SimpliSafe vs. ADT — Differences Explained

SimpliSafe vs. ADT

SimpliSafe and ADT are two quality brands with a history of providing excellent smart monitoring to thousands of homes around the world. But how do you know which is best? The truth is, ADT has some of the best protection around, but you’ll be locked into a long-term commitment and rack up some serious expense in the process. SimpliSafe, on the other hand, offers a quality DIY solution with no ongoing obligations.

ADT is one of the biggest names in home security, and the company has been protecting homes long before the idea of “smart tech” was a thing. Unfortunately, it seems that old habits die hard, as ADT continues to lock buyers into long-term contracts while charging a premium for service. SimpliSafe lacks some of the features that ADT offers, but with a much lower cost to entry and month-to-month contracts, we feel that is definitely has the edge.

Below we go into detail on the similarities and differences of SimpliSafe vs. ADT. Alternatively, feel free to use the navigation bar to jump directly to the sections that interest you most.

SimpliSafe vs. ADT — Differences

  • Difference #1: Internet Connection – The first difference when comparing SimpliSafe vs. ADT is the way that they hook into the internet. SimpliSafe is completely wireless, which means that you’ll be able to set it up wherever it’s most convenient as long as it has access to your WiFi network.

    ADT, on the other hand, needs to connect to your router via Ethernet. This gives you a lot less flexibility when it comes to installation, as your base will need to be close to your internet equipment unless you want to run Ethernet across your entire home. The main hub of ADT is known as the ADT Pulse gateway, and it links your security panel and devices to your broadband router and modem so that information can be transmitted and received over the internet. The Pulse gateway can be used for all ADT devices, which means you’ll be able to hook in devices like light switches, door locks, cameras, and more in addition to the sensor system.

    All in all, SimpliSafe is definitely a little more convenient to get up and running. Not being tied to the router’s location is a huge benefit that allows you to install your system on your terms rather than in a predetermined location.

  • Difference #2: Battery Backup – Both systems also include a battery backup which will allow them to stay active even when the power goes out. SimpliSafe’s backup will power the system for 24 hours, while ADT will only work for 12. That extra 12 hours can make all the difference in the event of an outage, as it’s not always guaranteed that the system will get up and running too quickly. If you’re really concerned about outages affecting your home protection, consider taking a look at Fortress for access to some of the most impressive battery backups around. Check out our review of Fortress vs. SimpliSafe for a breakdown of what exactly the system has to offer.

  • Difference #3: 24/7 Professional Monitoring – SimpliSafe and ADT both offer 24/7 professional monitoring, although they differ in the way that they go about it.

    With SimplISafe, monitoring is optional and available at an additional cost. The subscription is relatively affordable and is available month-to-month, so you won’t ever feel locked into service you’re not actually using. SimpliSafe monitoring is handled by a third-party service named COPS, but the actual contract for the feature is handled through SimpliSafe for a more convenient experience.

    ADT professional monitoring is included with the contract, and the minimum length of a contract is 36 months. The ADT monitoring is some of the best on the market, with 6 ADT centers keeping an eye on your home for the fastest response possible in the event of an emergency. Monitoring is available using broadband, landline, or cellular, which gives you multiple options at varying price points. Cellular monitoring is the most expensive, but it’s by far the most reliable as it allows for near-tamper-proof service that will continue to function if WiFi were to go down.

    The monitoring with ADT is definitely robust and some of the best we’ve seen, but that 36-month contract is really a killer. More on that below.

  • Difference #4: Subscription – There are some pretty significant differences in the way that these two brands approach subscriptions, and it’s one of the main differences that set these security systems apart from one another.

    SimpliSafe offers two different subscription plans: Standard and Interactive.

    Standard is available for $15 per month and includes several different features that enhance the abilities of your alarm system. In this tier, you’ll have access to 24/7 live alarm monitoring, a cellular connection, and environmental monitoring (required to enable sensors like those that detect smoke, carbon monoxide, temperature, and water.)

    Interactive costs $24.90 per month, and includes all of the above plus control from your smartphone, alerts right on your phone, and secret alerts that will tell you when a sensor is activated without triggering the alarm. In addition to these extra features, you’ll have access to video alarm verification that will allow you to confirm that a threat is real through your security cameras, as well as automatically record activity to help police identify an intruder. Last but not least, the Interactive tier provides camera recording storage for an unlimited number of cameras for up to 30 days and also enables the smart home functionality of SimpliSafe.

    ADT offers three tiers of subscription: Traditional, Control, and Video.

