They say home is where the heart is, but home is also where your family, pets, and possessions reside. Keeping those things safe is a top priority for most people, but these days, security involves much more than deadbolts and loud alarm systems. Over the last several years, smart technology and artificial intelligence systems have changed the face of the home security market, and you now have the ability to view your home via cameras or do things like open your gate or lock a door with a tap of your finger, even when you are not at home.
While these technological advances are great, combing through the options to choose the best home security system can feel like a big undertaking. More often than not, homeowners get overwhelmed by choices and the potentially high costs and forgo selecting a system altogether, which potentially leaves their homes vulnerable to break-ins or other security issues. However, there are several easy and affordable options on the market. The following overview will help you make a more informed choice on how to secure your home, even on a budget.
Easy and affordable home security
Many families are put off by home security because of all the fancy and elaborate options available. It seems extraordinarily expensive to outfit a home with the right safety devices necessary, but the truth is that you don’t have to spend a fortune to make your home safer. There are plenty of cost-effective ways to keep the family safe with just a little creativity and a few minor investments.
Cheap yet effective security
There are many ways to leverage home security in your home without spending a fortune.
Wyze Cam Pan v2
- Best for digital zoom
- Average cost: $43.99
The Wyze Cam Pan v2 offers a clear picture with an advanced 1080p color night vision resolution, 110°/sec rotation, and its signature Pan ScanTM for a full panoramic view. You won’t miss anything with a 360° horizontal range, 93° vertical range, and 8x digital zoom, plus six invisible infrared LEDs. The camera automatically detects motions, tagging and tracking for easy reference later or in real-time. Even better, the whole thing is compatible with Alexa and Google Home for easy command throughout your home. Upgraded features include real two-way audio, a mini siren, scheduling and automation options. Wyze also offers a myriad of other home security devices if you are looking to expand beyond just cameras.
SV3C Outdoor Wi-Fi Camera
- Best for seniors and new users
- Average cost: $41.99
The SV3C Outdoor Wi-Fi Camera will keep an eye on the perimeter of your property with a 1080p IP camera that offers full night vision. There is built-in motion detection with automatic alerts and it is compatible with a 64GB SD card for your MPEG-4 or AVI footage (not included with camera). The aluminum design receives an IP66 waterproof rating, so it’s safe for the elements. Plus, there’s an easy Wi-Fi and wireless setup, so you don’t have to be tech-savvy to get the camera up and running. It makes it a great fit for those who are newer to home security and appreciate a simpler setup.
Yi Dome Camera
- Best for cloud security and storage
- Average cost: $33.99
The Yi Dome Camera from Yi Technology comes in 720p HD with full 360° coverage through both 345° horizontal and 115° vertical rotation. Night vision delivers a crystal-clear picture, thanks to eight different infrared LED beads. That means the camera offers viewing of 3 meters in complete darkness and without any light pollution that can impact your family’s sleep. Yi Technology highly prioritizes your security, with highly-encrypted cloud-based security to keep all of your data private and secure, plus an optional privacy cover for extra security when you are not using it. There are tons of easy features for added convenience, such as a built-in 2-way microphone with intercom and the optional hands-free mode, with real-time alerts and automatic 10-second motion tracking when it detects movement.
- Best for widespread monitoring
- Average price: $26.99
The Wansview Q5 is a Wi-Fi-enabled live IP camera with 1080P HD picture that is advertised to suit a whole host of purposes, such as a baby, pet or nanny cam. There is a motion detector with a built-in microphone, 2-way audio, and night vision, plus the system works with Alexa to offer voice command and storage is through the Cloud. There are 4 different IR LEDs that offer images even in complete darkness for up to 5 meters without light pollution. However, the Wansview Q5 is only compatible with 2.4G Wi-Fi, so 5G users may want to consider a different product.
- Best for advanced AI tech
- Average cost: $33.99
The ZOSI C190 Wireless Outdoor Security Camera is one smart camera offering two-way audio, motion alerts, smart 12-piece lights, a high-pitch 85 dB alarm, and color night vision for up to 80 feet. This camera does require connecting to the power supply, but features an IP67 Waterproof design and supports SD Card Storage. Most impressively, Zosi features smart technology that utilizes AI for human detection. That means your camera can recognize body shapes and face patterns, triggering automatic motion alerts when necessary, so you don’t get bogged down by animals, leaves, or birds. However, this camera does not support 5g WiFi.
