ADT Home Security Review

We tested ADT, talked to reps, and visited a technician training center to review this security mainstay.
Trusted brand name
ADT Shield
4 out of 5 stars
4
  • pro
    Strong reputation
  • pro
    Cellular and landline plans
  • con
    Expensive
Monitoring plan
Starting Cost
App access
Home automation
Video
Basic$28.99/mo.
Icon No  LightNo
Icon No  LightNo
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Smart$49.99/mo.
Icon Yes  LightYes
Icon Yes  LightYes
Icon No  LightNo
Video$56.99/mo.
Icon Yes  LightYes
Icon No  LightNo
Icon Yes  LightYes
Complete$59.99/mo.
Icon Yes  LightYes
Icon Yes  LightYes
Icon Yes  LightYes

Info current as of publish date.
*Landline monitoring only. Some restrictions apply. See full disclaimer.

Rebecca Edwards
Feb 09, 2023
Icon Time To Read10 min read

SafeWise experts have years of firsthand experience testing the products we recommend. Learn how we test and review. We may earn money when you buy through our links.

We give ADT four stars because its reputation and experience make it one of the most trusted names in the industry. Add in the company's nine 24/7 monitoring centers—more than any other home security brand—and it's no surprise ADT is a household name.

But all that quality comes at a cost. ADT's prices for security and all the perks (video monitoring, smart home control, and ADT app access) can cost more than $60 a month. If that's just too much for your budget, check out ADT's DIY option, ADT Self Setup, or try these ADT alternatives.

pro
Pros
pro 147 years of home security experience
pro Monitoring centers across the country
pro Landline and cellular monitoring
pro Professional installation and security consultation
pro Smart home control available
con
Cons
con Long-term contracts
con Pricey add-ons and upgrades
con Installation fee

Compare ADT costs

Package
Best for
Monthly cost
Monitoring type
App access
Live video
Smart home integration
Learn more
Basic*Starter pick$28.99Landline
Icon No  LightNo
Icon No  LightNo
Icon No  LightNo
Secure Basic cellular pick $45.99Cellular
Icon No  LightNo
Icon No  LightNo
Icon No  LightNo
Smart Automation pick$49.99Cellular
Icon Yes  LightYes
Icon No  LightNo
Icon Yes  LightYes
VideoVideo pick $56.99Cellular
Icon Yes  LightYes
Icon Yes  LightYes
Icon No  LightNo
CompleteTop pick $59.99Cellular
Icon Yes  LightYes
Icon Yes  LightYes
Icon Yes  LightYes

Info current as of publish date.

*Requires 36-month monitoring contract. Landline req'd. Early term. and installation fees apply. Taxes additional. New customers only. Full ADT disclaimer

What makes each ADT plan different?

Besides the Basic kit, ADT monitored plans are customized and differ from tier to tier, each sweetening the deal with new features or equipment options. Here's the breakdown on plans:

The Basic Plan includes the basic starter kit and standard landline monitoring. What's missing is the Quality Service Plan that offers extended warranty protection and a deal on any service calls you may need during your contract. This plan also misses out on the 6-month money-back guarantee.

The Secure Plan is a basic cellular-connected package plus the Quality Service Plan. It also allows you to skip the wiring that comes with landline service. Hardwired systems take longer to install and can be clipped or damaged by intruders. If you live in a rural area or want to protect a vacation home in the country, this is an affordable option that comes with extra warranty and service protection.

The Smart Plan adds remote access into the mix through the Google Home app. Remote access lets you monitor and control your system from your phone. Whether it's an open window or a full-blown system alert, you'll know. This connection allows for so

The Video Plan costs about $7 more, but trades automation for live video on Google Nest cameras. Video storage requires a Nest Aware plan (about $6 a month).

Finally, the Complete Plan comes with all of ADT's video and automation features for just a few dollars more per month.

Every ADT package includes the essential components you need in a system, but you can add extra devices too:

  • Touchscreen panel, motion detector, three entryway contact sensors: included in every plan
  • Smart lock: one included in the Smart and Complete plans
  • Google Nest Doorbell (battery) and Google Nest Cam (indoor or outdoor, wired or battery): one of each included in the Complete plan
  • Carbon monoxide detector: $100.00
  • Smoke detector: $100.00
  • Smoke and carbon monoxide detector: $180.00
  • Google Nest Thermostat: $209.00

Still have questions? We have more details in our breakdown of how much ADT costs.

