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ADT Pulse Guide 2020

Written by | Updated September 17, 2020

Most of us are familiar with ADT and its security systems, but ADT has some specialized products and services that are more of a mystery.

ADT Pulse has been around for a while, but what is it? This guide will answer all your burning questions about the ADT Pulse app and what it can do.

ADT Pulse app overview

The ADT Pulse app is your mobile control center for ADT Pulse security systems and smart home components.

Who it’s for: People who want to automate their home security and add smart home devices.

Who it’s not for: People living in remote areas with spotty cellular coverage.

The Pulse app doesn’t work with every ADT system. Pulse is specifically designed for home automation.

And because Pulse is a smart home security system, it doesn’t work with a landline connection. That means you need to pick one of ADT’s cellular monitoring plans.

If you’re interested in adding smart home functions to your security system, be sure to let your ADT representative know. Then they can help you figure out which system is right for all of your needs (including location if monitoring type is a concern).

Compare ADT security systems

Monthly price
Monitoring type
Mobile app access
Smart home control
Learn more
ADT Command Tier III Video Security + Home Automation ADT Command Tier I Remote Access Essentials Plan Complete Monitoring Bundle Premium Bundle II + Cellguard ADT Command Tier II Video Security
$62.99* $52.99 $27.99† $36.99 $44.99 $58.99
Cellular Cellular Landline Landline Cellular Cellular
View Packages View Packages View Packages View Packages View Packages View Packages

Data effective 09/11/2020. Offers and availability subject to change.
*ADT Command Tier III: Installation is an additional $199. 36-month monitoring contract required. $62.99 per month, ($2,267.64), including Quality Service Plan (QSP).
† Landline monitoring only. Some restrictions apply. (Full disclaimer)

Simplicity first

With ADT’s Pulse app, creating a simple user interface was the top priority. The result is a straightforward app that gives you basic functions, including:

  • Checking status of devices
  • Reviewing activity logs
  • Turning devices on and off
  • Arming and disarming your security system

But those functions aren’t the only things you can do with Pulse. To tap into all of its resources, you need to log into the ADT Pulse web portal on your computer.

ADT Pulse web portal 

The web portal is where you do most of the administrative setup and control of your Pulse smart security system, including setting up alerts for different sensors and security cameras.

You can also organize and review things like system activity logs and video clips.

Our favorite feature in the web portal is the ability to set up schedules for your home automation devices. It’s too bad you can’t access this feature in the Pulse mobile app, but we’re glad it’s available—even if you have to switch from your phone to your PC to make it happen.

What's a smart home schedule?

Schedules let you create routines for your smart home devices, including smart lights, smart thermostats, and smart security cameras.

What a smart home schedule might look like

Let’s say everyone is out the door for school and work by 9:00 a.m. every morning. You can set up a schedule to turn off the lights, adjust the thermostat, and activate the door locks at 9:02 a.m.

That way you don’t have to worry about someone forgetting to leave the house locked up or heating an empty house all day.

You can set that routine to activate every weekday and then program a different schedule for the weekends.

Tech requirements

The Pulse app works on both iOS and Android devices, including smartphones, tablets, and smart watches.

Operating systemPulse app compatibility
iOSiOS 9 and above
Android4.4 and above

What you can do with the ADT Pulse app

On top of remotely arming and disarming your home security system, the Pulse app also lets you control smart home devices.

ADT Pulse componentsADT Pulse app features
Contact sensorsReceive alerts
Track and filter sensor activity
Pulse security camerasView saved images
View live footage
Take snapshots
Record videos
Manage clip gallery
Smart lights and switchesTurn lights on and off
Check status of lights and light switches
ThermostatsCheck temperature
Control temperature
Change thermostat modes and settings
Door locksCheck door lock status
Remotely lock and unlock doors
Garage door openerCheck garage door status
Remotely open and close garage door

ADT Pulse app smart home compatibility

In addition to controlling your Pulse system and smart home components, the Pulse app also works with plenty of third-party devices.

