Are you overwhelmed by all the smart home sensors? Yes, I did.
Lucky for you, I spent hours researching to compile a complete list of all the types available.
It is my hope that it clarifies things.
There are many types of smart home sensors.
Here are the various types of smart home sensors that are currently available:
Contents hidden 1. Contact sensors2. Motion sensors3. Vibration sensors4. Sound sensors5. Water/leak sensors6. Temperature/humidity sensors7. Light/UV sensors8. Smoke/carbon dioxide sensors9. Radon sensors10. Sensors for air quality11. Sensors for electricity usage12. Sensors for location
Before we get into the details of comparing these smart home sensors, and identifying their advantages and applications, I urge you to take a deep breath.
Before you make a purchase of a smart sensor, there are many things to take into consideration. It’s not difficult once you have the right knowledge.
You will find all the answers to your questions in this entire post.
OK. Are you good? I’m good. Good. Let’s get on with it.
Multipurpose smart sensors vs. standalone smart sensors
There are many types of smart home sensors that can be sold separately. It is almost impossible to find a product that does only one of the above functions.
This was a mistake I made early in my home automation journey. In the end, I had to choose between returning or using the “standalone products.”
It is easy to see why: Most smart home products today include several of these sensors. They can be used for multiple purposes!
is an example of a multipurpose sensor. The Aeotec Multisensor6 is my favourite. It can be used as a motion, temperature and humidity sensor, light, UV, and vibration sensor.
Amazon has the Aeotec Multisensor 6 available for purchase.
However, standalone sensors have their place.
Considerations before purchasing smart sensors
Before we go into the specific applications of each smart sensor, there are some other things you should consider before purchasing.
Hub/Bridge requirements: Hubs connect all of your devices together. A hub is not necessary if the smart sensor you are buying requires WiFi only and you don’t plan on integrating it with any other products. In most cases, you will need to ensure that you have the right Hub for the product. Examples of Hubs include Google Home, Amazon Alexa and Samsung SmartThings.
Protocol compatibility (often referred as interoperability). Your device uses a specific protocol to communicate with and integrate all your smart devices. This protocol should be compatible with the smart sensor you are purchasing. Most products will only list the Hubs it works with. This is sufficient information to allow you to make a purchase. (Protocol examples: WiFi, Bluetooth, Z-wave, ZigBee)
Range This is usually measured in feet and largely depends on the smart hub/protocol that you use. There are many range extenders available that can help you place your sensor out of range.
Battery Life – How many years will it take to replace the battery on your device? Your battery life is likely to be shorter if the device relies solely on WiFi.
Indoor vs. This is an important distinction. Smart sensors aren’t always meant to be used outdoors. This will depend on your application.
Still OK? Good .
You’ve probably been shopping for smart home sensors for some time and you know how fragmented this market is.
This is because there is currently no single smart home protocol or “standard” for these products to communicate.
Companies use different protocols to connect and operate their devices. This results in products that don’t work together.
Nevertheless, you will be fine if you pay attention to the points I have made above.
Okay, let’s now go over each type of smart-home sensor in greater detail.
1. Contact sensors
Simply put, a contact sensing device tells you if something is “open”, or “closed”.
Because there are so many unique applications, I use quotations.
These sensors are typically made up of two pieces that can be easily attached.
The two sensors are close together when they are in the “closed” position.
The pieces will be further away if they are “opened”.
This sensor has the most obvious and beneficial application: home security.
Contact sensors can be installed on doors. One piece is on the door jam, the other on its door. This allows you to be notified whenever a door opens or closes.
As you become more proficient, you can use this information for additional actions based on the status of the door (e.g. turning on the home light).
These sensors can be installed on all windows throughout your house and kept informed of which windows are open or closed.
These items are not only for security purposes, but I have also read of homeowners putting them in their mailboxes – one sensor on the mailbox door and the other inside the box.
The mailbox door opens to notify the owner that the mail has been delivered.
These sensors have been used by homeowners to dry their washers/dryers.
You can use the sensor to detect when your laundry is almost done. Instead of checking in every 20 minutes, you can place the sensor on the dial.
2. Motion sensors
Smart motion sensors can detect motion and notify homeowners when they are absent.
These can be used to activate home automations such as turning on/off lights when someone enters or exits a room.
My experience is that most smart home security systems come with motion sensors. You can use these motion sensors to automate other aspects of your home.
A Blink security camera is mounted on my back deck and has a motion sensor. The camera will turn on my back deck lighting if it detects motion after 10 PM.
This is a two-fold idea: 1) I need to lighten the perpetrator so that I can see them better on the camera, and 2) I want to alarm/startle him enough so that he/she leaves quickly.
Outdoor lighting can be used to turn on or off lights when someone walks near your property. This is a great security measure, and it’s nice to have at night.
3. Vibration sensors
The majority of vibration sensors are used to detect knocking at doors.
This means that even if they knock on your door and don’t answer, you can still be alerted.
These sensors are also placed by homeowners in case they decide to not knock.
These sensors can also be installed on windows to notify you of a break in. This sensor could trigger an alert on your phone in the event of a home intruder breaking a basement window.
Finally, you can place these items on a washer/dryer to be notified when cycles begin and end.
You should read product reviews as not all vibration sensors are sensitive enough to detect subtle variations.
