Abode vs. Nest Secure vs. Ring Protect Home SecurityBy - 01/11/2018
abode has held steady as our top recommended self-monitored home security system for 2017. It’s one I’ve tested, and feel confident recommending to others. For most of the year they held the title unchallenged, but with the release of Nest Secure and the Ring Protect Security Kit, abode now has worthy opponents.
|abode||Nest Secure||Ring Protect||iSmartAlarm|
|Included in Base Price||1 Gateway, 1 Mini Door/Window Sensor, 1 Motion Sensor, 1 Key Fob||1 Nest Guard, 2 Nest Detects, 2 Nest Tags||1 Base Station, 1 Keypad, 1 Contact Sensor, 1 Motion Detector, 1 Range Extender||1 CubeOne, 2 Window/Door Sensors, 1 Motion Sensor, 2 Remote Tags, 2 Sensor Stickers|
|Cloud Dependence||Rules involving directly connected devices will work without internet.||If the power goes out, Nest Detect communicates with Guard via Weave + Thread.||Ring claims the system will work locally.||Will function as a local alarm assuming the system has power.|
|24/7 Professional Monitoring||$30/Month||$24.99-$34.99/month||Monitoring Included in $10/Month Fee|
|Keypad||$79.00||Integrated in the Base Station (1 Base Station per Home)||$50.00||$59.99|
|Automatic Arm/Disarm||Geofencing||Reminders via the Mobile App|
|Siren||Integrated in the Base Station||Integrated in the Base Station||Integrated in the Base Station||Integrated in the Base Station|
|Pet-Friendly Motion Sensor||$54.00||Integrated in the Base Station and Door Sensors||$30.00||$34.99|
|Glass Break and Vibration Sensor||At CES, I was told yes, but I don’t see a glass break sensor on their site.|
|Open/Close Sensor||$25.00||$59.00, includes Quiet Open, a Motion Sensor, and Night Light||$20.00||$59.97 (two-pack)|
|Indoor Camera||Yes, starting at $149.00||Yes, starting at $199.00||Indoor Stick Up Cam Coming Soon||Yes, starting at $99.99|
|Outdoor Camera||No, but works with Nest.||Yes, starting at $199.00||Yes, starting at $179.00|
|Other Devices||Image Sensor, Smart Switch, Extra Siren, Temperature, Humidity & Light Sensor, Water Leak Sensor, iota||Smart Doorbell, Range Extender, Smart Deadbolt Lock (Nest x Yale)||Video Doorbell (Pro, Elite, 2), Spotlight Cam, Floodlight Cam, Stick Up Cam, Chime, Chime Pro, Solar Panel, Solar Sign, Ring Beams, Smoke & CO Listener, Flood and Freeze Sensor||Satellite Siren, Smart Switch, Yard Sign|
|Ships||Shipping Now||Shipping Now||Late Spring||Shipping Now|
|Return Period||15 Days||30 Days||30 Days||30 Days|
|Where to Buy||Amazon||Visit Site||Visit Site||Amazon|
Abode vs. Nest Secure vs. Ring Protect Hardware
All three systems are contract-free, self-monitored security systems with the option to add professional monitoring and police dispatch. They all start with a base station, are easy to install on your own, and use wireless, battery-powered equipment.
Nest Secure Equipment
The brains of the Nest system is called Nest Guard which is an all-in-one device. Nest Guard has an 85dB siren, a keypad, motion sensor, and it communicates with all of your other Nest Secure sensors. Guard communicates using Weave over a Thread network which means that it can communicate with its sensors even if you lose internet and power.
The Nest Guard motion sensor can detect motion within a 90° field of view up to 10 feet away. It also includes tamper detection as well as a proximity sensor (wakes on approach) and will let you know if it’s moved or if someone tries to jam your signal.
What sets Nest Guard apart from the abode base station is its intuitive nature. First of all, the integrated keypad is a smart choice because let’s face it, phones get lost. In addition to a keypad which accepts a numeric passcode, Guard has several buttons. You can press a button to quickly swap between modes (alarm off, home and guarding, and away and guarding) or you can press for immediate help using the panic button.
