Beginner’s Guide To Motion Sensors

Motion sensors are fairly inexpensive yet offer a ton of utility in both convenience and security to any household. Learn more about motion sensors in this guide.
Beginner's Guide To Motion Sensors

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A Beginner’s Guide To Motion Sensors

Science fiction frequently blurs the lines between fiction and reality and predicts technologies that might not be available for many decades. Wireless communicators (cell phones) and space rockets (spaceships) were all shown in movies long before they were developed. Motion sensors are included in this category as well, and their use for security is ramping up. 

However, motion sensors, like other technological inventions, do not work exactly as they are portrayed in movies. Motion sensors have grown in popularity in recent years because they allow us to manage light more efficiently than traditional keys or switches. This is due to the sensors controlling the on/off of the light via a sensor that detects people or objects in motion. In this blog, we will define motion sensors, explain how they work, whether you need them, and how to obtain them. 

What Are Motion Sensors? 

When it comes to security and energy efficiency, motion sensors are highly effective.  They can be used to activate burglar alarms or security cameras when they detect motion in the vicinity. They may also conserve energy by turning off lights in a facility when it detects no motion, which is commonly used in yards or toilets. 

Motion sensors are frequently used in the following applications:

  • Detect potential intruders near or inside your home.
  • If someone enters a restricted area, you will be notified. This could be the basement or garage at home.
  • Save energy by just turning on lights in specific areas when they are needed.

How Do Motion Sensors Work 

The basic use of a motion sensor is to detect when someone unwanted is near or in your home. A motion sensor provides a signal to your security system and, if triggered, delivers an alarm to you and the preferred center you’ve chosen for monitoring. 

In the house, there are two types of motion sensors: active motion and passive motion.

Active Motion

Uses sound waves to operate and is commonly seen in automated doors such as your garage door.

Passive Motion

Detects emitted infrared energy or heat using passive infrared. This is the most popular form of motion sensor found in private residences.

The Different Types of Motion Sensors 

Passive infrared (PIR), microwave, and twilight sensors are the three most common forms of motion sensors. However, you can find several other types as well. Check out our full list of all types of motion sensors.

Passive Motion Sensors

Due to their ease of construction and usage, passive motion sensors (PIR) are perhaps the most frequently utilized sensors on the market. It works by detecting changes in infrared light in the environment in which it is positioned. The term “passive” refers to the fact that it does not emit radiation but rather accepts it. 

The sensors detect presence by sensing the difference in heat generated by the human body and the surrounding space. The detection is done out using a lens designed to detect these types of disruptions. Its major components are pyroelectric sensors that detect changes in incoming infrared radiation and are encased in a fresnel lens. 

Microwave Sensors

This type of sensor operates on microwave emission/reception independent of temperature. If something interferes with the waves, the sensor will detect a change in the return time, triggering the lights. These sensors are highly sensitive and can penetrate through thin doors and windows. This means that it has a larger detecting capability than passive motion sensors. 

Twilight Sensors 

Their operation is based on the detection of excess or defective illumination within the area in which it is situated. You may configure the light to turn on when the illumination level falls below the level reported by the sensor in this manner. 

Hybrid Sensors

Dual sensors, also known as hybrid sensors are a combination of two different types of motion sensors, with an aim to increase security by combining two technologies. Basically, the sensor is only activated when it detects two different types of motion. While this sensor is great for negating false alarms or alerts, it does tend to increase the possibility of missing out on real incidents. 

The Benefits of Installing Motion Detectors in Your Home 

When you own your own house, your family’s safety and well-being are constantly at the top of your priority list. As a result, in addition to completing routine maintenance, it is essential to search for chances to update your house in order to improve your safety and wellness. Here are some of the advantages of putting motion sensors in your home. 

Increased Home Security 

Did you know that according to a study published by the University of North Carolina, 60 percent of convicted burglars acknowledged that the existence of a security system prevented them from targeting such houses and that they often sought out residences that disregarded these measures? 

