If you are a homeowner, a motion sensor is a handy device to have. It can be used to light up a dimly light pathway to make it easier and safer to walk, or it can deter intruders who may be approaching your home. A motion sensor can also be used to turn lights on and off automatically in rooms throughout your house, which means that you can come home to a lit home, or set the lights to turn on and off when you are away on vacation, adding an extra level of security.
While a motion sensor is certainly useful, choosing the right motion sensor for your home can be challenging. There are so many options available, which can make it difficult to determine which motion sensor will best fit your needs. To purchase the right motion sensor, you need to be familiar with the different types that are available, the factors to consider when choosing one of these devices, the different features they can offer and the best available brands. To provide you with all of this information, we have put together this handy buyer’s guide, which highlights all of the aforementioned information. With this guide, you will be well educated about motion sensors and prepared to purchase the best one for your needs.
Types of Motion Sensors
Motion sensors rely on different types of technology to detect movement. There are three types of technology that are used to power these devices, which means that there are three different types of motion sensors. The three types of motion sensors include the following:
- The passive infrared motion sensor
- The radar motion sensor
- The photo sensor motion sensor
In order to determine which type of motion sensor will best meet your needs, it is important to understand how each of these technologies work.
The Passive Infrared Motion Sensor
The passive infrared motion sensor measures changes in temperature. It is set to a base temperature, and when it detects a temperature that is above or below that base, the motion sensor will be activated. In other words, it the passive infrared motion sensor detects a raise in temperature, such as the heat that is emitted from a person’s body when it enters into the sensor’s zone, the motion sensor will be activated. The passive infrared motion sensor is commonly used to trigger lights and security systems.
The Radar Motion Sensor
The radar motion sensor puts out microwave pulses or ultrasonic waves. The waves that the sensor puts out bounce off of an item and bounce back to the sensor, thus activating it. This type of motion sensor works similarly to echolocation or sonar. A radar motion sensor is commonly used to open automatic doors, for example.
The Photo Sensor Motion Sensor
The photo sensor motion sensor is comprised of a light sensor and a light beam. The light beam constantly hits the light sensor. When an object, such as a person, blocks the light beam, the light sensor is triggered. The technology used in a photo sensor motion sensor is often used for aural response; for example, when a person approaches a door of a store and the door automatically opens.
Motion sensors can further be differentiated by their sensitivity, or what type of object is needed to trigger it. There are both active and passive motion sensors.
The Active Motion Sensor
An active motion sensor detects all types of motions, including the motions that humans makes, the motions that animals make, and even the motion of a strong wind.
The Passive Motion Sensor
The passive motion sensor detects human body heat, which means that they are not activated by non-living objects, such as a paper bag or leafs blowing in the wind, which may enter into the sensor’s range.
Things to Consider When Choosing a Motion Sensor
Just like an item you purchase, there are certain factors that you are going to want to take into consideration when you are shopping for a motion sensor. By taking these certain factors into consideration, you will be able to choose the best motion sensor for your specific needs. We believe that some of the most important factors that you should consider when choosing a motion sensor include the items that you want to activate with the sensor and the reach of the motion sensor, among other things. To learn more about the factors that we think are the most important to take into consideration when choosing a motion sensor, please keep on reading.
What device to you want the motion sensor to power?
Without a doubt, the most important factor that you want to take into consideration when choosing a motion sensor is the device that you want it to power or activate. For example, do you want the motion sensor to turn on a light? Do you want it to open a door? Do you want it to activate a security system? Different types of motion sensing technology works better to power certain devices. For instance, if you want it to turn on a light, a passive infrared motion sensor is commonly used; however, if you want it to open a door, a photo sensor motion sensor is a better option.
How sensitive do you want the motion sensor to be?
Another important factor to take into consideration when choosing a motion sensor is how sensitive you want it to be, as this will determine what type of exposure will activate it. A motion sensor that has a high sensitivity could be triggered with even the slightest provocation, which could become overbearing. However, a motion sensor that is not sensitive enough will take a lot of provocation to activate it, which could render the device useless. The sensitivity of a motion detector relies largely on whether it is an active or a passive device.