Second, there is an LED ring that will indicate system status, something that is noticeably missing from abode’s base station. Finally, Nest Guard has a voice. Of course, it’s no Google Home, but it will provide useful information. For example, when you arm your system, there is an arm delay which allows you to exit your home without setting off the alarm. Instead of an annoying beep that continues until the system arms, Nest Guard uses a friendly voice to tell you how much time you have left.
Finally, while I’m not sure if Nest Guard will require Ethernet like abode’s base station (iota does not require Ethernet), I’m inclined to guess that Ethernet is not required. Nest likes to make things easy and they usually send everything you need, including batteries, to get your device up and running. A quick glance at the packing list indicates that Nest Guard ships with a 6 ft. cable with a power adapter and CR123 batteries for the sensors. That’s it.
In addition to Nest Guard, Nest sells two sensors. The first is Nest Detect, which is a door/window sensor. The second device is called Nest Tag and it is essentially a key fob. To use the Nest Tag, you simply tap it on Nest Guard to arm and disarm your system. While Nest doesn’t offer the usual home security sensors, Nest Detect is multi-purpose.
Nest Detect is a door sensor, a motion sensor (15-foot range, 54° field of view), a night light (lights up at night when you walk by), and it uses “Quiet Open.” Quiet Open allows you to bypass an armed sensor simply by touching it. For example, if your system is armed, but you want to check the weather outside, you can press the sensor, and open your door. While I’ve heard only praise for this feature, my initial reaction was that it seems like a security flaw. Your teenagers, for example, can press the sensor and sneak out. I have confirmed with Nest that the sensor lacks a way to identify the bypasser such as a fingerprint reader.
abode Security Equipment
With abode, you have two paths to security: the Gateway and iota.
The Gateway supports Z-Wave and Zigbee devices, and it’s WiFi-enabled. It does require Ethernet and power, but it has a cellular chip which you can pay to activate for backup. Like the Nest base station, abode’s base station also includes a siren (95db).
The abode Gateway also supports limited local functionality. This is in part thanks to the Gateway’s ability to communicate using its own proprietary protocol called abodeRF. If your internet goes down, your automated rules will continue to run, assuming that the devices involved are connected to the Gateway directly and not through a third-party service like IFTTT.
The abode Gateway is responsible for communicating with and controlling all connected devices. Compared to Nest Secure, abode offers a wider array of equipment. Unfortunately, their equipment isn’t as modern looking as Nest’s nor do they offer any multi-purpose devices. However, they do sell everything you need to secure your home. Each Gateway can support up to 150 connected devices and up to six IP Streaming Cameras.
Take everything I just said about Gateway and replicate it for iota. iota is basically the same as the Gateway with a few differences.
First of all, iota can function as a standalone security system. It’s an all-in-one device with a FHD camera and a built-in motion detector. Second, it does not require Ethernet. Third, it’s HomeKit enabled. Fourth, it’s not yet shipping but will start shipping this spring.
Both iota and the abode Gateway work with all of abode’s sensors.
First of all, abode sells several door/windows contacts that will notify you of open and close movement. Their classic Door Sensor boasts a battery life of 8-10 years.
Second, they sell a wireless keypad which can support up to 40 unique codes and includes an LED indicator so you can quickly see if your system is armed or disarmed.
Third, they sell a key fob which you can use to arm and disarm your system with a click.
Of course, abode sells lots of other sensors including an acoustic glass break sensor, motion sensors, image sensors, occupancy sensors, system status indicators, and even a temperature, humidity, and light sensor.
Ring Protect Security Kit
There are two things that set Ring apart. One, it’s cheaper than both abode and Nest. Two, you can start with the Protect Security Kit or you can build your own kit.
No matter which path you choose, you will start with the Protect Base Station. The base station connects to Ring Protect devices as well as Ring cameras including their line of doorbells. The Base Station can also connect to third-party devices using Z-Wave, Zigbee, Wi-Fi, or Bluetooth. Like abode and Nest, Ring Protect’s Base Station includes battery backup, an integrated siren (104db), and a cellular chip which you can activate by paying just $10 per month. Finally, while you can connect to the Base Station via Ethernet, it’s not required.
