ADT Home Security Review 2024: Good, but Not for Tight Budgets

Published On: May 3, 2024
Last Updated on: May 13, 2024
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ADT Home Security Review 2024: Good, but Not for Tight Budgets

For better or worse, ADT dominates the market with a huge installer network.

ADT Home Security Review 2024: Good, but Not for Tight Budgets

  • John Carlsen is a Utah-based tech journalist specializing in smart home and home security reviews since 2013. He strives to empower readers with clear, in-depth information on products and services so they can realize their household goals on any budget.
ADT
Our rating3.5 out of 5 stars
Subscription priceDepends on dealer
Upfront equipment priceVariable
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Pros

  • Google Nest security camera and smart home integration
  • Professional installation comes with every system
  • ADT's cancellation fee is lower than those of Vivint and Frontpoint

Cons

  • Confusing web of dealers makes it difficult to pin down reliable ADT pricing
  • Six-month money-back guarantee has too many restrictions to be useful
  • Warranty tops out at 90 days unless you pay for the extended warranty

Our Advice

A massive dealer network helps ADT claim a spot among the best home security systems for professional installation. It also has the best Google Nest compatibility of any security system. Our tester enjoyed using this system and reported an excellent customer support experience. Still, they found some of the online controls confusing at times.

Unfortunately, it's too easy for financing, warranty and monitoring costs to quickly add up the more equipment you have—ADT isn't for anyone on an already tight budget.

ADT Home Security Review Table of Contents

Essential Details You Should Know about ADT

ADT details
Contract length2, 3 or 5 years
Requires contractYes
Cancellation policyPay 75% of remaining balance
Return/trial policy6 months (unresolvable technical issues only)
Professional installationRequired (costs vary)

ADT's biggest drawback is its reliance on dealers. It mucks things up further by selling products and services directly to customers. Finding reliable information on ADT when there are so many differences is a complete nightmare.

Although ADT Authorized Dealers commit to ADT's standards for sales and marketing, there's some leeway with professional monitoring and installation prices. Understandably, these companies adjust pricing based on regional needs—a dealer in the Midwest may need an entirely different strategy than one on the East Coast to succeed. 

But the real pain point is poor pricing transparency from most dealers. They treat prices like confidential information to stay ahead of the competition, much to my ongoing disappointment. Why would anyone in 2024 want to listen to an agent rattle off prices over the phone when a simple list of online prices is a better experience? Better yet, a price list could help customers follow along during a call and make the whole process smoother. Think about it.

Online reviews aren't immune either—we don't always use the same dealer affiliate programs. Even if I can vouch for ADT's website as the best source of info, a dealer's affiliate partnership may override it.

Contract Length

Regardless of where you sign up for an ADT home security system, there's a good chance you'll have a three-year contract, which is typical for most home security companies. ADT also offers two- and five-year contracts, depending on state restrictions or equipment financing options. For context, ADT customers stay with the company for around 15 years on average, according to its latest annual report. ADT's monitoring contract locks in at three years if you pay upfront for your equipment.

All ADT monitoring contracts switch to a month-to-month term after they end. Occasionally, you can expect the company to use the tried-and-true sales tactic of enticing you with new equipment to establish a new long-term contract.

The only ADT option without a contract is ADT Self Setup, a separate service outside the scope of this review.

Equipment Financing

ADT home security systems are expensive, so it's nice that there are multiple ways to pay for equipment. Through financing, you can break your equipment and installation costs into monthly installments that won't drain your savings account.

ADT offers 0% interest financing for customers with good credit and may ask for a down payment, depending on your credit history. You can still qualify with a lower credit score, but ADT will charge a $79 upfront financing fee and set the interest rate at 8.02% as of this writing. Either financing option is miles ahead of using a credit card to pay upfront.

You'll commit to the same monitoring contract term as your equipment financing plan. ADT doesn't allow month-to-month contracts when you choose professional installation.

Cancellation and Returns

Canceling ADT early means paying off your equipment and installation balance plus 75% of the remaining fees you owe for monitoring services.

