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ADT is the oldest security company around. Their tenure in the industry gives them an advantage over their competitors by not only being the oldest security provider in the USA, but also being the largest. They currently have over 7 million customers! This is what makes them a household name. I believe one of the things that makes them great is their ability to offer a wide variety of products. They offer smart home security setups complete with automation and cameras. All the way down to a simple DIY solution. Most of their older equipment will work with their monitoring too. This gives customers many options where they will surely find the best security for their home and budget.
Since ADT has such a wide variety of equipment, I will be focusing on their new equipment that is currently being offered. The DIY system will be covered in another review.
Before we jump into all the bells and whistles of ADT, it is important to understand that when you purchase the ADT service you can go through the company itself or one of it's authorized dealers.
Why am I bringing this up?
I mention this because a dealer is technically a separate company that sells ADT equipment and service. They are often door to door salesmen that are offered high commissions if you sign up. They mainly handle the selling of equipment, installation, and then sell your contract to ADT for an upfront value.
Some of these salesmen can be shady. Others can be amazing! It is worth while to see their reviews since it varies from dealer to dealer. Most of the time they offer "free install" or "free equipment" for an amazing price. They generally are giving you outdated or already used equipment. Plus the equipment isn’t really “free”. It is just bundled into the monthly price for with a contract.
It's always good to know beforehand because if you run into any issues then you will want to know if you need to call the dealer or the corporate office to resolve your issue.
This review will focus on ordering a system through ADT corporate.
The command panel is ADT’s newest home security panel. It is a 7inch touchscreen display that controls the whole security system. The panel can be mounted on the wall or set up on a display. This is a great option for renters because you don’t need to drill any holes in the wall. The panel is not designed to be used like an ipad where you can carry it around the house though. It will need to be located in a part of the home so it can connect to everything. The panel requires to be plugged into the wall for day to day use and the backup battery is there in case your power goes out. If you want to control it remotely, it is recommended that you download the app.
The backup battery will last for 4 hours. If the power were to go out or if you were to accidentally unplug it, the system will still work.
The panel comes equipped with a 85 decibel siren. Anyone who is trying to break won't be staying for long!
Inside of the panel is a cell chip which allows for more reliable monitoring. There is no need for a landline or wifi connection in order to have monitoring to the police department. However, if you want to access things remotely, like your cameras, then you will need wifi for that.
Cameras, door locks, lighting, and all the other smart home features can be controlled from the panel. You can watch your cameras and set up automations for your lights and locks. For example, once 10PM hits you can have the system programmed to automatically lock the doors and turn the lights off.
The ADT app is where the system really starts to shine. The app is beautifully designed with large icons that make it easy to use. The app works on both iphone and android. You can install it on any phone or tablet. If you are not able to access your phone, the alarm can be managed on their website via a customer portal.
The app allows you to turn the alarm on and off, adjust the temperature of your home, and view all the cameras from your phone as long as you have cell phone service. This makes working the alarms less stressful because if you leave the house you don't have to second guess yourself about whether you turned the alarm on or not. You simply look at the app and it will tell you.
Another nice feature that is not seen with many other apps is the ability to pay your bill, order a new yard sign, and even watch tutorials on how to use your system! ADT is already thinking ahead in making the overall customer experience a convenient one.
Nearly 34% of break ins happen through the front porch. The number of packages being stolen from the front porch is also high. Doorbell cameras are becoming an essential to any security setup. The doorbell camera from ADT is built by them. This is a good sign because most companies will use a third party option from skybell.
If you already have a Ring doorbell camera, it will work with the adt system.
ADT is the only security company that I am currently aware of that will use the ring doorbell camera with their app and service. Most companies will force you to purchase a new camera to work with their system. You can read up more from ADT to see if your version of Ring will work.
The doorbell camera is plenty to have the front of your house covered. The camera films in a 720p resolution which will give you great video quality to identify anyone on your front porch. The night vision also lets you see no matter how dark. Built inside of the camera is a motion sensor that sends alerts to your phone whenever someone comes close enough. This means that even if someone doesn't ring your doorbell that you will still be notified.
The standard "two way talk" feature is also built in this camera. Whenever someone is at your front door you can talk to them through your phone. This is great if you are away from the house to make it look like you are home or if you are just too lazy to answer the door yourself. You can have a full conversation with the person from the mobile app.
A problem with most doorbell cameras is if someone rings the camera they can hug up against the wall and not be seen. ADT solves this problem by providing a 180 degree angle lens which allows you to see side to side.
