Smart Home Security Systems: ADT Pulse Review

Smart Home Security Systems: ADT Pulse Review

Arby Babaian Choosing a security company, Home Security Systems, Smart Home Security Leave a Comment

You’ve seen the commercials, you’ve seen the advertisements in the mail, and we all know someone who has their systems, but what is ADT Pulse, and more importantly, how does it work?

When it comes to security companies, most people will only know one name in the industry. ADT. The 800 pound gorilla in the security industry, has been around longer than any other security provider. Whether you love their services, or hate them, ADT protects millions of homes around the world.  When you have as many customers as they do, you’re not going to please everyone. But, they are still a good solution for many.  Are they the best solution for you? That depends.


In the last few years, they have joined in on the smart home craze with their premium service, Pulse. Today, we’ll go over the service. The good, the bad, and the ugly. At All About Security, we know that one company isn’t perfect for everyone. That’s why it’s important to know the facts before making a big decision like the protection of your home and family.

I’m going to fill you in on a little secret. The Pulse platform is also available with other security system roviders.  The interactive service, and software, that runs their smart home systems is actually from a company called Icontrol.  The actual service is called Connect.  If you love the platorm but want to compare your options, you can! 

Comparing Pulse to Traditional Home Security Systems

ADT has a lot of different package.  

In fact, more people have their traditional security platform than any other service.  

  • Their basic plan starts with a basic system that is connected to their monitoring station using a traditional phone. Since phone lines are starting to become extinct, they also have their cellular plan which starts before their Pulse package.  In my professional opinion, your home security shouldn’t use a phone line if it can be prevented. We’ve gone over the reasons why many times in previous posts, but mainly because of reliability.
  • Another service you don’t hear much about is their 2 way voice package. This is probably one of the best services that any security company can offer, but some security companies rarely advertise it (I’ll tell you why in a bit). It’s kind of like having OnStar for your home.  If your alarm system is triggered, their is a live OnStar-for-home-securityoperator on the other end of your keypad. This can help in an emergency and be a life saver! It also reduces false alarms and helps with alarm monitoring because it verifies your emergency.  You can learn more about alarm verification and 2 way voice by joining our newsletter and blog where we talk more about this important feature.

After these more traditional types of wireless security systems and services is where the Pulse packages start.  There are several types of services in the Pulse category so make sure you understand the different levels that are offered by asking the right questions.

  • Interactive services are an important part of any security system that is used in today’s world. In fact, you’d be hard pressed to find an advertisement that doesn’t go over the ability to arm and disarm your system from your smartphone. Most people think a wireless security system means that they have these features included. That isn’t true. As we have talked about in the past, “wireless” is talking about the equipment that is used in your home.  Wireless security systems can still be connected to a traditional land line, and are usually advertised in a misleading way because the service is always less expensive when using a phone line to communicate with the central station.
  • If your alarm system doesn’t use a phone line than it’s probably using a cellular connection. With this type of connection, you can upgrade to interactive services, like ADT Pulse.  This feature is what most people are looking for when shopping for home security systems. 
  • With their starter package, or as they call it, Pulse level 1, your system has the ability to be accessed remotely.  That means you can arm and disarm your system using your smartphone, tablet, or computer. It may not seem like something you’ll need, but about 33% of people with a monitored home alarm forget to turn on their system on a daily basis. What good is paying for alarm monitoring when it isn’t being used?

By having access to your system with your smartphone, your more likely to use it. What could be worse than paying for security and having a break in? Not much, and it can happen if you don’t arm your system on a regular basis.

You should use your system for protection but to get the most value out of today’s technology, there are other ways you can use your system to benefit your lifestyle. Today’s systems do so much more than arming and disarming your alarm remotely.  

Other Smart Features to Know About

You can have other features, like lights, cameras, door locks, and many other customized features that you’ll use for more than protection.

  • ADT Pulse does offer those services as well, they are in their upgraded packages of Level 2 and 3.
  • The most popular upgrade for most people is adding video cameras to their system. Even though, statistics show that many stop using their cameras in month 7 or 8, one or two cameras in the right location can add incredible peace of mind for parents, travelers, and small businesses.
  • There are other factors to consider when adding security cameras to your system. Things like internet speed, resolution, and cost are a few factors to take in mind before adding them to your package.
  • One piece of equipment that isn’t available at the time of this article, is a video doorbell. This is a popular device that can combines your doorbell with a motion detector and video camera. Companies like Vivint, have offered this for years. More recently, All About Security has made this available.

    Learn how to get a Free smart sky doorbell

  • ADT Pulse also offers their "best " package with additional smart services. Many of these services are things you'll use on a daily basis.  Having a light turn on before entering your home, or on a dark porch, is some of the best security available. Pulse can also be combined with the Nest thermostat, door locks, and other home automation products that may be useful, depending on your needs.

The main advantage of Pulse, like most smart home security systems, is the ability to access your system anywhere. Most people today want to stay connected, and having a platform that can combine multiple services adds both safety and convenience. ADT's Pulse service is their fastest growing service. Even though the rates range from $48.99 to over $60 a month, there are some features that aren't offered, no matter what you want to spend.

