How Motion Sensors Work: 10 Frequently Asked Questions About This Home Security Essential

What’s the most effective way to make sure no one’s sneaking in and around your house when you’re away or asleep? That should be easy — a motion sensor. Also called motion detector, this device would help owners identify “uninvited guests” and get them behind bars immediately.


A motion sensor makes use of one or multiple technologies to detect movement in a specific area. If a sensor is tripped, it will send an alert to your security system, which is synchronized to your monitoring center, informing you and the security center of an intrusion.


There are many different types of motion sensors available in the market today, but without proper knowledge, you might end up having an inefficient security system. Before giving in to your impulse, here are the things you need to know about motion detectors.

  1. What is the purpose of a motion sensor?

As the name suggests, a motion sensor detects movement. The signal it emits is sent to an alarm panel. Unlike window or door sensors, a motion sensor is capable of securing a space effectively, which means users don’t have to install a sensor on each door or window. A single motion sensor can secure a large area and is a more affordable option for homeowners. Additionally, motion sensors consume very little power and can last up to five years.


  1. What is a driveway motion detector?

Driveway motion detectors are commonly installed in driveways, but they also work in sheds, pools, and stables. The standard basic model has a range of around 400 feet, apt for shorter driveways. If you’re trying to secure larger structures, however, such as warehouse complexes or private hiking trails, you will need a special long range model that can cover up to half a mile.


  1. Why is my motion sensor giving false detections?

Motion sensors can sometimes be triggered by sudden sounds or bursts of air. For example, moving window blinds within range of the sensor can set it off because the sensor will become suspicious and react. There’s a remedy to this situation though. You can adjust your sensor so that it would not react to sudden moving objects. However, if you’re still experiencing it despite making adjustments, you might want to send in a technician to have the unit checked or replaced.


  1. Is there such a thing as a motion detector guard dog?

As silly as it may sound, motion detector guard dogs actually exist. You can install one near your front door and when someone approaches, the unit will produce barking sounds. A lot of motion sensors can detect the slightest of movements through windows and doors, so it’s pretty easy to secure the unit where it’s hard to see. There are also models in which the user can adjust the volume and speed of the bark depending on how far or near the intruder is. This is ideal for people who want a guard dog but don’t actually want to deal with real pets.


  1. Can pets trigger motion sensors?

They can, actually. But there are passive infrared sensors that can ignore animals up to a certain weight. Motion sensors with dual technology can prevent false alarms caused by pets because two detectors need to be set off instead of one. By making adjustments, special sensors like these can ignore small pets or large ones. These sensors can also be programmed to ignore non-human behavior activity.


  1. What is a motion flood light?

Motion flood lights are a type of sensors that turn on a light to let you know it senses motion instead of sending off a signal to a control panel. If the floodlight detects a burglar or a visitor, the unit will illuminate. If it’s the owner of the property, however, you can make it to your house without setting off the alarm. There are many different types of motion floodlights. The basic models are those that stay put, but fancier models can light up patterns so that it pins the burglar in place. You can also program the floodlight to switch off at daytime.


  1. Can I use a motion sensor besides for security purposes?

Yes. Motion sensors aren’t only used for home security. They can also be used to shut down equipment or track the number of products inside a facility. Other purposes of motion detectors are the following:

  • For parking meters
  • For ticket gates
  • To control ATM displays
  • To turn on lights if people enter
  • To trigger toilets and water faucets
  • To close and open automatic doors


  1. Should I use a wireless or wired motion sensor?

The answer to this question depends on your need and the size of the area you want to secure. With a wireless motion sensor, you can experiment with the different areas you want to install it to get you the best range. It can be a bit tricky though. If you set it too low, your pet might trigger more often than you need. If it’s too high, burglars can easily get away. Install it in the right height and you can nab burglars and don’t have to deal with false alarms caused by your pets. Take note, however, that a wireless motion sensor can only cover 400 feet of your area. If you want to secure a much bigger space, go for a wired sensor instead.



  1. Where should I put a motion sensor?

Although you can install motion sensors inside your home, it is best to position them in areas leading to your front and back door, driveways, and windows. That way, alarms and lights will come on when somebody arrives. You can also install them in stairways, pools, patios, and decks.


  1. Other than lights and alarm, what are other ways can a motion sensor help secure my property?

If your motion sensor is part of your home security, it will likely come with an auto dialer. This means you won’t manually have to call the police or the security system company. It will automatically dial their numbers once the sensor detects an intruder. A pre-recorded message will play over and over again so that the authorities are informed of your identity and address.

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