These features make ADT's doorbell camera a great option if you do not have one already. It is a great way to gain that peace of mind that you are looking for.
Cameras on the inside of the home make great babysitters if you are in another room. At any moment you can pull up a real time camera feed and see it on your phone. The inside camera with ADT comes equipped with a 1080p lens. This allows you to get crystal clear video. Built inside of the camera is a microphone. Just like the doorbell camera, you can talk to people through the camera. So if you see the kids fighting in the next room over you can tell them to knock it off!
The lens comes equipped with a 145 degree viewing angle. This wide angle lens means you can see a lot with just one camera. I recommend putting the camera in the corner of the room. This will allow you to see a lot with just one camera.
The camera does require to be plugged into an electrical outlet for it to work. At this time, ADT does not offer a battery powered inside camera. Wifi is also required for streaming and recording. This camera would be a great option for a home or small business. However, it would not be a good option for a shed or barn.
The Outside camera is very similar to the inside camera. As a matter of fact, they have the same design. The major difference is that the outside camera is waterproof. Sun, rain, or snow the outside camera is built to withstand all the weather elements.
All the specs are the same. The outside camera has the same resolution, viewing angle, and wifi requirements. This makes the outside camera an overall solid camera, but does lack some of the other features found from other companies such as 3x zoom, playing chirp sounds to attract the attention of someone, and loitering defection.
Smart Home Features
Almost every security system now has some sort of smart home functionality. ADT offers control over the door lock, garage door opener, and thermostat. It is also compatible with any z-wave product and your google home/amazon alexa. I'll get more into this later.
All of these devices can be set to schedules through the settings menu. For example, if you have left your garage door open for more than 15 minutes you can have it shut all by itself automatically. All the devices will show up on the app on your phone giving you full control of your house anywhere you are at.
Smart home capability is a great option for those who are in and out of the house a lot. Being able to control your home from your phone offers a level of convenience that makes you wonder how you lived without it.
Many of the products offered are just z-wave compatible products with their logo slapped on it. For example, the garage door opener is from a company called 2gig. You can simply purchase one from amazon. If you are feeling handy, you can install and connect it yourself. This will save you some money because they are likely to charge a monthly rate for something that can be done by yourself. The benefit to having them do it is just convenience.
I am making this it's own section because it seems to be a feature unique to ADT that I would like to highlight. A common feature that most people want in their home is the ability to control overhead lights, such as bedroom or kitchen lights, from their phone. With every other company out there you hack to either replace all the light switches with z-wave light switches or hope they are compatible with Phillip hues light bulbs. Both of these options are a pain because they require lots of set up.
ADT solves this problem by providing their own smart light bulbs. You simply unscrew the old light bulb and screw in the new one! With this option you don't need to worry about rewiring new light switches. Once it is set up and connected, all the light bulbs will appear on the app on your phone where you can turn them on or off. Through the panel, you can make set up rules to have all the lights turn off by a certain time. Having the ability to control your lights has never been easier!
There are many products on the market that will sync up to the ADT system. For those who want to control more than what ADT offers are in luck. Many of these items, such as light switches, will appear on the ADT app. This will help prevent you from having to have one app for security and another app to control third party products. Below is a quick list of some items that are compatible with ADT and how they work with the system.
Amazon Alexa and Google Home
These smart bluetooth speakers have taken the world by storm! Close to 36% of adults in the US own one. Luckily they will connect to your ADT system too. Using your voice you can tell ADT to change the temperature of your home, arm your system, or even lock your door. It is important to note that you cannot tell the system to unlock your door or disarm your system. You can imagine a burglar outside the home "Hey Alexa, tell ADT to unlock the door"!
For those who don't know what z-wave is, it is the technology that allows items within the home to connect to your security panel wirelessly. ADT works with any item that has z-wave capability. This means that if you want to add in custom items such as a z-wave sprinkler system or window blinds you can! Once the item is connected it will sync right up to the panel.
ADT will come with all the standard security features that you come to expect from an alarm system. They offer door and window sensors, motion sensors, and glass break detectors. All the sensors are wireless. They run on lithium batteries which last about 3 years with normal use.
The overall functionality is that which you would expect from a security provider. If someone were to trip the alarm it will automatically alert their monitoring station. From there, someone from ADT monitoring will call your list of emergency contacts. If no one answers, they will immediately call the police department. The response time is literally within seconds from tripping the alarm to you being notified.
