ADT vs. Ring: Which Smart Security System Is Best for You?

The answer really depends on what you're looking for

ADT and Ring both offer great home security systems. The question is which one is better for you needs. We compared ADT and Ring to find out which is better in a variety of areas, including installation, security cameras, mobile app usability, and much more.

ADT and Ring logos

Overall Findings

ADT
  • Traditional security company with long industry history.

  • Professionally installed.

  • 24/7 monitoring is standard for the life of the contract.

  • Installation fee ($99-$199), but equipment is included in monthly contract.

Ring
  • Internet-first company (owned by Amazon) that's a relative newcomer.

  • DIY/Self-install.

  • Optional month-to-month monitoring, no long-term contract.

  • No installation fees for DIY, equipment starts around $99.

When considering ADT vs Ring security systems, you're not exactly comparing apples to apples. Instead, ADT is a professionally installed and monitored service, where Ring is more a do-it-yourself solution (though Ring does offer professional monitoring). And there are major differences in the monitoring. ADT requires a contract that usually about three years in duration where Ring doesn't require a contract, and you can pay month-to-month for monitoring, but you're encouraged to pay by the year.

Installation: Ring is Perfect for the Do-It-Yourselfer

ADT
  • Professional installation required.

  • Base system with additional ad-hoc options.

  • Installation fee required, but no upfront equipment costs.

Ring
  • DIY installation. including both wired and wireless versions.

  • Ad-hoc system, allowing you to add only the components you want.

  • Higher up-front cost.

If you're looking for the hands-off version of a security system, ADT is the option that offers that. For a one-time installation fee, security professionals will come into your home and install your system, set it up, and you're done. Security engaged. Most ADT systems come with a basic package that includes the digital keypad, window and door contacts, and a motion detector as well as a backup battery and a wireless keychain remote. You can add additional pieces of you want, including more contacts, cameras, and even a doorbell camera.

One advantage of ADT is that it offers more advanced smart home features. For example, smart lighting integrates with ADT, which means you don't have to come home to a dark house.

If you're more of a DIY-person, then Ring is worth considering. The various aspects of the Ring system are all self-install and even for beginners, they're easy to put in place. The basic ring system comes with the base station, keypad, window and door contacts, and a motion sensor, as well as a range extender. There are also several other equipment bundles you can choose as well as ad-hoc equipment, like a doorbell camera, more contacts, or indoor and outdoor cameras you can add if you choose.

The advantage (and disadvantage) of Ring is that you can choose a wireless system, which means installation is less invasive, so if you live in an apartment or rental property where a hard installation is a concern, Ring makes a good choice that goes with you when you move.

Camera Options: Ring Takes This Category, Hands Down

ADT
  • Offers limited selection of cameras and video doorbells.

  • Good night vision.

  • Both 720p and 1080p HD cameras available.

Ring
  • Offers multiple versions of all cameras, including numerous versions of the doorbell camera.

  • Good night vision.

  • Both 720p and 1080p HD cameras available.

If cameras are your main concern, you might be disappointed with the ADT cameras. ADT offers both indoor and outdoor cameras as well as a doorbell camera, but the models are limited and they are mostly 720p HD with good night-vision capabilities.

On the other hand, Ring has an entire line of both indoor and outdoor cameras, multiple versions of it's Ring Doorbell camera, and the quality of these cameras is 1080p HD in most cameras and they have great night vision.

Mobile App: Mostly Equal Footing

ADT
  • Allows you to control your home security as well as integrated home automation.

  • Requires additional apps to do different tasks (ie. one app for monitoring, one app for account actions).

  • Users complain that app can be buggy after each update.

Ring
  • Control and monitor security system through the app.

  • Cloud storage for video recordings.

  • Some users complain that the app is unstable after updates.

The problem with apps is that they're often not exactly what you're looking for, and that seems to be the case with both the ADT and the Ring apps. While both have great capabilities, like cloud storage and the ability to view and record on demand, they both also seem to be somewhat buggy any time a new version of the app is released.

Where ADT and Ring diverge is in the ability to do everything in one app. Because Ring is Ring and doesn't do much more than security, everything takes place in the Ring app. However, ADT does offer some home automation integration, and so there are different activities that require multiple apps (and even the occasionally web-based log-in). This is less than convenient, but it's not a deal-breaker if a professionally monitored system is what you're after.

Emergency Services: ADT is Probably the Better Option

ADT
  • Offers Medical Alert systems that integrate with home security.

  • 24/7 monitoring means some else knows your alarm goes off.

  • Location is set at equipment installation.

Ring
  • Optional 24/7 monitoring, but that doesn't mean you'll always get a response.

  • Keypad includes emergency alert button.

  • Location set by user.

Emergency services is where ADT really shines above Ring. ADT offers 24/7 professional monitoring and has additional features that include Medical Alert services and a portable emergency alert button. What's more, when your system is installed, your location is set so emergency services is always sent to the correct address.

Ring tends to fall down in the monitoring category. Although the company offers 24/7 monitoring, that doesn't guarantee a response. It's been our experience that alarms can go unanswered and what's more, since Ring is a portable system, if you change it's location and fail to notify Ring of the change, then Emergency Services could be dispatched to the wrong address if something did go wrong.

Final Verdict

If you're looking for a new home security system and you're not sure which is better, ADT vs Ring, the answer is likely to be, it depends on your preferences. ADT offers and excellent system but there is an installation fee, long term contract, and higher monthly costs. However, for that expense you'll find the equipment is perfectly adequate for keeping your home and family safe, and you'll get some additional options that aren't available in the Ring system.

Ring, on the other hand, is definitely designed for the DIYer who is looking for an easy entry into home security without a long term contract. There are some upfront monthly costs, but the equipment you purchase belongs to you and is more portable than an ADT system, and monthly monitoring costs are much lower. Unfortunately, the monitoring in the Ring system isn't as reliable as the monitoring in the ADT system, so that's something to keep in mind.