Ring also sells several security sensors. First is the keypad. The keypad runs on battery power and you can wall mount it or place it on a flat surface. In addition to arming and disarming your system, the Keypad Control Panel allows you to choose between Armed Away and Armed Home. When using the keypad to arm your system, it provides a 30-second grace period to reduce false alarms.
Second, Ring sells a contact sensor. The two-piece sensor can be placed on doors or windows and will notify you of open/close movements. Third, they sell a pet-friendly motion detector. Fourth, they sell a range extender. The range extender is the only sensor that requires AC power, but it also includes 24-hour battery backup. The Range Extender is used to boost the signal emitted by your Base Station to help eliminate dead zones.
Next, they sell a Ring Smoke & CO Listener that listens for the sound of your smoke detector and sounds your siren and sends an alert if anything is detected. Keep in mind that this is not a smoke detector, but rather a device that will supplement your current smoke alarm system. Finally, Ring will sell a Flood and Freeze Sensor.
As mentioned in the chart above, I was told during CES that they plan to connect to a Glass Break sensor, but I’m still waiting on final confirmation.
Nest, Ring, and abode all sell cameras. Nest works with the Nest Cam both indoor and outdoor, Nest IQ both indoor and outdoor, as well as Nest Hello. Ironically, so does abode. As part of the Works with Nest program, abode is compatible with Nest cameras.
abode also sells their own line of cameras. They sell an image sensor, which will take three snapshots if it detects motion, and two streaming cameras. I’ve tested two of the three. The two cameras I tested were unfortunately unimpressive, and I found Nest cameras to be vastly superior. abode’s newest camera, not tested, offers two major benefits: FHD 1080P resolution and two-way audio. Of course, there’s also abode iota which offers the same camera specs as the newest abode streaming camera. The benefit of using abode cameras over Nest cameras is free cloud and local storage. abode’s streaming cameras support a microSD card and include three days of free cloud storage. Nest supplies just 3 hours of snapshot storage for free. If you want more Nest storage, you will need to pay an additional $10 per month above and beyond your Nest Secure subscription.
That said, using abode with a Nest Cam is my recommended solution, and integrating the two provides one major advantage: more free storage for your Nest Cams. The major disadvantage is that even if you are a Nest Aware subscriber, abode can only store snapshots. If you want video clips or continuous cloud access, you will need to pay for Nest Aware to access your footage via the Nest app.
|No Nest Plan||Nest Aware 10 Day||Nest Aware 30 Day|
|Without Abode||$0 / 3 Hours Snapshots via Nest||$10 / 10 Days via Nest||$30 / 30 Days via Nest|
|Abode Basic||$0 / 3 Days of Snapshots via Abode||$10 / 10 Days via Nest and Abode||$30 / 10 Days via Abode or 30 via Nest|
|Abode CONNECT||$10 / 10 Days of Snapshots via Abode||$20 / 10 Days via Nest and Abode||$40 / 10 Days via Abode or 30 via Nest|
|Abode CONNECT + SECURE||$30 / 10 Days of Snapshots via Abode||$40 / 10 Days via Nest and Abode||$60 / 10 Days via Abode or 30 via Nest|
|Prices are per month, Nest provides a discount for additional cameras.|
Ring also sells several cameras including the Ring Video Doorbell, the Video Doorbell 2, Ring Elite, and Video Doorbell Pro. They also sell a Floodlight Cam, a Spotlight Cam, and two versions of their Stick Up Cam. Most of the cameras are geared toward outdoor use with the exception of their new Stick Cam and Stick Up Cam Elite. The two cameras will replace their currently sold Stick Up Cam and can be used indoors or outdoors. Of course, you could technically use their current Stick Up Cam indoors as well.
Ring cameras will work without a monthly fee, but Ring doesn’t offer any form of free storage beyond a free 30-day trial. Their first plan is Basic which is $3 per month per camera. This plan includes 60 days of cloud storage, video review, and video sharing. Their second plan, Protect Plus, is $10 per month. This plan covers unlimited cameras including both doorbell and security cameras. However, this plan also includes coverage for your Protect Base Station. The same $10 per month that provides unlimited cloud storage also provides Ring Response (24/7 professional monitoring) and Cellular Backup.
