How to secure your home on a budget

Americans spend too much time at home, despite the coronavirus being a constant part of their daily lives. People are increasingly looking at their home security from a new perspective as stay-at home recommendations help keep even the most active people home.

Home security isn’t the same as it was before artificial intelligence and smart tech changed the market. Understanding the options available to you is crucial before you can make an informed decision about home security. This can be daunting.

Bankrate keeps an eye on the market for security products and services. We not only identify what’s out there, but also determine what investment is worthwhile. There are simple and inexpensive ways to use home technology effectively to protect your family, regardless of whether there is a pandemic.

How COVID-19 changed home security

The FBI reported a decrease in property crime rates for the first six months 2020 compared with 2019. This is probably due to more people being at home to prevent break-ins. However, there was a 15% increase in murder and homicide crime during that same period.

The crime rate is declining across the country, with the exception of the South which saw an increase of 2.5%. It’s not surprising that crime and COVID infections continue to rise in states such as Florida.

The rise in home security following the coronavirus epidemic has led to property crime falling in all four regions. With more people living at home, however, there has been an increase in home arson. Cities with over one million inhabitants saw a 52% rise. The number of vehicle thefts and vehicle burglaries is also increasing.

It is important to consider the specific threats that you face when you shop for security protection for your home. This will help you to determine how to best protect your family, property, and yourself.

Home security that is affordable and easy

Because of the many options and fancy features available, home security is often a concern for many families. Although it may seem expensive to equip a home with all the necessary safety equipment, the truth is that you don’t need to spend a lot to make your home more secure. With a little creativity, you can make your family safer with very few investments.

Cheap yet effective security

You can leverage your home security without spending a lot.

Wyze Cam Pan

  • Best for digital zoom
  • Average Cost: $29.99

The Wyze Cam Pan provides clear images with a 1920x1080p resolution and 110deg/sec rotation. It also features its Pan ScanTM to give you a complete panoramic view. With a 360deg horizontal and 93deg vertical ranges, 8x digital zoom and six infrared LEDs for grayscale and evening pictures, you won’t miss a thing. Camera automatically detects motions and tags them for later reference or real-time tracking. The camera is also compatible with Alexa or Google Assistant, allowing you to control the entire house from anywhere.

SV3C Outdoor Wi-Fi Camera

  • The best for seniors and new users
  • Average Cost: $49.99

The Outdoor Wi-Fi Camera keeps an eye on your property’s perimeter with a 1080p IP camera. It also offers night vision and full night vision. The built-in motion detection system provides automatic alerts and 64GB of SD storage for MPEG-4 and AVI footage. It is IP66-rated, making it waterproof. The camera can be set up wirelessly and Wi-Fi easily, so it doesn’t require any technical knowledge. This makes it an ideal choice for people who are less familiar with home security and prefer a simpler setup.

Yi Dome Camera

  • The best for cloud storage and security
  • Average Cost: $33.99

Yi Technology’s Yi Dome Camera comes in 1080p HD. It has full 360deg coverage with 345deg horizontal rotation and 115deg vertical. Eight infrared LED beads provide night vision that produces a clear picture. The camera can see up to 3 meters in total darkness, without light pollution and without affecting your family’s ability to sleep. Yi Technology is very concerned about your security. It offers highly-encrypted cloud security that keeps all your data secure and private. There’s also an optional privacy cover to provide additional security when you aren’t using it. You have many options for convenience such as an intercom, a 2-way microphone, and an optional hands-free mode. It also has real-time alerts, 10-second motion tracking, and automatically detects movement every 10 seconds.

Wansview Q5

  • The best for widespread monitoring
  • Average Price: $29.99

The Wansview is an IP-enabled Wi-Fi camera that can capture 1080P HD video. It is designed for a variety of uses, including a baby cam, pet cam, or nanny cam. The motion detector has a microphone and 2-way audio. Night vision is also available. Additionally, the system can be controlled by Alexa and stored in the Cloud. Four different IR LEDs provide images up to 5m in total darkness without light pollution. The Wansview Q5 can only be used with 2.4G Wi Fi, so 5G users might be disappointed.


