An Honest Review of ADT Home Security

I tested ADT in my house and researched all of their plans - you might be surprised by what I found.

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Testing the ADT Control Panel

Testing the ADT Control Panel

We’ve all heard the pitch about ADT – it’s the oldest alarm company in the U.S., it delivers some of the highest quality home security systems in the industry, and its 24/7 monitoring makes it a great option for almost all homeowners. That may all be true, but in my years of testing security systems, I’ve learned that hands-on testing completely trumps any rumors about the product.

Unfortunately, you can’t just buy an ADT system online like you can Ring or SimpliSafe. You’ll need to sign a three-year agreement, go through expert equipment installation, and activate the monitoring service. That can be a hassle if you’re just trying to find out whether you like a system or not. Good news, though: I did all of the work, so you don’t have to. I purchased an ADT security system for my home, I put it through its paces, and I’m here to share it all.

For this review, I started with a simple question: what does ADT have that other systems out there don’t? Spoiler alert: I ultimately decided ADT still has its mojo. In fact, I decided to hang on to the system because it suited my home security needs to a T. That said, I did learn about ADT’s flaws. It’s not a perfect system – no system is. But is ADT the right system for you? There are a few things to consider before you can answer that question, so let’s get to it.

Why Trust Us?

Rob Gabriele has tested hundreds of home security products and has spent thousands of hours researching home security technology. He’s been cited for his home security expertise in the Washington Post, New York Times, and other major media outlets. And he’s been sought out by local and national news channels for his expertise in keeping burglars and thieves at bay.

  • Intuitive and easy-to-use app
  • 24/7 professional monitoring with 12 monitoring centers
  • Cellular backup
  • SMART Monitoring technology for faster response times
  • 150 years of experience
  • Offers Google Nest Cams
  • Now offers DIY components via ADT Self Setup

  • Requires a contract; 36 months minimum
  • Installation fee costs $99 minimum
  • Limited touch-screen control panel features
  • Equipment costs more than the DIY competition

My Experience with ADT Professional Installation

The first big difference when comparing ADT to many security systems: You can’t just buy ADT at your local Best Buy or Home Depot and set it up yourself. And I’m not totally sure why not. Most of the equipment isn’t hardwired, so setup would be pretty straightforward. I even followed the technician around and felt confident I could do the things he did – even the part where he climbed up a ladder and used a drill to install my security cameras.

ADT Outdoor Camera in Action

ADT Outdoor Camera in Action

Maybe that’s the whole point though; ADT knows there are plenty of DIY security systems. There are so many, in fact, that ADT decided to create its own DIY brand, ADT Self Setup. (Read my ADT Self Setup review for more information.) But I think ADT wants its traditional security system to stand out by going for that “white-glove service” feel. I will say that I felt like a VIP just standing around as my personal technician did all the work. (And honestly, it’s no fun wandering around your house looking for the best places to mount your sensors and cameras.)

Pro Tip: Wondering what’s on the other side of the home security fence? Check out my roundup of the top DIY-installed security systems. They may require more effort from you, but they’re undoubtedly more flexible than professionally installed systems.

Here’s what the ADT signup and installation process looked like for me:

The shopping process for professionally installed systems like ADT usually takes three to five days. The final step, the installation, is what typically causes delays because you have to schedule an appointment. And where I live, the demand is usually so high that the earliest available dates are at least two days out.

With ADT, the whole process took two days for me.

  • I called ADT on a Tuesday afternoon to show interest. I was told that they could arrange a free, no-obligation in-home consultation the next day, and I went ahead and scheduled it.
  • On Wednesday morning, the consultant arrived and explained the process. The consultation took less than two hours. And after I confirmed my purchase, he had me sign my three-year contract with ADT. I scheduled an appointment for next-day installation.
  • Come Thursday morning, an ADT installation tech in a white van arrived to set up my security system. He finished in the afternoon. If you’re counting, that’s two days after I first called ADT.
  • I spent my Thursday evening and the morning of the next day familiarizing myself with my new ADT security system. There was lots to learn.