Here are the brands and smart devices that Pulse is compatible with:

  • Amazon Alexa
  • Google Assistant
  • Ring Video Doorbell
  • Nest Thermostat
  • Kwikset door locks

ADT Pulse and Z-wave

Pulse also works with Z-wave, which makes it compatible with any other smart home gadgets that use Z-wave to connect.

Z-Wave really expands the capability and power of your home automation setup because you’re not limited to ADT’s smart home equipment.

What's Z-wave?

Z-wave is a technology that lets smart home devices and other compatible equipment (like your security system) talk to each other.

See ADT’s full list of compatible Z-Wave devices.

One type of Z-wave device we really like is smart plugs. Smart plugs or outlets let you make any small appliance in your home smart—from the coffee pot to the TV.

When you add a smart plug to your Pulse app, you can remotely control anything that’s plugged into it.

If you’re afraid that you left the iron on, all you need to do is check the Pulse app, and you can turn the iron off from the office, the airport, or the school play (as long as it’s plugged into a Z-wave smart outlet).

ADT Pulse vs. ADT Control

ADT likes to keep us all on our toes. In 2020, ADT launched the Control app. This is the next generation of ADT’s smart home security suite.

New customers will use the ADT Control app instead of ADT Pulse. But the millions of ADT Pulse customers that already use Pulse can keep using it without needing to upgrade or switch.

The biggest difference between Control and Pulse is your in-home security system controls. ADT Control uses one touchscreen panel that lets you access both smart home and security equipment.

With ADT Pulse, you have to use the app or the web portal to control your smart home functions—you can’t do it on your security system control panel.

The bottom line: We’re excited about ADT Control because it lets you control everything from one, seamless app—no more toggling between multiple apps. It also works with ADT’s swanky new equipment.

But if you currently use ADT Pulse, we don’t think the cost of upgrading to an entirely new security system is worth it—unless you’re also looking for new and improved security or smart home components.


Can I use ADT Pulse if I’m a renter?

Yes. ADT Pulse uses wireless security system equipment, so you don’t have to worry about all the walls getting destroyed when you install it.

But the main control panel needs to be hardwired, so be sure to check with your landlord or property manager to make sure it’s okay to have that equipment installed.

Can I add any wireless security camera to my ADT Pulse system?

No. The only security cameras that work with an ADT Pulse security system are those sold by ADT.

For your privacy, ADT’s security cameras use specific end-to-end encryption that’s not supported by third-party security cameras.

Here’s our complete guide to ADT cameras.


* ADT Command Tier III: Installation is an additional $199. 36-month monitoring contract required. $62.99 per month, ($2,267.64), including Quality Service Plan (QSP).

†ADT $27.99 Essential package: $99.00 Customer Installation Charge. 36-Month Monitoring Agreement required at $27.99 per month ($1,007.64). 24-Month Monitoring Agreement required at $27.99 per month ($671.76) for California. Form of payment must be by credit card or electronic charge to your checking or savings account. Offer applies to homeowners only. Local permit fees may be required. Satisfactory credit history required. Certain restrictions may apply. Offer valid for new ADT Authorized Dealer customers only and not on purchases from ADT LLC. Other rate plans available. Cannot be combined with any other offer. The $27.99 Offer does not include the 6-month guarantee or the Quality Service Plan (QSP). Quality Service Plan (QSP) is ADT’s Extended Limited Warranty. Landline monitoring only.

Written by Rebecca Edwards

Rebecca is the lead safety reporter and in-house expert for SafeWise.com. She has been a journalist and blogger for over 25 years, with a focus on home and community safety for the past six. Rebecca spends dozens of hours every month testing and evaluating security products and strategies. Her safety expertise is sought after by publications, broadcast journalists, non-profit organizations, podcasts, and more. You can find her work and contributions in places like TechCrunch, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, HGTV, MSN, and an ever-growing library of radio and TV clips. Learn more

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