Free vs. Paid Monitoring Plans
All three systems require that you purchase the hardware upfront, and they all offer some services for free including free app access as well as third-party integrations (though we’re still waiting on the final word from Ring). However, they all offer paid plans too. Nest and abode have three options: self-monitoring, self-monitoring with cellular backup, and police dispatch with cellular backup. Ring has two options: self-monitoring and police dispatch with cellular backup.
|abode Basic||Nest Free||Ring Free|
|iOS, Android, and Web App Control|
|3G Cellular Backup|
|24/7 Professional Monitoring||Optional On-Demand Professional
Monitoring (3 Days: $8 / 7 Days: $15)
|Timeline and Media Storage||3 Days||3 Hours (Additional Storage Starts at $10/month)||0 Days|
|Works With||ecobee , IFTTT, Amazon Echo, Works with Nest, LIFX, Philips Hue, Google Assistant||IFTTT, Works with Nest||TBD|
|abode Connect||Nest Cellular||abode Connect + Secure||Nest Dispatch||Ring|
|Price||$10/month or $96/year||$5/month||$30/month or $240/year||$34.99/month||$10/month or $100/year|
|iOS, Android, and Web App Control|
|Geofencing||Reminders Only||Reminders Only|
|3G Cellular Backup|
|24/7 Professional Monitoring||Optional On-Demand Professional
Monitoring (3 Days: $8 / 7 Days: $15)
|24/7 Professional Fire Monitoring||First Alert CO Alarm and Smoke Detector ($)||Self-Monitoring Only using Nest Protect||First Alert CO Alarm and Smoke Detector ($)||Self-Monitoring Only using Nest Protect||First Alert CO Alarm and Smoke Detector ($)|
|Timeline and Media Storage||14 Days||3 Hours (Additional Storage Starts at $10/month)||90 Days||3 Hours (Additional Storage Starts at $10/month)||60 Days|
|Works With||ecobee, IFTTT, Amazon Echo, Works with Nest, LIFX, Philips Hue, Google Assistant||IFTTT, Works with Nest||ecobee, IFTTT, Amazon Echo, Works with Nest, LIFX, Philips Hue, Google Assistant||IFTTT, Works with Nest||TBD|
|HomeKit||iota Only||iota Only|
Nest Secure via MONI and T-Mobile
Nest Secure’s monitoring service is provided by MONI Security. Monitoring of Nest equipment through MONI is $34.99 per month plus the cost of equipment. If you want a discount on Nest Secure services, your only option is to sign a contract. With a three-year contract, you’ll pay $24.99 per month. If you sign a one-year contract, the monthly monitoring fee is $29.99 per month.
Cellular backup is provided by T-Mobile. In fact, you can also buy everything through T-Mobile. If you sign a two-year contract for cellular service, T-Mobile will finance your Nest Secure purchase. They require $240 down and will charge $10 per month for 24 months via T-Mobile’s Equipment Installment Plan (FRP: $480). The equipment charge includes:
- 1 Nest Guard base
- 2 Nest Detects
- 2 Nest Tag Key Fobs
- 1 Nest Cam Indoor Security Camera
If purchased a la carte, the same equipment would sell in the $660-$700 range. Buying through T-Mobile offers significant savings on equipment but also on service.
Through T-Mobile, you can combine Nest Aware and cellular backup for $10 (after a $5 monthly bill credit). The $10 service fee is separate from the $10 equipment fee. In total, you would pay $20 per month.
From the app, you can control and manage your Nest Secure system. Of course, you can arm and disarm your system, but you can also see sensor status as well as sensor history. For example, you can see if your door is open or closed and you can see when it was last opened and last closed. You can also use the app’s Remind Me feature to remind you to arm your system if you forget to do so.
So what happens if an Alarm is triggered? If an event is detected, you will get an instant push notification to your phone which you can swipe to open the Nest App. From the Nest App, you can see which sensor triggered the alarm, and you will be presented with two options: call the police or turn the alarm off. If you have a Nest Cam, you will be able to simultaneously view footage from the event. If you’re subscribed to Nest Aware, the Sightline feature will bookmark the event so next time you access your camera’s timeline, you’ll see a red bar. Tap on the red bar to review the footage of the event. Of course, while all of this is happening, your siren will sound.
abode uses the abode app. If an event occurs, you will receive a notification on your phone. From the app, you can decide how to respond to events. You can review video footage, notify the police, the monitoring center, or even your family. You can also view sensor history and manage your rules. For example, you can create a “coming home” rule that turns on the lights and unlocks the door. And of course, you can use the app to arm and disarm the system.
