If you’re looking for a more modern security system, then you’re definitely in the right place. Nest Secure, owned by Google, and Ring Alarm, owned by Amazon, represent the biggest tech giants around, while SimpliSafe is one of the fastest-growing independent security companies in the U.S. These security systems all put the customer in the driver’s seat with flexible monthly contracting, the option to self-monitor or get 24/7 professional monitoring, and integrations with smart home platforms like Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa. Truly, you can’t have a conversation about smart security without mentioning one of the three.
In this review, I’ll be comparing Ring Alarm, Nest Secure, and SimpliSafe: their key similarities, key differences, system components, installation processes, subscription options, customer support, and apps. Specifically, I bought the Nest Secure system, the Ring Alarm Security Kit, and the Summerfort system from SimpliSafe. By the end of the review, you’ll be an expert on all three and will know which one is the right security system for you. We have a ton to cover, so let’s get started!
Key Similarities of Ring vs. Nest vs. SimpliSafe
Right off the bat, I want to tell you what these three systems have in common.
- Option to self-monitor: If you don’t want to pay monthly fees, you can monitor each system yourself through its respective app.
- DIY installation: You’ll install all these systems yourself, saving even more money.
- Monthly contracting: Ring, Nest, and SimpliSafe don’t make you sign a long-term contract, giving you a flexible, month-to-month option.
Key Differences of Ring vs. Nest vs. SimpliSafe
Of course, their differences are probably what’s going to influence your buying decision the most.
- System components: While the SimpliSafe Summerfort system I bought was pretty extensive, my kits from Ring and Nest Secure were more minimal.
- App ratings: The SimpliSafe app has much better ratings than the Nest app and the Ring— Always Home app.
- Pricing: Whether you’re talking about professional monitoring fees or equipment costs, these companies have very different pricing structures, with Ring Alarm as the most affordable option.
Ring vs. Nest vs. SimpliSafe System Components
Something to keep in mind is a system’s components, which you can customize to your liking with each company. For example, the Nest Secure system I bought didn’t come with a camera, so I added the Nest Cam Indoor. The same went for the Ring Alarm Security Kit— it didn’t come with a security camera or video doorbell, so I added them on. Basically, with any of these systems, you’ll be able to create a security system for your specific smart home.
Ring Alarm Security Kit Components
The Ring Alarm Security Kit I bought came with a base station, keypad, contact sensor, motion sensor, and range extender— pretty minimal, all things considered. I also added the Ring Stickup Cam Wired along with the Ring Video Doorbell 2 for good measure.
Nest Secure System Components
Nest Secure comes with a base station called Nest Guard, two motion sensors which they call Detect Sensors, and two key fobs which they call Nest Tags. That’s it! Of course, I have a plethora of Nest cameras to use with my Nest Secure system, from the classic Nest Cam Indoor to the Nest Cam IQ Indoor, and let’s not even talk about my Nest Outdoor cameras. It’s safe to say I have an obsession.
SimpliSafe Summerfort System Components
SimpliSafe is the only one of the three to have a really extensive system, more common with the more traditional security systems like ADT and Frontpoint. I bought their Summerfort system, which includes a base station, wireless keypad, entry, motion, and glass break sensors, a security camera, panic button, key fobs, and last but not least, an auxiliary siren. Phew!
Ring vs. Nest vs. SimpliSafe Installation
Since Ring, Nest and SimpliSafe all require DIY installation, it’s important that the processes aren’t too complicated. After all, I’m sure you have much better things to do than tinker around with your home security system!
Installing Ring Alarm
The most important thing you should know when installing your Ring Alarm security system is to do it one component at a time. I tried to set up multiple components at once, and it took way longer than it had to. First, I started by syncing the base station with all of its components. This process was a bit harder and longer than I would’ve liked, unfortunately.
Another thing to keep in mind? Be sure you put the larger part of the contact sensor on the door or window itself, while the smaller part goes on the frame. This is the opposite of the way most contact sensors are designed, and it definitely threw me off. Your best bet is to follow Ring’s video tutorials exactly. If you do that, the process should only take about 10 minutes.
