Welcome to our review of the Google Nest Secure Alarm, a DIY home security system. If you're looking for a new home security system, you'll want to make an informed choice. As well as our comprehensive reviews, we've done hours of research to create our guide to the best home security systems around.
Nest Secure: What you need to know
After years of making security cameras, Nest has expanded its reach with the Google Nest Secure Alarm. As you might expect from a company owned by Google, this smart alarm system has some neat tricks and clever hardware that makes installation easy.
However, the system is quite expensive and if you want to add on professional monitoring, the fees are expensive and are provided through a separate company, Brinks.
Where the system really wins out is with its integration with other Google Nest products, including the security cameras and Nest Protect smart smoke detector. If you’re already heavily invested in Nest products, then adding the alarm makes a certain amount of sense.
Packages: How much does the Nest Secure cost?
Nest Secure is an incredibly simple alarm system with only a single type of sensor, which makes buying it and speccing out what you need easier than with other systems. This means that there’s a single starter package, the $399 Nest Secure Alarm System. That makes Nest a lot more expensive than the competition, such as the Ring Alarm or SimpliSafe.
In the box, you get the Nest Guard, which is a combination of base station, 105dB alarm system and keypad for arming and disarming the system. You can also arm and disarm the system using the app or the provided Nest Tag, which you simply touch to the top of the Guard. Additional tags can be bought for $25 each.
Finally, you get a single Nest Detect in the box, which is a unique type of sensor: as well as acting as a standard entry sensor that you’d place on a window or door, Nest Detect also has a built-in motion sensor as well. The motion sensor is pet-friendly, and can also be disabled if it’s placed in a position that would likely cause an accidental alert.
Each motion sensor has a gentle LED light that goes off when motion is detected, helping to navigate around a dark room.
The downside of the Detect’s smarts is the price, with additional sensors costing $49 each. If you can use both entry and motion sensors, that’s excellent value; if you find that you’re only using one of the sensor’s modes, you’re massively overpaying.
As Nest Secure works with the Nest app, you can add additional security using the other products in the range, including the Nest Cam IQ Outdoor, Nest Hello doorbell and Nest Protect. These products are some of the best in the business and outclass similar offerings from the traditional security companies.
Free cancellation: Anytime
Security monitoring: Professional 24/7 via Brinks
Smartphone control: Yes
System price (starts at): $399
Monthly costs (start at): $0
Wired or wireless: Wireless
Video cameras: Yes (optional)
Installation fees (start at): DIY
There are no monthly fees for using Google Nest Secure Alarm, if you want to take care of monitoring yourself. If you want professional monitoring and to enable the cellular backup you have to do this through Brinks, which costs a hefty $29 a month - one of the most expensive monthly fees. If you pay Google for Nest Aware, this just gets you cloud storage for your cameras.
As such, buying Nest Aware and a Brinks subscription pushes your monthly cost up further, whereas Ring has a single price that covers camera storage and professional monitoring.
Not directly included as part of the alarm system, but worth mentioning, are the other Google Nest products that you buy. The Nest Protect, for example, is one of the best smart smoke detectors. You can’t go wrong with the security cameras, such as the Nest Cam IQ Outdoor and Nest Hello smart doorbell. And, there’s also the Nest Learning Thermostat, which is one of the best smart thermostats. If you already own any Nest products, the Nest Secure could be a good option for you, giving you a single app to manage a large chunk of your home.
Nest Secure:: Warranty and Cancellation
With the Google Nest Secure Alarm, you buy the hardware outright and own it. The hardware comes with a two-year warranty to protect you against manufacturing defects but that’s it. There’s also an option to return the hardware within 30 days of purchase, which at least gives you a chance to see if you really like the system or not.
You have to cancel professional monitoring via Brinks. If you’re paying the monthly $29 fee, you can cancel at any point. There’s also a $19 a month price if you sign up for a three-year package, although you’d have to pay that off in full if you wanted to cancel.
A better option is to use Nest Secure for free and monitor it yourself, but just sign up for Brinks for those periods when you’re going to be away from your home for a while, such as during a vacation.
