When you think ADT, you’re probably thinking about home security systems. After all, their little blue lawn signs are absolutely everywhere. But did you know that the houses displaying that ADT sign might be keeping an eye on you as you walk by? It’s true — ADT offers some great security cameras to augment their already powerful alarm systems.
The home security industry has changed quite a bit in the past century and a half. ADT has always been at the forefront, though. Taking a tech-forward approach, ADT is offering some of the best home automation and security functionality out there. For an in depth look, check out our hands-on review of ADT home security systems. They’re one of the best-known names in the business for a reason.
Pro Tip: ADT has gone through a lot of changes throughout the years, and they very recently made some significant updates to their pricing structure. Don’t worry, we’ve got the scoop.
Of course, quality comes with a price tag. ADT systems aren’t the cheapest around. And smarting up your home isn’t a Sunday project with ADT. You’re going to need professional installation and hardwiring to get your cameras up and running (but don’t worry, ADT takes care of it for you).
But let’s get down to brass tacks. You want to know how these cameras perform in the field, and what plan you’ll need to purchase to make them effective. Don’t worry, we’ve got all of that information for you here and more. We’re going to cover everything you need to know about ADT’s cameras including their features, pricing, and perks as well as information on ADT’s subscription structure to keep you and your family safe.
Did You Know: For 30 years (1890-1920), ADT sent “roundsmen” door to door to physically check on ADT homes. Because they were a telegraph company (ADT stands for American District Telegraph), they could also offer messenger services and put customers in touch with taxis and doctors.1
First, if you’re going to take the plunge and secure your home with surveillance cameras, we recommend a package with live video streaming. When something suspicious is happening inside or around the homestead, even if it’s just your dog tripping the TV room sensor, you’re going to want to see what’s going on clearly in real time.
As it happens, with ADT, video features are only available with their top-tier package, which we priced at around $75 per month in our ADT buyer’s guide. So not exactly cheap.
There’s a silver lining though, and it’s multifaceted. The first thing to note is that with ADT, you’re not going to have to pay for your equipment or its installation. Great news if you’re not a DIYer. Next, with ADT’s video package, smart home automation is baked in. That means you’re going to be getting a bunch of cool features like fire, flood, and CO sensors, garage door controllers, and smart locks, thermostats, lights, switches and plugs. Congratulations. Your house is now the Starship Enterprise.
Again, none of this is free. But neither is a Cadillac. If you’re looking for something a little more DIY with cheaper monthly bills, check out our SimpliSafe home security camera review.
FYI: ADT’s plans require a 12- to 60-month contract, so before you sign on the dotted line you’ll want to study up and make sure it’s the system for you. Here’s a full breakdown of ADT’s contract options to help you out.
|Secure||Smart Home||Video & Smart Home|
|24/7 Pro Monitoring||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|ADT Mobile App||Yes||Yes||Yes|
A complete home security system comes with components that all work together to shore up your home’s unseen vulnerabilities. This makes sense. Your house might seem like a fortress when you’re watching Netflix in bed at night. But things can, and do, go wrong every day.
Invisible leaks. An out-of-the-way basement window. An old back door you’ve been meaning to put a deadbolt on for years but never got around to. While you’ve got a million and a half things to worry about as a homeowner, a thief casing your home only has to find one weak spot in your fortress to break in.
Did You Know: According to the latest stats from the FBI, 63 percent of 1,117,696 yearly burglaries in the U.S. happened in residential areas.2
So just keep in mind as we move straight to security cameras — they’re just one piece in the home security puzzle. In the meantime, here’s a bite-sized breakdown of what to expect from your total ADT security package.
|Mobile app (iOS or Android)||Either of ADT’s 4.8-star-rated apps (Pulse or Control) is your portable command center.|
|Digital wall panel||The wall-mounted security panel is a stationary version of the app.|
|24/7 monitoring||If something goes sideways, ADT will alert police and first responders for you.|
|Wireless/hardwired security||The big question: To drill or not to drill? Keep in mind that some ADT home security features will require hardwiring, like their doorbell cam.|
|Surveillance cameras (inside, outdoor, and doorbell)||Video surveillance is the beating heart of your home sec rig. ADT’s latest generation cameras are all 1080p.|
|White glove installation||ADT sends professional technicians to your home for installations and repairs.|
|Smart home devices (thermostats, lighting, and sensors)||You can save money (and time) when you program your lights and thermostat to turn on and off by themselves.|
|Remote control||In addition to your mobile app, you get a keychain remote, which is lighter and simpler, with just four buttons.|
|Yard and window signs||No ADT system would be complete without the blue lawn sign telling would-be home intruders to say clear.|
Homeowner's Tip: How prepared is your home for the worst-case scenario? Test it with our home security quiz.
Back in the day, ADT’s equipment — especially their outdoor cameras — left us a little underwhelmed. Their 720p resolution was grainy at best, an the narrow field of vision made it so we were missing important details. They haven’t improved dramatically, but the improvements have been significant. The AI-powered alerts make it so you’re not constantly getting alerts, and the improved image quality will help you determine if that’s a thief or just your neighbor stopping by for a pop-in.
Now, I can’t personally verify that ADT’s exterior cameras won’t melt in 122-degree heat like the ADT technician said. (I don’t live in Phoenix.) But I did give my sidedoor camera a hard spray with my garden hose. It didn’t budge, and the video quality was still crystal clear.
So in terms of durability, my ADT surveillance system gets high marks, especially since the next-generation cameras have gotten a lot nicer-looking. I wasn’t expecting that elegant-looking white orb to withstand the battering I gave it.
Other Notable Features:
FYI: ADT gives you 24 hours of cloud video storage for free. If you want more, that’ll cost you $3 per month for 60 days of storage.