ADT showed a sense of urgency in setting up my system, and I liked it. That said, I went to work late because of the in-home consultation and had to miss work for the installation – which I wouldn’t have needed to do if it were a DIY system. On the plus side, the total timeline from purchase to installation was pretty fast. That’s a good thing. According to the FBI, there’s a burglary in the U.S. every 23 seconds.1 When you know those kinds of statistics, it can make you a little anxious to get your home protected.

I should also note that the consultation took two hours because it was so thorough. The consultant walked around my entire house, inside and out, and identifed hazards and vulnerable points. He knew all the best places to install sensors, and he was able to suggest equipment I hadn’t considered, like a security camera to cover my backyard. The price for all of this? Absolutely nothing. In fact, I wouldn’t have had to pay even if I had decided not to sign up with ADT.

My installation-day experience:

The installation tech arrived at around 9 o’clock in the morning. He was a nice guy, and he did a solid job, but it took him a little over six hours to get me set up. It was a long time, so set aside a full day for the install.

I also noticed that he didn’t follow the consultation plan. He put equipment in different places than the consultant advised. Check out the security camera placement on my back porch below; that was supposed to be for my backyard.

It seemed to me that the consultant and the technician had an architect-engineer dynamic going. The consultant was the architect who designed my system, but the technician – the engineer – had the final say. He was the one with the drill after all, and I trusted his judgment.

A Closer Look at ADT Outdoor Camera, Installed in Our Back Porch

A Closer Look at ADT Outdoor Camera, Installed in Our Back Porch

What I Didn’t Like About ADT’s Installation:

The technician did a super job hiding most of the wires. He did great in hiding the control panel’s wire behind the wall, for example. But unfortunately, there’s a wire sticking out of my outdoor camera that is practically begging to be snipped by a burglar. Might as well put a “Snip Me!” sign on it. It’s on my to-do list to call them to fix it.

And unfortunately, my ADT technician didn’t take out my old ADT equipment. I feel that that should be a free service, especially for repeat customers such as myself. Instead, the old ADT control panel (pictured below) still sits on my wall like a fossil – not a good look for a mid-century modern home.

Old School ADT Equipment

Old School ADT Equipment

What I Liked About ADT’s Installation:

On the brighter side, my technician stayed around after to show me how it all works, especially ADT’s app. I found this to be helpful. I may know my way around security systems, but this is my first time testing this particular ADT security system. That said, that part of the process might be overwhelming for some. Thankfully, the system is easy to learn on your own. If you can use a social media app, you can use ADT’s app.

All things considered, it was one of the better installation experiences I’ve had. ADT is right up there with Vivint when it comes to the best professionally installed systems. I’ve personally installed plenty of so-called DIY security systems, and I have to say that no system is truly DIY. I’m frequently on the phone with tech support wrestling with some configuration or something. That’s why professional installation is so attractive. And honestly, I don’t love ladders.

FYI: Not sure if ADT’s professional installation is right for you? See how ADT compares with DIY security systems and make an informed choice. For one, equipment from professionally installed systems like ADT and Vivint offer top-notch features and cutting edge technology. Although they’re also good, we can’t say the same for most DIY security systems.

ADT Equipment

I have a couple gripes with ADT, but their security equipment isn’t one of them. In fact, their equipment is one of the best in the market, hands down. It’s made by GE, so there’s no cheap plastic or outdated aesthetics to worry about. I could tell everything was built to last – from the control panel to the door sensors. And it’s all made to blend in with your trim and interior decor. (They even had a brown sensor to match my brown door.)

ADT matched the entryway sensor to our trim color!

ADT matched the entryway sensor to our trim color!

As much as I love SimpliSafe (it’s my #2 pick), their equipment just feels cheaper. So if you plan to keep your home security system for several years, it’s helpful to have gear that’s built to last, especially now that ADT has upgraded to a touchscreen control panel. Unlike my analog ADT panel that looks outdated now, I have a feeling that touchscreen keypads are here to last.

Here’s a look at the ADT equipment I purchased:

  • 1 Control panel (the brains of the system)
  • 4 entryway sensors, or door/window sensors
  • 3 motion sensors
  • 3 glass-break sensors
  • 2 outdoor cameras
  • ADT Control app

Other ADT equipment available:

  • Nest cameras
  • Doorbell camera
  • Smart lock
  • Smart thermostat
  • etc.

