Last updated: August 10, 2021

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If you want to feel really comfortable in your home, you can't do without a motion detector. These detectors are available both for outdoors and indoors. Outside, the motion sensors keep burglars away, and inside, in hallways, garages or on cellar stairs, they protect against tripping. A double guarantee for security.

For extra convenience, they are mounted on walls as light switch replacements, for example, or even integrated into the flush-mounted wall. In this way, they illuminate rooms in an energy-efficient manner. Of course, they can also be mounted on ceilings with different detection angles of 90, 180 or 360 degrees. Most motion detectors can be optimally adapted to specific areas of application.




Summary

  • A motion detector is a sensor that usually reacts to movement by means of infrared or heat radiation. The detector detects a certain area and draws attention to movements with LED light and/or an alarm signal.
  • In outdoor areas, it protects against burglars and provides security, especially at night. With a twilight function, a motion detector can also be adapted to the different times of day and thus saves electricity.
  • Indoors, a motion sensor is often installed as a practical alternative to a light switch and thus prevents stumbling in the dark.

The Best Motion Detector: Our Choices

Buying and evaluation criteria for motion detectors

To find out which motion detector is best suited for you, you will find the most important criteria below.

A brief description of the criteria will make it easier for you to compare and make a purchase decision.

Range

The range of a motion detector should be matched to the area it is to cover.

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Motion detectors are excellent for getting light in the dark. They can be used indoors or outdoors. They also have many different functions to adjust their light function.
(Image source: Brian Babb/unsplash)

High quality products can be adjusted very precisely. Indoor motion sensors range from four to 20 metres. Outdoors, they have a range of 15 to 30 metres.

Detection angle

The angle of detection required by a motion detector depends on the nature of the detection area. This angle ranges from 90 to 360 degrees, depending on the model. It is also important where you want to mount the motion detector. If entire rooms need to be detected, a motion sensor for ceiling mounting with a detection angle of 360 degrees is suitable. If you are dealing with corridors or individual walls, a 180-degree sensor is perfect.

Switching time

With most motion detectors, the time window in which the light burns or the alarm sounds can be regulated. The duration is usually between 5 seconds and 15 minutes. When making a purchase decision, the area of application therefore plays a decisive role. If you want to use the motion detector as an alternative to a room light with a light switch, for example, you need the longest possible burning time.

Installation

When making your purchase decision, be aware of whether you want to install the motion detector flush-mounted or surface-mounted. A flush-mounted motion detector is located below the first wall surface. It can only be installed if you are just building a house or renovating it fundamentally. A surface-mounted motion detector can also be installed later.

To do this, it is screwed or glued onto a wall surface. There are also motion detectors that are especially suitable for ceilings and those that can only be mounted on walls. Therefore, pay close attention to the manufacturer's product description. In most cases, the motion detectors are connected to the electrical circuit of the house and can therefore also be connected in parallel. Or they are battery operated and therefore easier to install and remove.

Weatherproof

An outdoor motion detector is often exposed to wind and weather and should therefore be robust. Look here for the IP protection class of a product. This indicates how weatherproof the motion detector is. In outdoor areas, the protection class should be at least IP44.

Guide: Frequently asked questions about motion detectors answered in detail

Below you will find relevant questions on the subject of motion detectors. We answer these questions with the most important details to give you the best possible overview.

What is a motion detector?

A motion detector is a sensor that usually reacts to movement through infrared radiation. Outdoors, it keeps burglars away with light or even an alarm signal and thus ensures security. There are also so-called presence detectors that monitor the area with heat radiation. The light of this detector comes on when the monitored area is entered and only goes out again when the area is left.

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Motion detectors are particularly often installed on garages. This makes it possible to park the car safely even in the dark. Infrared sensors are activated by the heat of the car engine.
(Image source: udo72/ 123rf)

Indoors, for example, the detector is used as an energy-efficient alternative to conventional lighting (with a light switch). This is particularly practical if you don't always have a hand free to operate a light switch. These motion detectors are also ideal on dark cellar stairs or in garages.

What types of motion detectors are there?

The market has produced a great variety of motion detectors. There are motion detectors for indoors and outdoors, with light or/and alarm signal. Some can be set up or plugged into the socket and are therefore portable, others are mounted on the ceiling or wall. In addition, the different motion sensors work in different ways.

The PIR sensor (Pyroelectric Infrared Sensor) is the most common model, it works with infrared radiation. These motion sensors are usually equipped with LED lamps and can be adjusted to the time of day using a twilight function. Thus, they shine brighter in the evening than during the day when there is movement. PIR detectors can be integrated into a smart home system via WLAN. This way, the whole house is networked by means of sensor technology. Lights and other utensils or functions can then be controlled via tablets or smartphones.

A presence detector works on the basis of heat radiation that monitors the selected area. The LED lamp comes on when the motion detector detects a warm object in the detection area. The light only goes out when the object has left the monitored area. This presence detector is mostly used outdoors or in public buildings.

The radio detector works in two parts. A transmitter device sends laser beams to a receiver device. If these laser beams are interrupted, a signal is sent via radio. The motion detector can be configured to give silent information about the signal or to sound a loud alarm.

What does a motion detector cost?

The price is determined primarily by the requirements in the area of application. If the detector meets many of the purchase criteria (see above) and has several additional functions, it is more expensive. The following table gives you an overview of the different price ranges.

Price range Functions
Low-priced Usually shorter range, Less flexible in regulation, Often only for installation, Cannot be integrated into a Smart Home System
Medium-priced Higher range and luminosity, Can be regulated, Can be integrated into a Smart Home System
High-priced High range, Best luminosity, Greatest possible flexibility in fine adjustment, Can be integrated into a Smart Home System, High-quality materials

Our ranking shows that you can already find a high-quality product in a medium price range that meets your requirements with various functions.

How does a motion detector work?

The technology of a motion detector must function perfectly and the sensor should react sensitively to movements. The PIR motion detector has the most efficient technology. It scatters infrared beams over a defined area and detects objects that are in that area. The PIR sensor immediately draws attention to this object with a light or alarm signal.

Presence detectors work via heat beams that locate warm objects and keep the LED lights shining until the object has moved away. The wireless detector works via a transmitter device that sends laser beams to a receiver device. If these laser beams are interrupted, a signal is given via radio. The motion detector can be configured to give silent information about the signal or to give a loud alarm. Radio detectors are therefore constructed in two parts and are therefore more complicated to install.

Conclusion

A motion detector provides living comfort and security. Outdoors, it warns of burglars and therefore needs a high range and luminosity. Indoors, it is practically used as an alternative to a lamp that is ideally matched to the area of application. If you have a household that is networked as a Smart Home, you can integrate a motion detector with LED lamps into this system and control it.

The detectors are specialised for certain areas of application and can ideally also be adapted to the area of application. When making your purchase decision, pay attention to the different functions of the motion detector and consider your requirements.

Image source: Irina/ 123rf

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