Every home is different, and so is every homeowner’s security needs. Like most technical services, you can pay for professionals to craft your home security system or you can take matters into your own hands. DIY home security means you customize your device kit, self-install, and then monitor alerts from your sensors and video feed. Self-monitoring is the common difference between DIY and traditional security, but there are plenty of companies that strike a happy medium between both. We looked at providers offering pure DIY as well as those offering professional monitoring, either de facto or as an upgrade.
*$99 Customer Installation Charge. 24-Month Alarm Monitoring Agreement required at $33.99 per month ($815.76). Form of payment must be made by credit card or electronic charge to your checking account or savings account. Offer applies to homeowners only. Local permit fees may be required. Satisfactory credit history required. Certain restrictions may apply. Offer valid for new ADT Authorized Dealer customers only and not on purchases from ADT LLC. Other rate plans available. Cannot be combined with any other offer. 24 month applies to California. All other states require 36 month alarm monitoring agreement ($1223.64). Offer not available in all areas.
Any smart security system worth its salt offers components that work together in a seamless environment and can be manipulated using customized rules. For example, you can create rules to have the lights turn on when motion is detected, have your doors unlock when a smoke alarm goes off, and have a camera begin recording when a sensor is triggered. Some systems store recorded video locally on an SD card or a solid state drive, while others offer cloud storage. Locally stored video is a good choice for do-it-yourselfers on a budget, but you have to be careful not to overwrite video that you may need later. Cloud storage makes it easy to store and access recorded video, but it can cost hundreds of dollars per year depending on your subscription. Some systems offer both cloud storage and local storage, and some provide a dedicated storage drive that gives you DVR capabilities with time-lapse recording, which makes it easy to find a video event that took place at a specific point in time.
During our tests, we strongly considered home automation options, which allow you to remotely control features of your home, such as lights and door locks. Vivint really impressed us with its seamless automation integration. We loved being able to see who was at the front door directly from the app. But we wanted to figure out what these differences meant on a day-to-day basis: Which features were necessary for improved peace of mind? Which would be easiest to integrate into our daily routines?
I have been an ADT customer for my two businesses. Because the locations were far apart I had to make it two separate systems but I still got a good discount for having them both under my name. I got all the equipment for free, and their Pulse monitoring package for under $99 a month (keep in mind that's 2 locations). I figure that is a cheap price to pay to keep an eye on all the high expenses inside my business and I am going to do it for my home too. Cheaper then most the other home bills people pay like TV, internet and utilities and yet it actually protects the most important things, their valuables and their family members. It's a wonder why some people are too cheap to pay for this assuming they can afford a house in the first place.
In February 2017, I had three cameras installed, in which one camera simply sat on my kitchen sink because the technician didn’t want to hassle with figuring out an electrical connection to set the camera up to view my swimming pool area. The front outside camera was supposed to have night vision, but it didn’t. The night vision function finally popped in surprisingly during the summer of 2018. The camera system is down almost as much as it works.
** Information used for home security alarm system comparisons was obtained November 2016 through telephone and online research. ADT prices: based on total out-of-pocket expense to obtain services; installation based on fees for similar home security equipment packages; "Monitoring" price listed includes the additional "warranty" or "extended service plan".
I do not know who trains these sales people, but their tactics leave a lot to be desired. Yesterday my husband was outside and a Vivint salesperson approached him and told him that if he were to cut our phone line we would not have service with ADT. My husband replied that he could not just cut them as they are on the roof and the salesman said he could cut the phone lines and break into our home and my husband told him that if he did he would get shot.
ADT doesn’t have the strongest customer service reputation among the companies we considered, racking up more than 3,000 complaints on its Better Business Bureau page. While we chalked most of this up to the fact that ADT has several million more customers than its competitors, our tester began his call with low expectations. He was pleasantly surprised, saying, “My needs drove the conversation. And once I finally had the quote, he explained the purpose behind each device I was receiving and what the installation might entail. He took extra time to help me weigh whether I needed home automation or not — and I’m almost positive it wasn’t scripted.”
Scout doesn’t have as many extra features as some other alarm systems, but if you currently have a Nest Learning Thermostat or a Nest Cam, you’ll love this new, modern take on home security. Scout offers the lowest monthly monitoring price we’ve seen for cellular monitoring at $9.99 a month, but keep in mind that it’s not connected to a professional monitoring center unless you upgrade to $19.99.
The rating rang true when we became Vivint customers ourselves. Our tester felt like the installation technician was a guest in his home — he even came prepared with protective shoe covers and asked to borrow the vacuum to clean up the drill debris. The Vivint tech was also upfront after he noticed that our tester had ordered more equipment than he needed. As our tester explained, “I originally asked for an outdoor surveillance camera, but after reviewing the house, the tech felt the doorbell camera was sufficient. Turns out, he was right.” That ended up lowering our tester’s expected price.