Since ADT has so many customers, they do the majority of their monitoring in house. They also have multiple monitoring stations. This means that if one station was affected from a natural disaster then you will still have monitoring.
ADT can use existing wired equipment. So if you are in a home that already has security equipment in there, it would be a good idea to try and use some of the existing equipment so you don't have to purchase new equipment. If you have a wired system, you should have a metal box in your closet or attic somewhere. They will wire all those into a device that will connect to your panel. Wired sensors last a long time and you don't have to worry about replacing the batteries on them. I recommend keeping the wired sensors if possible.
ADT works with some wireless equipment. Companies such as simpli safe and security from comcast will not work with ADT. However, other companies that use 2Gig sensors will! These companies include most local companies, frontpoint, and any older Vivint system.
I recommend getting a quote on new equipment just in case they need to replace it. However, most of the time they can use existing equipment.
The newer ADT systems are monitored via cell towers. This means that inside of the panel is a sim card that calls out to their monitoring station. This is a lot more reliable than a system that runs off a landline. Many older systems operate this way. They are oftentimes very cheap, but the security isn't very good since someone can cut the landline from outside of the home which prevents the system from never calling out.
It is important to note that although the system connects to wifi to stream the cameras, the monitoring is not based on this wifi. So if your wifi goes down, you will still have monitoring.
ADT's customer service is not the best. Just like with most big companies you can expect complicated menus to navigate when you call in. Most of the time you need to get transferred multiple times before you get to the right person. Depending when you call in, you can expect to wait on the line for a few minutes before you get a hold of a person. The customer service is available 24/7 which is nice.
Installation with ADT is easy since they handle it for you. They do offer a do it yourself system which they will just mail you the equipment for you to install yourself. However, if you order their pulse system you can expect for a tech to come to your home and install it professionally.
The install time can vary depending on how much equipment they are installing. If it is a basic system with just a panel and sensors then it will take a little over an hour. However, if you are having outside cameras installed with other smart home features it can take about 5-6 hours for everything.
The installation itself is very hands off. Once the tech confirms the order, you just let him or her do their thing until they are ready to show you how to use it.
The sensors are just glued onto the doors and windows. There is some minor drilling for the motion sensor, security panel, and any outside camera that you do. This means that if you were to leave the house and take the equipment then you can simply putty up the holes to make it look like you never had a system there to begin with.
The lowest price you will get with ADT is for their DIY system which is $20 a month. This would be for their DIY system. The system we had discussed in this review starts at $45 per month. This includes the panel, sensors, and monitoring. That does not include the app on your phone. If you want the remote access then the price jumps up to \$50 per month. This would include the panel, sensors, monitoring, and the app on your phone.
Finally, the pricing for the system with a camera starts at $58 per month. If you want more cameras they will charge up front for it. The pricing for each individual camera can vary from $200 - \$300. In some cases, it might be more affordable to go purchase cameras on your own and just let ADT do the monitoring for your home.
Note: The pricing mentioned above is for cellular based monitoring. Some systems will advertise a price as low as \$27 per month, but they generally require a landline which is not as reliable.
ADT's contract is for 36 months. After that the service will go month to month or you can have the option to renew your contract for a lower price. Sometimes they will even offer to keep the price the same, but add brand new equipment at no additional charge. The contract is really intended for them to make their money back on the equipment which normally happens around the 18-21 month mark. This can vary depending if you had been given a free month of service, free repair visits, etc.
If you move during the 36 months, you can take the equipment with you. Since ADT is nationwide, there is a very small chance that they wouldn't service your area. They would simply send a tech to the home to help box everything up, then when you get to the new home you will call ADT again to have a tech come out and reinstall the equipment.
If during the 36 months you need to cancel the service, the buy out fee for an ADT contract is around 75% of your monthly price times how many months you have left. For example, if you are paying $50 per month and you have 10 months left your buyout fee would be $400. That is $50 * 10 = $500 * 0.8 = \$400.
ADT is becoming more consistent in coming out with newer products. I would recommend that after that 36 months is up, you call them and see what type of new equipment is available.
ADT is a great choice for anyone who wants a newer system without the expensive costs. The features they offer will be an upgrade for most people switching to their service. The wide variety of equipment allows for just about anyone to find a good solution for them.
It is amazing to see what ADT has been able to do in their long career. Their innovations show that they are listening to their customers and adapting to the new marketplace. I would recommend anyone to ADT who wants a solid system with cameras, without a crazy price.