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Nest Secure vs. Ring Alarm: Which should you buy?

Ring Alarm 2nd Gen
Ring Alarm 2nd Gen (Image credit: Ring)

Ring Alarm (2nd Gen)

Ring Alarm Second Gen Render

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If you have a smaller home — or just don't want to spend too much on your first security system — the Ring Alarm system may be for you. It is scaleable, connects with all the pieces you need to get started, and works wonderfully with Amazon's Alexa smart assistant, Echo speakers, and Fire TV and tablet devices.

Ring Alarm (2nd Gen)

Modular security

Cheaper than the Nest system
Includes all the pieces you need to get going
No long-term commitments or cancellation fees
With Ring Protect Plus plan, you can get 24/7 monitoring
Includes single-purpose sensors compared to the Nest system
Doesn't play well with Google Assistant

Nest Secure

Google Nest Secure Alarm System

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If you have other Nest equipment and think the Google Assistant is another family member, this is the security system for you. You can use the same Google Home app that you use for your thermostat to activate your alarm and get alerts. And if you already have a Nest camera, that'll make your security system that much better.

Nest Secure

Innovative integration

Integrates smoothly with other Nest and Google products
Includes more versatile sensors in the box
Included Nest Tags are an easy and ingenious way to access your home securely
No long-term commitments or cancellation fees
More expensive than Ring Alarm
Doesn't play well with Amazon Alexa
Professional monitoring is an additional expense above Nest Aware plans

Both the Ring Alarm and the Nest Secure are excellent choices for your home security system. But dig a little deeper, and there are a few differences that should help you decide which is better for you. A lot of it comes down to a couple of factors: do you already have Nest/Google or Ring/Amazon devices, and how much money you're willing to spend.

Ring Alarm (2nd Gen) vs. Nest Secure

Ring Alarm (2nd Gen)Nest Secure
KeypadYesYes
Motion DetectorYes, one includedYes, two included (Nest Detect sensors)
Contact SensorYes, one includedYes, two included (Nest Detect sensors)
Range ExtenderYes, one includedSeparate purchase
Separate Remote ControllersNoYes, two Nest Tags included
Home Monitoring Plans?Yes; Ring Protect subscriptions availableYes; Nest Aware subscriptions available
Smart home integrationYesYes

Ring a ling

The Ring Alarm starts off being cheaper than the Nest Secure, and will likely still end up being cheaper when all is said and done. It only includes one motion detector and contact sensor (the thing you wear to tell the alarm to trust you), but buying more of these is well within the $50-$100 you'll save compared to the Nest system. The Ring Alarm setup is exceptionally customizable and modular, and you can add additional components depending on your home size and budget. Other motion detectors, flood & freeze sensors, smoke and carbon monoxide sensors, and panic buttons are all available, affordable extensions to round out your Ring Alarm setup. This doesn't even count the plethora of Ring security lights and cameras that can all be connected and controlled with Alexa and the Ring app.

Since Ring offers smaller starter kits and custom build-to-order setups, the system is a better fit for those that have more modest homes and less area to cover. That way, if you don't need to buy extras, you can keep your costs down. Additionally, if you do have a smaller home and only have one camera (or video doorbell) connected, the Basic Ring Protect plan is only $3 a month. That's half as much as the entry-level Nest Aware plan. Pay for what you need!

Best Nest

The range is a big consideration since a sensor that can't talk to other sensors is rather useless. Nest says its Detect sensors will work up to 50 feet away from the main Secure sensor, but this can be shorter depending on interference from other gadgets in your home. If you need the Detect sensor to reach further, you'll need to spend extra money on a Nest Connect (opens in new tab) range extender. Ring includes a range extender in the box, so interference and dropouts should be less of an issue. It's also another thing to consider if you don't want to spend a lot of money. Where Nest's Detect Sensors really win out, though, is in their versatility. They can function as both motion detectors and contact sensors, whereas these are separate sensor devices with Ring (and most other security systems).

You can make a convincing argument that the Nest Secure hardware and related products are superior to Ring's offerings. When paired with a Nest Hello video doorbell with its package detection, person detection, and pre-recorded responses, you've got a powerful porch-monitor. The excellent Nest Hub Max smart speaker and screen can also double as a Nest camera in your home. And the Nest Tags are an ingenious way to disable your security system and are perfect for latch key kids or visiting friends and family.

Nest recently announced a revamped version of their Nest Aware monitoring plans, which are more comprehensive in coverage and competitive in price. While it's true you can save money on a Ring Protect plan if you have only one device, Nest's plans now cover unlimited devices. The one downside is that third-party security monitoring is an extra fee on top of that subscription.

Who's watching your home?

Each of these great alarm systems can be enhanced with video recording and monitoring plans, which of course, only work with their respective brands. While you don't need to subscribe to Ring Protect or Nest Aware for your security system to work, having a plan can undoubtedly improve your peace of mind. To read up on the features, similarities, and differences of each monitoring plan, be sure to check out our comparison of the Ring Protect vs. Nest Aware.

The real difference, however, comes down to what's already in your home. If you're a Google die-hard, there's a good chance you already have a Nest thermostat, camera, or Nest Hub device in your home. If you do, getting another Nest product may be worth the extra cost since the Nest Secure's motion detector can work in conjunction with a Nest camera, and you'd be able to control everything from one application instead of two. Of course, if you're heavily invested in the Google Assistant ecosystem, the Nest Secure alarm just makes sense.

While Ring has been in the news a lot over the past year, the fact is that the company makes high quality, affordable home security devices that are easy to connect to your Amazon Alexa-controlled smart home securely. The Ring systems are more scalable and customizable at this point, and while you can end up spending a lot of money on them, you can also adjust your coverage to fit your budget. For this reason, it's our pick in this close-fought match.