Discover how a motion sensor alarm revolutionizes home security by detecting movement and protecting against potential intrusions. Learn about their functionality, different types, benefits, and key features to consider before investing in a motion sensor.
Motion Sensor Alarm: Enhancing Your Home Security
A motion sensor alarm is the game changer in modern home security. This device quickly detects movement in sensitive areas of your home, protecting you from potential intrusion.
Depending on your home security setup, motion detectors can:
- Report suspicious movement through notifications on your smartphone
- Set off an alarm to alert you and your neighbors of such potential threats
- Call your home security monitoring team
- Fill in the cops that something isn't right around your property
With numerous motion sensor alarms on the market today, you may find it difficult to decide what’s best for you.
So, we’ll walk you through the most important things you need to know before investing in a motion sensor.
- How a motion sensor alarm works
- How it differs from other intrusion detectors
- Common motion sensors you'll find on the market
- Major benefits of a motion sensor alarm
- Features to look out for before buying one
Understanding Motion Sensors and How They Work
Motion sensors are electronic devices designed to identify movement within a target range.
These devices use three main types of detective technology:
- Passive Infrared (PIR)
- Ultrasonic sensors
- Microwave sensors
Regardless of their types, motion sensors all have one goal—detect movement.
They activate a pre-predetermined response once they detect movement. Based on your security system setup, the response may be to:
- Activate an alarm to alert you and your neighbors
- Send instant notifications to your smartphone
- Alert your professional monitoring company
- Activate other security devices, such as surveillance cameras or lights
For adequate coverage, position your motion sensors at entry and exit points, hallways, rooms with valuables, and high-risk zones like the areas around your swimming pool.
Motion Sensor Alarm vs. Other Home Security Intrusion Sensors
All anti-burglary sensors are built to deter intrusion. But they detect different actions in different ways. Motion sensors differ from other sensors in these fundamental areas:
Unlike glass-break sensors, which detect shattering sounds and vibrations, and magnetic door alarms, which detect opened windows and doors, motion sensors detect movement or changes in motion within a protected area.
Other intrusion sensors primarily report unauthorized entry into your home. But motion sensors report intruders' presence, even before they break in or attempt to.
Motion sensors offer widespread coverage compared to other sensors. For instance, door and window alarms may only report a security threat on the premises once a door is opened. But motion sensors monitor a more expansive space, like hallways, entry points, rooms with valuable assets, or even your home's perimeter.
However, even with their broader coverage, motion detectors could still use some help. They are more effective when they work with other home security devices like security cameras, door/window sensors, and glass-break alarms.
Common Types of Motion Sensors
There are several classes of motion sensors on the market, and each detects movement differently. Let's go over the common movement detectors and their unique features:
Passive Infrared (PIR) Sensors
Arguably the most popular anti-intrusion sensor on the market, PIRs detect infrared radiation emitted by objects with a temperature above absolute zero (-459.67°F).
PIR sensors are energy-efficient and highly effective at detecting body heat. As humans and animals move within PIR-protected areas, it senses their temperature and triggers an alarm.
Passive infrared sensors are more efficient in areas with better climatic control, like indoors, since they are sensitive to animals and temperature change. However, some smart PIR detectors like Vivint Motion Sensors can be adjusted to ignore pets and other environmental interferences that could cause false alarms.
Microwave sensors, also called radar-based or active motion sensors, emit non-stop microwave signals, which bounce off objects within their detection range and return to the sensor.
Knowing the distance to the fixed object it bounces on, the sensor triggers an alarm if that object alters the reflection rate, which counts as a movement.
Although these radar-based sensors cover larger areas than PIR sensors, they are more expensive and consume more energy.
Microwave sensors are also prone to false alarms caused by environmental factors like strong winds or moving foliage, so avoid using them outdoors.
Like microwaves, ultrasonic motion sensors emit high-frequency sound waves. Then they measure how long it takes the waves to bounce back after hitting a nearby object.
With this data, they calculate how close the object is. The sensors can then detect motion if the distance between the object and the sensor changes.
Ultrasonic motion sensors detect both motion and proximity and are often used indoors.
Dual Technology Sensors
Dual technology sensors combine two technologies, commonly PIR and microwave, to enhance accuracy, reducing false alarms.
