ADT Self Setup Review

ADT knocks it out of the park with an affordable, no-contract DIY security system (finally!).
Best optional-monitoring system
ADT Shield
ADT Self Setup
4 out of 5 stars
Monitoring costs
  • pro
    Trusted name
  • pro
    No contract
  • pro

Info current as of post date. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

Rebecca Edwards
Security Expert, Safety & Tech Reporter
January 31, 2023

SafeWise is an independent review site. We may earn money when you click links on our site. Learn how we rank and review.

ADT Self Setup offers a rare combo of free home security self-monitoring with total app access and 24-hour video storage. And if you decide you want the pros to keep an eye on your system for a while, you get to hand the reins to ADT's monitoring centers without signing a contract.

But ADT's Self Setup equipment selection falls short. If you want smart home automation features or environmental sensors, you'll have to find a compatible third-party brand.

We've got the full scoop on what else you can expect with ADT Self Setup.

pro Trusted name
pro DIY installation
pro No contracts
pro Self-monitoring option
pro Affordable price point
pro Stand-alone security cameras
con Clunky equipment
con Pricey smart camera add-ons
con Glitchy mobile app

How much does ADT Self Setup cost?

When it comes to professional monitoring, it doesn’t get much simpler than ADT Self Setup. There’s only one plan, and it’s a straightforward $19.99 per month. Here’s a look at what that $20 gets you.

Compare ADT Self Setup plans

Monthly price
24/7 pro monitoring
Type of monitoring
Mobile app access
Two-way audio
Video storage
Learn more
Icon Yes  LightYes
Icon Yes  LightYes
Icon Yes  LightYes
60 days
Icon No  LightNo
Icon Yes  LightYes
Icon Yes  LightYes
24 hours

Info current as of post date. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

Our favorite thing about ADT’s Self Setup professional monitoring plan is that you can get it on a month-to-month basis. This is a big game changer for ADT.

Up until now, your only option with any ADT home security system was a three-year commitment that required you to pay 75% of the total contract no matter what. That means you’d still end up paying for the service—even if you cancelled ADT.

We’re glad to see ADT giving consumers another option that provides the reassurance of a well-known security brand without tying you to a long, expensive contract.

To dig into the differences between these two offerings, check out our ADT vs. ADT Self Setup review.

Video: How ADT's DIY Security Brand Stacks Up

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Is ADT Self Setup right for you?

If you're looking for something ultra simple and affordable but backed by a trustworthy and stable monitoring company, ADT Self Setup is an excellent option.

Compare ADT Self Setup to other home security brands

Best for
Monthly cost Icon Tooltip  Dark
Starter equipment price
Contract required
Smart home compatibility Icon Tooltip  Dark
Learn more
Read review
Best overall$599.00
Icon Yes  LightNo *
Budget pick$245.00
Icon Yes  LightNo
Most experienced$0.00
Icon No  LightYes
Best customer experienceQuote required
Icon Yes  LightNo *
Best optional monitoring$199.15
Icon Yes  LightNo
Best for Apple customers$279.00
Icon Yes  LightNo
Amazon, Apple, Google, Z-Wave, Zigbee
Quality DIY pick$129.00
Icon Yes  LightNo
Best outdoor cameras$199.99
Icon Yes  LightNo
Most gadgets$99.99
Icon Yes  LightNo
Best sensor$199.99
Icon Yes  LightNo
Apple price as of post date. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change. Read full disclaimer.
Full ADT disclaimer

ADT Self Setup vs. the competition

ADT Self Setup doesn't tend to rank highly in our best-of lists compared to brands like Vivint, SimpliSafe, or Frontpoint. The difference comes down to a lack of features and equipment on ADT Self Setups part. "Bare bones" is the best way to describe this system and the monitoring perks, but its price reflects that. 

ADT's Self Setup professional monitoring price (about $20/mo.) is one of the most affordable in the industry—especially now that other brands have increased their prices. We've seen incremental price increases from SimpliSafe, Frontpoint, Cove, Ring Alarm, Abode, and Wyze Home Monitoring over the last year or two, but ADT Self Setup's price has remained steady. 

ADT Self Setup vs. traditional ADT

ADT's DIY option is the exact opposite of traditional full-service ADT in nearly every way except the monitoring professionals—they're the same experienced folks who monitor traditional ADT security systems. 

  • Whereas ADT requires professional hardwired installation, Self Setup is DIY and wireless.
  • Traditional ADT requires contracts, but Self Setup customers pay month-to-month with no cancellation fees.
  • Traditional ADT stipulates that you must own your home—Self Setup is renter-friendly. 
  • Traditional ADT equipment is virtually useless without a monitoring contract, but Self Setup's equipment can be self-monitored.

