Nest Secure Alarm System Review

The visually appealing and technologically reliable Nest Secure system has turned heads in the security world. But is it worth the cost?
Good for starters
Nest
3.5 out of 5 stars
3.5
Katie McEntire
Staff Writer, Safety & Security
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Published on October 20, 2020

Bottom line: A good place to start for DIY security

Google Nest Secure plays well with other members of the Google Nest family and then some. It’s easy to live with, tough on intruders, and visually stunning. If you want DIY security and home automation that you can monitor yourself, Nest is a good place to start.

But the Google Nest Secure alarm system and accessories cost a lot more than other security systems we’ve reviewed, and we’ve seen reports of poor customer service.

Pro Heading
Pros
Pro Bullet Beautifully designed products
Pro Bullet Multifunctional door and window sensors
Pro Bullet Easy to setup on mobile app
Pro Bullet No contracts
Pro Bullet Optional professional monitoring through Brinks
Con Heading
Cons
Con Bullet Reports of connectivity issues and poor customer service
Con Bullet Sky-high initial price and expensive add-ons

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Lowest monthly monitoring price
Starter equipment price
Contract required
No†
No
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Yes
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Yes
Smart home compatibilityAmazon Alexa
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Info current as of 02/25/21. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.
Amazon.com List Price as of 01/29/21 9:05 a.m. MST. (Full disclaimer)
*$0 due up-front with consumer financing.
†No-contract options available with outright equipment purchase. 
‡Landline monitoring only. Some restrictions apply. (Full disclaimer
**With $99 installation charge and new monitoring agreement. Early termination fee applies. See full disclaimer for full offer details, terms, and conditions.

What’s in the box

  • Nest Guard keypad and base station
  • Nest Detect sensors (2)
  • Nest Tag key fobs (2)
  • USB power cable
  • Power adapter
  • Power adapter security bracket
  • Open/close magnets for Nest Detect (2)
  • Flat mounting brackets for Nest Detect (2)
  • Corner mounting brackets for Nest Detect (2)
  • Adhesive strips and mounting screws
  • Quick start card
  • User's guide
nest secure system with hub, nest tags, and nest detect sensors

Our approach

This Nest Secure review is the product of in-depth research and discussions with security experts. We evaluated the most important factors, industry standards, and flaws in the Nest Secure system. Our goal is to deliver a helpful and impartial review to help our readers. See our methodology page to learn more about our evaluation process.

Pricing, plans, and contracts

The basic Nest Secure system initially costs around $400, more if you want home automation equipment. The alarm system comes with the Nest Guard hub, Nest Detect sensors, and Nest Tag key fobs—a standard lineup for DIY systems at a steep price.

That high of a price would make more sense if the basic package came with special smart home components like cameras, light controls, or the smart thermostat and smoke detector that made Nest famous.

On the bright side, you aren’t required to pay a monthly fee or get professional monitoring, so for many, this is a one-time payment. If you want to, you can opt for professional monitoring through Brinks as an extra safety measure.

Optional Brinks monitoring

Nest Secure lets you set up and watch your system independently, or you can opt for professional monitoring from Brinks. We recommend professional monitoring so you always have someone else keeping an eye out and contacting first responders in an emergency.

The prices are pretty standard for the industry and change based on your contract length:

  • $19 per month for a three-year agreement
  • $29 per month without a contract

Tech and equipment

This family of products is beautifully designed, simple to set up, and controlled by one easy-to-use app. Nest is also good at thoughtful upgrades like two-in-one devices or adding nightlights to motion sensors.

The Nest Secure kit comes with all the essentials.

Nest guard

The Nest Guard

The Nest Guard is the brain, keypad, and alarm of the system, as well as a motion sensor.

Nest tag key fob

Nest Tag 

The Nest Tag arms and disarms the Nest Guard with a tap.

Nest detect sensors

Nest Detect

The Nest Detect monitors motion when placed on a wall, or it can be used with a magnet or adhesive strip as a window or door sensor.

The multitalented Nest Guard hub is an alarm, keypad, and motion sensor. You can arm and disarm it through the nine-button keypad on top, the Nest app, Google Assistant, or your handy key fob.

The included Nest Tag key fobs are easier to use than punching in a number on your keypad or fumbling with your phone. More and more security companies are offering these because they make it much easier to arm and disarm your home as you’re coming in with a handful of groceries or kiddos on your arm. If you need more fobs than the two included in the Nest Secure kit, you can order more for $25 each.

