Best Motion Sensors Reviewed & Rated
Motion sensors are the mainstay of any home security or automation system. These simple devices are integrated into an alarm or home automation system and alert the user of any motion. They can sense intruders but also can be helpful in monitoring movement within your home and saving energy. Though they are somewhat simplistic, they are versatile, and different brands claim various features produce the best results. Our buying guide offers tips for selecting the best motion sensors to meet your needs.
Our Top 3 Picks
Depending on how and where they are set up, motion sensors can detect motion inside or outside your home or business and turn on lights, sound an alarm, or even trigger a doorbell if someone comes near the front door. They can sense a door or window opening or a breaking window, whether the intruder is a burglar, a teen breaking curfew, or an errant spouse sneaking in late after a night out. If you don’t want kids, guests, or employees to enter specific rooms or areas of the building, a motion sensor can alert you when someone tries to enter. Many sensors use passive infrared (PIR) technology to reduce false alarms.
As components of an automation system, motion sensors are for a lot more than security. They turn off unused lights or sense when to turn them on, open gates, or turn automatic faucets on or off. This feature is particularly useful in public buildings where traffic is variable and improves convenience and security for users while saving energy to the building owners.
Picking the best unit can be a challenge, seeing the many devices in the market. However, our buying guide suggests what to look for and recommends the best motion sensors.
7 Best Motion Detectors
1. Philips Hue Smart
First, the unit has a motion sensor in the center of the unit and a brightness sensor right above. It includes two triple-A batteries that will serve you for 2 to 3 years.
Another exciting feature is that it is free-standing so you can leave it on any flat surface, and the 16.4ft range is perfect for any room. While it is compatible with Amazon Alexa for voice control, you get the most of the device when you connect it to the Hue App. The app allows you to adjust brightness, select the reset time, specify the number of light bulbs it links to, and even choose a specific light color. However, our best features were the magnetic base and the daylight sensor.
Magnetic base – First, you can screw the base into any location, but it is even more versatile as it is magnetic. You can attach it to any metallic surface, such as the fridge, move it around as you please, and adjust the sensor anyway you want.
Brightness sensor – One downfall of most motion light sensors is that they cannot be set to light up only at night. However, the brightness sensor of the Hue blub does not activate any Hue bulb during daylight. You can change the sensitivity between high, medium, and low.
The field angle of this unit is 100-degrees and dims 30 seconds to the reset time.
Who is it for?
The Philips Hue Motion Sensor is for homeowners already using Philips Hue Bulbs.
It blends in with most home décor
It is versatile as you can use it free-standing, or connect it to any metallic surface
It reacts fast
The reset time cannot be less than one minute
It is not compatible with IFTTT and Samsun Smart Things
You cannot set custom colors
Bulbs are costly
2. Ecolink Z-Wave
First, you will appreciate the long battery life the company guarantees. You can expect it to last up to 5 years using the standard settings. Moreover, the unit is easy to mount using double-stick tape or the mounting bracket. You can install it on a flat wall or a corner. Ensure you get the right side up or installation will be a challenge.
The factory reset time of this detector is 4 minutes which is rather long. However, you can change this to 5-seconds using the test mode, but this will run down your battery faster. As for our top features, we appreciated that it is pet safe and compatible.
Pet Safe – A shortcoming of most PIR detectors is that pets easily trigger them. However, the Ecolink Z-Wave curbs this with two settings preventing false alarms for small and medium pets up to 55 pounds.
Compatible – Homeowners appreciate compatibility in smart gadgets thanks to the flexibility they offer. You can use devices from different companies, and you are safe from manipulation to stay within one brand. The Ecolink is compatible with Samsung SmartThings Certified (V1, V2, V3), Vera Plus, Vera Edge, Vera Lite, Homeseer, and Dlink staples connect. While it may work with your ZWAVE hub, Wink, or Alarm.com security panels, Ecolink cannot guarantee it.
5-year battery life
Style: Z-Wave Plus
Who is it for?
The Ecolink Z-Wave is for individuals looking for compatibility and versatility in motion sensors.
The unit reacts fast to motion
It has a long battery life; twice that of other units
Installation is a walk in the park
False alarms are few as it is pet immune
The reset time is somewhat long at 4 minutes, and the battery type though not a rare make isn’t readily available
3. HONEYWELL INTRUSION 5800PIR-RES
One fascinating feature of the 5800 is that it is easy to install. You can screw it onto any drywall or use double-stick tapes to attach it to any surface. Using the double back tapes is relatively straightforward, and they are quite strong. Users note that professional installation and programming into the main control panel can help prevent false alarms.
The Honeywell 5800 is best for use indoors and in areas where it is not facing the windows. However, you can install it on the porch provided it is facing the wall. It uses 3V lithium batteries which you can expect to last between 3 to 5 years, so the battery life of this unit is impressive. Nevertheless, our top features were the pet immunity and the working temperature.
Pet immunity – To prevent repeated false alarms due to your furry friends playing, the 5800 is immune to pets up to 80 pounds. However, it is only safe for pets that stay on the floor. To prevent false alarms, avoid directing it at couches or stairs.
