You can’t really have a conversation about home security these days without at least mentioning ADT.
Why? Because they’ve delivered some of the highest quality protections in the industry for over a century. Today, their equipment is consistently ranked as some of the best out there, they’re priced competitively, and their functionality makes them a great option for almost every homeowner looking to protect their families from criminals.
Looking good on paper is one thing, though. The proof, as they say, is in the pudding. So to find out just how well ADT actually works, we recently signed up to install a complete system in our home. We checked it from top to bottom. We considered its special features, as well as how well it fulfilled our mundane day-to-day security needs.
After all that, we can tell you right off the bat, ADT isn’t perfect. While we do highly recommend this company, the truth is there are a lot of considerations you’ll need to make before committing to ADT. Cost is certainly one of the major factors. ADT’s long-term contracts is another.
Pro Tip: ADT isn’t necessarily known for rock-bottom prices or barn-burner sales, but they are known to offer a discount or two from time to time. Right now you can save up to 40 percent on all equipment packages when you sign up for the Pro Monitoring plan. Plus ADT will throw in a free Nest Cam. Not too bad.
Are these dealbreakers? Not at all, and you’ll see why in just a bit. Here we’re going to describe everything there is to know about ADT and detail our experiences through our extensive research and rigorous testing.
Let’s get to it.
Before we talk about what we found during testing, let’s talk a little about the testing itself. We don’t just glance casually at a security system and decide whether or not we like it. Sure, looks matter–at least when it comes to security systems. But there are a lot more factors to consider as well.
First is the reliability of the system itself. It’s not enough that a system works; it has to work all of the time. Later on, you’ll see why ADT stands out in this regard, especially when it comes to their cellular monitoring.
Second is the quality of customer service. The last thing you want when you’re dealing with a break-in or another emergency is to be put on hold. In fact, even when things are going well, it’s pretty important to be able to get someone on the phone if you need to re-position a camera or you’ve got an alarm that keeps going off for no reason. Customer service matters to every industry, but it’s an absolute necessity when your safety and security are on the line. And ADT mostly hits the mark here too.
And last but not least, the value for your money. We’re not just talking costs and numbers here; a cheap security system with poor-quality equipment isn’t going to be of much value to you. In this review, you’ll find out how ADT, despite being a bit pricey, offers great value for your money.
Ready to get to know ADT? Let’s go.
We know, we know: you’re ready to get into the details of the system. Before we get there, though, let’s also take a quick look at where this company came from. The thing is, ADT’s history actually has a lot to do with the quality of its products. Like we said above, ADT is one of the most established names in the home security industry. In 1874, American District Telegraph — now called ADT for short — changed the security game by sending alerts via Morse code,1 and they started what could be called the first security system network by leveraging call boxes to send these signals to a central location.
Here’s the thing: ADT could have been content to rest on its laurels. Not every company can claim to have invented home security. But the same commitment to innovation that made ADT the first of its kind has helped to keep it at the forefont of the industry. Recently, for instance, the company has invested heavily in home automation features, features that don’t just make customer lives more convenient but add a layer of security to homes. All security systems come with door sensors and cameras. Not all of them let you randomize your interior lights to make it look like you’re home even when you’re not.
One of our favorite aspects of ADT is the fact that the company takes a full-service approach to providing security. That starts with setting you up with a system. ADT knows that security isn’t a one-size-fits-all sort of product. If you live in an apartment in Brooklyn, that demands one approach to security. If you live on a dude ranch in Arizona, that demands a whole other sort of approach. ADT’s sales staff takes the time to talk you through all the options and create a system that’s customized to your needs.
That said, you can make things easier by going with a pre-set package plan. Your four main options include Basic, Secure, Smart, and Smart + Video.
ADT’s monitoring packages start at around $30 per month and range up to $82 per month for more complete home security. $30 isn’t terrible, but frankly, $82 is a little steep, especially considering that there are security systems like Ring and SimpliSafe that offer home automation and video monitoring for less than $30 per month. If you’re someone who wants access to some advanced features but wants them on a budget, we’d recommend you go with a provider other than ADT.
That being said, as you go up the price ladder, ADT becomes more cost-effective. That’s why we upgraded from the base package to try ADT’s higher-tier plans. We go into further detail on these plans in our “Which ADT Plan is the Best?” section below. For now, note that ADT offers options for smart home automation through the ADT Smart Home package, as well as video monitoring under the ADT Video and Smart Home package. Both of these packages pack a lot of features for the price.
Here is a quick rundown of ADT’s currently available monitoring packages.
|ADT Monitoring Packages
|$28.99 per month
|$55.97 – $60.97 per month
|$65.31 – $70.31 per month
|$75.47 – $82.14 per month
Besides the equipment and monitoring, classic ADT security systems require professional installation. This part of the service includes a visit from a technician in order to set up your system, which comes with a $99 service fee.