Ring Protect will use the existing Ring app. From the app, you will be able to manage your doorbells, Ring cameras, and your security system. From the app, you will be able to arm and disarm your system. You’ll also have access to Ring Neighborhoods.
Ring Neighborhoods is a service that lets you share videos with other nearby Ring users or anyone who has downloaded the Ring app. The service ties into another feature called Ring Locations. Ring Locations allows you to attribute your different Ring devices to different locations and customize user access for the same. For example, you might have your Ring Doorbell at one location where your kids have Homeowner user status, while you have Ring Protect at another location and limit their access to Neighbor.
Unfortunately, I don’t have all the answers when it comes to Ring’s app access. For example, I don’t know if you will be able to simultaneously view video footage during an alarm event. I’d also like to know if there will be an option to call the police from the mobile app if you choose not to subscribe to their paid plan. What I do know is that they will launch a new version of their app sometime this year. Their new app will feature location-based grouping and multi-cam viewing, something that is noticeably missing as of now.
While I’m a huge fan of the Nest app, the abode app isn’t shabby either. It currently holds 4.5 stars on Google Play and 4 stars on iTunes, both ratings higher than Nest’s current rating. Ring’s app hasn’t been as reliable as Nest and abode, but it’s still better than most.
Nest Secure will Work with Nest, which means that you can expand your system with the new Nest Hello video doorbell, your Nest Detect, Nest Cam IQ, and even Nest Connect. Nest Connect is a coming-soon product that will let you use Nest Secure in larger homes by acting as a signal repeater for the Thread protocol. However, at launch, only Nest Secure is eligible for monitoring. While Nest will monitor your security system for breaches, they will not provide monitoring for fires or use your security cameras for verification.
Nest Secure also works with the coming soon Nest x Yale Lock. Like Nest Secure, the lock uses Thread and Weave to communicate which means that it will remain operational even when your power and internet are out. Nest x Yale Lock can trigger modes. For example, when you unlock the door, Nest Secure can swap to Home mode. The Nest x Yale Lock will start shipping in March of 2018.
Works with Nest also provides third-party compatibility with products like Philips Hue, Lutron, LIFX, Chamberlain MyQ, and more.
Finally, though not officially announced, I’m assuming that Nest Secure will have an IFTTT channel alongside other Nest products.
Through Works with Nest, abode works with Nest Protect, Nest Thermostat, and Nest Cam. Using this integration, you have the option to sync your abode modes with Nest modes or keep them separate. The abode system also offers a deep integration with the Nest Thermostats. From the abode app, you can access and control your home’s temperature and create temperature thresholds. The same is true for ecobee users.
Second, abode offers RGB light bulb support for LIFX and Hue. From the app, you can control brightness, hue, and saturation. The lights can even respond to alarm events. For example, they can turn red if your alarm is triggered or blue if your flood sensor detects water.
Finally, you can add third-party Z-Wave and Zigbee devices. abode has a list of compatible devices on their site. The list includes products by Aeon, Aeotec, Enerwave, Fibraro, First Alert, FortrezZ, GE, Linear, Kwikset, Leviton, Schlage, Iris, Sensative, ZooZ, and Netvox. abode also sells their own Home Automation Power Outlet & ZigBee Extender. The device will turn any outlet into a smart outlet, allowing you to control plugged-in devices and include them as part of your automation recipes. The switch also acts as a ZigBee range extender.
Ring has yet to confirm compatible third-party devices. In emailing a Ring representative, I was told,
We’re working on publishing an extensive list soon.
That said, we’ll work with what we know. We know the Base Station communicates with Z-Wave and Zigbee, and we were able to confirm that these protocols were added for a reason. According to one Ring representative, the system will support First Alert Z-Wave smoke detectors which are also compatible with the Ring Response service. If smoke is detected, the system will call your local fire department. However, while Ring cameras can work with devices and services such as IFTTT, Wink, SmartThings, Echo Spot, and Echo Show, we’ve yet to confirm if Ring Protect will be able to do the same.
