I have been using Nest products for a few years now (since before they were part of Google). I have both their security cameras (recently upgraded my older Dropcams to Nest Outdoor Cameras) and the Nest Thermostats. The Nest products, despite being owned by Google, are the only Google services that I use on a regular basis besides YouTube. I’ve banished all other Google accounts because I just don’t trust Google’s service tactics; however, there are no other good alternatives to the Nest products at this time.
I recently invested in a new Nest product: The Nest Secure. This is a DIY security system that make a lot of sense and has a lot of the features of a traditional security system costing thousands of dollars. The features are what made me look at the Nest Secure: It’s complete DIY with no monthly fees; however, for the more security conscious, you can subscribe soon to a service that will monitor your home and alert the police should someone waltz into your home. That coupled with the standard battery backup feature and optional T-mobile cellular backup subscription pushed me over the edge.
I’ve tried other DIY security systems before, and they all failed at a few things: The first was the shoddy software, the second was the shoddy hardware. Nest does some things very right: They have good software and they also make amazingly good hardware. Since Google bought Nest their hardware prowess has only increased that much more. The Nest Secure is no exception: The hardware feels weighty not cheaply made and makes you feel confident in spending the amount of money you plunked down on the system.
The Nest Secure comes with the base (called the Nest Guard), two door or window sensors, and two tags. Each of the items that you pair with the system (door/window sensors and tags) need to be scanned in with the Nest app on iOS or Android. Once scanned in, the app walks you through the setup process for each. In my system, I set up 3 tags and 3 window/door sensors. The entire process for setting up the base, tags, and sensors was about 15 minutes. Not bad for a full-fledged security system.
The window and door sensors are really small and pack a lot of tech inside. So does the Nest Guard base. The Nest Guard features a cellular radio for optional cellular backup, a backup battery that can last for about a half a day without electricity from an outlet, an NFC reader for the tags, a motion sensor, and the ability to optionally purchase a monthly plan that will monitor the system.
Let’s talk about the alarm features — everything revolves around the base or the app. You can set the alarm off/on from the base or app. On the base you can tap one of the 3 buttons: Off, Guard (Home), or Guard (Away). Guard (Home) activates the door/window sensors, but does not activate the motion sensors, while Guard (Away) activates the entire system, including the motion sensors (don’t worry the motion sensors have sensitivity settings for pets). Setting the system go Guard (Away), you have 1 minute to exit before the system activates, and a female voice in the Nest Guard will count down to let you know how long you have to leave.
When you’re set to Guard, if the motion sensor detects motion, or if the door/window sensors are breached, then the system goes into alert mode. This sends a notification to your phone and email. In addition, if you have Nest cams, it will snap a photo using all the cameras. In addition, the female voice tells you which door/window/motion sensor was breached and begins a 1 minute countdown. During this time, you have 1 minute to disarm the alarm by tapping your tag to the Nest Guard base or enter your passcode on the Guard base’s keypad.
If you don’t enter the password, or if you attempt to unplug the Nest Guard base form the wall, a very loud (I repeat, a very loud) alarm will begin to sound and will keep sounding until you disable the alarm using the app, a tag, or the passcode. Did I mention this alarm is loud?
Overall, I love the Nest Secure system. It’s expandable, it just works, and the app support is great. With most home automation products I’ve been limiting my purchases to HomeKit compatible products only because you never know when a company will stop supporting their apps, but I don’t have that fear with either HomeKit or Nest products.
There are some downsides, though. I have two complaints: The first is that you cannot schedule the alarm to automatically set itself between certain times. This seems like a big oversight to me. I’d love to be able to schedule the system to automatically enter Guard (Home) mode at a certain time, and end at a certain time. The second is that you cannot control the system or view the system access history logs through the Nest.com web interface.
In the month of owning the Nest Secure, I can say that I’m very pleased, and would be hard-pressed to find a system that had the features, the hardware and software build quality, or the monitor/cellular backup feature that is packed into this system for the $499 price.
The Objective Developer is a blog written by Cory Bohon