I can assure you that ADT's six-month money-back guarantee isn't a customer satisfaction policy—it's not a license to cancel your contract for any reason other than ADT failing to resolve technical issues with your system. Under that definition, it's no more than an equipment warranty that rarely gives a refund.

Installation

You should expect ADT and its Authorized Dealers to provide professional installation with your system. This is a nice convenience for anyone uncomfortable with a DIY system, but it's also the major reason ADT's equipment is so pricey.

Installation costs vary from dealer to dealer, with SafeStreets charging between $99 and $499 upfront depending on the equipment package you choose—adding more devices may increase your costs. It's also possible that a company will calculate your installation charges as part of the equipment costs or roll them into your financing plan.

ADT Equipment

ADT Panel with different options

Our tester noted how easy the ADT control panel is to use.

Exciting Equipment

While brands like Vivint, Arlo and Ring work to develop new home security devices from scratch, ADT shines by bringing outstanding devices together from many suppliers. No other ADT partner makes as big of an impact as Google Nest.

Please note that I'm using the ADT shop's pricing for professional installation and a three-year contract—promotional prices and taxes aren't included. The actual prices may vary from dealer to dealer. Still, this should be enough info for a reasonable baseline. Some devices (and their prices) aren't in ADT's online shop, so you must speak with a sales agent to add them.

ADT Control Panel and Mobile App

Our ADT tester generally liked the design of the wall-mounted ADT control panel that comes with every system. It was easy to use, with a simple menu without much to get lost in. Still, they pointed out that Vivint's panel felt more modern and offered a better user experience.

As for the ADT mobile app, the tester found that it was easy enough to use, but some of the automation features required logging into ADT's online portal for setup. This is odd since the ADT app offers more customization overall.

ADT Security Cameras

ADT Outdoor Google Nest Cam
Image Credit: newsroom.adt.com

ADT's biggest equipment draw is full support for and integration of Google Nest security cameras. This brings Nest's innovative smart motion detection, cloud video storage and easy controls to modern ADT systems. While these cameras are identical to the ones Google sells, ADT adds a feature called video verification. It checks your video feed when the alarm goes off before sending help to prevent false alarms.

Regarding pricing and technology, Google Nest cameras don't have much of an edge over similar models from Ring and Arlo. Still, they're more affordable and flexible (thanks to battery-powered models) than Vivint cameras.

  • Google Nest Cam (indoor, wired) ($199 upfront or $5.53 monthly)
  • Google Nest Cam (outdoor or indoor, battery) ($309 upfront or $8.58 monthly)
  • Google Nest Cam with Floodlights ($299 upfront or $8.31 monthly)
  • Google Nest Doorbell (battery) ($229 upfront or $6.36 monthly)

Our tester enjoyed how Google's cameras integrated in the system, but didn't realize that they had to finish linking the cameras in the Google Home app for full compatibility with ADT. As a result, the tester's Nest Doorbell didn't initially chime on the ADT control panel or ADT app.

Either the installer didn't help with this process, or the tester missed that information. Still, it's a good idea to double-check the Google Home app after you start using your system. The tester and I agree that Google Home is the best option for controlling the smart home side of ADT systems. I want to note that the Google Home app can't unlock smart locks, so you'll still need the ADT app for remote unlocking.

Nest Aware Cloud Storage

If you buy Google Nest cameras through ADT, the monitoring plan includes Nest Aware cloud storage that adds facial recognition and saves short video recordings for up to 30 days. 

Nest Aware also unlocks smoke and carbon monoxide alarm detection on Nest cameras (except the doorbell), Google smart speakers and smart displays. Glass break detection is available, but not for Nest cameras. These are nice perks, but they won't replace dedicated ADT sensors. An ADT home security system will work when your power or internet goes out—Google Nest devices won't.

You can upgrade to Nest Aware Plus for an extra $6 a month, which extends the event history to 60 days with 10 days of continuous recording. Unfortunately, continuous recording requires a wired power source and doesn't work on the battery-powered doorbell model. 