    The Traditional package offers the most basic coverage, but it’s actually a good deal more expensive than the baseline offered by most other smart security manufacturers. You’ll need to pay a $125 upfront fee for wireless keypad entry to cover the entrance to your home, and then a $48.99 monthly monitoring fee for 24/7 monitoring using a cellular connection. When you purchase this package, you’ll have access to four door and window sensors, as well as fire, carbon monoxide, and flood monitoring services. While it is a good deal more expensive than the entry-level plans from other manufacturers, you’re actually getting a good amount of utility for the price.

    The Control package offers the basic coverage mentioned above and expands upon the functionality with additional features. Just like the traditional package, you’ll pay a $125 upfront equipment fee, but the price per month rises to $52.99. In exchange for the additional monthly expense, you’ll enjoy access to home automation, which gives you more control over your security even while you’re away from home. In addition to the remote web and mobile access, you’ll also receive email and text notifications when the security system is triggered.

    Last but not least is the Video Package, which contains everything in the control level and combines it with a Remote Secure Video upgrade. This package is probably the best option for those who want a great degree of control over their home system from afar, as it allows you to tap into your home’s cameras from wherever you are. Just like the previous two plans, you’ll pay $125 up front, but the costs increase even further to $58.99 per month.

    There’s no doubt that ADT offers comprehensive coverage with their subscriptions, but we find it difficult to justify the extra expense when you have access to many of the same features with SimpliSafe for around half the price. We feel that SimpliSafe does have the edge in terms of subscription plans, just due to the fact that they are much more attractively priced.

  • Difference #5: Two-Way Audio with Monitoring Center – One of the biggest perks of opting for an ADT security system is the inclusion of the two-way audio with a monitoring center. Many smart security systems include some sort of intercom functionality, but ADT takes that a step further and integrates it into the protection of your home.

    When your home’s alarm or panic button is activated, the two-way audio will activate and start a conversation with the ADT monitoring center. You and an ADT professional will be able to communicate through a speaker and microphone that are built right into the control panel, with no need to find a phone. Using the intercom, the security monitoring service will be able to determine what’s going on in the home, figure out the nature of your emergency, and send the appropriate help. If an intruder were to break into your home and attack you, it might be difficult to get to a phone, making the two-way communication of the ADT base incredibly powerful. ADT dispatchers can also figure out immediately when a burglar is rummaging through your home and send police assistance immediately.

    Ultimately, this two-way audio system is employed in a way that we haven’t really seen with many ADT competitors and is a major advantage playing in its favor. Unfortunately, there is no analogous feature available with SimpliSafe.

  • Difference #6: Video Monitoring – In addition to the sensors included with the alarm systems, you also have the option to enhance the security with additional video monitoring. Both systems have their own branded cameras that you can use to keep your home safe.

    SimpliSafe has their own 1080p camera, and with a $4.99/month subscription plan, there are a number of cool perks — the most important being recording. Without the subscription, you’ll still be able to check in on your home video feed at any time. However, that 5 bucks a month allows your camera to record 60-second clips anytime it detects motion. If your sensors detect motion, your camera will automatically start recording and send you a push notification that something is going on. In the event of a home invasion, having a camera setup that can capture the face of intruders will make it much easier for the authorities to bring the criminals to justice.

    In addition to the 1080p camera, SimpliSafe also just added in the smart Video Doorbell Pro. This doorbell has a 1080p camera as well and can protect the front of your home with a 162-degree field of view. The two-way audio equipped with noise and echo cancellation minimizes background noise and makes it easy for you to communicate with guests, and heat signature and motion detection will allow the camera to distinguish between humans approaching the door and other types of motion.

    Camera recording for SimpliSafe video monitoring is available on a subscription-based plan for $5 per month for a single camera, or $10 month for unlimited cameras.

    ADT, unfortunately, falls behind SimpliSafe when it comes to security cameras. They, too, offer wireless cameras and a video doorbell, but the resolution falls far short of its competitor. This might not seem like a huge deal, but when you consider that a clear picture can make the difference between identifying a perpetrator and letting them go free, the HD recording of SimpliSafe definitely makes a difference.

    The ADT equipment is also pretty expensive compared to SimpliSafe. There’s also an option for an outdoor camera, but that’s even more expensive. If the expense wasn’t enough, it becomes even less of a good deal when you consider that the ADT Pulse system isn’t able to record or transmit audio.

    All in all, it’s pretty clear that SimpliSafe has the upper hand when it comes to video monitoring.

  • Difference #7: Technology – ADT uses both WiFi and Z-Wave to communicate, and theoretically, the Z-Wave support would give it an advantage over the SimpliSafe’s solely WiFi capabilities. However, ADT only works with a select number of ADT approved Z-Wave devices, which is a very limited list. The company encourages you to select from the approved list of Z-Wave enabled devices to ensure compatibility, but that doesn’t help you much when you already have a home filled with smart devices.

