By the time you finish reading this sentence, a total of nine homes will have been burglarised in North America and in the UK. Most criminals don’t even need to sneak around and come straight in through your front door with violent intentions. Be wary, theft is the fastest growing crime in the US and in Canada.
Your home is your most valuable asset in both tangible and intangible terms, and no one can put a price on their family’s safety. In order to protect them, you need the best home security system available today.
Could ADT be that system?
Our comprehensive ADT home security system review is designed to give you the facts you need to make an informed decision.
What’s New With ADT Home Security Systems?
ADT Home Security has been an industry leader for more than 140 years. That doesn’t mean that their technology or services are last century. Not only is the company known for reliability, they work hard to remain current with the kind of technology necessary for smart home protection into the mid-millennium and beyond. When you see that familiar blue octagon shield in someones yard or window, you know their home is secure.
The company offers you complete home automation and control that’s accessible via your smart phone from any location, and you can have the whole system monitored locally by security professionals for less than the cost of the average night out.
So, how does ADT protect you, and what’s new for 2020?
Using the basic security package provides you with the same level of protection as any top-quality home security system at the turn of the last century. The addition of ADT Pulse brings everything into this century with integrated home automation features.
This technology fully supports the Z-Wave frequency and allows you complete control over system activation and operation through the ADT Pulse monitoring app. It’s also supports IFTTT integration for third-party automation devices, and it’s compatible with wireless home automation hubs using the Zigbee frequency, including Amazon’s Alexa.
ADT Basic Security Features
Even if you get the most basic package, ADT offers a lot of high-tech features. You can add on to any package with additional functionality, and the company offers a six-month money-back guarantee if you’re not happy with the service or equipment.
The standard base features available with any plan include:
- Hardwired security cameras: These are mounted in strategic locations throughout your property, and installation doesn’t leave any visible scars, obtrusive wiring, or damage.
- Security keypad: The digital keypad features a back-lit panel, which makes it easy to arm/disarm in the dark. It also integrates with smart home systems, and it can be activated remotely.
- Pet-friendly motion detector: Provide wide coverage, and they can even integrate with video monitoring to tag alerts to camera feeds or recordings. Won’t trip if your dog or cat runs by.
- Wireless door/window sensors: Protects your most vulnerable access points, includes glass-break detection
- Window decal and yard sign: This is the familiar blue octagon that tells intruders that you’re protected. Studies show that having this symbol present is in itself a crime deterrent.
You can add as many features and functions you need, but they’re going to cost you. Most of the contracts include professional installation, but this can vary because these services are outsourced to local companies. Make sure that whatever sub-contractor you work with is an approved, certified ADT vendor. Once the base equipment that comes with your plan is installed and running, your technician will usually tour your home and suggest additional safety measures according to your specific circumstances and security requirements.
Another great thing about ADT is that you can incorporate your own home medical alert and other equipment with their installation or lease additional hardware from them for medical alerts, CO and fire detection, and smart home integration. Beyond-basic plans include mobile alerts, security cameras, and keyfob for remote operation with a panic button included for personal safety.
ADT Advantages and Drawbacks
No system is perfect or the end-all, be-all of home security, However ADT goes further than systems like Nest to provide high-tech, high-quality home protection.
They’ll even throw in a free home risk assessment, and installation is done within 48 hours of scheduling (ADT and most authorized ADT dealers offer same-day installation for work orders made before a certain time). That being said, here are the reasons we like the ADT Home Security System, and the things we feel could be improved.
- Long-standing reputation for quality
- Eligible for insurance discounts; ADT will also pay a $500 insurance reimbursement if you’re burglarised while you have their service
- Remote and voice activation available
- Available throughout the US and Canada
- Extensive list of hardware add-ons
- Highest number of monitoring centers compared to other security firms
- Smart home integrations
- Lots of customisation options
- Service is transferable from other security companies
- Monitoring service is more expensive than other providers
- Strict contract requirements for plans; minimum of 36 months
- Uneven customer service availability
- Customer service isn’t available 24-hours a day
- Equipment prices unavailable online
- Contracts most services out to third-parties
An Overview of ADT Packages
Now, we get to the meat of the plans with specifics about plan features and pricing. The company offers five different packages, each of which are designed to meet specific security needs
You have a choice of four different levels of service:
- Basic service: This plan is land line-based and starts at $27.99 per month, with a $99 installation fee. It includes wireless alerts and professional security monitoring. You can add extended warranty protection and additional equipment for an extra fee.
- Basic wireless service: Includes the same basics as the base plan, but it’s cellular-based and the monthly service cost increases to $48.