It's possible to add more cameras without getting them from ADT. But you must buy at least one camera to get the bundle with Nest Aware. Otherwise, you'll need a separate Nest Aware subscription for existing Nest cameras. 

Other Google Nest equipment

Beyond Google Nest cameras, you can outfit your ADT system with various thermostats, smart speakers and smart displays. According to Google Nest, ADT systems also work with other Nest devices, which aren't listed in ADT's online shop—you may need to request them specifically for your system.

  • Google Nest Thermostat ($224 upfront or $6.22 monthly)
  • Google Nest Learning Thermostat (pricing unavailable)
  • Google Nest Mini (2nd gen) ($49 upfront or $1.36 monthly)
  • Google Nest Hub (2nd gen) ($139 upfront or $3.86 monthly)
  • Google Nest Hub Max ($269 upfront or $7.47 monthly)
ADT smart home support: Aside from the explicit integration with Google Home, ADT also works with various smart home automation options such as Amazon Alexa, Apple TV, Lutron, Rain Bird and Sonos. While the system also supports some Z-Wave devices, it's unclear what works with ADT Command—most lists of approved devices refer back to the older ADT Pulse system. I suggest linking ADT to Google or Alexa to control your smart home gear. You can skip directly connecting ADT to anything else.

Boring Equipment

ADT contact sensor

The ADT Door/Window sensor helps protect the various points of entry in your home. 

Not all of ADT's security equipment is worth discussing at length. Door sensors and motion detectors are necessary parts of any home security system. But there's almost no practical difference between brands when you look at the underlying tech, performance and features.

Even if you split hairs by looking at aesthetics and pricing, the fact remains that choosing an ADT system means using ADT sensors.

Security System Controls

  • ADT Secondary Wireless Touchscreen ($200 upfront or $5.56 monthly)
  • ADT Key Fob (pricing unavailable)

Intrusion Sensors

  • ADT Motion Detector ($100 upfront or $2.78 monthly)
  • ADT Door/Window Sensor ($50 upfront or $1.39 monthly)
  • ADT Glass Break Detector (pricing unavailable)

Environmental Hazard Sensors

  • ADT Smoke Detector ($100 upfront or $2.78 monthly)
  • ADT Carbon Monoxide Detector (pricing unavailable)
  • ADT Combo Smoke/CO Detector ($180 upfront or $5.00 monthly)
  • ADT Water Detector ($100 upfront or $2.78 monthly)

Smart Home Devices

  • ADT Smart Light (pricing unavailable)
  • ADT Smart Plug (pricing unavailable)
  • ADT Smart Lock (pricing unavailable)
  • ADT Garage Security (pricing unavailable)

ADT Monitoring Plans

ADT plan breakdown (before taxes)
Base monitoring plan feeDepends on dealer (see below)
Smart home add-onDepends on dealer (see below)
Nest Aware video storage add-onDepends on dealer (see below)
Equipment financing add-onDepends on the contract length and equipment chosen
Additional chargesDepends on local laws and regulations for security systems
ADT Quality Service Plan (QSP) extended warranty add-onStarts at $7.00 per month—increases with total equipment value
System activation fee$25.00 one-time fee

Base Monitoring Plan

There is very little consistency in the base monitoring fees for ADT and a few of its dealers. While these could change, here's a quick summary of the lowest monitoring prices I found while writing this review:

  • ADT Ecommerce Shop ($24.99 per month for cellular)
  • ADT Residential ($28.99 per month for landline, $34.99 per month for cellular)
  • SafeStreets ($27.99 per month for landline, $36.99 per month for cellular)
  • Safe Haven ($27.99 per month for landline, $45.99 per month for cellular)

It's unclear why the ADT Shop lists lower cellular monitoring fees. The simplest explanation is that there's no sales commission like you'll find with any other option above. Still, the difference between landline and cellular prices is too chaotic.

Optional Services

Base plans don't usually include an extended warranty or features like app control, smart home and security cameras. You can expect each to add to your monthly bill. If you know the total equipment cost, your QSP extended warranty cost is easy to calculate. Unless you buy through the ADT Shop, you likely won't see this number until your installation appointment.

