Although it’s often the most expensive option, ADT has the technology and experience to offer the best protection for your small to medium sized business. Every package comes with the distinctive bell box, professional installation and 24/7/365 maintenance and response.
Professional installation with 24/7/365 maintenance
Bespoke, scalable solutions
Established accredited brand
High-quality security devices available
Can include private security guard response
Subscription necessary and this cost could rise over time
No DIY option
Limited compatibility with other smart security devices
No keyless entry solution
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You are probably aware of this security specialist already. ADT’s distinctive bell boxes can be seen attached like limpets to homes and commercial premises all over the world. As well as advertising the brand, they act as a strong visual deterrent to burglars because ADT has built up a strong reputation for protecting property over its 150 years. Note that we are writing here about ADT in the US which is quite separate from ADT in the UK
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Headquartered in Florida, the US company is available worldwide providing all-inclusive security solutions to domestic and commercial property of all sizes. Packages begin at $99 and go all the way up to the kind of high level security that comes with its own private response team. You can even have mist machines installed that will blanket your premises in safe but impenetrable security fog to foil a burglary. Whatever level your looking for though, you can expect 24/7/365 monitoring and maintenance. As the only security company to be accredited gold level by the NSI (National Security Inspectorate) for installation, monitoring and service and it’s not the cheapest option, but for many SMBs (small to medium sized businesses), ADT is the first choice.
Plans and pricing
As ADT puts it, you can’t put a price on peace of mind. However, their prices begin at $99 upfront for installation of the most basic burglar alarm setup, plus a subscription charge. Installation and maintenance are always included in the price quoted because these are not DIY solutions.
You will also need to subscribe to ADT’s ongoing service with the cost starting at around $36 per month. This provides 24/7/365 monitoring and all-inclusive maintenance services. The prices ADT quoted for us were higher than rival companies, but the packages included more. ADT also offer a six month money-back guarantee as well as a $500 theft protection guarantee where ADT pays up to $500 if your property is burgled while their alarm is armed.
ADT can provide almost any level of protection for homes and businesses, beginning with a simple burglar alarm and rising in sophistication to include cameras, CO2 and smoke detectors and anti-theft fog generators. These generators are the latest in ADT’s arsenal against intruders and they work by releasing food-grade fog into the air when an intruder is detected. Within seconds, your building is filled with a breathable mist that reduces vision to about 10cm forcing the intruder to stand still until it clears.
The entry-level system comes with these basic components: a bell box with flashing LED, touchscreen control panel with an 84-decibel siren, wireless door contact, two PIR motion sensors and an app to control it all from your smartphone. It will be professionally installed and monitored around the clock by ADT’s alarm team. It can then be expanded to cover up to 64 zones with 48 user codes.
A step-up business solution for an SMB could also include a hold-up alarm to protect staff with a panic button installed beneath their desks that they can press if they feel threatened. Smoke and CO2 can also be monitored with a range of sensitive detectors.
ADT also offers a broad range of cameras for indoor and outdoor surveillance. These range from standard fixed position CCTV cams, to swivelling mini domes providing a 360° view of your premises in full high definition. With inbuilt IR sensors, these cameras can record clear images even in very low light. ADT insists on a professional installation initially, but you can add cameras and other devices yourself.
ADT Smart Business is an app and a service that puts all of your security in the palm of your hand. The app can be personalized so that you can activate or disarm your alarms at set times and monitor your security cameras from anywhere in the world. Any sensors that are triggered send notifications to your phone first and you can respond via the app.
In terms of after sales support, ADT has the strongest offering, as evidenced by its gold level accreditation for monitoring and servicing by the NSI. After installing their system for you, ADT promises 24/7/365 all-inclusive maintenance services.
Monitoring is around the clock too and there are three levels of response for you to choose from. First is the key holder response where, in the event of an alarm, ADT notifies the individuals to whom you have given keys so that they can check the property to see if it’s a false alarm and secure the premises. ADT will help you brief your key holders. Second is the police response where the alarm goes straight through to the nearest force, while the third level of response is handled by ADT’s private security guards. If you opt for the full service, a response officer will check the property and wait there for the police to arrive before securing the building and resetting the alarm for you.
