If you’re looking for an alarm system to keep your home protected, you have more options than ever before. From more traditional systems with professional installation to cutting-edge smart tech you can set up in a matter of minutes, there are options for every homeowner on almost any budget. When comparing ADT vs. Nest, it’s clear that both systems have their pros and cons. Our personal favorite is Nest due to the ease of use and high compatibility with other Nest products, but ADT’s superior professional monitoring and battery variety of sensors make it a close race.
While some of our comparisons are pretty clear cut, ADT and Nest Secure both have their own perks to offer. ADT has been around in the security scene for far longer than Nest, and that experience is evident in the comprehensive coverage that their system offers. Nest, on the other hand, is a smart tech company first and foremost, with greater compatibility and integration as a result.
Below we go into detail on the similarities and differences of Nest alarm vs. ADT to help gives you a clear picture of what each system has to offer. Alternatively, feel free to use the navigation bar to jump directly to the sections that interest you most.
ADT vs. Nest Secure — Differences
Difference #1: Hub to Router Connection – The first difference when comparing ADT Pulse vs. Nest is the way that they connect to your network. Your security system needs an internet connection in order to communicate with the sensors and signal for help in the event of an emergency, and Nest Secure is much more convenient in the way it connects with Wireless support.
With ADT, you’ll have to connect the hub to your internet gateway, severely limiting flexibility when it comes to installation. This makes the system less convenient, and can actually be a real problem since you can’t put it in a central, easy-to-access location.
Nest Secure connects to your network via WiFi, which gives you the ability to place the system wherever you please.
Difference #2: Two-Way Audio with Monitoring Center – Perhaps one of the biggest advantages that ADT has to offer is support for two-way audio with the monitoring center.
The main panel can function as an intercom, which is great for communicating with your family across the home. However, the real benefit of this feature is the ability to instantly connect with ADT’s monitoring service — automatically, and completely hands-free. When a sensor is tripped and the alarm system is activated, you’ll be instantly connected with an ADT security professional. You’ll be able to communicate and call for help if needed, which can greatly expedite the dispatch of emergency services and make sure you’re getting the correct response. With the automatic activation, the monitoring center can also listen in on activity in the home, which can be extremely useful in the event of an intrusion while your family is away from home.
Unfortunately, Nest Secure doesn’t offer any such feature, which makes it a little less convenient to get in contact with security professionals in the event of an emergency.
Difference #3: Video Monitoring – Both ADT and Nest offer video monitoring as well, but they differ in the way that they approach this feature.
ADT works with the ADT Pulse Video Doorbell and Wireless Cameras. The Video Doorbell has 720p HD recording with a 180-degree field of view, which allows you to get a clear picture of the front of your home. The company’s wireless cameras are available in indoor and outdoor 720p HD options, with the outdoor camera’s features being identical save for housing that is designed to weather the elements.
The pricing for these video systems is a little expensive for the video doorbell and indoor camera, and the outdoor camera, and the monthly fee for monitoring service is also quite high. However, the more significant downside to ADT’s video monitoring solutions is the lack of support for audio. In the event of an emergency, having access to sound can make all the difference when it comes to collecting evidence and bringing perpetrators to justice.
Nest Secure has access to a wide variety of Nest cameras and the Nest Hello Video Doorbell, and the video feed is higher quality with a 1080p resolution. You’ll need access to the Nest Aware subscription to use these cameras with your Alarm system, but the cost per month is quite low compared to ADT and adds in useful features like 24/7 cloud recording, Activity Zones, Person Alerts, and Familiar face alerts.
Long story short, Nest has more options, better quality recording, and is less expensive. There are basically no advantages for ADT when it comes to video monitoring, and this is a major weak spot for the brand.
Difference #4: Hub Siren – Sirens are an important part of any alarm system, as they alert your family to potential danger and can scare off intruders before they can cause any damage. One downside to the Nest Secure system is the fact that the only siren is on the hub itself. It is very loud so it might not be a real problem, but large homes will be better secured with sirens placed strategically throughout the property.
ADT has a siren in the main panel as well but also supports add on sirens. For homeowners who want the peace of mind that wide siren coverage has to offer, the ability to purchase extras is certainly a welcome perk.
Difference #5: Hub Sensors – The primary way that your security system detects issues is through sensors, and both brands offer a pretty impressive lineup that works in tandem to keep your home protected.
However, Nest Secure is unique in that it also has sensors on the hub itself. This means that if you put the system in a central location, you’ll be able to take advantage of motion sensing and proximity sensing — allowing you to stretch the utility of your security a little bit further without having to shell out for even more sensors. Tamper detection built into the hub is also a major plus, as you’ll be made immediately aware if intruders try to disable your system.
