Solved! What Is ADT? How Can ADT Keep My Home Secure?
As one of the most recognizable names in home security, ADT works to keep a home safe. What may not be as obvious is how it works.
Q: I’d like to get a security system to protect my home and family, but there are so many new options on the market that I’m not sure how to compare the plans. My neighborhood is full of ADT signs and stickers, and I’m familiar with the name, but I don’t really know what kind of system it is. What is ADT, and how does it work?
A: It’s not surprising that you’re familiar with ADT’s name and logo (you may even be able to recall their television jingle). ADT is one of the oldest home security systems in the United States—it’s been providing home security for 145 years and has adapted to the changing needs of homeowners over time and the forward motion of technology. In this case, “oldest” means seasoned, not aged and stuck in the past. That said, ADT is a traditional home security provider. If you’ve been looking at options, you’ll have noted the recent uptick in DIY-style security companies who will send you equipment you install yourself and monitor through a smartphone app. ADT has an app that allows you to control your system, but it’s not primarily a DIY solution; ADT technicians will install the sensors and keypads that power your security, and professional monitors will be on standby 24/7 to alert first responders if there’s a problem. To keep up with current trends, ADT security does have a newer program called Blue, which allows for contract-free self-monitoring, but that plan still uses high-end, reliable equipment that promises profound home security backed by one of the oldest companies in the business.
ADT is a home security company that has been operating for 145 years. It offers comprehensive security solutions for homes and businesses.
It’s easy to look at a company viewed as “traditional” and assume that means it’s unchanged and stuck in old-fashioned methods and equipment, but in this case ADT has used its long tenure to carefully hone and reshape its service to accommodate changing times, technologies, and shifts in the threats to your home and safety. ADT is traditional mostly in that it’s a full-service security provider, with a wide range of quality sensors, cameras, and attentive professional monitors to make sure that everything is performing as expected. The average length of employment for ADT’s professional installers is 9 years, which is impressive in a world where technicians are in demand and most could change jobs every few years.
ADT provides plans for both homes and businesses and has solutions for times when home and business overlap. If you’re renting or live in a multifamily home—which can make it difficult to find affordable and efficient home security options—ADT has devices and plans to secure your home as well. ADT’s technology has expanded to include integration with popular home automation systems and has expanded its definition of home security to include protecting your identity, guarding against the theft of your personal information as closely as it guards your front door. For small businesses, ADT can secure inventory, monitor transactions, and keep an eye on customer traffic and satisfaction through video monitoring, along with protecting against cyber threats and controlling office access. Traditional, in ADT’s terms, means experienced and adaptive.
ADT offers a range of security equipment, including locks, plugs, cameras, sensors, switches, and smart devices.
There are two components of any security system: the equipment used to monitor the home, and the people or technology doing the monitoring. ADT’s equipment options are broken into four categories, and you’ll have the option of building your own package or adapting one of ADT’s pre-built packages to suit your needs.
The first category of equipment is home security sensors. This includes many of the items you expect to see in a home security system—sensors that indicate if a door or window has been opened—and motion sensors. These tools are available in wired or wireless versions, triggering alerts to the ADT monitors and to your smartphone app. The door and window sensors can be further customized to suit a user’s needs. ADT’s motion detectors have a wide coverage area of 35 by 40 feet, so you won’t need many to cover the high-traffic areas of your home. The sensors are calibrated to trigger when a human passes through the monitored area, but won’t alert every time a cat walks by. Paired with a wireless touch-screen control panel, these are the front line of your home security system.
To add to these basic sensors, ADT offers glass-break sensors, which will alert if the glass in a window or door is impacted or smashed, as well as indoor and outdoor alarm sirens and wireless key fobs that provide quick arming and disarming of the system and a hidden panic button.
