5 Top Low-Cost Home Security Gadgets

5 Top Low-Cost Home Security Gadgets

Home Alone or Away from Home – Affordable Gadgets to Keep You (and Your Stuff) Safe and Secure

Living alone? Or maybe your neighborhood is not as safe as it used to be. You don’t want to have to worry when you go out for the evening or you’re away from home on vacation – but your budget won’t run to a full-scale home security system?

No need to turn your home into an armed camp – just a few simple gadgets can help cut the risk of a break-in or robbery at your home. Take a look at these popular, affordable, and highly rated home security devices for robbery protection. Some of these are quite clever ideas, taking a technology approach to automate your home protection.

See how just a few simple precautions can make a big difference to your peace of mind and safety.

Barking Dog Alarm

Motion Sensor sets off 3-stage Guard Dog sound effects alarm

Retired burglars tell us that they don’t like to take the chance of robbing a home if there’s a chance that a dog is inside. In fact, my home insurance companies gave me a break on my home insurance premium because I own several dogs. If you’re not in a place in your life for real dog ownership, the Barking Dog Alarm is the next best thing to having a big protective German Shepherd in the house. Hey, it’s the kind of noise that makes most UPS delivery guys think twice, so it’s bound to scare off your average smash-and-grab bad guy.

Barking Dog AlarmSafety Technology  International ED-50 Rex Plus Electronic Watchdog, Barking Dog Alarm

A motion sensor detects when someone’s approaching, and the barking dog sound starts up. There is just a warning bark at first, then the barking noise ramps up if the intruder doesn’t go away. By the third stage, from outdoors it sounds like a really ticked-off guard dog like a big German Shepherd is getting ready to launch at the intruder. Run away, you low life crook!

Door Mat Alarm

Pressure sensitive mat sounds off when someone steps on it

Here’s an idea you might not have considered, as it tends to be used more in a care-giving situation. When you care for someone with dementia, it’s important to know if they get up and wander around at night, and that’s how a pressure-sensitive alarm mat is mostly used. But the very same gadget can also be used as a door mat alarm for robbery protection, to scare off intruders very effectively.

Placed to guard most vulnerable entry point, such as just inside your door, you’ve got a surprising kind of welcome mat that will sound an alarm when someone steps in. Yes, you can unplug it and turn off the alarm when you’re expecting company – but whenever you’re just feeling a bit nervous at home alone, or when you go to bed at night, you can just plug the mat cord into the alarm unit and it’s set to go.

The door mat alarm will alert you to an intruder, so you won’t be taken by surprise. And, as we know from recent studies of home robberies, a large proportion of burglars will be scared off by a sudden loud sound. They just aren’t ready to risk getting caught.

Floor Mat with AlarmFloor Mat with Alarm

I like this smart home-security gadget for use indoors, although it’s “weather resistant” that’s not the same thing as “weatherproof” – I’d place it to guard most vulnerable entry point, such as just inside your apartment door, or below the fire escape window, or in the hallway leading to your bedroom. With the remote unit by your bed, a Wireless Alarm Mat gives you an early warning you of any home intruders at night. Way to sleep easy!


Run the cord along a baseboard or under a carpet to keep it out of the way, hidden, and safe from kids or curious pets.

Fake TV Burglar Deterrent

Random light show makes it look like the TV is on

We all know the old trick of leaving a light on when you go out – and you can bet the bad guys know that trick, too. Putting your lights on a random timer gives a big security boost, but if you really want to confuse a burglar, here’s a better idea: make it look like someone’s watching TV.

Sure, you could just leave your TV turned on when you’re away from home, but what if there’s a thunderstorm and power surge while you’re out, and the set gets fried? Besides, that electricity drain will show up on your energy bill.

And if someone’s watching your house, they’re bound to notice if the TV stays on all night. Better idea, try this Fake TV light box hooked up to a timer you can set for a certain number of hours, so the impression to anyone watching your home will be more realistic.

