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Smart Home

5 best cheap home security solutions of 2019

Every one of these will cost you less than $20.

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Tyler Lizenby/CNET

It's already October, which makes the next three months the most expensive of the year for most of us. And as you travel more, your house become 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 are getting cheaper every year. Here are a handful, each under $20, that can help secure your house when you're visiting family or friends for the holidays.

Smart bulbs stop dumb burglars

One of the most obvious deterrents to would-be burglars 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.

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Chris Monroe/CNET

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 gadgets connect directly to your Wi-Fi, and are perfect to schedule and forget about.

Set up fake security cameras

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 device to alert you to the breach.

Buy a real (cheap) smart cam

As CNET's Megan Wollerton has pointed out, "The era of the $200 security camera is over." Today, you can find smart cams for $20 -- yes, that cheap -- that actually offer most of the smarts of the higher end models. Wyze is our pick for the wallet-friendliest smart cam, and it offers free person-alerts, 14 days of cloud storage and an SD card slot if you want continuous recording. That's pretty incredible for the price.

Use a security sensor kit

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 again takes the cake here, with a $20 kit that includes a bridge (which connects to the Wyze 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 for super cheap.

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Wyze Labs

Ask Alexa to keep an ear on the house

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, it's totally free.

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Screenshot by David Priest/CNET

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.

For renters, add a retrofit lock

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.