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Why a Houston Homeowner Paid $12,000 for ADT Pulse System

Even though Houston homeowner Davis Maxey has a custom integrator for audio, video, motorized shades and other home systems, he still chose ADT for security, HVAC and lighting controls.


Houston homeowner Davis Maxey is restoring a 4,000-square-foot arts-and-crafts-style home and wants “all the bells and whistles.”

So he’s spending five figures for an ADT Pulse security and automation system.

“We wanted to be able to tie in everything – cameras, lighting, HVAC – and access it remotely,” he says.

But Maxey also has a custom home integrator on the job, Media Design Inc., that is handling audio, video, motorized shades and more. So why isn’t Media Design, a Crestron and URC dealer, also installing the security system and other amenities now being handled by ADT?

“Lack of a security permit is our largest stumbling block,” says Media Design principal Bill Maxey (no relation to the client).

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For more product details on the ADT Pulse ecosystem, visit www.cepro.com/adtpulsehome
That was a problem for the installer since the starting point for the whole system was security. For that reason, the client first turned to ADT, which serviced his previous homes. In addition, the general contractor on this particular job often works with ADT.

Once ADT demonstrated Pulse, the client was hooked on the security system and everything attached to it, including thermostats, lighting and surveillance cameras. All of these systems integrate via Z-Wave and IP communications with a home management platform from iControl.

Davis Maxey says he preferred a better lighting control system, but it was just easier to go with the Z-Wave products offered by ADT.

“We looked at Lutron but it couldn’t really integrate with the security system,” he explains.

The total cost of the ADT installation has yet to be tallied, but the client estimates it could total more than $12,000 for the alarm system, perimeter and interior sensors, nine security cameras, three thermostats and lighting controls.

ADT execs point out that this particular installation is atypical for a Pulse job, which starts at less than $900.

We don’t know what the monthly bill will be for the Maxey abode, but it will start at $57.99, which is the base price of the ADT Pulse Premier package.
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Article Topics

News · Product News · Home Automation and Control · Control Systems · Security · Icontrol · Z-wave · Adt · Adt Pulse · All topics

About the Author

Julie Jacobson, Co-Founder, EH Publishing / Editor-at-large, CE Pro
Julie Jacobson, recipient of the 2014 CEA TechHome Leadership Award, is co-founder of EH Publishing, producer of CE Pro, Electronic House, Commercial Integrator, Security Sales and other leading technology publications. She currently spends most of her time writing for CE Pro in the areas of home automation, security, networked A/V and the business of home systems integration. Julie majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, spent a year abroad at Cambridge University, earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin, and has never taken a journalism class in her life. She's a washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player currently residing in Carlsbad, Calif. Follow her on Twitter @juliejacobson.

36 Comments (displayed in order by date/time)

Posted by Bonavox  on  10/26  at  09:29 AM

I should move to Houston. What a rip off.

With articles like this, I can see why others at Remote Central think CePro is a joke.

Your seriously going to report that ADT is a better choice than a dealer offering a Crestron or Lutron solution.

Laughable. 

Is your next report going to be that the White House will be ripping out all the AMX and Lutron to install Control 4 and a bunch of Zigbee dimmers?

Posted by Julie Jacobson  on  10/26  at  09:40 AM

OK, maybe the story was a little too subtle.

Try this one:

Hey, integrators, get your security license because it is often the entree into jobs that now extend beyond the typical $99 security install.

And ... ADT is not to be ignored anymore.

Posted by Greg C  on  10/26  at  10:07 AM

Since when can’t you integrate lighting and security together via Crestron? Must be due to the limitations of the ADT Security Panel, not due to Crestron. As for security, we just partner up with a trusted firm to handle that part, just like we partner up with a good electrician for the HV part of Lighting, or the Custom Cabinet guy for equipment when a client wants it in the room. Do you suggest we add this to our services?

Posted by Julie Jacobson  on  10/26  at  10:13 AM

Of course you can integrate virtually any security, lighting, HVAC system with virtually any home-control system .... you just can’t do it with the iControl platform that ADT is using.

Of course any of “our” automation systems can get this done.

In practical terms, there’s no reason to have a security license and to install alarm products for the masses. You can and do integrate with any other third-party provider.

But ... if someone is looking for security first, and automation second, chances are ADT (or some other popular security provider with yard signs) will be one of their first phone calls.

Posted by John Donahue  on  10/26  at  10:15 AM

I don’t think “Get a security license” is as easy as you think…..especially in the larger markets.  Perhaps you could do an article tracking the trials and tribulations of a average home automation company that wants to expand into the Security field.

There is definitely something deeper to a story like this.   
“We looked at Lutron but it couldn’t really integrate with the security system,” Davis Maxey says.
thats a ridiculous statement.  I’ve integrated Lutron systems into many security systems without any issues at all.

Posted by Me  on  10/26  at  10:26 AM

Bonavox-

You’re a little harsh on Julie. From what I read it didn’t sound at all like she was saying ADT is better than anything else. It came across more like an FYI to me.

The bigger problem is trying to match the subsidized pricing offered by these Mega-Corps getting into the resi market. ADT can afford to give stuff away for the 2 or 3 year contract they lock you into.

