If you’re drawing a blank with ADT, I bet their little blue lawn sign will ring a bell. Any home with that sign out front has an ADT home security system inside, maybe watching you as you pass by. ADT has been protecting American homes for nearly a century and a half, so they’ve seen plenty of lawn traffic.
Obviously, the home security business has changed a lot in the past 140 years. But ADT has kept pace. And today, you can automate and monitor basically every nook and cranny of your home from wherever you are with ADT’s Control app. For an in-depth discussion of ADT’s automation features, check out our hands-on review of ADT home security systems.
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).
How do those cameras perform in the field? What are the latest specs and what kind of plan do you need for 24/7 video monitoring? You’ve come to the right place. We’re covering everything about ADT cameras, including features like video resolution and night vision, equipment quality, customer service, pricing, and more. It’s all here in our complete ADT security camera review.
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 $60 per month in our ADT buyer’s guide. So not exactly cheap.
The silver lining, though, is a pretty big one. First, with ADT, you don’t pay for equipment. Second, with ADT’s video package, you also get smart home automation. That includes a bunch of neat stuff we really liked when we tested it, including fire, flood, and CO sensors, garage door controllers, and smart door locks, thermostats, lighting, switches and plugs.
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 video 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 720p outdoor cameras left us wanting a little more. Crisper shots of our property mainly, and wide-angle views. This time around, I didn’t find much improvement in the field of vision — it still tanked out at around 100 degrees — but I did notice a real improvement in image quality. That went hand-in-hand with smarter alerts that could distinguish the postman from a squirrel.
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. The footage it beamed to my phone was basically like a scene from a Hollywood movie where they put the camera in the water with the actors and the lens gets splashed. Now multiply that with a garden hose. My camera didn’t budge.
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 $2.99 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. (FYI, I did that by setting up a custom zone, which is easy.) Officially, ADT wants to let you know that you can communicate with your pets via the newish two-way audio feature. You know, say hello and chat. I just didn’t want to get incriminating pics of my two little fellows from ADT every time they climbed on the couch.
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 packages start at $179 (for the base hub). Cameras, indoor, outdoor or doorbell, are $199 a pop. Monitoring is $19 per month with 24 hours of cloud storage. Installation is painless if you know your way around a transformer.
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 almost $30. In our experience, the real value kicks in when you combine premium monitoring, video streaming, and smart home automation.
|Secure||$20-$30 per month|
|Smart||$30-$40 per month|
|Video and Smart||$50-$60 per month|
|ADT Blue||Packages start at $199|
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 is gradually replacing the Pulse® app) is a solid portable hub that gave me a birds-eye view of all the connected ADT systems I had up and running inside my home. This included multiple simultaneous video feeds and all my smart home data: the number of lights that were on, the temperature in different zones, and the security status of all my entrances (locked or unlocked).
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 diehard 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 systems are more than just surveillance tools these days. They’ve merged with smart home automation so you can secure your home and save money (and time) running it at the same time. This is as long as you’re prepared to invest a little.
In the case of ADT, signing up for their premium video smart home service isn’t going to be like subscribing to your favorite newspaper. It will set you back a little more, and setting out, you may be eying that two- or three-year contract with a little worry.
My advice in that case would be to shop around. 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.