ADT vs. ADT Self Setup

ADT comes in many flavors. We compare the original ADT with its DIY sibling ADT Self Setup.

Best professional installation
ADT Shield
Traditional ADT
Starts at
  • pro
    Professional installation
  • pro
    Contract required
  • pro
    24/7 monitoring
Best DIY installation
ADT Shield
ADT Self Setup
Starts at
  • pro
    DIY installation
  • pro
    No contract
  • pro
    Optional monitoring

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It’s time for a throw-down between traditional ADT and its newish DIY counterpart ADT Self Setup (formerly Blue by ADT). We're going to look at their similarities, differences, and pros and cons.

We'll also compare price and monitoring, installation, equipment and tech, compatibility, and those pesky, pesky contracts.

Compare ADT and ADT Self Setup

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Starting equipment price
Starting monthly monitoring
Contract required
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Best professional installation $28.99Pro
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Best for DIY $19.99DIY
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Info current as of post date. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

ADT $28.99 plan: Requires 36-month monitoring contract. Landline req'd. Early term. and installation fees apply. Taxes additional. New customers only.

1. Price and monitoring

Best pro install

If ADT and ADT Self Setup were siblings in a family photo, it would be nearly impossible to see resemblance between them when it comes to pricing. With ADT in general, there's no way to completely get out of up-front costs.

ADT equipment pricing

If you go with ADT's traditional home security setup, you're going to pay an installation fee.
That fee depends on the plan you select and the custom equipment you choose.

And you may also need to shell out some extra cash for any equipment upgrades you add on. The bad news is that you might not know what that extra cost is until your installation actually happens.

But with most ADT plans, your equipment costs are rolled into your monthly service fee, which means no big out-of-pocket costs to get started.

ADT Self Setup equipment pricing

If you go with a ADT Self Setup DIY security system, you'll need to pay for all the equipment you want up front. ADT Self Setup's build-your-own security kit starts at around $110, but it only includes the bare minimum: your security system hub and the keypad. There's not even one sensor included.

However, other packages include between 8 and 15 pieces, which include those important sensors that you need. Those range anywhere from around $200 to $350, but only one of those packages includes a security camera.

The higher-end $350 package has a doorbell cam. So if you add cameras to your ADT Self Setup, it's definitely going to raise that price. And ADT Self Setup's cameras range from $60 for their indoor camera to $200 for their smart camera options.

TL;DR What are monitoring fees?
Monthly monitoring fees go towards the ADT professionals watching your house. When your ADT system picks up a disturbance or an alert, these are the folks who call and check on you. So while you’ll pay more in monthly monitoring, your equipment is basically included in that service fee, keeping up-front costs lower.

ADT monitoring costs

Monitoring for ADT starts around $29, and that's just for basic landline monitoring. So that means you're not going to get any high-tech extras like the mobile app, push notifications, video clips, or smart home integration.

From there, packages range between about $45 and $60 a month for your monitoring service. The more bells and whistles you want—things like video, home automation, and mobile app control—the more that monthly fee is going to go up.

And here's the real clincher: with ADT, you have to have a monthly fee. There is no option for you to monitor an ADT system on your own. So you can't buy the equipment and then just use an app to watch your home by yourself.

ADT Self Setup monitoring costs

The best thing about ADT Self Setup monitoring is it's just like nearly every other DIY home security system out there: straightforward, simple, and cheaper.

No matter what equipment package you choose with ADT Self Setup, pro monitoring is going to run you $20 a month. That will include the mobile app, smart home control, and video monitoring (if you add cameras to your system).

But ADT Self Setup actually lets you opt out of monthly monitoring altogether. So if you don't want a monthly fee at all, you automatically get access to the ADT Self Setup mobile app, meaning you can keep an eye on your home and your security system sensors all by yourself.

But just remember that if you do opt for self-monitoring, that means it's up to you to call for help if something happens.

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The score so far: ADT is cheaper up front

ADT’s up-front costs are cheaper because with ADT Self Setup you have to pay for all of your equipment up front. But when you look at monthly monitoring fees, ADT Self Setup is cheaper, and it also gives you the option to drop monitoring altogether.

2. Installation

Once again, there is no family resemblance between these two when you look at installation. For scoring the installation section, we’re going to call it a draw. It depends on whether you’re more comfortable doing it yourself or relying on a stranger to come and make that happen.

ADT installation

Your only option with ADT is professional installation.

The benefits of this pro installation?

  • It includes a free home security assessment, ensuring all your security sensors and cameras are correctly placed and installed.
  • You get an in-person demo and orientation so you can test it out and ask questions.

The downsides?

  • You have to make an appointment, which can mean taking time off work, and sitting around and waiting for the installer to show up.
  • Someone will need to come into your home, which, thanks to COVID-19 comes with a lot more baggage than it used to.

Installation with ADT Self Setup

With ADT Self Setup, your only option is to install this system yourself. DIY installation comes with its fair share of pros and cons too.

The pros of DIY installation through ADT Self Setup?

