Google: it’s where you find out the weather, how much those concert tickets cost, and when exactly Labor Day falls. Now, Google wants to be your home security solution. They’ve already killed it with the Nest Indoor Camera, but now they’re taking security a step further with Nest Secure. Think of me as your tour guide. The destination? Nest Secure Land.
I’ll run you through the entire process, from what you get in the box, to how the security system works, to customer support, monitoring, and more. The Nest Secure Security System works with both the Nest Cam Indoor and the Nest Cam Outdoor (not to be confused with the Nest Cam IQ Indoor– but that’s a story for another day).
Here we go!
What’s Included with a Nest Secure Security System?
The Nest Secure system is relatively simple, especially when compared to its competition. It comes with:
- 1 Nest Guard
- 2 Nest Detect Sensors
- 2 Nest Tags
The reason why Nest Secure requires so few devices is because a lot of the devices are all-in-one. I also purchased the Nest Cam Indoor, discussed below.
The Nest guard is your command center. While some security systems feature separate base stations, alarms, keypads, and motion sensors, the Nest Guard features all of them in one package. It’s a stark white cylinder outlined on top with a light blue rim surrounding a bunch of white buttons.
The Nest Guard is essential to arming and disarming your system, which can be done in a few different ways. You can either tap your Nest Tag over the Nest Guard, use your Nest App, enter your passcode on the Nest Guard, or just have Google Assistant do it for you.
Say an intruder enters your home- your Nest Guard will go off and you’ll immediately get a security alert on your phone. You’ll be able to see what exactly triggered the alarm, be it an open door or window, and from there, you can decide to call the police or not.
But we’ll talk more about how the system works later.
Nest Detect Sensors
The Nest Detect Sensors have two main functions: one, to let you know whether a door or window is open or not, and two, to detect motion in a room. The sensors are small, narrow cylinders, also in a clean white. You’ll be able to turn motion detection on or off using your Nest app.
I love that Google Nest sets its devices up with actions that seem almost chivalrous. For example, if your kids go out to play in the backyard, the sensor will make an open tone. Say you’re sneaking around to eat cookies at midnight: the sensor turn into a Pathlight so you don’t hit your knee on your coffee table. If something comes up and you need to leave early when the house is armed, Quiet Open will prevent the alarm from sounding when you open the door. These little features protect you and your family in more ways than a traditional security system. They’re not only protecting you from burglars, but also from loud noises, anxiety, and stubbing your toe in the middle of the night.
It’s also important to mention that small pets will not set off the motion detectors, even if your house is armed. No need to be alerted when your dog is chasing his tail!
Like I said before, the Nest Tags allow people to tap in and out of the Nest Guard. It’s basically a key that you can set to only work during specific windows (like for a babysitter). The tags are “water-resistant and drop-proof,” according to the website. We’ll test this claim out, of course. Another cool feature of the tags is that if you lose one, you can just disable it in the Nest app the same way you would a lost or stolen debit card.
Nest Cam Indoor
What’s a security system without a camera? I’m super excited about the Nest Cam Indoor. It’s got some great features that I’m excited to check out.
I like the Nest Cam Indoor’s look. It’s all black with gunmetal-finished base and a shiny black camera. It comes with rubber backing and a magnetic base, allowing you to use it standing up, on a wall, or on a tripod.
My only thing (and this is nit-picky) is that the USB cord is white. Against the all-black backdrop of the Nest Cam Indoor, I found this to be a bit jarring. Nevertheless, it’s a nice camera and I appreciate that it’s plug-in- who wants to worry about batteries?
I’m really satisfied with the Nest Cam Indoor’s video quality. It’s got 1080p HD, a field of view of 130 degrees, and the ability to zoom in eight times– yes, you read that right. In every category, the video goes above and beyond industry standards.
It’s not surprising that the camera has two-way audio, meaning that you can speak to whoever is in the room that your camera is monitoring. An odd feature is the chime before the speaker talks- personally, I find it a bit alarming. However, it can be turned off, so it’s definitely not a deal breaker.
The camera’s night vision is crystal clear with eight infrared LED sensors. Plus, it’s smart- say your intruder has a flashlight. The camera will stay on night mode and continue to shoot clear footage. They’re two steps ahead of you and five steps ahead of robbers.
