*Data as of 02/18/19. Offers and availability subject to change.
Google vs. Amazon in the Home
Before we delve into the details of Ring and Nest, we should talk about how the home automation ecosystems of Google and Amazon might affect your decision.
Currently, the Google ecosystem, including Nest Secure, has more flexibility to integrate third-party devices. While Ring Alarm doesn’t work with as many smart products as Nest, the system does have the capability. If you like your Echo hub and you’re willing to wait, Amazon will likely invest in making newly acquired Ring products integrate with its home automation ecosystem.
If you want to eventually add more products to your smart home, it’s easier to do so with Nest’s Google system than with Ring’s Amazon system at this time.
The home automation you already have and prefer will likely be a big factor in which security system you choose.
What Do Nest Secure and Ring Alarm Have in Common?
At first glance, Nest Secure and Ring Alarm seem to be similar DIY home security systems. They even look alike, with the same blue-circle branding and cleanly-styled white equipment. Both brands have the option to self-monitor and a no-contract approach that gives you the comfort of minimal commitment. Here are a few other ways Nest and Ring strike similar notes in their home security offerings:
Easy, DIY installation
Optional 24/7 professional monitoring
Integration with smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
Cellular and battery backup available
What Makes Nest Secure and Ring Alarm Different?
The brands differ mostly in terms of cost and smart home tech. If you’re trying to decide between these two DIY-savvy home security systems, it’s all about what features you’re willing to trade to keep the price tag affordable.
Ring Alarm starter kit is $199, Nest Secure starter kit is $299 or $399
Professional installation is available with Nest
Nest has an extended 2-year warranty
Ring has a longer battery backup
Nest has better smart home tech
Nest Home Security at a Glance
Nest’s security system fits seamlessly into its popular line of smart home products, but its higher price tag and alarm vulnerabilities may give you pause.
Nest Secure does better than average on integrating home automation and doubles as a Google Home hub. While Nest advertises their alarm functionality as less intrusive for busy families, some find the alarm delay and limited noise alerts concerning. Like Ring, Nest has easy DIY installation and self-monitoring through the app, but it also offers a professional monitoring option if you’d like extra protection and convenience.
“You get what you pay for” is an adage that applies to Nest’s array of features. Even with the discount through monitoring partner Brinks, Nest Secure is one of the more expensive DIY systems in terms of up-front equipment costs. But if you want to outfit your home with a capable, high-tech alarm system, Nest Secure may be worth the investment.
Nest Aware 5-Day
Nest Aware 10-Day
Nest Aware 30-Day
Nest Secure with Brinks Home Security
Nest Secure with Brinks Home Security
24/continuous recording with 5 days of video history
24/7 continuous recording with 10 days of video history
24/7 continuous recording with 30 days of video history
*Data as of 02/18/19. Offers and availability subject to change.
Easy DIY installation
Smart home integration
40-day money-back guarantee
Intuitive control with the app
Expensive up-front equipment costs
Customer service concerns
More expensive monitoring and storage plans
Contracts and Extended Warranties
One of the benefits of both Nest and Ring is that they don’t require a contract, and both offer DIY monitoring, so commitment-averse folks won’t feel locked into their choice.
Nest, however, demonstrates confidence in its ability to keep customers satisfied by providing both a 40-day money-back guarantee and a two-year warranty.
Unsurprisingly, Nest garners overwhelmingly positive reviews on its website, but a deeper dive into the company’s reputation turns up customer service concerns with long wait times and camera connectivity.¹
While there is the safety net of a 40-day money-back guarantee and a two-year warranty, service complaints are an issue for Nest.
The company’s user-friendly app lets you control Nest thermostats, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, and several third-party devices like Philips Hue smart lighting. The Nest app also integrates and controls feeds from both outdoor and indoor Nest cameras as well as Nest Hello, the brand’s video doorbell camera.
You can arm Nest Secure using voice recognition through smart home hubs Amazon Echo and Google Home. The downside to this dynamic menu of compatible home automation features is that video storage and monitoring plans are more expensive.
Alarms, Alerts, and Notifications
Nest Secure is hampered by some vulnerabilities and limitations of the actual alarm system. Because the “brain” of the alarm exists in the same place as the keypad of the Nest Guard component, the system may be more easily disabled by intruders.
Customers also report sensors have a limited range of motion (about 10 feet) and the alarm is relatively quiet. Nest bills this as an advantage for customers who want a less intrusive home security system, but without the ability to add speakers (there’s just one located at the entry), Nest Secure may be too quiet for larger homes.
Who Nest Secure Is Best For
If you’re looking for a flexible, DIY alarm system for a small to midsize house that plays nice with your home automation, Nest Secure should top your list. Its versatile integration of third-party devices like smart lighting and a large variety of compatible Nest devices make it a standout among DIY security systems.
But be prepared for the higher equipment costs that come with the luxury of all those technological bells and whistles. While the price tag includes the comfort of an extended warranty and the option of professional monitoring from Brinks, Nest is still best for those who want powerful smart home integration and are willing to pay a little extra for it.
It all began with the wildly popular Ring video doorbell, but now the company also offers an attractive, easy-to-install security system at a significant bargain. While it does have some drawbacks, Ring Alarm is one of the most affordable DIY home security solutions available.
