ADT comes in many flavors. We compare the original ADT with its DIY sibling Blue by ADT.
ADT vs. Blue by ADT
We'll also compare price and monitoring, installation, equipment and tech, compatibility, and those pesky, pesky contracts.
How we compared ADT and Blue by ADT
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Compare ADT and Blue by ADT
1. Price and monitoring
If ADT and Blue by ADT 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 will range between $99 and around $200, depending on if the plan includes home automation.
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 if you go with a standard ADT package, your equipment costs are rolled into your monthly service fee, and you could technically get an ADT system for nothing more than $100.
Blue by ADT equipment pricing
If you go with a Blue by ADT DIY security system, you'll need to pay for all the equipment you want up front. Blue'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 Blue by ADT setup, it's definitely going to raise that price. And Blue by ADT's cameras range from $60 for their indoor camera to $200 for their smart camera options.
ADT monitoring costs
Blue by ADT monitoring costs
The best thing about Blue 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 Blue, 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 Blue by ADT 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 Blue by ADT 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.
Up-front costs, ADT’s up-front costs are cheaper because with Blue you have to pay for all of your equipment up front. But when you look at monthly monitoring fees, Blue by ADT is cheaper, and it also gives you the option to drop monitoring altogether.
Monitoring for ADT starts around $28, 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 $37 and $63 a month for your monitoring service. The more bells and whistles you want—things like video monitoring, 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.
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.
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.
- 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 Blue by ADT
With Blue by ADT, 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 Blue?
- There’s no coordination necessary. You can install Blue by ADT on your own schedule, and you don't have to worry about a stranger coming into your home.
The cons of installing Blue 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 Blue system alone, your resources are limited to phone, email, chat, and video support. You won’t have someone to walk you through the process.
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 like Google Nest products.
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.
Check out our full rundown of ADT cameras to learn more about how to watch your home with ADT.
Blue by ADT equipment and tech
When it comes to DIY home security, Blue stands out thanks to its full array of home security cameras. In this arena, Blue has been ahead of the DIY superstar SimpliSafe, which just barely released its first outdoor security cam.
So other than Blue's full suite of security cams, there's not a lot to write home about when it comes to the equipment. Blue by ADT 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 Blue by ADT 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.
Both ADT and Blue by ADT 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.
It's kind of like a royal wedding, and if you care about that kind of thing, it's really a big deal. If smart home tech isn't really your thing, you're not going to be dazzled.
Original ADT smart home and compatibility
Where ADT stumbles is holding out on smart home integration through its 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.
Blue by ADT smart home and compatibility
Now, Blue 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.
Best of all, Blue 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.
But you do need to be aware that the Blue by ADT app is known to be a little bit glitchy. So you might need to practice some patience as those quirks get worked out.
Compatibility winner: Blue by ADT
When you look at straight-up smart home compatibility and control, Blue by ADT wins out even with Google Nest on board for ADT, but they both fail when it comes to working together.
The biggest shock of all was to learn the ADT and Blue by ADT 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.
Contracts, contracts, contracts. The short version is that with ADT, you have them, and with Blue by ADT you don't.
That lack of contracts is why you have to buy your Blue by ADT 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 Blue by ADT. 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 Blue by ADT 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 Blue by ADT best for you?
On the other hand, Blue by ADT is one of the most comprehensive DIY security systems out there. And it does come with the ADT name and its unparalleled monitoring protection.
Blue by ADT 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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