Nest vs ADT Comparison

In this review, we're comparing new and old, with Google's Nest Secure and ADT, the oldest security company in the U.S.

By
&
Aliza VigdermanGabe TurnerChief Editor
Last Updated on Oct 20, 2020
By
&
Aliza VigdermanGabe TurnerChief Editor
Last Updated on Oct 20, 2020

Nest Secure

  • Simple to install and easy to use
  • Google Home automation features
  • A range of no-contract plans
Editor's Rating
8.1
/10

ADT

  • Professional installation on all systems
  • Monitoring centers
  • 145+ years of home security innovation
Editor's Rating
9.3
/10

Update: Nest Secure isn’t available for purchase anymore, as it’s been discontinued.

Our experts performed a side-by-side comparison of Google Nest and ADT home security and automation systems. Find out which emerged as the winner.

Key Takeaways From Our Nest vs ADT Comparison:

  1. Nest is customizable with high-tech home security and smart automation features
  2. ADT is more expensive, but offers the best money-back guarantee in the business
  3. Nest offers a high-degree of flexibility with contracts and month-to-month options
  4. Both companies offer total home protection with high-quality equipment
  5. Nest has more options than ADT when it comes to cellular-based home security

This is just a peek into our expert insight on ADT and Nest. But there’s much more to the story. Read on to learn about the key differences and similarities with these two leaders in home security.

Nest vs ADT Comparison Overview

Key Differences: Nest vs ADT

  • Nest offers DIY systems, and ADT requires professional installation
  • Nest has month-to-month monitoring plans, while ADT requires a contract
  • ADT has been in business for 135 years longer than Nest, and they boast the customer base to prove it
  • Nest excels at home automation, while ADT shines at professional-grade home security

Key Similarities: Nest vs ADT

  • ADT and the Google-owned Nest are both massive companies with deep pockets for research and development
  • Both companies offer comprehensive home protection with 24/7 monitoring
  • Both deliver plenty of home automation features and upgrades
  • Nest and ADT deliver quality equipment with great customer service
  • Both systems are a great value, even if they cater to different people/demographics

Now let’s learn more about Nest and ADT, looking at their strengths and weaknesses to find out which one is right for you. For quick-reference, we provide a ‘Category Winner’ section beneath each of the categories below.

Home Security Categories We Compare:

Age and Influence 

Nest — Nest has been delivering home automation solutions for about a decade. The company was founded in 2010 by former Apple Engineers. Their flagship product, the Nest Learning Thermostat, was released in 2011 to loads of fanfare. From there the company continued to gain momentum and influence, selling smart smoke alarms, carbon monoxide protectors, etc. In 2014, Google acquired the brand, and in 2015 Nest officially entered the home security market with Nest Cam. Now owned by Google, Nest has tremendous influence in the security industry.

ADT — Unlike Nest, ADT has been in the home security space for 140+ years. The company was founded way back in 1867 as American District Telegraph. The original home security technology was literally a telegraph alert system. Needless to say, ADT has been innovating over the past couple of centuries. Today, with 18,000 employees, 7 million customers, and a valuation of $15+ billion — ADT is the biggest player in home security. And without a doubt, the ADT brand is here to stay.

Age and Influence Category Winner: ADT

Companies like Nest and Ring are certainly nipping at ADT’s heals for market-share (Nest has already sold over 11 million smart devices in the last 10 years). But the Google-owned company still hasn’t caught up to home security giant ADT. ADT’s influence and brand recognition is unparalleled. But… this doesn’t necessarily make ADT the better choice for home security and automation.

Features and Technology 

Nest — The much newer, smaller, and more nimble Nest offers a range of smart home security and automation devices. These high-tech devices include indoor/outdoor HD security cameras, video doorbells, the highly-praised Nest Learning Thermostat, and smart detectors galore. And that’s just scratching the surface. Remember, Nest is now Google-owned. So customers enjoy the latest and greatest innovation when they purchase a Nest 2-in-1 home security + automation system. Nest certainly makes the grade in the features and tech department.

