We did a mid-year review of all the top home security systems, including new package and equipment offerings, price changes, updated or discontinued features, and the latest customer service reviews.
ADT remains in our top five best security systems thanks to its longstanding reputation and great customer guarantees. It dropped to a slightly lower ranking due to the brand's slow adoption of new technology—a weakness in a crowded field of smart security systems. Get all the latest ADT details in our updated review below.
ADT’s well-established reputation has made it one of the most trusted names in the industry. Stand-out features include mobile control and alerts through the ADT Pulse® app and CellGuard® wireless monitoring that connects customers to one of six monitoring centers without a landline.
ADT’s main downfalls are high monthly costs and strict contract requirements. You can pay anywhere from $27.99 per month to nearly $60, depending on the level of monitoring you choose and the equipment and add-ons you select. The company also requires a three-year contract—and if you want to opt out early, you’ll have to pay 75% of your remaining contract.
If you can afford it (and make a three-year commitment), ADT is a good choice for customized, comprehensive home security packages.
Compare ADT Prices and Packages
All ADT home security packages come with 24/7 professional monitoring.
Data effective 08/14/2019. Offers and availability subject to change.
140+ years of home security experience
Smart home options
6-month money-back guarantee
Multiple package options
More monitoring centers than anyone else
24/7 customer service
Pricey add-ons and upgrades
ADT is on the pricier end of home security. You’re paying for years of home security experience and a good track record, but we’d like to see the company throw in a few more essentials (like mobile access, security cameras, or smoke and CO monitoring) without adding dollars to your monthly bill.
We like that ADT works hard to make its high-end home security accessible despite expensive monthly monitoring fees. The variety of packages available makes ADT a viable option for nearly any budget. Because you can choose what you want to add on to your plan, you have a lot of control over how much you pay.
The Basic package, which starts at $27.99 per month, is less than most people pay for TV every month—but ADT isn’t kidding around with the “basic” label slapped on this package. If you want to pay under $30 a month for ADT’s professional monitoring, you have to use a landline connection, which means you miss out on perks like the mobile app and video monitoring.
Current Deal: You can get up to $850 in free equipment when you sign a three-year ADT monitoring contract.
ADT offers a lot beyond standard home security (like medical alert monitoring), but the company tacks on additional charges for safety essentials like smoke and carbon monoxide monitoring, which other security companies like Frontpoint and Link Interactive include.
DIY Home Security from ADT through LifeShield
ADT acquired LifeShield in early 2019, making a DIY option available to people who want the reassurance of the ADT name without its extensive traditional home security system. LifeShield offers smart home security that comes in a box ready for DIY installation—and you can get professional monitoring without a long-term contract.
LifeShield’s security systems range in price from around $330 up to $500. But there’s usually a deal available that drops the basic package price to around $200, which is competitive with other DIY systems like Ring and SimpliSafe. You can choose a pre-packaged system or customize one to meet your specific security needs. And LifeShield gives you mobile app control with every package—no upgrade required.
When it comes to contract terms, ADT isn’t doing anything differently than most other home alarm companies—tying people up for a minimum of 36 months. But the lack of any other options can make ADT a no-go for renters and others who may need to move within one to three years. We’d like to see more contract options available like the choices Link Interactive offers—12-month, 24-month, and 36-month contracts.
You also have to upgrade for an extended warranty (the Quality Service Plan) if you select the Basic package. That’s one more thing that adds up on your monthly bill. Without the upgrade, you get only 90 days of warranty protection. And expect to pay for a service call even if you have the QSP—but a fee of $25–$45 per visit is a lot better than shelling out several hundred without it.
Overall, we’d like to see ADT cut their customers a break and create some affordable package options that include smoke and CO alerts along with a good, solid warranty for all plans.
ADT Tech and Equipment
ADT remains on the forefront of technology and equipment, but the company lags a bit behind other security companies like Vivint—especially when it comes to getting the latest and greatest tech to market fast.
Insider Info: ADT uses independent third-party retailers to sell and install equipment. The good news is that gives you the chance for same-day installation in some areas. The bad news is that you never know exactly what your control panel (and other equipment) is going to look like until the installer knocks on your door. That means that if you like the ADT system at your brother’s house, there’s no guarantee yours will look the same. But no matter what style of equipment you get, your ADT security system will protect your home just as well.