Temperature range – The 5800 PIR working temperature is between -4°F and 131°F allowing for cold operations in unheated areas.
Coverage: 35’ * 40-feet
Installation height: 7-9 feet
Type: Passive infrared
Battery life: 3-5 years
Who is it for?
The Honeywell 5800 PIR Res is ideal for homeowners with a Honeywell Panel for the best results.
It includes a look down zone to monitor even the area directly below the sensor
The installation height is between 7’ and 9’ leading to fewer restrictions
The circuit board is covered reducing the likelihood of installer initiated damage
The batteries are easy to acquire
It blends with any décor. Moreover, you can paint the empty cases to match any setting
Black bug guards result in fewer alarms from white light
One shortcoming of this unit is the inconsistent extended-range pickup
4. Guardline Wireless Driveway Alarm
You set the sensor on the driveway or walkway, and it sends a signal to the receiver unit whenever the beam is interrupted. The receiver then emits one of the dozen chimes programmed into it, alerting you. The receiver can pair with up to 16 sensors increasing the coverage.
The best features were the customizability and the 12V device switch.
Customizability – Thanks to the small switchboard included, you can customize the unit to your preference. First, you can set the sensitivity to detect thins moving faster or slower. You can also adjust the distance of the beam so it only spots things on the driveway or walkway. Furthermore, you can improve the mode so that sensors only work at night or add a delay.
12V Device Switch – The internal switch allows you to pair one of the sensor's 4 zones with any 12V device. You can pair it with a floodlight or any separate wired external alarms, chimes, or bells.
Receiver range: ¼ mile
Lifetime warranty guarantee
Power source: Sensor- batteries, receiver – wired but with battery backup
Who is it for?
The Guardline motion detector is for driveways or walkways. It is an outdoor unit and is designed to alert you of people or cars approaching your home.
Connecting the sensor to the receiver is simple
The range on the receiver is impressive and will work with homes with long driveways
It withstands the elements as it is well-built
Includes a screwdriver to install batteries
The Guardline isn’t pet immune. Thus you can expect an occasional false alarm from birds or insects
5. Interlogix Indoor Wireless SAW PIR Detector
Installation of the sensor is easy. The unit includes a base that screws onto any flat surface. This design makes installation a walk in the park and prevents user-installed damage. Programming it into your system is straightforward. The company recommends that you install the motion detector between 7.5' and 8-feet. However, set it up at ankle height so that thieves cannot crawl past it for top results.
Our top features were the tamper switch and pet immunity.
Pet immunity – The GE Interlogix motion detector is immune to pets up to 40 pounds preventing a small or medium dog, or a large cat from causing repeated false alarms. However, it doesn’t prevent alarms by a large canine. However, you can install the unit upside down, so it emits a signal upwards.
Tamper switch – The GE Interlogix has a tamper switch that alerts you when someone interferes with the unit. The tamper switch is somewhat of a hidden button on the back cover that sends a signal every time someone interferes with it.
Height: 7.5 to 8ft
Pet immune: 40 pounds
Low battery indicator
Who is it for?
The GE Interlogix is an indoor motion detector and works with alarms. Moreover, it is for people with a compatible alarm system.
Has a low battery indicator that warns you when the unit is running low
Installing thanks to the included base is simple
It is compatible with various security systems and panels
The unit sends a signal to the panel every 64 minutes to ensure operations are uninterrupted
Large canines easily trigger it
The instructions could be better
6. Heath/Zenith HZ-5316-BZ
An outdoor unit, the HZ-5316 will withstand the elements. However, it only lights up and cannot be used together with an alarm system. The gadget includes a 500W bulb that will light up whenever it detects motion.
The best features were the range and the dual brite 2-level technology.
Range – The Heath Zenith HZ-5316 is designed to cover large areas and has a 100-foot range. It gives you a sense of safety and ensures an intruder cannot get close to your home without being detected. However, this is a PIR unit, and thus it might not always be constant.
Dual Brite 2-level technology – This patented tech gives the HZ-5316 an edge over other motion sensors. The technology ensures that the light only comes on at night. Once it has detected movement, you can set the unit to stay lit for 1 min, 5 minutes, or 20 minutes.
Range: 100 foot
One year warranty
Max Bulb Wattage: 500W
Selectable timer: (1, 5, or 20 minutes)
Who is it for?
This is a standalone detector and best for people who are in the market for a motion detector. It is excellent for walkways and driveways.
Includes a one year warranty
Sturdy to withstand the elements
The range is not constant
Only works with incandescent or halogen lamps
7. Honeywell DT8050
The DT8050 housing is ABS plastic, so it is durable in case of shock and impact. Moreover, it blends with any commercial or residential interior. The sealed optics and electronics protect the sensitive parts ensuring that the fragile components aren't damaged during installation and aren't affected during installation or by insects and drafts.
The DT8050 offers wall-to-wall coverage with a switch-selectable look-down zone. The latter is designed to monitor areas directly below the unit. The protection against false alarms is unmatched as it the white light immunity thanks to the black-bug guard that provides a 6,500 lux of white light immunity. However, our best features were the sensitivity optics and dual-core processing.