Unfortunately, the camera does not provide any local storage options. If you purchase Nest Aware, however, you will get 5, 10, or 30 days of cloud storage.
Without Nest Aware, your footage will only be stored in the cloud for three hours. See the chart for monthly/ yearly pricing. Warning: Nest has the most expensive cloud options I’ve seen from a security camera, so that’s a definite drawback.
Smart Platform Integration
As Google owns Nest, it’s no surprise that the camera integrates with Google Assistant and Chromecast. Even better, it also integrates with Philips-Hue lightbulbs, Amazon Echo, and Fire TV– this is the bipartisanship that we need in the world!
While the Nest Cam Indoor has intelligent sound detection, person detection is only available with a monthly purchase of Nest Aware.
Installing Nest Secure
Nest Secure is extremely simple to setup. First, plug in your Nest Guard and you’ll notice the edges light up. Use the camera in your Nest app to scan the Guard’s QR code, and the app will give you step by step instructions. You’ll do a motion detection test, make up a password, share the password with friends, and add any users you want to be able to access your security system. You’ll do the same process for the Nest Detect Sensors and the Nest Tags— just scan the QR codes and the Nest app will walk you through the process and make sure your system works. All in all, the process only took about ten minutes!
Professional Monitoring with Nest Secure
I have to say that I’m a little surprised that the Nest Secure system is so minimal. The physical system only comes with three types of devices and professional monitoring is not included, which disappoints me.
Although Nest does not have an in-house team of professional monitors, they have teamed up with Brinks Home Security for a paid professional monitoring option.
How Monitoring Works
Having a spiffy security system is not sufficient to protect your house. After all, you’ve got work, kids, that PTA meeting you’ve been dreading for weeks; you can’t also act as a 24/7 guard for your home. That’s where Brinks Home Security comes in. They provide 24/7 professional monitoring and cellular backup in a couple of different bundle deals.
Say you lost your phone. You’re at work, incredibly busy, and your home’s security is the last thing on your mind. If an intruder enters your home, will you really have the time and bandwidth to deal with it?
Once your Nest Guard alarm goes off, two things will happen: you’ll be notified and the response team will receive an alert. Next, the team will see exactly what triggered the alarm and will contact law enforcement if necessary. The response team will handle your situation until it’s completely resolved- they’re not just calling 911 and vanishing.
Cellular backup is another feature that I think should be included with every home security system. If you purchase the Brinks Home Security option, the cellular connection will keep your system going even if your power or Wi-Fi goes out. It also prevents burglars from destroying your connection to the Alarm Response Center. Even if a burglar smashes your alarm, the team can still get a signal.
Without the Brinks Home Security subscription, you’ll receive cellular backup in the form of Wi-Fi. The problem with that is that you’re almost completely depending on Wi-Fi for your home security. That worries me. It’s so easy for burglars to cut cords and completely destroy your security system. Even if they aren’t smart enough to figure out which cord to cut, if your Wi-Fi is anything like mine, it’s not the most dependable thing in the world. The Nest Secure system does include battery backup, which can run if the Wi-Fi goes out. The battery has a life of 12 hours, and your security system will still be able to sense activity in order to keep you safe. Without Wi-Fi or a cellular connection, however, you won’t be able to control your system through the Nest app.
I would recommend investing in a monitoring system if you are going to buy the Nest Secure. Think of the Nest Secure as a set of tools, and the paid subscription as skilled artisans. While the tools might be great, they’re not much good on their own.
To get any monitoring, you’ll need to invest in the Brinks Home Security subscription, which comes in two plans: a flexible, month-to-month agreement for $29 a month, and a three-year agreement for $19 a month.
There is no difference in the plans except for the contract term lengths and the prices- both come with 24/7 professional monitoring and cellular backup.
If you’re not looking to commit to a long-term contract, the month-to-month is a good option at $29 a month.
Not moving anytime soon? The three-year agreement saves you up to $360 over the month-to-month plan at only $19 a month.
If you choose a plan now you’ll receive a free month of professional monitoring, as of this posting. While I’m not thrilled that monitoring is not included with Nest Secure, the Brinks Home Security plans do seem pretty reasonable.
