Zigbee, Z-Wave, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and more

Cupertino, March 11, 2020

If smart lights, thermostats, and security cameras are smart home traps, think of smart sensors as the invisible network that accomplishes everything. Or, if you prefer, the eyes of the smart home.

The word sensor itself is rather vague. There are many sensors for different purposes: motion sensors, light sensors, temperature sensors and more. And there is a huge range of different methods for how these sensors work; Zigbee, Z-Wave, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and more.

Despite all this, the best part of using the sensors is that they are (for the most part) super-easy to install, often without the need for wiring, which will be music to tenants' ears. But before we delve into the specifics of each type of sensor and the best selling sensors now, let's go over a few indicators that need to be known.

Smart sensors: Things to know first

Many of the sensors you pick up today are wireless and power the batteries, allowing you to place them wherever you want. But the position of these sensors is essential; if you have the professional installation of your smart home, they should be able to provide a few hints - or do it just for you.

If you go DIY, think about the locations that will be most effective, but at least likely to cause false alarms if you use them for security. Say you are using a motion sensor, you will want to place it in a place that an intruder is most likely to pass, but not somewhere that could be triggered by daily cat-by-door visits.

Sensors can also be used to transmit data on different smart devices. If you have a smart home based on a hub that uses SmartThings, HomeKit, Google Assistant or Alexa to link everything, sensors are another form of control, which triggers routines and automations only by "noticing" presence.

Here, you also have to think about compatibility. Are the sensors Z-Wave or Zigbee, Bluetooth or Wi-Fi? Do you want to buy the sensors as part of a package that companies like Ring and Samsung offer, or better buy the sensors individually?

Some smart home appliances also double as variety sensors. Smart door bells have motion sensors in them and send you an alert when they see movement, and smart thermostats have temperature sensors. Below, we have broken down the major categories of smart home sensors and included some of our best options.


Smart motion sensors at home

There are no points to guess what they do. Motion sensors detect movement in a selected area of ​​your home and can send you an alert, trigger a siren, or turn on other connected devices, such as lights, on or off depending on the movement or lack thereof.

One thing you need to know: You want to put motion sensors in a place that someone is likely to pass by, not simply walk in front. This will make it more accurate when detecting movement. There is no end to options for most every smart home ecosystem, whether your home is running on Zigbee, Z-Wave, HomeKit or Amazon Alexa.

Most motion sensors have adjustable sensitivity. In researching motion sensors, you might encounter something called PIR. This means passive infrared sensor, which detects hot bodies as they pass by. Other types of motion sensors include MW (microwave oven), which rejects microwave pulses outside objects; ultrasonic waves; vibration, which is less precise and more prone to false positives; and sometimes a combination of more than one type.

Having an adjustable range can be extremely beneficial, depending on the space you use it. The essential thing is to check the coverage and sensitivity of the movement before you buy and whether the platform you are using will allow you to adjust those (Amazon Alexa does not change the sensitivity).

Some come with a feature called "pet immunity", which is exactly how it sounds. They should not warn you if they detect movement from smaller beings in your home and there is usually a maximum size (Ecolink Z-Wave Plus Motion Detector claims motion immunity from pets up to 55 lbs. , e.g).

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Samsung SmartThings motion sensor

$ 24.99, Amazon | samsung.com

The Samsung Motion Sensor is a super handy device to place anywhere in your home to detect movement and temperature and to trigger smart home based lights, alarms or routines. It is really small, so you can glue it to a wall or furniture and then use the magnetic backing to get the desired coverage. It works on Zigbee protocol and you'll need either a SmartThings hub or Amazon Alexa Echo Plus or Show 2 to use it.

Smart home sensors: a guide to everything you need to know

Hue motion sensor

$ 39.99, Amazon | meethue.com

If your concern is less about security and more about using motion to light the lights in your home, which, to be honest, still feels amazing in 2020 - then Philips sells a Zigbee motion sensor for lights sale Hue. It can even detect optimal levels of daylight to save energy as needed.

