Nest Secure vs. Traditional Home Security: What We Know

The first home security system was invented in 1966, and household burglaries have decreased dramatically since. As industry leaders continue to innovate and make systems more affordable, the frequency of burglaries decreases. As a matter of fact, burglaries in the United States have decreased by 56 percent between 1994 and 2011.

Now Google is stepping into the market to continue driving that innovation. Google acquired Nest Labs back in 2014 and has since then acquired Dropcam, a startup that specializes in automatically recording security cameras, which has made its place in the home automation market. Now it looks like Nest is taking another step onto the home security stage.

The Nest Secure system is Nest's attempt to make a splash in the home security industry. Is it worth it, and will the splash really be that big? Here's the breakdown.

Nest Secure features

One of Nest Secure's biggest selling points is the price tag of $499. This is pretty impressive considering some of the more well-known home security companies will charge a hefty installation fee along with a large monthly monitoring fee. However, some of the other leading companies will offer services like free installation and a monthly monitoring fee as low as $20 per month. This equates to nearly two years of service for the same upfront cost of the Nest Secure system.

The biggest attention grabber is the Nest Secure's sleek design. Many home security companies haven't upgraded the design of their systems for several years, so they can occasionally look like an eyesore. Nest Secure also operates using entirely wireless and cellular signals, which enables you to communicate with it using a mobile device. Basic packages for home security systems usually operate using landline connections that don't feature smartphone connectivity.

Nest Secure's sensors also function as motion detectors, and you can arm and disarm them with just a push of a button on the sensors themselves. For standard home security systems, arming and disarming your system involves turning all of your sensors off at once. Nest Secure has taken a forward-thinking approach that will surely be more convenient for consumers.

How does it compare?

How do these features really measure up with other top-rated home security systems and their features? To give an adequate comparison, here are Nest Secure's basic features ($499 upfront) and Protect America's basic features ($20 per month).

Nest Secure

  • Wireless/cellular communication
  • The Nest Guard brain unit
  • Nest App functionality
  • Two Nest Detect Sensors
    • Also function as motion sensors and can be disarmed individually
    • "Pathlight" function activates a small light, allowing you to see in the dark
  • Two Nest Tags (key chain fobs to turn the system on and off)

Protect America

  • Landline communication
  • Standard control panel
  • Three door/window sensors
  • Motion detector
  • Yard sign
  • Professional monthly monitoring

As you can see, there are important differences in the features that each basic system offers. The Nest Detect Sensors are impressive, but you only get two of them when you order a basic $500 system. With Protect America's most basic package, you get three sensors for your doors/windows, but they can't be individually disarmed. The Nest Tags are convenient tools to arm and disarm your system without punching in a numerical code, but you don't get a yard sign for your home. And, believe it or not, yard signs can be enough to ward off burglars.

The biggest difference of all is the professional monthly monitoring. Nest has yet to announce what the price tag will be for professional monthly monitoring. Until the company announces what its pricing plans are, it'll be difficult to make an accurate comparison. The fact that the company didn't announce this with the system hitting store shelves next month means it may not be as low as consumers want. Some competing systems like Ring's Protect system have promised monitoring plans for as little as $10 per month, which is unheard of, so Nest has some stiff competition.


Most home security companies operate on contracts that span multiple years. It's incredibly rare to find a home security company that lets you use your system on a month-to-month agreement, and even then, that company probably charges a high installation fee. It's fairly standard for a home security company to lock you into a 3 to 5-year contract.

Take Protect America, for example. If you purchase the company's basic $20/month package, you're locked into a contract for three years. In essence, this product is going to cost you at least $720 in the long run, which is much more than Nest Secure's initial cost of $499. If you want to get out of this contract, you usually have to buy out of it, so you need to be absolutely sure it's what you want for the next three years. This is also one of the most reasonable contracts in the industry. To put things in perspective, companies like Vivint operate on 5-year contracts and charge at least $40/month, so expect to pay at least $2,400 over the long term.

Currently, Nest Secure hasn't said anything about a monthly contract. More details should become clear as its monthly monitoring costs become public.


According to Nest Secure's specs, the system comes with a 2-year limited warranty. This is adequate; however, companies like Guardian Protection, Vivint, and Protect America offer lifetime warranties on their equipment. Maybe after two years, your college student visits home and drops a bunch of textbooks on your Nest Guard brain unit. Then what? You're out to buy another one. If you were with one of the aforementioned companies, they would send you new equipment with minimum hassle.

The takeaway

The Nest Secure is really cool. It's sleek and stylish, which is something most home security systems don't have going for them. Despite its numerous strengths, the biggest potential weakness of the system is still under wraps. If it turns out that Nest Secure's monthly monitoring price isn't much different than a typical home security system, you might as well go with a traditional company that won't charge you the upfront cost of equipment.

Maybe monthly monitoring isn't a big deal to you. If that's the case, the Nest Secure is seriously worth considering. But if you want to be absolutely sure your home is secure even when you miss a notification, Nest Secure probably isn't for you. Take a look at the best home security companies to see if another system fits your needs.

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