SafeHome.org may receive compensation from some providers listed on this page. Learn More
We may receive compensation from some providers listed on this page. Learn More
ADT is known for its professionally installed and monitored systems, but is the security giant’s foray into the world of DIY worth it?
ADT has long been recognized as a leader in the home security space. It has been around for over a century, and its professionally monitored and installed systems have been protecting people’s homes and families for generations.
As Bob Dylan once sang, however, the times, they are a changin’. An increasing number of homeowners are enjoying the benefits of DIY home security systems — namely their customizability and low costs. That can leave more traditional security providers like Brinks and ADT in a lurch. That is, of course, unless they adapt.
It would seem ADT has risen to the occasion, offering its Self Setup packages for homeowners and renters looking for a more modern approach to protect against break-ins. But can these packages compete with the upstarts and disrupters? When we reviewed SimpliSafe, for instance, we found its equipment to be high quality and extremely affordable. Can ADT say the same?
We’ll get into that below, but let’s first contextualize this discussion with some pros and cons.
Now that we have a pretty good idea of what we’re looking at, let’s get our arms around what is being offered.
As we note in our exhaustive ADT review, the company offers high-quality, traditional home security systems. That means you’ll pick up the phone, talk to a sales representative, have someone out to the house to install everything, plunk down the credit card, and continue to pay a not-insignificant monthly fee. Thumbs up from the not-so-hands-on crowd, thumbs down from folks looking to save money by doing it themselves.
That’s why Self Setup exists: to appeal to the DIYers. With this offering, ADT allows you to select from two systems — Starter and Premium — or build your own system from the ground up. Let’s break down the first two, and then we’ll talk about the third in depth.
|ADT Self Setup kit||Starter||Premium|
|Smart home hub||1||1|
|Door and window sensors||4||4|
|ADT yard sign||1||1|
|ADT window stickers||4||4|
|Google Nest Doorbell||1||1|
|Google Nest Hub||None||1|
|Pro monitoring cost||Starting at $24.99 per month||$34.99 per month|
Now wait a minute. The only difference between the Starter and Premium package is the addition of a Google Nest Hub? That’s right, and it actually makes sense. That piece of equipment retails for $99.99, which is the exact difference between the two packages.
Really, though, the “packages” are a bit of a misnomer. They’re actually just suggested starting points, and you’re encouraged to add additional equipment to either of them. You could technically build a Premium package from a Starter just by clicking “add” on the Nest Hub. We’re not sure why ADT chose to do things this way, but we’re sure their marketing team had a reason.
These prices are pretty par for the course with ADT, as you can read about in our guide to ADT’s pricing and packages. They’re not exactly budget friendly, but they’re not exorbitant either.
Pro Tip: If you’re interested, both the Starter and Premium packages are $100 from now until April 3, 2023. There’s always a chance they’ll extend the deal, but you’ll want to act fast to make sure you secure it.
With that in mind, let’s talk about the third option: customizing your own system.
We were pretty excited to start foiling burglars with a fully decked-out smart security system using ADT Self Setup’s customizable option, but we were a little let down by the options. There’s just not as much here as we expected, and it’s all priced just a little too high.
|Google Nest Cam||$179.99|
|Google Nest Doorbell||$179.99|
|Google Nest Cam Indoor||$99.99|
|Door and window sensor||$14.99|
|Flood and temperature sensor||$34.99|
|Google Nest Wi-Fi router||$269.99|
|Google Nest Mini||$49.99|
|Google Nest Hub||$99.99|
|Google Nest Hub Max||$229.99|
|Google Nest Thermostat||$129.99|
|ADT yard sign||$7.79|
|ADT sticker pack (4)||$2.28|
|Nest cam weatherproof cable||$34.99|
|Extended Nest cam weatherproof cable||$39.99|
|Trim kit for Nest Thermostat||$14.99|
|Door and window sensor spacer (4)||$7.99|
You may think that looks pretty comprehensive, but if you know what you’re looking at, this list is a little disappointing for three reasons.
The use of Google Products itself isn’t a drawback at all. As you may know from our review of Google’s cameras, they’re great pieces of equipment. We’re putting this on the cons list because it doesn’t seem like ADT has any sort of partnership with Google — not one that benefits its customers anyway. You’ll still pay retail costs for the equipment you add to your package, and you’ll still have to purchase a Nest subscription to get all the features out of them. That’s on top of the ADT subscription you’ll have to pay.
