I don’t think it’s much of a stretch to assume you’ve seen the little blue ADT hexagons in your neighbors’ front yards. ADT is America’s oldest and largest home security company—by a long shot. It was founded in 1874 as a telegraph company and now boasts over eight million customers in North America.
Frontpoint, on the other hand, is celebrating its 10th birthday this year. In that short decade it has rapidly grown its customer base and is now recognized as a company that’s great to both its customers and its employees.
When it comes to home security companies, does bigger always mean better? Well, ADT’s size isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but in our experience, it doesn’t always translate to better customer service. Here we’ll compare ADT, which ranks number 10 in our list of top home security companies, to the much smaller Frontpoint, which ranks number one.
The bottom line: Frontpoint has stellar customer service, while ADT’s is hit or miss. Each company has its own advantages and disadvantages, with different aspects that stand out—read on to find out how they perform in different areas.
How are customers treated?
Frontpoint is known for its stellar customer service and low-pressure sales approach. We’ve contacted its customer service department a handful of times in the past, and the representatives’ primary agenda is always answering our questions rather than upselling more products and services. Our readers who are Frontpoint customers confirm that the company’s customer service is consistently excellent throughout the buying and contract periods as well.
Here’s the most important thing to know about ADT: You won’t buy directly from ADT itself, but rather from an authorized ADT dealer. So what does this mean for you? Pricing, plan details, and even package names may vary based upon where you live and which dealer you’re working with. There’s a lot of different—and sometimes even conflicting—information about ADT home security out there because several companies sell ADT systems. While I was able to get a few basic questions answered through ADT’s online chat feature, the chat agent eventually cut me off, insisting that I direct the rest of my questions to a sales agent during our home visit.
ADT is known for its high-pressure sales approach. A salesperson who is paid on commission will come to your house to assess your needs and to give you a quote. They may try to upsell you and get you to sign a contract on the spot, but it’s worth taking your time to consider all your options before signing away the next three years of your life.
Three-year contracts are standard
Both Frontpoint and ADT require three-year contracts. If that sounds like a long-term commitment, just know that 36 months is pretty standard for most home security companies.
Once you’ve fulfilled your three-year contract with ADT, you have the option to switch to a more flexible month-to-month contract rather than signing another 36-month contract.
If you move in the middle of your contract, both companies will work with you to move your system with you.
Frontpoint doesn’t charge you anything to move your system. Since you will have already installed it yourself, you simply uninstall and reinstall the equipment in your new place. Frontpoint even sends you a complimentary moving kit that includes instructions on how to make the transfer. Just call to reactivate once you’re in your new home.
As we’ve previously covered, ADT offers a “mover’s guarantee” that provides a comparable equipment package at your new home as long as you’ve been a customer for at least six months and have paid your monthly fees on time. This is an awesome guarantee that I was excited to find out more about. I tried to get more details and was disappointed when I tried to get more details about ADT’s moving policy—customer support refused to answer more questions without a home visit. Based upon some of the feedback on our ADT review linked above, moving with ADT involves a lot of surprise expenses and hidden fees, so unless you’re positive you’ll be in your home for the next three years, ADT may not be worth the hassle.
DIY or professional installation?
Frontpoint’s systems are entirely wireless with entirely DIY installation, whereas ADT offers installation services for both wired and wireless systems.
Because Frontpoint is self-installed, there are no additional installation fees. By and large, Frontpoint customers say that the installation process is fairly easy, even if you’re not particularly tech-savvy.
ADT offers both wired and wireless systems. A wired system requires professional installation, with fees starting at $99, whereas a wireless system can either be professionally installed or self-installed.
Cellular monitoring for all
Both companies offer cellular monitoring at every subscription level. Cellular monitoring means that your system communicates via a cellular signal rather than via landline like traditional systems. It’s more secure and reliable than a landline because even if the power goes out, your system will still operate.
With Frontpoint, cellular monitoring is standard with every plan and operates on its own dedicated signal so it won’t interfere with your cellphone connection.
