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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).

For more product details on the ADT Pulse ecosystem, visit
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 · Adt · Icontrol · Z-wave · 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. [More by Julie Jacobson]

36 Comments (displayed in order by date/time)

Posted by Mark nagle  on  10/26  at  11:22 PM

Julie,based on what I’ve been reading,  the alarm system ISNT icontrol, it is either a GE or honeywell, the honeywell (ademco 128bp) is absolutely crestron friendly. I control is nearly the “hub” that connects/controls everything

Posted by Ricky Reality  on  10/26  at  11:44 PM

Hey Julie. Do you ever feel like your “writing” to a wall!?!?!?  Come on tell the truth. Hey you can imply a Crestron can’t do blah blah blah, even if you didn’t they still will attack and just not get it! God bless you trying to expose something to people who just don’t get it. Tell the truth now!

Posted by brandenpro  on  10/27  at  12:18 AM

Can the Ademco 128bp offer entry/exit notifications.

Does the 128bp allow bypassing zones via RS232.

If no 10” touchpanel is offered can a Vantage panel be shoe horned in?

Posted by ASV Systems  on  10/27  at  12:22 AM

Sorry for the book….

WOW! Such rude comments by dealers who obviously feel threatened, and rightfully so. Like the projector market, the buy-in cost of automation is beginning to plummet so that medium sized homes can afford it. That’s a good thing to all but those who are used to small volume/big ticket projects. Sorry, but integrators are going to have to start to out think, out market, and out sell other businesses who now have access to tech that was previously monopolized by 3 main companies. The fish are starting to jump out of the barrel and into other people’s frying pans.

I love picking out statements like “value of Crestron” and cracking up. Automation in a 4K square foot home to the level and cost of a full blown Crestron system would be anything BUT value. The only “value” in that is the $$$$$$ in the dealers pocket. I have yet to see a real-world cost break down of automation and energy efficiency that comes close to = the cost of Crestron/AMX. Hell, by the time the savings are realized on a Crestron/AMX system it will be far past time to buy a new one. I have a client right now who 10 years ago built a home and put $750K worth of electronics & AMX gear in it. $5000 control pads mounted in every room of the house. The home was featured in Electronic Interiors Magazine and ever since he’s had to pay some schmuck from TX $10,000 + travel & room a trip to do ANY service calls on it. After many of the “service calls” amazingly, 10 years later, it’s a train wreck of a system that still struggles to work properly. We’re starting to replace it bit by bit and at a far lower cost. Guess what… Our entry level “localized” automation using iPads has worked flawlessly and been a breeze to install. Amazing what you can do with some R&D into a few independent app companies.

Today, a forward thinking integrator can take an iPad (or up to 8) and roughly $1500 (dealer) of hardware – not including the physical components like the actual lighting control modules, security panel, cams, etc. - and control nearly anything they would want in a 4K square foot home or anywhere in the world where IP was available. Security, cameras, mag locks, movie servers, ANY & ALL IR or RS232 or IP addressable devices. AMX/Crestron in a small house like that? Give me a break.

To Julie: Most of us appreciate your articles and news updates very much. Keep up the good work!

Posted by Bill Maxey  on  10/27  at  01:09 AM

The ADT system is super cheap as compared to our typical systems. Can we offer IPhone control of lighting, security, t-stats, and (live & recorded) CCTV?  Of course. Could we do it for a couple of grand - or less?  No way.

This was not a large project for us (the house is only 4k sf). We sold the client a bunch of nice B&W speakers, Adagio music system (which Julie failed to mention - but in fairness I probably failed to mention to her). We also sold a limited Lutron Ra2 system (partial house control) and Lutron Sivioa shades for Mast BR/Bath. But early on the jobsite suffered a burglary, and security became paramount in the client’s eyes.

What did I lose? A sale of perhaps 15 or 20 Ra2 light switches + a handful of keypads.  What did the client gain?  A bunch of cool features that I could not replicate for 10x the price he paid.  I make that statement without knowing the true price.  ADT is selling this package in Houston but their pricing is oblique.  Comcast also has begun selling same/similar and recently flooded the airwaves with their advertisements ($1100 of free gear if you sign 36 month contract @ $40 per month).

I was surprised to read this specific client spent $12k, but am sure some of those funds went towards extra devices - perimeter beams, extra cameras, etc.  Promise to learn more soon.

Does their stuff work?  Don’t know.  I did call their tech recently to inquire about the DVR and was told is a hybrid (analog & IP). So that is good.  But he also told me they had been working on this install for 6 months and were not complete. Hmm…

Client is moving in very soon.  We shall see if ADT can consistently provide a quality (or at least adequate) customer experience on multiple levels/skillsets.  I agree with Julie, this is truly a wakeup call for our CI industry.  I don’t often work on small homes, but this model is intriguing, offers residual revenue, and is based on the increasing www influence as a viable real-time transmission method. 