- ADT Pulse® service: This cellular plan includes base features, plus free extended warranties, medical and wireless alerts, and home automation integration. However the installation fee jumps to $199, and the monthly cost increases to $52.99.
- ADT Pulse® + Video: Pulse+ Video is just as it sounds, the Pulse plan with the addition of security cameras with live streaming and recording capabilities built in. The price for this service is $58.99, but installation starts at $399.
Beyond these service levels, ADT offers tailored packages to provide variable types of services depending on your family’s needs and budget. Ultimate costs also depend on whether you integrate some of your own hardware or lease from the company.
If you have your own equipment, and simply want to contract monitoring services, these can also be established. A quote can be received for the total cost of the monitoring services after reaching out to ADT.
When you’re tired of security services that are only available if you have a landline, this package is for you. This option means you have protection even if phone lines are down, and wireless tech means whole-house functionality with no cords and wires cluttering up the place. A simple upgrade to Pulse provides smart phone operation. Advantages include:
- Flexible wireless sensor placement
- Service plan included that protects you for the life of the equipment
- 24/7 security monitoring
- Low battery notifications
- Easy to upgrade
Sneak Peek Package
This is the most popular package ADT offers. It works with your wireless app, and provides you with live video of your home from any location. Imagine being able to check in on the kids or keep an eye on the babysitter while you’re at work.
In addition to the base features of the other packages, this come with:
- 24-hour battery backup
- Cellular connectivity
- 24/7 monitoring
Early Warning Package
This coordinates with local first-responders to provide fast response for emergencies like fire or active break-ins. It’s fully customisable and provides all the basic features of other packages, including the Quality Service Plan.
Other features include:
- Installation by background-checked and verified security experts
- Cellular backup
- 24/7 local monitoring
- Options for fire, smoke, carbon monoxide, and flood detection in some regions
Personal Safety Package
The ADT Personal Safety Package offers all of the features of the other packages, with the addition of wireless keychain remote for alarm and sensor activation, a panic button, and outdoor strobe light/siren.
Peace of Mind Package
This package offers all the benefits of other packages and adds:
- Remote operation from any place in the world
- Real-time text alerts and status emails
- Non-activation reminders if you leave home without arming your system
ADT Hardware Add-Ons and Extras
One of the best things about this company is their level of customization through add-on features and equipment. It’s compatible with the most popular home automation technology and security components, which makes your whole setup very flexible and secure.
Please note that all hardware is available for lease only. You can also purchase your own equipment and sign-on for their monitoring services and installation.
The basic hardware available includes:
- Wireless digital keypad are back-lit and allow you to easily active/disarm, customise, and access emergency dispatchers in any lighting.
- Remote keyfob with panic button to call police and buttons for remote alarm/video camera operation; can be integrated with smart home components.
- Pet-friendly motion detectors activate alarms, security lighting, and video, but can be custom installed to avoid false alarms by pets.
- Wireless window and door sensors emit a high-pitched alarm if someone breaks or tries to open your windows and doors.
- Backup battery provides emergency power for up to 24 hours for seamless protection in case of power outages.
Some of the most popular extras are:
- Video surveillance cameras
- Some and fire detection
- CO2 detection
- Flood alerts
You can also add or remove devices at any time.
The Tech Behind ADT Home Security Systems
The level of home automation integration and advanced technology are what sets the ADT home security system above other security companies. That’s a big advantage at the dawn of the Internet of Things (IoT) and smart home integration.
In this review, we’re going to focus on four critical elements of technology: software, user interface (UI), integration, and security.
ADT Software and Apps
ADT offers three apps, ADT Pulse Interactive Solutions, MY ADT, and ADT GO, that are available with the Pulse and Pulse + Video plans. The GO app is their personal safety app, and it’s available for download from the Google Play and Apply App stores. The software supports Windows Visa, 7, 8/RT, and 10 and MAC OS X 10.11.6 and higher. It’s compatible with Chrome 69+, Firefox 62.0+, Internet 11.0+, Safari 11.1+, and Microsoft Edge 17+.
- GPS Family Locator
- Location check-ins and alerts
- Local crime maps by current location and destination
and premium features like:
- Safe driving reports
- Crash detection and response
- 24/7 roadside assistance
- SOS Emergency Response
Family plans and premium features are available for a monthly fee of $9.99.
