ADT vs. Ring Alarm — Differences Explained

ADT vs. Ring Alarm

While it’s important to do your research before making any sort of major purchase, having the best possible home security system is especially important. The home security industry has come a long way in recent years, and when comparing Ring vs. ADT, it’s clear that the Ring Alarm system has the advantage.

ADT has been in the security business for far longer than Ring, which is a comparatively new brand. This time spent protecting thousands of home across the world has helped ADT figure out what works and what doesn’t, but in this case, coming to prominence before the advent of smart technology seems to be holding ADT back. The company is still holding on to expensive long term contracts, while Ring makes getting home set up with comprehensive protection easier than ever before.

Below we go into detail on the similarities and difference between these two systems. However, feel free to use the navigation bar to jump directly to the sections that interest you most.

ADT vs. Ring Alarm — Differences

  • Difference #1: Hub to Router Connection – The first difference when comparing ADT vs. Ring Alarm is the way that the security systems attach to the router. Since both systems use the internet to send and receive data, it’s important that they have a solid connection at all times. However, ADT only offers the ability to connect to the gateway via ethernet, while Ring Alarm supports both Ethernet and Wireless.

    The main disadvantage of only having access to ethernet is the fact that it severely limits your option for hub placement. ADT is limited to a short area around the router, while Ring Alarm can be placed anywhere within your wireless network. This makes Ring a lot more convenient, and also has security implications since you can place your system in a central location that is easy to access in the event of an emergency.

  • Difference #2: Hub Battery Backup – Both hubs include a battery that will kick in in the event of an outage, which keeps your security system running as normal even in the absence of power. However, Ring Alarm’s battery can power the sensors for up to 24 hours, while ADT will only run for 12. In those rare occasions where it takes a long time to get power back online, that extra battery capacity could make all the difference.

  • Difference #3: Two-Way Audio on Main Panel – One major advantage that ADT offers with their security system is the two-way audio feature on their main panel. In addition to functioning as an intercom that lets you communicate with your family from across your home, the two-way audio is actually an important security feature.

    When the home alarm system is triggered or the panic button is activated, a two-way audio link with the ADT monitoring system will start up. You and an ADT professional can communicate directly through the panel without having to pick up a phone. In the event that your life is in danger and you can’t respond, the security professional will be able to listen in, determine the status of your emergency, and quickly dispatch the appropriate help to come to your aid.

    There is no analogous feature with Ring Alam, which definitely detracts some useful utility that could come in handy in a pinch.

  • Difference #4: Siren – The siren is a key part of your security system, as it can both alert your family of danger and scare off any intruders before they harm you or your home. These two brands differ in the way they handle sirens, although they both offer some degree of flexibility when it comes to outfitting your home.

    The Ring Alarm has a siren built into the main hub and keypad, and also offers the ability to purchase add-on sirens. Overall, you shouldn’t have any issues making sure the entirety of your home is covered by the alarm system.

    ADT has no gateway siren, but they do have one on the main panel as well as access to add-on sirens.

    Ring clearly has a slight edge, although, with access to add-on sirens, the practical difference is minimal.

  • Difference #5: Keypad – There are also some differences when it comes to the way that ADT and Ring Alarm handle keypads. Since the keypad is likely the main way that you’ll access your security system while at home, it’s important that you have easy access in a convenient, central location. Both brands offer some flexibility when it comes to keypad placement, but that flexibility is there by default with Ring while it requires an extra purchase with ADT.

    ADT’s keypad is tied to the control panel, which is somewhat limiting when it comes to placement. They do offer the ability to purchase additional keypads to place where you please, but it’s never fun to have to add extra expense to an investment that is already pretty significant.

    The Ring Alarm keypad is separate, wireless, portable, and rechargeable. Since it’s not tied to the base, you can place it wherever you please — plus there’s always the option to add in extra pads in different points of entrance throughout your home.

    If you’re planning to purchase extra pads, the two brands are functionally identical. If you’re just using the one, however, Ring Alarm certainly has the edge since the main keypad is so flexible by default.