I am curious where this is headed.

Bill Maxey

Posted by Julie Jacobson  on  10/27  at  07:41 AM

Bill, thank you so much for sharing, and for your candor.

It’s a wonder that more dealers don’t appreciate an article about why a potential client spent $12k for ADT.

They will, I’m sure, enjoy your updates and come to thank you for helping us understand the current competitive landscape,

Posted by Julie Jacobson  on  10/27  at  07:45 AM

Mark NAgle: No, the icontrol isn’t LITERALLY the security system (those are standard GE and Honeywell products), but to the client it is.

Since icontrol is the security interface, the consumer sees icontrol as the security system, and all other attachments are just bonuses to the security system.

Posted by Charlie  on  10/27  at  08:48 AM

Ditto ASV.

Integrators: Middle Class America will deal with ADT over your Vanity all day long.

Posted by Tuck  on  10/27  at  09:40 AM

I cant imagine it being much easy than in Texas to get a security license. Hire someone with two years security experience, fill out the paperwork and your done $500 or $600 later.

Posted by mark Nagle  on  10/27  at  09:49 AM

Julie, I DO appreciate your article, I think we DO need to know who our competitors are. I think automation is going more mainstream. I am not a high end Crestron guy, but a low to middle AV guy. I was just pointing out that Ademco can be used with Crestron. The 128 panel is way more than ADT is using here, and would be overkill given the 2 or 3 contacts they are installing. If they connected the icontrol to a 128 (if they work together), and added AV and some of the other bells and whistles, They could be getting close in price to a custom automation system.

I think the point is, they are dumbing it down to hit the mass market. and will probably work. They didnt get 6 million accounts not knowing what they are doing.

They have always given the absolute least to get the monitoring contract. As another article had said, 2 contacts and a motion is hardly a security system at all.

I believe they WILL hit challenges with their installers, but we will see how they overcome them.

It doesnt seem like they are charging much for the monitoring of icontrol. Their monitoring is already outrageous with very little actually being monitored.

I didnt mean to sound like I was bashing you, or complaining for the sake of complaining

Posted by Julie Jacobson  on  10/27  at  09:56 AM

mark Nagle—Indeed, security panels are the run-of-the-mill GE and Honeywell panels, but the serial port is consumed by iControl hub.

I’ll be posting a schematic in the next couple hours, just checking its accuracy. It should be able to help integrators understand the pricing.

Shoot me an email if you’re dying to have it now.

(I didn’t think you were bashing!).

Posted by Julie Jacobson  on  10/27  at  01:21 PM

We now have a better illustration of what the ADT Pulse/icontrol system “looks” like.

Posted by Mark Donnigan  on  10/28  at  01:19 AM

Wow Julie, you really got beat up on this one! 

Gang, here is the deal.  There is another similar solution coming soon, that will be launched by a large national carrier who has even more customers than ADT… 

No, these systems do not replace control solutions we all sell.  But what are we going to do if and when the customer decides an alternative like ADT Pulse is “good enough”?  Which reading between the lines, sounds like exactly what happened in this situation.  I am sure the dealer educated the customer on what this system won’t do, but they decided on it anyway.

The problem is this.  If we don’t have a response for a customer like this, their perception of our solutions being too expensive, complex, or whatever faulty belief they have, becomes reality.  We won’t win every time (no one does) but we need to be prepared.  This was the thrust I picked up on in Julie’s article.

I can say all day long that what this customer received was a hacked together system, but if in their mind it suits their need, and furthermore saved them money, they will perceive they made the right choice and view my insistence to the contrary as being out of touch. 

I don’t get worried about this one lost sale, what I get really concerned with is if this person now tells his friends, family, and work colleagues about this “really great ADT system… you should check it out…” 

Though this home is “only 4000 sq ft”, judging by some of the other equipment installed, it sounds like the homeowner has money to spend.  Which means their friends likely have money to spend.  However, if they are not confronted with a compelling alternative, they could also turn to ADT or another “mass” solution.

We must begin thinking about how to position this industry in light of new competition (solutions, technologies and business models) such as ADT Pulse.

Thank you for the courage to stoke the dialogue Julie.

Posted by Dan  on  10/29  at  05:31 PM

“There is another similar solution coming soon, that will be launched by a large national carrier who has even more customers than ADT… ” I am assuming you mean someone not in the alarm industry?

Posted by Julie Jacobson  on  10/29  at  05:40 PM


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