ADT Pulse vs. Vivint Smart Home: Which is the Home Security System?

DIY home security systems are helpful for those who want to save money. These systems can help you keep an eye on what is happening to your home, and alert you before an issue becomes an emergency. The problem is that these systems are DIY. You would need to figure out what sensors and devices you need, then you have to add these components yourself. For some, this also includes some degree of pairing. However, the biggest downfall of these systems is that you would be entrusting your home’s safety on sensors.

Professionally monitored systems like ADT Plus and Vivint Smart Home allow you to have another set of eyes looking after your home. Monitoring centers will be looking out for events where your alarms are tripped, verify if it is a false alarm or not, and then call emergency responders to help out.

If you are looking for a professionally monitored (and installed!) home security system, two of the names that you would undoubtedly come across are ADT Pulse and Vivint Smart Home.

ADT Pulse

Believe it or not, ADT Pulse has been around since 1874. That means that they are now 144 years old and still providing security service for both businesses and homes. If anything, they are the oldest security company there is.

While that does not guarantee how good ADT’s products are, that does say something about how ADT services its customers. What’s more, having the ADT yard sign on your front lawn is something potential burglars would know. They are sure to recognize it.

ADT offers several motion detectors, glass break sensors, door and window sensors, and security cameras. On top of that, it also has several sensors that keep you safe from environmental hazards such as fire, smoke, carbon monoxide, flood, and water leaks. You can control all of these using the central keypad or a key fob.

ADT also has a starter kit, which costs only $449 but is now on offer for only $49. Professional monitoring, meanwhile, starts at $29 per month.

ADT Pulse App

ADT Pulse works with a mobile app that allows you to disarm, arm, and monitor your system no matter where you are. You can also view the live stream on your smartphone and then even add other smart devices. There is a long list of smart door locks, lights, thermostats, video doorbells, garage door openers, and plugs that work with ADT Pulse.

Features of ADT Pulse

ADT Pulse is highly customizable. A company representative will give you a free consultation to see what your home or business needs. The representative will visit and tour your home and ask you several questions about what you want before giving you recommendations on the service and equipment that you need.

Professional installation. With ADT Pulse, you do not have to worry about laying out wires, installing the different components, or testing each component to see if they work as they should. They provide a professional installation that should last anywhere from four to eight hours, depending on what system you opted for.

Three different plans. ADT Pulse gives you five tiers to choose from, allowing you to get only what you need. The Traditional plan gives you protection against thieves and burglars, while the Remote plan adds protection for environmental threats, as well as being able to operate your system via the app and get text and e-mail alerts. The Video plan is for you if you have security cameras.

A traditional installation would cost anywhere from $49 to $500 for the installation alone, then you pay the $29 monthly charge. Choosing the remote tier would mean installation charges of $500 to $1,000 and $48 per month. If you want to be able to control your smart home devices or go for the highest tier, which includes video, you can expect to pay anywhere from $1,000 to $1,500 for installation and up to $60 per month.

Plan  Traditional  Control  Video 
Cellular Connection   Yes  Yes  Yes 
Fire, Carbon Monoxide & Flood Monitoring   Yes  Yes  Yes 
24/7 Monitoring   Yes  Yes  Yes 
Money-Back Guarantee   Yes  Yes  Yes 
Home Automation*   No  Yes  Yes 
Email & Text Alerts   No  Yes  Yes 
Remote operation  No  Yes  Yes 
Remote Secure Video   No  No  Yes 
Average installation fees  $49 to $500  $500 to $1,000  $1,000 to $1,500 
Monthly fee  $29  $48  $60 

What you would like about ADT Pulse

ADT Pulse brings together home security, home automation, and video storage all in one package. You can scale down according to what you need, so if you do not have a security camera, you can still get the Remote plan for home automation and security.

Break-ins and emergencies can come at any time, so it helps that ADT Pulse offers round-the-clock customer service. If you even have broken equipment or other breakdowns, they can help you.

In fact, ADT’s biggest advantage is its superior customer service. You will be hard-pressed to find another security company that will rival ADT’s excellence in this area.

What could be better

ADT Pulse may get more expensive. The company offers a basic tier, which, at face value, is competitive or is cheaper than the competition. However, as you add more equipment, your costs can easily go up. Installation can go into the thousands and monthly charges start at around $29.

The biggest disadvantage with the ADT Pulse, however, is the three-year contract lock up and the pre-termination charges they impose. For instance, if you have the video plan and you decide to cancel after only a year, ADT will charge you 75% of the monthly fees you still have to pay for the next two years. At $60 per month, that is equal to $1,080 for a service you will not use anymore.

Vivint Smart Home

Vivint Smart Home helps you with home security management, home automation, and energy management, among other things. Vivint Smart Home also offers professional monitoring, cloud storage, and integrations with a long list of smart devices.

In short, it is a direct competitor of the ADT Pulse.

Like ADT Pulse, you simply need to choose a plan that you want and Vivint will do the rest for you. They will install each component for you and even explain to you how each component works.

Starter kit. To start, you would need to buy the base system, which includes the SkyControl panel, one motion detector, and two contact sensors. Then just add the devices and sensors that you need.

The beauty of Vivint Smart Home is that is works like a DIY home security kit. You can monitor it yourself, but you cannot use the mobile app nor can you access the company’s tech support. They also allow you to pay in installments, just in case you do not want to pay for the equipment and sensors upfront.

Service plans. Subscription plans for the Vivint Smart Homeis rather straightforward. You pay $40 monthly for the Smart Protect plan. The plan includes round-the-clock professional monitoring, access to the mobile app, and alerts. If you want to add smart devices, you pay $50 per month for the Smart Home plan. With the more expensive plan, you can control your Vivint and the connected devices using the Vivint app or Amazon Alexa.


The SkyControl is touchscreen control panel that you can use to arm or disarm your system, tweak the system’s settings, control other devices, and check to see if there are problems with your system.

Vivint offers door and window sensors, glass break detectors, panic buttons, and the Ping Camera. They also have the Element Thermostat.

What could be better

One thing about Vivint is that their customer service chat support is not entirely helpful. We had some questions and not only did the chat support agent not answer our questions, he also ended each non- response with a prompt to move on to the next question. Seems like their chat support has a one button press for “Is there anything else that we could help you with today?” The short chat session became so frustrating and ultimately our questions were left unanswered and our issues were not addressed.

If you are casually shopping around for a security system, talking to Vivint’s customer service will be of little help.

Final say

Both ADT Pulse and Vivint offer professional setup and installation, with their contractors required to visit your home.

Both do not provide pricing details for their products, devices, and sensors. This means that it would be difficult to compare their pricing for their services and products for DIY security systems. If you are still deciding between a DIY security system or something like ADT or Vivint, you would still have to schedule a home visit for them to be able to give you a quote.

If you live in an apartment, then you should consider how ADT Pulse requires more commitment from you. You must be sure that you could honor their three-year service contract or else pay steep pre-termination fees. But this is probably because ADT offers you the sensors and equipment free or for a little fee. Moreover, ADT Pulse probably has the best customer service among all professionally monitored home security systems.

On the other hand, Vivint does not require your loyalty and you can even monitor the system yourself if you do not mind losing the ability to remotely control your system. You also cannot delete video events or change the alarm sounds.