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ADT Home Security vs. Blue by ADT: What’s the difference?

The security company ADT has a diverse lineup of security and smart home devices — in fact, it’s broad enough to be bewildering to newcomers. We’re helping out this time by taking an in-depth look at two categories of ADT security: ADT Home Security systems and Blue by ADT. They are very different options, and which works best will depend on what your home needs.

What is ADT Home Security?

ADT is one of the oldest and largest providers of home security systems and services in the United States. While the company’s devices have seen many, many iterations over the years, it currently offers three broad packages:

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Secure Home: This basic package offers intrusion detection and fire alarms.

Smart Home: ADT upgrades to smart home automation compatibility and adds more broad home automation devices.

Video & Smart Home:  This tier adds video cameras to the security system.

There are two important points to keep in mind about these security systems. First, they’re designed to be professionally installed, which means you meet with an ADT rep, explain what package and devices you want, and have them offer a quote to set it up. Everything is controlled through a mounted ADT control panel, and there are limitations to what devices you can pick based on the plan you have.

An ADT Blue security cam set up in a home.

Second, ADT Home Security systems are automatically paired with ADT professional monitoring, which means a monitoring center will get alerts about specific events (such as a fire alarm going off) and will make decisions about whether or not to call an emergency service without you needing to do anything. The subscription plans required for this monitoring start at around $37 per month and go up from there — and they are required as part of the service.

These systems have some smart features, and higher-tier packages do allow for home automation compatibility with additional ADT devices. There’s a mobile app for remote controls if you choose the smart home package and compatibility with Amazon’s Alexa as well. But overall, the core ADT offerings tend to be more traditional home security systems.

How is Blue by ADT different?

Blue is ADT’s latest foray into do-it-yourself (DIY) home security systems, which is a different beast entirely. First, there’s no professional quote, installation, or installation fees. You choose from a set of ADT devices that are designed to be user-friendly and can be installed on your own. An ADT base station is required, but otherwise, the devices are largely managed by mobile app, and you can place them wherever you feel they will be most effective. It’s a similar system to other popular DIY security options on the market, and you can also take the devices with you when you move.

Second, there’s no requirement for home monitoring services. That means you don’t have to pay any subscription fees if you don’t want to, and instead, take care of monitoring yourself with the mobile app features. That makes Blue significantly more affordable than the traditional ADT home security systems, and it comes with a no-contract option so you aren’t sealed into any future costs.

ADT has experimented with DIY security a number of times in the past and most recently bought (then retired) the LifeShield brand. Blue is an attempt to incorporate DIY offerings as a core part of the ADT brand, but it’s still a relatively new option, and it will take time to see how ADT builds it out.

But Blue is still run by ADT?

Yes. And that means that you can choose to add ADT monitoring to your Blue security system if you prefer. You just don’t have to, and the system is built to function on its own.

Setting up an ADT Blue cam on a mantle.

What sort of security systems can I get with Blue?

There are three different options to build your Blue system, with each additional tier adding more devices to the base package. From there, you can add the extra devices you want. Currently, Blue’s devices are largely limited to all-in-one security cams, but higher tiers do give you more flexibility. Let’s take a look:

Build Your Own System — $179.99: This provides only the base station and mobile app and lets you add whatever else you want. Indoor and outdoor cams are the primary options, but they’re well-equipped with two-way communication, night vision, fire/CO detection for the indoor model, motion detection with activity zones, battery backups, SD card slots, and even facial identification. That’s a pretty complete package for just one device.

Starter System — $219.99: This starts you off with door and window sensors (and adds some ADT signs you can use). That makes it a more complete package for full-house security, and there’s currently not a way to get the door and window sensors otherwise.

Starter Plus System — $299.99: This takes the Starter System and adds in an independent motion sensor that you can set up where you please.

Using an ADT home monitoring screen to arm a system.

Can I change from an old ADT system to Blue?

You can, but only in the way that you would upgrade from any other security system to Blue. You’ll have to replace all your old security devices: Blue and ADT Home Security aren’t innately compatible. Currently, ADT isn’t offering any discounts or deals for switching from ADT Home Security to Blue — or vice-versa.

How do I know which ADT system is best for me?

Blue by ADT is a good option for saving money and equipping smaller homes or apartments with smart security systems — especially if you like controlling and monitoring the system yourself rather than handing it off to a monitoring center.

ADT Home Security is better if you would prefer to pay more for a hands-off approach and if you have a larger home or building to outfit with a security system and would like a professional to arrange all the details. You also have to be willing to pay a hefty monthly subscription fee no matter what package you choose.

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