Note: SimpliSafe now offers self-monitoring.
If you’re talking about home security, it’s hard not to mention ADT and SimpliSafe. While ADT is the oldest security company in the U.S with over 140 years in business, SimpliSafe is the hot new kid on the block, founded in 2006 by two Harvard Business School students who wanted a security system for renters. Today, I’m comparing ADT’s Video Package with the SimpliSafe Summerfort system, and I’m excited to see how new stacks up to old. Will ADT continue its reign on the home security market, or is SimpliSafe just innovative enough to disrupt the industry?
In this review, I’ll go over the two systems’ key similarities, key differences, installation, professional monitoring, customer support, and apps. By the end of this review, you’ll be able to see whether ADT or SimpliSafe is the right system for your home and family, or my name isn’t Gabe from Security Baron. Let’s get started!
First of all, I want to make sure you’re looking at the right review comparison, so let’s talk about what ADT and SimpliSafe have in common.
- DIY installation: You’ll install both the ADT and the SimpliSafe systems yourself.
- Professional monitoring required: Both companies require that you pay an additional monthly fee for 24/7 professional monitoring.
- Cellular backup included: Cellular backup is included in your monthly subscriptions with both ADT and SimpliSafe.
Now for the differences, which will probably have a huge effect on your buying decision.
- Customer support: While SimpliSafe has decent customer support ratings, ADT’s are relatively negative.
- App ratings: The ADT Pulse app is highly rated, unlike the SimpliSafe app which has mediocre ratings.
- Monitoring options: While ADT’s plans are negotiated based on your amount of equipment and services, SimpliSafe offers two clear-cut (and most likely more affordable) plans.
Now that you’ve got a basic overview, let’s actually bust open these boxes.
ADT vs. SimpliSafe System Components
Both the ADT Video Package and the SimpliSafe Summerfort system include keypads, motion, entry, and glass break sensors, key ring remotes (known as key fobs in the world of SimpliSafe), and indoor cameras. ADT also throws in a smart lock and an additional alarm, while SimpliSafe provides you with a base station, a panic button, and an auxiliary siren. Now that we’ve seen what’s inside the boxes, we can actually install our systems. Last one to finish is a rotten egg!
ADT vs. SimpliSafe Installation
If you’re into saving money and rolling up your sleeves, then you’ll appreciate that both ADT and SimpliSafe have DIY installation. But as fun as putting together security systems can be, I don’t want to spend hours on it. So which system was easier to install, ADT or SimpliSafe?
Before it even gets to your door, the ADT security system will be pre-programmed so everything connects to each other. You have to call ADT to activate your system, but the call didn’t take too long. The hardest components to install? Definitely the video camera and the Kwikset deadbolt. Since the video camera is made by Alarm.com, it was pretty confusing to set it up using the ADT Pulse app. I recommend doing it on your computer instead. Installing the deadbolt was as complicated as any other deadbolt, plus a few electrical components. ADT does give you step-by-step instructions, but I’d use Youtube as a backup plan, and professional installation as your backup plan to the backup plan. Overall, installing ADT took about an hour, excluding the deadbolt, of course.
I love that installing SimpliSafe required no drilling or tools whatsoever. Instead, the majority of the sensors were peel-and-stick, which makes things truly idiot-proof. And don’t worry— this is a strong adhesive, one that doesn’t allow the sensors to slide down the walls. Once the sensors were up, all I had to do was plug in my base station, go into the SimpliSafe app, and sync everything. From start to finish, setting up SimpliSafe was just plain convenient.
Top System Installation
Both ADT and SimpliSafe were pretty easy to install, but SimpliSafe wins simply by avoiding a complicated camera and deadbolt situation. So far, it’s one to zero, SimpliSafe, but we’re just at the beginning. Truly, it’s anyone’s game!
If you’re reading this, it’s probably because you’re okay with having 24/7 professional monitoring. But what exactly does that mean? Well, it means that in addition to monitoring your system on your app, you’ll have a team of people monitoring your home’s security 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They’ll be alerted the second any of your alarms go off, and can check in with you and your home to verify an emergency. If need be, they can even contact emergency services for you, whether that’s the fire department, the police, or your local hospital. Whatever the situation is, it’s professional monitoring that will make sure it gets dealt with, and fast!
ADT vs. SimpliSafe Monitoring Options
Like I said, while ADT’s prices are customized based on your equipment and services, SimpliSafe gives you two options. Let me tell you about the features in SimpliSafe’s options that might not be glaringly obvious.
Want to know when an alarm goes off without it sounding? Under SimpliSafe’s Interactive Plan, you’ll get Secret Alarms, useful for your liquor cabinet, safe, what have you. This is a feature I haven’t seen from any other security system and I can see it coming in handy. Talk about stealth!
Video Verified Alarms
Say a burglar enters your home, setting off one of your entry sensors. Of course, the professional monitoring team will be alerted immediately, as will you via a mobile notification. But the monitoring team won’t be just alerted that your sensor went off. They’ll also receive a one-minute clip of the event, which they can use when alerting the police. Video verified alarms lead to higher arrest rates, according to the SimpliSafe website, so this is definitely a useful tool under SimpliSafe’s Interactive Plan.
Smart Home Integrations
Finally, the Interactive Plan will give you smart home integrations with Amazon Alexa, Google Nest, Apple Watch, and August, so get ready for some voice commands and home automations.
Overall, SimpliSafe’s prices are very reasonable, considering I’ve seen professional monitoring and cellular backup cost up to $60 a month with some companies.