Other notable Nest features and tech include:

  • DIY installation
  • Wireless, cellular-based systems
  • 24/7 recording
  • Preprogrammed disarm times
  • Smart home ecosystem
  • Encrypted, Cloud-based Video Storage
  • Voice alerts
  • Mobile app

ADT — ADT also delivers total home protection using sensors, motion detectors, indoor/outdoor cameras, etc. And they are always improving their home automation features and smart gadgetry. Customers can get smart lights and door locks, automatic garage door controls, you name it. The best part — you can control everything from the convenience of your smartphone using ADT’s modern mobile app.

Other notable ADT features and tech include:

  • Landline and cellular-based connections
  • Home automation features
  • Flood, fire, and leak detection
  • Smart switches and plugs
  • Pet-friendly motion detectors
  • Mobile app

Features and Technology Category Winner: Nest 

ADT is big. And big things are sometimes slow to move when it comes to rolling out new features and technology. Nest and other startup home security companies are constantly churning out amazing gadgets to keep us safe. And all-the-while ADT is dabbling in other markets like medical alert systems, fire safety, etc. This doesn’t mean ADT isn’t constantly improving features and tech in the home security space. They are. But they aren’t as cutting-edge or fast-to-market as the young guns like Nest. So if you want sophisticated features and tech, Nest is a safe bet.

Monitoring Options

Nest — The monitoring plan with Nest is very straightforward. It’s called Nest Secure, and costs $19.99/mo when you sign a 3-year contract, or $29.99/mo when you go month-to-month. 24/7 monitoring is completely optional, and many Nest owners choose to self-monitor their systems and save the monthly subscription fee. But it’s always nice to have professionals always at-the-ready if a break-in occurs. Nest outsources its monitoring to Brinks, an ADT-owned security company. How’s that for irony? All in all, the Nest Secure monitoring plan is a good value, but nothing to write home about.

ADT — ADT’s main professional monitoring plans come in four different packages. They are pricier than Nest’s options, ranging from $27.99/mo for ultra-basic home protection, to about $60/mo. for total home security with video and automation. The basic package is hardwired and requires a landline. If you’re looking for a wireless cellular connection, you’ll be spending upwards of $50/mo. ADT is well-known for delivering reliable home security monitoring to protect your family day and night.

Monitoring Options Category Winner: ADT

ADT is more expensive than Nest, especially for wireless home security. But if you can look past the price tag, you simply cannot beat ADT’s 24/7 professional monitoring. It’s predictable, reliable, and offers ultra-fast response times. With ADT, you can rest easy knowing that your home is safeguarded by the highly-trained experts at world-class monitoring centers.

Emergency Connections

Nest — Nest cameras, sensors, and other standard equipment is 100% wireless. The connection is cellular-based. This means the devices are powered by local cellular signals, much like a cellphone. Cellular-based systems are becoming all the rage for a reason — they offer a reliable, high-speed emergency connection when you need it most. Nest’s cellular security systems do not require a landline.

ADT — ADT’s base packages are hardwired and require a landline. If you want to go cellular, you will have to fork out approximately $50/mo. for ADT’s premium packages. Although landline connections are becoming less common, they still get the job done.

Emergency Connections Category Winner: Nest

In many ways, a cellular connection is superior to a landline connection. And Nest delivers 100% wireless, cellular-based home security. A major benefit to wireless systems is that setup is a cinch — an important topic we cover in our installation section below.

Security Equipment Included 

Nest — The Nest Secure alarm system runs $399 (monitoring optional). With this base package, Nest customers get the Nest Guard (hub station and motion detector), control panel, a couple of entryway sensors, and two Nest Tags (keychain remotes). But remember, Nest is all about customization, so you can upgrade your Nest security system to your heart’s content.

