If not using ADT monthly service... is it worth it to get components? Self-monitoring

I just purchased the ADT starter package and was going to install and realized since I am not paying for monthly monitoring services… is the package even worth it? Seems like I’m paying a touch screen (with siren) while I get Samsung Multipurpose sensor for my windows and doors and do the self-monitoring without having to spend the extra money.

Am I missing something here? Is the ADT products better or is the ADT hub better for self-monitoring?

There are a couple advantages to the ADT package:

  1. cell backup
  2. not dependent on smart things cloud
  3. officially supported keypad
  4. entry and exit delays

There are also some drawbacks:

  1. can ONLY use ADT sensors for the security monitoring
  2. No out of the box way to trigger actions based on alarm state
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The ADT model line has a number of advantages specifically for security when compared to the other SmartThings hubs, but those advantages only apply to the dual logo devices used for the security functions, not to any other devices used for home automation. The home automation side of it is really the same as the other model lines.

So here are the security advantages I’m aware of. There may be more.

  1. The ability to arm/disarm locally

If the smartthings cloud is not available (And historically there has been an outage at least once a month for the last 18 months), The regular model lines cannot be either armed or disarmed. Really. That action takes place in your smartthings cloud account. There are a Number of stories in the forums of people who had no way to keep their siren from going off during an outage except to take it completely off power, etc.

The ADT model line can have its security factions accessed, including arming and disarming, from the panel or the key fob without requiring the smartthings cloud.

  1. Entry and exit delays. The original smartthings hubs assumed that everyone will be arming and disarming their systems via the Geopresence on their smart phones and so there is no way to set a separate exit delay. It’s been a feature that has been requested pretty much since the system came out, and we’ve always been told that it’s coming in the future, but two years later and it still isn’t here.

The entry delay is especially useful coming in if you have someone like a dog sitter or a cleaning service that has a key code for your smart lock But isn’t running the app on their own phone. An entry delay allows them to use the lock code, come in, and disarm the security system. And arm and then get out again when they leave.

While the community has come up with some workarounds for this, they all rely on custom code – – and custom code Only runs in the cloud. So if you hit one of those outage periods, the delay won’t work either.

In contrast, the ADT model line has a built in entrance and exit delay, just like most security systems do.

  1. Individual sensor accuracy and reliability The dual logo Components are using a proprietary communication protocol that is just more reliable than standard home automation components. You should get fewer false alarms.

  2. Notifications The standard smartthings model lines require the cloud in order to send any notifications, even push notifications to your own phone. The ADT model line has a built-in cellular communications module. The only thing is I don’t know if that one works for self-monitoring if you are not subscribing to an ADT plan or not, it might not. I just don’t know one way or the other.

The original smartthings hub just isn’t suitable as a primary security system, and they know that. Their own official product usage guidelines tell you not to use it for security.

The ADT model line was built from the beginning for security. I think it’s clearly better suited to that purpose, I just wish I knew for sure one way or the other about the notifications issue. If the self-monitoring set up still can’t send any notifications without the smartthings cloud, then that’s just a huge gap for a security system and I would be looking at Abode or one of the other competitors instead. But when combined with the ADT monitoring, it’s a nice solid low-end system, which cannot be said of the original model lines.


Thanks for your responses! 1 and 3 have enough weight for me to keep the ADT package. It looks like I will have to replace my current hub with the new ADT one, I assume all the features and connection with Ring doorbell and future purchase of Arlo still work.

Time to set it up


First thing that needs to be pointed out: If you know nothing or next to nothing about SmarThings, DTH, installing apps etc, or don’t WANT to know anything about them - then by all means buy an ADT system.

If you are a tinkerer, a weekend builder, or hobbyist programmer then I can address all the same points.

The ability to arm/disarm locally
This ABSOLUTELY can be done. There are even companies making keypad zwave switches - i.e. you set a keypad code to turn the switch on or off. You then trigger an event (to turn on or off the alarm) when that switch is activated. You could easily build one too with off the shelf electronics and a nodemcu or rpi connected to smartthings.

Entry and exit delays
Exit delays are desirable, and here at our house we have a simple automation that runs when both (just me and my wife) users leave a geofenced area, or when the devices both leave the network.

Disarming the house when your presence is detected isn’t so desirable, How do you arm your house, when your presence is detected? Also, I don’t know if I really want my alarm being deactivated JUST because my phone is at the front door.

Individual sensor accuracy and reliability
I’ve been using my smartthings sensors now for over a year with zero false alarms (door sensors) and only a couple of motion detector false alarms, but I do have a large dog - and I chalk those up to him and not sensor failure. And when I say smartthings senors, I’m talking broadly - I don’t think I own a single Samsung SmartThings sensor. Most of my sensors are generic zwave devices.

To me this is the only big advantage with ADT out of the box, as it does offer the cell service as a back up - although you could easily add a cell backup to your internet service at home also with a mobile hotspot and a Wi-Fi to Ethernet adapter.

It can certainly be done, but it cannot be done to run locally, because at the present time no custom code runs locally with smartthings. Only smartlighting and a few bits of smart home monitor, and only if the devices are using stock device type handlers. And you cannot arm or disarm locally because the armed status is kept in the smartthings cloud. If the cloud is not available you can’t change it. You also cannot change the mode or run a routine. You can verify all of this with support.

It sounds like you may have been using the term “local” in a different way than smartthings uses it. There are lots of different meanings for the same phrase, but in the smartthings context it is used in the way that the official supportbase article uses it: for automations that will run even when the hub is not connected to the Internet at all, or when the hub is connected to the Internet but the smartthings cloud is not working. It is the second instance which causes the platform outages, such as the three or four that we have already had this year, so they are an important consideration for anyone looking for a security system.

For example, you can definitely have a Z wave keypad and it can definitely turn on a switch. But there is no switch coming on that can change the smart home monitor armed status on the non ADT hub models unless the cloud is available.

The same thing is true of entry and exit delays, again, because all custom code at the present time runs in the cloud. There are some custom smartapps that can give you a delay – – but only if the cloud is available.

As far as notifications – – they are issued from the cloud. Adding cellular backup to your system will unfortunately not cause smartthings to send you notifications if the cloud is not available because the notifications are not sent from the hub itself.


Trusting in any cloud service seems the same to me, they are all subject to failure or downtime. Although I don’t know if ADT offers the old school type alarm systems, where it was actually a dial in direct (i.e. point to point connection). Is that how their cellular backup works?

HA could be used but that takes you even further down the Home Automation Rabbit hole…

Their cellular module works the same as a mobile phone on the same network (Verizon or ATT in most areas). It’s not internet-based. :sunglasses:

The security features in the ATT/SmartThings Model are all local point to point on a proprietary frequency, which includes the dual logo sensors to the hub: they don’t route through the cloud even for armed states. But the Home automation features in that model line work the same way as the other smartthings hub models, so there’s a lot of cloud on that side. So it mostly runs as two silos, one local plus cellular for security, and the other using the regular ST cloud-based platform for home automation.