Fake TV Security LightFakeTV FTV-10 Burglar Deterrent

From outside, the moving LED lights produced by the Fake TV make it look like you’re home and watching a television show – maybe with a whole group of your football-player buddies.

What intruder wants to take the chance of breaking in on you, when there are plenty of empty homes to go rob instead?

Place the unit out of line-of-sight of your windows, if you don’t have a window blind to hide it from view. Flick the switch to turn it on, or hook it up to an external timer if you like. Then just bounce the dynamic beam off a wall to give any spying eyes the impression of a 27-inch LCD HDTV set turned on, fading, moving, changing the light just the way it would look if a television show was playing.

One other thing I really appreciate about this cool gadget is the low energy consumption. It takes as little electricity as you’d need to power one of those little nightlights for a kid’s room.

Wireless Spotlight with Motion Sensor

Motion-activated LED spotlight shoots light into dark corners

Shine a motion-activated photocell spotlight in those vulnerable dark corners and you’ll solve two security problems with one affordable gadget.

You’ll see where you’re walking into, when you come home at night – and you’ll see what (or who) is moving around in your yard. Is it a criminal out casing your yard for an easy way in, or is it a marauding raccoon just making a foray on your garbage can? Light is good for peace-of-mind, for sure!

There’s nothing like the sudden bright light of a spotlight to attract the attention of your friendly nosy neighbors, as well, so a prowler is much less likely to have the secrecy he counts on, to do his dirty work around your home.

Motion Sensor SpotlightMr Beams MB360 Wireless LED Spotlight with Motion Sensor and Photocell – Weatherproof – Battery Operated – 140 Lumens

There are a huge variety of motion-sensor spotlights out there, but this particular model has a number of “must have” features – and consistently good reviews – at a surprisingly low price.

I’ve found that a motion-sensor spotlight has a lot of other uses in addition to home security, too. For example, it’s really handy when you’re pulling into the garage after dark, taking out the garbage late at night, or to help party guests find their way in and out of your place without tripping on the walkway.


Make sure you trim back any shrubs or hedges close to your home that could give cover to an intruder with bad intentions. Let the light shine into those shadows!

LCD Peephole Door Viewer

Digital Peephole puts a view of your visitors on LCD screen

Who can see clearly through an old-fashioned peephole? With a video screen peephole you can really see who’s at your door before you unlock it.

Having a screen to look at is especially useful for anyone who wears eye glasses or an elderly person with vision problems, but all of us can benefit. The truth is that the weird fish-eye view we get through a standard old-style door peephole (like most landlords have installed in apartment doors) is just not going to do the job for anyone who is at all security conscious, as we all need to be in this day and age!

Digital Peephole ViewerCannon Security Products DDV-S-01 LCD Peephole Door Viewer, Brushed Silver

There are all kinds of models of digital viewers, but I like the sort of understated style of this low profile model by Cannon. Sometimes you can find it in different metal finishes if the brushed silver, here, doesn’t match your other door hardware.

Another way to go, if your door looks out on a poorly lighted area, such as a recessed entry or dark hallway, and if you can’t do anything much to improve the lighting there, is a digital peephole with night vision function. These models tend to cost a bit more than a regular LCD viewer, but you may find it worth considering if light levels are an issue where you live.

How to Install a Digital Peephole Viewer

Yes, you can install your own viewer – or any competent handyman can do it for you. Have a look at AdamDIY‘s  video here for some good clear instructions on how to install and use a door peephole viewer. He’ll steer you right.

Here’s my own top tip:  If you’re thinking of adding a “digital peephole” to your apartment or home entry door, be sure to measure first, as some of the low-end panel entry doors may have rails that are not quite wide enough for the screen unit to lay flush against the wood.

What are the best gadgets you’ve found to help you to keep your home safe and secure?

Top photo by lumkness [CC BY 2.0] on Flickr


Solar-powered and semi-retired; a self-confessed hoarder of tool catalogs; big fan of spaghetti and classic chrome.

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