Unfortunately, ADT has no sensors on the gateway or main panel. You can make up for the decreased security with some extra sensors, but the lack of tamper detection will always leave your system at least a little bit vulnerable.
Difference #6: Keypad – The way Nest Secure handles keypads is perhaps its biggest drawback. While the mobile app and key fob are an excellent way to arm and disarm your device, easy access to the keypad is crucial in keeping your home protected.
One of the advantages of Nest Secure is that its wireless setup allows you to place the system wherever you please, which means that you can put the keypad in a central location for easy use by your family. However, there is no support for additional keypads. This might not be an issue in apartments or smaller homes, but on large properties, not being able to place pads wherever you please is a major fault.
ADT is disadvantaged in that the hub is tied to your internet equipment, but it gets around that issue by offering support for as many additional keypads as you please. With a little extra investment, ADT actually becomes more flexible than Nest despite the fact that it isn’t a wireless system.
Technically, Nest offers a little bit more flexibility out of the box with investment in extra pads since you can place it wherever you please. ADT requires spending more money on accessories, but at least it actually offers the option rather than omitting the feature completely.
Difference #7: Remote Panic Button – In the event of an emergency, it’s important that access to help be within arm’s reach. ADT’s remote panic button is a wearable pendant with a separate button for instantly calling for assistance from the fire department, police, or medical services. The panic button is a great feature to have in general, but it’s especially useful for elderly or disabled family members that might not be able to easily get to the panel to signal for help.
Nest Secure has a panic button, but it’s only on the hub. The 24/7 security monitoring services can quickly get help to you in a pinch, but not being able to signal for help from a button on your person is definitely a significant disadvantage — especially when you consider that the system doesn’t support multiple panels. This means that the panic feature is only accessible in one area of your home, while ADT gives access on multiple keypads as well as a wearable pendant.
Difference #8: Subscription – Both ADT and Nest offer a subscription, but the two brands differ drastically in how they approach their models. While ADT locks many of their security system’s features behind a monthly fee, Nest only requires ongoing payments for the 24/7 professional monitoring.
ADT’s subscriptions are offered in three different tiers: Traditional, Control, and Video. Each level offers progressively greater features progressively more expensive monthly fees, and all plans require a $125 upfront equipment fee.
Traditional is the most basic package, and it basically just adds in the professional monitoring service for $48.99 per month. This subscription comes with four door and window sensors, offers fire, carbon monoxide, and flood monitoring sensors, and enables the backup cellular connection.
Control offers everything from the basic plan with some additional features that make it easy to access your security system while on the go. This tier is necessary for remote web and mobile access and home automation, and also enables email and text alerts that will instantly notify you when a sensor is tripped.
The Video package is the most expensive at $58.99, and adds in access to video monitoring services. If you’d like to use cameras in your home security system and have easy access to a live video feed while on the go, you’ll need to shell out for this premium plan.
In addition to being relatively expensive when compared to the competition, ADT plans also require that you commit to a pretty length contract — limiting the flexibility you have and locking you into a long term commitment.
Nest Secure’s subscription is known as Professional Monitoring One and is required to access the 24/7 monitoring feature. As far as pricing goes, it will cost you $19 per month with a 3- year commitment. However, unlike ADT, Nest offers the option for a monthly contract at $29 per month.
With no features outside of monitoring locked behind a subscription, and the most expensive plan being less expensive than ADT’s entry-level package, it’s clear that Nest is much more attractive from a subscription standpoint.
Despite everything that ADT has going for it, the dated subscription model that makes you pay a significant amount just to access some basic features definitely makes us feel like the brand is stuck in the past.
Difference #9: Cellular Backup – Cellular backup is a great feature to have with any security system, as it allows you to maintain the same home protection in the event that your internet signal drops. Even the best residential networks run into issues from time to time, and having a lapse in your security is a situation best avoided.
Cellular back with ADT is only available with their subscription plans, which means you’ll be locked into a multi-year commitment even if all you want is that cellular service.
Nest Secure also offers cellular backups in their affordable 24/7 monitoring plan. However, you can also enable cell service on its own for just $5 per month.
If you’re planning on managing your home security yourself and are just interested in ensuring maximum uptime, you can manage that for just a few bucks a month with Nest while you’ll be paying almost $50 per month with ADT. The lack of easy accessibility for cellular backup as well as the locking of features behind premium plans makes it clear that ADT isn’t a great option if you don’t want to pay a monthly fee.
Difference #10: Landline Connection – Support for a landline connection is possible with ADT with the Basic Plan at $27.99 per month. This is technically an advantage, as it gives you another redundancy that can kick in in the event your broadband or cellular connection fails. However, landlines are dated technology at this point and cellular backups are incredibly reliable even in an area with spotty cell service. Plus, there’s always the possibility that enterprising intruders will cut the phone lines, which would render your extra investment essentially useless.
