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Motion Detectors

Motion detectors – also known as motion sensors – serve as the foundation for most home security systems because they’re the first line of protection against possible intruders. Whether you’re interested in Wi-Fi motion sensors or outdoor motion sensors, consider the types of detectors available, as well as the best places to install them.

Types of Motion Detectors

Most detectors today are wireless motion sensors that employ either active or passive sensor technology.

Active Sensors: Also known as radar-based motion sensors, these motion detector alarms emit waves or pulses across an area to sense changes in movement. When an object or person moves into the controlled area, the motion sensor sends a signal to your alarm system, light or other connected security device. Active motion sensor alarms include microwave, ultrasonic and tomographic sensors, with each having different methods of determining movement. Compared to passive infrared sensors, active sensors offer an increased range of detection and can be discreetly designed behind casings so they’re not unsightly.

Passive Infrared Sensors: Most residential homes are equipped with these motion alarms, which identify potential threats by detecting body heat released from animals or people. Compared to active sensors, passive infrared sensors are more energy-efficient because they only turn on when heat and movement are detected in the controlled area.

Installation Tips for Motion Detectors

Before installing any motion sensors, be sure to read the manufacturer’s instructions. Many false alarms are caused by user error or poor installation, so familiarizing yourself with your device beforehand is important.

The detection range of most motion detectors is between 50 and 80 feet, so it’s best to place them in spots where they cover the widest area possible.

Outdoors: Position your sensors near the places where intruders may potentially try to enter, such as the front and back doors, patio and garage. Installing a sensor near these locations could also act as a deterrent for potential burglars.

Indoors: Consider placing your sensors in areas where people must walk through such as stairways and main hallways. Trespassers will trip the detector no matter where they enter your home or what room they decide to strike. For the best results, ensure your sensors are pointed parallel to where an intruder may walk.

There are a few places you should avoid installing a motion sensor. If you have a passive infrared sensor, keep it about 10 to 15 feet away from windows that receive direct sunlight that shines through in addition to heat sources such as a fireplace or ceiling/wall vent. A swift change in heat could trigger the sensor and create a false alarm.

It’s important to keep in mind that motion sensors aren’t just an extra security feature. They’re an essential competent to a home security system and help keep you and your family safe.


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