ADT is the biggest player in the security industry and one of the oldest, but there are a couple of other names that are equally well established in the protection business. Guardian Protection is perhaps ADT’s closest rival, offering slightly more on the hardware side of the deal and slightly less in terms of monitoring and response. Guardian will professionally install home automation products like smart lights, keyless locks and motorized garage doors to your security package, but it stops short of security fog generators or sending private security guards to your address. The cost for an entry-level setup is close, so you should certainly compare quotes.
Brinks is the oldest name in the business, although Brinks Home Security as it trades today is a more recent development. It offers the latest smart home security devices and more home automation devices than ADT, but its hardware is simpler which means you don’t need a professional installation. That makes Brinks the more affordable option. Brinks’ 24/7 monitoring monthly subscription fee is lower too, although its monitoring service not so well regarded.
And if you are prepared to roll up your sleeves and install the equipment yourself, there are plenty more affordable security options open to you. SimpliSafe sells an all-in-box package that gives you all of the smart security devices you need to secure a home or small business with simple DIY instructions. The advantage is that you set these up where you like and move them when you move. The equipment is cellular, so there are no wires and you will receive all notifications and live video footage via the SimpliSafe app. You can pay a monthly fee for professional 24/7 monitoring in certain territories, but you can save money here too by just monitoring it yourself. Companies such as Frontpoint and Abode offer similar smart security devices for protecting a home or business, but you can monitor them yourself. In that case you will receive the notification on your smartphone that an alarm has been triggered and then decide how to respond.
For the peace of mind that comes from knowing a professional organisation is guarding your property around the clock for you, ADT is still the brand to beat. With scalable packages to suit anything from a home or small business to an expanding enterprise, ADT has equipment and the experience to keep your property covered.
It also tends to be the most expensive option, but for this you are getting the highest level of professional installation and maintenance. And there are the three choices of response — key holder, police, or private security — giving you the highest level of protection.
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How we reviewed
We usually like to get hands-on when it comes to testing, but in this case, calling in and installing each security system was not practical. Instead, we compared every aspect of the ten biggest names in home and business security and awarded scores within each category. Totting up the totals and taking into account the various costs provided our overall ratings. However, choosing your own security solution is going to depend on your specific situation, so please read the full reviews before making a decision.
Is ADT best for residential or business?
Like all of the monitored security specialists, ADT caters to residential properties, but it also has some of the best business packages too. If you want to protect your SMB or even a larger enterprise, ADT should be your first port of call because of its strong reputation for protecting commercial property.
Don’t newer companies like Vivint and SimpliSafe have better wireless hardware?
ADT uses a broad selection of security devices to protect your property, but you could say it is a little slow to adopt the latest tech. ADT’s cameras are 720p instead of 1080p for example, and much of its equipment is hardwired together. There are advantages to a wireless or ‘cellular’ system, such as better remote control, but cables are still more reliable and secure than Wi-Fi. ADT tends to specify more expensive, higher quality components than its rivals, so in terms of hardware, we’d say ADT plays a strong hand.
Can I just hand over all of my security worries to ADT?
Yes you can. ADT has a great record for reliability and its monitoring service is first class. Fixing one of those ADT bell boxes to your property is a good deterrent, but it won’t stop every burglar and it won’t prevent a fire. What you get with ADT is the knowledge that a trained specialist is ready and waiting for that to happen 24/7. ADT’s response rate is fast and thorough, so you can relax and think about something else.
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Jim is a seasoned expert when it comes to testing tech. From playing a prototype PlayStation One to meeting a man called Steve about a new kind of phone in 2007, he’s always hunting the next big thing at the bleeding edge of the electronics industry. After editing the tech section of Wired UK magazine, he is currently specialising in IT and voyaging in his VW camper van.