  • The best for advanced AI technology
  • Average Cost: $29.99

The C190 Wireless Outdoor Security Camera offers two-way audio and motion alerts. It also has a smart 12-piece light, 85 dB alarms and color night vision up to 80 feet. It is IP67 waterproof and can be used with either a wired or wireless option, as well as additional SD card storage. Zosi’s smart technology uses AI to detect human faces and body shapes. This means that your camera can detect body shapes and facial patterns and trigger automatic motion alerts when necessary.

Blink Mini

  • The best for a compact model
  • Cost per : $34.99 per or $64.99 for 2

The Mini camera, a 1080P HD camera designed for interior use with a plug-in design, is a small and affordable solution. With smartphone alerts, you can create motion detection zones and there is a non-continuous feed with motion detection. There’s also two-way audio and a two-way audio. It is compatible with Alexa, and can be paired with other Alexa-enabled gadgets. It comes with either one or two cameras in a small, space-efficient package. You can also test the Blink cloud storage before purchasing.

Maximus Video Camera and Outdoor Light

  • Smart lighting
  • Average Cost: $179

The Maximus Video Camera & Outdoor Light provides 720p wide angle picture with HD live and recorded videos, a smart motion detector and a two way intercom with a 100 dB alarm. Maximus sends alerts to your smartphone when there is movement detected. Maximus uses a Bluetooth-enabled AC adapter powered design. It pairs well with Kuna smart lighting devices, so you can not only control your home security, but also your lighting. Maximus offers a free trial that allows you to try it out before you commit to a subscription.


  • The best for complete security
  • Average Cost: $59.99 – $996.99

Ring provides a complete suite of home security options. You can choose from a variety of packages or a la carte options. You can choose from indoor and outdoor cameras, as well as floodlights or spotlights for additional security. There are also options for smart lighting, video doorbells and full-fledged security systems. The combination of all devices allows for a complete live view, including two-way communication and motion detectors that can be used both indoors and outdoors. Ring can be used with Alexa by offering a free trial for Ring Protect service. This allows you to record, enable people-only detection mode, and protect your device with extended warranty.


  • The best for full-service monitoring
  • Cost: $99 to $342

SimpliSafe has many home security options. You can choose from pre-selected packages, customize your home system, or buy refurbished for even more savings. SimpliSafe cameras use a unique heat signature to identify humans and animals. Open door and window alarms are available with whole-home protection and a 95dB siren. There is also 24/7 monitoring via six monitoring centers. SimpliCam is not the only option. There are also smart door locks and video doorsbells. Wi-Fi and cell are included, as well as a backup battery that will ensure that video never stops, no matter what.

There are other ways to protect your home

You can also deter potential vandals by using simple tips such as these.

  • Keep an enormous dog bowl on your front porch. Criminals will not want to vandalize a house that has no pets.
  • Purchase a home security sign.
    Amazon and other retailers sell home security signs you can place in your yard. This will let the public know that your home has been monitored.
  • Keep large work boots near your porch.
    This is especially useful for those who live alone and wish to create the illusion that someone lives in their home.
  • Use timed lights.
    Even if you are working late or experiencing an unexpected delay, the timed lights will still turn on at the set time. This makes even empty homes seem occupied.
  • Use your dog camera and/or nannycam.
    While some people might not have a complete security system, nanny or dog cams are a great addition to any home. They can help to ensure that our pets and children remain safe.
  • Add a security bar to your door.
    Door locks can sometimes become tampered with. To ensure that doors are not pry open, use a door security bars.
  • Installed fake security cameras.
    Realistic-looking fake cameras that look like they are recording can create the illusion that your property has been monitored and can deter criminals.
  • Add the Chamberlain MYQ-G0201 .
    This device allows you to control your garage door from anywhere with the help of automatic notifications when it opens.
  • Install an audible door stopper.
    Creaky doors are not something anyone likes, especially criminals. Therefore, make sure you shout loudly to prevent robbers from entering your property.
  • Use the F7C030fc Light Shift.
    This smart light switch can be purchased for $35 and integrates with Alexa or Google Assistant. It allows you to control your home lighting and program it.
  • Change to a mobile door lock.
    A portable door lock is even more affordable. This door lock is designed for hinged doors and can be added to existing doors to provide additional security.
  • Install a portable alarm on your door.
    An alarm, like a portable door lock will sound an alarm that sounds a siren to alert emergency personnel.
  • Invest in solar outdoor lights.
    Solar lights can be an affordable way to add light to your home.
  • Get acquainted with your neighbors.
    Because they are most likely to notice any suspicious activity, your next-door neighbors can serve as your best home security system. If you need immediate assistance, neighbors can help and they can also check in on your house when you’re not there.
  • Make noise to intimidate intruders.
    Google Home and Alexa can be used to fill your home in the sounds of TV, conversation, or music that thieves might think are there.