You’ll get your money’s worth, though, because from our experience, ADT’s techs are knowledgeable, efficient, and professional. They even showed us the ropes after installing our new system.
And remember, like we said above, ADT is running a sale right now. You can get up to 40 percent off on your ADT Self Setup system when you sign a 36-month contract plus a free Google Nest cam. That can help mitigate the cost of the installation. Stay up to date with all of the discounts from ADT by bookmarking our guide to ADT’s discounts.
We happen to think that the professional setup is one of the selling points of ADT, but we definitely understand why not everyone shares that view. And actually, so does ADT. That’s why they recently launched a DIY self-installed system called ADT Self Setup, which comes with wireless sensors and Google Nest equipment for video monitoring and home automation.
It’s great that ADT finally has a DIY option, but honestly, its lack of experience in this market segment really shows. For one thing, the DIY-installed systems just don’t come with enough components. We suspect that’s because ADT hasn’t yet worked out the kinks in telling us how to install some of its more robust technology. It wasn’t at all clear how to set up the equipment they did send us. You can read more about this in our review of ADT Self Setup.
Pro Tip: Something to keep in mind while we’re talking about which package to choose from is that Not all home security solutions need to be expensive or high tech. Check out these seven ways to deter burglars for under $100 for some ideas.
For now, though, let’s learn more about the ADT pro-installed system we tested.
As we said before, one of the things we like best about ADT is its commitment to constantly improving service. That extends to the quality its equipment. It’s been a couple of years since we last reviewed the ADT system, and we were pleasantly surprised to find some significant improvements. For example, standard equipment now includes push-button control panels, entryway sensors, interior motion detectors, and a wireless keychain remote.
On a tangible level, we’ve always liked the look and feel of ADT’s equipment. They’re designed well, with the human experience in mind, and built by manufacturers like GE, Honeywell, and Google. Remember, though, these premium products come at a premium price2, so expect to pay slightly higher rates for upgrades and add-ons.
When it comes to home security systems, fast response times matter.3 ADT knows this, which is why their systems send alerts by cell radio — typically resulting in the quickest, most reliable response times. Remember, during a burglary, every second counts.
Also worth noting is that ADT’s monitoring centers are located across the country in what’s known as a “redundant network.” That’s a fancy way of saying that if one monitoring center goes offline — because of a power outage, for instance — a secondary, or redundant, location will make sure you’re not going to go unprotected. Crime can happen anytime, and so your burglar and package thief deterrent, in this case ADT, needs to be available 24/7 as well.
Learn more about Rob and our methodology →
While ADT has a great reputation for customer service, this can be hit or miss depending on your location and your specific need. Individually, our experience has been outstanding, but we’ve heard horror stories of poor service. To be fair, that is going to be true of any company of ADT’s size — humans are humans, and they make mistakes.
To quantify this, ADT has an A+ BBB rating, but a dismal 1.4 out of 5 average when it comes to customer reviews. Take this with a grain of salt, though. Very few people take to their keyboards when they have a good experience with a company, and even less when the service is performing as expected. No one is headed over to the BBB website to say “ADT is performing as expected.”
Our staff is great at researching and testing systems and comparing them to similar security options, but we wanted to see what ADT customers have to say about the product and the service they receive over time. As of May 2020, we’ve surveyed 184 ADT customers and asked them to rate ADT in 10 different areas, including an overall rating. Below is a summary of their ratings.
We researched all of ADT’s plans, and we personally tested their most basic plan, as well as their most advanced plan. Here’s a quick rundown. ADT offers four main security packages that combine equipment and ADT monitoring. Prices range from $29 to $82 per month, which is reasonable.
ADT Basic Security is the cheapest plan available. This plan costs $28.99 per month, but it offers significantly less security value than ADT’s higher-tier plans.
One of the first things we should mention is that ADT’s systems require landline connections. While your components — your motion sensors, your entryway sensors, and your remotes — will be wireless, the connectivity of the system itself is not. While these systems can be more reliable, they are vulnerable to someone cutting your cord. Make sure you know where its located, and protect it if you can.
This package tier also doesn’t support the ADT mobile app, which means you have to be home to control your system. If you forgot to arm your system before leaving, you can’t do so remotely.
Lastly, this plan doesn’t offer home automation and video monitoring, both of which can be found in ADT’s higher-tier options.
The next ADT plan tier is called ADT Smart Home. Pricing starts at $65.31 per month but can be as high as $70.31, depending on what equipment you have. The real value of this plan is that it lets you integrate your smart home equipment with ADT. In addition, ADT offers a number of smart home add-ons of its own, including smart light bulbs, smart plugs, smart locks, and a smart garage door controller.