The two detectors analyze the objects in their range and detect motion independently. However, both sensors must detect motion to activate an alarm or predefined response, reducing false alerts.
Dual technology sensors are known for their reliability and accuracy, which make them commonly used in high-risk situations. They are also suitable for outdoor installation.
Benefits of a Motion Sensor Alarm
You’ll enjoy several benefits when you use an effective motion sensor in your home. Let’s examine some of them.
Effective Intrusion Detection
Motion sensor alarms are highly effective in detecting unauthorized movement within your space, alerting you, your neighbors, or a security monitoring service. Such rapid response helps deter intruders, allowing you to act promptly and appropriately.
Motion sensors protect large areas, such as hallways, shared living spaces, or swimming pool areas, ensuring broad coverage against movement within monitored zones. This adds a comprehensive layer of coverage to other security measures, such as door/window sensors or surveillance cameras.
Reduced False Alarms
Modern motion sensor alarms are designed with more sensitive technology that minimizes false alarms. Features like pet immunity can distinguish human from pet motion so that your pets won’t trigger alarms.
Flexible Use and Easy Customization
You can install motion sensors anywhere in your home and customize them to offer a best-fit security solution for you, your loved ones, and your property.
For example, you can easily set the sensitivity level, adjust the detection range, and even schedule when you want the sensors to activate or deactivate.
Compared to high-end security devices, like surveillance cameras, motion detectors offer a cost-effective way to detect trespassers in protected areas around the home.
You won't pay for professional installation or periodic maintenance for most sensors.
With only 30 bucks (for quality products like SimpliSafe motion sensors), you can enjoy peace of mind, knowing you'll get alerts for unauthorized movement around your vulnerable areas.
Features to Look for in a Motion Sensor Alarm System
With the truckload of motion sensors on the market, picking the right one for your home can be tricky. So, check these features when shopping for a motion sensor:
Look for a motion sensor with a detection range that matches the area you want to monitor. Typically, motion sensors cover between 50 and 80 feet.
Consider the Honeywell wireless motion detector for large areas like warehouses and deep hallways. This sensor can cover a range of 80' x 60'. It also has an optional long-range lens that extends the range to 100' x 20'.
Opt for a motion sensor with sensitivity settings that allows you to customize the sensor's response to specific motions.
For example, in areas with plenty of movement, you’ll need to reduce the sensor’s sensitivity, while you’ll need extra sensitivity for areas where you expect little to no movement.
This way, you can minimize false alarms triggered by harmless movements of running pets, swaying curtains, or environmental elements like wind, dust, foliage, and rain.
Find a motion sensor with a pet immunity feature if you own pets. Detectors with this pet-friendly technology ignore the movements of small animals, reducing false alarms triggered by pets.
For example, for pets below 60 lb, the ADT's ADC pet immune motion detector will not trigger an alarm. This means your pug can walk through your living room to its potty without causing unnecessary panic.
Integration Into Home Security Systems
Many modern security systems come with motion detectors. So, no worries about compatibility issues if you purchase a comprehensive security package.
But if you're buying a standalone motion detector, ensure it integrates seamlessly with your other security components, including video doorbells, security cameras, door sensors, and smart locks.
One more thing: After considering the features above, you’ll also need to read reviews or seek recommendations from other users.
Reviews give you an unbiased assessment of the product you’re interested in. Check the customer review section on the product’s sales page and see what other users think about the sensor.
You can also ask your neighbors or colleagues what motion sensors they use and their experience with them.
For expert advice, discuss with a reputable home security expert who can recommend a suitable sensor for your security needs.
Motion Sensors Enhance Your Home Security
A motion sensor alarm detects changes in infrared radiation, heat, or light patterns and triggers a security response. These devices:
- Prevent intrusion
- Cover large areas
- Are easy to install and maintain
- Provide an affordable security solution
They are available in various types, each with unique characteristics and applications. The most common types are passive infrared (PIR), microwave, ultrasonic, and dual-technology sensors.
Before you buy motion sensors, consider:
- The sensor's range
- Sensitivity and adjustability
- Overall cost-benefit ratio
- Compatibility with other home security components
- Product reviews and expert advice
Contact our experts for professional advice if you need a custom motion detection solution for your home. We’ll also recommend other home security devices to enhance your protection.