As mentioned above, an active motion sensor detects all types of motion, including humans, animals and non living objects. This may be the best choice for activating a security system. A passive motion sensor is only activated when it detects heat from a human body and is not activated when non living objects enter into the range of the sensor. If you want the sensor to activate a light, a passive sensor may be your best bet, as the light will not turn on unless it detects a human being’s presence.
The detection zone of the motion sensor
The detection zone of the motion sensor is also a very important factor to take into consideration when you are shopping for one of these devices. The detection zone refers to the width of the area that the motion sensor will cover. The detection zone can vary, but is usually covers 90, 180, 270 or even 360 degrees. When choosing a motion sensor, make sure that the detection zone is large enough to cover the area you want it to cover.
The range of the motion sensor
The range of the motion sensor is yet another factor that you are going to want to take into consideration when shopping for one of these devices. The range refers to the maximum distance the motion detector can sense. Just like the detection zone can vary, so can the range. Some examples of the range include 8 feet, 10 feet, 12 feet and even up to 20 feet or more. When choosing a motion sensor, it is important that you select one that offers the range that you want it to reach.
The reliability of the motion sensor
Yet another important factor to consider when choosing a motion sensor is the reliability of the device. You want to make sure that the motion sensor will work when you need it to work. Users report that the best motion sensors are those that they can rely on and that always work the way that they are intended to.
The price of the motion sensor
Lastly, as with all items that you purchase, an important factor to take into consideration when you are choosing a motion sensor is the price of the device. Motion sensors can vary widely in price. Generally, the more powerful they are and the larger the range and detection zone, the more expensive the device will be. It is important to make sure that you factor the cost into consideration so that you don’t end up spending more money than you are comfortable with.
Features Motion Sensors can Offer
Motion sensors can boast a number of features. These features are intended to make the motion sensor more effective and to improve its quality. As mentioned above, the more features that a motion sensor offers, the more expensive the device will be. It is important to have a firm understanding of these features so that you can determine whether you want or need them, and whether or not it is worth spending the extra money.
Here is a look at some of the most common features that motion sensors can offer.
Adjustable Range and Detection Zone
Users report that the best motion sensors are those that feature an adjustable range and detection zone. With this feature, you can easily modify how far away intended targets have to be in order to activate it. Likewise, you can also modify the zone that the motion sensor will detect. Users report that they like this feature because it makes the motion sensor more versatile and easier to customize to their specific needs.
Users also report that the best motion sensors feature wireless technology. A wireless motion sensor is far easier to install, set up and operate than one that contains wires. With wireless technology, all you have to do is set the device up, power it on and your motion sensor will be ready to start detecting and working for you.
The best motion sensors can be used to power various items, including turning lights on and off and powering security systems. Users also report that they like motion sensors that can be used with various items because they are much more versatile, which saves them time having to shop for a specific type of sensor to power a specific item.
While motion sensors themselves are advanced technology, some offer even more advanced technology and can be controlled by an app on your smart phone. With this technology, you can keep track of the items that the motion sensor is detecting, and you can also turn the device on or off, or adjust the settings. These motion sensors will also send alerts straight to your smart phone if any unexpected movement occurs or if your children or pets access a dangerous or off limits area.
Weatherproofing is another feature that users report being very desirable and valuable for a motion sensor. If you are planning on using this device in areas where it will be exposed to the elements, waterproofing is definitely a feature that you are going to want to look for, as it will keep the device well protected and the device will continue to work, despite being exposed to moisture and wind.
The Best Motion Sensor Brands
There are a number of manufacturers that produce motion sensors, which can make it difficult to determine which manufacturer to choose. To help you find the best motion sensor for your needs, we have weeded through all of the options out there and have read user reviews. Our findings have indicated that the following motion sensors are the best of the best.
One of the leading manufacturers of motion sensors is Heath Zenith. This manufacturer produces high quality, extremely durable and very effective motion sensors that are very easy to set up and use.
This manufacturer is one of the most highly regarded manufacturers in the electronics industry, and their motion sensors are top notch. Their motion sensors can be hooked up to a smart phone and accessed via an app. They also allow you to receive notifications, which is definitely a plus.
The last brand that we found to be among the best is Ecolink. Their products are high quality, well constructed and boast a number of features. The motion sensors from this manufacturer are also very reliable.