Did You Know? ADT has partnered with Google Nest to offer cutting-edge security cameras and smart home devices along with ADT security systems. The list includes the Nest Cam (all models), the Google Nest Doorbell (battery-powered video doorbell), the Nest Hub and Nest Hub Max (smart displays), and the Nest Thermostat (smart thermostat).

Now, before getting into the individual components, you’re probably curious about how much a security system costs from ADT. Let’s cover that next before moving on.

Here’s What I Paid for ADT

I paid $1,200 for my ADT system, installation included. Sounds expensive, right? Well compared to Ring, SimpliSafe, and abode – three of our top DIY security systems – ADT is pretty pricey. But thankfully I was able to finance all of the equipment over three years and pay a very reasonable $30 per month (for equipment only).

That’s how it works with ADT. Instead of paying $500-$1,000+ upfront, you make monthly payments on your system over 24 to 60 months. It’s easier on the wallet but allows you to get top-of-the-line equipment. What I don’t love about this arrangement is that when my contract is up, I won’t own the home security equipment. I can still use it, but if I ever cancel, ADT gets it all back. (In hindsight, I should have canceled my old account. ADT’s technician might have taken my old equipment if I did.)

Pro Tip: The professional installation service cost me a little over $100 – par for the course for non-DIY systems – but it doesn’t hurt to ask it to be waived during the consultation phase. You could also try your luck with ADT deals. They sometimes offer $0 installation or discounted installation for cameras and video doorbells. 

You’ll also have to pay between $25 and $35 per month for monthly monitoring on top of equipment charges. There’s no option for monitoring the system yourself. All in all, I’m paying close to $65 per month for everything (equipment and professional monitoring). The going rate for complete home security in the market is $50 to $65 a month. So I wouldn’t call ADT expensive. It’s still within the normal price range. It is just on the higher side of the fence, though.

Keep in mind there are no hidden fees to worry about. And ADT even gave me a 6-month money-back guarantee. This is beyond standard and much appreciated. In fact, it’s the best guarantee in home security. The next-best guarantee is SimpliSafe’s 60-day guarantee. Most brands only give you a measly 30-day window to return your order, and some of the worst security systems don’t offer any guarantees at all. Just be sure to read ADT’s fine-print before trying to return your purchase.

ADT Plans

ADT pricing Build Your Own Starter Premium
Total package price (equipment only) $374.25 $583.50 $1,189.50
Equipment fee (3-year financing) $10.40/month $16.21/month $33.04/month
Professional monitoring fee (w/ 3-year contract) $24.99/month (Essential Monitoring plan) $34.99/month (Essential + Video Monitoring plan) $34.99/month (Essential + Video Monitoring plan)

I don’t recommend ADT for folks who have the Dave Ramsey pay-cash-for-everything mentality. I also don’t think ADT makes sense for apartment dwellers or people who are renting their home. If either of those describes you, check out my roundup of the best security systems for apartments.

But I do recommend ADT for more established homeowners who plan to stay put in their home for at least 3-5 years.

Here’s how ADT prices compare to the competition…

ADT vs. The Competition

ADT Vivint SimpliSafe Ring abode
Installation Professional (w/ fee) Professional (w/ fee) Free DIY Free DIY Free DIY
Equipment purchase Financing Financing Upfront Upfront Upfront
Equipment package price $375+ $799+ $250+ $200+ $299+
Professional monitoring fee $24.99 – $34.99 $29.99 – $49.99 $19.99 – $29.99 $20 $24.99

FYI: ADT professional monitoring is the gold standard. They have nine monitoring centers spread across the nation that provide redundancy and continuous monitoring service. Even if a couple of centers fail to operate, the others can take over. 

ADT’s Control Panel

The ADT panel can display family photos, which is a nice touch

The ADT panel can display family photos, which is a nice touch

What to Expect: The new ADT control panel is touchscreen, so I love that ADT finally got with the times here. It’s compact and there’s beauty in its simplicity. I just wish the screen was a tad bigger; it’s only 7”, compared to Vivint’s Smart Hub at 8”. I don’t mind displaying a beautiful piece of technology like that one.