Another significant difference is that ADT Self Setup offers fewer equipment options than you'll find in a traditional ADT system—or most of its competitors. For example, there's no smart lock, garage door controller, extra siren, glass break sensor, CO detector, or smart home devices like smart thermostats or smart plugs. But thanks to Self Setup's Z-Wave and IFTTT compatibility, you can purchase third-party products that integrate with the system. It's just a little more of a hassle and a gamble versus getting everything from the same company.

Video: ADT vs. ADT Self Setup: What's the difference?

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ADT Self Setup tech and equipment

ADT Self Setup doesn’t offer anything too fancy when it comes to equipment, but we like the multiple camera options and the fact that everyone gets full access to the ADT+ app—whether you opt for the monitoring plan or not.

The wireless DIY setup also makes ADT a useful home security system option for renters or others who may move before the end of a 36-month contract.

Compare ADT Self Setup equipment packages

All ADT Self Setup security system packages come with a base station, an ADT yard sign, four window stickers, and full access to the ADT+ mobile app.

System package
Door and window sensors
Motion sensor
Learn more
4 2None
6 2 1

Info current as of post date. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

Here’s what you get in an ADT Self Setup system

Take a look at the ADT Self Setup equipment that’s included in most system packages. 

Blue by ADT hub

Base station

The base station is the brains of your security system. It connects all the sensors and links you to the monitoring center if you choose pro monitoring.

Entry keypad

The entry keypad offers another way to arm and disarm your system without having to access the app or dart inside the house to use the base station's keypad.

door sensor from blue by adt

Door sensor

This battery-operated contact sensor alerts you whenever a door is opened or closed.

window sensor for blue by adt

Window sensor

The window sensor lets you know if a window has been opened or closed. If a room has two or more windows, ADT suggests using a motion sensor instead.

Blue by ADT motion sensor

Motion sensor

Smoke detector

This smoke alarm triggers the base station's alarm and sends notifications to the ADT+ mobile app. 

Flood and temperature sensor

It's not much to look at, but this flood and temperature sensor can alert you to water leaks and almost-freezing conditions before too much damage occurs.

You can also buy some Google Nest products at the same time, like the Nest Mini or the Nest Hub. Because ADT allows you to disarm your system with a voice command and PIN code, it's one of our favorite Google-compatible home security systems.

ADT Self Setup security cameras

One of the coolest things that Self Setup offers is the option to buy its security cameras without a full security system.

I especially love this option because, depending on the size of your home or your primary security concerns, one solid security camera may be all you need to feel safe.

My tiny apartment doesn’t need more than an indoor security camera to keep an eye on everything that matters to me. And a lone camera is perfect to greet the kids when they get home from school or chat with the delivery folks when they drop off a package.

If you like the idea of extra security but don’t think you need a full-blown system, y ADT Self Setup’s stand-alone camera options are an ideal solution. But first, a warning: Blue’s cameras aren’t the cheapest ones out there (or the cutest), but they do come with the added heft of ADT’s name and reputation.

Compare security cameras

Info current as of post date Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

Outdoor security camera
outdoor camera kit with chime extender from blue by adt
Blue Outdoor Camera Kit
pro 2 Blue Outdoor Cams
pro Blue Extender and Chime

The Outdoor Camera Kit keeps you on top of what’s happening around your property. Whether it’s an escape-artist pooch or pesky porch pirates, these cameras add the extra eyes you need to keep everyone (and everything) safe.

The only drawback is that you can’t add ADT monitoring without a full security system. If monitoring isn’t a deal breaker for you, here’s what you get in the camera kit.

  • Two-way talk
  • Facial recognition
  • ADT+ mobile app

The ADT+ app

Get full control over your ADT Self Setup security system and cameras with this free mobile app that’s available to every ADT Self Setup customer. The ADT+ app is where you can add and remove smart home devices and control your connected gadgets.

Other security systems (including ADT’s professionally installed systems) force you to upgrade if you want remote access to your system via an app. We were delighted to see ADT Self Setup throw out that practice.

Whether or not you add 24/7 monitoring to your Self Setup security system, you can take full advantage of everything the mobile app has to offer.

  • Remote arm and disarm
  • Live video watching
  • Saved media archive
  • Push notifications
  • Two-way talk (with compatible equipment)
  • Smart home controls
  • Area crime map

But, as with any new venture, users have reported a slew of glitches and bugs in the app.