ADT doesn’t lay everything out so nicely for you. Instead, you’ll negotiate with your sales person to find a price that fits your equipment and the services you want. So while I can’t tell you exact prices, I can tell you that you’ll be paying anywhere from around $30 to $60 a month for professional and life safety monitoring.
Whatever security system you choose, you want to make sure it has cellular backup, which will keep your security system on in the event of a power outage. Fortunately, both ADT and SimpliSafe include cellular backup with all of their systems, so you won’t have to pay extra on top of what you’re already paying each month for monitoring. Overall, SimpliSafe’s plans are way more affordable than ADT’s, but let’s see how the contracts work before we make any rash decisions.
ADT vs. SimpliSafe Contracts
While ADT only offers a three-year, binding contract, SimpliSafe offers a month-to-month contract. That means that if you don’t want their services anymore, you can cancel anytime without a fee. With ADT, in contrast, you’ll have to pay your contract out after the first six months. Keep in mind that you’d only be able to cancel within the first six months if you have an issue that ADT can’t resolve, not just because you feel like it. Obviously, SimpliSafe is a way better deal in this regard.
ADT vs. SimpliSafe Moving Policies
The good news? If you’re moving houses with either system, you can just pick it up and go, one of the benefits of DIY installation.
Top System for Monitoring
Due to its more affordable and flexible professional monitoring options, I’m giving SimpliSafe the crown over ADT for professional monitoring. They’re a more transparent company in general, and I love that their plans are low-cost and can be cancelled whenever.
ADT vs. SimpliSafe Customer Support
If you’re looking to contact customer support through either company, you can look at their online user forums and help centers or call them over the phone. While SimpliSafe also offers email support, you can contact ADT over live chat or even Facetime. This may seem a little odd, but if you want to show someone something rather than tell them about it, it could come in handy.
Now let’s see what real customers had to say about ADT and SimpliSafe’s customer support. As ADT isn’t available on Amazon, I checked out its reviews on Google. Currently, ADT has a Google rating of 2.5, already a bit concerning. When I looked at the reviews that mentioned customer support specifically, 16 out of 17 were very negative. Many people even said that they were deceived about the contract term length and couldn’t reach customer support when they needed help, clearly a huge red flag.
“We tried to secure our business with about half a million dollars worth of assets with ADT only to find out that there was an issue with our alarm system and we were not being monitored for over 3 months… ADT does not have a process to inform the customer when the alarm is not working. We were never called or informed about this issue,”
wrote Rommel D’souza in a recent one-star review.
As the SimpliSafe Summerfort system that I bought isn’t on Amazon, I checked out reviews for a similar 12-piece system on Amazon. Overall, the system got a rating of 3.5, which is already more than ADT can say. Out of over 5,300 reviews, 74% were five star. On Google, SimpliSafe has a three-star rating with more positive customer support reviews.
“I’m very impressed both with the quality of the alarm system and with customer service. The alarm was easier than I expected to install and any questions I had was answered by their representatives,”
wrote Gerald Flanders in a five-star review.
Top System for Customer Support
Another easy round— SimpliSafe has much better customer support than ADT, as evidenced by thousands of customer reviews. If you’ve been counting, we’re at SimpliSafe three, ADT zero. Can ADT redeem itself in the last round? Let’s find out.
SimpliSafe has easy DIY installation, great customer support, and flexible monthly contracting.
ADT vs. SimpliSafe App
Even though you’ll have professional monitoring, you still want to make sure you can check out and control your system wherever, whenever. Let’s see how ADT and SimpliSafe’s apps stack up.
The ADT Pulse App
From the ADT Pulse app, you’ll be able to arm or disarm your system, control any connected devices, livestream footage, and receive push notification. The app has great ratings— a 3.9 from the Google Play store and a nearly-perfect 4.8 from the Apple store. That’s what I like to see!
We love ADT due to its great mobile app, free cloud storage for up to 30 days, two-way audio, and more.
The SimpliSafe App
SimpliSafe’s app has the same capabilities as ADT’s, but its ratings are as high. While Android users gave it a 3.4, iPhone users gave it a 3.1— passing, but definitely not fantastic. Many Android users said that they had trouble connecting their app to their systems, but it was totally a mixed bag.
Top System App
ADT wins for best app over SimpliSafe! A story of redemption.
Recap of ADT vs. SimpliSafe
If I had to choose, I’d go with SimpliSafe over ADT. They have easier installation, more affordable and flexible professional monitoring options, and better customer support than ADT. However, I understand that different people have different things they want out of a security system, so let me break it down even further.
Pick ADT if you’d like…
- Higher-rated app: The ADT Pulse app has an average rating of 4.35, compared to the 3.25 average of the SimpliSafe app.
- Customer support over Facetime: ADT is the only security company I’ve seen that lets you talk to support over Facetime, which could be useful if you want to show them your system.
- More system components: The ADT Video Package is slightly more expansive than SimpliSafe’s Summerfort System.
To learn more, read our full review of the ADT security system.
Pick SimpliSafe if you’d like…
- Easier installation: While neither system was hard to install, I found that installing SimpliSafe was easier than installing ADT.
- Superior customer support: While SimpliSafe isn’t exactly known for its customer support, it’s definitely better than ADT’s.
- Lower price for equipment: The Summerfort System I bought costed $559, $214 than the ADT Video Package.
For more information, read our full review of the SimpliSafe security system.
Want to learn more your other options? Read our review of the best home security systems of 2019.