Camping & Survival

Home Surveillance Options for the Budget-Conscious Homeowner

According to the FBI,  a home burglary (also known as a home break-in) happens every 13 seconds and is the most common threat in our homes. Because of this disturbing trend, more and more homeowners are now starting to take a pro-active approach when it comes to protecting their homes and personal property. Some are turning to professional security companies to offer round-the-clock monitoring while others are looking for do-it-yourself options.

Trail Cameras as Home Surveillance

It should come as no surprise surveillance equipment manufacturers are now catering to the average homeowner. The good news is with the increased popularity of surveillance equipment, the price tag for such systems are slowly coming down, but can still be pricey. However, there are a few options for budget-minded consumers. A quick Internet search, or even a trip to a home improvement store, will most likely yield you several options for surveillance equipment. Try looking for surveillance equipment in other, non-typical outlets such as hunting and wildlife monitoring equipment, baby monitoring, agricultural and farm suppliers such a horse and cattle equipment store and even at your local resale shops.

A good outlet for video equipment is wildlife or livestock surveillance cameras. Although these types of video surveillance cameras are very similar if not the same as the equipment sold for home surveillance. Often these models offer a subtle, less flashy exterior finish in less-than-glitzy packaging, which often translates to a lower cost. For example, Bushnell offers a budget-friendly option is the Bushnell Trophy Cam HD Trail Camera 8.0 MP Night Vision HD Video camera with video and audio capability. Although hunters typically use this camera to keep an eye on game movement, you can use it as a surveillance apparatus for your personal property. Easy-to-use with a one-year battery life, this unit is a good option for around $230.

More DIY Surveillance Alternatives

Another cheap alternative is simply to make your own video surveillance system. All you need is a camcorder, video feed wire and some type of monitor. This is where rummaging through a resale shop comes in handy. With a little know-how, it is relatively easy and cheap to rig-up. For example, outdated, older-styles of camcorders are great, as long as they are in working condition. You can often find these types dirt-cheap at garage sales and resale shops because they have been replaced by smaller, current models or require the hard-to-find tapes. Some sizes are more challenging to mount, however they still do make great, affordable options and intruders can’t help but notice them which can be a good deterrent. Mount the camcorder in the desired location then connect a video feed wire connected to a TV or computer monitor and you have an inexpensive surveillance system.

Many folks are discovering their home computers or even handheld devices make great surveillance equipment. By simply purchasing a webcam and some monitoring software you are on your way. Webcams prices range from as low as $10 depending on the quality. Monitoring software varies depending on your computer’s requirements.

Thanks to a shaky economy, more and more people are looking for ways to live on a shoestring and with a few of these ideas, it is possible to monitor your personal space inexpensively. With a little ingenuity, you can create your own version of eye-in-the sky.

How do you keep your home safe? Share your tips in the comment section.

The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (2)

  1. I sell and install home automation and surveillance camera systems. We used to install inexpensive wired and wifi cameras and found that they resulted in more issues than not. Now all we sell are pro quality 1080p PoE IP cameras – they start in the $350-450 range for a single camera, add in a recording solution (NVR) and you will find yourself spending close to $3k plus installation fees for a 4 camera system. Any camera system you can afford is better than nothing but once you install a quality system you will appreciate the benefits.

  2. I’ve also read about people who rig motion sensors outdoors to a audio play-back device and speakers. When triggered, the recording of a large, angry barking and snarling dog is played. Much cheaper than having the actual dog to feed, etc. too!

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