The Nest Detect sensors can be used as door and window sensors or as simple motion detectors. They have built-in nightlights too—a simple upgrade to safely light your way to the door.

All the reporting and controls go through the Nest app, leaving you in charge of monitoring your system and additional smart devices.

Other Google Nest equipment that works with Google Nest Secure

Nest Protect

The Nest Protect is a combination smoke and carbon monoxide detector that will alert you by voice or alarm if there’s a problem.

Nest Thermostat and Nest Thermostat E

Nest thermostats save you money and energy by adjusting your home temperatures automatically to your preferences.

Nest Cam and Nest Cam IQ

Nest's cameras include indoor and outdoor versions of the Nest Cam and Nest Cam IQ can help you keep an eye on things at home.

Nest Hello

Equipped with facial recognition technology, the camera in the Nest Hello Doorbell can tell your Google Home who is at the door.

Nest x Yale

The Nest x Yale keyless deadbolt allows you to lock and unlock your door from your smartphone.

Nest-compatible smart products

  • Google Home
  • LIFX Smart Lights
  • Philips Hue lightbulbs
  • Lutron dimmers and switches
  • Chamberlain garage door openers

Smart home

The Nest app brings all your Nest smart home devices together in one spot. You can check reports, schedule changes, and control the whole system from your fingertips—and you can always add new devices.

You can add and control a Nest Secure kit, camera, or Nest Protect through the same app. The products speak to each other to protect your family in an emergency too. The Nest Learning Thermostat can shut off the furnace or forced air if the Nest Protect detects smoke or carbon monoxide, for example.

One of our favorite smart home devices Nest offers is the Nest Hello video doorbell. The Nest Hello snaps clear HDR video of anyone who comes by your home. Plus, you can watch and speak with visitors through the two-way audio on the camera and app. It’s a great way to know if your latest online purchase has arrived or to check in with the dog walker.

Nest has also teamed up with appliance companies like JennAir and Whirlpool to create products like oven ranges that communicate with your thermostat to keep your house temperature comfortable. Smart capabilities in large appliances like these can keep your kitchen from overheating and even remind you when you’ve left the oven on.

Nest Cams 

Nest has two series of cameras: the Nest Cam and Nest Cam IQ. Both come in outdoor and indoor models to keep tabs on everyone coming in and out of your house. All four cameras stream a live feed to your phone in crystal clear 1080p HD and impressive night vision. The audio is some of the best we’ve heard too—we were able to have conversations through the cameras with ease.

For an extra monthly fee, you can get a Nest Aware subscription that gives you access to more footage history and features like Person Alert with face recognition. Read our full Nest Cam IQ review to see if this might be a good addition to your security system.

Light Bulb
Nest Cam hacking

During our original research in 2019, we found reports of Nest Cams being compromised by hackers. While Nest itself was not compromised, these intrusions were the result of weak password requirements.1,2,3 The company has since taken steps to improve security options. Learn more about how to protect your home automation from hackers.Tips to protect yourself:

  • Use long, strong passwords
  • Avoid reusing passwords
  • Opt for two-step authentication

Nest Protect and Nest Thermostat 

The Nest Thermostat and Nest Protect smoke detector put this security company on the map almost a decade ago. Today, these products are still on the market with more smart capabilities than ever.

The Nest thermostat can adjust your heating and cooling according to your schedule. If you like to sleep in a chilly room, Nest will catch on and drop the temperature automatically. It also has settings like “Away” and “Eco” to save you energy throughout the day.

The Nest Protect smoke and CO alarm knows better than to bother you with chirps or false alarms. It sends alerts directly to your phone, allowing you to cancel the alarm when dinner burns or someone takes a long shower. On the other hand, you’ll know about an emergency if you’re home or away.

Installation 

Nest makes installing a home security system a snap. To get going, just download the Nest app on your iPhone or Android, scan the QR code on the Nest Guard hub, and follow the instructions in the app.

Once the Nest Guard is up and running, set up the Tags, then the Nest Detect sensors. If you add new devices down the road, repeat these steps and connect the new devices through the app.

If you’re installing the Nest Detect in a corner, grab a tape measure, Phillips screwdriver, flathead screwdriver, and 3/32 in. drill bit to help you mount it. You can install these door, window, and motion sensors in most other places using adhesive strips, screws, or magnets.

Customer service

According to customer reviews, Nest’s support skills are a mixed bag. Most of the support on the Nest website is designed for users to help themselves. The support page provides guides for installation, troubleshooting, and compatible products.