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ADT costs less than a potential break-in

ADT's monthly fee includes your equipment costs and over the course of a 36-month contract, you'll still pay less than what you'd lose if you had a break-in. ADT's most expensive plan comes out to about $2,200 over three years—the average loss from a burglary is around $2,700.

ADT is worth it if you want the reassurance and experience that comes with 147 years in business. That experience doesn't mean it's living in the past though—the security company offers modern video options and smart home integrations that work with your system to make your life safer and more convenient. And it's all backed by the support of nine monitoring centers.

If that sounds like a good value for the monthly cost and it's something you can afford, ADT can absolutely be worth it.

We consider ADT a luxury home security brand, but that’s not what everyone is looking for. If you want ADT without the contract, give ADT Self Setup a look.

ADT vs. other security brands

Brand
Best for
Monthly cost Icon Tooltip  Dark
Starter equipment price
Contract required
Smart home compatibility Icon Tooltip  Dark
Learn more
Read review
Best overall$599.00No *Amazon,
Google,
Z-Wave
Best optional subscription$245.00NoAmazon,
Google
Most trusted security brand$0.00YesAmazon,
Google,
Z-Wave
Best customer ratingQuote requiredNoAmazon, Google

Info current as of post date. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change. Read full disclaimer.
Full ADT disclaimer

If you're looking for tried-and-true home security monitoring and want the pros to handle installation, ADT is worth it. You'll pay more for setup and monitoring, but you won't have to lift a finger after making the initial phone call. 

See how ADT monitoring and equipment compares:

ADT's nine monitoring centers

Where ADT beats every other security company hands-down is its professional monitoring centers. ADT operates its own centers that alert the police or other emergency responders, and it has more monitoring stations than any other security company.

This matters to you for two big reasons—well-trained operators and monitoring support redundancy.

ADT trains all of its operators and has total control over how your call for help is handled. And with nine monitoring centers, you'll never be stranded without help when you need it.

If one center goes offline for any reason (think hurricanes, the polar vortex, etc.), monitoring will be automatically transferred to another center that's still up and running.

ADT tech and equipment

What’s included in all ADT packages?

All ADT equipment packages are professionally installed by trained technicians and come with a starter kit to lower up-front costs. 

The starter kit includes:*

  • Touchscreen control panel
  • Three contact sensors for doors or windows
  • Motion detector

*With installation charge and new monitoring agreement. Early termination fee applies.

ADT touchscreen panel

You'll get the most out of the ADT touchscreen panel with a cellular connection and a mobile app. In an emergency, the panel will connect you with an ADT monitoring center, and you can speak directly with someone through the panel.

It also connects with smart devices like Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant so you can control it with your voice to arm, disarm, or make adjustments in the sensors or your smart equipment.

The ADT touchscreen panel is multi-lingual and has 12 hours of battery backup that kick in when the power goes out, keeping your home safe during storms or other power outages.

See how it compares with other touchscreen panels.

Video

The top two plans offer video monitoring with Google Nest security cameras. The cameras shoot in 1080p HD video, and you can watch your home live or check recordings in the backlog (if you also subscribe to Nest Aware).

When the system's sensors or cameras detect motion, you'll get a notification so you can tune in and see what the camera sees. This way you can tell if it's just your pooch prowling around the house or a real emergency.

Get all the details in our ADT security cameras guide and Nest cameras review.

*With installation charge and new monitoring agreement. Early termination fee applies.

ADT Command touchscreen panel

adt sensor

Window and door sensor

adt sensor

Motion sensor

ADT smart home features

Smart home compatibility

Smart home featureThird-party compatibility Can be used for
Voice control

Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant

Arm/disarm, display camera feed,
adjust thermostat, control lights
Climate control

Nest, Z-Wave devices

Add and control smart thermostat w/app
Lighting control

Z-Wave devices

Add and control Resideo, Leviton, GE,
other Z-Wave light options
Smart home hub

Amazon Alexa, Google Home

Arm/disarm, connect devices, create routines

Voice control with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant

In addition to using the Google Home app to control your system, you can tell your ADT home security system what to do when you add voice control with Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant.

