Does Nest Secure work with my existing home security system?

Nest Secure
Nest Secure (Image credit: Phil Nickinson / Android Central)

Best answer: No, the Nest Secure system doesn't work with any existing security solutions. Nest Secure offers a comprehensive package for home security, but it uses Thread and Weave for communication instead of the more popular Zigbee or Z-Wave protocols. For the most interoperability with existing wireless security systems, we recommend Simplisafe.

Amazon: SimpliSafe Wireless Home Security ($274)

An awesome, but seemingly closed, ecosystem

There's no denying that the Nest Secure, a system consisting of a Nest Guard base station and one or more sensors and cameras, is a great family of products. The pieces look great, are easy to install, and you'll find every sensor, camera, or extra you could ever want to be built by Nest. Everything works well, too. Your Nest Hello doorbell can act as a security camera along with the Nest Cam itself; you can tell the Nest Guard to ignore that open door by swiping your Nest Tag across it; you can know exactly what's going on even if you're not home via the Nest app. However, part of the reason the Nest ecosystem works so well is that it's using a different set of protocols for communication.

Thread and Weave are more futureproof, but not many other companies are using them. Yet.

Zigbee and Z-Wave are industry standards when it comes to internet-of-things communication. They work well and best of all, are designed for devices to communicate regardless of who makes them. Nest Secure doesn't use either of these communication protocols and instead the pieces talk to each other using Thread and Weave. Thread is a collaboration from Google, Samsung, ARM, and others that natively handles IPv6 through an open wireless protocol. Without getting too deep, Thread is based on the 6LoWPAN adaption layer. Thread and Zigbee are working on what's called the ZigBee Cluster Library so ZigBee devices can run using Thread for communications, but not the other way around.

Weave is Nest's proprietary application communications protocol that allows devices to communicate securely through their own peer-to-peer network. Nest has opened Weave support to other companies, but this doesn't mean that your Nest Cam can work with another company's system. It means the other company's camera can work with Nest products.

Adding a piece vs. upgrading it all

If you're looking for a new security system or are thinking of replacing an existing system with something new, the Nest Secure system is a great choice. You'll love how the pieces look and how easy it is to get it all working. You'll probably love everything except the price, but this isn't something you'll be replacing very often so price shouldn't be the biggest part of a buying decision. You won't go wrong by buying a Nest Secure starter system.

However, if you're just looking to add a camera or sensor to an existing system or extending it, Nest isn't what you're looking for. there are plenty of other companies that use the more popular Zigbee and Z-Wave communication protocols, but I'd recommend products from SimpliSafe as your best bet for interoperability. The company also makes an outstanding full system if you're looking at starting from scratch, too.

Jerry Hildenbrand
Senior Editor — Google Ecosystem

Jerry is an amateur woodworker and struggling shade tree mechanic. There's nothing he can't take apart, but many things he can't reassemble. You'll find him writing and speaking his loud opinion on Android Central and occasionally on Twitter.