The ADT control panel also seems well-built. It doesn’t feel cheap and plastic-y and there’s a good heft to it. It also features cellular communication as backup to Wi-Fi. Cellular backup is key, as it keeps your system functioning even if your power or Wi-Fi goes out. The best security systems offer cellular monitoring, and I wouldn’t recommend purchasing a system without this feature. The last thing you want is to have a storm come through, disrupt your Wi-Fi connection, and have to sleep with one eye open because your home is unprotected. Trust me, it has happened to me!

Best and Worst Features of the Control Panel: The ADT control panel functions as you’d expect it to. It controls the whole ADT system via arming modes. I just didn’t like that you can’t “silent arm” the system from the control panel. So everytime I set the alarm, it counts down loudly. It’s helpful in letting you know how much time you have left to exit your home, but it’s annoying if you have little ones that need their sleep (or else). Fortunately, you can ‘silent arm’ the system via the app.

Arming my ADT System

Arming my ADT System

I was also a bit disappointed in this 85 dB siren. Most systems offer 100 dB sirens. I could hear ADT’s siren upstairs, but I had to really listen to hear it from the shower or while I was in the bedroom watching TV. Turns out, thieves don’t just break in when you’re sitting quietly in your easy chair reading a book. Plus, you kind of want those extra 15 dBs to shake potential home invaders up. An alarm should be a deterrent rather than simply an annoyance. Oh, and the siren is a sustained wail rather than an oscillating wail – in technical terms, reeeeeeeeeeeee instead of reee-reee-reee-reee-reee. That’s more in the category of unique though, than disappointing.

Unexpected Findings: There were a few things that definitely surprised me, first among which was how tidily the installation technician hid the control panel wire. I wasn’t used to this, since most control panels I test have a curly-cue wire hanging down from them that just looks awful. Just look at how neat it looks on the wall.

Testing the ADT Control Panel

Rob Testing the ADT Control Panel

That said, the control panel looks a bit smaller in person than it does in the pictures. Maybe it’s just me, but I definitely had a larger screen in mind. On the bright side, though, there’s a front-facing camera on the control panel. You can’t take selfies with it, but it will take a snapshot of whoever tries to disarm the system so you can review who came and went from the activity log, like so:

ADT Control Panel Activity Log

ADT Control Panel Activity Log

Lastly, the control panel doubles as a weather station and a digital picture frame when on standby. Those were pretty much the only extra features, sadly. They’re nice, but they’re more for aesthetic purposes than anything else. I wish I could control my connected smart home devices from ADT’s control panel like I can with the Vivint security system I tested. All of ADT’s home automation features are exclusive to the ADT app.

Control Panel Specs:

  • Dimensions – 7.68” W x 4.76” H x 0.708” D (195mm x 121mm x 18mm)
  • Panic buttons – Police, fire, and medical
  • Power – Plug-in cord (5V 1A, microUSB cable)
  • Battery backup – 3.8V 2,000 mAh
  • Wireless communication – Wi-Fi and cellular backup

How it Stacks Up:

I give the ADT control panel an A+. The Vivint Smart Hub is my gold standard, and compared to it, the ADT control panel falls short on some crucial features. The smaller screen size, lack of automation controls, and 85 dB siren were my biggest gripes, but it was a solid control panel all around.

ADT’s Entryway, Motion, and Glass Break Sensors

ADT Entryway Sensors

A look at ADT Entryway Sensors

What to Expect: Entryway sensors, also called door/window sensors, are the backbone of the ADT system (and every home security system for that matter). Using adhesives, the install technician mounted these sensors on every door downstairs. But I highly recommend you get these on every door and window. This time I skipped the windows to save some money, but I’m surely buying more when I schedule a visit to fix the exposed wires on my back porch camera. They cost $50 each.

As for motion sensors, I had two installed on each floor. The one on the first floor monitors the living room area. The technician made sure it has a view of my living room windows, considering I didn’t purchase entryway sensors for those. The one on the second floor is at the end of the hallway between our rooms, facing the stairs.

I also purchased three glass break sensors. I had one mounted on the wall facing the sliding glass door that leads to my back porch. And I had two mounted in the common spaces on the first floor. Can you spot the glass break sensor in the picture below?