Nest Secure app
There’s no doubt that Nest has one of the best apps in the business, giving you one place to manage all of your devices including cameras, a Nest Learning Thermostat and the alarm system. From the app, you can arm and disarm your system, although you have to dive into the Security option to do so.
The app also gives you full control over the system, including which sensors are included in which modes (off, home and away), and how long you get after each sensor is triggered before the alarm sounds. The latter is useful, as you can have windows and less-frequently used doors trigger the alarm instantly (or almost instantly) but frequently used doors can be set to give you a few minutes.
How does Nest Secure alert you when an alarm is raised?
If an alarm is triggered, the 105dB siren goes off in your home. It’s certainly loud enough to attract attention and, potentially, scare the burglar away. You also get a notification sent through to your phone, along with a thumbnail from the nearest security camera. Neatly, Nest Secure can be configured to put together an automatic video clip that you can send to the Police, provided that you have a Nest Aware subscription.
When you get the alert, you can disable the alarm or you can decide to call the Police yourself, perhaps after checking your video feeds to see what caused the incident.
However, all of this only works if your Nest Secure Alarm is connected to the internet. If there’s an interruption and you don’t have cellular backup enabled through a Brinks Subscription, you won’t know what’s happened.
If you do have Brinks, an alarm being triggered will result in a phone call to you and your named contacts to verify what’s going on. If you confirm that it’s a real alert (or nobody answers), Brinks can dispatch the police for you.
Nest Secure: What the users say
We turned to user reviews to find out what people really think of the system. This is a bit trickier with this product, as the base level is a simple internet-connected alarm system, with few user reviews. When we tested the full kit we found Nest Secure to be reliable and easy to use, and we appreciated the multi-purpose Nest Detect sensors and the ease of installation.
If you want professional monitoring, it’s easier to get consensus by looking at the Brinks reviews from trusted sources. Brinks won the J.D. Power Customer Satisfaction award in 2018. Consumer Affairs gives Brinks a more modest score of just under three stars, although most complaints are about customer service, installation and charging issues, which shouldn’t be so much of a problem for Nest Secure. TrustPilot paints Brinks in a better light with a score of four out of five.
Nest Secure: Other things to consider
As well as being able to arm and disarm the system using the Nest Tags, the Nest Secure Alarm can also be armed using a Google Assistant smart speaker, although you can’t turn the alarm off using one. The Ring Alarm lets you arm and disarm through Alexa, providing a PIN for the latter option.
If you have people that need to go into your house, you have a few options. First, you can provide additional Tags, managing them through the app. Secondly, you can let people arm and disarm the system using a PIN. Thirdly, you can schedule the alarm in the app, which is handy if you have people come at regular times, such as a dog walker.
The Google Nest Secure Alarm also integrates with the Nest x Yale Lock: when someone locks the door, the alarm goes on; when the code is punched in from the outside, the alarm turns off automatically.
Nest devices used to have automatic rules via the Works with Nest programme, such as turning all Hue lights to red if the Protect picked up smoke. However, since the push to move people to Google accounts, these rules are currently not available, although they should come back as part of the Works with Google Assistant programme during 2020.
Nest Secure: Verdict
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As a standalone DIY alarm system, the Google Nest Secure has a lot going for it, with easy installation, a great range of additional products to choose from, and incredibly smart sensors. In this standalone mode, the alarm system worked brilliantly in our tests and we were very happy to use it.
However, Nest Secure starts to get more fiddly if you want more than basic control. It’s a shame that there’s no option for turning on cellular backup without subscribing to a professional monitoring package. Currently, there’s only one package to choose from (Brinks), which is comparatively expensive, even if the service is well-liked.
Price is the main issue all round for the Google Nest Secure Alarm, with high equipment prices on top of expensive monitoring prices. If you’ve got existing Google Nest products, then Nest Secure could be a good fit for you. If you don’t, the rival Ring Alarm is better value and has cheaper monitoring options and SimpliSafe is another good alternative.