With so few components, Nest Secure is really easy to set up. First I plugged in my Nest Guard, the system’s base station. When I did that, the edges lit up. Now, I already had my Nest app downloaded, so I used it to scan the QR code on the bottom of the Guard. From there, the app gave me step-by-step instructions, guiding me through a motion detection test, showing me how to make up a password, and more. The process was the same for the Nest Detect Sensors and Nest Tags. From start to finish, I had my Nest Secure system set up in about ten minutes.
As the majority of the SimpliSafe system is peel-and-stick, it doesn’t require any special tools or drilling. Once you stick all your sensors to the wall, you just plug in the base station and sync everything together in the SimpliSafe app, no problems at all!
Top System Installation
None of these systems are too difficult to set up, but I must say that SimpliSafe really lived up to its name. SimpliSafe wins for easiest installation!
Now, all of these systems give you the option to monitor everything yourself or pay a monthly fee for 24/7 professional monitoring. The only exception is SimpliSafe. If you don’t pay a monthly fee, you won’t be able to view or control your system remotely, so it basically turns into a regular old security system (read: not smart). While I’m glad that SimpliSafe doesn’t make its customers pay for professional monitoring anymore, I wish that they could livestream footage, control their system remotely, and receive notifications for free as well. But I guess you can’t have it all!
Ring vs. Nest vs. SimpliSafe Monitoring Options
As you can see, Ring has the most affordable professional monitoring and cellular backup options.
You’ll also get the most cloud storage with Ring, starting at only three dollars for 60 days of cloud storage. With SimpliSafe, half of that time will cost $24.99 a month. The same time period of 30 days would cost $30 with Nest through Nest Aware, which also has options for five and 10 days of cloud storage.
As you can see, Nest’s storage prices are not cheap, and in fact, they’re the most expensive of any security company I’ve reviewed. Yikes!
Of course, with any security system you’re going to want a cellular connection, backup that’ll ensure that your system stays on in the event of a power outage. As you can see, you’ll need to invest in a paid plan to get cellular backup from any of these companies, and Ring only includes it with the Protect Plus Plan.
As far as smart platform integrations go, all three systems will work with Amazon Alexa. The SimpliSafe system also works with Nest thermostats and August smart locks, while the Nest system also works with products from LIFX, Philips Hue, Kasa, Yale, and Google Assistant. And as of a recent update, Ring Alarm also works with Google Assistant.
There are a couple of terms on the professional monitoring chart that you may not recognize, specifically secret alarms and video-verified alarms, available with the SimpliSafe Interactive plan. Let me shed some light.
If you want to know when an alarm goes off but you don’t want the alarm to sound, SimpliSafe offers secret alarms. I can see this being really useful for something like a liquor cabinet or safe, and it’s a feature I haven’t seen from any other security companies.
Finally, video-verified alarms send a one-minute clip to the professional monitoring team if an alarm goes off. From there, the team can contact the police with evidence of a crime taking place, as it’s taking place. It’s no surprise that this leads to higher arrest rates, according to SimpliSafe.
Ring vs. Nest vs. SimpliSafe Contracts
While SimpliSafe and Ring Alarm both offer professional monitoring in-house, Nest’s 24/7 professional monitoring is outsourced to Brinks Home Security. You can either pay $29 a month with a flexible contract or $19 a month with a three-year contract. All Ring and SimpliSafe plans are flexible and monthly.
Ring vs. Nest vs. SimpliSafe Moving Policies
As you’ll install all of these systems yourself, if you move, you can just pack up your system and reinstall it in your new house, free of charge.
Top System for Monitoring
When it comes to subscription options, I like plans that are flexible and affordable, and Ring Alarm does outstanding in this capacity. With professional monitoring and cellular backup available for only $10 a month, you can’t really do much better than with Ring Alarm.
Ring vs. Nest vs. SimpliSafe Customer Support
If you’re having issues with your security system, it’s important that you have a customer support team that’s got your back. As far as features go, Nest is the winner, offering not only an online help center, email and a phone line like Ring and SimpliSafe, but also support over live chat and Twitter. If you hate talking to humans, you’ll enjoy getting support through Nest.