So is this a perk for ADT? It’s certainly worth mentioning as it adds some flexibility that Nest doesn’t have. But if it’s expensive and not unnecessary, what’s the point of even including it?
Difference #11: Sensors – ADT has a long history in the home security industry, and that is especially evident in the way they handle sensors. You can get pretty comprehensive protection with access to options like entryway, motion, door & window, flood, carbon monoxide, heat, and glass break sensors. If you’re looking to cover your home’s security on all possible fronts — including disasters like water damage or fires — ADT is definitely a viable option.
Nest Secure only offers a motion detector known as Nest Detect. In practice, however, the sensor is pretty sophisticated and will adjust to suit the needs of wherever it’s installed. If you place it normally it will work as a standard motion sensor, but you can also put it in entryways to detect intrusion and on doors or windows to instantly alert you when they are open or closed.
It’s certainly convenient to be able to use one sensor for all sorts of tasks, but even with that flexibility, there are some significant holes in the home protection when compared to some of Nest’s competitors. For example, there is no option for glass break, heat, or water like you’d have access to with ADT. Plus, while Nest offers its own Smoke and Carbon Monoxide sensor known as the Nest Protect, that system actually does not integrate with the Nest Secure system. This means that you won’t have access to the Brinks monitoring service in the event of a non-intrusion related emergency.
Long story short, ADT is much more comprehensive in its support for sensors. Nest has a lot going for it, but in terms of the mechanics of protection, it leaves us a little bit disappointed.
Difference #12: Technology – There are also some differences in the way that Nest and ADT systems communicate. Both systems primarily use WiFi to communicate with sensors and the monitoring service, but they have different approaches when it comes to the technology to support integration with other devices.
In addition to WiFi, ADT also supports Z-Wave — one of the most common frequencies used in smart home technology. In theory, this gives the ADT system the potential for integration with a huge lineup of products. In reality, however, the support is limited to “ADT approved” Z-Wave devices, which is a pretty small list.
Nest Secure uses a proprietary technology known as “Weave” that allows the alarm system to easily communicate with other Nest devices. In terms of first-party support, Nest is one of the most impressive, with their various products being able to communicate with one enough to provide a more convenient and efficient home. Both security systems have their advantages, but communication over Weave makes Nest Secure significantly more attractive for homeowners who are already invested in the Nest ecosystem. With that said, there are some notable flaws with Weave that hold it back from being the perfect ecosystem, such as the inability for their security system to communicate with their smoke and carbon monoxide sensors.
So, ADT has a more widely-used technology with the potential to communicate with a whole host of devices, while Nest has their own technology which is used for easy communication among their product family.
Difference #13: Smart Home Integration – While Nest might not have access to Z-Wave technology, that doesn’t mean that it isn’t capable of some impressive smart home integration.
There are a number of smart products that communicate over WiFi, and Nest plays nice with smart home controllers like Google Assistant and Wink. And, since the company is smart home company first and foremost, there is an impressive family of tech to choose from such as the Nest Hello doorbell, Nest x Yale lock, Nest Connect mesh WiFi, and Nest Cams.
ADT supports devices like the Ring Video Doorbell, Kwikset Smart Lock, and actually even works with Nest Thermostat. Outside of that, you’re essentially limited to their first-party devices — a collection of devices that a significantly less impressive than Nest’s sophisticated smart tech. ADT offers their own smart thermostat as well as utilities like a garage door controller, lights & switches, and smart plugs.
So, despite the fact that ADT has the built-in technology to communicate with a huge lineup of products, the actual integration falls spectacularly short. Nest actually manages to do a great job with integration despite only having access to WiFi and Weave.
Difference #14: Installation – Last, but certainly not least, is the way these two brands handle installation.
Nest Secure is extremely easy to set up. Just plug it in, place your sensors, and follow a quick DIY setup that will get your home secure in a matter of minutes. Plus, the system is very portable which makes it an excellent option for renters.
The installation with ADT is very complicated and requires a professional technician to come to your home to get everything up and running. In addition to the fact that it’s a bit of a hassle to plan your day around an installation appointment, you’ll have to pay a $99 fee to get the system installed and ready to go. Also, moving to another home with an ADT system is technically possible, but it’s far less convenient than simply picking up the sensors and plugging them in at your new location.
ADT installation is expensive and inconvenient, and Nest’s is simple and free. It’s as simple as that!