We were happy to learn that ADT recently added in-demand equipment like a doorbell camera to its offerings. And word is that 2019 will deliver more upgraded equipment and smart home options. Our biggest complaint is that Protect Your Home (ADT’s premier provider) hasn’t offered outdoor security cameras. We hope that’s one of the new features we get to see this year.
Window and Door Sensor
ADT Smart Home Features
If you want your ADT security system to be smart, you need to go with one of the Pulse® packages—but they don’t come cheap.
On the plus side, ADT uses Z-Wave technology in all of its smart security equipment. That means your ADT Pulse® system should be able to integrate with a lot of third-party smart home devices—and if you already have a Nest thermostat, you’ll be happy to know that ADT and Nest are compatible. ADT also works with Amazon Alexa to access the ADT Pulse® app. So all you need is your voice to arm and disarm your system, control the lights, or make sure the garage door is closed.
The downside is the price. You can’t get home automation with ADT’s basic security packages, so you’re looking at a base monthly monitoring rate of $52.99 per month. Before you clutch your wallet protectively, consider that the annual price works out to around $635—that’s under $2 a day.
Insider Info: The average loss for a victim of home burglary is $2,400. Three years of monitoring with ADT’s priciest plan is around $2,100. Plus, ADT will cover up to $500 of your insurance deductible if you have a break-in while an ADT system is on the job.
Smart Home Compatibility
Smart Home Feature
Nest, Z-Wave devices
Smart home hub
ADT’s Six Monitoring Centers
Where ADT beats every other security company hands-down is its professional monitoring centers. ADT operates its own centers 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 six 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 Customer Service
ADT gets mixed reviews when it comes to customer service and satisfaction. The company 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.
Here’s a look at current ADT reviews and ratings for customer service and satisfaction.*
J.D. Power 2018 ranking: rated “about average” for customer satisfaction¹
Trustpilot rating: 1 star out of 5, Bad
ADT Pulse® app on Google Play: 4.1 stars out of 5
ADT Pulse® app on Apple App Store: 4.8 stars out of 5
*Ratings as of August 2019.
There’s no denying that over 140 years of experience and the trust of more than six 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. On the plus side, 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
Next-day installation (in some areas)
ADT’s Customer Guarantees
One thing ADT does right—regardless of who installs your system—is customer guarantees.*
Theft Protection Guarantee: This guarantee protects you if your home is burglarized while your system is armed—ADT will pay up to $500 of your insurance deductible in that case.
Six-Month Money-Back Service Guarantee: If you’re unhappy with your service during the first six months of your contract, and you haven’t been satisfied with ADT’s efforts to resolve your issues, you could get a full refund for monitoring fees and installation costs.
Mover’s Savings Package: Even though you have a long-term contract, ADT offers this package to help you if you need to move during your contract. If you’ve had service for at least six months, you qualify for the Mover’s package, which includes discounts and 25% (up to $749) off additional sensors.
*Certain terms and restrictions may apply. These guarantees may change at any time, so make sure you check with a representative for the most current details.
All ADT alarm systems come with professional installation, 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 half-day off work. Last but not least, you’ll pay an installation fee, starting at $99—and that has to be paid up front.
But we are talking about a high-end security 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.
Fast Installation: Protect Your Home can get an installer to you the same day you call (in certain areas). That’s especially reassuring if you’re getting a system because you’ve had a break-in or other scare.
The real cherry on top with an ADT installation is the comprehensive risk assessment. All of ADT’s installers are highly-trained security advisers. Every installation includes a whole-home risk assessment that identifies the best security solutions for your home.
Security advisers are trained to 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 don’t 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.
Why is ADT more expensive than other home security companies?
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, and the extra expense of any upgrades you select. 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.
Is ADT worth the price?
ADT’s higher costs can be worth it if you’re looking for a security company with a long-standing reputation and track record. We consider ADT a luxury home security brand, but that’s not what everyone is looking for. For people on a budget or those thinking of moving within the next three years, the cost can be prohibitive.
Does ADT home security work for renters?
Yes. ADT offers wireless home security equipment that make 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. If that’s a deal-breaker for your landlord, you might want to look at other options like Link Interactive or SimpliSafe that are basically peel-and-stick.
Why does the number of monitoring centers matter?
Multiple 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 even if something happens to take a monitoring center offline.
What happens if I cancel my contract early?
ADT requires a 36-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.
Do I own my ADT equipment?
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 security system.