ADT has been on the market for well over 100 years and is a major player in all things home security. But when it comes to smart security systems, are they truly the best out there? Today, we compare ADT security vs. Brinks — another security industry leader. Long story short, ADT’s extreme expense holds it back from taking the top spot.
Brinks is just all around the better option — largely due to the huge cost savings you’ll enjoy by passing on ADT. The company offers two different home security options: Home Complete and Home Complete with Video — both of which we’ll cover in this comparison.
Below, we’ll break down the similarities and differences between Brinks and ADT. Read on for a full picture of what each system has to offer, or use our navigation bar to jump directly to the section that interests you most.
Brinks vs. ADT — Differences
Difference #1: Subscriptions & Contract – The first major difference we’ll discuss when comparing Brinks vs. ADT is the way that they approach subscriptions and contracts. To get the full extent of features out of either system, you’ll need to pay an ongoing monthly fee and agree to a contract. The two brands differ in how they approach their plans, however, and Brinks is overall much more affordable than ADT.
Brinks offers two different plans — Brinks Home Complete and Brinks Home Complete with Video. Regardless of your choice of subscription, you’ll be on the hook for a 3-year contract.
Brinks Home Complete is the base plan and costs $29 per month with a $249.50. This plan comes with an IG Gen 2 Security Panel, 3 Door/Window Sensors, and 1 motion detector, and includes access to 24/7 monitoring, LiveVoice Assist, Crash&Smash Protection, Geofencing, Smartphone Control, and Home Automation.
Brinks Home Complete with Video costs $39 per month and requires an equipment fee of $299.50. The only difference between this plan and the cheaper option is the addition of live video streaming and cloud video storage, as well as an indoor camera.
ADT has a 3-year contract as well, and offers 4 different packages — ranging from the entry-level option with no app support, to ADT Pulse with video monitoring and home automation. Keep in mind, too, that professional installation is required, so you’ll usually be paying for the labor associated with that process as well.
For the most basic plan, you’ll be paying $26.99 per month which essentially just includes home monitoring through a landline. You’ll have to pay extra for cellular monitoring, as well as environmental monitoring like fire/smoke, carbon monoxide, and flood.
Each subscription from there gets progressively more expensive, with the high-end plan costing $58.99 per month with access to app control, home automation, and video monitoring.
Long story short, Brinks offers the same features for significantly less money. A $20 cheaper monthly fee will only make the savings with Brinks even more extreme over the life of your contract.
Difference #2: Video Monitoring – With their high-end plans, both Brinks and ADT offer options for video monitoring, with differing camera solutions available to customize your home security to your needs.
Adding a home security camera into Brinks requires that you are subscribed to the Brinks Home Complete with a Video plan. This plan includes a single indoor camera with live video streaming and cloud video storage, although you can expand your system with other video options to offer more comprehensive coverage.
One thing that makes Brinks pretty unique as far as the security cameras go is that they are closely integrated into your security system rather than being a separate entity. This means that rather than arming and disarming your cameras, this will be handled automatically as you arm and disarm the main security system itself. This close integration also allows for a feature called ‘smart video capture” that will automatically start recording when a sensor is triggered.
The subscription plan includes the ability to store up to 1000 30-second clips each month, which should be more than enough for most homes. Just keep in mind that the cellular backup of the main Brinks system will not work with your cameras — they require WiFi at all times in order to function properly.
There are several options available for Brinks video monitoring.
The Indoor 1080p WiFi Camera for $249 gives an excellent resolution, night vision, an impressive 113-degree field of view, and two-way audio. Alternatively, you could go with the Indoor Dome Hi-Res IP Video Camera at the same price for a new vantage point as a ceiling-mounted camera.
Keeping an eye on the outside of your home can be just as important as monitoring the interior, so the Outdoor 1080p WiFi Camera for $349 is an excellent addition to your video equipment as well. It’s well-equipped to weather the elements and offers infrared night vision and an 88-degree field of view.
Brinks also works well with the Skybell Trim Plus, which is a super convenient video doorbell that allows you to easily “answer your door” using a smartphone or tablet. As soon as someone rings your door, you’ll instantly receive an alert on your phone with a video feed of who is there — and you can even communicate with them using two-way audio right on your phone. Plus, an impressive 180-degree field of view and color night vision ensures that you’ll have full coverage of the front of your home, day or night. Another excellent option is Skybell HD, check out our take on Skybell HD vs. Skybell Trim Plus for more details.
Last but not least is the Image Sensor. This is a pretty unique piece of equipment, and it’s actually not a traditional video camera as well. This works directly with the motion sensor features of your main security system and will snap a photo whenever it detects movement to give you a clear picture of any activity within your home.
