Cheap Motion Detectors

If you don't have a ton of cash to plunk down on pricey electronic gadgets but you still want convenient motion detection coverage for your home, check out our top motion sensor picks for under $30.
Written by | Updated September 5, 2019
Best for Indoor Security
Wyze Cam Pan product imageWyze Cam Pan
  • Motion-triggered recording
  • 360-degree coverage
  • Two-way audio
  • Motion-triggered recording
  • 360-degree coverage
  • Two-way audio
Best for Outdoor Security
Aootek motion sensor lightsAootek Solar Motion Lights
  • Solar panels
  • 3 motion settings
  • 180-degree coverage
  • Solar panels
  • 3 motion settings
  • 180-degree coverage
Best Coverage
Seanme Motion SensorsSeanme Motion Sensor Alarm
  • 4 sensors included
  • Chime alert
  • Easy installation
  • 4 sensors included
  • Chime alert
  • Easy installation

Bottom Line: Wyze Cam Pan Is a No-brainer

A cheap motion sensor for under $30 is one thing, but a motion sensing camera for under $30? Yes, please! When we tested the $29.99 (at the time of writing) Wyze Cam Pan motion sensor camera and learned that it offers 360-degree motion tracking video with no monthly fees, selecting it as our top pick was a no-brainer. 

Wyze also provides free 14-day rolling cloud storage, and its free mobile app lets you view footage and control camera settings from your smartphone. The Wyze app sends a push notification to your phone when it detects motion, and it will start recording the motion-triggered event. The camera can even tell the difference between people and pets. 

Unlike some of the other devices on our list, Wyze Cam Pan isn’t connected to an alarm or a bright light to scare off intruders, but it does have two-way audio. You can access the camera’s microphone and speaker from your app so you can talk to people at home, even when you’re not there. Plus, it’s super easy to install.

How the Best Cheap Motion Detectors Stack Up

Product Type
Range
Distance
Price
Wyze Cam Pan Aootek Solar Motion Lights Seanme Motion Sensor Alarm Wyze Sense Motion Sensor Kangaroo Motion Sensor
Wyze Cam Pan Aootek motion sensor Seanme Motion sensor alarm Wyze Sense motion sensor Kangaroo motion sensor
Video camera Outdoor light Audible alarm App-based motion sensor App-based motions sensor
360 degrees 120 degrees 130 degrees 120 degrees 60 degrees
30 feet 26 feet 30 feet 26 feet 15 feet
View on Amazon View on Amazon View on Amazon View on Wyze View on Amazon

Data effective 7/31/2019. Offers and availability subject to change.

Cheap Motion Detector Reviews

Wyze Cam Pan: Best for Indoor Security

Wyze Cam Pan costs a third of what similar cameras cost but with all the functionality of a pricier device, making it one of the best cheap security cameras around. It has motion-activated recording, free 14-day rolling cloud storage, a 360-degree field of view with horizontal panning, and 93-degree vertical panning. Our testing experience showed that its Wi-Fi connection was also much more reliable than other cameras we’ve tested. 

One of the best motion features on this camera is its motion tracking—it will pan to follow motion around the room, catching everything on video so you don’t miss a second of the action. The camera also features two-way audio, but its one drawback is that the speaker on the camera is pretty crackly. It might be hard for people (or intruders) at home to understand you if you’re talking through the app. 

Pros

  • Motion-tracking video
  • Low price
  • Free 14-day cloud storage
  • Reliable connection
  • Night vision
  • Two-way talk

Cons

  • Poor speaker quality

Aootek Solar Motion Lights: Best for Outdoor Security

At less than $12 per light, the Aootek Solar Motion Lights are a smart investment for outdoor security. Each light has 48 bright LEDs that give you 180-degree lighting coverage. Features like this mean they’re some of the best motion sensor lights on the market. The lights are solar powered, so they’re easy to install because you don’t have to run any wires. On the flip side, you’re limited on placement since they need full sun exposure to work.

Aootek motion lights have light sensors so they can sense when it gets dark, and you have three different lighting settings to choose from. You can set them to automatically turn on full power at nightfall and turn off when the battery runs out, automatically turn on dim when it gets dark and get bright when they detect motion, or have them stay off until they detect motion. Some customers say the sensitive motion detectors trigger false alerts by sensing far away moving objects like cars. Reviewers suggest putting a small piece of tape over part of the sensor to reduce sensitivity.1

Pros

  • 180-degree lighting
  • Easy installation
  • Solar-powered battery
  • 3 light settings
  • Weatherproof design

Cons

  • Limited placement options
  • Sensitive motion sensor

Seanme Motion Sensor Alarm: Best Coverage

If you need multiple sensors for a low price, the Seanme Motion Sensor Alarm might be your best bet. It’s around $37 for four sensors and a receiver, so you can place them throughout your home for optimal coverage. The sensors are wireless, but they each require three AAA batteries (not included). The receiver device plugs directly into an outlet.