The second category integrates life safety devices into your holistic system. Individual and combined smoke and carbon monoxide detectors feature customizable alarms; they will alert ADT and your mobile app to a sudden rise in temperature, detection of smoke, and rising levels of carbon monoxide. In addition, these sensors will trigger a loud audible alert to you and can be programmed to turn on lights and shut down your HVAC system to make sure you wake up and to prevent smoke from being vented throughout the home. Flood detectors will alert when they come in contact with water and are ideal for placement near a water heater or in the corner of the basement that floods during heavy rains or snow melt. And the temperature sensor allows you to set custom high and low temperatures; if you’re away and your heat goes out, you’ll be notified before your pipes freeze and burst—and in the summer you’ll know if your AC has failed and it’s getting dangerously hot inside for your pets. This sensor can work with a smart thermostat linked to your ADT mobile app to help you adjust the temperature or check the system to see if you need repairs.
A third layer of ADT home security involves video imaging. ADT provides indoor, outdoor, and doorbell cameras with HD images and two-way audio, so you can speak to people on your doorstep, warn someone who doesn’t belong in your backyard to leave, or check in with the kids when they get home from school. These devices are motion activated and will send an alert to your phone when someone’s presence is detected; the alerts can be customized so you’ll only receive the alerts you want. ADT provides 30 days of video storage in case you discover something amiss several days after an incident occurred.
Finally, ADT is compatible with several home automation assistants. You can choose to add a Google Nest Mini, Google Nest Hub, or Google Nest Hub Max to your equipment package from ADT, along with smart locks, appliance modules and smart light bulbs, and garage door controllers. Or connect existing smart devices to the app so all of your home systems are in one easy-to-access spot.
ADT has several equipment packages available, depending on your preferences and budget.
ADT offers three preset packages of equipment for home security, or you can choose to build your own. Because ADT recognizes that each customer’s needs will be different, the packages can be customized by adding more equipment, but the packages are a great place to start as you decide what you really need and want from your home security system.
The Secure Package, also regarded as the foundation of the Build Your Own package, is limited to home security and life safety equipment. Including intrusion detection, fire, flood, and carbon monoxide monitoring, this package also includes the touch-screen panel and voice control of your system. However, it does not include the remote access mobile app, smart-home automation, or video. This is the most bare-bones package that ADT offers, but it will secure your home from intrusion and provide professional monitoring of all the access sensors in the home, and you can add more equipment a la carte to develop your own custom package. Equipment costs start at $9.98 per month over 60 months.
The Smart Package ($15.32 per month when financed) includes door and window sensors, a motion detector, and a touch-screen panel, just like the Secure Package, but adds home automation equipment, including a smart door lock and a smart plug, with the capability of adding more smart-home products for monitoring. You’ll be able to arm and disarm the alarm remotely, customize your alerts, and you’ll be covered by a service and repair warranty.
If you’re interested in video monitoring, you’ll need to upgrade to the Complete Package, which includes everything in the Smart Package but adds a free video doorbell camera, an outdoor camera, and 30 days of video recording. This is the most comprehensive package that ADT offers and has room for expansion as your needs demand. This equipment package starts at $20.15 per month when financed over 60 months.
Finally, ADT offers a semi-DIY program for renters (for whom professional installation would be an unnecessary expense and may void security deposits). Blue by ADT allows customers to select from ADT’s stable of high-resolution cameras and high-quality sensors, self-install, and then either self-monitor through the Blue by ADT app or choose professional monitoring. This option is contract-free, so equipment must be paid for up front, but it has the flexibility of easily traveling to a new apartment or home.
ADT offers professional monitoring for peace of mind.
