We live at a time when protecting our home is easy with home security systems and professional monitoring. It is now possible to keep our home safe and secure from intruders, fires, leaks, and environmental threats even when we’re at work or halfway around the world.
Now, with smart technology, these security systems become automated and everything is a lot more convenient.
Two of the more popular home security providers are ADT Home Security and AT&T Digital Life. How do these two compare with each other?
AT&T Digital Life
AT&T Digital Life provides solid home security packages options with 24/7 professional monitoring. AT&T Digital Life allows you to use its security systems even if you are not an AT&T cable or internet service customer. This is something you cannot get from other telecom companies.
What’s more, the company also offers à la carte options that allow you to customize your security package in order to fit your needs.
AT&T Digital Life’s security devices include:
Contact sensor. This device monitors your door and can tell when it is opened or closed.
Window sensor. This magnetic device monitors the opening and closing of windows, doors, and other entry points. It functions in the same way as a contact sensor, but it is more compact and can be installed on a variety of surfaces.
Active doorbell. This device sends you alerts every time your doorbell is pushed. It also allows you to set rules on what to do each time somebody’s at the door.
Glass break sensor. This device detects the sound of breaking glass. It is installed near windows and other glass entryway and alerts you when a potential intruder breaks in.
Carbon monoxide sensor. This device monitors the carbon monoxide levels in your home and alerts you and the monitoring center in case of dangerous CO levels.
Keypad. This is an in-home tool for arming and disarming your alarm system. This device lets you know if your doors and windows are opened or unlocked.
Motion sensor. This device detects movement in the room, hallway, or stairs. It will alert you and the monitoring center when there is suspicious movement in the monitored area while your alarm system is armed.
Indoor siren. This device will alert you of an emergency detected by any of your sensors. This siren is battery and AC-powered.
Conversion kit. This kit is useful when you have existing door and window sensors prior to switching to AT&T Digital Life. This kit allows AT&T Digital Life to reuse your current wired sensors.
Plans and Packages
AT&T’s contract has a two-year term and you can choose from three main packages. Aside from round-the-clock professional monitoring, all packages come with professional installation at no additional cost. They also give you remote access to your system from your smartphone, PC, and tablet.
Regardless of the package you choose, you will have to pay up front for the security equipment.
Smart Security: $39.99/month
This is AT&T Digital Life’s entry-level package, which comes with professional monitoring and standard equipment worth $700 if purchased separately. The security devices included in the Smart Security package are two contact sensors, four window sensors, one keypad, one motion sensor, and one indoor siren.
For all of these equipment, you will have to pay $549.99 up front.
Smart Security and Automation: $54.99/month
Smart Security and Automation includes professional monitoring, remote door access, and video monitoring.
Just like the entry-level plan, this second-tier package will require you to pay a one-time equipment fee of $549.99.
Premium Security and Automation: $64.99/month
This premium package includes everything offered in the Smart Security and Automation package, but with thermostat control.
With this package, you will be required to pay a one-time equipment fee of $849.99.
Warranty and cancellation
The length of AT&T Digital Life’s contract is shorter compared to that of most security companies. However, if you cancel early, you will be charged with a relatively higher early termination fee.
Choosing to terminate your contract before the two-year term is up will cost you about $640 for the basic package.
AT&T offers a 14-day trial period. However, if you do cancel before these 14 days are up, you may be required to pay a restocking fee of $99 for all the equipment you return.
What you would like about AT&T Digital Life
AT&T Digital Life offers free installation by certified professionals, and not having to pay any additional costs is always a good thing.
Moreover, regardless of the package you have availed, you get remote access on any mobile device via the AT&T Digital Life app. This simple all-in-one app that you can install on your device allows you to stay connected to your home security and automation system from almost anywhere.
Additionally, you can easily set up text and e-mail notifications so you will know what is happening at home while you are at work or somewhere else.
It’s easy to customize your system and add more security devices to your package, like video cameras. With AT&T Digital Life, you can also get automation integration easily. It’s easy to add more smart features to your home and integrate these into your security system.
AT&T Digital Life’s two-year contract is also shorter than a lot of other security companies’ contract term.
What can be better
AT&T Digital Life’s entry-level package, which costs $39.99 a month, is considered pricier than most security-only companies’ cheapest packages. On top of that, the company also charges an up-front one-time equipment fee starting at $549.99.
Moreover, while AT&T allows you to customize your home security package according to your needs, the price you have to pay monthly gets higher as you add extra security devices to your package. For example, if you want to add a video camera to your Smart Security plan, your monthly fee would go up by $9.99, plus you would need to pay a one-time equipment fee of $199.99 up front.
Also, while AT&T’s contract is shorter than its competitors’ contract, with the former being 24 months and most others being 36 months, AT&T’s early termination fee is significantly steeper.
Aside from complaints about poor installation practices, extra fees, and high costs, there are negative feedback regarding AT&T Digital Life’s customer service. Experienced customers, however, say that online chat is the more straightforward way to go about any problems or issues.
Another aspect that needs improvement is the fact the AT&T Digital Life’s website only listed the most basic package. This means that for you to get information about the other packages, you need to call customer service or chat online. It would have been nice if all relevant information about their services can be accessed readily through their site.
The company is relatively new and only serves 15 major metropolitan markets across the U.S., which is not a lot. It should be noted that the company continues to expand, though.
ADT Home SecurityNo products found.
ADT’s more than 140 years of experience as a home security provider makes it one of the top choices for home security systems. The company’s offerings come with around-the-clock professional monitoring, custom solutions, and automation options.
ADT has different home security plans and packages to choose from. It installs security devices through independent partners. Protect Your Home is the company’s premier third-party provider.