Nest equipment upgrades include:

  • Nest Protect, smart smoke alarm and carbon monoxide alarm
  • The Nest Learning Thermostat
  • Nest Hello Video Doorbell
  • Security cameras with Nest Aware
  • And more

You can also purchase Nest bundle packages to get more devices. These bundles run from $500 to $1,150, and well worth the price, especially if you have a larger home.

ADT — ADT’s standard packages include a control panel, central hub, a motion sensor, a handful of entryway sensors, wireless remote, and more. The equipment price is folded into the monthly monitoring cost and paid over time.

ADT equipment upgrades include:

  • Glass break sensors
  • Video doorbell
  • Indoor/outdoor cameras
  • Flood, fire, leak detection
  • And more

Security Equipment Category Winner: Tie

Both of these companies offer a wide range of home security equipment. And included in the base package is everything you need to get started with home security. When it comes to equipment, you really can’t go wrong with either one.

Quality of Equipment 

Nest — Google knows how to make top-quality products. Nest security equipment boasts a sleek, modern design. And every product is built to last. The equipment is impressive, to say the least. But it doesn’t quite stack up to the quality of ADT.

ADT — ADT has all of their security equipment manufactured by big-name companies like General Electric and Honeywell. The home security company has built a solid reputation for offering best-in-class equipment that stands the test of time.

Quality of Equipment Category Winner: ADT

ADT has been innovating and improving their products for 145 years, compared to Nest’s 10 years. So it’s only natural that ADT brings superior quality to the market. From sensors and control panels, to cameras and automation equipment, ADT delivers the goods. With that said, Nest takes a slight edge when it comes to design aesthetics.

Home Automation 

Nest — Nest truly shines in this category. Their systems integrate seamlessly with third-party home automation platforms. And Nest itself offers a lineup of smart devices. Get their Hello video doorbell, Nest x Yale smart locks, smart environmental sensors, their ever-popular smart Learning Thermostat that lets you control your temps from just about anywhere in the world, and more. The Google-owned company will continue to innovate and release the latest and greatest in smart home automation. Nest is dialed-in when it comes to smart devices.

ADT — Similar to Nest, ADT has a strong lineup of smart home devices. Customers can purchase HD video doorbell cameras, smart door locks, smart lights and thermostats, and more. While ADT sells home automation equipment, it’s not exactly their strong suit… yet. And if you want access to these smart features, you’ll need to purchase one of ADT’s premium plans that start at about $50/mo. Not cheap.

Home Automation Category Winner: Nest

Nest deserves victory in this category. They offer some of the finest home automation in the industry. After all, the company got its start making smart devices. For their first five years in business, they sold only smart home automation gear. And Nest continues to offer the ‘easy life’ of smart home automation at surprisingly affordable prices.

Ease of Installation 

Nest — Nest offers easy-to-install wireless home security systems. These DIY systems take virtually no handy skills, and they can be set up in a matter of minutes. With DIY installs, you don’t have to wait around for a technician to show up. You also don’t need to drill into walls and splice circuits and such. This feature alone makes systems like Nest attractive to the average American. It’s worth noting that Nest does offer professional installation for an extra fee.

ADT — Unfortunately, ADT requires professional installation. Although professional installation sounds nice (and it is), many buyers want the option to do it themselves. But alas, ADT technicians must visit your home and set up the system to their standards. ADT’s installation fee costs between $99-$199. The good news, however, is that your system will be installed correctly, and the technicians will stick around to help you learn the system.

Ease of Installation Category Winner: Nest

More people are waking up to the genius of do-it-yourself setup. And unlike ADT, Nest offers DIY set up with all of their packages. It’s simple, fast, and saves you an installation fee.

Customer Service 

Nest — Nest security has a range of customer service resources. You can visit their website to read and watch articles and video-guides, how-to tutorials, and access the Nest community. If you can’t find what you need online, Nest also staffs a decent customer service call center. Overall, Nest offers great customer service.