Can you spot the glass break sensor

Can you spot the glass break sensor

Best and Worst Features: I was actually impressed with ADT’s selection of sensors. One of our doors has brown trim, and ADT happened to have a brown door sensor. Either that or the technician spray painted it brown out on his truck. Whatever the case, it looks legit and blends in with my door. As for size, they are smaller than Vivint’s sensors, but a bit larger than Ring, Frontpoint, and abode sensors. Any bigger and I’d say too big, but ADT made the grade here.

Testing Out ADT's Motion Sensor

Testing Out ADT’s Motion Sensor

There’s nothing much to note about the motion sensors and glass break sensors, other than they look outdated compared to Ring’s new motion sensors. You can see them in my Ring Alarm review. I prefer Ring’s small form-factor and sleek, curvy design over ADT’s rectangular and boxy design. That said, I don’t encourage buying a security system based on the looks of its sensors; that’s just something you might want to keep in mind.

Unexpected findings: I’ve tested all kinds of home security sensors and at this point, nothing surprises me anymore. But if we’re talking about things that I found impressive in ADT’s sensors, the battery life is at the top of the list. The wireless motion sensors powered by CR123 batteries can last up to seven years.

I also found it quite unique that ADT’s motion sensor can ignore pets up to 80 lbs. The technician showed me how to adjust the sensitivity at the back of the motion sensor, in case I ever get a pet.

The best feature I found, though, was the ability of the sensors to trigger security cameras to start recording when a sensor is tripped. Automatic recordings just make it easier to review an event and see what really went down. Was it a masked burglar or just a raccoon?

ADT's Glass Break Sensor

ADT’s Glass Break Sensor

Sensor Specs:

  • Door/window sensor dimensions – 3.1″ H x 1.6″ W x 1.2″ D (77.8mm x 39.7mm x 30.2mm)
  • Door/window sensor type – Contact/magnetic
  • Motion sensor dimensions – 4.1″ H x 2.3″ W x 1.5″ D (104.1mm x 58.4mm x 38.1 mm)
  • Motion sensor detection range: Area of 35 by 40 feet
  • Pet-friendly motion sensor: Ignores pets up to 80 lbs
  • Glass break sensor dimensions: 3.7” H x 3.7” W x 1.1” D (94mm x 94mm x 27.9mm)
  • Glass break sensor detection range: Up to 25’ radius

Our Expert Rob Gabriele testing the ADT Glass Break Sensors

ADT’s Cameras

Troubleshooting the ADT Outdoor Camera

Rob Troubleshooting the ADT Outdoor Camera

What to Expect: ADT’s indoor/outdoor cameras are pretty bare-bones and honestly not worth the money. You’ll see that I had two outdoor cameras installed – one in front and one out back. Sure they’re well-made and offer the industry standard 1080p HD, but most cameras nowadays have this image quality. (If you want 4K resolution and advanced features, check out our Arlo Review and Lorex Review.) Other than a clear picture, the cameras didn’t do a whole lot. There’s no built-in siren, no AI facial recognition, and I found the night vision to be just passable. Not to mention I was on the phone with tech support for two hours trying to pair the cameras to the system.

Also note that ADT can get crazy with their notifications if you don’t dial-in your motion zones to reduce the sensitivity. Not exaggerating, I was getting 50-100 smartphone alerts per day for the first couple of days. Once I customized my zones so that it didn’t pick up passing cars, the alerts were few and far between.

Configuring Ground Zones on our ADT Outdoor Camera

Configuring Ground Zones on our ADT Outdoor Camera

The good news is that ADT now partners with Google Nest to offer customers some of the best cameras in the industry. So below I’ll highlight the Nest Cams best/worst features and specs (because again, ADT’s cameras aren’t worth the $250). If you get cameras from ADT, do yourself a favor and get the Google Nest Cams. I recommend two outdoor cameras and one indoor camera for most medium-sized homes.

Best and Worst Features: We tested the Google Nest Cams ourselves. You can read all about these AI-powered cameras in our Google Nest Cam Review. Our favorite features were the Familiar Faces feature (AI facial recognition), custom alerts, smart home automation routines, and the clear 1080p HD resolution with HDR (high dynamic range). Essentially, it keeps lighting balanced through algorithms so you get a clear image no matter what.

