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How Does ADT Work?

Last Updated Aug 10, 2021
ADT sign in front of bushes

With so many home security options available today, it can be quite daunting to determine which system would work best for you and your home. Today, we will take a close look at ADT home security systems and their various features. With around the clock monitoring services, certified installation, and a direct line to emergency services, ADT is the most reliable home security service currently on the market.

ADT is a professionally installed and managed home security system that is continuously monitored and uses existing landline connections or cellular backups to communicate directly with the company in the event of a security breach.

To give you an idea of how ADT’s home security system works, we have broken down their services, monitoring, packages, and additional devices that can be added to give you the broadest overview of their system, so you can be armed with as much knowledge as possible when selecting a security system. No matter what security needs you may have, ADT has a tailored solution available for every home and every safety circumstance that could arise.

How Does ADT Work?

So, you may be wondering just how ADT actually works in practice. Well, ADT technicians will install the security system you have selected based on your security needs. After setup, the alarm system will be placed in either “Away” or “Stay” mode.

If the “Away” mode is activated, the system will monitor all points of access or surrounding property areas. When a sensor is tripped or activated, the keypad will alert ADT through a signal that will pass through either a landline or cellular backup, depending on how the system is set up.

Arming and Disarming Your ADT Security System

To either arm or disarm your alarm system, you will need to enter your designated code on the keypad within the given time frame. You will either press “Disarm” or “Arm,” depending on whether you are arriving or leaving your home.

After pressing either option, enter the alarm code and hit “Enter.” This will either activate or deactivate your system as needed.

Triggering the ADT Alarm

If the alarm is triggered due to a break-in, smoke from a fire, the presence of CO2, or motion detection, the system will send an alert directly to ADT within thirty seconds. The alarm can be delivered silently or can produce a loud siren sound to notify anyone around, depending on your preference. With either option, ADT will still be alerted.

Depending on the system settings, ADT may contact you to see if the alarm was tripped accidentally and will cancel the alert. If they receive no verification, ADT will call emergency services and have them dispatched to your property immediately.

What if There’s an Emergency?

In the event of an emergency, always call 911 before contacting ADT. However, suppose you are not near a phone or are closer to your alarm pad. In that case, you can press either the panic or fire alarm buttons located on the device to contact your nearest emergency response provider directly.

By pressing and holding either button for a second or two, ADT will be alerted and will have the appropriate emergency services team dispatched directly to your home.

Having these fire and panic buttons is an important security feature in the event of an emergency, as time becomes precious fast. These features enable you to take action to get help without much thought.

The accompanying key fob also has a panic button that uses the same system as the alarm pad, giving you accessibility to emergency services anywhere in your house.

Getting Started with ADT Home Security

The first step in acquiring an ADT home security system or simply getting more information about the services they offer that would best suit your situation is to contact an agent directly. By contacting an agent over the phone or on ADT’s website, you can discuss your security concerns and schedule a consultation for your home.

Additionally, you can look at an overview of each package on the website to get an idea of the coverage you would like to have for your home. For instance, if you have existing smart home security, you will want to opt for a package that includes smart home integration through ADT Pulse.

The consultation will consist of a visit from an ADT certified technician who will meet you at the home or business for which you are looking to set up protection. The technician will ask you about any entry points such as entryways, garage doors, windows, exterior doors, or other ways to access your property to create a full map of any security threats.

The consultation is an excellent time to ask about any cameras you would like to have to monitor the area surrounding your home.

ADT Security Cameras

For complete coverage beyond door and window sensors, added cameras to your home can give you a full visual sweep on your property and belongings within a moment’s notice. With the ADT Pulse app, you can quickly view any camera or stored feed picked up by the device, all on your smartphone.

Each camera provided by ADT can be used both day and night as they have a specialized lens that allows for clear picture quality, regardless of lighting or brightness. These cameras can also detect the difference between vehicles, people, and animals so that you only receive relevant notifications when the camera detects motion.

These notifications will be pushed to your phone automatically and may have a message about the type of detection and the timing of the incident. This can be incredibly helpful if, for instance, you need to quickly bring your dogs inside when the pest control technician arrives at your home.

Since there are several camera options with ADT, we have listed each of them and their stand-out features below:

  • Outdoor Security Cameras: Like Nest or Ring, these outdoor cameras can be installed anywhere on your property where they can be connected to power. Weatherproof, cold-proof, and connected through Wi-Fi, these cameras can handle any weather thrown at them.
  • Doorbell Camera: When looking for an extra layer of protection and convenience, it doesn’t get any better than a doorbell camera. With two-way audio and a chime that connects to an existing doorbell chime, ADT’s doorbell camera integrates into your home security with ease.
  • Indoor Camera: ADT also offers an in-home camera that can be placed in any room or area for complete monitoring. Use this camera to keep an eye on entryways, children, or four-legged friends, all from the ADT Pulse app.

ADT Blue Cameras

Lastly, ADT offers a new line of cameras known as “Blue” cameras. These are sold by ADT and do not require a package or security subscription to use.

These cameras, available in indoor, outdoor, and doorbell, offer the same camera quality within any continued payments or fees. If you are into DIY home solutions and want to control your security monitoring, Blue cameras are the perfect option for you.

ADT Security Sensors

ADT has numerous types of sensors that can be used to provide you and the monitoring specialists with specific notifications about your home’s current situation.

During the installation process, the ADT service technician will determine which points of entry would benefit from having motion or infrared sensors placed on the structure and any vulnerable areas such as screen doors, doggie doors, or accessible crawl spaces.