In addition to cellular monitoring, ADT also offers landline monitoring as an option. A landline-based system may be better for some rural areas where cell signals are patchy. This kind of monitoring flexibility makes ADT a viable option for a wide variety of customers, regardless of their geographic or technological limitations.
Frontpoint and ADT’s systems are all professionally monitored by central monitoring stations, so there’s always someone watching over your home, ready to call you and the appropriate authorities in case of an emergency. Both companies are known for delivering the services they promise in terms of both reliable home security and stellar monitoring.
How do the packages compare?
Below are all the packages offered by Frontpoint and ADT so you can compare prices and features. But first, here are the features the companies share across every plan:
- 24/7 professional monitoring
- Three-year contract length
- Cellular monitoring
- Optional fire/smoke monitoring
- Optional environmental monitoring
|Plan name||Protection||Interactive||Ultimate||Protect||Protect + Connect||Protect + Connect Premium|
|Visit website||View Plans||View Plans||View Plans||View Plan||View Plan||View Plan|
|Monthly monitoring fee||$34.99||$44.99||$49.99||$36.99*||$52.99*||$58.99*|
|Equipment fee||$99.00||$199.93||$199.93||Free||Must call ADT for quote||Must call ADT for quote|
|Installation fee||None||None||None||$99.00||Must call ADT for quote||Must call ADT for quote|
|Protection||Interactive||Ultimate||Protect||Protect + Connect||Protect + Connect Premium|
|View Plans||View Plans||View Plans||View Plan||View Plan||View Plan|
|$99.00||$199.93||$199.93||Free||Must call ADT for quote||Must call ADT for quote|
|None||None||None||$99.00||Must call ADT for quote||Must call ADT for quote|
*Pricing may vary based on location
What’s in a warranty?
Frontpoint is forthcoming with its warranty policy (under “General Policies”). It offers a three-year equipment warranty and a 30-day money-back guarantee if you decide in the first month that you don’t want to keep your system. This equipment warranty isn’t the best out there—some home security companies offer lifetime equipment warranties—but at least you’re covered for the length of your initial contract.
ADT’s warranty policy is less clear, and it costs extra. The price for its Quality Service Plan isn’t available on the ADT website, so you’ll have to schedule a home visit to find out how the service plan factors into your total cost.
Frontpoint and ADT have somewhat similar home automation offerings, though Frontpoint ultimately outshines ADT. With both systems, you can use the respective apps to remotely do the following:
- Arm and disarm the system
- Lock and unlock doors
- Adjust connected lights
- Adjust temperature with a connected thermostat
- Turn connected appliances on and off
Unlike ADT, Frontpoint incorporates geo-fencing capabilities. With geo-fencing, you define the geographic limits of your home or office. You can set up rules for when you leave or approach that perimeter—for example, the system can remind you to arm your system when you leave or automatically turn on your lights if you’re not home by a certain time. This useful feature is part of why Frontpoint ranks fifth on our list of best home automation systems, while ADT does not crack our top 10.
With both companies, home automation features are available only at the highest subscription tier—Frontpoint’s Ultimate plan and ADT’s Protect + Connect Premium plan.
Go with Frontpoint
As you may have guessed from our rankings, Frontpoint is an overall better home security option, based primarily on its customer service, DIY installation, and fewer additional fees.
That being said, of hundreds of home security companies out there, ADT has still made our top 10, and we would never rank something we couldn’t recommend. ADT has the advantage of being a nationally ubiquitous brand that friends and foes alike will recognize as effective and reliable. There’s a reason it’s lasted so long—ADT’s monitoring is top-notch, and it’ll do what it says it’s going to do. It’s also a good option for those in rural areas who need a landline connection rather than a cellular connection. If you do choose to go with ADT, just be prepared for its aggressive sales tactics and remember that it’s always okay to say no.
Regardless of which company you choose, you’ll know you’re protected by one of the best home security systems available.
Do you have any experience as a Frontpoint or ADT customer? What’s important to you in a home security company?