I like the Nest cameras because they are cutting-edge. Want to know when your little one comes home from school? You can arrange that with the Familiar Faces feature. You can also set it to ignore movement of animals and passing vehicles – and you can do that in under two minutes. With my ADT outdoor camera, I had to tinker with the activity zones for about 10 minutes. Oh, and the Nest Cams offer activity zones too, if that’s more your style.

My biggest issue with the Nest Cam is its lack of local storage. It uses cloud storage. When your internet is out, they can’t record all motion-triggered events. Fortunately, though, I found that the battery-powered outdoor model and the plug-in indoor model can store up to 1 hour of videos locally and then upload them to the cloud when they’re back online. That’s a good short-term solution, but I would have preferred if Google Nest expanded the local storage to at least 4 hours of footage.

Nest Cam Outdoor Specs:

  • Dimensions – 3.27” W x 3.27” H (83mm x 83mm)
  • Weight – 14.04 oz
  • Resolution – 1080p HD w/ HDR
  • Night vision – Infrared LEDs (up to 20’ illumination)
  • Operating temperature – -4°F to 104°F (-20°C to 40°C)
  • Power – 3.65V 6Ah lithium-ion battery (included 7.5W USB-A power adapter)
  • Battery life – Up to 3 months depending on usage
  • Wi-Fi connectivity – 2.4 and 5 GHz Wi-Fi

Testing of the ADT Outdoor Camera with our Expert Rob Gabriele

FYI: Google Nest offers three Nest Cam variants, all of which are available from ADT. All these models offer the same basic features, like the 1080p resolution, Familiar Face alerts, and AI person, pet, and vehicle detection. They range in price from $99 for the indoor plug-in model to $279.99 for the floodlight-equipped model. Learn more in our Nest Cam pricing guide.

ADT’s App & Web Dashboards

These days, testing a security system requires more than just testing the hardware; you should also look at the software. And for my ADT system, I really liked the online dashboard. It put our videos front and center, making it a lot easier to review everything that happened in our house during the day. The online dashboard also offers much more customizations than the control panel, from creating automations to scheduling routines. That said, while testing ADT I found that it’s better accessed from a computer or tablet’s browser.

If you’re more of a smartphone than a laptop user, I recommend the ADT Control app. It’s not much of an upgrade compared to the ADT Pulse app they had before. But don’t get me wrong; it’s a solid app for controlling your security system and then some. It’s easy to navigate, it’s user-friendly, and it provides lots of options. Think of like a control panel but with lots of extra features like home automation and security camera live streaming. I still think it’s one of the best home security mobile apps, right up there with Vivint and SimpliSafe.

FYI: ADT has a new app called ADT+, and according to the release notes when it came out in February last year, it could soon become the mobile app for professionally installed ADT systems (like the one I tested) and ADT Self Setup. As of now, only Self Setup users can use the app, but this may change in the future.

Living Day-to-Day with ADT

I’m a big believer that a user-friendly security system should sort of fade into the background of your life. It should fit right into your lifestyle rather than require you to change your routines just so you can stay protected. And I can say that ADT was just the right fit for me.

The ADT app steals the show. I almost never touch the control panel, to be honest. I use the app to arm my system before heading out for my early morning jog because of the ‘silent arming’ option (Remember, the control panel doesn’t offer silent arming!). I also use it to control my smart lights and thermostat, and to activate smart routines. It’s just more convenient for me since I always have my iPhone in my pocket.

A Look at ADT's App

A Look at ADT’s App

I don’t hate the control panel at all, though. It’s a solid piece of equipment that offers exactly what I want from the brains of my security system: Flexibility and Reliability. Remember, it has a cellular chip, so it’s not reliant on my home Wi-Fi. For one reason or another, my internet goes out at least once a month. I can’t have a security system that offers protection only when it’s online. So that cellular chip definitely belongs in my ‘pros’ column.

Were there any downsides? Well for one, the security cameras. I’m not a big fan of their uber-sensitivity. I wasn’t exaggerating when I said I received over 50 alerts per day during the first few days. I also think ADT should have a DIY option if you’re buying additional sensors for your existing security system. As it stands, I’d have to hire a technician again to install the extra door/window sensors I’m planning to get. Those are just minor gripes though.