"Have only had system for 2 weeks. Easy to use and effective. Only problem is when in "Away" mode the motion sensor picked up our 13 pound cat jumping up on a desk close by...THREE times! Needs sensitivity adjustment. Police, however, did come each time, so it does indeed work. Not sure why I needed a motion sensor if none of the door/window connections were broken???"
The outside camera is hit or miss and has been since the system was installed. Overall, I'd say it works about 75 percent of the time. ADT has been out twice to fix it with neither visit making any difference. While it has a nice wow factor, the camera isn't really a lynchpin of the system, so I'm not overly concerned with it. Still, it is a primary component and you're paying for it, so overall it could use improvement.
Overall, I'm very happy with the ADT Pulse system. I definitely experienced some sticker shock at the initial setup cost, but considering the level of service and all the equipment installed, the price is justified, and on a monthly basis, not that much higher than most of the competition. The three-year service contract definitely lags behind our other Editors' Choice winner, Vivint, but it's not a big heartache if you know you're not going to leave your current residence and completely opt out of the ADT service inside of three years.

ADT uses the latest in technology to protect your home. The company has invested in upgrading to the latest wireless technology to help protect your home and keep the installation process as streamlined as possible. Like the newest systems, ADT wireless security system relies on radio waves to connect your home’s cameras and sensors to the control panel.
One of the biggest features for any home security system is the ability to sync it with your other smart home devices. With ADT Pulse, you can pair your system with gadgets like smart locks, smart thermostats and video cameras. The biggest benefit is that you can control all of these devices right from your smartphone with ADT Pulse’s app. You won’t stress about whether or not you forgot to lock the front door before heading out — you can lock it on the go with the push of a button.
ADT has one advantage over every other home surveillance camera system in our review: It offers unlimited cloud video storage as part of its security camera services, whereas the industry average is less than 1GB. You can keep as much security footage as you like, for as long as you like. ADT offers four security camera options that we confirmed based on documentation in the support section of the company's website. These cameras come in indoor and outdoor options.
I've been pleased with their customer support for the 2 years I have had an ADT alarm system installed into my home. What I like is from the research I have done separate of this review, ADT has not raised their monthly price in years. I guess because it effects so many people nationwide if they do, it tends to be a stable price. Much better than going with a company who runs promotions and 6 months later you are paying double for what you initially agreed upon.

Do not use ADT! The salesman was a fast-talking con artist. My husband and I felt pressured to sign a contract without having time to read it. The salesman lied and told us we could cancel anytime. The contract is for 36 months, and if you try to cancel, you have to pay an incredibly large sum of money! Customer service is rude and antagonistic, and the actual alarm service itself is defective. Please don’t make the mistake that we did!

I have had ADT service for 5 years. This is after my cabin had a break in. The only problem I have had is the door sensor fell off and I was able to repair this myself. I can arm and disarm the equipment remotely by cellphone. When the alarm went off one time they were very responsive. Customer service advised me how to replace the battery in the key fob. My only complaint is I was given a discount for paying for multiple years in advance and this was not offered in future years. I requested additional yard signs and these were provided at no additional charge. I am satisfied with their service.
There are currently six SmartThings-ADT sensors and accessories. For security, they offer a motion sensor, door/window sensor, and a keychain remote with a panic button. Professional monitoring for intrusion and panic alarms costs $24.99/month. For life safety, they have a smoke alarm, carbon monoxide detector, and a water leak sensor. Professional monitoring for life safety with medical and fire dispatch will set you back $14.99/month. If you want to monitor for both life safety and security events, you can combine the two services for $34.99/month.
ADT is the largest security service provider in the U.S. and Canada, and it has been protecting its customers for over 140 years. ADT alarm systems are expertly installed by technicians who can sometimes visit your home the next day. ADT is perfect for customers who are okay with paying a bit more for their state-of-the-art equipment and technical support and maintenance. The equipment available varies by area and dealer, but customers can choose from Honeywell, General Electric, and ITI manufactured systems.
After the pricing ding, there's the service contract. Competitors, like SimpliSafe, have no contract and let you out of your service whenever you want. ADT signs you to a three-year contract. If you were to move during your contract period, but opt to keep the service, ADT would install a basic system at your new home for $249 and let you add components at a 25 percent discount until you hit $750 worth of hardware. After that, you'd pay full price for additional hardware. You could attempt to uninstall some of the components at your old home and move them to your new one and ADT would incorporate those, but whatever is left in the old house after you leave, ADT will simply try to resell to the next owner.
Many ADT home security systems are actually sold, installed and serviced by a nationwide network of authorized dealers, which may not maintain the same professional standards or offer the same equipment and deals as ADT corporate. It’s sometimes hard to tell if you’re buying a system from corporate or a dealer. ADT corporate websites include the logo, “ADT Always There,” whereas authorized dealers, like security giant Defender, ADT’s largest dealer markets ADT under the brand “Protect Your Home”. Dealers such as Defender, Security Choice and ADS Security Inc. will display an “ADT Authorized Dealer” logo on their web site, but some consumers may not notice the difference from ADT’s corporate logo.
Pulse also works with Amazon Alexa (Echo, Dot, Plus, etc.) and Google Assistant devices (Home, Max, Mini, etc.). Expanding on voice control, both assistants let you command your Pulse system using your voice. You can arm and disarm your system as well as control your connected smart devices. As disarming a security system with your voice can possibly be a security risk, ADT has safe-proofed this feature by requiring a verbal four-digit pin.
Ranging from $9/week* to $14/week*, find an ADT alarm monitoring solution that fits your lifestyle and security needs. Call to speak to a monitoring professional who will help you find exactly what you’re looking for, whether you prefer easy-to-use equipment or advanced remote monitoring. And if you order today, you’ll get a $100 Visa® Reward Card. **
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