We don’t lump indoor and outdoor cameras together for a reason, and not just because of location. First, if you’re looking at footage of a stranger inside your home — as opposed to a stranger on your lawn or back porch — let’s hope you’re not inside, too. That footage, in the best-case scenario, will be for the police and the judge (it’s not just to have a visual record of your teenage kid sneaking back into the house at 2:00 in the morning).
Second, you really do want smart alerts inside your house because there’s a lot more traffic there than, say, at your back door. Too many pings that don’t matter would drive you nuts.
Did You Know: Indoor cameras work great to help keep service workers honest. Think home contractors, nannies, and the like.
How did ADT’s indoor video surveillance system perform in an actual home?
It did better than the last time we tested it, that’s for sure. First, the much crisper 1080p picture made a real difference, aesthetically and psychologically. As I mentioned up top, the last thing you want in a moment of panic is to be squinting at a Rorschach blot on your iPhone that may or may not be your mother-in-law dropping off cheesecake.
Second, after a little trial and error, I actually managed to rig my living room camera to ignore my two cats. All it took was setting up a custom movement zone, which turned out to be a lot easier than I anticipated. I was also happy to find that the new two-way audio feature let me shout at them when they jumped on the couch — not that it mattered, they just sat there obviously.
Other Notable Features:
FYI: The motion detection sensors we install in our homes aren’t actually detecting physical objects, per se. They’re picking up human (and sometimes pet) infrared energy, aka body heat.
Once upon a time, you only had one option with ADT. You signed a contract, the technicians installed the ADT security system of your choice, and then you paid a monthly fee for 24/7 monitoring. That last part was a key factor because that’s what ensured a police officer would show up at your front door when your alarm went off.
But, as it turns out, not everyone wants or needs that kind of service. Which explains why we now have about a dozen excellent easy-install wireless security systems on the market without monthly monitoring fees and equipment you add à la carte. The idea here is that you set the core system (or hub) up, add whatever parts you want, and monitor your home yourself.
If that’s you, ADT Blue might be an option. ADT Blue basic packages start at $153.30, and their premium system runs for $419.99. That includes all the bells and whistles like multiple door and window sensors, multiple motion sensors, a base station, and a keypad. You can also build your own system, which starts at $179.99
Homeowner's Tip: If you’re wondering if ADT sells doorbell cams, the answer is yes. Check out our top video doorbell camera picks for an in-depth look.
Even if we didn’t spell it out for you, I think you’ve got the picture by now. ADT isn’t the cheapest home security option on the market. While the typical home monitoring service we’ve tested runs about $20-$30 per month, ADT starts at about $55. In our experience, the real value kicks in when you combine premium monitoring, video streaming, and smart home automation.
|Secure||$9.98 per month
$45.99 per month for monitoring
|Smart||$15.32 per month
$49.99 per month for monitoring
|Video and Smart||$17.48 per month
$57.99 per month for monitoring
|ADT Blue||Packages start at $153.30
$19.99 for professional monitoring
I don’t spend much time on home security wall panels, except if I’m on the way out of the house and don’t feel like whipping out my app. Like me, plenty of our readers’ home security “screen time” happens on their mobile apps.
The ADT Control app — which has phased out its predecessor, the Pulse app — is a really solid platform to stay connected to your system whether you’re at home or out and about. There I could watch all of my video feeds and check in on smart home data like atmospheric conditions, how many lights I left on, and how many doors I left unlocked – doh.
If you’re wondering what the difference is between the two apps, Control does a few things that Pulse doesn’t, like geo-fencing. For example, say you don’t want to have to arm your alarm manually every time you leave your home (or you want a back-up in case you forget). All I had to do was program Control to switch the alarm on whenever I was 10 yards away from the front door. Very neat.
Just a word of warning to die hard Pulse users: According to my conversation with ADT, Pulse doesn’t work with the newer wall panels. So if you’ve been thinking about switching over but are happy with Pulse, now might be the time to finally do it.
Homeowner's Tip: Home security apps are great, but they’re not a substitute for law enforcement. So the first three buttons you press in the event of an emergency should always be 911. After that, you can hit your ADT panic button.
Home security has come a long way, and ADT has been there since the beginning. From turn-of-the-century roundsmen checking in to modern-day smart home automation, ADT’s done it all, and done it all well. They aren’t the cheapest option out there, but if you’re looking for complete, comprehensive control of your home’s security, you’re not going to find much better.
That said, my advice in that case would be to shop around. ADT isn’t for everyone, and we’ve reviewed plenty of user-friendly DIY home security systems, with monitoring and self-monitoring options. If at the end of your search, you’re thinking, “It’s time for a smart home, yes, but I don’t want to do this myself,” getting a quote from ADT might make sense.
ADT currently has two apps: the older Pulse and the newer Control. Both work with iOS and Android devices.
Our advice is to download the newer Control app. While you can still use Pulse to run your ADT system, the latest generation hubs only work with Control.
ADT has three packages, ranging from just shy of $30 to around $60 per month for their complete video smart home plans.
No, you’ll need an ADT technician to do that.
Typically, ADT contracts are three years. (In California, they’re 24 months.)
You do, unless you have a warranty on parts and labor. Otherwise, you’re looking at $150 per hour for ADT house visits.
Gunter, James. (2019 July 24). The Long, Strange History of ADT. Medium.
FBI. (2019). Burglary.
As Managing Editor for SafeHome.org, Rob Gabriele has written and edited over 1,000 articles in home security. His expertise is in smart home automation and home protection with thousands of hours of testing and research under his belt. Formerly a reporter and producer for the USAToday network, Rob has been a writer and editor for over 10 years. He holds a Master’s of Science with an emphasis on writing from the University of Montana, and he currently lives in the Reno/Tahoe area of Nevada.