ADT’s Smart Home package offers more than just control, however. It’s the integration that really adds value, especially as a crime deterrent. For example, you can set up automation rules to automatically turn on your smart lights when ADT sensors detect motion to deter potential intruders. So if you want a security system that can actively deter crime rather than just report it, we’d definitely recommend ADT’s smart home packages.
ADT’s most inclusive plan is the ADT Smart Home With Video plan. It included everything in the Smart Home package, plus the ability to monitor live video feeds. As with the Smart Home plan, we were able to connect multiple automation devices to our system. In addition, the package arrived on our doorstep with a free doorbell camera that allowed us to see exactly what was happening on our front porch. At a price between $75.47 and $82.14 per month, this one is a little pricy, but it includes absolutely everything we typically look for in a high-end, complete home security system.
Overall, ADT’s top security plans are ADT Smart Home and ADT Smart Home + Video. Yes, they do cost a pretty penny, but our in-depth research and testing revealed these plans offer us the most value for our dollar.
Of course, if you’re looking for a more basic plan, ADT does offer that. The thing is, these plans cost $28-$50 per month, and you don’t get all the bonus features you get with the Smart Home and Smart Home + Video packages. As a result, we’d recommend going with someone else, such as a system from our list of most affordable security systems. In fact, not only will you save money with some of these systems, but you’ll get some of those bonus features you lose with ADT’s basic plan.
Did You Know? ADT offers an attractive moving deal. If you happen to be relocating, just reach out to ADT 30-days prior to the big move, and they’ll set you up for free in your new home. To learn more, read our guide to moving with an ADT security system.
ADT is best suited for folks who plan to stay put in their home for a few years. In most locations, the company requires users sign a 36-month contract. That’s a significant chunk of time. If you decide to move, you have to cancel your existing contract–and pay the difference–and then have an all-new system installed in your new home. To help alleviate this contractual burden, ADT offers a generous 6-month, money-back guarantee. In all of our research and testing, this is the best guarantee we’ve seen.
This means that if ADT isn’t able to resolve your issue within the first six months, they will refund everything – the installation price, the monitoring fees, and the equipment prices you paid. All of the equipment will have to be fully removed before your refund will be processed4, but still, that’s not a bad deal in our book.
During our research, we found that the ADT home security system includes, at minimum, the equipment listed below.
Of course, ADT’s more advanced packages come with additional features. can support the following controls, sensors, cameras, and home automation features:
Video Cameras and Home Automation
|ADT Equipment & Features
|Smart + Video
|$28.99 per Month
|$55.97 – $60.97 per Month
|$65.31 – $70.31 per Month
|$75.47 – $82.14 per Month
|Quality Service Plan
We discovered a wide range of home security devices that can be installed and monitored by ADT. Here’s a quick rundown of ADT’s specs as a home security system.
|Professional security monitoring
|Average response time
|Professional equipment installation
|Motion, entry, glass break, etc.
|Indoor and outdoor cameras
|1,600 to 4,000 sq. ft.
|iOS and Android
|6 months for installation, 90 days for equipment
|$45.99 – $61.99
|Starting at $599.99
|Available (24, 36, or 60 months)
|January 2019 (ADT Control)
For a closer look at what ADT offers, these are ADT best features and technology explained.
Many new home alarm companies only offer cellular connections for emergency monitoring. While cellular is typically the most reliable, it simply isn’t available in some remote areas. So if you live in the country, ADT is one of the few industry leaders to monitor through landlines and cell radio alike. Our experts prefer cellular, but we do like that ADT gives you a choice.
ADT security systems can detect intruders with infrared motion sensors. To help avoid false alarms triggered by pets, your installer can set these sensors to ignore moving objects up to 50 pounds in weight.
For all-around home safety, ADT monitoring devices can detect water leaks, excessive heat, smoke, and carbon monoxide. We’ve tested several of these environmental monitoring devices. They gave us greater peace of mind – especially while we were out of town. These upgrades can pay for themselves a thousand times over, but also ask your insurance company about discounts for home monitoring. Many will cut your rates if they find out you’ve got professional grade smoke alarms and flood detectors.
Pro Tip: Check to see if you can get a discount on your homeowner’s insurance with environmental monitoring devices installed in your home.5
ADT sells security cameras that provide indoor and outdoor surveillance. You can also add floodlights to your cam. And they sell a battery-operated doorbell as well. With Video (ADT’s most popular offer), video can be live-streamed to your mobile device. We’ve found studies that show having a security camera installed is often enough to deter would-be burglars.6 And if your home is targeted, security cameras can give you hard evidence to catch criminals. We always recommend home surveillance.