Other sensors that are provided by ADT are smoke and carbon monoxide sensors. These devices are installed in the same manner that a traditional smoke alarm would be but have the bonus of being directly linked to your ADT monitoring system.

Installing the ADT Home Security System

To use ADT’s home security system, a certified ADT technician must install all of the components. The service technician will supply all of the necessary equipment, such as cables, lines, and hardware necessary to begin your home security monitoring service.

If you choose to purchase a contract that includes smart home integration, such as the “Smart” or “Complete” package, the technician will help you set up proper Wi-Fi equipment that will attach to your internet modem.

During the installation process of most devices, the ADT technician will walk you through how to access and control these devices through the appropriate ADT app. If there is a need for an extension to be installed on your router, the technician will also set this up during the period of installation.

Additionally, the service technician will be able to assist you in setting up any passwords or connections between devices that need to be managed so that you can hit the ground running with seamless control of your home security.

Using the ADT Home Security System

For your day-to-day use of your ADT system, you will primarily interact with the alarm keypad located within your home. This will be where you either arm or disarm your device if you are securing your home for departure or just arriving back to settle in for the night. Either way, the keypad is your main point of contact to lockdown or ease up security features. When the device is armed, alerts will be sent directly to ADT if there is a disruption, such as an opened window or door.

With most packages, you will be given the option to have a key fob device that directly talks to your alarm system. This key fob will allow you to arm and disarm your system with the touch of a button. Using the fob practically eliminates the need for remembering codes and can be given to someone to use if they are watching your pets, house sitting, visiting while you’re away, etc.

Using ADT During Power Outages

When the power goes out, it is always a great sense of relief, knowing that your home is still being secured and monitored.

ADT’s security system is equipped with a backup battery pack that activates whenever it is no longer receiving active power through the power cord located within the wall. So, even in the biggest storms, ADT will be able to provide continuous monitoring, no matter the power situation in your home or business.

Regarding notifications from the alarm pad when the power goes out, signals will still be sent to ADT if the system is armed and there is a disturbance such as an opened door, window, or other breaches. You may notice a delay or interruption in notifications to your ADT app as these communicate from the system to your phone through Wi-Fi or cellular backup.

If the router has lost power, there may be a period in which you cannot access your camera feed or system information from your smartphone app during a power outage.

Using the ADT Mobile App

Having your home protected offers peace of mind in and of itself, but nothing beats being able to check up on the status of your system if you’re far away from home. Going on vacation can be stressful enough, especially with package deliveries, having a pet sitter, or even experiencing inclement weather.

ADT’s Pulse app connects directly to your security panel and cameras so that you can access a live feed of your home anywhere that you have cell service (or Wi-Fi).

If you’re like us and have already started on the path of DIY home security with a doorbell camera or smart floodlight, it is essential to note that these devices can be integrated into the ADT app.

ADT will not provide monitoring services for any devices that are not included in your security package. However, you can still have them connected through your app to fully observe your home or property. You can view the status or feed of all of your connected smart home devices such as lights, cameras, locks, or sensors from the ADT Pulse app, as long as they are compatible with Wi-Fi and the listed specification.

Maintaining Your ADT Security System

As with most home systems, routine maintenance will be necessary but, in comparison to other brands, what ADT requires is very minimal.

Since the cameras and alarm pad are connected straight to in-wall power, these devices will not need to be adjusted or changed. Remote sensors such as key fobs, smoke detectors, and smart locks may need to have batteries changed as time goes on. All ADT smart devices will alert you on the app if they are beginning to run low on power.

Additionally, all of ADT’s devices come backed with a warranty and service agreement that ensures professional help if any devices are not functioning correctly.

ADT Smart Home Integration

Within the past couple of years, ADT has added compatibility with numerous smart home brands such as Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s Smart Assistant to gives the subscriber an all-in-one security system without having to replace tech you may have already purchased. ADT Pulse allows you to register multiple devices within the app, such as smart door locks, thermostats, lighting, garage door openers, and cameras.

Regarding smart assistants, you can use Alexa or Google Assistant to control your home security features by adding the needed skill to your account or device. You can ask either assistant to arm or disarm your system, turn off devices, or unlock doors that have the accompanying smart lock. These features help those who may already have a smart home set-up or are looking to have smart home automation in the future.

If you’re looking to start your smart home journey, ADT also has its own line of smart devices that you can add to your package or purchase individually. Some of their stand-out options include:

  • ADT Smart Locks: ADT’s smart locks can be installed on any door that you would generally use a key to enter, such as a front, back, or side door to your home. You can open the lock with the touch of a button on your smartphone and can also see a log of when the door was opened, locked, or unlocked.
  • Garage Door Switch: Similarly to the smart lock, ADT’s garage door opener allows you to open your garage door from anywhere, as long as you are logged into the ADT app on your smartphone. You can also access the garage door’s history to see when it was opened or closed and receive alerts if left open for a certain amount of time.
  • ADT Smart Plug or Switch: Say you’re planning to arrive home a bit later than you initially thought and want to turn on your outside lights for your inevitable arrival. ADT has got you covered with their smart lighting and switches. These switches can dim, turn on, or turn off any lights that are connected.


Overall, no matter which package or separate devices you chose, ADT has you covered. Using an existing landline to monitor alerts and disruptions 24/7 is the definitive feature that sets ADT apart from other home security systems. With smart home integrations and many options to choose from, you can have a secure home and peace of mind, all at your fingertips.

Are you considering having an ADT security system installed in your home? Check out this article to learn more about the packages ADT offers and prices.

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