  • Ring Alarm Keypad
    205 Reviews
  • Difference #6: Key Fobs – Ring has a significant edge in almost every metric, but one of its major shortcomings is the lack of support for key fobs. With ADT, you’ll have a button hanging on your keys that you can use to easily arm or disarm your system. This is majorly convenient in those cases where your hands are full and you don’t want to fumble with a phone or keypad.

    Arming and disarming on Ring Alarm is limited to the keypad and the app. This isn’t the end of the world, but we’re definitely missing some utility that is present by default with ADT.

  • Difference #7: Subscription – Both ADT and Ring Alarm offer a subscription package, but there’s one key difference: ADT’s subscription is necessary to enable some of the system’s most basic features, while Ring Alarm is simply a small fee each month to support 24/7 professional monitoring.

    ADT offers three different subscription packages: Traditional, Control, and Video. These plans have varying features at different price points, but they all require a $125 upfront equipment fee to get things started.

    The ADT Traditional package is the most basic but is still more expensive than options from competitors at $48.99 per month. The main draw of this plan is access to 24/7 professional monitoring with a cellular connection. This package comes with four door and window sensors and offers fire, carbon monoxide, and flood monitoring services.

    The Control package is the mid-tier subscription plan and is available for $52.99 per month. This adds in support for home automation, which gives you more control over your alarm system regardless of whether you’re at home or away. Control is required for remote web and mobile access, and also adds in email and text notifications that will alert you instantly in the event that your sensors are triggered.

    The Video package costs $58.99 per month and adds in support for the ADT Pulse wireless cameras and video doorbells.

    Ring’s subscription plan, on the other hand, is significantly more straightforward. Just pay $10 per month for access to 24/7 monitoring. All other features are included with no additional fee, so if you’re not interested in using the monitoring service you’ll be able to use your security system for years to come without any ongoing costs.

    ADT’s subscription plans are expensive for the industry in general, and especially when compared to Ring Alarm. When you add in the fact that ADT’s plans require a long term contract while Ring Alarm’s plans are month-to-month, it’s pretty clear that Ring is significantly cheaper and significantly less restrictive when it comes to keeping your home protected.

  • Difference #8: Landline Connection – Ring Alarm offers the ability to add in a landline connection for $27.99 per month as another form of redundancy in the event that your internet goes down. This is technically an advantage for ADT, as it adds in more choices and a greater degree of flexibility than Ring has to offer, but we don’t feel that paying for landline support is a great idea.

    Landline service with ADT is pretty expensive, and the technology is far inferior to cellular connections for security systems since enterprising intruders can simply cut the lines — rendering your system ineffective.

    It’s good that the option is there, but we see little reason to take advantage of it.

  • Difference #9: Sensors – Both systems have their own advantages when it comes to sensors, although we feel that the features offered with Ring are a little bit more useful.

    As far as basic coverage goes, both systems offer support for entryway, motion, carbon monoxide, and water sensors.

    ADT also supports door & window sensors and glass break sensors that can alert you instantly if an intruder tries to break your window, as well as heat sensors that can alert you to temperature swings that could be dangerous for your pets or piping.

    Ring, on the other hand, adds in the Alarm Smoke & CO Listener, which is a pretty unique offering that allows you to keep your existing smoke and carbon monoxide alarms. Rather than replacing your current equipment, these sensors will listen for the sound of the alarms and alert you when they go off. This saves you the hassle of swapping out your existing technology and also gives you the flexibility to choose the models that you feel best suit the needs of your home.

    The “better” lineup of sensors is largely going to depend on what you’re looking for with your security system, although we personally feel that the features unique to Ring are a little bit more useful.

    On another note, both Ring Alarm and ADT support additional Z-Wave sensors, although the support is limited and they cannot be used for security purposes or to dispatch the police.

  • Difference #10: Remote Panic Button – Another major downside for Ring is the lack of a remote panic button.

    In the event of an emergency, it’s important to have easy access to emergency services. While it may be possible to get to the panel to press a button to alert the authorities, it can sometimes be difficult to get to the keypad for elderly or disabled family members or in the event of serious danger. ADT addresses this issue with a remote, wearable panic button. You can wear it on a pendant around your neck, and separate buttons allow you to call for police, fire, or medical — giving you complete access to emergency services in the event of an emergency. The panic button is also present on the key fob and panel, which gives you a multitude of options to quickly call for help.