FYI: Google Nest hasn’t been around all that long — a little under 10 years.2 During that time, though, it has grown to be one of the biggest names in the DIY home security industry.
The good news is you won’t have to have multiple apps to control the equipment in your package. The ADT+ app has native controls for Google Nest equipment, so you’ll be able to monitor your video feeds and check notifications all from one place. That’s definitely a step in the right direction.
We’re not exactly blown away by our options. When you take away the Google equipment and accessories such as signs and cables, there are really only five pieces of equipment to choose from. That doesn’t feel comprehensive, especially when you consider the galaxy of security equipment under the ADT umbrella. We understand that this list of equipment is what the company considers do-it-yourself-able, but we still would have appreciated some more options.
This is all looking a little expensive, especially for what’s billed as a DIY security package. When we built out a security system we would feel confident installing in our own home — one camera, one doorbell, a keypad, a motion sensor, four door sensors, and a smoke detector — we were looking at about $665. If we went with a cheaper provider, such as Ring Alarm, we could get very similar equipment for about $150 less.
Pro Tip: If you’re looking for inexpensive security equipment, you may want to read our guide to the most affordable home security systems in the industry. With one of those systems, you’ll really be able to stretch your security dollar as far as it can go.
To be fair, that’s just the equipment costs. When you go with ADT, you’ll also receive professional monitoring from one of the best names in the business. We named ADT the best home security system with home monitoring this year. So let’s talk about what that entails.
ADT is one of the largest security providers in North America, servicing nearly 6.5 million subscribers.3 It makes sense that its home monitoring is among the best we’ve seen. ADT’s Self Setup system works on the company’s SMART Monitoring platform, which electronically connects you to the police eight times faster than traditional voice. In the event of a break-in, you and your family will be covered.
The secure text platform allows you to manage alerts, requesting police assistance or labeling it a false alarm. There’s also a one-tap emergency-request button in case you’re in an emergency and need immediate help. ADT says it handles more than 95 percent of its critical alarms within 60 seconds, which means help will get to you a lot faster than if you were on your own.
Pro Tip: When you’re talking about monitoring, you’re talking about contracts. If that doesn’t sound appealing to you, check out our list of the best no-contract home security systems and protect your property without bringing ink and paper into the equation.
In that respect, this security system does exactly what you want a security system to do: alert the authorities quickly if there is a break-in and send help as quickly as possible. Is that enough to make the ADT Self Setup system worth it?
ADT is a great security company, and it’s really difficult to go wrong with any of its systems. Its equipment is high quality, and its monitoring is superb. It really is the Cadillac of home security. That was true 100 years ago, and it’s still true today.
That said, not everyone wants a Cadillac. Some people want a Jeep, and if you stick a Jeep owner in a Cadillac, they’ll wonder what all those buttons do and why you can’t take the thing off road.
OK, that’s not a perfect analogy, but we think you get the point. If you’re looking for a DIY home security system, you’ll be looking for things such as inexpensive options, tons of flexibility, self-monitoring plans, and reasons to break out the power tools. Is ADT Self Setup a solid system for protecting your family? Sure. But is it one of the best DIY home security systems? We don’t really think so.
It’s not DIY in every sense of the word, but ADT’s Self Setup systems are the closest thing the provider offers to a do-it-yourself option.
There are affordable options available from ADT, but it is one of the pricier home security providers in the industry.
Yes, ADT Self Setup systems require professional monitoring. The packages start at $24.99 per month.
One of the best things about ADT Self Setup is that it’s customizable, meaning you will be able to select the equipment appropriate for your security needs. Outfitting a modest single-family home with one of these systems will likely cost between $500 and $700.
ADT has been around for over a century, and it is one of the largest security providers in North America. It has a great reputation in the security industry, and its monitoring data demonstrates some of the fastest response times available.
ADT. (2023). Our History.
Encyclopedia. (2022, Nov 9). Google Home.
Statista. (2022, Apr). Vendors of electronic security systems and services in the United States ranked by number of subscribers from 2015 to 2021.