In the quickly growing, quickly changing home security space, companies are distinguishing themselves by breaking with industry tradition -- allowing customers to install their own wireless systems, monitor their own alerts, and pay month-to-month while offering home automation features alongside safety features. ADT and CPI Security are old-fashioned in the sense that both eschew DIY home security in favor of professional installation and professional monitoring. But both are leaning into the smart home security future with in-house smart devices, powerful apps, and broad compatibility.
If you are in the market for a professionally installed and monitored home security system with big home automation potential, either ADT or CPI Security is a great pick. But while ADT is a national company with instant name recognition, CPI Security is a regional, Southeastern operation with the neighborly perks -- free installation, a cash guarantee against false alarms -- of a local company.
ADT vs. CPI Security overview
Basic monthly pricing
Monthly 30 months 60 months
In keeping with their traditional ethos, both ADT and CPI Security conduct business exclusively over the phone. Neither provider allows you to order online or even check prices online. You have to call to get a quote, order your system, and set up a time for professional installation.
The rationale for custom quotes is solid -- the price of equipment and monitoring hinges on a lot of personal preferences, and an agent can better walk you through your options than a website. When prices are kept for quotes, there's also more potential for bartering. Let the agent know your budget, and they may be able to offer you a discounted rate or at least help tailor a system to your price limit. You'll have to dial in to get the relevant details from either company. We found the customer rep experience with both about the same: slightly pushy but largely informative and low-stakes.
ADT and CPI Security each boast a couple of exceptional offers we have never seen from other companies.
ADT has had over a century to explore all the facets of safety. With the ADT Go app, the company lets you take ADT home security on the road. For an extra $10 per month, ADT Go provides crash detection and roadside assistance, alerting you if a member of your ADT Go circle gets in an accident and dispatching an emergency response. You also get access to a live ADT agent via the SOS button. If you're in a risky situation, just open the app and hold down the button. ADT Go's other features are available for free to all ADT customers: location check-ins and alerts (e.g., get a notification when your kid makes it to school) as well as local crime data.
Another ADT perk: Theft Protection Guarantee. If you're burglarized while your ADT system is armed and make a homeowners insurance claim, ADT will pay you $500 to reimburse your insurance deductible.
CPI Security has a few stand-out offers of its own. Like most home security companies, it offers a warranty period in which malfunctioning devices will be replaced, cost-free. CPI allows you to prolong the protection with its Service Plus Program. Enroll for an additional monthly fee and get free parts and installation when devices go haywire or simply wear out. CPI Security also has a No False Alarm Guarantee. If a system malfunction causes a false alarm, and you get saddled with a fine from your city. As a result, CPI will reimburse you.
Smart home capabilities
Both ADT and CPI Security have all major smart home devices on offer: smart cameras (indoor and outdoor), video doorbells, and smart light controls, garage door controls, and thermostats. Both brands' smart and security devices are compatible with a wide swathe of third-party products and voice assistants because they communicate via the Z-Wave network. This means that an ADT or CPI Security system can integrate with the smart offerings of both Big Tech and more niche companies like August and Kwikset.
So which one is right for me?
Then you should go with:
Want a recognizable home security sign in your yard to deter would-be burglars
ADT is the grandfather of all home security -- it's been around since 1890. Burglars are known to be stopped by a home security sign alone, and ADT's is the better known, hands down.
Like to go with local businesses
CPI Security offers all the features of big-name home security companies but a constrained service area for a regional-specific feel.
Feel more comfortable with a trial period
ADT offers a 30-day trial period in which you can experiment with your newly installed system and decide whether or not you want to keep it --if you decide against it, you get your money back.
I don't like long-term contracts.
If you can afford to pay for all your home security equipment upfront, CPI Security offers month-to-month service in addition to traditional contract terms.
How to Compare Home Security Providers
Smart home features
The best home security systems share a number of common features: a full range of security capabilities (protecting you from both intrusion and environmental hazards), smart home integration, and great customer experiences -- from ordering your system to living with it.
It turns out, these last two features -- smart home features and customer experience -- are linked. J.D. Power ranks home security companies based on customer satisfaction every year. In the press release from 2018's rankings, J.D. Power called smart home features the most important contributor to customer satisfaction.
When deciding between home security systems, your wants and expectations for home automation should factor in. If you want a cohesive, one-brand system, both ADT and CPI Security offer a range of branded home automation devices that can be integrated with their home security services. Interested in building a custom smart home from third-party devices? Both offer Z-Wave compatibility.
DIY vs professional
While home security companies are jumping to offer everything their competitors offer, there's a strong, lasting line in the sand between DIY and professional home security systems. DIY is the newest iteration on home security and allows you to save money by installing the devices you want on your own and potentially monitoring them yourself, too. Professional installation and monitoring are the name of the game at both ADT and CPI Security, but CPI offers free installation and lower rates for monitoring.
Look up the Better Business Bureau profile of any home security company. Or, for that matter, any insurance company, warranty company, or telecom provider. Odds are, that profile is flooded with comments from irate customers who feel ill-used by the terms of their contract -- they didn't know what they were signing up for, for how much, or for how long. (The BBB profiles for ADT and CPI are no different, though CPI, a much smaller company, doesn't take quite as much heat.)
Before settling on a home security system, make sure you understand the price over time of your system, how long you are locked into service, and the fees to cancel service before the end of your term. Both ADT and CPI Security offer multi-year contracts, which is a great guarantee of the price if you can make the commitment. If you can't, only CPI Security has a month-to-month option.
ADT vs. CPI Security FAQ
What's the difference between ADT monitoring and CPI Security monitoring?
Both ADT and CPI Security offer exclusively professional monitoring of their home security systems. While other, newer players in the home security space allow users to field alerts via smartphone and call the police at their discretion, ADT and CPI keep it old-school. And while that approach to monitoring is costlier, it could also be more effective. If your phone is silenced, dead, misplaced, lost, or simply left in the break room when an alert comes through, your entire security system loses its purpose.
Professional monitoring could also get you a break on your homeowner's insurance -- talk to your insurance agent to make sure you're taking advantage of a monitored home security discount.
Do both ADT and CPI Security offer smart home integration?
Yes. While ADT and CPI Security are both long-established home security companies with many traditional features (professional installation and monitoring, long contracts), they heavily invest in smart home features. You can find ADT- and CPI Security-brand versions of many popular smart home devices, like video doorbells and smart cameras.
As Z-Wave-compatible systems, your ADT and CPI Security devices will also play well with third-party picks from Amazon, Google, Samsung, and an expanding market of smaller name brands.
Can I move with ADT and CPI Security home security systems?
Yes, but CPI Security makes it easier and cheaper -- so long as you stay within the eight states where CPI operates (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia). CPI's free installation policy lets you take your system with you when you move for no extra cost. You just need to have paid up for all your equipment.
On the other hand, ADT suggests you leave your old equipment in your old house and sign up with a completely new system.