Pulse is the main app that controls all home automation, video feeds, and alarms. It can integrate with smart home components, and Alexa. With Pulse, you can:
- Arm/deactivate cameras and alarms
- Control door and window locks, garage doors, lighting, and thermostats
- View live feeds and stored video files
Adde that interface with the MY ADT mobile app, and you can:
- Check/activate/disarm alarms
- Remotely view video feeds of monitored areas
- View and pay your bill
- Manage voice-activated passwords and security features
- Add, edit, or delete emergency contact information
- Turn on/off home lighting, climate control, or other smart home networked devices
Although all plans offer wireless alerts, this app is only available when you sing a contract for Pulse or Pulse + Video premium plans. You can also integrate your business security system into your residential plan.
Smart Home Integration
The beauty of ADT means integration with existing home automation systems that are support by Z-Wave and Zigbee home hubs, including voice activated personal assistants, climate control, smart bulbs, and other networked home conveniences.
It’s also easy to scale up or down and add features or components. It will even work with existing equipment, and you can transfer your service from other companies.
All of the UI is elegant, sleek, and easy to navigate. Buttons and features are clearly marked, and the addition of backlighting on the main control panel eliminates fumbling and saves time when you need to arm or disarm in a hurry.
The keyfob has four buttons on the face, and the panic button is placed for fast, easy access while eliminating the possibility of accidental activation.
In addition to providing physical security protection at access points around your home, encryption also protects access points that affect connectivity. Additional security features include access control, cybersecurity protection from hackers, and video verification to allow only authorised entry/control. For additional security, install a VPN and security software on your router.
ADT Customer Support
Customer support is variable depending on the contractor you go through. ADT uses third-party to provide many of their services, including installation and support. Although the company website doesn’t offer live chat, they’re available through a variety of contact points. You can send a contact form to request a quote or call back, or talk to a representative by calling toll-free at 1-800-689-9554.
Customer support can help you with a range of questions and concerns, including:
- Scheduling or cancelling an appointment
- Questions about your equipment
- System troubleshooting and remote assistance
- Billing and payments
- Security monitoring
Their business hours are Monday – Friday, 8am – 12am, and on Saturdays, 8am – 8pm EDT, Any calls that reach their customer service center after hours will be returned the next morning. Security monitoring services are available around the clock, 24/7/365. Other contractors may have different availability and hours of operation, depending on your region.
The rise of smart technology makes life more comfortable and convenient, but it can also increase your risk. Don’t wait until you become another crime statistic. Installing a state-of-the-art home security system in combination with ADT pulse monitoring will protect your home around the clock even when you’re not there.
Depending on the add-ons and features and package you choose, it will cost you a little more than other companies. But again, you can’t put a price on that kind of peace of mind.
Your windows and doors aren’t the only places you have to worry about. With more people installing smart home systems, your electronics and appliances could be putting you at risk for identity theft and other cyber crimes. Password managers may be a crucial piece to your security, as breaches and hacks are often caused by obtaining access to your logins; from banking information to Social Media accounts. Consider looking into trusted password managers to secure your personal information on the web.
You need to take the time to learn about other security risks facing Canadian homes and businesses, you will find that most security risks could be prevented by merely installing additional safeguards on your home networks like a VPN service. Don’t forget, prevention is always better than cure.
Choosing the right home security setup might be confusing at times, but that doesn’t mean an ADT home security system review needs to be. Here are some quick answers to frequently asked questions about home security.
Q: Is SimpliSafe better than ADT?
A: Although SimpliSafe is a great DIY security system, when stacked up feature-for-feature, ADT still comes out on top in both industry expert and consumer reviews.
Q: Can ADT be hacked?
A: The company is currently settling a class-action suit due to a lack of encryption in portion of the wireless system that communicates with peripheral sensors. That lapse has sense been corrected. When their equipment is combined with round-the-clock monitoring, your home is as safe as any system an make it from electronic and physical intrusion.
Q: Can someone hack into a security system?
A: Technically, if you have Wi-Fi controlling any portion of your home systems, you can be hacked. That’s why your smart home systems and all electronic points of entry should be protected by having a VPN with military-grade AES encryption installed on every router or networked device. For additional safety, don’t put all of your smart home systems on the same network, and make sure each connection is protected by anti-virus and anti-spyware programs. Many routers can by split between several separate lines.
Q: Can my surveillance cameras be hacked?
A: Even the best security camera can be hacked if it’s not protected. There is a particular vulnerability with cameras that have DVR. This can be prevented by enabling encryption on each camera, secure your networks, and make sure that the camera’s firmware is kept updated.
Some cameras have a features that displays the word “hacked” on the monitor for that camera, but there are other ways you can tell if a camera has been breached.
- Listen for odd noises coming from the cameras
- Look for abnormal movements and rotations
- Check if your LED light is turned on when not activated by you