ADT’s video equipment is a little bit less impressive for a few different reasons.
Just like Brinks, ADT offers options for indoor, outdoor, and video doorbell cameras.
The ADT Pulse HD Indoor Wireless Camera offers 720p recording with a 90-degree field of view. The Outdoor Camera has identical features with the addition of weatherproofing, and thus costs a little bit more.
The video doorbell has many of the same features as a lot of other basic models on the market, with a 720p resolution and 180-degree field of view to give you a clear picture of the front of your home.
There are a couple of notable downsides to ADT. The most obvious is that their camera lineup is less advanced. The 720p resolution is notably lower quality than the 1080p offered by Brinks, and they don’t even have options for a dome camera or image sensor. Perhaps more egregious, however, is the fact that none of ADT’s video equipment can record audio. The company cites state laws as the reason for this omission, but it’s a major downside when compared to competitors when you consider that having access to intruders’ conversations can make a huge difference when trying to bring them to justice.
Overall, if video monitoring is a major priority for you, there’s no denying that Brinks is the better buy. Not only is the camera and monitoring system more advanced, it’s significantly cheaper too!
Difference #3: Hub Sensors – Most of the monitoring is handled through the sensors placed around your home, with data transmitted back to the hub in the event of activity. One aspect of Brinks that sets is apart from ADT and most competitors, however, is the addition of Crash & Smash — a patented Alarm.com technology that helps keep your security equipment protected.
Other security systems are vulnerable since an intruder that is quick enough can just smash the panel — rendering the monitoring ineffective. Brinks gets around this issue by sending a “soft alert” the instant that activity is detected. This soft alert will be automatically updated to an emergency call if you’re unable to inform the monitoring center that you’re okay — regardless of any damage intruders can do to your monitoring equipment.
In addition to that protection feature, the control panel also features a built-in front camera that will record who is arming and disarming the system for some extra security.
Unfortunately, ADT doesn’t offer any feature similar to Crash & Smash, nor a camera in the panel itself.
Difference #4: Geofencing – Brinks includes a geofencing feature called “location-based control” that will be able to sense when you arrive and leave your home. This allows the system to do things like arm and disarm your security automatically based on whether you’re at home or away, or even do some convenient tasks like automatically turn up your thermostat when you get home from work.
Location-based control takes a lot of the effort out of keeping your home protected and really makes the Brinks system feel intelligent. It’s a feature we sorely miss with ADT.
Difference #5: ASAPer – When a sensor is tripped, most security systems will have a monitoring service contact you and your trusted contacts. With separate calls going out to separate people, it can sometimes be difficult to determine whether an alarm is legitimate or perhaps an accidental activation.
Brinks addresses this problem with a feature known as ASAPer. When a sensor is tripped, ASAPer will connect your whole family in a chatroom that can be accessed on a smartphone, tablet, or computer. This happens much faster than traditional security systems are usually able to contact all family members, but we feel that the most important aspect of ASAPer is easy and automatic communication.
ASAPer can be the difference between sending the police to your house when a babysitter forgets to deactivate the system, and successfully recognizing a false alarm. It’s also a very useful utility in the event of an actual emergency, as it gets everyone connected in one place without the need to juggle around different platforms.
Ultimately, ASAPer is a very unique system and one of our favorite parts about Brinks Security. Unfortunately, ADT doesn’t have any similar features.
Difference #6: Multiple Keypads Support – The keypad is the primary way that you’ll control your security system, so it’s important that they are placed in a central location. One of the biggest advantages that ADT has over Brinks is the fact that they support additional keypads.
In apartments or smaller homes, a single pad near the main entrance may be enough to provide easy access to arm and disarm your system. However, larger properties with multiple floors will start to realize pretty quickly that the single digital keypad from Brinks can be very limiting.
With ADT, you can purchase as many panels as you want, ensuring that you have access to security system control on each floor — or even near every door.
Difference #7: Technology – Both Brinks and ADT have similar technology when it comes to the main aspects of their communication, with the brunt of the data being transmitted over WiFi. ADT expands on this functionality with Z-Wave — one of the most popular smart home control frequencies that gives the potential for integration with a wide variety of devices.
However, Brinks uses Z-Wave Plus, the next generation of Z-Wave technology with increased range, battery life, and 250% more bandwidth. Add to that the fact that Brinks support Bluetooth Low Energy 4.0 as well, and it becomes clear that they are the superior brand from a technology standpoint.