ADT Monitoring

Besides their equipment and app, one of ADT’s best aspects is the monitoring. It’s the best in the business when it comes to professional home security monitoring, hands down. My reason for saying that? It has nine alarm response centers in the U.S. monitoring for police, fire, and medical emergencies. In comparison, most other companies have just one or two. Vivint has two in Utah and Minnesota, SimpliSafe and Frontpoint use a third-party service, and Ring has one.

What I Liked:

  • SMART Monitoring: A text-based communication system that can speed up alarm verification by group-texting family members. You can cancel false alarms or verify real emergencies through a link.
  • Video verification: If you have cameras, ADT’s monitoring center can access them briefly to verify an alarm. Verified alarms are often prioritized by the police.
  • Fast response: When I simulated a break-in, I was on the phone with an ADT monitoring agent in under a minute.

What I Didn’t Like:

  • Price: I didn’t mind paying $35+ per month for the monitoring service, but I wish ADT offered a cheaper option.
  • Contract: I’m locked-in for the next three years. If I ever have to cancel, I’d have to pay a hefty early termination fee.
  • No self-monitoring option: Most DIY systems these days offer free self-monitoring for those who might not need professional monitoring all the time. ADT doesn’t – at least not for their professionally installed systems.

FYI: ADT uses the same monitoring centers for its home security systems and medical alert systems. That means their agents are trained to respond to medical emergencies as well, so if you ever have one, you can use the app or control panel’s panic alarm for medical emergencies to get help. You can read our ADT Medical Alert System review if that’s something you’re interested in.

ADT Customer Service

I’ve been singing praises about my ADT system, but here’s where things get dicey. If you read through ADT customer reviews online, you’ll find a ton of negative feedback. I find that that’s the case for most alarm companies. Even Frontpoint, which I hailed for having excellent customer service in my Frontpoint review, receives a lot of flak online from disappointed customers.

I think we’re just more inclined to post about a negative experience than carve out time to detail a positive interaction with a brand – unless of course you write home security reviews. I do, so here’s my experience with ADT customer service; both good and bad.

The issue: About a month after my ADT system was installed, I installed a new mesh router for better Wi-Fi reception. And of course, I wanted my ADT cameras to connect, except that they wouldn’t. I spent about 20 minutes trying to troubleshoot it on my own, but to no avail. That’s when I decided to call ADT.

My first interaction: I spoke with Patty over the phone. She was a native English speaker, very kind, and empathetic – apologetic even. I was with her on the phone for over 20 minutes, during which time we realized that it was the new mesh Wi-Fi system that’s causing the issue. The cameras were set up to connect to my old Wi-Fi network. Although she couldn’t ultimately get me squared away, she found someone in the company who could.

They scheduled me for a call back with Ian from tech support. I’m not sure why the camera wouldn’t let me connect it to a new network – something I’ve been able to do with all my other wireless security cameras – but I’m even more disappointed that the call back isn’t until 1:30 pm the next day.

My second interaction: The next day, I took a late lunch so I could be home during the scheduled callback. I called ADT again, waited five minutes, and then gave them my secret passcode. I spoke with Ian and he had to remotely access my cameras to “learn them back in.” 10 minutes later, I was finally able to see my cameras from my ADT app.

Well, it was nice to have real humans to talk to. And as for Patty and Ian, I give them two thumbs up. They were professional, they explained the issue well, and they found a solution. It wasn’t the perfect customer support experience, but it was pretty solid.

Pro Tip: If you have an ADT system, don’t move your router or change your local network. If you do have to switch internet providers, keep your password and Wi-Fi name the same.

How ADT Compares to the Competition

Going back to what I said at the very beginning, is there anything that ADT offers that other companies don’t? Well, there are some.

For starters, the quality of ADT’s equipment is top-notch. Compared to the sensors from my SimpliSafe review and Cove review, ADT definitely has an edge. I’m leasing my ADT system for three years (the length of my contract and financing plan), and I’m all but certain that it will last for that long. ADT also stands behind its hardware with the industry-best six-month money-back guarantee.

ADT’s professional monitoring service also stands out. It took me only two days to have an ADT technician come to my house. I don’t remember Brinks’ buying process being that fast when I tested the Brinks security system. More importantly, I loved the “white-glove service” approach of ADT.

