SmartThings ADT Home Security: Where smarts meet security

Samsung and ADT have a product that combines smart home functionality with home security.

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As the line between smart home products and home security continues to blur, it only makes sense for hybrid solutions to begin to surface.

Take the SmartThings ADT home security starter kit as an example. Samsung and ADT both are well respected in the smart home and home security industries, respectively. For the past few months, I've been living with the starter kit in my home.

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At times, I forget it was even installed, save for the chimes when one of my doors would open. Other times, I appreciated the reassurance of having a home security system installed and ready to alert myself and authorities should anything go wrong.

SmartThings ADT Home Security: Installation

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SmartThings ADT window/door detector

(Image: Jason Cipriani/ZDNet)

I'm fortunate enough to live in a house I spent a lot of time in while growing up. It has an old security system that hasn't had service for years. I remember watching a crew of installers come and drill holes into doors, window frames, and fish wire through the drywall for the motion detectors. It took two people an entire day and many tools to install the now-archaic system.

In contrast, I spent about 15 minutes installing the ADT Security Hub and the included monitoring accessories. The longest part of the process was figuring out how to adjust the door monitors to sit level. That took, maybe, five minutes of the installation process.

The included motion detector and two door or window monitors are entirely wireless and don't require any mounting holes in a wall. Instead, the included adhesive tape is all you need.

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After all of the hardware was in place, I merely had to follow the directions on the ADT hub's display and in the SmartThings app on my iPhone.

SmartThings ADT Home Security: Smarts

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(Image: Jason Cipriani/ZDNet)

Samsung's smart home platform, SmartThings, is one that integrates with numerous protocols and standards from a single hub. Instead of being forced into purchasing only WeMo smart plugs and Phillips Hue light bulbs, for example, users can mix and match any accessories supported by SmartThings.

Indeed, most smart home products have adopted this same approach. However, multiple hubs are often required to make it all work.

The ADT control box pulls double duty as a SmartThings hub. Meaning, you can use the SmartThings app to control various smart home appliances -- from lamps to cameras and even your ADT services -- without the need for yet another hub or box installed near your router.

Other than some Samsung branding on the ADT Security Hub, you'd never know it was a SmartThings hub. Any functionality or controls accessed through the touchscreen are related to ADT's security system.

To set up and control SmartThings devices, you need to use the SmartThings app on a mobile device. Through the app, you can set up schedules for specific items to turn on or off, as well as assign items to a room or section of the house.

Once SmartThings-compatible devices are set up and connected to the service, you can then use Amazon's Alexa or Google Assistant for voice control and further home automation.

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Over the past several months, I've yet to have any issues using SmartThings devices and accessories. The SmartThings app is a bit confusing to use at times, but this is a problem Samsung has addressed and is in the process of fixing with a streamlined SmartThings experience.

SmartThings ADT Home Security: Security

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(Image: Jason Cipriani/ZDNet)

The ADT name is synonymous with security systems. The old alarm keypad still in place on the wall in my living room has an ADT logo on it.

With the SmartThings ADT setup, you're not only getting a home automation system, but you're also getting a home security system that integrates seamlessly with it.

Initial sign up is painless, requiring you to answer a few questions and enter your address, contact information, and, of course, billing information.

The ADT Security hub itself features a 7-inch touchscreen panel, a built-in battery, and LTE connectivity. The latter two features are designed for use as a backup should the power or internet service go out within your home.

Using the touchscreen, you can check to ensure all of your installed security devices are connected and working properly. If something is off, the hub will bring it to your attention.

When you get home or leave, the hub is also where you arm and disarm the alarm. Or, if you're like me, and you often forget to arm the alarm when you leave, you can use the SmartThings app to control its current state remotely.

I installed all of the included hardware and monitoring devices, which includes two window or door detectors and a motion detector. After a week of receiving motion alerts in my home, I disabled and removed motion detector from my account. I have a couple of security cameras in my house, both of which also alert me on my phone to any motion, so I wasn't afraid of missing anything related to movement.

I found the ADT motion alerts to be a bit of a hassle, requiring me to open the Ring or Amazon Cloud Cam app to see what was triggering the motion. I never did figure out what was triggering the motion detector, but I suspect it was one of my dogs roaming the house.

Other than the motion detector, the door detectors would trigger the alarm if a door was opened when it was armed. Users have a set amount of time to enter a code on the panels display, after which authorities are alerted.

ADT and Samsung also offer a keychain remote, additional window and door detectors, smoke alarms, water leak detectors, and a carbon monoxide detector.

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The starter kit retails for $499, but it's on sale right now for $299. It's not cheap.

SmartThings ADT Home Security: Monthly cost

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(Image: Jason Cipriani/ZDNet)

ADT's security plans range from $14.99 to $34.99 per month. The entry $15 plan provides constant monitoring of smoke, fire, carbon monoxide, and water leaks. The $25 middle plan monitors for intrusion and panic alerts. The $35 plan combines both offerings, giving you a bit of a discount.

This monthly fee is where I get hung up on this product. Paying ADT for any of its monitoring services isn't cheap, especially when you consider newcomers like Ring. Ring's security system will begin shipping soon, and for $10 per month, customers will get unlimited cloud storage of videos and 24/7 monitoring.

The most significant difference here is that ADT has an established track record and decades of experience, whereas Ring's experience is limited to security cameras.

To be clear, you aren't required to pay ADT for service. The hub will still send alerts to you through the SmartThings app, and all of the home automation features work without the need for monthly service. That said, if you're only looking for a SmartThings hub, you're better off buying a standalone product.

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Then again, if you're looking for peace of mind and security while also being able to control your living room lights, the SmartThings ADT partnership is worth a look.

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