Difference #8: Smart Home Integration – Not only is Brinks more impressive on a technology front, but it also does way more with that technology as well. Your Brinks security system can act as a hub for up to 119 smart home devices and can be easily controlled using Google Home, Amazon Alexa, Alexa, Apple TV, and many other smart home controllers.
The smart home integration with Brinks is some of the most impressive we’ve seen on the market. Options like Nest Thermostat, Alarm.com Smarter Thermostat, Yale Smart Lock, Kwikset Smart Lock, Schlage, GE dimmers, switches, outlets, and modules are just a selection of some of the great products you can sync up with your Brinks system. Check out this compatibility page for a closer look at some other options for integration. Even though it’s not listed on their site, one thing we wanted to add in was how well Brinks works with one of our top picks for smart lighting — Lutron Caseta Wireless.
ADT is decent in terms of smart home integration, but their Z-Wave compatibility is limited to “ADT-approved” devices. Some notable partners include Amazon Alexa, Google Home, Ring Video Doorbell, Nest Thermostat, Kwikset Smart Lock, and the company’s own smart thermostats, garage door controller, lights & switches, and smart plugs.
Simply put, Brinks is the far better option if you’re looking for a security system that will integrate well with the rest of your home. There are just so many more options, and the system’s underlying technology is more current and better utilized.
Difference #9: Internet Connection – ADT is a little unique when compared to most security systems in the way that their equipment is set up. Your system will connect to the internet through a “hub” that has to be hooked into the ethernet cable. This base station serves as the main way that your sensors and panels will communicate and also relays information to the monitoring center. The actual control of your system is handled through a keypad on the panel with much more flexible placement, but the necessity of having the hub hooked into your router creates more clutter around your internet equipment and takes up a valuable port.
Brinks has a single panel that also functions as the hub, and it is completely wireless. You can place it wherever you please as long as it can hook into your WiFi network.
Ultimately, the Brinks system is a little bit less complicated to get set up and doesn’t require any sort of proximity to your router — making it more flexible in terms of installation.
Difference #10: Installation – Last, but certainly not least, are the differences in the installation process.
Brinks is a DIY system. When you decide to purchase their security system, you’ll answer a few questions so that they can come up with an equipment setup that is designed to suit your individual needs. Everything will be shipped in a box with detailed instructions so you know where to put it — just unbox, place sensors, and activate.
Alternatively, you do have the option for professional installation if you’d like to have an expert handle the setup for you. Brinks Pro Install provides installation of your equipment, testing, and an in-home demonstration so you know exactly how every part of your system works. It will also expand your warranty from 2 years to lifetime coverage, which may make it worth the expense. For installation services, you can pay monthly at a rate of $10 per month or a one-time fee of $199.99. The lifetime warranty is also available without installation for $49.00 if you’d like the coverage but feel like you can handle the install on your own.
One thing to keep in mind, however, is that Brinks professional installation is only available for the two Brinks plans mentioned above. Nest Secure also uses Brinks monitoring services, but their equipment is completely self-installed with no option for expert assistance.
While professional installation is an option with Brinks, it’s required with ADT. While the brand has made great strides in the quality of the technology they have to offer, they are still pretty old school with setup. The installation process is complicated and requires drilling and wiring, and starts at $99 and goes up from there.
If being forced into professional installation wasn’t bad enough, you’ll also have to schedule two different appointments when you sign up for ADT — one for an installation professional to tour your home, and another for them to actually install the equipment.
Overall, it’s an expensive and time-consuming process that really holds ADT back. Plus, since the installation is so complicated and tied to the home, it’s essentially impossible to transfer your security system from one house to the next.
There’s no doubt that Brinks is the more customer-friendly option when it comes to installation. The offer to have a pro handle everything is available should you need it, but you can also handle the whole process start to finish without paying an extra cent.