If you have a Hue hub, you can connect it to a HomeKit configuration and it works with Alexa to trigger routines (a hub works with any Alexa speaker, without being able to associate it with an Echo Plus or Show 2). This means that you can use movement or lack thereof to activate the smart devices in your home, apart from just the lights.

Smart home sensors: a guide to everything you need to know

Fibaro motion sensor

$ 69.99, Amazon | fibaro.com

Fibaro makes it one of the best sensors for HomeKit users. There is also a Z-Wave version, so make sure you choose the right one.

It's a little more expensive, but looks even better than most other motion sensors out there, if it's a little 'Sauron's Eye'. It also detects temperature and vibration.

Smart home sensors: a guide to everything you need to know

Onvis motion sensor

$ 25.99, Amazon

Another HomeKit option is Onvis. Cheap - which is not something you normally hear about with HomeKit - this is a decent device to stick in a room to turn on the lights and also has a temperature sensor.


Smart contact sensors for door and window

Contact sensors are most often used as part of intelligent security systems, put on doors and windows to tell if they were open when they shouldn't. But they are also very useful to know if anything it was opened or closed - blinds, fridges, drawers, garage doors, puppy doors, medicine cabinets, you name it. If it opens and closes, you can paste a contact sensor on it.

You can use them as standalone devices or pair them with a smart home system such as SmartThings, Apple HomeKit or Amazon Alexa to do useful things like turn on the lights, turn off the alarm and maybe turn on the TV or turn it on. boiling when you open the front door.

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Smart home sensors: a guide to everything you need to know

Samsung SmartThings Multifunctional Sensor

$ 19.99, Amazon | samsung.com

Samsung's multifunctional sensor is a three-in-one gadget - monitoring contact, temperature and vibration. Really useful on the doors - especially a front door, because it can detect the knock - you can glue it wherever two things connect.

Also, due to the fact that the entire device is magnetic, you can easily attach it to a metal gate, mailbox or door. Works with Samsung's SmartThings Hub and Amazon Alexa's Echo Plus or Show 2.

Smart home sensors: a guide to everything you need to know

Stitch by Monoprice Smart sensor without door / window

$ 19.99, Amazon | monoprice.com

Wi-Fi contact sensor, Stitch works with Alexa and Google Assistant, as well as its own application. However, there is no need for a hub, so you can paste this on the front door and know when someone opens it.

It's one of the few Wi-Fi sensors that also works with Alexa routines, even without one of the Amazon Zigbee hubs, which is a great feature that lets you connect it to other smart things at home. Stitch also has a motion sensor.

Smart home sensors: a guide to everything you need to know

Contact sensor Eve Door and Window

$ 39.95, Amazon | eve.com

The Eve Door and Window Contact Sensor is a HomeKit sensor that comes with extra distances, so you can be sure that both sides of the sensor will be in proper alignment (the key for non-standard doors and windows).

It uses BLE to communicate with a HomeKit hub (HomePod, Apple TV or iPad), but this means it can't be much more than 20 feet from the hub to work properly. Eve also has a HomeKit compatible motion sensor, but none will work with any other system.


Smart home sensors: a guide to everything you need to know

Intelligent humidity sensors, floods and water leaks

At hand, these, if you want to avoid returning home to a rainy house (or at least want a heads up). Many of the traditional ones use alarms to warn you that something has leaked, but what if you aren't home to hear it blaring?

Humidity detectors can be located in many places. Currently, we have one on a washing machine, which is waiting longer, and it will probably break down soon, but heaters, tubs and sinks are other obvious risk areas.

An essential aspect is if you want audible alerts and notifications on your smartphone. Not all of these sensors do both. Also, what kind of notifications do you want? A text? A call? Think about this. And also take into account what you already have in your home. Some of these sensors require a hub, but some can connect directly to Wi-Fi. If you want to connect water sensors with other smart home devices - say, turn off the lights if a leak is detected - then some will let you. And in some cases, you can use IFTTT to use the available options.