Some folks keep getting logged out of the app, so every time they want to check in on their house or get an alert, they’re required to log in. Those few seconds can make a difference when you’re talking about the security of your home.

Other issues include lots of freezing and a buggy user interface that covers up the buttons you need to use the app. Updates have been released that aim to address a lot of these issues.

We definitely like the claims about what you can do in the app. The next step will be more positive reports that those features actually work consistently.

Smart home features and compatibility

ADT Self Setup is fully IFTTT compatible and works with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa.

Until now, smart home limitations have been a consistent disappointment with ADT’s professionally installed security systems. To get home automation, you had to upgrade to the more expensive (now defunct) ADT Pulse plan.

We’re happy to see a new ADT option with built-in smart home compatibility at an entry-level price.

Thanks to Z-Wave Plus and IFTTT compatibility, you can connect your Blue security system to everything from the porch light to the smart thermostat. That’s especially convenient if you’ve been controlling your smart home gadgets in a number of different apps.

Having one place for home automation to live makes it easier to set up routines and maximize your household (and lifestyle) convenience and efficiency. The only caveat is waiting for the app to be more reliable.

Smart home brands that work with ADT Self Setup

In addition to IFTTT and Z-Wave Plus compatibility, Self Setup is compatible with many home automation brands.

  • Amazon Alexa
  • Google Assistant and Nest
  • Philips Hue
  • Lutron
  • Sonos
  • iRobot

Customer service

Because we haven’t finished our in-home test of ADT's DIY option, we don’t have a full report about how it's performing when it comes to taking care of customers. But here are a few important things we’ve discovered so far.

Easy online shopping

To get ADT Self Setup, all you have to do is pick the equipment you want, add it to your cart, and click "Buy Now." This is a stark contrast from ADT’s traditional sales process that requires both a phone call and an in-home security consultation.

If you like to shop with as little human interaction as possible (I feel you), now you can—no need to make a new best friend in the process (woot!).

Robust online support

ADT Self Setup has an impressive collection of help articles and videos that walk you through installation, troubleshooting, and commonly asked questions. In addition, there’s a separate support portal that offers even more options for help.

Email and phone support

If the online resources just don’t cut it for you, you can contact ADT for personal assistance:

There's even an online chat option in the ADT Support Center. We like the option to do a quick chat with a tech or customer service representative (instead of waiting on an email or getting involved in a phone call).

Final word

ADT Self Setup is a breath of fresh air from security stalwart ADT. If you’ve wanted ADT home security but the long contracts and expensive monitoring made you gunshy, this DIY offering is your solution. Here’s a recap of our favorite perks:

  • No contracts
  • Self-monitoring option
  • Stand-alone security cameras
  • ADT Monitoring for just $19.99 per month
  • Free mobile app
  • Human-free purchase process

Here’s where we’d like to see Self Setup continue to improve:

  • Address mobile app bugs
  • Work on smart camera pricing
  • Implement Apple HomeKit compatibility

ADT Self Setup FAQ

If you don't see your question below, check out our full ADT Self Setup FAQ page.

Yes. When ADT and LifeShield merged to form Blue by ADT (now ADT Self Setup), ADT continued to support existing LifeShield customers. If you have a LifeShield security system, you will continue to get the same support and monitoring services.

Yes. You can add to your current LifeShield security system with ADT devices and cameras.

Yes. ADT Self Setup security systems are totally customizable. You can start out with as much or as little equipment as you want, and add to it over time.

No. Right now, you need a complete security system to add professional monitoring to your cameras.

Your cameras come with 24 hours of free cloud storage through the ADT+ app. If you want more, there is an option (through the app) to add 60 days of storage for around $3 per month.



How we reviewed ADT Self Setup

On top of online research and conversations with ADT representatives, we got to check out all of ADT's offerings at CES in Las Vegas. We lined up what we know about this DIY offering from ADT against all the other systems we’ve tested to give you a comprehensive overview.

The key factors we compared include:

  • Price
  • Overall value
  • Reputation
  • Smart home compatibility
  • Quality
  • Features

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Rebecca Edwards
Written by
Rebecca Edwards
Rebecca is the lead safety reporter and in-house expert for She has been a journalist and blogger for over 25 years, with a focus on home and community safety for the past eight. Rebecca spends dozens of hours every month poring over crime reports and spotting trends. Her safety expertise is sought after by publications, broadcast journalists, non-profit organizations, podcasts, and more. You can find her expert advice and analysis in places like TechCrunch, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, The Miami Herald, NPR, HGTV, MSN, Reader's Digest, Real Simple, and an ever-growing library of radio and TV clips.

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