ADT — ADT boasts an A+ BBB rating. But that doesn’t mean the company is without its critics, complaints, and problems. It’s to be expected, though, when a company has 7+ million customers, 18,000 employees, and a hand in multiple industries. There’s always room for improvement, but ADT more than makes the grade for customer service.

Customer Service Category Winner: Tie

Whether you go with Nest or ADT, you shouldn’t have a problem reaching a capable person who can guide you in the right direction. Both companies offer pretty good customer service.

Contracts 

Nest — Contracts can be a big pain, that’s why Nest offers a no-contract option. Of course, if you go this route, you have to buy your equipment upfront. But they make it affordable enough for the average person. Nest does require an agreement with a cell carrier like T-Mobile for cellular backup to alert the monitoring center when sensors are triggered. The flexibility Nest offers with no-contract home security cannot be beaten.

ADT — ADT requires contracts across the board. Customers will have to sign a 2-year or 3-year contract. So if you’re averse to commitment, you should steer away from ADT. However, the company does offer an impressive 6-month money-back guarantee — the best in the business.

Contracts Category Winner: Nest

Why sign a contract when you don’t have to? If you can afford to purchase the equipment upfront, then you will enjoy Nest’s month-to-month home protection that you can cancel at any time. Or better yet, self-monitor your system and avoid the subscription cost altogether. Nest gives you options.

Cost and Value

Nest — The standard Nest Secure system costs $399 upfront. This includes everything needed to get started, but you can always purchase additional devices for more comprehensive protection. Then, the monthly monitoring plan is only $19.99/mo. (with three-year contract), or $29.99 month-to-month. Nest is affordable and their systems and upgrades are chock-full of value. But be careful, the cost of upgrades can add up pretty quick.

ADT — ADT home security packages start at $27/mo. and go up to about $60/mo. The good news is that you don’t have to pay for the equipment up front. But it’s not like you get the equipment for free. You will pay for it over time in the (pretty steep) monthly monitoring fee. ADT offers premium home security, professional installation, and best-in-class monitoring — and they certainly charge for it. But remember, you get what you pay for.

Cost and Value Category Winner: Nest

This is a difficult category to judge. Both home security systems have their strengths and weaknesses. But overall, Nest simply offers more home protection and automation for the price. It’s also nice to have the option to sign an agreement or go with month-to-month flexibility. ADT is far more rigid with their offerings. But who could blame them? ADT is the grand-daddy of the home security industry, and it’s not like they’re hurting for customers.

Whether you choose Nest or ADT, you’ll get reliable home security and access to enough upgrades to transform your house into the safest and smartest home in the ‘hood. But we can only have one winner. See below for our expert at-a-glance analysis of the category winners.

  • Age and Influence: Winner – ADT
  • Features and Technology: Winner – Nest
  • Monitoring Options: Winner – ADT
  • Emergency Connections: Winner – Nest
  • Security Equipment Included: Winner – Tie
  • Quality of Equipment: Winner – ADT
  • Home Automation: Winner – Nest
  • Installation: Winner – Nest
  • Customer Service: Winner – Tie
  • Contracts: Winner – Nest
  • Cost and Value: Winner – Nest

Overall Winner – Nest

The Bottom Line

Hopefully, our Nest vs ADT comparison has been informative and has helped you on your journey to finding the right system for you. Both companies offer plenty of products and services to secure your home and protect your family. But as you’ve seen, the two companies differ in many categories.

Choose Nest if you’re looking for cellular-based home security, 100% wireless systems with DIY setup, high-tech smart home automation, and the flexibility to go month-to-month. It won’t disappoint.

Or choose ADT if you value a long-standing company with a proven track record of reliable service. ADT also offers plenty of smart automation features. If you’re willing to pay the high price, ADT just might be the home security system you’ve been waiting for.