Ring Alarm puts DIY home security at your fingertips without a contract, but it does so by sacrificing some features and functionality. Currently, the limited smart home integration is Ring’s Achilles’ heel, and it makes the flexibility to build out a complete smart home difficult.
The Ring Alarm starter kit offers only one motion sensor and one contact sensor, but additional sensors and other add-on components are reasonably affordable. Ring Protect Basic provides video storage for one camera, while Protect Plus is the company’s optional 24/7 professional monitoring service. Protect Plus includes cloud storage for video, extended warranties, and a discount on future Ring purchases.
Protect Basic Plan
Protect Plus Plan
1-year warranty Supports one doorbell or camera
Extended warranty Supports all Ring Devices
Affordable starter kit
Good customer service
Inexpensive professional monitoring available
Easy DIY installation
Limited smart home integration
Small starter kit
Pre-programmed alert settings
Contracts and Warranties
Ring Alarm is a no-contract, no-frills system but its bargain-basement price means you get only a one-year limited warranty and no trial period with the Protect Basic Plan. For an extended warranty and a standard 30-day trial period, you’ll need a Protect Plus Plan.
Ring offers 24/7 live customer service, though the Ring Alarm product is relatively new, and the jury is still out about how specific concerns are being addressed. But customers on Amazon and Best Buy both give a better-than-average rating of four out of five stars for Ring Alarm products, and the Better Business Bureau grades Ring as an A+.2
Ring hasn’t disclosed who it partners with for its optional 24/7 professional monitoring. The relatively low cost of the monitoring plan and Ring’s lack of transparency could make you hesitant to sign up.
Easy, DIY Installation
Once you get the packaging open, Ring’s tool-free installation is a breeze. One drawback of the installation is that Ring’s alert settings come pre-programmed, and while they can be adjusted, it can be tricky to figure out how. Customers report that while there’s lots of instruction on the Ring doorbell camera, there is a limited amount of information about Ring Alarm available online.
Home Automation Integration
First, the good news. Ring Alarm has both Z-Wave and Zigbee connectivity, so it could integrate with a myriad of home automation devices in theory. Unfortunately, that capability isn’t fully functional, which means Ring Alarm is compatible with only some third-party devices, and the system is difficult to customize.
For instance, you’ll discover you can view Ring camera video in the app alongside your system status and alerts, but you can’t set up automatic recording for tripped sensors. While Ring Alarm can be armed and disarmed by Alexa, there isn’t much more integration in terms of smart home functionality. One exception is that Ring Alarm’s system is compatible with First-Alert smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and a limited number of Z-Wave electronic door locks.
Who Ring Is Best For
Ring Alarm is the most affordable choice for both equipment and monitoring, but it might not be your best option for long-term concerns like home automation integration and alert customization. With easy DIY installation and sleek components, it can give you the styling of Nest without the price tag.
The absence of a trial period and extended warranty on the lower-tier plan can also be a red flag, but Ring’s reputation for reliable customer service should put some of those fears to rest. Hopefully, as Amazon invests in building out the Ring suite of home security products, we’ll get the home automation features and flexibility that the company has brought to other smart home devices.
Several Ring Alarm and camera users have reported breaches in their accounts that allowed a stranger to use the two-way communication to intimidate them. This is a risk every user takes when they use any internet-connected wireless system.
The good news is you can minimize the risk with proper internet security. Here are a few easy tips for securing your system from online threats:
Use strong, unique passwords for all your accounts
Opt for extra security measures like two-factor authentication
Add shared users instead of sharing login credentials
Change your home Wi-Fi password frequently
We still confidently recommend Ring and other similar wireless internet-connected systems. And while these threats are real, they can be avoided with a few extra precautions.
The Bottom Line
If your primary concern is affordability, Ring may seem like a clear-cut winner. However, once you consider the lack of compatibility and the bare bones equipment in the Ring Alarm starter kit, you’ll realize Nest Secure may be worth the extra up-front costs.
Check your list for which of these considerations means the most to you before you make a decision:
Price and contract: Both Ring Alarm and Nest Secure come with no contract, but Ring scores in this category for more affordable up-front equipment and monitoring costs.
Customer service: This is very much a mixed bag. Both Ring and Nest have customer concerns when it comes to service, but for now, Ring appears to have a better reputation for responsiveness. However, Nest holds its own with extended warranties and a money-back guarantee that ensures customer confidence.
Features and tech: Nest Secure dominates this category with an array of compatible devices and customized settings. Ring Alarm does boast an incredibly loud alarm and longer-range motion sensors, which is one of the few problem areas for Nest Secure.
Overall Winner: Nest Secure
For home automation integration, extended warranties, stylish components, and an intuitive mobile app that puts DIY or professional monitoring options at your fingertips.
More Smart Home Security Options
Still looking for a smart home alarm system that fits the bill? Take a look at a few other options we highly recommend:
Google, Google Nest Protect, Google Nest Secure, Google Nest Learning Thermostat, Google Nest Hello and other marks are trademarks of Google LLC.
Written by Kaz Weida
Kaz is a journalist who covers home security, parenting, and community and child safety. Her work and product testing in the security and safety field spans the past four years. You can find Kaz in HuffPost, SheKnows, Lifehack, and much more. Her degree in education and her background as a teacher and a parent make her uniquely suited to offer practical advice on creating safe environments for your family. Learn more