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ADT vs. Protection 1: The key differences

Protection 1 is now owned by ADT, but the two home security offerings still have some key differences. We break down the two providers so you can make an informed decision as a potential customer.
Written by Anne Dennon, Contributing Writer

ADT is synonymous with home security. Drive through any neighborhood and you'll probably spot more ADT signs -- those telltale blue octagons -- than those of any other home security provider. ADT claims the lion's share of the home security market partly because of its longevity (over 100 years and counting), and partly because of its agile responses to new technologies and new competitors. Through recent mergers, ADT, Protection 1, and DIY home security provider LifeShield are all under the same roof, but not all respond to consumer expectations for flexibility and automation. LifeShield is the lo-fi outlier.

Comparing ADT and Protection 1 is an apples-to-apples proposition. In a home security era marked by home automation, DIY installation, and self-monitoring via app, ADT and Protection 1 maintain a number of traditional features of home security. Both offer professionally installed and monitored systems with three-year contracts. If you're looking for a traditional security system and feel comfortable committing for the long haul, both providers offer reliable protection and decent tech.

ADT vs. Protection 1 overview

Protection 1
Basic monthly plan price$37$35
InstallationProfessional; $99-$199Professional; $99
States serviced4551
Theft protection
Terms36 months36 months

Shopping experience

Both ADT and Protection 1 conduct business over the phone, meaning you'll need to talk to an agent to get detailed pricing information or device details. The upside of the 1-800 model is that you will receive a custom plan and a custom quote, based on the devices and level of service that you want, rather than having to choose from a few one-size-fits-most options. You can potentially save money going this route -- not only because of the custom package, but also because agents have more flexibility to work with your budget. On the flip side, calling for a quote feels woefully out of date. If you're a smart home technophile, not being able to compare prices and features online could feel like a bad omen of user unfriendliness ahead.

Monitoring plans

ADT operates its own monitoring stations while Protection 1 outsources monitoring to another company. Both offer professional monitoring exclusively -- DIYers need not apply. With ADT, choose from three plans: Traditional, Control, and Video. With Protection 1, choose from four: Secure, Secure +, Smart Control, and Video. With Protection 1's Secure+ plan, you can level up to a wireless system that supports two-way audio through security devices before jumping up to Smart Control's remote capabilities. With ADT, you have to pay for all the home automation perks with their Control tier in order to get two-way audio.

Remote control and home automation

ADT and Protection 1 offer remote control of smart home security systems via app: ADT Pulse or Protection 1 eSecure, respectively. The latest versions of both apps boast more than decent app store ratings, but users note glitches: repeated demands for password changes, or more worrisome errors like reporting the front door is unlocked, and then not being able to lock it on command. As for the devices themselves, ADT has a smart home product lineup that could go head-to-head with any of the industry's techie front-runners, with sleek video doorbells and smart thermostats. Protection 1, on the other hand, offers clunky, low-tech versions of most automation devices. The smart doorbell is just a doorbell; the thermostat has an outdated digital screen like an alarm clock. Still, both ADT and Protection 1 communicate on the Z-Wave network, so you don't have to rely on in-house products to make use of their security monitoring.

So which is right for me?

If you…Then you should go with:Here's why:
Are willing to pay for reputation and assuranceADTADT backs up your confidence in their protection in two ways: First by offering an instantly recognizable sign that deters burglars, second by giving you a six month warranty. Protection 1 is lesser known and makes no guarantees.
Value customer experienceProtection 1Perhaps due to sheer size, ADT has a hard time keeping customers happy. Complaints of pushy salespeople and unclear contracts plague ADT more than its smaller sibling.
Want to build a smart homeADTThe companies are broadly similar, but not when it comes to smart home tech. Protection 1's devices lag far behind the times; ADT gives industry disruptors like Ring and Vivint a run for their money.
Want to save a few bucks on basic monitoringProtection 1The systems are similar enough that if you want a traditional home security system, but want to go with the cheaper option, Protection 1 is a good alternative to ADT. It could also be the cheaper option for professional installation.

How to compare home security providers

Smart home features

The home security 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.

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 for 2018's rankings, J.D. Power called out smart home features as 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 Protection 1 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, and potentially monitoring them yourself, too. Professional installation and monitoring are the name of the game at both ADT and Protection 1, for very similar rates.

Contract terms

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. Before settling on a home security system, make sure you understand the price over time of your system, how long you are locked in to service, and what the fees would be to cancel service before the end of your term. Both ADT and Protection 1 require 3-year contracts, which is a great guarantee of price if you can make the commitment.

ADT vs. Protection 1 FAQ

What's the difference between ADT monitoring and Protection 1 monitoring?

Both ADT and Protection 1 offer only professional monitoring for their home security systems. This was once an industry norm, but industry disruptors like SimpliSafe have slashed prices by letting users monitor their own devices via app. The fact that ADT and Protection 1 adhere to the old, professional model is one of the most traditionalist aspects of the two security systems. They are largely the same in that they both monitor for environmental and intrusion alerts, dispatching help if they can't reach you first. The biggest difference is that ADT has its own monitoring stations (six spread across North America) while Protection 1 outsources its monitoring to a third-party company. While professional monitoring makes for a steeper monthly fee, that could be offset by a break on your homeowners insurance premiums -- many insurance companies offer a discount if you can furnish proof of a professionally monitored home security system.

Do both ADT and Protection 1 offer smart home integration?

Yes. While the two companies are among the most old-fashioned options on the market given the required professional monitoring and long contracts, they've kept pace with the shift from pure home security to home security with a side of smart home capabilities. The smart home devices sold by Protection 1 are much less sophisticated than those sold by ADT, which are in turn iterations of devices from industry innovators like Ring and Vivint. But both ADT and Protection 1 are Z-Wave-compatible systems that allow you to add on third-party devices and control the lot by app.

Can I move with ADT and Protection 1 home security systems?

Yes, but both ADT and Protection 1 require you to sign a new contract to go along with your new address. ADT suggests you leave you old equipment behind and purchase a completely new system. Protection 1 is currently offering a $150 credit to customers who take their system with them when they move. Keep in mind that both companies charge installation fees.

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