Since ADT is such a large corporation, they will take longer to add new technology that other smaller security companies already offer.  One of the biggest disadvantages of pulse? You can't have 2 way voice without adding a phone line to your system. That's probably why it isn't advertised anymore. That may change in the future, but for right now you'll have to pay for a land line you wont use to take advantage of this feature

The platform, that Pulse runs on, is similar to Xfinity's interactive security. The app is very much like the one cable companies offer, that may also be different with your dealer and your location. As for the service area, since ADT doesn't use different cellular carriers, there are areas that other providers may have service in where Pulse isn't available. (ATT cell towers are used for their cellular communication)

The one piece of equipment that I don't see becoming available in the near future is the upgraded motion sensor with a camera. This is called an image sensor and is because of the platform. has a patent on this service and ADT dealers do not have access to this highly rated platform. The image sensor offers an affordable way to have visual verification without upgrading to streaming video cameras

With's recent purchase of Icontrol (6/23/16) that may change in the future.

Which ADT?

Since ADT offers a dealer program, there are many companies you think are ADT Corporate, many are authorized dealers. That means there is a corporate sales division, and there are over 500 individual dealers that are competing for your business. While some dealers are great, there are other that may not be so great. That depends on the indiidual company.

With a dealer program, your system will always be monitored by the same alarm monitoring station but your installation and service will vary depending on the dealer that sets up your service. 

This also means the equipment can vary.  ADT does have strict standards so you'll get the same type of quality, but if your looking for a particular feature, equipment, or a certain touchscreen keypad, your choices are limited.


While the monitoring service will be about the same with all dealers, the cost for equipment will also have a range. And it isn't inexpensive. How much?

  • A magnetic door contact retails for $129, a motion detector retails for $229. The same equipment local security companies will charge you less than half.  
  • One advantage is you'll be able to negotiate the equipment price and smart shoppers will get a lot of free equipment. However, if you don't negotiate, you'll get the minimum offered. If you are looking at an ad, make sure you read the fine print. There's a lot of information there you'll want to know!
  • As for the installation, there is normally a $99 installation charge to start.
  • Often, there are promotions that offer a "free" installation. This is done with a visa gift card rebate. Make sure you know the details. If there is a fee for the card? How long will it take? And so on. 
  • With all the advertisements I've seen, there is always an activation charge. That charge is as low as $25 for some basic packages through corporate. More often, it starts at $199 and can be as high as $499. This will depend on the service level you choose.
  • Monitoring rates will range and can vary by a couple of dollars. That will depend on the dealer who installs your system. For the most part, the rates start at $49.99. There are different packages at $52.99 and $58.99.  
  • There is always a 36 month monitoring agreement and, currently, there aren't any shorter term options. To be fair, most of the professionally installed and monitored systems have a contract between 3 and 5 years. In California, there is a 2 year option. That has to do with state law and the 24 month agreement is not available in other states. 

Some Advantages

ADT does have a lot of things their customers love. First, they have been in business for over a 100 years. That means they aren't going anywhere. Even if your authorized dealer decides t close, you'll still have ADT to back you up.  The other advantage is their national coverage.  Actually, global.  No matter where you move you'll be able to transfer your service. Be warned, even though they have a great movers program, there is always a small installation fee and a new 36 month contract that will need to be signed.

Things to Consider:

  • Like I said at the beginning of this article. ADT is the only name in the security industry that most people know. 
  • Their Warranty - their is a warranty, but make sure you read the fine print to know what's covered. There is always a trip charge at the least. Even though there is a charge for their service plan, it isn't free. It's a reduced cost.
  • Customer Service- If your looking for consistency, you should be able to find it. If you want to talk to the same person more than once? Probably not going to happen. Since Pulse is a newer platform, customer service is important. It is also a controversial topic. If you look at customer reviews, you'll find people who love them, and others that hate them. Usually, the latter is because there was an issue with the system and it either took a long time to resolve, cost more than what was expected, or was never resolved. 
  • New Equipment - If your looking for something in particular, check with several providers if it is available. You may want to call different authorized dealers as well.
  • Cost - Even though "free" is advertised, nothing in life is free.  Consider the up front investment and monthly monitoring cost, once it is all said and done.  Don't just look at the advertised offer.
  • Upgrades- Many smart security platforms have the ability to be upgarded at no cost with software updates. That may not be available with the Pulse platform. Check with your dealer.

I'd recommend testing your system while the technician is at your home. It's easy to solve a potential problem by dealing with it at the time of installation, or within the 3 day right to cancel period.  Another good rule of thumb for  any installation is to write down all your questions before the install time. That way, you wont have a million questions you didn't think of after the technician leaves.

All About Security Smart Home Security Packages

In a future article, we will compare All About Security's Smart Home Security Services to ADT's systems. Everything from the alarm panels and equipment, to the services offered! Sign up for our blog updates to make sure you don't miss it!IMG_3608.jpg


Comparing Security Systems

Even though ADT Pulse is a great solution, there are other comparable services that may be a better fit for your needs. If you are interested in the service, compare it with other smart home security systems and make sure it will be the best solution for your home.  At All About Security, we will help everyone in our community, even if it isn't with us. We are always happy to help find you the best deal and service, no matter what company you decide to go with. Our reputation is worth more than a few dollars.  We will always put your priorities first!

 And That's All Folks....

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If you have any questions, you can always call us at 317.559.3500, we are more than happy to answer them for you. Even if we have to research the topic, we will get you the right information.

As always....

Until next time, stay safe and informed Indianapolis.


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