When it comes to home security, few names are more recognizable with ADT. The company has a great reputation, and for the most part, that popularity is well deserved. The features of the system are pretty solid overall, but the brand is held back by expensive prices and varying levels of customer service at their local retail locations. While ADT monitoring is certainly a viable option for home security, it’s likely not a great pick for homeowners on a budget.
Some of the most notable features that ADT brings to the table are the mobile control and alerts through the ADT Pulse app, as well as the CellGuard wireless monitoring service that protects your home through six different monitoring services — all without a landline.
The system is held back from its full potential due to its high monthly fees and strict contract requirements. If you opt for ADT security, you’ll be looking at a 3-year commitment at a minimum, with early cancellation charging you 75% of your remaining contract.
Navigate this article:
What is ADT Pulse?
ADT has been in the home security game since long before the advent of smart technology, but their most modern security system takes advantage of the latest the industry has to offer.
ADT Pulse takes the premium protection that the brand is known for and updates it with mobile controls and voice control from Amazon Alexa. There’s also a dedicated ADT Pulse Voice functionality for those who want to be able to control their smart devices without an Echo.
Pulse also does a good job of integrating with other smart technology, which allows you to do things like program your thermostat to save energy when your family is away from home, or to turn on the house lights when it starts to get dark.
ADT’s smart home features are made possible by Z-Wave — the same frequency used by competitors like Vivint or Frontpoint. But you’ll likely end up paying more with ADT, which is definitely frustrating.
The main ADT Pulse hub is the heart of the security and home automation technology. From this central panel, you’ll be able to control your sensors and other smart products, and you’ll be instantly notified on the panel itself if a part of your system goes offline — making it easy to ensure your connected home is constantly up and running.
Mobile control of your Pulse system requires an ongoing monthly fee, but the Pulse app gives you access to your systems status and the ability arm/disarm your sensors, check in on motion detection, turn off your lights, and lock your doors. When the system is tripped, you’ll receive a status alert right in your device and ADT will be ready and waiting to dispatch the police if needed.
ADT Pulse — Cost: Packages & Equipment
Overall, ADT Pulse is a pretty solid security system. There’s one major downside, however, and that’s the price. ADT has been in the security game for a long time, and although their technology has been updated to keep up with advances in smart technology, their pricing definitely feels dated when compared to more recent startups like abode.
The pricing structure is pretty similar to what you’d see with other players like Vivint or Frontpoint. You’ll pay an upfront installation cost and then pay for all the equipment at once or spread over the first three months. After you’d paid for installation and the equipment, you’ll need to continue paying monthly to access features like 24/7 monitoring — and many of the features that make ADT competitive security are only available with the more premium subscriptions.
The entry-level plan with ADT is called Basic Security and is available for $27.99 per month. This includes the security system, professional monitoring, panel, motion sensor, wireless sensors, and a wireless remote. For another $2 per week, you can add in equipment service protection. The main downside to this plan is that you’ll need a landline for it to work, so those who don’t have one will have to opt for the next tier up.
Basic Security + Wireless Connect costs $48.99 per month and is pretty much the same as Basic Security except with cell service instead of relying on a landline.
The third tier is ADT Pulse Monitoring for $52.99 which adds in home automation and mobile control while away from home, and ADT Pulse + Video is the most premium plan with all previously mentioned features and additional support for cameras.
The majority of the expense with ADT Pulse comes through the relatively expensive high monthly fees since you’ll have to have one of the more premium plans if you want to have full control over your system. Unlike some competitors that have mobile control implemented by default, you won’t be able to access your system remotely at all unless you’re willing to pay at least $52.99 per month.
You’ll also need to keep in mind the expense of the ADT equipment. Check out the chart below for a better look at the pricing of the major security components.
|Basic||Basic Wireless||ADT Pulse||ADT Pulse + Video|
|Contract length||36 months||36 months||36 months||36 months|
|Fire, CO2, and Medical Alert Protection||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Cloud video storage||No||No||No||Yes|
ADT Pulse Equipment Pricing
|Indoor HD Camera||$199-$299|
|ADT Video Doorbell||$199|
|Outdoor Night HD Camera||$250-$399|
|Yale Touchscreen Lock||$299.00|
|Kwikset Smartcode Lock||$175-$299|
|In-Wall Light Dimmer||$69-$79|
|ADT Pulse Dimmable Bulb||$59|
ADT Pulse — Contract
The pricing is already pretty unattractive, but what really holds ADT back from being a truly competitive option are the restrictive contracts. Competitors like SimpliSafe or abode have no contract and let you drop service whenever you want, while ADT requires a minimum commitment of three years.