    SimpliSafe uses WiFi which limits the amount of integration possible. However, the system actually does a pretty decent job of incorporating into a connected home. More on that below!

  • Difference #8: Smart Home Integration – SimpliSafe, again, has the upper edge when it comes to Smart Home integration. It isn’t the most compatible system on the market, but it still has a pretty robust lineup of supported products. To begin, you’ll have access to major voice assistants like Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. You’ll also be able to use your Apple Watch to arm and disarm your security system from wherever you happen to be, which is a major perk for those of us invested in the Apple ecosystem.

    SimpliSafe can also inform your Nest Thermostat of when you leave the home, which allows it to adjust the temperature in order to maximize energy savings. Integration with August Smart Lock is also incredibly useful, as the lock can automatically secure your doors when you leave the home, making forgetfulness to lock the door a non-issue.

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    To be honest, for a “smart” security system, ADT isn’t that smart at all. It works with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant devices, and allows you to arm or disarm your system using a verbal four-digit pin. The system also works with Ring Video Doorbell, Nest Thermostat, ADT Smart Thermostat, Kwikset Smart Lock, and ADT Garage door controllers, lights & switches, and smart plugs. That’s pretty much it. With most of the compatibility being limited to the ADT family itself, it’s pretty clear that it will be difficult to integrate an ADT security system into the rest of your home.

  • Difference #9: Installation – Last but not least, there’s a significant difference in the ease of installation when comparing both systems. SimpliSafe offers an easy, DIY installation process that will have everything up and running in less than an hour. Simply place your base station in a central location in your home and within 400 feet of all of your sensors, and then press a button on each part of your security system. Follow the setup process on the keypad, and you’ll have everything set up and ready to go in around 45 minutes.

    ADT has made their system much more user-friendly over the past couple of years, but they still require professional installation for their security systems. This is time-consuming and expensive, with installation starting at $99 and increasing from there depending on the equipment you choose.

    From the upfront cost of equipment to the ongoing monitoring fees to the installation costs, it’s pretty clear that ADT is significantly more expensive. Having to shell out around $100 at a minimum just to have your sensors set up leaves a bad taste in our mouths.


SimpliSafe vs. ADT — Comparison Chart

SimpliSafeADT
Hub to Router ConnectionWirelessEthernet (gateway)
Hub Battery BackupUp to 24 hours12 Hours
Two-Way Audio on a HubNoYes
Hub SirenYesNo
Extra Siren SupportYesYes
Hub SpeakerYesNo
Hub SensorsN/ANo
KeypadSeparate, wirelessYes, on a digital panel
Multiple Keypads SupportYesYes
Key FobsYes (keychain remote)Yes
Disarm OptionsApp, keychain remote, keypadApp, keychain remote, keypad
24/7 Professional MonitoringOptionalYes
Basic Subscription$14.99/month$48.99/month
Advanced Subscription$24.99/month. Adds remote
app controls,
smart home integrations
$58.99/month
Contract RequiredNoYes
Remote Monitoring & NotificationsSubscription requiredSubscription required
Cellular BackupIncluded with paid plansStarting at $48.99
Landline ConnectionNoOptional
(Basic Plan $27.99)
SensorsMotion, Entry,
Glassbreak, Smoke,
Carbon Monoxide,
Temperature, Water
Entryway, Motion,
Door & Window Sensors,
Flood, Carbon Monoxide,
Heat, Glass Break
Remote Panic ButtonYesYes
Video MonitoringYesYes
Monthly Contracts AvailableYesNo
Google AssistantYesYes
AlexaYesYes
IFTTTNoKind of
Other Smart Home CompatibilityApple Watch,
Nest Thermostat,
August Smart Lock
Ring® Video Doorbell,
Nest Thermostat,
Smart Thermostats,
Kwikset Smart Lock,
Garage Door Controller,
Lights & Switches, Smart Plugs
TechnologyWiFiWiFi, Z-Wave
DIY SolutionYesNo
Professional Installation RequiredNoYes

SimpliSafe vs. ADT — Things in Common

ADT

  • Remote Monitoring & Notifications – Remote monitoring and notifications are available for both systems, but they are part of paid plans rather than being available for free. When you opt for a subscription, you’ll have access to remote control of your wireless security system using the SimpliSafe and ADT mobile apps. The subscription also enables mobile alerts from alarm systems and emergency operators, which gives you timely information and easy control of your system from wherever you happen to be.

