It’s already November, which puts Thanksgiving and a slew of other holidays around the corner. And as you travel more for the holidays, your house becomes more vulnerable to burglary. So the question is, how do you protect your house without adding another expense on top of travel, gifts, food and Black Friday? Luckily, smart home devices and alarm systems are getting cheaper every year.
Here are a handful of cheap home security options, each under $20, that can help secure your house when you’re visiting family or friends for the holidays.
One of the most obvious deterrents to would-be intruders is an occupied house. Throw some smart bulbs 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. They are perfect to schedule and forget about.
Screenshot by David Priest/CNET
While we’re talking deterrence, it might be worth considering dummy cameras. 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. You can order a four-pack of dummy cams for under $20 here.
Of course, deterrence will only get you so far. If a burglar breaks into your house, you’ll still want some sort of alarm monitoring device or motion sensor 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 $20 — yes, that cheap — that actually offer most of the smarts and wireless security features of the higher-end models including a motion sensor with AI person detection. Wyze Cam is the wallet-friendliest smart cam, 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 the 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 fit for you. Wyze is the security company that takes the cake again here, with a $20 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 is a solid deal. For a small apartment, or if you’re just covering your front and back doors, this kit could keep you solidly covered with motion detection for super cheap.
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.
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.
Read more: Best Video Doorbells of 2019
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 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.