Several customer reviews reported distracted service reps, faulty connectivity, and a lot of frustration. When we checked in July 2020, customer reviews on Trustpilot were overwhelmingly bad—7% gave five-star ratings, another 10% ranked Nest between two and four stars, and a whopping 82% gave only one star.4

You can reach a customer rep through online chat, phone, or Twitter. They also have online forums called the Nest Community where you can ask questions and get answers from experienced users and smart home enthusiasts. It’s helpful to have so many online resources when you have questions, but it doesn’t feel very personal.

Thumbs Up
Money-back guarantee

If you’re nervous about spending a lot of money on Nest, there’s a 30-day money-back guarantee. If you decide within 30 days of setting up your Nest Secure that you don’t like the system, you can return it to Nest for your money back.

Final word

We won’t sugarcoat it, Google Nest Secure is expensive and could improve its customer support and internet security. But it’s nice that you can choose how to spend your money with self-monitoring and professional monitoring options.

That said, if you want Jetsons-level security and home automation that’s easy to set up, it’s the system to start with. And now that Nest is fully integrated into Google, we expect to see even more options for connecting devices.

To learn more about Google Nest Secure, check out our review of the best DIY security systems or read some of the most frequently asked questions below.

Nest Secure FAQ

Yes, but it requires a subscription to Nest Aware—a service that stores all the footage from your Nest Cam, Nest Cam IQ, and Nest Hello for up to 30 days. Plans start around $6 a month.

Yes—some Wi-Fi routers are incompatible with Nest products. Be sure to check your model’s compatibility before purchasing a Nest system.

If you want your system professionally monitored, you can pay for a three-year contract with Brinks at $19 per month or pay month-to-month for $29.

In 2019, Google fully integrated Nest into its hardware family by rebranding it as Google Nest (the companies previously worked separately after Google acquired Nest in 2015). Not much has changed about Nest’s hardware aside from several existing products getting new Google Nest branding.

The company also released new products—starting with the Google Nest Hub. The goal is to make homes smarter and home automation more accessible.

You can log in to your Nest and Google accounts with the same credentials, and there will be more compatibility with third-party products.

Important things to know about Google Nest:

Related articles


Sources

  1. Ally Marotti, Chicago Tribune, “'Why Are You Looking at Me? I See You Watching Me.' Smart Devices like Nest Getting Hacked in Digital Home Invasions.” February 2019. Accessed July 9, 2020.
  2. ConsumerAffairs, “Nest Consumer Reviews and Complaints,” July 2020. Accessed July 9, 2020.
  3. Sam Blum, Popular Mechanics, “Google Warns Nest Users to Update Security Settings after Uptick of Hacked Cameras,” February 2019. Accessed July 9, 2020.
  4. Trustpilot, “Nest Reviews,” Accessed July 9, 2020.

Disclaimers

†Google and Google Nest Secure are trademarks of Google LLC.

Katie McEntire
Written by
Katie McEntire
As a renter, pet-owner, and woman living alone, Katie McEntire takes safety seriously. She’s tested devices like pet cameras, home security systems, and GPS trackers in her own home and devices in the name of safety. In addition to testing, writing, and reviewing for SafeWise, she also makes videos for the site’s YouTube channel. She’s been featured on publications like TechGuySmartBuy, Forbes, Healthy Moms, and Digital Care. Katie has a Bachelor’s degree in Technical Writing from Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, Tennessee. She’s held previous writing positions at Overstock.com and Top Ten Reviews.
  • ArrowInTheKnee

    I just brought this system, and I can agree that having the Nest Guard close to the front door can be a vulnerability, its a low one at that. After all, you would have a sensor on the door that recorded the event, and/or the Nest Hello Doorbell and/or the Nest Cam which also would recorded the events. All systems have their vulnerabilities, some bigger than others, but married to a security expert doesn’t make YOU an expert. A shame that the little bit of info on this site doesn’t go into what makes the writer an ” expert” . Tho I do have 20+ years in physical security, I don’t claim to be an expert.

    • TurnOutTheLightsOnYourWayOut

      “I just brought this system”, where did you bring it to?

      And as to your question about what makes her an expert, anybody can be an expert these days. All you have to do is say you are. Nobody questions your background, especially when they write for the Patch. Most of the writers don’t know how to spell and they also don’t know how use spell check. For the record, I am not an expert at anything.