Home security is a hot topic among renters or home owners alike. If you have items or people inside that you’d like to protect, you likley have considered adding a secuirty system.
This review is going to look at ADT vs. Ring. ADT has been the long-standing name of trust and security, but also a higher price tag. Ring was introduced as a video doorbell and has blown up in the market among DIY surveillance enthusiasts.
ADT vs. Ring: The Models
Can the user-friendly Ring platform beat out the ADT shield of home security? Let’s dive in and see!
First and foremost, I will say that ADT takes a “behind the curtain” approach when it comes to full disclosure of their product line. Their website has continual prompts for you to call to “get a free quote” instead of showing a straightforward collection of the cameras offered.
The ADT approach is more about having customers contact the ADT security specialists who will set up a custom package just for you.
That being said, here’s what we do know. There are three collections of ADT cameras — ADT Pulse, ADT Command, and ADT Blue.
- ADT Pulse is like the first-gen ADT and Command is the more advanced package. This is the most basic, contractual ADT system.
- ADT Command offers 1080p resolution and has a touchscreen control panel to manage smart home and security equipment at home with one device. Cameras in this collection also require a contract.
- Blue by ADT is their version of a DIY surveillance system. You can build your own package of various cameras and sensors and there is no contract.
Similar to ADT, Ring also offers a mixed bag of indoor cameras, outdoor cameras, and doorbell cameras. But one difference is that Ring is much more transparent about the exact products and specs that they offer. Here are some of the most popular Ring models below:
- Ring Stick Up: Indoor / outdoor camera with versatile power options (wired, battery-powered, or solar panel)
- Ring Indoor: indoor-only camera, plug-in or battery-powered
- Ring Peephole: wireless camera designed to fit into the peephole of apartment doors
- Ring Spotlight: Outdoor camera with versatile power options and an integrated spotlight for low-lit environments
- Ring Floodlight: Outdoor wired camera with a powerful floodlight for extremely low-lit environments
- Ring Pro Video Doorbell: Arguably one of the best video doorbells on the market with advanced sensors and detection with constant wired-in power and 4 interchangeable faceplates
- Ring 3 Video Doorbell: Ring’s 2020 video doorbell that has the quality and motion detection of the Ring Pro, but with a battery-powered option and advanced Privacy Zones
- Ring 2 Video Doorbell: Ring’s successor to the original Ring video doorbell; offers 1080p video resolution and various faceplate options
- Ring Video Doorbell: great value Ring doorbell with simple features, 720p video resolution, and the widest field of view among Ring doorbells
Table of Contents
10-SECOND SUMMARY: Both Ring and ADT have varying design differences and similarities. They each offer wired or wireless cameras as well as a combination of cameras, sensors, and other security tools which you can add to the overall package.
Both ADT and Ring have cameras that can sit freestanding or be mounted onto the side of a wall (interior or exterior). While the exact style of mount is different, they are similar in that the same camera body works with multiple mounting styles.
The exception to this is, of course, the doorbell camera. All doorbell camera with either ADT or Ring install flush against the exterior—battery or wired-in.
ANOTHER EXCEPTION: The Ring Peephole cam is a wireless camera that slides into the peephole of an exterior door.
- Local storage available with some camera models
- Storage only available with a paid subscription (no free Cloud storage)
- No local storage
- Storage only available with a paid subscription (no free storage)
Here are the limits of each company:
ADT Storage Plans
- Traditional ADT: Unlimited number of clips, but clip length can be no longer than 30 seconds
- Blue by ADT: (free) 24 hour cloud video storage or ($2.99/mo) storage for up to 60 days
Ring Storage Plans
- Protect Basic ($3 / mo): 30-day video history, rolling
- Protect Plus ($10 / mo): 60-day video history, rolling
The Takeaway: Both ADT and Ring offer a nice blend of options and technically ADT offers the same amount of storage as Ring for a lower cost. Additionally, ADT also offers some cameras with the option of local video storage, like the ADT’s Blue Indoor Camera.
While we haven’t been able to personally test any ADT cameras, we do have a decent idea of what the video quality would be like based on specs and comparable cameras.
Both ADT and Ring offer cameras at 720p and 1080p resolution.
The Ring original doorbell is the only Ring camera that has 720p. All newer models have 1080p.
ADT has a few cameras with 1080p and a few with 720p. The original ADT doorbell, for example, is only 720p but the Blue Indoor cam is 1080p.
For reference, here is an idea of what daytime and nighttime shots look like at 720px. These images were shot by the Blink 720p cam.
And for comparison, here is a set of images shot with the Ring StickUp 1080p cam.
Full Color Night Mode
One other notable feature with Ring cameras is full-color night mode. It’s a little unclear whether or not ADT offers this feature, but Ring cameras certainly hit the nail on the head here.
Here’s a complete list of Ring cams with color night mode. This feature can be turned on or off.
- Video Doorbell Pro
- Video Doorbell Elite
- Floodlight Cam
- Spotlight Cam Wired/Mount
- Stick Up Cam Wired
Setup & Usability
Getting started with ADT or Ring is a different process depending on which provider you go with.
1. Selecting a System
Ring makes it easy to get going. You can purchase a camera system directly from Ring or a retailer (like Amazon). You can build your camera system yourself or let the Ring customer service help. Customer service can be accessed via Ring Live Chat directly on their website.
With ADT, you have 2 options.