Apps to improve home safety

Although we may not be traveling as much right now, one day our activity will increase and we will spend more time outside the home. Not only are home security apps extremely helpful when we’re not at home, but many have additional features that can be useful inside the home.

  • Vivint Smart Homes
    Vivint provides a complete suite of home security solutions. This includes smart outdoor, indoor, and doorbell cameras, smart thermostats, and smart door locks. Vivint’s app allows you to stay in control no matter where and whenever you are. Smart Deter technology detects danger and prevents it by sound and light. Access to member support and monitoring is available 24/7.
  • AtHome Cam
    The AtHome Camera by Ichano is a remote camera that offers live video surveillance. The app allows you to control features such as night vision, motion detection, and two-way talk. To manage your home camera, you can log in with your computer.
  • tinyCam Monitoring
    The tinyCam monitor is available as a free download. It uses remote surveillance to manage up to 16 cameras and four simultaneously. This system works with private and public networks, as well as IP cameras, video encoders, DVRs, and IP cameras. Digital video recordings, which integrate with Fire TV or Google Chromecast, allow you to control what you record.
  • Nest
    Due to the recent merger with Google, Nest is now Google Nest and sold through the Google Store. The Google Nest app integrates with a variety of security solutions including smart cameras, smart thermostats smart doorsbells smart alarms smart smoke and CO detectors. You will receive notifications and benefits such as person alerts, supersight, which includes a 4K sensor, HDR picture and close-up tracking. Talk and listen in HD and familiar face alerts to ensure you don’t have to worry about alerts for family members.
  • Preceence
    Presence is a free app that uses any smartphone’s camera to provide real-time video surveillance. You can receive detailed reports on traffic through your home by connecting to both door and window sensors. Presence is easy to install, compatible with all platforms, and doesn’t require a subscription.
  • Cove
    Cove is easy to use and install. It offers DIY home security with no contracts. It uses a tamperproof Cove Touch Alarm Panel with two-way audio and an alarm siren. The system is also connected to six 24-hour monitoring centers that can be used for RapidSOS emergency dispatch, which the company claims can reduce emergency response time by up to four minutes.
  • ADT Mobile App
    ADT is well-known for its home security. The mobile app from ADT further simplifies the process, regardless of whether you’re Team iPhone or Android. ADT’s mobile app offers remote control of home security. It allows users to monitor alarm history, make payments, and update contacts.
  • FrontPoint
    FrontPoint provides comprehensive home security, all integrated into one mobile application and protected with bank-grade encryption. For a lower price of $99, users can personalize their systems and make use of cellular technology to increase reliability. You can also get battery backup that lasts for a whole day.
  • Protect America SMART Connect
    Protect America by Brinks Home Safety is the home security application. It’s free to download. This app allows Brinks customers to remotely control and automate their security systems. The app provides alerts as well as the ability to view and disable security systems.
  • Ring Mobile App
    Ring Always Home integrates with Wi-Fi-enabled security cameras or doorbells. It can also be used to tap into your local community and send instant alerts for motion detectors as well as real-time alerts regarding crime using two-way audio. Ring Video Recording is available for free for a 30-day trial. You can save and share your videos for future playback.
  • Arlo
    Arlo is great for both home and business. It offers flexibility with its video cameras, which can be wired or wireless. Smart doorbells are also available, as well as the Pro 3 Floodlight camera for bright exterior lighting. All of this can be controlled via the mobile app.

The bottom line

We are living in unprecedented times as we continue to push forward, despite COVID’s greedy grasp. America spends more time at home now than in previous decades. This has already created new fears about safety.

You don’t need to spend a fortune on home security. There are many options for smart home technology. It’s up to you to choose the one that’s best for your needs.

You can also find other DIY projects at a lower cost, like a Goodwill dog bowl or an Amazon home security sign. These ideas are easy to do at home and don’t cost much.

It doesn’t matter what your decision is, it is possible for you to secure your home without spending a lot of money. You can get started right away.