    A glaring issue with the Ring Alarm is the lack of any sort of remote panic feature. You’ll need to press two buttons on the keypad simultaneously, which honestly might not always be possible.

  • Difference #11: Smart Home Integration – When it comes to smart home integration, neither brand is particularly impressive. With that said, ADT definitely has the edge with much greater support for third-party products (Check out the ADT Plus Approved Devices Page).

    In addition to the ADT-branded Garage door controller, lights & switches, smart thermostat, and smart plugs, the security system also works with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa, Ring Video Doorbell, Nest Thermostat, and the Kwikset Smart Lock.

    While ADT’s integration isn’t as impressive as some other options on the market, it’s certainly better than what you have access to with Ring. The Ring Alarm system currently only works with other Ring products, which include smart doorbells and security cameras as well as Schlage Connect Z-Wave.

    The only real advantage that Ring has over ADT when it comes to integration is that Schlage Connect is pretty solidly a better smart lock that the Kwikset Kevo. If you’re in a market for a quality lock, check out our comparison of Kwikset Kevo vs. Schlage Connect.

  • Difference #12: Technology – It’s plain to see from their smart home capabilities that neither ADT or Ring Alarm are particularly impressive when it comes to integration. However, some advantages with technology technically give Ring a significant edge when it comes to the potential for integration.

    ADT communicates with its sensors using WiFi, although Z-Wave support gives it access to one of the most prevalent smart home frequencies. Z-Wave, along with Zigbee, covers the vast majority of smart technology, which means ADT technically has the ability to support a whole host of products. However, compatibility is currently limited to “ADT approved” devices, which is a laughably small list when compared to the huge lineup of products it could interface with.

    Ring Alarm uses WiFi and Z-Wave as well, but it also has access to Zigbee and Bluetooth — making the potential for integration nearly limitless. It’s definitely disappointing that Ring is so limited on the smart home front, but it has a lot of potential and the company was recently acquired by Amazon. With the technology behind the Ring and the resources of Amazon, the sky’s the limit when it comes to the future of this technology.

    However, you’re buying the product now and not in the future, which makes the advantage more theoretical than it is practical. The support for additional frequencies is certainly an advantage, but you’re not currently going to get much use out of it.

  • Difference #13: Installation – Last but not least, there are some significant differences when it comes to ease of installation.

    Ring is a DIY solution that is easy to set up right out of the box. You should have your security system up and running in less than an hour, and the equipment is completely portable — making it a perfect solution for renters.

    ADT’s security system is a holdover from the world of more traditional monitoring setups. You’ll need to pay a $99 installation fee and have a professional wire your home, which is definitely a bit of a hassle. It is a valuable option for those who want a system that just works without the hassle of installation, but with how easy it is to install Ring Alarm, we don’t really think it’s worth the price.


ADT vs. Ring Alarm — Comparison Chart

ADT Ring Alarm
Hub to Router Connection Ethernet (gateway) Ethernet/Wireless
Hub Battery Backup 12 Hours Up to 24 hours
Two-Way Audio on a Hub Yes No
Hub Siren No Yes
Extra Siren Support Yes Yes
Hub Speaker Yes No
Hub Sensors No N/A
Keypad Yes, on a digital panel Separate, wireless,
portable, rechargeable
Multiple Keypads Support Yes Yes
Key Fobs Yes No
Disarm Options App, keychain remote, keypad App, keypad
24/7 Professional Monitoring Yes Optional
Basic Subscription $48.99/month $10 per month or
$100 annually
Advanced Subscription $58.99/month Only one plan available
Contract Required Yes No
Remote Monitoring & Notifications Subscription required Yes (no subscription required)
Cellular Backup Starting at $48.99 Included with paid plan
Landline Connection Optional
(Basic Plan $27.99)
No
Sensors Entryway, Motion,
Door & Window Sensors,
Flood, Carbon Monoxide,
Heat, Glass Break
Motion, Entry,
Smoke, Carbon Monoxide,
Alarm Smoke & CO Listener,
Water
Remote Panic Button Yes No, but on the keypad
Video Monitoring Yes Yes: variety of indoor
and outdoor Ring Cameras
Monthly Contracts Available No Yes
Google Assistant Yes No
Alexa Yes No
IFTTT No No
Other Smart Home Compatibility Ring Video Doorbell,
Nest Thermostat,
Smart Thermostats,
Kwikset Smart Lock,
Garage Door Controller,
Lights & Switches, Smart Plugs
Schlage Connect Z-Wave,
all Ring products
Technology WiFi, Z-Wave Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n,
2.4GHz or 5GHz,
Z-Wave, Zigbee,
Bluetooth for Setup
DIY Solution No Yes
Professional Installation Required Yes No
Color Mostly White White

