-Wave
Landline or Cellular
Broadband with Cellular Backup
Fire Monitoring
Carbon Monoxide Monitoring
Optional
Free Mobile App
Extreme Temperature Monitoring
Installation DIY or Professional
Professional
BBB Rating
A*&
Contact Length
36 Months
iTunes App Rating
1.5 Stars
Google Play Rating
3.3 Stars
Additional
Optional Flood Monitoring
Return Policy
0 Days*
Visit Website
Phone
Company
Visit Website
Phone
Package Name
Interactive
Monthly Price
$44.99
24/7 UL Listed Monitoring
Locked-in Rate
Remote Access and Control
Light Automation
Home Automation Language
Z-Wave
Landline or Cellular
Wireless Cellular
Fire Monitoring
Carbon Monoxide Monitoring
Free Mobile App
Extreme Temperature Monitoring
Installation DIY or Professional
DIY or Optional Professional
BBB Rating
A*&
Contact Length
12-36 Months
iTunes App Rating
3.5 Stars
Google Play Rating
4.4 Stars
Additional
Crash and Smash Protection
Return Policy
30 Days
Visit Website
Phone

*ADT offers a 60-day money back guarantee, but it is not a return policy. The 60-day money back guarantee basically states that ADT will refund your purchase amount should you have an equipment or technology issue that they cannot resolve. On the other hand, FrontPoint offers a no questions asked 30 day money back guarantee.

What does ADT include with their monitoring fees?

It is difficult to tell the true price, but in general, we gathered that we could purchase equipment, activation, and installation for around $324 if we were willing to sign a new 3 year contract. The monthly price of the service was $36.99. For $36.99 per month under a 36 month contract, we were quoted fire monitoring, smoke monitoring, and 24/7 burglary monitoring from UL listed facilities (they use 6 different monitoring centers). ADT’s central station’s average response time ranges greatly, but most experts say that it is over 45 seconds.

Let’s play a game. Sit down quietly and pretend someone is breaking into your house. Count slowly to 45 seconds. It’s actually a long time in context.

Our sales rep assured us that we should sign right away as all packages include a 6 month money back guarantee. After questioning the policy, we found the guarantee to be flaky at best. Basically, they will only refund your money if you have a service or technology issue that they cannot fix. It’s not a real “no questions asked” return. If it is presented to you as a real no questions asked return policy, we suggest pushing back or getting this in writing.

All of ADT’s packages are customizable to an extent. This is part of ADT’s business model and it is why they require an in-home evaluation. In part, the in-home evaluation is to make sure you are fully protected, but the high pressure sales tactics make it difficult to make a good buying decision. We’ve seen unhappy homeowners begging for a solution to get out of their contract after committing to a few thousand dollars in equipment during an in-home evaluation. This is a stark contrast compared to our top recommended home security company, FrontPoint Security.

Where ADT puts an emphasis on sales, FrontPoint focuses on customers. To put it into perspective, we’ve decided to chart the difference. We took a package from ADT and a similar package from Frontpoint to create the best possible apples to apples comparison. Keep in mind, this is not what’s possible, but rather a comparison. For example, ADT does offer light automation, but they do not offer it in the package that best compares to Frontpoint Interactive.

 

Does ADT Offer Home Automation?

ADT is a leader in the field of home automation. They’ve also branded their home automation offer, “ADT Pulse.” Through Pulse, you can setup rules based upon events. For example, “turn on my lamp when I open the garage door.” You can also setup recurring events like “open the door at 3pm on Fridays for my house cleaner”.

ADT Pulse runs on Z-Wave technology, but they have limited approved devices for customers. The list includes specific models including a Kwikset Deadbolt Lock, Jasco light automation, two Jasco Lamp/Appliance Modules, and two RCS Digital Thermostats. Instead of adding more devices to the list, ADT has focused on working with others to provide a new approach to home automation. They’ve announced that they now work with Nest and they are opening up their platform so that they can work with others like Ford Sync, Intel Security, iControl Networks, Life360, and IFTTT.

ADT offers four Pulse packages starting at $47.99 per month. The packages vary, but in general they let you automate locks, lights, video, small appliances, and/or temperature. The packages are called Remote Arm, Control, and Live Video.

What is IFTTT?

IFTTT is a free app that connects smart devices that wouldn’t normally work together through what they call “recipes”. ADT went to another level of thought leadership when they announced that ADT Pulse and IFTTT will work together. ADT Pulse is beta testing the ability to connect ADT Pulse homes to more than 100 existing channel partners. ADT has presented several working proof of concepts or recipes already. They say that the system can turn on outdoor lights when the sun sets, or it can signal your alarm to turn off when your wearable device changes to awake mode. Though ADT is limiting the pilot to a few working rules, this could mean big things when they open up ADT Pulse Channels to the public. In the future, your ADT system could play with other non-ADT devices. For example, IFTTT works with devices like SmartThings, Fitbit, Jawbone, and the Philips Hue bulb.