ADT Monitoring Tiers

ADT and many other professionally installed home security systems ration out features using different monitoring tiers. For example, adding the ADT Control app to your monitoring plan doesn't necessarily include access to smart home or security camera controls.

I'm still collecting data for these pricing tiers from various dealers. Sadly, I don't have enough yet to give firm numbers. In the meantime, these ranges can help you set expectations for most dealers.

ADT Smart Hub
Image Credit: newsroom.adt.com

Tier 1: Monitoring ($28–$48 per month)

Tier 2: Mobile app ($37–$56 per month)

Tier 3: Smart home ($50–$64 per month)

Tier 4: Security cameras ($57–$64 per month)

Tier 5: Smart home and security cameras ($62+ per month)

Multi-tier pricing structures like these are relics of a bygone era before security systems used wireless sensors and Wi-Fi security cameras. It made sense to upsell products when every sensor and camera required a wired connection to the keypad. Installation was complex enough that most people didn't have the skills to do it.

A modern security system doesn't have those restrictions. This is why DIY options like Ring Alarm and SimpliSafe usually offer one or two tiers based on whether they charge extra for security camera storage.

Additional ADT services: ADT also offers the following services independent of home security systems: ADT medical alerts starting at $29.99 per month; ADT SoSecure personal security app starting at $4.99 per month

Customer Compliments and Complaints About ADT

ADT has a very mixed reputation in online customer reviews. ConsumerAffairs and Trustpilot boast overwhelmingly positive reviews for ADT and SafeStreets, respectively. In contrast, customers are unfriendly on ConsumerAffairs for SafeStreets and Trustpilot for ADT. It's an intriguing example of how dealers muddy the waters around ADT.

Compliments

Most of the positive reviews around ADT and SafeStreets stem from friendly technicians, professional installation and the overall equipment quality. I found many mentions of technicians taking the time to answer questions and show customers how the system works. Another bright point is the ADT app, which scores well on iOS and Android.

Our tester experienced an issue with their system's Wi-Fi connection and called SafeStreets support for assistance. Overall, the tester said it was a pleasant experience as the support rep walked them through the fix and helped reset a forgotten master password.

Beyond customer reviews, there's a consensus among expert reviewers that ADT has the most experience. While it's true that the company has been around for about 150 years, that experience translates more to an outsized presence in the market than its current support practices.

Complaints

A few common threads pop up when you dig into the negative reviews of ADT and its dealers: contracts, prices and customer service. Many of us wouldn't buy ADT systems if we understood what was in the contract beforehand. Still, we're all equally as likely to sign without more than a glance since legal documents are the worst and take forever to read.

The dominant ADT contract horror story is the excruciating cancellation process. Many negative customer reviews say they had trouble canceling because it was unclear if they had a contract with ADT or one of its dealers. For example, a person may cancel with SafeStreets only to have ADT send a notice for non-payment, and vice versa. And even if you manage to cancel, there's no escaping the high termination fees that wipe out your savings account or pile onto your credit card. If I were in that scenario, I'd write a bad ADT review too.

Customers also really hate the prices. I found too many instances of sales agents providing a different price than technicians, which boils down to installers suggesting new equipment, financing and features on installation day. This is a communication issue. Still, it doesn't help the unpredictable prices for ADT's monitoring tiers.

Lastly, ADT's customer service isn't consistent or as reliable as customers want it to be, which I'll cover in the next section.

Getting Help for Your ADT System

Customer Support

ADT's customer support is hit or miss. It's often unclear when you should contact the dealer or ADT directly. You think it would be easy, but ADT regularly buys customer contracts from dealers. And ADT can even send your contract back to the dealer before the 14-month mark—at the dealer's expense. I advise contacting the dealer first, especially when canceling your contract.

Many dealers offer direct support via phone, email and sometimes social media, but not much else. In contrast, ADT's website hosts a vast library of guides and troubleshooting tips, but there's no direct contact beyond a live chat feature. Still, ADT also responds on its social media accounts and can help connect you with customer support.