Home automation is included in the ADT Complete package. You can add an extra layer of security and a touch of convenience with automated door locks for your home. You can control your lights while you’re on vacation to make it seem like you’re still at home. You can use geo alerts to remind you to close the garage door when you get a few blocks from your house. Again, expect to pay a steep price to access this next-level convenience. You’ll get a bit of that money back, though. According to our research and testing, ADT Smart security systems also help to cut energy costs by automating lights, thermostats, and other smart products.
|ADT Smart Home Options
|Smart Door Locks
|Convenience & Energy Saver
|Video Doorbell Camera
|Smart Switches & Plugs
|Convenience & Energy Saver
Even though the equipment is high-tech, ADT systems are all-around easy to use. For starters, ADT handled the installation of our system from start to finish. The technician even stuck around to teach us how to use the system. That’s just part of the white-glove service ADT provides and one of the key reasons ADT makes a great choice for anyone who wants a full-service security system with no hassles.
As far as everyday use goes, the basic system only has a few commands you’ll need to work with that are all controlled via your panel or your keychain remote. More advanced plans will offer mobile app control but these are always intuitive and easy to operate.
ADT systems are not the most user-friendly systems out there, but they’re close. Overall they’re quite easy to use and manage. Plus, should you run into any problems, you can always seek help online or directly through ADT’s customer support line.
FYI: ADT just announced a partnership with Realty-titan Redfin for agent-free home tours. Using an ADT smart lock and other equipment, homebuyers can enter and leave a home at their leisure. The idea is that more homes will be toured more often, which will benefit both the buyer and the seller. We really like to see innovative partnerships like this.
We’ve talked about ADT’s packages, equipment, features, and even pricing, but you may be wondering, “Is ADT really the best choice for me?” Well, only you can answer that question definitively, but let’s see what differentiates ADT from other popular security systems you may be considering.
For starters, ADT as a company is well-established, and that comes with a few perks that other security companies can’t provide. The six-month money-back guarantee, for instance, is a real unicorn in a field where a 30-day guarantee is the norm. Even companies like SimpliSafe and Cove, which both have a 60-day money-back guarantee can’t match up with ADT here.
ADT’s monitoring service, which is managed in-house, is another perk. It is fully-redundant, with numerous monitoring centers spread out across the country. That stands out, especially with companies like Frontpoint that outsource the monitoring to third parties.
Lastly, ADT’s equipment is top-notch in quality, and there’s a wide variety of choices. It has options for everything, from basic security, smart home automation, to video surveillance. You can’t find all those from newer DIY options like the Ring Alarm.
|Starting at $599.99
|DIY or Profesisonal
|Self Monitoring or Professional
|Starting at $150
|Starting at $599.99
|DIY or Profesisonal
|Starting at $129
|Starting at $250
The only real downside to ADT is the price. Of course, that can be an enormous downside for some customers. We can say definitively that you won’t find a better system on the market. And we can go further and say that you won’t get more value for your money anyway. Whether you can afford the somewhat steep pricetag? Only you can decide that.
We always put ourselves in the shoes of the average consumer. And we found that ADT offers plenty of home security options for a diverse customer base. In other words, they offer something for everyone. Our research and testing revealed that ADT professionally installs hardwired and wireless security equipment that’s robust and reliable.
Highlights of the premium ADT security packages are video surveillance, fire & flood monitoring, and home automation. However, we recommend digging into ADT reviews before signing an agreement. All in all, the premium plans offer an impressive feature set. But if you’re looking for basic home security features, you might want to look into Ring or SimpliSafe. ADT’s basic plans are a little overpriced from what we’ve seen, and we’ve seen a lot!
Our process of reviewing and rating home security products begins with researching the different companies and security systems available. After rigorous research, we purchase the systems and bring them into our home. We then unbox the products and meticulously install the components like door/window sensors, motion sensors, control panels, security cameras, and central hubs. We also download the companion app. Finally, we put the system through dozens of simulated burglaries, home invasions, and package theft situations to see how well it can protect our home.
A typical home security test will take us several days to several weeks, and it’s not uncommon that we’ll test and tinker with products for several months. Our aim is to fully understand what it’s like living with the system so that we can give an honest and unbiased recommendation. That’s our promise to our readers like you.
ADT. (2020). Our History.
Sullivan, P. (2010, April 30). Weighing the Value of a Home Security System. New York Times.
ADT. (2019). The Evolution of ADT in the 2010s.
ADT. (2020). Residential Security – Terms and Conditions.
Fitzpatrick, M. (2019, September 5). Are Smart Device Home Insurance Discounts Worth It? ValuePenguin.
Blevins, K. R., Kuhns, J. B., & Lee, S. (2012, December). Understanding Decisions to Burglarize from the Offender's Perspective.