Ring vs. Nest vs. SimpliSafe Security Systems
If you're looking for a security system that works with your smart home, look no further than Ring, Nest or SimpliSafe. But which one is best for your needs?
- Month-to-month plans
- Fast and easy DIY installation
- Reliable professional monitoring
Ring Alarm Security Kit
- Professional monitoring for $10/mo.
- No contract required
- Amazon-owned company
Note: Although their cameras are still available, Google has removed Nest Secure from its lineup of products.
Wild about modern security systems, we were eager to get started when we heard we’d be reviewing Google’s Nest and Amazon’s Ring Alarm, two of the biggest tech giants around, along with SimpliSafe, one of the fastest-growing independent security companies in the United States. Truly, we couldn’t have a conversation about smart security without mentioning one of the three. However, since we tested these systems out, Nest has discontinued Nest Secure, although existing systems will continue to function normally.
From the start, we loved how these cutting-edge security companies put customers, like us, 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.
In this review, we compared Ring Alarm, Nest Secure, and SimpliSafe by evaluating factors like each company’s system components, installation process, subscription options, customer support, and apps. Specifically, we purchased the Nest Secure system, the Ring Alarm Security Kit, and the Summerfort system from SimpliSafe. As we proceeded through our investigation of each system, we hoped the detailed record we kept would provide our readers with enough expert knowledge to determine which of the three systems worked best for them.
Key Similarities of Ring vs. Nest vs. SimpliSafe
We started by identifying the commonalties among the three systems. We discovered they each offered the following:
- Option to self-monitor: If we didn’t want to pay monthly fees, we could monitor each system ourselves through its respective app.
- DIY installation: We installed all these systems ourselves, which saved us money. (Granted, SimpliSafe offered us a professional installation option for $79).
- Monthly contracting: None of the companies we evaluated required us to sign a long-term contract. Instead, they offered us flexible, month-to-month options.
Key Differences of Ring vs. Nest vs. SimpliSafe
We knew the differences we pinpointed between Ring, Nest, and SimpliSafe during our research would likely have more influence on buying decisions than any other part of our work, so we approached our evaluation very carefully.
- System components: While the SimpliSafe Summerfort system we bought was extensive, our kits from Ring and Nest Secure were more minimal.
- App ratings: The SimpliSafe app had much better ratings than the Nest app and the Ring— Always Home app.
- Pricing: Whether we were talking about professional monitoring fees or equipment costs, these companies had very different pricing structures. Overall, Ring Alarm was the most affordable option.
Ring vs. Nest vs. SimpliSafe System Components
|Ring Alarm||Nest Secure||SimpliSafe Summerfort|
|Glass Break Sensor||x||x||✓|
Something we kept in mind as we shopped was that with each company, we could customize our system components to some extent. For example, the Nest Secure system we bought didn’t come with a camera, so we added the Nest Cam Indoor. The same thing happened with our Ring Alarm Security Kit. Actually, it didn’t come with a security camera or video doorbell, so we added both. Basically, with all the systems, we created a security system for our specific smart home.
Ring Alarm Security Kit Components
Ring Alarm Security System
The Ring Alarm Security Kit we bought came with a base station, keypad, contact sensor, motion sensor, and range extender. We thought this was fairly minimal, all things considered, so we also added the Ring Stickup Cam Wired and Ring Video Doorbell 2.
Nest Secure System Components
Nest Secure came with a base station called Nest Guard, two motion sensors named Detect Sensors, and two key fobs known as Nest Tags. That’s all! Of course, there was a plethora of options for Nest cameras we could add to our Nest Secure system, from the classic Nest Cam Indoor to the Nest Cam IQ Indoor. Nest Outdoor cameras caught our eyes, too. It was safe to say, we had an obsession.
SimpliSafe Summerfort System Components
SimpliSafe was the only one of the three companies to provide a truly extensive system, something that was more common among traditional security systems like ADT and Frontpoint. We bought SimpliSafe’s Summerfort system, which included a base station; wireless keypad; entry, motion, and glass break sensors; a security camera; a panic button; key fobs; and last but not least, an auxiliary siren!
Ring vs. Nest vs. SimpliSafe Installation
Since Ring, Nest and SimpliSafe all offered DIY installation, it was important that the processes weren’t too complicated. Our DIY projects hadn’t always ended in raging success. Besides, we wanted to know what the installations would be like for the average person!
Installing Ring Alarm
The most important lesson we learned about installing the Ring Alarm security system was to do it one component at a time.
We tried to set up multiple components at once, and it took far longer than we expected. We agreed it wasn’t a method we’d recommend.