- Best for a compact model
- Average cost: $34.99 each or $64.99 for two
The Blink Mini camera is a 1080P HD camera meant for the interior of your home with a simple plug-in design. You can customize motion detection zones with smartphone alerts, and there’s a non-continuous live feed with motion detection and two-way audio. It’s compatible with Alexa and pairs with other Alexa-enabled devices, too. You have the choice of one camera or two in a compact, space-efficient design, and it comes with a free trial of Blink cloud storage so you can take the service for a test drive before you decide to buy. Blink Cameras are also available in outdoor versions so you can customize your security package for your needs.
eufy security Floodlight Camera E
- Best for smart lighting
- Average cost: $199
The eufy security Floodlight Camera E offers 2k surveillance with live stream and recorded video capabilities. With built-in AI features to detect body shape, you will only be alerted when a person approaches the camera, and you can trigger a loud 100dB siren or utilize 2-way audio when necessary. The main feature is the 2,000-lumen motion-activated flood lights that illuminate the entire viewing area, alerting you to any intruders and ensuring a crisp full-color recording. Plus, the eufy security line is known as a one-time purchase product with no hidden costs or monthly fees.
Although the device needs to be connected to existing wiring, it features an IP65 Weatherproof rating, making it an option for outdoor surveillance, no matter the weather or temperature. As a bonus, the camera is compatible with Alexa and Google Assistant, but it does require a 2.4GHz WiFi network.
- Best for comprehensive security
- Average cost: $59.99 – $996.99
Ring offers an entire suite of home security options, with both a la carte and full package options. Choose from indoor or outdoor cameras with optional spotlight or floodlight for extra security, with the added options of video doorbells, smart lighting or a full-fledged, comprehensive security system. All devices coordinate together to offer a full live view with two-way talk and built-in motion detectors for both inside and out. Ring is compatible with Alexa with a free trial of Ring Protect service, which allows recording, people-only detection mode and device protection with an extended warranty.
- Best for full-service monitoring
- Average cost: $99 – $342
SimpliSafe offers tons of home security options, too. You have the option to choose from pre-selected packages or customize your perfect home system, or you can buy refurbished to save even more money. SimpliSafe offers advanced cameras that utilize a unique heat signature to detect humans and not pets or animals. There are also open door and window alerts with whole-home protection, a 95dB siren, and 24/7 monitoring through six different monitoring centers. In addition to SimpliCam, there are smart door locks and video doorbells available. Wi-Fi and cellular are built-in, plus a trusty backup battery to ensure video never fails, no matter what happens.
Other ways to secure your home
There are other ways that you can deter would-be vandals with some simple tips like these.
- Keep a large dog bowl on your porch.
Criminals would rather vandalize a home that doesn’t have any pets, so if they see evidence that you have a dog, they may think again before stepping onto your property.
- Buy a home security sign.
Amazon and several other retailers offer home security signs that you can place in your yard to show the public that your home is under security surveillance.
- Keep a pair of large work boots on your porch.
This can be especially helpful to those who live alone and want to give the impression that another resident lives in the home.
- Use timed lights.
On those nights when you work late or have an unexpected delay, timed lights will still come on at the predetermined time and make even an empty home seem occupied.
- Use your dog cam and/or nanny cam.
Some people may not have a full security system in place, but dog or nanny cams can be a wonderful addition to the home to help ensure our pets and children are protected.
- Add a door security bar.
Door locks can sometimes be tampered with, so ensure doors cannot be pried open with the help of a door security bar.
- Put up fake security cameras.
Even if they are not recording, realistic-looking fake cameras can give the illusion that your property is under surveillance and can still help deter criminals.
- Add the Chamberlain MYQ-G0201.
This handy device gives you control of your garage door on the go with automatic notifications every time it is opened.
- Install a noisy door stopper.
No one likes creaky doors, especially criminals, so the louder you make your entryways, the less likely it is that robbers will continue into your property.
- Use the Wemo WDS060 Smart Dimmer Switch.
For around $35, you can buy this smart light switch that integrates with Alexa and Google Assistant for full control and programmable options of your home lighting.
- Switch to a portable door lock.
Even cheaper is a portable door lock. Made for hinged doors, this door lock can be added to traditional doors as an extra layer of security to ensure that no one can enter unless you allow it.