- Contractual. Call the ADT hotline and they will make a system recommendation for you. You sign a contract.
- Non-Contractual. The Blue by ADT system is more DIY and can be purchased from ADT.com or a third-party website. This method is non-contractual.
#2. Initial Setup
Once you’ve selected a camera, it will be shipped directly to your door. Ring systems and ADT Blue will be self-installed.
If you purchase the more traditional ADT system, it will likely be wired in and installed by an ADT professional.
Your exact setup will vary depending on the details of your system.
#3. Connecting to WiFi
Both Ring and ADT Blue will pair up with your wifi network. Most Ring cameras will work with 2.4GHz or 5.0GHz networks. ADT systems, like Blue, will only work with 2.4GHz.
Regardless of which network you go with, this step will only take 5-10 minutes in most cases. Exact prompts may vary between the two companies.
There is a Ring App and a few different ADT apps, depending on what type of system you build.
For the contract-free ADT, you’ll use the ADT Blue app. If you opt for the contractual, guided setup, you’ll most likely use the ADT Pulse or ADT Control app.
What’s in the box?
What exactly your system will come with is dependant on a number of factors. Ring and ADT both offer a mix of cameras, sensors, and other safety monitors (like smoke or carbon monoxide).
The Ring system will come with everything you need in one box since they don’t require a central hub or command station.
A sample box would likely contain:
- The camera
- Power adapters (or battery if applicable)
- Ring window cling
- User guide
The Blue by ADT system does require a hub. They call it their “Smart home hub with integrated keypad”.
As you can see in the example below, you’ll need to purchase the “Build Your Own System” starter pack first which only includes the hub. The cost of additional cameras or sensors would be added to that starter cost.
The example above outlines what you’d need for a 3-camera system. The package would include:
- Smart Hub
- Indoor Camera
- Wireless Outdoor Camera
- Doorbell Camera
On their website, ADT does not allow you to purchase these cameras without first purchasing the “Build Your Own System” starter pack. As you can see in the example above, this system can get very costly with the added expense of the hub.
ADT vs. Ring: The Deal
Okay, let’s talk about subscription plans. What’s the differences? And where will you sign a contract?
Ring Subscription & Contracts
Ring does not have a contract. You can just buy a camera and monitor it yourself, or you can pay a monthly fee for additional features and video storage.
The monthly fee is for the Ring Protect app, which has a few different tiers. ($3-10/mo), but you can cancel at any time.
Here’s a quick breakdown of what all the Ring Protect app offers:
|Ring||Ring Protect: Basic||Ring Protect: Plus|
|Price Starting At||No subscription||$3/month||$10/month|
|Lifetime Theft Protection||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Video History||None||Rolling 30 days||Rolling 30 days|
|Max Video Resolution||Determined by camera||Determined by camera||Determined by camera|
|24/7 Professional Monitoring||No||No||Yes; with Ring Alarm only|
|Support||Unlimited||Supports 1 camera||Unlimited|
|Warranty||1-year manufacturer's warranty||1-year manufacturer's warranty||Extended warranty|
ADT Subscription & Contracts
Many ADT systems have a contract that is 36 months long (or 24 months for California residents). On the plus side, this deal also comes with a 6-month money-back service guarantee.
Be forewarned though, the ADT service guarantee is not a 6-month trial window. There is a lot of fine print in that contract that seems to insinuate that something must be technically wrong with the system in order to get out of the contract.
This snippet is taken directly from the ADT Home Security Terms and Conditions regarding the guarantee:
“Money back service guarantee only applies after ADT has made attempts to resolve a system related issue and has not been able to resolve that issue within the first 6 months of your contract. Equipment must be fully removed before a refund will be processed. Conditions preventing normal system operation cannot be caused by the customer.”
Is ADT or Ring best for you?
Alright, you’ve made it this far. Ready to decide if ADT or Ring is best for you?
Here’s the final recommendation for what you need to know.
I would recommend ADT if you’re looking for the following in a security system:
- Guided approach: ADT relies on customers calling in, expressing their needs, and having an ADT specialist make a custom recommendation. While they do offer the ADT Blue package on third-party websites, their “bread and butter” still seems to rely on older sales strategies. The offer less information upfront which prompts people to call their office directly.
- Hands off setup: ADT will also send professionals to come and set up your system. If you don’t mind footing the bill, this approach is certainly less work for you and can help to guarantee a flawless installation.
- Contractually binding: Opting for a professionally installed system will also come with a water-tight contract up to 36 months long. There are few ways to get out of your contract so you’ll just want to make sure that ADT really checks all your boxes before committing.
I would recommend Ring if you’re looking for the following in a security system:
- DIY packages: You can easily build your own Ring package and it doesn’t require a hub to do it. This makes it easy to build the exact security system your property needs and saves you money on extra costs that may not pertain to you. You can also add on cameras or accessories as your needs change without changing your monthly subscription fee.
- Transparency: Ring is upfront about their packages, costs, subscription details, and product specs. It is easier to trust Ring over ADT, in my opinion, because they are extremely transparent about what exactly they’re offering.
- No contract: There is no Ring camera system that would require a signed contract. Buy the cameras you want and if it doesn’t work out, you can return them within the standard 30-day window, no questions asked. You can purchase a monthly membership for the Ring Protect app, but even that is offered month-to-month so if you ever change your mind, you can cancel at any time.
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