Another tip we learned during our installation was that it was important to put the larger part of the contact sensor on the door or window itself. The smaller part was intended for the frame. We were confused at first, as this was the opposite of how most contact sensors were designed. We did our best work once we started following Ring’s video tutorials exactly. Actually, with this additional precision, the process only took about 10 minutes.
With so few components, Nest Secure was very easy to set up. First, we plugged in our Nest Guard, the system’s base station. At that point, the edges of our base lit up. We’d already downloaded our Nest app, so we used it to scan the QR code on the bottom of the Guard. From there, the app gave us step-by-step instructions, guided us through a motion detection test, showed us how to make up a password, and more. We found the process was similar for the Nest Detect Sensors and Nest Tags. From start to finish, we had our Nest Secure system set up in about 10 minutes.
Installing SimpliSafe didn’t require any special skills. In fact, most of the SimpliSafe system was peel-and-stick, so we didn’t need any unique tools and didn’t have to put a bunch of holes in our walls.
Once we stuck all our sensors to the wall, we plugged in the base station and synced everything together in the SimpliSafe app. We didn’t have any problems at all! Nevertheless, we liked that if we’d lacked time or felt uncomfortable setting up our own system, we could have requested a professional installation for $79.
Top System Installation
None of the systems were too difficult to set up. Nonetheless, we felt that SimpliSafe really lived up to its name, so SimpliSafe won for easiest installation!
All of the systems gave us the option to monitor everything on our own or pay a monthly fee for 24/7 professional monitoring. The only exception was SimpliSafe. If we didn’t want to pay a monthly fee, we wouldn’t be able to receive notifications or control our system remotely. We found this somewhat frustrating.
Ring vs. Nest vs. SimpliSafe Monitoring Options
As far as we could see, Ring had the most affordable professional monitoring and cellular backup options. We also got the most cloud storage with Ring, 60 days for $3. With SimpliSafe, half of that time (30 days) costed us $24.99. SimpliSafe also offered cloud storage separately from monitoring, if we preferred. We outlined SimpliSafe’s storage only options again below:
SimpliSafe Cloud Storage Breakdown
|Monthly Cost for 30 Days
of Cloud Storage
We grabbed Nest’s recent update for its cloud storage pricing and found it fairly reasonable. Of course, with any security system we wanted a cellular connection as backup to ensure that our system stayed on in the event of a power outage. To get cellular backup from any of the three companies we researched, we had to invest in a paid plan, and Ring only included it with the Protect Plus Plan.
As far as smart platform integrations went, all three systems worked well with Amazon Alexa. The SimpliSafe system also worked with Nest thermostats, Google Assistant and August smart locks while the Nest system also worked with products from LIFX, Philips Hue, Kasa and Yale. Ring Alarm also worked with Google Assistant.
There were a couple of terms on the professional monitoring chart that were new to us, specifically secret and video-verified alarms. Those were only available with the SimpliSafe Interactive plan. The next few sections shed some light on exactly what these words meant.
If we wanted to know when an alarm went off but didn’t want the alarm to make sound, SimpliSafe offered secret alarms. We thought this could be exceptionally useful for something like a liquor cabinet or safe, and it was a feature we hadn’t encountered with any other security companies.
During our experience with SimpliSafe’s video-verified alarms, our camera sent a one-minute clip to the professional monitoring team if an alarm was triggered. From there, the team contacted the police if there was evidence of a crime. We weren’t at all surprised that this tool led to higher arrest rates.
Ring vs. Nest vs. SimpliSafe Contracts
While SimpliSafe and Ring Alarm both offered us in-house professional monitoring, Nest outsourced its 24/7 professional monitoring to Brinks Home Security. We could either pay $29 a month with a flexible contract or $19 a month with a three-year contract. In contrast, all Ring’s and SimpliSafe’s plans were flexible and monthly.
Ring vs. Nest vs. SimpliSafe Moving Policies
Since we installed all three systems ourselves, we could similarly pack any of them up again during a move then reinstall our system of choice in our new home. Each company explained that we had already paid for our equipment, so any moves were free of charge.
Top System for Monitoring
When it came to subscription options, we liked plans that were flexible and affordable, and Ring Alarm did outstanding in this area. With professional monitoring and cellular backup available for only $10 a month, we couldn’t do much better than what we were offered with Ring Alarm.
Ring vs. Nest vs. SimpliSafe Customer Support
|Online Help Center||✓||✓||✓|
When we faced issues with any of the security systems we tried, it was important that we had a customer support team that we knew had our backs. As far as features go, Nest was the winner. Not only did they offer an online help center, email support and a phone line like Ring and SimpliSafe, they also provided live online chats and responded quickly to questions on Twitter. On the days we didn’t feel like talking directly to a human but needed immediate support, we got it through Nest.