Sensitivity Optics – The DT8050 provides uniform sensitivity over the entire spectrum. Thus it will detect targets at the edge of the area as quickly as it senses people directly in front of the detector. This superior coverage provides superior coverage.
DUAL-TEC (dual-core signal processing) – The DUAL-TEC technology analyses both microwave and passive infrared signals for the best results. The microcontroller can support advanced functions from concurrent diagnostics, digital adaptive microwave threshold, and even bidirectional temperature compensation.
Range: 35” and 50-inches
Installation height: 6’9” to 8’9”
Who is it for?
The Honeywell DT8050 is for indoor use only, and you need a Honeywell system or any compatible hub, but most users are very satifisfied..
The sensitivity level is exceptional. It picks up people at the edge with ease
It is solidly built with features to protect the sensitive components
It is safe from drafts, bugs, and white light
Testing the unit is straight forward
Best Motion Detectors Selection Criteria
The best motion system to meet your objectives depends is one with the features that will facilitate your security, convenience, or other goals.
There are three major types of motion sensors on the market, and each has its pros and cons.
Passive infrared – This type of sensor, known as PIR, creates a protective grid to detect heat and motion but eliminates false alarms caused by blowing foliage or other inanimate objects. If an object blocks too many grid zones or causes a rapid change in the energy level, the sensor triggers an alarm. These are the most common motion sensors in the market.
Active sensors – Active sensors use infrared energy, radar waves, or other methods to detect changes in the rooms they cover. By emitting ultrasonic, microwave, or radio pulses to pick out the reflection from moving objects, this type of sensor sounds an alarm based on how long it takes for pulses of energy to bounce back to the source. These sensors are quite pricey and likely to cause false alarms by inanimate objects such as foliage.
Dual Technology – These combine features from two types of motion sensors and are ideal for curbing false alarms and protecting rooms with high ceilings or tall furniture. A dual tech sensor could be passive infrared and active ultrasonic, microwave, or radio tech. In this case, no alarm will go off unless both types of sensors are activated.
Indoor or Outdoor
Sensors placed indoor and outdoor sensors have their place in a security or automation system.
Other than offering security, indoor motion sensors lower utility bills and increase convenience. Whether you are coming home at night and your hands are full, or your kids hit the bathroom in the middle of the night and need illumination, automatic lighting goes a long way to ensure you don’t fumble and stumble. As lights are only activated when needed, you can save energy.
Nevertheless, they do have their shortcomings as you could be doing something late at night and don’t want to bother your partner, but the lights will come on anyway. Investing in a timer can mitigate these risks.
Outdoor sensors are often used in tandem with security cameras. However, pets and pests can trigger them, so you should consider a dual technology system to prevent false alarms.
Reset Time is how long the unit takes to shut down whatever it activated (say lights or an alarm). For example, a motion sensor with a one-minute reset time will take one minute from when it starts to when it deactivates, provided no motion is detected.
A unit with long battery life shouldn’t fail to work at a crucial moment. Moreover, you will spend less on batteries, and you will change them less frequently.
If there are pets in the home, pet-immune motion sensors can prevent false alarms as they stroll by and activate lights or sound. Depending on your pet’s weight, sensors can ignore motion. However, alarms can go off if the pet jumps on a table or if there is a sensor near a stairwell, as the size of the pet appears to increase the nearer it comes to the sensor. Owners with very large pets might need to use glass break detectors that detect if the glass is shattered or broken rather than motion detectors.
Compatibility is an essential feature, seeing as the home automation and security industry is massive. We recommend you get a unit that supports most home automation infrastructure.
1. What are driveway motion sensors?
Driveway motion sensors are outdoor detectors commonly used on driveways. They differ from other units in that they include a receiver and have a range of up to 400 feet. They can also be used to monitor sheds, stables, pools, or any other large structure. However, for warehouses, private hiking trails, or extensive areas, you need a device with a range beyond a ½ mile.
2. What are some of the causes of false detections?
Pets and particularly large canines are the most common causes of false alarms. However, some motion sensors can be triggered by sudden sounds, bursts of air, and white light. A pet-immune system can prevent most false detections – though you may be out of luck if you have a great dane.
False alarms also occur when there can be sudden movements from blinds or other objects in the room. You can also adjust the sensitivity of your system to ignore such motions.
3. Are motion detector guard dogs a thing?
Well, this may sound silly, but yes, it is. Motion detector guard dogs are for people who desire a guard dog but don’t want to deal with an actual pet. The gadget produces barking sounds should it detect a person approaching. Furthermore, as motion detectors are easy to hide, this type of detector can be hidden in a hard-to-see area. Finally, you can adjust the volume and speed of the barking depending on how far or close an intruder is.
Motion detectors are a vital part of any home system. Though they are often used for intruder detection, they are versatile and help with home automation. You can rely on the devices to light up rooms you walk into or start and stop home systems such as fans and furnaces as long as you get a gadget that meets your expectations and is within your budget.