ADT’s biggest competition is Vivint. It’s a neck-and-neck race between the two. I’d say that Vivint is the better smart security system. It’s high-tech. For example, you can control automations and smart home devices from the control panel. It can even learn your preferences and routines to some degree. ADT lacked in that area. On the other hand, though, ADT is a much more streamlined home security system. It’s easy to use and the monitoring service is on point.

If you’re sure that you want a professionally installed and monitored security system, I recommend reading our Vivint vs. ADT comparison. That will give you an idea of how the two best security systems of that kind compare.

Will ADT Deter Burglars?

In any case, having a security system is a good burglar deterrent. Just the mere sight of a security company’s yard signs and window decals might convince a burglar that your home is not worth the trouble. That’s especially true if the company’s name is ‘ADT,’ one of the most recognizable brands of home security.

Rob Gabriele Using ADT

Home Security Expert Rob Gabriele Tests ADT Home Security System

On a more technical standpoint though, can an ADT security system really deter a burglar? I believe it can. While I noted earlier that the control panel’s siren is barely audible from the second floor of our house, 85 dB is loud enough if you’re standing a few feet from it. 81-percent of burglars enter through the first floor, so statistics is on our side.2

I also like that ADT offers Google Nest cameras now. These are cameras with loud and clear two-way audio, so if the siren is not enough, a loud booming voice seemingly out of nowhere should be.

Final Verdict on ADT

So now, the final verdict – Is ADT a good security system? There’s no question that it is. It offers high-quality professional installation along with sturdy equipment, it has the largest network of monitoring centers in the industry, and it has partnered with top brands like Google Nest to further improve its security system. It also offers solid complementary pieces, like the intuitive ADT app and the customizable web dashboard. Objectively speaking, ADT offers almost everything a homeowner needs to protect their home.

It’s not perfect, of course. I wouldn’t recommend it if you’re renting or living in an apartment because of the long-term contract and professional installation. It’s also not the cheapest option around. Especially if you finance your equipment, you’re looking at a monthly bill of $60 or more. If you’re looking to pay less, take a look at SimpliSafe’s prices or even Cove’s packages. Those are more affordable, but keep in mind that you’d be sacrificing some of the more premium features you can get from ADT.

Ultimately, it’s your call. ADT is a well-rounded security system, so if you think it’s the right system for you, it has our seal of approval.

Our Methodology

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 go through the installation process – either we install the system ourselves if it’s a DIY system or observe installation for professionally installed systems. Once installed, 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.


  • Is ADT expensive?

    As a professionally installed system that also requires professional monitoring, ADT is more expensive than DIY security systems like SimpliSafe, abode, Cove, and Ring Alarm. However, compared to similar systems like Vivint and Brinks, ADT’s pricing is competitive, especially with financing plans for equipment.

  • How much does an ADT security system cost?

    The cost of an ADT system depends on size and components of the system. A basic equipment package can cost as little as $370, but a comprehensive system can cost more than $1,000. To offset this cost, ADT offers flexible financing plans. You can pay for your equipment over the course of 24 to 60 months, with fees ranging from less than $10 to $30+ per month. After that, you’ll pay a monthly monitoring fee, which is somewhere in the $25 to $40 range.

  • Do ADT systems require a landline?

    No, ADT systems have dual-path communication technology. The control panel communicates with the monitoring center and the ADT app via Wi-Fi, but in case it goes offline, it can use the built-in cellular chip to maintain constant communication.

  • How many cameras can I have with my ADT system?

    An ADT control panel can handle up to 40 cameras. That’s more than enough for most homes. We typically recommend having two to three cameras outdoors and two security cameras for indoor protection.

  • What happens if I cancel my ADT contract and monitoring?

    ADT security systems are leased, not owned, so if you cancel your monitoring service, ADT will pull out your security system. If you’re still under contract, you may also be liable for an early termination fee.

Citations only uses high-quality sources to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. FBI. (2017). Crime Clock.

  2. International Association of Certified Home Inspectors. (2024). Burglar-Resistant Homes.

Rob Gabriele
Written By
Rob Gabriele
Managing Editor & Home Security Expert

As a home security expert and Managing Editor for, Rob Gabriele has written and edited over 1,000 articles related to home security. His expertise is in smart 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 Indianapolis, IN.