We also wanted to see the data on how well customer support worked. On Google, Nest had a 4.3 star rating, which seemed good, but when we looked into the 25 reviews that specifically mentioned customer support, half were positive and the other half weren’t so flattering. When we tried to get support from Nest, we sometimes spoke to individuals who didn’t have the answers we wanted, but it seemed to depend on which representative we got.
Ring, on the other hand, had a 3.8 on Google and a 4.5 from Amazon, and their customer support reviews were mixed, much like Nest. The exact SimpliSafe system we bought wasn’t available on Amazon, so we checked out reviews for a similar, 12-piece system. The system had a 3.5 rating on Amazon, and SimpliSafe had a 4.7 on Google. Again and again, we saw many conflicting reviews, which led us to conclude that none of these companies were known for exceptional customer support.
Top System for Customer Support
We gave Nest the crown for customer support solely because of the numbers. However, we learned not to expect consistent quality customer support from Nest, Ring, or SimpliSafe.
Ring vs. Nest vs. SimpliSafe Apps
|Nest App||The Ring – Always Home App||SimpliSafe App|
|Features||Arm and disarm system, event history, notifications, send email invitations to guests, livestream footage||Livestream footage, receive crime and safety alerts from your home and your neighborhood||Arm and disarm system, control connected devices, get notifications, livestream and download footage with Interactive Plan|
|Google Play Rating||3.8||3.3||3.7|
|Apple Store Rating||2.1||3.3||4.6|
A user-friendly app was one of the features we hoped to find in each of the three systems we compared. In the next few sections, we talked about each app’s features and customer reviews. We then made a final recommendation.
The Ring— Always Home App
From the Ring Always Home app, we livestreamed footage and received notifications and crime/safety alerts from our neighborhood.
We spoke through its two-way audio and viewed our cloud storage. The Ring app had decent, but not great, ratings, with 3.3 from both the Apple and Google Play stores.
The Nest App
On the Nest app, we armed and disarmed our system, viewed event history, received notifications, added users, and livestreamed footage. While it had an abysmal rating of 2.1 from iPhone users, Android users liked it a lot more and gave it a 3.8 star rating.
The SimpliSafe App
Finally, using the SimpliSafe app, we armed and disarmed our security system, controlled any connected devices we had, received notifications, and livestreamed and downloaded footage, depending on what plan we had.
The app had great ratings all-around, a 3.7 from the Google Play store and a 4.6 from the Apple store.
Top System App
It was no surprise when we gave the award for best app to SimpliSafe!
Recap of Ring vs. Nest vs. SimpliSafe
So, which was the best security system? We 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. We decided that if we had to choose one system overall, it would be SimpliSafe. Of course, we recognized that selecting a security system usually comes down to an individual household’s needs and preferences. With this in mind, we broke down our comparison in detail below, noting that Nest Secure has been taken off the market.
We chose Ring when we needed…
- Most affordable professional monitoring: 24/7 professional monitoring only costed $10 a month with Ring, while it costed $24.99 a month with SimpliSafe and $29 a month with Nest Secure.
- Least expensive equipment: We purchased our Ring Alarm Security Kit for only $239 (not including the camera or video doorbell), compared to the $399 we spent on the Nest Secure system (not including cameras) and the $559 we spent on the SimpliSafe Summerfort System (including the camera).
- 60 days of cloud storage: Ring gave us twice as much cloud storage as SimpliSafe and Nest for as low as $3.
For more information, read our full review of the Ring Alarm security system.
We picked SimpliSafe when we wanted…
- Best iPhone app: The SimpliSafe app had a 4.6 rating from iPhone users compared to Nest’s 2.1 app rating and the 3.3 earned by the Ring— Always Home app.
- Secret alarms and video-verified alarms: Only SimpliSafe gave us silent alarms with smartphone notifications and sent one-minute clips of our livestream to the monitoring team when an alarm went off.
- Easiest installation—SimpliSafe was the least painful installation experience of the three.
To learn more, see our full review of the SimpliSafe security system.
Ring vs. Nest vs. SimpliSafe FAQs
What is better, Ring or SimpliSafe?
Ring and SimpliSafe both offer great products, but we prefer Ring because it costs less and allows us self-monitor while still using the app.
Which is better, Ring or Nest?
Nest has better cameras and video doorbells than Ring, but if you want a security system, only Ring offers it, currently.
Is SimpliSafe better than ADT?
We prefer SimpliSafe over ADT. With SimpliSafe we got easier installation, more affordable and flexible professional monitoring options, and better customer support.