ADT vs. Nest Secure — Comparison Chart
|Hub to Router Connection||Ethernet (gateway)||Wireless|
|Hub Battery Backup||12 hours||12 hours|
|Two-Way Audio on a Hub||Yes||No|
|Extra Siren Support||Yes||No|
|Hub Sensors||No||Motion, Proximity, Tamper|
|Keypad||Yes, on a digital panel||On the hub|
|Multiple Keypads Support||Yes||No|
|Key Fobs||Yes||Yes (Nest Tag)|
|Disarm Options||App, keychain remote, keypad||App, Nest Tag fob,
keypad, Google Assistant
|24/7 Professional Monitoring||Yes||Optional|
|Basic Subscription||$48.99/month||$19/month, 3 year agreement
$29/month, monthly contract
|Advanced Subscription||$58.99/month||Only one plan available|
|Remote Monitoring & Notifications||Subscription required||Yes (no subscription required)|
|Cellular Backup||Starting at $48.99||Included with paid plans
Or pay $5/month ($50/year)
if you want cellular backup
|Landline Connection||Optional (Basic Plan $27.99)||No|
Door & Window Sensors,
Flood, Carbon Monoxide,
Heat, Glass Break
|Motion (Nest Detect)|
|Remote Panic Button||Yes||No, but on the keypad|
|Video Monitoring||Yes||Yes: variety of indoor
and outdoor Nest Cams
|Monthly Contracts Available||No||Yes|
|Other Smart Home Compatibility||Ring Video Doorbell,
Kwikset Smart Lock,
Garage Door Controller,
Lights & Switches, Smart Plugs
|Wink, Nest Hello doorbell,
Nest x Yale lock,
Nest Connect mesh WiFi
|Technology||WiFi, Z-Wave||Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n,
2.4GHz or 5GHz,
Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE),
|Professional Installation Required||Yes||No|
ADT vs. Nest Secure — Things in Common
24/7 Professional Monitoring – We’ll kick things off by discussing one of the biggest draws of any home security system: 24/7 professional monitoring. Regardless of your choice in brand, you’ll have access to a team of professional security experts that are ready to alert the authorities in the event of an emergency.
ADT handles their monitoring in-house, and security is managed by 6 ADT Monitoring Centers across the United States. With a large team at their disposal, you can rest assured that you’ll receive a fast response in the event of an emergency. Plus, support for cellular and landline connections ensure emergencies never leave you without easy access to assistance.
Nest Secure uses Brinks for their home monitoring services, which is one of the most widely recognized brands. They have a huge amount of experience with security across the board and currently provide monitoring services to more than 1 million subscribers.
All in all, Nest Secure’s monitoring service is a little bit more reputable and reliable. With that said, ADT has its own advantages that we’ll discuss in more detail below.
Battery Backup – If your power goes down, your security shouldn’t go down with it. In the event of an outage, your ADT or Nest security system will rely on a 12-hour battery backup to keep your home protected until power is restored.
Key Fobs – One of the most convenient features that ADT and Nest have to offer is the ability to arm and disarm security with a key fob. In addition to the keypad and mobile app, key fobs give you and your family easy access to the security system in a convenient button that will never be too far away when entering or leaving your home.
That one-button press is a godsend when your hands are full, and the fobs are also the perfect solution for giving easy access to your friends and family — giving them a simple button rather than forcing them to download an app or remember a keypad code.
ADT vs. Nest Secure — Our Thoughts
Giving a clear answer as to which security system is the “best” is honestly pretty difficult. Comparing Nest Secure vs. ADT makes it clear that there are areas where these systems excel, and where they fall short.
Nest has a lot going for it, such as the less expensive monitoring, less restrictive subscription model, and better smart home integration. Plus, you can enjoy all the features except professional monitoring for no additional cost, making it the clear choice for those who don’t want to commit to a contract. However, there are some issues with Nest such as the less sophisticated lineup of sensors, lack of a remote panic button, and lack of support for additional keypads or sirens.
ADT has some notable shortcomings like the need for professional installation, gating of basic features behind subscription models, and more expensive and constricting subscriptions. However, when it comes to the actual protection of your home, it excels where Nest falls short.
So to sum things up, we feel that ADT does a better job of handling the actual security, but it’s hampered so much by dated contracts and significant monthly fees that we struggle to recommend it as a superior choice. Nest Secure does a pretty good job, and is much less expensive, making it our personal favorite in this matchup.
ADT may be the better choice if you’re looking for more protection and are willing to pay the price. With that said, there are options out there that offer comparable protection at much more attractive prices, such as our personal favorite: abode. Check out our review of abode vs. Nest Secure for a look at another competitive home security option.
For more information about ADT Pulse security system, check out our ADT Pulse Review — Things You Should Know article.
Let us know what you think!
Have you noticed other differences between ADT vs. Nest Secure? Feel free to add them or share your experience with the products in the comments section below. Your input can help other people make the right choice!
Last update on 2019-10-19 at 20:00 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API