Brinks vs. ADT — Comparison Chart
|Hub to Router Connection||Wireless||Ethernet (gateway)|
|Battery Backup||Yes||12 Hours|
|Two-Way Audio on a Hub||Yes||Yes|
|Hub Siren||Yes||On a panel, not gateway|
|Extra Siren Support||Yes||Yes|
|Hub Sensors||Crash & Smash||No|
|Keypad||Yes, on a digital panel||Yes, on a digital panel|
|Multiple Keypads Support||No||Yes|
|Disarm Options||App, keychain remote, digital keypad||App, keychain remote, keypad|
|24/7 Professional Monitoring||Yes||Yes|
|Remote Monitoring & Notifications||Subscription required||Subscription required|
|Cellular Backup||Yes||Starting at $48.99|
|Landline Connection||No||Optional (Basic Plan ~$27.99/month)|
Garage Door Tilt, Glass Break,
Image Sensors, Smoke Detectors,
CO Sensor, Flood,
Door & Window Sensors,
Flood, Carbon Monoxide,
Heat, Glass Break
|Remote Panic Button||–||Yes|
|Video Monitoring||Indoor/Outdoor Camera||Yes|
|Monthly Contracts Available||No||No|
|Other Smart Home Compatibility||Skybell, Nest Thermostat,
Alarm.com Smarter Thermostat,
Yale Smart Lock,
Kwikset Smart Lock,
Schlage, GE dimmers, switches,
outlets and modules,
Lutron Caseta Wireless
|Ring Video Doorbell,
Kwikset Smart Lock,
Garage Door Controller,
Lights & Switches, Smart Plugs
|Technology||WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) 4.0
|Professional Installation Required||No||Yes|
Brinks vs. ADT — Things in Common
24/7 Professional Monitoring – When you invest in a smart home security system, one of the biggest considerations to keep in mind with any brand is the quality of their 24/7 professional monitoring. While there are some great solutions for self-monitored systems on the market, part of what makes Brinks and ADT so great is the automatic response in the event of an emergency — sending help to your door when you need it most.
Two-Way Audio on a Hub – Two-Way audio through the hub is actually a pretty unique feature as far as smart home security systems go, and Brinks and ADT are some of the only brands that offer the feature. In addition to being useful as an intercom system to communicate with your family from across the house, the two-way audio feature allows you to instantly get in contact with a Brinks or ADT professional when a sensor is triggered. Being able to communicate directly with the monitoring service directly through the panel makes it easier to identify false alarms as well as send the appropriate help when you find yourself in actual danger.
Cellular Backup –Both Brinks and ADT primarily use WiFi to communicate with their sensors and contact the monitoring service, but what happens if your network goes down? Fortunately, both Brinks and ADT give the option for a cellular backup with their subscription plans that will ensure you always have access to help, regardless of the status of your network. Even the best residential wireless networks sometimes go down, so having that built-in cell service can make all the difference when it comes to keeping you and your family protected.
Battery Backup – When your power goes down, your security shouldn’t go down along with it. Brinks and ADT systems are both equipped with a battery backup that will kick in in the event of an outage to keep your sensors running as normal. ADT’s battery backup lasts for 12 hours, which should be more than enough time for your utility company to get things back up and running in most situations. Brinks doesn’t give any information as to the battery life of their backup, but we at least know that the option is there to avoid dropping your security completely.
Siren – The siren is a crucial part of any security system, as it can both alert your family to danger and scare off potential intruders. Like most security systems, Brinks and ADT have a siren built into their main panel. However, they both have the option to place additional add-on sirens around your house as well to ensure the alarm is heard loud and clear in the event of an emergency.
Brinks’ IQ Siren is especially impressive, as it can plug into a standard outlet and act as a repeater in your Z-Wave network. It also includes a rechargeable backup battery and three LED lights that will strobe when the siren is triggered, which adds to the alarm’s reliability and is especially useful for the hearing-impaired.
Sensors – Regardless of your choice in brand, you’ll have access to a whole lineup of sensors that work together to provide comprehensive security coverage to your home.
Both ADT and Brinks offer options like Door & Window, Motion, Carbon Monoxide, Smoke, Temperature, Flood and Glass Break sensors that should meet the needs of most any homeowners.
As for the aspects that set these two brands apart, ADT offers additional coverage for Entryways while Brinks supports Garage Doors, Tilt, and Image sensors.
Ultimately, we think the sensor setup between the two brands is pretty similar, although we do have to admit that the Brinks collection is a little bit more impressive.
Key Fobs – The primary way you’ll arm or disarm your system is through the keypad, or perhaps through the mobile app. However, key fobs are available with each brand that makes it easy to activate or deactivate security with a simple press of a button. It’s a great option to have for when your hands are full and is also the perfect solution for granting easy access to your friends and family without having to give out a security code.
Brinks vs. ADT — Our Thoughts
Ultimately, when comparing ADT vs. Brinks home security systems, we feel the choice is pretty clear. Not only is Brinks superior in a lot of different ways such as their better smart home integration, unique Crash&Smash, and ASAPer features, and top-notch video equipment — they’re significantly less expensive too!
Ultimately, we don’t really feel like there’s any real reason to buy ADT over Brinks. This is one rare situation where Brinks is superior in almost every metric.
For some even less expensive options that ditch the long term contract, there are some other options available as well. Head on over to our Ring vs. Nest Security System comparison for some less-traditional takes on smart home security.
For more information about ADT Pulse security system, check out our ADT Pulse Review — Things You Should Know article.
Last update on 2020-11-29 at 11:00 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API