Also, if you were to move during your contract period, ADT would need to install a system at your new home for a cost of $249 since you won’t be able to transfer your existing equipment. Then you’ll have to pay for additional equipment if you want to get your security back to the way it was before. There’s a 25% discount up to $750 in purchases that helps reduce the cost a bit, but it’s still frustrating when there are so many other systems that offer comparable security with the ability to transfer your service at will.
The contracts and lack of portability make ADT a truly poor choice for apartment dwellers or those who need to move frequently. In those cases, we’d recommend an alternative like Vivint or SimpliSafe, or perhaps a DIY security kit like abode.
If you own your home and don’t plan to move in the near future, ADT has some good security and automation functionality to offer. It’s just not the best choice if you’re not able to stay put for at least 3 years.
ADT Pulse — Video Monitoring
For video monitoring solutions, ADT Pulse works with the ADT Pulse Video Doorbell and Wireless Cameras.
The doorbell has a 720p resolution, a 180-degree field of view. It’s missing some features present on other video doorbells like Ring or Nest Hello, but it’s still a great option for keeping an eye on your home’s main entryway.
The Pulse HD indoor camera is the around the same price and has a 90-degree view that should be more than sufficient for keeping an eye on a room. The outdoor camera is functionally identical but is more expensive since it is weatherproofed and designed to withstand more drastic changes in temperature.
Pulse cameras are built with an auto-record feature that is triggered by motion sensors. When activity is detected, your cameras will record a 30-second video clip and store it in the ADT Pulse cloud for easy access via the Pulse app. Videos will be stored for 30 days and can be downloaded using the ADT web portal if you’d like to save footage for a longer period of time.
ADT Pulse — Smart Home Integration
As far as smart home functionality goes, ADT actually isn’t too bad. It certainly isn’t taking full advantage of its support for Z-Wave frequencies, but you’ll have access to a decent lineup of smart products from ADT and other major smart technology brands.
ADT works with Ring Video Doorbell, Nest Thermostat, and Kwikset Smart Lock. The system also interfaces well with the brand’s own smart thermostat, garage door controller, lights & switches, and smart plugs. While the home automation of ADT falls short of a system like Vivint, it’s still a major part of the Pulse brand and a major draw for many homeowners.
The list provided is just a small part of ADT’s integration, but it’s important to remember that not all Z-Wave devices will work with ADT Pulse. ADT has a relatively small list of “ADT Approved” devices that will be able to work well with the security system, but even some of their partnered brands don’t have their full functionality enabled. For example, the Ring doorbell doesn’t have its camera integrated into the ADT app.
There are certainly flaws with ADT’s smart home integration, but in general, it’s one of the better brands we’ve seen as far as smart tech goes.
Just keep in mind that home automation isn’t available by default. Unless you sign up for at least the $52.99 per month fee, none of this utility will be accessible.
Why ADT Pulse is a Good Choice?
Monitoring Centers – ADT has an impressive history in the security industry, and their monitoring is some of the best around. With six monitoring centers spread around the US, the company has a significant amount of resources to dedicate to security so you’ll see a quick response in the event of an emergency.
24/7 Customer Service – Many security companies have limited customer support hours, but that can be limiting since problems can happen day or night and it’s important that your security be up and running at all times. ADT is one of the few security companies that has 24/7 access to customer service for a quick resolution of any problems that arise.
Professional Installation – For those who don’t want to deal with installing a security system on their own, ADT is an excellent solution. Professional installation is required, which means you can sit back and relax as a technician handles all the details.
Why ADT Pulse is a Bad Choice?
Technician Visits Your Home – When you first decide to buy an ADT system, a technician will have to come tour your home and make recommendations for the types of equipment you’ll need. Only after that initial visit will an installation appointment be scheduled, which makes getting set up with ADT more inconvenient and take a lot longer than DIY brands where you can just order all the equipment off the web.
Expensive Cost – Just to unlock the majority of the features you’ll need to really enjoy your security system, you’ll be paying around $52.99 per month. Plus, when you consider the costs of all the equipment and installation fees, outfitting an average-sized home could cost over $1500.
Contracts – At a minimum, you’ll need to commit to 36 months of service with ADT. This makes the brand a poor choice for renters, people who aren’t sure whether they’ll be in the area long term or even people who just want some flexibility with their security.
ADT Pulse — Our Thoughts
ADT is one of the most reputable brands and has a proven track record, so they may be worth the buy for some homeowners. There’s certainly no doubt that their security is solid and will do a great job of keeping you and your family protected, but the high equipment costs, high monthly fees, and long contracts may be off-putting to many buyers.
The reputation that ADT has is reason enough for many people to trust them with their home security, but there are a lot of new players that are starting to challenge the brand’s market dominance. It’s possible to save a significant amount of money and enjoy comparable security at the same time. Check out our abode review for a breakdown of what our favorite security system has to offer.
Last update on 2020-06-03 at 16:59 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API