  • There’s no coordination necessary. You can install ADT Self Setup on your own schedule, and you don't have to worry about a stranger coming into your home.

The cons of installing ADT Self Setup on your own?

  • You miss out on the trained eye. Without that professional installer to assess your home, you have to decide where everything goes.
  • Help is limited too. If you run into trouble while installing your ADT Self Setup system alone, your resources are limited to phone, email, chat, and video support. You won’t have someone to walk you through the process.
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DIY installation pro tip

Buy extra Command Strips in case you have to try a couple of times to find the perfect spot for your sensor or camera.

3. Equipment and tech

This is where the family resemblance becomes so faint that it's really more like an evolutionary jump.

Original ADT equipment and tech

Classic ADT comes with a wider selection of home security equipment and compatible smart home devices.

This is common in many full-service home security systems versus scaled-down DIY home security.

But, despite having all the gear, ADT doesn’t give you automatic access to the mobile app. And other features like smart home automation and video monitoring are going to cost you more.

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Curious about cameras?

Check out our full rundown of ADT cameras to learn more about how to watch your home with ADT.

ADT Self Setup equipment and tech

When it comes to DIY home security, ADT Self Setup stands out thanks to its full array of home security cameras. In this arena, ADT Self Setup has been ahead of the DIY superstar SimpliSafe, which just barely released its first outdoor security cam.

So other than ADT Self Setup's full suite of security cams, there's not a lot to write home about when it comes to the equipment. ADT Self Setup has your basic DIY security setup. But the good news is you do get full access to the mobile app, including smart home and video. And that's not going to cost you an extra dime.

If you buy ADT Self Setup equipment, you get the tech that supports it. So in the realm of equipment, it's really no contest. This one goes to the OG ADT, although we do ding them for holding that mobile app hostage for money.

Equipment and tech summed up

The original ADT offers a wider range of equipment for your home. So no matter what your house looks like, they have options for you. ADT Self Setup, on the other hand, has a basic security setup. However, the ADT+ app comes with it.

4. Compatibility

Both ADT and ADT Self Setup have fairly standard smart home compatibility, but there are a few notable differences. The big feather in ADT's smart home cap is its partnership with Google Nest.

Original ADT smart home and compatibility

ADT is Z-Wave compatible and works with many smart home devices including Amazon Echo, Nest smart thermostats, plus well-known smart cameras and smart locks.

Where ADT stumbles is holding out on smart home integration through the Google Home app.

You can't get that until you're at the very highest tier. So the only way to fully take advantage of this awesome union is basically to help pay for the wedding.

ADT Self Setup smart home and compatibility

Now, ADT Self Setup isn't after those royal tabloid headlines and wedding dress copycats, but it does a respectable job with full Z-Wave and If This Then That capabilities.

ADT Self Setup lets you have full control from the get-go with the mobile app. You don't even have to pay for monthly monitoring to get smart home control.

Best of all, ADT Self Setup integrates with some Google Nest products, like the Nest smart thermostats and Nest Doorbell (battery)

Compatibility winner: ADT Self Setup

When you look at straight-up smart home compatibility and control, ADT Self Setup wins out.

The biggest shock of all was to learn the ADT and ADT Self Setup equipment is not mix and match. If you're hoping to switch from one to the other and try to save a few bucks by using your current equipment, we’re sorry to say that you are in for disappointment; it's not going to happen.

5. Contracts

Contracts, contracts, contracts. The short version is that with ADT, you have them, and with ADT Self Setup you don't.

That lack of contracts is why you have to buy your ADT Self Setup equipment up front, and ADT's three-year contract is where your up-front costs are lower. But it's likely your long-term obligation and overall costs will be higher with the OG ADT.

So in this case, we think it's an easy win for ADT Self Setup. You can add pro monitoring or not.

You can stop pro monitoring whenever you want; no penalty. And then you can start it back
up again whenever you want for no extra fees. But with ADT, you get a three-year commitment, early cancellation fees up to 75% of your remaining contract, and there's no way to get ADT without the contract. It's simply part of the deal.

Final word: no clear winner

The winner out of ADT versus ADT Self Setup really comes down to your personal security priorities and preferences. Instead of declaring an overall winner, we’ll play matchmaker instead.

Is ADT best for you?

ADT is the original when it comes to home security, and you get top-of-the-line everything with an ADT home security system.

You're a perfect match for ADT if these apply to you:

  • You care more about convenience than cost.
  • You're not into DIY.
  • You're a tech geek and love all the integrations, especially Google Nest.
  • You aren’t scared of a three-year commitment.

Is ADT Self Setup best for you?

On the other hand, ADT Self Setup is one of the most comprehensive DIY security systems out there. And it does come with the ADT name and its unparalleled monitoring protection.

ADT Self Setup might be for you if you like these options:

  • You love a DIY project.
  • You're not sure if you want professional monitoring.
  • You're willing to put in a little extra effort to save some money.
  • You like a no-strings-attached approach.

At the end of the day, you can't go wrong with either of these systems. And the difference really comes down to whether or not you want a DIY setup.


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