Long contracts, high monitoring fees, frustrating sales reps—we get it. We’ve spent a lot of time over the years reviewing ADT home security, and despite its longstanding reputation as a leading home security provider, it’s definitely not for everyone. The good news is that there are several quality home security alternatives to ADT, and we’ve rounded them up for you. We’ll show you how they compare when it comes to pricing, contracts, equipment, customer service, and installation.
5 Things to Consider as You Shop Around
You’re pretty sure ADT isn’t a good fit for you, but the number of other home alarm system options is overwhelming. Where to start? Here are some things to consider as you shop around for an alternative to ADT.
1. How long do you expect to live in your current home?
Long contracts and high termination fees are a big frustration for ADT customers, especially when an unexpected move hits. If you think you might relocate within the next three years or you just don’t want to be locked into a contract, look for a home security company with a portable security alarm system or no contracts or termination fees.
2. How much do you want to pay?
Security systems for just $99 seem tempting, but those systems are very basic, and they often come with the burden of a three-year contract. Adding in more equipment like cameras and app access will cost you more in equipment, installation fees, and monthly monitoring fees. It all adds up, and to get what you want, you may end up paying a lot more in the long run. Take the time to compare the costs over the course of three years before you decide which alarm system is right for you.
3. Do you want professional or DIY installation?
One of ADT’s strengths is its fleet of experienced technicians who can get your alarm system up and running for you without you having to do a thing. But that installation comes with an extra fee, and many companies are now offering systems that require little to no technical expertise to install so you can do it yourself. ADT alternatives include both DIY and professionally installed alarm systems, so it’s important to consider which you’d be more comfortable with.
4. Do you want professional or DIY monitoring?
ADT’s mandatory professional monitoring with redundant security monitoring centers is great for peace of mind, but it definitely ups your monthly fees. Just like with installation, you can go with a professional or a DIY option when it comes to monitoring your alarm system. There are companies out there offering a choice between professional monitoring through a monitoring center, self monitoring through an alarm app, or some combination of the two. It’s a good idea to decide which feels right to you before you start shopping around.
5. Do you already own smart devices that may be incorporated into your new security system?
If you’ve already invested in smart home devices like a Nest thermostat, Ring doorbell, or Amazon Echo, you’ll probably want to find an alarm system that works with what you have so you can operate everything from one place. While few alarm systems out there are compatible with everything, many are increasing their integrations every day, so it’s a good idea to check and see what’s compatible with your favorite devices.
Compare Alternatives to ADT
We’ve broken down our list of three strong alternatives to ADT by highlighting the main differences between each security company and the leading home security giant.
Prices and fees effective as of 4/1/19. Prices are subject to change.
How it’s different from ADT:
When it comes to ADT alternatives, Vivint is probably ADT’s top contender. Like ADT, Vivint offers professional alarm system installation, home automation, and professional monitoring, but it does it for a lot less than the cost of ADT. Vivint’s starter packages have more equipment than ADT’s, and its smart home equipment costs less. Vivint also steers clear of lengthy contracts with affordable month-to-month options. The two companies match up when it comes to installation fees, and neither charges activation fees.
The one place where ADT pulls ahead of Vivint is experience. Compared to Vivint’s 20 years of experience in the security industry, ADT has over 140 years, with seasoned technicians and support staff. We’ve found that Vivint’s equipment also isn’t as reliable as ADT’s, with sensors that stop working after a year or two and cameras that frequently lose signal. Still, if you’d rather have your system professionally installed and you want all the benefits of smart home integration without being locked into a contract, Vivint is an excellent alternative to ADT.
Unlike ADT and Vivint, SimpliSafe gives you a choice between professional installation and DIY installation, so you can skip the hassle of an installation appointment and install it yourself. SimpliSafe is also contract-free, and you can cancel your monitoring anytime you want with no termination fee. It’s about half the price of ADT monitoring, even when you add on remote access to your system from the SimpliSafe app, and the company is very up-front with packages and pricing.
If you don’t want your equipment bundled into a package like ADT, SimpliSafe’s Build My System tool can help you choose only the devices you need. But selection is limited—while it includes the basics like sensors and cameras, its devices don’t include protocol for Zigbee or Z-Wave devices, so compared to ADT you won’t get as many options for smart home automation. SimpliSafe also doesn’t have any outdoor cameras or video doorbells. But its systems are compatible with August smart door locks, Amazon Alexa, and Nest.
If your idea of home security mostly includes contact sensors and motion sensors and you aren’t worried about integrating your security system into your smart home automation setup, then SimpliSafe is an affordable security service provider.
Frontpoint has consistently ranked at the top of our lists for best home security systems, and it’s for good reason. This DIY alarm system comes preprogrammed, so it’s simple to install. Like ADT, Frontpoint requires a three-year monitoring contract, but its systems are designed to be portable so you can take them with you if you move.
When it comes to pricing, Frontpoint packages are more expensive than a lot of other DIY systems out there, but the quality of its alarm equipment is comparable to ADT. It has more smart automation options than SimpliSafe, but not as many as ADT. Its keypad doubles as a smart home hub for Z-Wave devices, and it’s compatible with Amazon Alexa and Google Home so you can have voice control over your system. Frontpoint is also known for great customer service with a stellar A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau.
Frontpoint is a good DIY ADT alternative if you want a portable system that’s equal to ADT in quality and smart home integration and you don’t mind slightly higher prices and a three-year monitoring contract.
What items should I look for in a basic security system package?
Most home security systems will come with an alarm panel, keypad (which may be included on the panel), two or more door and window sensors, a motion sensor, and a remote/key fob. Alarm systems that don’t have a keypad are usually controlled with an app. Once you have your basic system, you can purchase additional items like cameras, glass break sensors, and smoke detectors. Some companies offer lower prices by bundling these items together in discounted packages.
Do all home security companies operate their own monitoring stations like ADT?
No. Many, like SimpliSafe, contract out their alarm monitoring to established monitoring companies. Vivint has its own monitoring centers, while SimpliSafe uses a monitoring company called COPS and Frontpoint uses Rapid Response.
How do ADT cameras compare with other security systems’ cameras?
ADT’s outdoor cameras are some of the best on the market. Its indoor cameras are high quality, but they don’t have the two-way talk like cameras offered by Vivint and Frontpoint. SimpliSafe cameras have microphones to pick up audio but no speaker for you to communicate with someone in your home through your phone.
What are the benefits of having access to my system through an app?
As someone who’s had a security system since long before apps were even a thing, I can tell you that app control makes life a whole lot easier. Rather than calling a neighbor to check on an alarm when I’m not home, I can do it myself from the app on my phone. (Half the time it’s just a sensor going off because I need to replace the batteries.) And instead of giving my mother the code to disarm the system and hoping she’ll be able to figure it out, I can unlock the door for her and turn off the system from anywhere using the app. It’s also nice to be able to check security cameras for reassurance when I’m not around. Basically, when you’re out, apps give you the kind of control over your system you would have if you were home.
The Last Word on ADT
ADT is kind of like a home security grandpa: it’s old and wise, but it also holds on to some outdated notions like lengthy contracts and mandatory professional installation. Newer companies might not have the experience of ADT, but they have a lighter touch and are more in tune with what many of today’s consumers are looking for with more flexible, budget-friendly, DIY systems. They’re definitely worth a look if you’re ready for something different.
If you want to do a little more research before you make a final decision, here are a few additional resources.
Kasey Tross is a stay-at-home mom with four energetic kids, and she's married to a security expert, so safety is a top priority in the Tross home. When she's not writing, she enjoys reading, hiking, playing the flute, helping out at church, and eating far more chocolate than she should. Learn more