ADT vs. Ring Alarm — Things in Common

ADT

  • 24/7 Professional Monitoring – Having a home full of sensors is not nearly as useful when you don’t have someone watching them. 24/7 professional monitoring service are available for both ADT and Ring Alarm, which protects your home with a team of professionals ready to respond in the event of an emergency. While professional monitoring does come with an additional fee, this service remains one of the main reasons that homeowners purchase a security system due to the increased safety and peace of mind.

  • Cellular Backup – Both systems primarily use WiFi to communicate, but it’s a bad idea to have a security system that can be rendered completely ineffective when your internet goes down. Both Ring and ADT have the option to purchase backup cellular service that will kick in if your internet goes down, ensuring your home is protected in those rare (or not so rare) situations where your network isn’t reliable.

  • Video Monitoring – Both ADT and Ring Alarm offer video monitoring services that enhance the protection offered by their sensor systems.

    ADT uses the ADT Pulse Video Doorbell and Wireless Cameras.

    The Doorbell records in 720p HD with a 180-degree view to cover the entire front of your home. For the more traditional wireless cameras, there are options for both indoor and outdoor models. Both of the standard wireless cameras record in 720p and have identical specifications, with the outdoor camera’s housing upgraded to weather the elements.

    One major downside to ADT’s video monitoring is that they do not include the ability to deliver or record audio. The company cites adherence to federal and state laws as the reason for the absence of audio, but it’s still majorly disappointing to have no sound in recordings when audio could make all the difference while collecting evidence.

    The Ring alarm system has a huge range of smart cameras to choose from, covering 720 and 1080p outside and inside cameras with a variety of features. Additionally, Ring also offers their signature smart video doorbells that established their company as a leader in the smart technology scene.

    All in all, while both brands share the commonality of video monitoring services, Ring definitely takes the edge with their higher quality cameras — especially since they do support audio recording as well.


ADT vs. Ring Alarm — Our Thoughts

Ring Alarm App

All in all, when comparing ADT vs. Ring, we feel the superior device is pretty clear. While ADT certainly has some advantages like the two-way audio system and remote panic button, the advantages of Ring Alarm are so significant that it blows its competitor out of the water.

Perhaps the biggest benefit of Ring is the fact that the monthly fee is much more affordable and you won’t be tied into a long-term contract. There’s also the fact that the Ring system is a DIY setup and portable, while ADT makes it much more difficult to move your equipment in the event that you have to change homes. Overall, the flexibility and cost savings with Ring are just so significant that comparison is completely one-sided.

ADT is a great option for those who want a completely hands-off experience, with installation, activation, and control all handled by the security company. However, you’ll need to be prepared to pay a significant amount each month and agree to a long-term commitment.

Simply put, Ring Alarm is the superior choice unless you’re completely averse to a short time spent with an easy DIY setup.

For more information about ADT Pulde and Ring Alarm, check out our ADT Pulse Review — Things You Should Know and Ring Alarm Review — Things You Should Know articles.

Our Score:
  • ADT
  • Ring Alarm
4.5

Let us know what you think!

Have you noticed other differences between ADT vs. Ring Alarm? Feel free to add them or share your experience with the products in the comments section below. Your input can help other people make the right choice!


Last update on 2019-10-20 at 03:10 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

2 Replies to “ADT vs. Ring Alarm — Differences Explained”

  1. Alexa can control some ring functions. It can arm or disarm system and has lock control, there may be more but those where just examples. IFTTT also works with ring if you have something like Philips Hue set up or smart things. For example ringing the door bell could turn on your porch lights, livingroom etc… Ring also has ” ring bridge” which can gives your more automation such as walk way lights coming on for different events.

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