We also know that Ring Protect is the first product to feature the combination of Z-Wave Security 2 (S2) and Z-Wave SmartStart technologies. This technology protects the connection between the base station and the cloud as well as the communication sent between the base and connected devices.
Where Nest Wins: Nest has a better design, fantastic cameras, and cheaper cellular backup. Their multi-purpose sensors may cut down on the number of sensors you need, though they are more expensive than abode and Ring sensors. Also, Nest Guard is the most intuitive with LED lights, a keypad, and voice feedback. Finally, Nest Secure offers a 2-year warranty where abode and Ring offer 1-year warranties. However, there are areas where abode and Ring win too.
Where abode Wins: abode offers free cloud storage, and they offer the widest range of equipment including glass break and flood sensors which are viewed as essential home security devices. Also, abode uses an open platform allowing more third-party integrations via Z-Wave and Zigbee. It’s true that Ring offers the same, but details on compatible products are still scarce. Fourth, abode has more home security experience than Nest and Ring.
Where Ring Wins: Spoiler alert on the cost analysis, Ring is the cheapest option of the bunch. They win in that you can purchase their affordable Protect Security Kit or you can build a system from scratch. Like Nest, they have a fantastic camera lineup, which will soon feature a dedicated indoor security camera. They also offer the most affordable monthly service which includes cellular backup, professional monitoring, and cloud storage for just $10 per month.
So let’s talk cost for a minute. For $499, Nest includes a Nest Guard which also acts as a keypad, siren, and motion detector, two Nest Detects which are also motion sensors, and two Nest Tags. An equivalent package from abode would cost $479. A comparable package from Ring would cost $279. However, Ring doesn’t sell a key fob and the kit includes a range extender, so that needs to be factored into the equation.
|Base Cost including Base Stations and Sirens||$499||$279||$199|
|Keypad||1x Included in Base||$40 (With the purchase of a Starter Kit)||1x Included in Base|
|Motion Detector||3x Included in Base||1x Included in Base, 2x $108||1x Included in Base, 2x $60|
|Door/Window Sensors||2x Included in Base||1 Included in Base, 1x $25||1 Included, 1x $20|
|KeyFobs||2x Included in Base||1x Included in Base, 1x $27||NA|
|Total Cost of Equipment||$499||$479||$279|
|+/-||Baseline||NA||Add Key Fobs (+$54), Subtract 1 Range Extender (-$25)|
|Adjusted Cost of Ownership||$499||$479||$308|
|Cost of 3-Years Cellular Backup||$180||$360||$360|
|Cost of 3-Years Professional Monitoring w/out Contract||$1259.64||$1080.00||$360.00|
|Cost of 3-Years Professional Monitoring With Contract||$899.64||$1080.00||$360.00|
All that said, the biggest flaw with price is that purchasing Nest’s multi-purpose sensors may be forcing you to purchase more equipment than you need. Most homes don’t need three motion sensors, especially if the sensors have a decent range. Remember, Nest’s motion detectors only detect movement within a 10-foot range, the abode motion sensor has a 120° field of view and can detect motion within a 34-foot range so you would need at least two Nest motion-enabled devices for every one abode motion sensor. Ring lists their motion sensor’s range as 250 feet, but I question their definition of range. In this case, they might be talking about communication to the Base Station and not the range of detection.
After taking a long, hard look at all three systems, I think both Nest and Ring deserve a place on our list of Best Self-Monitored Alarms, but I don’t think that Nest deserves the top spot over abode. I do think Ring is probably a better option than iSmartAlarm, a system that currently holds the title of “Easiest to Use.” However, before I officially make the swap, I want to know more.
In general, it’s hard to know for sure what the final verdict will be on any of these systems without testing them, and though I don’t necessarily want to buy two new home security systems, I feel like a purchase is probably imminent.
Q: If you subscribe to Nest Secure’s professional monitoring plan, will you get a discount on Nest Aware?
A: You will not unless you purchase through T-Mobile as described above.
01/11/2018 abode launched iota and added Google Assistant. Ring has settled their lawsuit with ADT, announced a new app coming soon, an indoor security camera, and new outdoor lights.