ADT recently teamed up with Google to offer ADT customers Google Nest​ products and greater integration. You can now purchase Google Nest products through ADT and have them installed by a technician. Here's how you can use them:

  • Google Nest Mini (2nd gen): Control your system and connected devices with your voice by saying "Hey Google." You can arm your alarm, lock and unlock doors, turn lights on and off, set your thermostat, and make routines.
  • Google Nest Hub (2nd gen): Do everything the Nest Mini does plus control your system through the hub's touchscreen.
  • Google Nest Hub Max: Everything above plus you can view your camera feeds through the device—handy when you want to see who's at the door but have your hands full or for people without ADT security app access (like babysitters or kids).

The Smart or Complete monitoring plan is required to use smart home devices and voice commands. 

ADT and Z-Wave

ADT uses Z-Wave​ technology in all its smart security equipment. That means your ADT system can integrate with third-party smart home devices like a smart plug.

And ADT makes it really simple by offering compatible smart home devices along with its security equipment—so you can get all your smart security shopping done at once.

Smart home costs

The downside is the price. You can't get home automation with basic ADT home security packages, so you're looking at a base monthly monitoring rate of $59.99 per month.

But when you break it all down, that's about $2 per day for smart home automation and professional monitoring that you control through the Google Home app (replacing the ADT Control and ADT Pulse apps) on your phone.

ADT installation

Pro installation

All ADT alarm systems come with professional installation by an authorized dealer, which means you don't have to worry about the best place to install the control panel, window sensors, and other equipment.

It also means you have to let a stranger into your home and arrange a time to meet them, which could add up to a whole day off work. Last but not least, you'll pay an installation fee to get your ADT system installed—and that has to be paid up front. The installation fee varies based on the equipment you choose.

But we are talking about a high-end alarm system that you're counting on to protect your home and family. When the stakes are that high, the time (and financial) commitment for a pro install is definitely justified.

Free risk assessment

The real cherry on top with an ADT installation is the comprehensive risk assessment. 

Every installation includes a whole-home risk assessment that identifies the best security solutions for your home.

Security advisers evaluate both the inside and outside of your home so they can make recommendations that address all of your home's security vulnerabilities.

And they're not supposed to recommend extra devices if you don't need them—but they are obligated to point out all potential security risks so you can make the most informed decision.

We suggest being prepared in advance for a bit of a sales presentation along with the risk assessment. Just make sure you know what your budget is and stick to it.

ADT contracts and warranties

ADT is a bit old-fashioned when it comes to requiring a contract. ADT's standard contract is a 36-month commitment. The company's contract-only approach can make ADT a no-go for renters and others who may need to move within a year.

Is there a fee to cancel ADT?

If you decide to cancel your service with ADT before the term is over, you could be subject to a hefty cancellation fee. Generally, you can expect to shoulder 75% of the remaining contract if you decide to opt out of an ADT contract.

While ADT's equipment and monitoring are high quality, we recommend reading the fine print before signing on with an ADT plan.

Compare ADT's cancellation policies with other major home security companies on our cancellation policy page.

Does ADT work without subscription?

If you like ADT's reputation but aren't sure about a contract, check out ADT Self Setup. This is a DIY option that comes with all the convenience of a boxed security system plus ADT's 147 years of home security experience.

Read our full ADT Self Setup review to learn more.

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ADT's customer-first guarantees

We've always been fans of guarantees that put customers first, and ADT has two that stand out.

The Mover's Package Guarantee makes it affordable for you to take your ADT system with you if you move after being a customer for 24 months.

The 6-Month Service Guarantee offers you a full refund of all service fees paid if something goes wrong (and they can't make it right) within the first 180 days of your contract.

Quality service plan

All of the ADT plans we reviewed (except the Essential plan) come with the Quality Service Plan (QSP) at no extra charge.

This is basically the company's equipment warranty. With the QSP, you don't have to worry about extra costs for service calls or paying to replace broken equipment.

Depending on the ADT authorized dealer where you purchased your ADT equipment, there may be extra monthly fees charged for the QSP.

ADT customer service

ADT excels with a long-standing reputation and customer-first guarantees, but those don't always translate to the company's authorized retailers—making customer service hit-or-miss depending on who you're dealing with. 

Is ADT a good company?

There's no denying that over 140 years of experience and the trust of more than 6 million customers is a solid endorsement of ADT's home security systems.

But quality equipment and stellar monitoring services can be overshadowed by mishandling from third-party dealers. There are a few things you can count on from ADT's customer service:

  • Calls that are answered quickly
  • Short hold times
  • 24/7 customer service hours
  • Same-day installation in most areas for no added cost
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What does ADT stand for?