Burglars, vandals, and other criminals frequently target houses while the inhabitants are either away or sleeping. They definitely don’t want to be caught breaking into a house since neighbors could call the cops. That is why home security experts advise you to install external lighting around your property. Installing motion sensor floodlights, door lights, and other outdoor lighting help discourage thieves from attacking your house and family. When someone gets too close to your property, these lights will automatically turn on. 

Enhanced Safety  

Humans aren’t the only creatures you need to be cautious of. Wildlife may be dangerous to you, your family, and your pets depending on where you live. Raccoons, coyotes, mountain lions, and bears may approach your residence in quest of food. They will be scared away, though, if your external lights turn on as soon as they approach your property.

Furthermore, if you reside in a cold-weather location, motion sensors will be very useful. Having the lights turn on as soon as you step outdoors might assist you in navigating slippery conditions such as ice and snow. This can drastically minimize the likelihood of harm. 

Increased Convenience 

Have you ever returned home late at night with a carload of groceries and kids in the backseat? Then you’ll understand how inconvenient it is to attempt to park as near to the home as possible and open the door — all while keeping the kids in sight — just to turn on the outdoor lights. You may have the lights turn on as soon as you pull into your driveway using a motion sensor. When you step onto the porch, your porch light will turn on. That way, you never have to worry about not having enough light to bring everyone and everything inside securely.

Savings On Energy 

Of course, many homeowners who do not have motion sensors placed on their property just leave their outdoor lights on 24 hours a day, seven days a week. While this is a solution that provides greater safety, security, and convenience than no illumination at all, it also consumes a significant amount of energy. Motion-sensor activated outdoor lighting removes the need to keep your lights on 24 hours a day, seven days a week, reducing the amount of energy your home consumes substantially.

Savings On Expenses 

You’ll use less energy since motion-activated exterior lighting eliminates the need to keep your porch, driveway, and other outside lights on at all times. This implies that your monthly energy cost will be significantly cheaper. Installing a motion sensor on your home provides additional security, safety, and convenience. It also decreases your energy usage and helps you save money on your utility bills.

Applications of Motion Sensors In Your Home

Homeowners can use motion sensors on the interior and exterior of their homes for anything from anti-theft protection to kid and pet monitoring. So, how do motion sensors work in the home? Here are a few examples.

Keep Track of Young Children

If there are places on your property that are not appropriate for children, motion sensors may be installed around the entrances to these areas to warn you if your kid goes in. A garage, for example, may contain tools and fasteners that you do not want a kid to touch or potentially handle.

Sheds, liquor cabinets, and drawers containing explicit content are some of the other places that homeowners use motion sensors to childproof. If you have big, exotic animals on your property, it is also a good idea to use motion sensors to childproof the enclosures.

Notify You of Any Stray Pets or Wild Animals

Motion sensors may alert you if your pet wanders into an unsafe location. For example, if you have a sensitive plant or item in your home that a cat or dog might easily destroy, a sensor could give you an alarm if your pet goes in there.

Sensors can also notify you if stray dogs or other wild animals come onto your property.

Keep Intruders and Predators Away From Your Home

One of the most apparent uses of motion sensors is this. Whether you live in a close-knit community or on a more isolated property, your house may be the target of an intruder. It might be a thief searching for things to steal inside your house, or it could be a predator trying to hurt you or your family. In any case, the most important element of home security is preventing an intruder.

Motion sensors may be installed on all four corners of your property to sound alarms and turn on lights if an unwelcome presence enters your backyard or gets too near to your front porch at the incorrect times. The intruder will be spotted and the alarm will go off before they ever get inside.

Automatically Open Doors

Motion sensors may trigger convenience features such as door openers in addition to security and surveillance. If you reside in a smart home, for example, and the locks are controlled remotely through handheld devices, you might unlock the front door from your phone as you approach the house, and the entrance would open immediately using motion sensors.

A similar procedure may be implemented for your garage door and triggered when you approach your driveway. If you have a disabled member of your family, motion sensors may be placed to activate all of the essential doors in the home whenever they need to enter or leave a room.