The basic equipment that come with ADT’s home security plans include a control panel, wireless sensor, wireless remote, motion sensor, and backup battery. You can get additional devices with any of the advanced plans.
Protect Your Home supports various types of devices, including sensors, cameras, controls, and home automation features.
Additionally, the company has ADT Pulse, a smart home security product that wirelessly communicates with smart home equipment using Z-wave technology. You can integrate the ADT Pulse system with different third-party smart home devices, like the Nest thermostat.
An ADT system also connects with the Pulse app via Amazon Alexa, allowing you to arm and disarm your system, turn your lights on or off, and make sure your door is locked using your voice.
ADT’s home security plans tie you up for three years.
The monthly fee you have to pay for ADT’s home security packages already cover the equipment and professional monitoring costs. However, for professional installation, you will have to pay $99 upfront.
You can choose from these ADT Protect Your Home packages:
Basic Security: $27.99/month
Basic Security is the company’s entry-level package. It includes a digital keypad, an alarm siren, a wireless keychain remote, an infrared motion detector, and three door/window sensors. Smart home features are not included.
This plan is landline-based, so the system has to be connected to a phone socket to work. Cellular backup is also not provided, but in case of a power outage, a backup battery will keep your system active for up to eight hours.
Basic Security + Wireless Connect: $48.99/month
This package includes everything the basic security package offers, plus the cellular safeguard.
ADT Pulse Select: $52.99/month
You get everything offered by the lower-tier plans, but with home automation features. You can connect to your security system and access it any time using the ADT Pulse app even if you are away from home. You can remotely arm and disarm your system, get real-time updates, and receive notifications.
ADT Pulse + Video: $58.99/month
You get everything in the ADT Pulse Select, plus video surveillance. This plan provides an indoor surveillance camera and allows you to use the ADT Pulse app to monitor your home through live stream.
ADT Pulse + Home Automation and ADT Pulse + Video & Home Automation plans
These two top security plans offer full home automation if you want a security system with smart features. The cost of any of these plans depends on the devices you will be using.
Warranties and cancellation
ADT offers a six-month money-back warranty for its security equipment. If anything goes wrong with your security system within this period, you only have to pay $25 to get a professional technician or engineer to fix it.
You also have the option to avail of ADT’s extended limited warranty, called Quality Service Plan or QSP. This is bundled in with the higher-tier security packages. If you have the basic packages, you have to upgrade for the QSP for an additional $7 a month.
If you choose to terminate your ADT security contract early, you will be required to pay 75 percent of the outstanding balance.
What you would like about ADT
A comprehensive risk assessment comes with ADT’s professional installation. This means that highly trained technicians and security advisers will evaluate and identify the vulnerabilities and the potential risks of your home security-wise. They will also make recommendations on the security solutions that are best for your home.
Pet owners would love the fact that ADT’s motion sensor isn’t triggered by big pets. Dogs up to 95 pounds can walk around your house and you don’t have to worry about your alarms going off every now and then.
You will also love the ability of ADT’s monitoring center to respond quickly to a raised alarm. Monitoring professionals will contact you first by calling your phone or your control panel’s two-way voice feature. The responders will ask you to verify your identity through a passcode, and they will guide and help you determine which sensor triggered the alarm. In case you don’t respond, the center will assume that there’s an emergency situation and will, therefore, call for help.
Moreover, ADT’s system can either be wireless or hardwired.
What can be better
ADT uses third-party partners for its equipment, and while this means same-day installation in certain locations, you may not know exactly what devices you will be getting until the installers come.
ADT can also improve on its transparency. Compared with other providers, it is not as fully transparent in terms of costs. The company requires you to call them for a quotation and these calls could mean agents trying to sell you more products.
The company also needs to work on its long-term contract, its inconsistent customer service, and high moving costs.No products found.
Comparing AT&T Digital Life and ADT
AT&T Digital Life and ADT offer two of the most expensive home security systems. They both offer state-of-the-art devices, as well as the most comprehensive list of security and automation equipment, features, and services.
Both companies offer 24/7 monitoring with monthly plans and require professional installation. They also require long-term contracts. They offer customers full home automation options and remote access via mobile app.
Most of the differences between the two companies focus around AT&T’s much shorter stint in the home security industry. These differences include the fact that AT&T has a very limited service area.
Renters or people who are planning to move to another location will have to think about getting an AT&T Digital Life security system. The company’s limited service area could mean that transferring the system to a second location may not be feasible.
Another difference between the two is the length of contract. ADT requires a three-year service contract while AT&T Digital Life’s contract has a two-year term. Their warranties also differ, with ADT offering a six-month, money-back guarantee and AT&T only offering 14 days.
If you don’t want to think about whether security services are available in your area, then it’s a no-brainer: AT&T is not for you. However, if you live in any of the 15 cities or markets catered to by AT&T, and if you are willing to pay a bit more for the security services you get, AT&T is a good choice.
In terms of features and technology, the company can give ADT a run for its money.
But if you want the whole package and would want to pick the better company in terms of customer service, value for money, ease of use, and equipment, go with ADT. Choosing the provider with more than a century of experience under its belt just makes a whole lot of sense.
One thing about the 3 year contract that ADT has….you are locked in for those three years but what ADT charges you is not. About 10 years ago I had ADT and while I was under the 3 year contract, the price went up every year. So their contract is a unilateral contract and has no benefits or protections to the customer; it is all for ADT. After my contract was up, I left and would never return to ADT again. I don’t mind a 3 year contract, but at the same time, the pricing should be fixed during that time.
The sad thing is, the price they want for their plan that requires a landline, was the price I started off at ($27.99) and by the end of three years it was nearly $40. Ten years later it looks like they have the same entry price, I wonder what the consumer will be paying by the end of the 3 year contract.