When a sensor is tripped, the receiver’s LED lights illuminate and it will play any one of 38 different chimes of your choice. While the receiver’s chimes sound a little too cheerful to act as an alarm, turning the volume up high will probably be enough to startle an intruder. Unfortunately, you can choose only one chime for all four sensors, so unlike app-based motion sensors, you won’t be able to tell which sensor triggered the alert. 

Pros

  • 4 detectors included
  • 38 chimes
  • Wireless sensors
  • LED light alerts

Cons

  • Batteries not included
  • Not weatherproof
  • Same ringtone for all sensors

More Cheap Motion Sensors That Are Worth a Look

We picked the sensors above because they give you the most bang for your buck. Here are a couple more that give you a little less bang but are still worthy of your buck.

Wyze Sense motion sensor

Wyze Sense Motion Sensor

At only 1-inch square, the Wyze Sense Motion Sensor is the tiniest wireless motion sensor on our list, but it still picks up motion at 26 feet with a 120-degree field. In our testing it detected motion perfectly and notified us every time on the Wyze mobile app. The only reason we put Wyze Sense near the end of our list is because you need a Wyze Bridge and a Wyze camera for it to work (either the Wyze Cam or the Wyze Cam Pan). Still, the sensor itself costs only $6, so you won’t have to break the bank to get all the components you need for it to work. 

Kangaroo motion sensor

Kangaroo Motion Sensor

The Kangaroo Motion Sensor is the only motion sensor on our list that offers optional professional monitoring—and it’s only $5 a month. For pet parents, Kangaroo has a special configuration you can use to avoid false alarms from furry friends. This sensor didn’t make our top three because with a range of just 15 feet and 60 degrees, it’s not as powerful as the other sensors on our list. We also wish you could reset it without having to wait five minutes after it’s tripped. But there’s no hub required, it’s easy to install and use, and it’s ideal for smaller spaces, like an apartment entryway.

Things to Consider before You Buy 

When you’re shopping for motion sensors, consider where you want to put them and how you want to use them. For outdoor coverage and larger indoor areas, you’ll want sensors with a longer range and a wider angle. For indoor use, look for smaller wireless sensors that will give you a variety of placement options and won’t require drilling. Understanding how motion detectors work can help you figure out the best placement for your sensors.

If you want to scare off intruders, look for motion detectors that light up or sound an alarm. Some of the best cheap home security systems include motion alarm sensors, and these might be a better option for home security than a standalone motion sensor. If you just want to know if a person or pet is somewhere they shouldn’t be, then an app-based motion detector that will send a notification to your phone can alert you without startling a loved one or pet.

FAQs

What is a PIR sensor?

PIR stands for passive infrared, and it refers to a sensor that uses infrared technology to detect motion. PIR technology is used in motion detectors as well as temperature sensors. Passive infrared sensors send out beams of infrared energy waves, much like a flashlight sends out beams of light. Like light waves, infrared waves can’t pass through walls. Most motion detector devices on the market are infrared detectors.

How secure is the Wyze Cam Pan?

While Wyze doesn’t have a PIN-protected app like the YI Camera, Wyze does encrypt all your data in the cloud to ensure your feed is secure, even if there’s a hacking attempt. 

What’s the best placement for a motion detector?

The ideal placement for your detector is 6–8 feet off the floor or ground. This eliminates any “dead spots” down low, and it will reduce false alarms from pets.

How We Picked the Best Motion Detectors

To select our top motion detectors, we started with our favorite, tried-and-true, affordable motion devices for home monitoring. Then we expanded our search to include home security and motion monitoring products with lots of positive user ratings. We watched videos of the items in use and analyzed customer reviews to choose the motion detectors we’d add to our own Amazon wish lists. Our full methodology has more information about how we select products for our rankings.

Written by Kasey Tross

Kasey is a trained Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) member and a freelance writer with expertise in emergency preparedness and security. As the mother of four kids, including two teens, Kasey knows the safety concerns parents face as they raise tech-savvy kids in a connected world, and she loves to research the latest security options for her own family and for SafeWise readers. Learn more

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