Turn On The Lights

If someone in your home has a tendency to leave lights on when they leave a room, a motion sensor may help you save money on your utility bill. When someone walks into a room, the sensor detects movement and turns on the light. When the room is empty, the sensor detects the absence of movement or body heat and turns off the light.

Light-activating motion sensors are particularly helpful for tiny or disabled persons who may have difficulty reaching a light switch. When taller family members are not around, a motion sensor may address the issue if your ceilings are high and there is an above light that only operates with its own switch.

How To Install A Motion Sensor?

How To Install A Motion Sensor

A typical motion sensor has an 80-foot range, which implies that a single sensor will almost certainly not cover a long hallway or an open office. A security company may install your security system. Their installers will inspect the architecture of your region to determine where the motion sensors should be installed.

As with the installation of security cameras, fire alarms, and burglar alarms, your goal when installing the motion sensor should be to make your home as safe as possible, with devices and components strategically placed.

A security professional will connect the sensors to your burglar alarm system once they have been installed. Depending on the motion sensor you choose, you may even be able to get quick access to your whole security system from your phone through apps.

If you want to conduct your own security, be sure to follow the sensor’s instructions. Here are some tips for installing motion detectors in your home:

  • Install sensors at entry points. There are motion detectors designed specifically for doors and windows.
  • To ensure an unobstructed lens, wipe the sensor of any dust or debris once you finish installing it, and remember to clean it on a regular basis after that.
  • Place them in high-traffic areas. Installing the sensor in a hallway, stairwell, or another place where people must pass improves the chances of capturing an intruder. It’s also a good idea to place sensors in locations with high-value items, where thieves are likely to go first.
  • Avoid obstructing the sensor. The sensors will not work properly if they are obstructed. At first, an obstacle may not be obvious. If you install a motion sensor light above your driveway, for example, your parked vehicle may interfere with its capacity to detect movement on the sidewalk or in the street. Install the sensor in an area with a good view of the surroundings.

Additional Considerations When Installing A Motion Sensor 

Whether you install your motion sensor yourself or hire a professional, there are a few things you should keep in mind. 

Choose An Ideal Location 

Before putting your motion detector, consider the most effective sensor placement: 

  • Corners are great because they allow you to arrange infrared sensors to cover the most ground. Most motion sensor designs feature slanted edges with screw holes to fit neatly into a room’s corner. 
  • To obtain the maximum coverage, mount your motion detector high on the wall—but avoid putting it above a large piece of furniture, such as a bookshelf or entertainment center, because it will restrict the passive infrared radiation range. 
  • Mount your motion sensor opposite a primary entrance—this applies to any room or corridor where you set these sensors to detect intruders straight away. 

Take Into Account The Size of Your Pets

Pet-immune motion sensors are only pet-safe when used appropriately, and even then, they might cause false alerts under certain situations. 

Many pet immunity sensors employ weight-related ratings, although tiny creatures can activate them with adequate verticality. If your pet enjoys practicing their high leap, it may cause false alarms. 

This is especially essential if active sensors are installed near a stairway. The sensor treats your pet as a mouse at the foot of the stairs, but by the time your pet reaches the top, the sensor may see an elephant. 

Overhangs Reduce Range

When installing outdoor LED motion sensor lights or cameras, bear in mind that placing them under an overhang (such as a carport) might decrease their range. 

An overhang can obscure the motion detector light’s 180-degree sensing angle, reducing it into a 90-degree sensing angle, similar to how your field of vision reduces when you wear a hat with a brim or a visor. 

Not All Motion Sensor Light Switches Are Equal 

When selecting motion detecting light switches for indoor use, keep in mind that not all motion detection switches are created equal. 

  • When you enter a room, an occupancy sensor turns on automatically and turns off when you leave. 
  • When a room is vacant, a vacancy sensor shuts off the lights, but you must activate it. 
  • Dimmer sensors may be programmed to switch on lights at various brightness levels. 

Brands such as Lutron provide motion sensor light switches in all three configurations, allowing you to select the one that is best for you. 


Motion sensor security technologies have advanced significantly over the years and continue to improve at an exponential rate. Invest in sophisticated and highly functioning home security sensors today to keep your house secure this year and in the future.

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