One of our top paintings here is the iHome Wi-Fi Dual Leak Sensor (seen above), for which you can also configure iHome smart jacks to stop them when a leak is detected. The Samsung SmartThings water leak sensor works with the SmartThings hub and, in our testing, has proven to be quite sensitive, even if it doesn't have such a large detection range.

Some water sensors double as freeze detectors. Roost water leakage and freezing detector, for example, or the less intelligent (but very capable) Wi-Fi filter detector Lyric Honeywell.

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Smart home sensors: a guide to everything you need to know

iHome Dual Wi-Fi leak sensor

$ 29.99, Amazon | ihomeaudio.com

The iHome leak sensor has dual probes for additional coverage and a two-year battery life. It's also tough as hell, with the option of pushing alerts to your smartphone or integrating it with other iHome devices if you have them.

Smart home sensors: a guide to everything you need to know

Samsung SmartThings water leak sensor

$ 19.99, Amazon | samsung.com

The Samsung leak sensor does not have as much coverage as the iHome, but it is still easily one of the best options out there. It also monitors the temperature, while SmartThings integration means you can link it to Alexa or Google Assistant.


Temperature and humidity sensors

Temperature sensors are at their maximum when working with smart thermostats. Sure, they can be helpful when they warn you that it is too hot or humid, but they are most effective in making the smart thermostat more efficient.

The best example here is the Ecobee Room Sensors. Temperature sensors are excellent for efficient cooling or heating of rooms. Let's say your thermostat is on the hall and its 71 degrees Fahrenheit. In your room, it's 67 degrees Fahrenheit. If you have a room sensor in that room, you will be told that your HVAC is colder than the hall and may need a little more heat.

Similarly, the Ecobee camera sensors also check the occupancy. So if I feel like someone is in a room, it will heat it, but if not, it won't lose energy. This can make your heating system appear to be following you around the house, which is super futuristic.

Temperature sensors can also be used to trigger other devices. For example, if it gets too hot, you can activate your fan. Or if it gets too cold, you can activate your coffee machine. There are simple things like that that can make a different world.

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Smart home sensors: a guide to everything you need to know

Ecobee room sensor

$ 79, Amazon | ecobee.com

You will need an Ecobee Smart, Ecobee4 or Ecobee3 Lite thermostat to use them, but the result is a much smarter way to heat your home. The sensors measure the temperature of the individual rooms, as well as the place where people are, so that it can heat the house more efficiently.

Smart home sensors: a guide to everything you need to know

Z-Wave Monoprice Sensor

$ 30, Amazon | monoprice.com

It does everything: temperature, humidity, movement and light. When the temperature changes with a specified amount, you will receive an alert - as does humidity. It's Z-Wave Plus, so you can use it as part of a Samsung SmartThings configuration. Speaking of which, consider the Samsung multifunctional temperature sensor, which I mentioned earlier.

Smart home sensors: a guide to everything you need to know

Room Eve

$ 99.95, Amazon | everoom.com

The second piece Eve Room comes with a redesigned aluminum body and a high contrast 1.54-inch E ink display that will tell you the temperature, humidity and air quality.

There are four different aspects to display and you can switch between them via touch panels on both sides of the screen. The latest Eve camera has also removed replaceable batteries in favor of a rechargeable battery.

As with all Eve products, it is compatible with HomeKit only, but you can use it to configure HomeKit automations based on temperature changes - but you must use the Eve application.

Smart home sensors: a guide to everything you need to know

Netatmo weather station

$ 179.99, Amazon | netatmo.com

Designed as a weather station, the Netatmo indoor module monitors CO2, temperature, humidity and air quality, while the outer tower monitors barometric pressure, outdoor air quality and weather conditions, as well as indoor air, temperature and humidity. There is Alexa and IFTTT support - but not HomeKit.

Best selling & Top trending HomeKit product in our shop at this moment

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