I’ve lived in apartments for most of my adult life, and expensive security systems for residential homes never really made sense for my setup. But I still wanted to feel safe without springing for overpriced single cameras or DIY systems that also felt like overkill (for my apartment and my grad school-sized bank account).
Luckily, “,” according to my colleague Megan Wollerton. of all kinds — including detectors, lights, contact sensors and other systems that don’t require professional installation — is getting cheaper by the day. And that means you can keep your house and everything in it safe and your bank account healthy.
Check out these cheap home security devices, including door sensors and window sensors, security cameras and motion detectors, many often on sale for under $20. These cheap home security options, security kits and smart home devices can help secure your house and bring you peace of mind when you’re away from home.
One of the most obvious deterrents to would-be intruders is an occupied house. Throw some smart lights into your kitchen, living room or front porch fixtures, schedule them to flip on at certain times during the night and you instantly make your house much less appealing to the more-skittish thief.
One of the most wallet-friendly options: The Wyze bulb. You can get one for $8 or four for $30 — not too much more than a regular LED bulb. These cheap home security gadgets connect directly to your Wi-Fi network and can be controlled with the Wyze mobile app through your mobile device. These lights are perfect to schedule through your app and forget about.
Screenshot by David Priest/CNET
While we’re talking affordable deterrence, it might be worth considering dummy cameras as part of your security kit. Especially for larger properties, where you want to cover a lot of ground without breaking the bank, fake security cameras can make your house look like a locked-down compound at an affordable price. You can order a four-pack of dummy cameras for under $20 here.
Of course, deterrence will only get you so far with a fake security cam. If a burglar breaks into your house, you’ll still want an alarm system — either some sort of alarm monitoring device or motion detector — to alert you to the breach.
As CNET’s Megan Wollerton has pointed out, “The era of the $200 security camera is over.” Today, you can find cheap security cameras for less than $30 — yes, that cheap — that actually offer most of the smart and wireless security equipment features of the higher-end models including night vision, two-way communication and a motion sensor with AI person detection. Wyze Cam is the wallet-friendliest smart Wi-Fi camera and it offers free person-alerts to your Wyze app, 14 days of cloud storage and an SD card slot if you want continuous recording. This Wi-Fi security camera is pretty incredible for its affordable price.
If you’re less concerned about recording specific rooms and more interested in monitoring entryways to your house, the security sensor kit could be a better affordable fit for you. Wyze is the security company that takes the cake again here, with a $20 security kit that includes a bridge (which connects to the Wyze WiFi camera and helps the devices communicate), two-door/window sensors and one motion sensor.
Again, for the price, this security kit is a solid deal. For a small apartment, or if you’re just monitoring your front and back doors, these smart home security kit devices could keep you solidly covered with motion detection for super cheap — eliminating the need for professional monitoring with shoddy customer service or a false alarm.
As a relatively recent addition to the Echo’s feature set, Alexa Guard can help keep an ear (or some far-field microphones) on your house when you’re away. An Echo Dot, which you can find on sale for $25 fairly often, is the cheapest way to get Alexa Guard in your house. But if you already have an Echo, this monitoring service is totally free and can be set up through the Alexa mobile app.
Just say, “Alexa, I’m leaving” to switch on the feature. Then your Echo will listen for glass breaking, alarms or the sound of humans moving around your house (it can distinguish between pets and people) — and you’ll receive a mobile alert if it hears anything.
Screenshot by David Priest/CNET
It can be tough for renters to boost their home security in part because installation can be pretty involved — especially when you’re talking smart deadbolts. So if you want to add a little security to your door locks without much hassle or cash down, consider a retrofit lock like this one.
Devices like these, while not Wi-Fi connected still offer clever ways to add one more barrier for burglars to bypass, which equals a little peace of mind for the anxious homeowner. And even though it lacks any of the bells and whistles of a smart lock (like a control panel or burglar alarm), it’s portable so you can bring it with you when you’re staying at a hotel or an Airbnb.