Nest Secure’s Customer Support
If anything goes wrong with your security system, you want a strong customer support team behind you. I’ll talk about how the Nest Secure customer support works, and what real Nest Secure customers had to say about it.
How It Works
Looking at the Nest Secure website, I see a bunch of support articles and FAQ’s regarding features, installation, arming and disarming, and more. If the user wants more help, they can either check out the community message boards on the Nest website, or contact the customer support team directly. You can either chat online, over the phone, through Twitter, or over email. I love the variety of customer support options, but how do these pan out in reality? To figure this out, I checked out some customer reviews.
I looked at customer reviews from Google and the Better Business Bureau to get a better understanding of people’s experience with the Nest customer support team.
Overall, the Nest Secure has 221 reviews and a 4.3 out of five star rating, which is very impressive. A large majority of the reviews were five stars. Of the 25 reviews that mentioned customer support/ service (about 10% of the total Google reviews), it was pretty split 50/50 whether people had a good experience or not. While some people did have technical issues that the customer support team could not resolve, many people had great experiences.
“You talk to real people, who are really helpful, and actually care about resolving your issue and making sure you’re happy,”
said one user of the customer support team. Like a lot of customer support teams, your experience depends on which member of the customer support team you speak to.
Better Business Bureau
The Better Business Bureau, otherwise known as the BBB, is more than just customer reviews- they also have an objective rubric that measures how trustworthy a business is. “BBB ratings represent the BBB’s opinion of how the business is likely to interact with its customers. The BBB rating is based on information BBB is able to obtain about the business, including complaints received from the public,” reads their website.
Unfortunately, Nest Labs is not a BBB-accredited business. As Nest Labs has not responded to four complaints that people filed with the BBB, they received an overall rating of D-. Their customer reviews weren’t much better, with an overall rating less than two stars. People complained that they were put on hold for hours and that the customer support team was rude and unhelpful. Out of the 169 customer complaints that Nest Labs has gotten, 112 were about problems with product and services.
It’s worth it to note that someone who had a good experience with customer support has less incentive to leave a review with the BBB. After all, the purpose of the BBB is to make businesses safer and more trustworthy for consumers, so leaving a positive review doesn’t do much to advance that cause.
The Nest App
Too lazy to get out of bed? Control your security system for your app! If you’re in the Nest ecosystem, you know how it works. Not only can you control your cameras, thermostats, environmental monitors, doorbells, and locks on the Nest app, you can also control your alarm system.
From the Nest app, you’ll be able to arm and disarm your system, as I’ve said before. You can also check out your event history to see who’s been in and out of your home. Forgot to set the alarm? You’ll receive an alert within the nest app. You’ll also be alerted if someone triggered an alarm, be it a door, window, or movement.
One feature I find slightly creepy is how the Nest app allows you to communicate with your friends. Not only can you send email invitations from the app to any guests, you can also give them unique passcodes and set visiting hours. I would understand why someone would want to do this for a business, but it seems extremely impersonal and cold to do to a friend. Of course, no one is forcing you to do any of this, so it’s not a deal breaker.
Of course, an app is only as good as its customer reviews. While it’s great that the app lets you digitally control your security system, not everyone had a great experience.
I’ll be blunt: the Nest App’s reviews from the Apple Store are pretty rough. Overall, the app received a 2.1 out of five star rating, with the large majority of the views being one star. Looking at the reviews, however, they seem to be more about the security system itself rather than the app, so I’m not sure how accurate this rating is.
The Nest app fared much better on the Google Play store, with a 3.8 star overall rating. The majority of the ratings fell into the five and four star range, which tells me that most people were satisfied with the app.
Recap of the Nest Secure Security System
So, is Nest Secure the right security system for you? It might be if you want:
- A minimalist system
- 1080p HD video
- A field of view of 130 degrees
- 8x digital zoom
- Two-way audio
- Great night vision
- Integrations with Google Assistant, Chromecast, Philips-Hue lightbulbs, Amazon Echo and Fire
- Month-to-month contract option
However, every rose has its thorn. If the following are deal breakers, then Nest Secure may not be your best bet:
- No local storage
- 24/7 professional monitoring and cellular backup not included
- Poorly reviewed app
- Mixed reviews for customer support
To learn more, read the best security systems of 2019.