Of course, I had to see what the data was on how well this customer support actually worked. On Google, Nest has a 4.3 star rating, which seems pretty good, but when I looked into the 25 reviews mentioning customer support specifically, half were good, half were bad— not super helpful. I will say that when I tried to get support from Nest, I spoke to people who didn’t have the answers I wanted, but it seems to greatly depend on what rep you get.
Ring, on the other hand, had a 3.8 on Google but a 4.5 from Amazon, with similarly mixed customer support reviews. The exact SimpliSafe system I bought wasn’t on Amazon, so I checked out reviews for a similar, 12-piece system. Overall, the system had a 3.5 rating on Amazon, and SimpliSafe has a 4.7 on Google. I saw many conflicting reviews, which told me that none of these companies are known for their customer support.
Top System for Customer Support
Overall, I’m going to give Nest the crown for customer support purely because of the numbers, but know that if you buy a security system from Nest, Ring, or SimpliSafe, you probably won’t get very consistent, quality customer support.
Ring vs. Nest vs. SimpliSafe Apps
We’re talking smart security here, and that’s why having a user-friendly app is so important. In this section, I’ll talk about each app’s features and customer reviews before giving you a final recommendation.
The Ring— Always Home App
From the Ring Always Home app, you’ll be able to livestream footage, receive notifications as well as crime and safety alerts from your neighborhood. You’ll also be able to speak through two-way audio and view cloud storage. the app has decent but not great ratings, a 3.3 from both the Apple and Google Play stores.
The Nest App
The Nest app is where you’ll arm and disarm your system, view event history, receive notifications, add users, and livestream footage. While it has a pretty abysmal rating of 2.1 from iPhone users, Android users like it a lot more, giving it a 3.8 star rating. So if you have an iPhone, Nest Secure may not be the best choice for you.
The SimpliSafe App
Finally, the SimpliSafe app is where you’ll arm and disarm your security system, control any connected devices you may have, receive notifications, and livestream and download footage, depending on what plan you have. The app has great ratings all-around, a 3.7 from the Google Play store and a 4.6 from the Apple store.
Top System App
It shouldn’t come as a shock that I’m giving the award for best app to SimpliSafe!
Recap of Ring vs. Nest vs. SimpliSafe
So, which is the best security system? I found that while SimpliSafe had the most user-friendly app and the easiest installation, Nest had the best customer support and Ring won for most affordable and flexible professional monitoring. If I had to choose one system overall, it would be SimpliSafe.
But of course, it really comes down to what you’re looking for, which is going to vary person by person. That’s why I broke it down for you (no need to thank me).
Pick Ring if you’d like…
- Most affordable professional monitoring: 24/7 professional monitoring only costs $10 a month with Ring, while it costs $24.99 a month with SimpliSafe and $29 a month with Nest Secure.
- Least expensive equipment: The Ring Alarm Security Kit I bought costed only $239 (not including the camera or video doorbell), compared to the $399 I spent on the Nest Secure system (not including cameras) and the $559 I spent on the SimpliSafe Summerfort System (including the camera).
- 60 days of cloud storage: Ring gives you twice as much cloud storage as SimpliSafe and Nest, for as low as three dollars a month.
For more information, read our full review of the Ring Alarm security system.
Pick Nest Secure if you’d like…
- Long-term contract: If you want to lock in your rate, you can pay $19 a month when you sign a three-year contract.
- Best Android app: The Nest app has a 3.8 star rating on Android, .1 higher than SimpliSafe and .5 higher than Ring.
- Customer support via live chat and Twitter: Nest gives you the greatest number of ways to contact customer support, making it easy wherever you are.
Want to learn more? Read our full review of the Nest Secure security system.
Pick SimpliSafe if you’d like…
- Best iPhone app: The SimpliSafe app has a 4.6 rating from iPhone users compared to a 2.1 of the Nest app and a 3.3 of the Ring— Always Home app.
- Secret alarms and video-verified alarms: Only SimpliSafe lets you silence alarms but still receive notifications if they go off and sends a one-minute clip of your livestream to the monitoring team.
- Easiest installation— Setting up SimpliSafe was the least painful experience of the three.
To learn more, see our full review of the SimpliSafe security system.
If Ring, Nest, and SimpliSafe don’t seem like the right systems for you, be sure to checkout the best home security systems of 2019.