Once you’ve selected your equipment and had it installed, someone needs to monitor it for problems and alerts, check in with you when sensors are tripped, and request assistance from first responders when appropriate. ADT’s professional monitors stand guard 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. There are nine monitoring centers located around the country, all with the capability to monitor every system, so if there’s a power outage or connectivity problem at one center, the others can immediately provide coverage. The cost of monitoring varies based on which package you select and how much additional equipment you choose to add to that package. All packages require a 36-month monitoring contract unless you choose to finance your equipment charges over 60 months, which you can do free of interest payments. In that case, your monitoring contract will be for 60 months. There are termination fees for exiting a contract early, so you’ll want to keep that in mind. Many people see this as the primary drawback of more traditional security companies, but in exchange you’ll get truly professional monitoring, peace of mind, and confidence in your system. As long as you’re careful to consider all the cost elements before you sign up, you won’t be surprised.
ADT has other products to help protect more than just your home, including identity theft protection.
Take a cruise through ADT’s website; you may be surprised at what you find. Of course, there are equipment packages and monitoring for home security and safety, and home automation. But ADT offers services that most people don’t think of when considering home security. For example, ADT offers equipment and monitoring services for health and senior safety: a call- button program that can provide peace of mind to older adults (and their children across the country), those with special health needs and concerns, and those who live alone. Comprehensive packages are available for small businesses and commercial enterprises and include cybersecurity packages and VPNs.
Every 2 seconds, someone’s personal information is stolen. Identity theft, a danger that affects anyone who uses banks, credit, or the internet, is a constant danger that is hard to monitor and even harder to combat if it happens to you. ADT offers a stand-alone program to protect customers from identity theft, with 24/7 real-time credit monitoring, dark web monitoring (to make sure your information isn’t being sold or bartered), annual credit reports, and monitoring of criminal courts and records. If someone is impersonating you or using your credit to profit illegally, you’ll be alerted promptly by ADT customer service—long before you’d realize you were in trouble—and ADT will provide counseling and guidance to help you resolve the incidents and walk you through the process of repairing your identity and getting compensation for financial damages. This service can be purchased separately or added on to a home security account.
ADT is best for those who want a time-tested full-service security system.
Is ADT right for you? It’s not an inexpensive option, so if your idea of basic security is a dog and a doorbell camera, it’s probably not ideal for you. If you’re planning to move in the next year or two, consider ADT Blue, which will be easier to take with you until you settle into a more permanent location. But if you‘ve decided you want solid security monitored by people (instead of an app), along with the ability to customize where sensors are placed, how sensitive they are, and what happens when they go off—but have someone else responsible for monitoring those sensors so you only have to worry about them if there’s a genuine threat to your safety—ADT has all the options you’ll need. Instead of mucking around with a camera you ordered on the internet and mounting tape that won’t hold up in the rain, you’ll work with a seasoned technician, who will place sensors and cameras exactly where they need to be for the best coverage. When the cameras are set up, you’ll have backup in the event of an emergency—someone at the other end of the line when you hit the panic button, and someone else to call the police while you quickly gather your family and get to safety. ADT covers those bases. If that’s the kind of security and peace of mind you’re seeking, ADT’s long history shows that they can provide it.
ADT has a large customer network as well as a range of professional equipment and gadgets: It’s a trusted brand.
One other thing to consider: A company doesn’t earn ADT’s record of longevity without a strong customer base and strong financial position. ADT stock has remained strong through several economic shifts, indicating that customers are willing to continue paying a higher-than-average cost for security in exchange for excellent service. The existence of that base (over 6 million customers) in the face of a rapidly expanding sea of less-expensive options is a testament to the satisfaction of those customers. ADT has made a commitment to the things that are important to its customers: The company’s suppliers and contractors are required to comply with ADT’s requirements about human rights, diversity, environmental concerns, and fair trade, and ADT demands that all employees adhere to a strict code of conduct and integrity. The equipment ADT provides is well regarded in the field and long lasting, and the monitoring coverage provided by more than 17,000 professionals and installers means you can trust in ADT’s experience and the way it has adapted to changing technologies and anticipated the evolution of creative criminals. Traditional in its approach? Yes. But not obsolete—ADT is at the top of its game, holding its own in competition in a growing field and maintaining that a full-service security company has a place in a DIY society.