Posted by Julie Jacobson  on  10/26  at  10:30 AM

John, as mentioned above, yes you can integrate Lutron with security via a third-party controller, just not the one that ADT is using.

Totally agree with the security license. Easier for some companies in some places to get it than others. A lot of companies don’t do it simply because it’s so much easier to work with a local alarm guy (including ADT). Stories like this might make some non-security guys rethink their position.

Posted by Mark Coxon  on  10/26  at  10:33 AM

Here is the point of the article from my perspective. . .

Offer a complete solution.  Whether you have a security license, or you partner with a small security company that does.

If you tell the client you don’t offer something, and send them elsewhere you are in trouble.

They will call someone like ADT who will be aggressive in promoting Pulse. 

Of course Lutron can work with security, and I’m sure ADT has a panel that works with Crestron, AMX, Control 4 etc. (All it really needs is an communications port of some kind).

The problem is that ADT will say other systems don’t play nice, and because you “handed off” this scope of work, they are now the “perceived expert”.  They may know better, they may not either, but to the homeowner what they say is now truth as you told them this was not your company’s business.

Offer a full solution up front, subcontracting security at no markup as a service if necessary.  You can now sell controls, lighting and HVAC without the security guy throwing a wrench in the works.

Posted by Roger E  on  10/26  at  10:56 AM

To get everything listed for 12k. ADT can do it. We wouldn’t even leave the shop for that much work and only 12k. We woul dhave sold them twice as much at four times the costs. It’s all about profit and high end service to us. No compromise, Period!

Posted by John Donahue  on  10/26  at  11:38 AM

I understand the ADT System could not control the Lutron on a Switch by switch basis.  but “Integration” with the security system seldom needs to go beyond a “Alarm” scene that I’m sure the ADT System could provide to the Lutron system via a contact closure.  A Couple contact closures can provide what the majority of homeowners need as far as Alarm System to Lighting system communication.

Did the AV Guy still integrate everything together in a Creston system?  I’d love to know the scope of the rest of the system….

Posted by Julie Jacobson  on  10/26  at  12:55 PM

John, the “security” system referred to by the customer is the iControl system. That is the interface he wanted, and he wanted to get HVAC and lighting through the same interface as the security ... which you couldn’t do with Lutron.

No, the integrator did not tie all of it into a Crestron system—pointless if icontrol is handling security, lighting, HVAC and cameras.

I believe he’s using URC for whole-house media, tying into RadioRa 2 for shades, then putting together a solution to integrate ADT’s analog cameras into whole-house viewing on the TVs.

This is a very atypical job for ADT Pulse. Most of them will probably be $1,000-$2,000 install, 4-hour job.

There are many things you CANNNOT do with ADT Pulse—like cameras through the TV, security alerts through the whole-house audio, etc.

The integrator (and I) are eager to learn more and to share with CE pro readers.

Posted by John  on  10/26  at  02:46 PM

Pointless?  The client now as 2 separate control systems in the house… ANd they dont talk to each other..  No matter how advanced the iControl/ADT system is, it seems to fall short when it comes down to true integration.  It cant do anything “Outside the ADT Box” it seems.  so why should I be excited about it?

A Crestron system could of easily controlled the Security, Lights, HVAC, Cameras AND all the stuff the AV guy did. 

No, It would not of been 12k.  It would of been much more. But dealing with one interface rather than 2 or more is what we integrators should strive for.

Posted by Joseph A  on  10/26  at  04:20 PM

Too bad MDI could not get their security buddies involved, they might have gotten a larger Lutron sale.  I agree completely with Mark C,  in this competitive marketplace, you need to be a one-stop shop.  URC and RadioRA for shade control, whf!  This client does not see the real value of a full blown Crestron/Homeworks System.  Maybe Maxey (Bill) got all he could from the guy.  Now let the finger pointing begin….

Posted by brandenpro  on  10/26  at  07:48 PM

I would like to see what the night image is of these cameras. 
I would like to see what these thermostats look like on the wall. 
I would like to watch a customer interact with the separate control systems and remember which does what.


How many lighting loads can it handle?

How many Stats?

Its going to get alot easier to sell remote access, service type contracts.  Thanks ADT.

Posted by Bonavox  on  10/26  at  08:10 PM

A guy pulls a two wire conductor to a contact closure, a motion detector or two and maybe a smoke detector and programs the keypad for 15 minutes and he’s out of there.

While larger security integrations might be more complicated than that, especially if fire control is included on the average security installs are fairly mundane.

I’ve watched hundreds of security installs happen and most of the people doing them are idiots.

Nice idiots, but still idiots.

You say I’m harsh to the author, but by suggesting that ADT is now a solution for home automation, I take issue with that.

Here’s my issue.

What the true Pros in the CE community do in terms of home automation requires skill and expertise.

I don’t associated that with a security install, or a security company, Sorry no offense.

What I do take issue with is the dumbing down of the industry.

While it might not have been the intent of the author, the article comes of as suggesting that a “CE Pro” integrator was less competent and relevant than a security company.

Sorry, in terms of skill sets and knowledge, rarely do the two even remotely come close.

Security integration in the residential realm is relatively simple and pretty generic.

I appreciate that ADT would like to add revenue to a lack luster industry, but the Kia dealership has no business selling BMWs.

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