4. Sound sensors
There are many types of sound sensors. Some sound sensors “listen” for high-pitched alarm sounds. Some others listen for noises at certain thresholds over extended periods. Let me explain.
Personally, I am considering purchasing some “high-pitched sound detector” sensors and placing them around the house alongside my existing (non smart)smoke and carbon dioxide detectors.
This will allow me to save money on replacing all my smoke/carbon dioxide detectors. I’ll still be notified if/when they go off.
You can rest assured that your home is safe and sound while you are on vacation.
Other sound sensors, as mentioned above, measure volume at certain thresholds over a specified time period.
One example is party detection. This sensor can save homeowners who rent or use Airbnb hundreds of dollars in fines and home repairs.
You will be alerted if your guests make a lot of noise (or exceed a predefined threshold of noise) for a prolonged period of time.
This allows you to reach out and request that your tenant/renter calm down, before things escalate.
This will ensure that your friendly neighbours remain your friendly neighbours.
5. Water/leak sensors
These sensors warn you if there is excess moisture and buildup. This will help you avoid water damage and leaks.
Imagine how much money you could save!
This is a remarkable stat.
This means that homeowners like you and me will not be able to decide if they get water damage. It’s when.
This is why I believe a water sensor should be one of the first smart devices you purchase.
You can also integrate smart products that “react” when the water sensor goes off.
If you have a smart water valve or a water pump that is connected to a smart plug, you can trigger them both when the water sensor is activated.
This will turn off the water and activate your water pump. It’s a quick response.
Water sensors can also monitor and control your water irrigation and water consumption.
6. T Humidity/temperature sensors
The indoor and outdoor temperature sensors can be useful.
Since my house doesn’t currently support smart thermostats, I have three of them throughout my home.
This allows me to be alerted if the basement temperature falls below a threshold (anything to prevent frozen pipes!). ).
If the temperature is too high, I get an alert. You can see me, wife.
If you have humidifiers or dehumidifiers, the humidity sensor can prove very useful.
In most homes, humidity is highest in basements. The higher the humidity, then the more moisture is in the air.
A smart humidity sensor can be used to plug your dehumidifier in a smart plug. It will turn on when the sensor detects high humidity. This will reduce the moisture level in your basement. Some dehumidifiers come with “sensors”, but these are often inaccurate.
Another use for temp/humidity sensors are outdoor readings.
7. Sensors for light/UV
These sensors are, to my mind, not very useful or common (which is not a coincidence, I think).
The amount of UltraViolet radiation from the sun is measured by UV sensors.
These sensors have been used in both wearables and home products.
Wearable tech isn’t practical. How many people know you who would spend the money to buy a UV sensor to attach to their clothing to measure the sun?
The home product also measures UV rays in the immediate environment (wherever it is placed).
These can be used to help you decide when sunscreen should not be applied, but I don’t think they will take off until the tech is integrated into smart watches or other fashionable wearables.
8. Smoke/carbon dioxide sensors
Smart smoke/CO2 detectors are a costly option for homeowners, as they would need to replace all of their existing devices.
It would still be cost-effective to purchase a few smart sound detectors and place them next existing CO2/smoke detectors.
However, the CO2/smoke detectors are “truly” smart and have some very cool functionality.
You can easily monitor each device’s battery life. You’ve likely experienced a detector that beeps due to low battery if you have been a homeowner for some time.
You’ll have a lot of fun deciding which one.
Smart smoke/CO2 detectors will allow you to clearly see which one must be changed. You can also receive notifications far before the change to alert you to an upcoming change.
Many of these devices also have speakers built-in. When one of the devices is activated, they will all announce in unison the danger (smoke/CO2) and the problem area/room. This is extremely helpful.
While safety is the main purpose of these products, there are many that allow you to play music throughout your house.
Surround sound baby!
9. Radon sensors
Radon gas is something that most homeowners have heard of, regardless of whether they are homeowners. It is a radioactive, colourless, odourless and tasteless radioactive gas.
It’s so much fun!
Natural uranium decomposition in soil, rocks, and water means that radon gas slowly escapes the ground. Radon gas can then enter your home through foundation cracks/holes.
Radon contamination is most common in basements, but it can also build up in homes without basements.
This is why it matters. This gas-hole can cause lung cancer.
You have the option to conduct a radon test when you purchase a house, but many people do not bother.
Even those who have had their inspection completed aren’t completely out of the woods, as radon levels change constantly.
This device monitors radon levels throughout the year, helping to ensure that your home is safe.
10. Air-quality sensors
Although there is some overlap with the gas sensors discussed above, I have chosen to list smart air quality sensors individually due to their versatility.
These devices can also monitor temperature, humidity, and carbon dioxide.
If you are like me and have asthma or allergies, the quality of your home can make a huge difference in your quality-of life.
Your home could be the thing making you sick – or keeping you from getting better.
These devices monitor your air quality and notify you if things get out of control. Once you know the exact details of the problem, you can immediately take steps to solve it.
They can also be integrated with other smart devices.
Imagine this: Your smart air quality sensor detects an increase in dust levels in your bedroom.
This will trigger your smart vacuum cleaner’s automatic cleaning mode. You will also receive a notification reminding you to check the dust levels once the vacuum is done.