- Use a portable door alarm.
Like the portable door lock, an alarm will deliver a shrieking siren that can immediately alert emergency help.
- Invest in solar outdoor lights.
Skip the extra utility bill and add some solar lights to the exterior of your property, adding a brightly-lit backdrop to your residence.
- Get to know your neighbors.
Your next-door neighbors can be your best home security system because they will most likely notice if something is amiss. Neighbors can provide immediate assistance if necessary and can also check in on your home when you are away.
- Trick intruders with noise.
Use Google Home or Alexa to fill your home with the sounds of television, conversation or music to make thieves think that there are people home even when there are not.
Apps for home safety
Whether it’s for vacation or over the holidays, Americans love to travel, and that means spending time outside of the home. Home security apps are immensely helpful when we are not home, but many also come with added features that can make them useful within the home, too.
- Vivint Smart Home
Vivint offers a full suite of comprehensive home security solutions, including smart outdoor, indoor and doorbell cameras with smart door locks, thermostats and home control. The Vivint app keeps you in control at all times, no matter where you are, with features like Smart Deter technology, which not only detects danger but actively prevents it through light and sound. There is also access to 24/7 monitoring and member support.
- AtHome Camera
Ichano’s AtHome Camera is a remote camera with live video surveillance. It’s Wi-Fi-enabled to power features like two-way talk, motion detection and night vision, which are controlled via the app. You can also log in using your computer to manage your home camera.
- tinyCam Monitor
The tinyCam Monitor is a free download that uses remote surveillance to control up to 16 cameras with four cameras managed simultaneously. The system can work through private or public networks, IP cameras, video encoders and DVRs. You can control what you record through digital video recordings that integrate with Fire TV and Google Chromecast.
Nest is now Google Nest, sold via the Google Store thanks to a recent merger with Google. There are a host of security solutions, including cameras, smart thermostats, smart doorbells, smart locks, smart alarms and smart smoke and CO detectors, that all integrate with the Google Nest app. You can receive exclusive notifications and benefits like person alerts, Supersight that includes a 4K sensor and HDR picture with close-up tracking, talk and listen in available HD, and familiar face alerts so you don’t get bothered with alerts for a family member
A free app, Presence uses the camera on any smart device, such as an old phone, for real-time video security monitoring. It can also connect to door sensors and window sensors so you can receive detailed reporting on all traffic in and out of your home. Presence installs in minutes, is compatible with most platforms and does not require a subscription.
Simple to use and easy to install, Cove offers DIY home security without any contracts. The system uses a tamper-proof Cove Touch Alarm Panel that features two-way audio and an 84dB siren. It’s also connected to six 24/7 monitoring centers with RapidSOS emergency dispatch that the company claims can cut emergency services response time by as much as four minutes.
- ADT Mobile App
ADT is known for home security, and its mobile app further simplifies things, regardless of whether you are Team iPhone or Android. In addition to offering remote control over home security, the ADT mobile app allows users to track alarm history, manage payments and update contacts.
FrontPoint offers comprehensive home security that’s integrated into one mobile app and protected by the power of bank-grade encryption. Users can customize their systems, which start at $99 and use cellular technology for greater reliability. There’s also battery backup that lasts a full day.
- Protect America SMART Connect
Protect America is the home security app by Brinks Home Security. It is free to download and allows those with Brinks to better control and manage their security systems through remote control and automation. In addition to alerts, the app allows you to view cameras and disarm the security system.
- Ring Mobile App
The Ring Always Home app integrates with your Wi-Fi-enabled security cameras and doorbells. It also taps into the local community, sending instant alerts for motion detectors and real-time alerts for crime with two-way audio. You can download Ring Video Recording for a free 30-day trial that you can use to save and share all your videos for future playback.
Great for home or business, Arlo also offers flexibility in its video cameras with either a wired or wireless option. Also available are smart doorbells and the Pro 3 Floodlight Camera for super-bright exterior lighting that’s all controlled by the easy-to-use mobile app.
The bottom line
No matter where you live, you don’t have to break the bank to secure your home. Whether you are looking for a simple outdoor camera by your entry points or want a full comprehensive system, smart home technology has created tons of innovative options. Investing in your home’s security is just a matter of considering your budget and deciding which one is best for you, and chances are, there’s an app for that, too.