ADT Home Security System Review
Odds are you don’t have to walk far down your street to spot an ADT yard sign. That’s because American District Telegraph is the largest – and the oldest – home security provider in the US and Canada. The sheer size and capital enable ADT to offer a broader range of services than its competitors. You can choose from wireless or hardwired systems, and even connect security systems from other companies to ADT monitoring centers. ADT security highlights include video surveillance, invasion detection, home automation with voice recognition, environmental protection, and medical pendants with GPS tracking.
ADT uses security equipment by Honeywell, GE, and ITI. Warranty only comes if you buy a Quality Service Plan (QSP). With QSP, there is no extra charge to replace or fix faulty equipment in the first 90 days after the installation. After that, you receive free replacement parts and repairs only if you continue to pay for the QSP. Plus, any service trip costs about $25 depending on your location.
Without the QSP, service calls can set you off $400-$500 for the replacement of just one part. There is also a fee attached to the service without the warranty.
ADT owns its security monitoring stations – four in the U.S. and two in Canada. The company provides 24/7 monitoring, but you can choose to monitor your system independently.
Most ADT packages require a landline. For an extra fee, you can have the ADT Cellular Guard with remote and video service features. In this case, your control panel is equipped with a cellular chip.
ADT offers a laundry list of equipment from control panels, keychain remotes, high-decibel siren, to entry sensors, environmental sensors and motion detectors, indoor and outdoor cameras, keypad door locks, remote control for lights and thermostats, as well as medical alert bracelets and pendants.
ADT Pulse is a particularly popular wireless system that features video cameras and remote control over lighting, thermostats, and door locks.
You can set its pet-friendly infrared motion sensors to ignore up to 40-80-pound weights to avoid false alarms.
Medical alert pendants from ADT come with GPS tracking, so you can track them anywhere, unlike alternatives offered by competition that only operate within a few hundred feet of an alarm system base station.
ADT offers indoor and outdoor surveillance video cameras. With the ADT Pulse plan, video can be live-streamed to your smartphone.
As far as home automation goes, ADT Pulse helps you automate lights, thermostats, and door locks. The ADT system integrates with Alexa and Nest. Alexa integration lets you use voice commands to arm and disarm your system, control lights, lock and unlocking doors, while Nest integration allows you to control your thermostat. You can also adjust the temperature manually using your smartphone, tablet, or computer.
The ADT mobile app is proprietary and offers remote access to your system and email and alert notifications. It is only available in select packages like ADT Pulse, and allows you to:
- Arm/disarm your system
- Check the status of your sensors
- View live and recorded video
- Use voice commands to control your system
- Adjust settings for home automation
ADT sales agents can offer custom solutions, which, in most cases, require a visit from a technician. Custom solutions aside, ADT offers three packages:
- Traditional, which is its basic home protection system. The upfront equipment installation costs $125, while the monthly monitoring fee is $28.99.
- Control bundles 24/7 monitoring and home automation features for $36.99/moplus the installation fee.
- Video kicks in at $52.99/mo and features 24/7 monitoring, home automation, and video surveillance.
If you already own a security system, you can have ADT monitor it for $19.99/mo and up.
There’s also a $25 activation fee, while the installation fees depend on your subscription and equipment. Additional charges apply if your area requires guard response or municipal permits.
You have to sign a three-year contract that comes complete with a six-month trial. Meaning ADT accepts cancellations without penalty during the first six months only if it fails to resolve any installation/service-related concern. So you have to justify your cancellation.
Beyond that, you are charged 75% of the remainder of your contract if you bail early.
If you move, you can take your ADT system with you, but expect to pay a fee. ADT offers a Mover’s Discount Guarantee, but to qualify, you have to be a customer for at least two years.
ADT features an A+ rating with BBB and a one-star rating on Yelp. Its customer service with headquarters in Florida provides an overall excellent service. But the company authorizes independent dealers, and here is where most of the bad reviews come from due to deceptive and pushy sales tactics and poor handling of tech issues.
ADT live tech support is available 24/7. If they can’t resolve your issue over the phone, you have to schedule an appointment with a technician. The cost depends on your subscription.
ADT offers professional installation. A DIY free installation is not an option, but the company may offer specials on installation. The equipment is easy to use, and backup batteries are included.
If you have questions, you can reach a representative on the phone, and via ADT’s Twitter and Facebook accounts, or browse the company’s extensive knowledge base.
Things to Consider
- ADT does a hard credit check.
- ADT Pulse is not a full Z-Wave implementation. It only works with sensors and smoke detectors you can buy from ADT.
- The company leases its equipment; its price is included in your monthly payment.
- ADT is more expensive than some of its competitions, and locks you into a three-year contract.
- It’s best to deal with ADT directly or its dealer with a BBB seal. By all means, research customer reviews about the dealer because support and features vary drastically.
- You have three days to back out of a contract – by law.
- Inquire with your sales rep about a deal to minimize or eliminate the equipment cost when you sign a monitoring contract.
- In the event of an emergency, your ADT agent will inquire about the type of your system. It makes sense to have it written down somewhere.
ADT is a solid – but costly – choice. It’s high-tier and professional, but it lacks the freedom and flexibility offered by its competition. Its fees and terms are overly complicated, while customer experience and package features vary by retailer. It’s certainly a leader, but there are better alternatives.
- Wireless or hardwired
- Indoor/outdoor cameras
- Medical bracelets and pendants with GPS
- Environmental monitoring
- Home automation with Alexa and Nest integration
- Conditional six-month trial
- Six self-run monitoring centers
- Professional installation
- 24/7 tech support
- Mobile access and control available
- Three-year contract
- Customer service varies
- Warranty not included in all packages
- Package features and equipment options vary by retailer
- No DIY installation
- Z-Wave implementation does not support third-party sensors