As for ADT's support website, the navigation isn't much more than links to a few pages that list even more links. There aren't any descriptions to help you find what you're looking for, making it a challenge for anyone unfamiliar with security systems. The search tool is similar, though I recommend putting quotation marks around your search terms to calm the flood of results.

Warranty

ADT's warranty is shorter than average—just 90 days. You must sign up for the ADT Quality Service Plan (QSP) extended warranty to cover the parts and labor associated with your ADT security system long-term. It stays in effect until you cancel your ADT monitoring.

The QSP starts at $7 a month—and increases based on your equipment's total value before discounts. While the highest QSP rate in ADT's terms and conditions weighs in at a hefty $44 per month, you'll need over $7,000 of equipment to hit it—the cost for an average-sized home should be much lower. Unfortunately, the QSP doesn't cover when ADT sends someone to your house—that adds another $59 per visit.

Practically every home security system ties an extended warranty to your monitoring subscription. Still, brands like Ring and SimpliSafe opt for a flat fee instead of calculating it using equipment prices. Then again, those DIY home security systems aren't as reliant on professional installation services as ADT.

Closing Thoughts

ADT is peerless in its ability to deliver the best professional installation—anywhere in the United States. It's a good fit if you can handle the above-average prices and don't mind signing a contract. The equipment is reliable, and most people find satisfaction in their systems.

Every time I revisit the topic of ADT and its dealers, I'm dumbfounded by how difficult this brand is to research. Oh, what I'd give for open, uniform ADT dealer pricing to finally answer the question: "Is ADT worth it?" I'm not optimistic—large companies aren't always agile enough to adapt to new market pressures and consumer preferences.

Still, ADT is the bedrock of the home security industry and embodies what people expect from professional installation. We can even thank ADT's restrictive contracts, in part, for the rise of DIY home security systems. I want ADT to live up to the hype because that would do more than anything to make home security a better experience for everyone.

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Our Methods

I've spent over a decade covering home security products as a tech journalist—reviewing and testing dozens of systems. As a result, I've seen into the belly of the beast that is the home security industry. I'm here to help you decode the contract and equipment prices—I hope to save you from committing to a system beyond your budget.

How We Tested the ADT System

I wasn't able to test this system in person, so I worked with a Home Theater Review tester using ADT at home. This gave me a second perspective on the everyday experience of using ADT. I didn't task the tester with technical tests, but I asked them for an honest opinion on the system's strengths and weaknesses. Their report included photos, videos and screen recordings of the ADT system and its app.

What We Researched for Our ADT Home Security Review

I balanced testing with research by collecting relevant data, pricing and contract details that ultimately affect your experience with a security system more than the equipment.

I realize it's a bold statement to say equipment doesn't matter as much. But it's mostly impossible to mix and match security devices from different brands. You're buying an entire system, not a bunch of independent devices, and the functional differences are minor. In that context, everything rides on whether you want the contract.

As I researched ADT, I looked at its product pages, terms and conditions, equipment specifications and customer support articles. That wasn't enough, so I checked the terms and conditions for a small cadre of ADT Authorized Dealers like SafeStreets, Safe Haven and Impulse Alarm. (I didn't have enough time to do a deep dive into others, but I know they're out there.)

For other points of view, I turned to customer reviews from the ever-helpful Trustpilot, ConsumerAffairs and the Better Business Bureau. (I did the same for SafeStreets, ADT's largest dealer.) While I couldn't possibly hope to read every customer review, I melted my brain trying. Finally, I wandered into ADT's business practices—I looked for juicy nuggets in press releases and regulatory filings. Every source I used is linked here or somewhere on this page.

With data in hand, I rated ADT and shared my evaluation in this ADT review. From start to finish, I spent just under a week researching and writing.

We're working to overhaul our home security coverage to build timely, comprehensive reviews founded on journalistic integrity and excellence. We ask for your patience as we strive to level up. If you already have a home security system, you can help contribute to our research by sharing your experience in the comments or using our contact form.

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