ADT Pulse Packages and Pricing

ADT’s Wireless Panel at CES

The Remote Arm Package is the entry level ADT Plus package and we assume this is the $47.99 per month package. It includes 24/7 monitor, fire monitoring, and smoke monitoring. It also includes remote web and mobile access, remote arm and disarm, email alerts, text alerts, and a service plan. It comes with a standard non-touchscreen control panel, 2 door sensors, 1 motion detector, and the option to monitor with a cell phone.

The Control package includes 24/7 monitoring, fire and smoke monitoring, remote web and mobile access, remote arm and disarm, email alerts, text alerts, and a service plan. You have the option to add flood monitoring, carbon monoxide monitoring, lock automation, light automation, temperature automation, and/or small appliance control. Essentially it is a pick and choose package. It comes with a standard security panel, 2 door sensors, and 1 motion detector.

The Live Video Package includes 24/7 monitor, fire and smoke monitoring, remote web and mobile access, remote arm and disarm, email alerts, text alerts, service plan, light automation, temperature automation, and small appliance automation. For an additional fee you can add carbon monoxide and flood monitoring and/or lock automation. Live Video includes 1 thermostat, 2 light control modules, 2 door sensors, and 1 motion detector.

In the past they offered a Premier package though it seems like this package may have been dropped from their line-up. It included everything that the Live Video Package offers plus real time video surveillance. Like Live Video, you had the option to add carbon monoxide monitoring, flood monitoring, or lock automation. The package came with a home control touchscreen, a thermostat, 2 light control modules, 2 video cameras (ADT wireless cameras use WPA2), 2 door sensors, 1 motion detector, and optional cellular connection. The cellular connection allows you to choose to have your system communicate via cellular service instead of a landline. Cell service can also be used as a backup form of communication behind a landline if you prefer. If you want to learn more about the cameras that work with ADT pulse you can check out their options here.

Total Home Security Panel and Total Security

I was introduced to the total home security panel at CES 2015. ADT has integrated their Pulse platform and their security platform into a single platform. The beauty of the new panel is that ADT can do a full installation in less than 2 hours as it is a completely wireless system. The base unit houses the wireless security system, WiFi radio, 3G/4G cellular backup, broadband, and acts as a Z-Wave hub. So when an alarm event occurs, it first goes through broadband. If the broadband fails, it converts over to cellular and sends a signal to the central monitoring center.

Up to 250 devices can be supported by Total Security. It supports both security and lifestyle devices. It is also a burglar alarm, fire alarm, and is both residential and commercial UL listed. It can also support many of ADT’s newer products like garage door openers and wireless keypads.

Of course, when I hear wireless I think “Is ADT going to allow customers to self-install?” When I asked my CES contact if they had plans to allow customers to self-install the new wireless system, he said “no”.

Does ADT offer a mobile app?

ADT has created a proprietary mobile app for their customers available on both Google Play and iTunes. It’s unfortunate, but their app is a little bit of a disappointment. When we originally reviewed the ADT Pulse app, it was struggling to maintain a 2.5 star rating. Users complained that the app was not reliable and had login issues. ADT responded by releasing a new version of their app that addressed several user concerns. It didn’t help much; currently, it’s rated an even lower 1.5 stars on iTunes.

ADT offers Pulse customers another choice – the ADT Pulse Voice app. The Pulse Voice app allows users to control their Pulse system using certain voice commands. For example, you can arm your system or even unlock your front door simply using the app and your voice. The Pulse Voice app requires an ADT Pulse contract and a compatible smartphone. The app is compatible with iOS devices running 6.0 or later. It is also compatible with Android phones running 3.0 and up.

New Technology, Old Policies

ADT is making progress, but their business model is falling farther and farther behind. They still use a door-to-door sales model for starters. Not only is it ill advised to allow a stranger into your home but it’s high pressure and can lead to misunderstandings that result in a poor experience.

If you choose to do business with ADT, we implore you to learn from others. The door-to-door model can create a lot of pressure and also communication errors. Any promises made by your sales rep should also be in your contract. Read your contract carefully and file it in a safe place for reference.

A Summary of Things to Think About

  • We found ADT to be very responsive and active on social media.
  • We also found the ADT chat reps to be above average. We chatted with Amanda who was professional and knowledgeable.
  • ADT uses Z-Wave technology for home automation.
  • ADT does offer a mover’s guarantee. It may not be as simple as other offerings but it is a surprising bonus! According to Amanda, if you move and sign a new 36 month contract they will release you from your current contract and potentially provide relocation credits. Apparently, you can move no matter how long you’ve had your current contract but you can only get credits if you’ve been with ADT for two years or more.
  • Professional installation is required.
  • There is a loop-hole in their contract that allows them to raise your monthly service fee after one year. This is problematic considering the contracts are signed for three years.
  • In some situations, you may not own the equipment (depending upon your final deal). You should take that into consideration when determining total cost of ownership.
  • ADT has a pretty sour online reputation but they’ve raised their BBB rating to an A+
  • They do not allow returns, but you may have a couple days protection under the Federal Cooling Off Rule. If you cancel the contract, you will have to pay a 75% balance payment.

Back to Top 10 Reviews