    If you’re looking to be able to control your system remotely for free and have access to optional short or long term 24/7 professional monitoring, you may want to take a look at abode instead. Check out our take on abode vs. SimpliSafe for more information.

  • Cellular Backup – Cellular backup allows your security to function even in the event of a power outage or lack of WiFi. Cellular monitoring is actually strong enough to cover over 98% of the US population, so you’ll likely have coverage from wherever you happen to be. Even in areas without a strong cell signal, the backup included with the SimpliSafe and ADT systems will keep your system running flawlessly even if burglars cut landlines or service is disrupted by outages.

    Just keep in mind that the feature, again, is locked behind a subscription plan for both SimpliSafe and ADT.

  • Wireless Sensors – One big benefit of both SimpliSafe and ADT is that they use completely wireless sensors. Rather than having to cut into your walls to run wires for setup, your alarm system will use radio waves to communicate with sensors. Some more traditional security systems, like the original ADT, require hardwired connections that are very labor intensive and require professional installation. Fortunately, getting SimpliSafe or ADT up and running is incredibly simple, and you have a wide range of sensors to choose from.

    In terms of the sensors that the alarm systems have to offer, they cover a lot of the same bases. Both SimpliSafe and ADT have motion, entry, glass break, smoke, carbon monoxide, temperature, and water sensors. ADT takes things a step further, however, with door and window sensors as well.

    Ultimately, ADT has a slight edge when it comes to sensors with the inclusion of equipment specifically designed for doors and windows. However, the difference between the two systems in terms of utility is pretty minor, all things considered.

  • Siren – Having sensors to detect intruders isn’t very useful if your security system can’t sound the alarm, and both SimpliSafe and ADT have that covered with a built-in siren. A high-decibel alarm plays a crucial role with both brands, alerting you to danger and scaring off any potential intruders.

    In addition to the siren included in the base, SimpliSafe and ADT also support additional wireless sirens that you can place in convenient locations around your home.

  • Multiple Keypads Support – Both SimpliSafe and ADT come with a keypad, although ADT’s is included on the control panel itself while SimpliSafe’s wireless pad can be placed wherever you please.

    This may make it seem like ADT has a disadvantage with less flexible keypad placement, but both models actually support additional keypads as well. With a little extra investment, you can outfit your home with control panels wherever it’s most convenient. Add in one on each floor — or even in every entryway — in order to have easy access to your security system controls.

  • Key Fobs – One of the most useful perks of these alarm systems is the inclusion of key fobs. Having access to a remote on your keys that can arm and disarm your home security is a godsend for when you’re rushing to get off to work in the morning or coming home from the store with your hands full. With the simple press of a button, you can activate or deactivate the sensors — it’s as simple as that! Key fobs are also an excellent way to give trusted family or friends access to your home, as they’ll simply be able to press a button rather than having to remember an entry code for the keypad.

  • Remote Panic Button – In the event of an emergency, it’s crucial that you have easy access to assistance. SimpliSafe and ADT both offer remote panic buttons that make calling for help a breeze with a simple press of a button.

    SimpliSafe has their own remote panic button, but there’s also a button included on the key fob. If you find yourself in danger, triggering remote panic will let the emergency monitoring center know that you need help fast.

    ADT also has several different options for remote panic buttons. There’s a wearable button that you can wear on pendant around your neck, on a wristband, or clipped to your clothes. If you’d rather not have a button directly on your person, you can also use the panic button the security keypad or on the wireless key fob. One of the unique aspects of ADT’s panic buttons is that it lets you specify if you need help from police, fire, or medical, which makes it useful in pretty much any emergency situation. ADT makes it easy to carry help from emergency responders right in your pocket.


SimpliSafe vs. ADT — Our Thoughts

Simplisafe

Ultimately, when comparing SimpliSafe vs. ADT, we do feel that SimpliSafe is the better choice. It’s relatively inexpensive and easy to set up on your own and has many of the same features offered with ADT.

ADT is a viable option if you don’t want to mess around with installation and want the assurance that all aspects of your security system will be compatible with one another, but that extra bit of convenience just isn’t worth the significant extra expense in our opinion.

Long story short, we feel that you should save yourself a significant amount of money and opt for the SimpliSafe security system.

For more information about SimpliSafe and ADT Pulse security systems, check out our SimpliSafe Review — Things You Should Know and ADT Pulse Review — Things You Should Know articles.

Our Score:
  • SimpliSafe
  • ADT
4.5

Let us know what you think!

Have you noticed other differences between SimpliSafe vs. ADT? 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 2019-06-20 at 17:10 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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