As familiar as the blue octagon is, just what does the name mean? ADT was originally an abbreviation for American District Telegraph. When the company started more than 140 years ago, it used the snazzy new tech of the telegraph to connect homes and alert the first ADT office that something was wrong.1

These days, it's no longer an acronym—it just means ADT.

FAQ

For more ADT-specific questions, visit our page devoted to ADT customers' frequently asked questions.

ADT's installation fee depends on the equipment you're having installed so ask specifically about it when requesting a system quote.

Like most home security companies, there are a number of ADT monitoring packages to choose from.

In addition to monthly monitoring costs, you also need to consider:

  • Equipment costs
  • Activation fees
  • Installation costs
  • Upgrades you want (like cameras, medical alert, etc.)

Because ADT offers so many options and upgrades, it’s easy to end up with a customized ADT package that is more expensive than its competitors.

Just be sure to keep a tally as you work with an ADT security pro to put together the right package for your home. If budget constraints are a factor, let your representative know up front how much you can afford.

ADT started the home security business in the United States. In 1874, American District Telegraph connected homes in a Baltimore neighborhood, and ADT has been in operation since, according to the brand.

A cellular failure alert on our ADT control panel means that the panel (your system’s brain) couldn’t send a signal to an ADT monitoring center (the people who contact emergency dispatch for you). You’ll want to resolve the issue so you arm your system feeling confident that it’s connected to help.

Potential causes of an ADT cellular failure alert

  • A power outage in your area could have interrupted service.
  • Your panel’s backup battery could have been drained after a prolonged power outage (backup batteries are designed to last 24 hours).
  • The wiring could be loose or damaged from construction, pests, or other causes.

Potential solutions

  • Perform an ADT cellular failure reset by turning the control panel off and back on again.
  • Check your system’s user manual to identify the issue. You can find system info on your ADT account.
  • Call ADT if you’re unable to resolve the issue on your own or if you suspect wiring is the issue.

ADT offers wireless home security equipment that makes it easy for renters because wireless security doesn’t require you to drill into walls.

The best way to set up security if you’re renting is to schedule an in-person consultation where an ADT representative can assess your needs and propose a package designed specifically for your space.

But be aware that ADT’s control panel is usually wired into the wall. And its contracts are a minimum of three years, so you'll need to stick around your current place if you don't want to deal with cancellation fees.

If either of those reasons are deal-breakers, you might want to look at other options like SimpliSafe, the DIY ADT Self Setup system, or Link Interactive that are basically peel-and-stick.

 

ADT operates its own monitoring centers. Its nine monitoring centers means you get the benefit of "redundant monitoring."

Redundant monitoring means that if one center goes down due to a power outage or an extreme weather event, the homes monitored by that center are automatically transferred to another center.

This means you’ll always have the protection of 24/7 monitoring with ADT, even if something happens to take a monitoring center offline.

ADT requires a 24-, 36-, or 60-month contract, and they do charge early termination fees if you cancel your service before the end of your term.

If you drop ADT in the middle of your contract, you’ll owe the company 75% of the remaining balance of your contract.

ADT leases its equipment, but the company doesn’t require customers to return equipment at the end of a contract.

The price of equipment is included in your monthly payment; however, ADT is known to offer special deals that may eliminate the equipment cost when you sign a monitoring contract.

Talk to a representative to find out what deals are available when you set up your ADT home security system.

How we reviewed ADT

To review of ADT, we dug into the company's history, reputation, pricing, equipment, customer service, and smart home capabilities.

To evaluate each of these areas, our team did the following:

  • Conducted hands-on testing
  • Met with ADT for demonstrations and to ask questions
  • Visited an ADT technician training center
  • Talked to current and past ADT customers
  • Read hundreds of customer and expert reviews

Learn more about how we review and rank security brands and products in our full methodology.


Sources

  1. ADT, "Our History." Accessed September 15, 2022.

Disclaimer

Rebecca Edwards
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 decade. Rebecca spends dozens of hours every month poring over crime and safety reports and spotting trends. Her 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 NPR, TechCrunch, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, The Miami Herald, HGTV, MSN, Reader's Digest, Real Simple, and an ever-growing library of podcast, radio and TV clips in the US and abroad.