Home automation with smart devices is spreading in many places, with smart lights, cameras and more installed in many homes. To connect all those smart devices, many smart sensors are being introduced for that purpose. They are easy to install and can serve different functions such as sensing when someone enters the room and turning the light on/off (light sensors), temperature sensors, gas sensors and more.
Smart sensors use different technologies to send data wirelessly to your hub or mobile, such as Zigbee, Z-wave, Bluetooth, WiFi and others.
What you need to know about smart sensors
- Most sensors are wireless and battery-powered, so you can place them in the perfect spot to serve their function. A professional technician can help you install it in the right place.
The sensor has to be in a place where you can get the most of it. For example, if you are using a motion sensor to detect intruders, you have to put it in a place an intruder is most likely to pass by. Yet if you are using the motion sensor to detect house members entering a certain room to trigger specific tasks, you have to put it where they are likely to pass by.
- Sensors send data to different smart devices through a hub, whether you are using SmartThings, HomeKit, Google Assistant or Alexa to run specific routines when sensing someones’ presence.
- Different sensors are compatible with different wireless protocols; Z-Wave or Zigbee, Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. Before buying a sensor, you have to find out if it’s compatible with your smart hub or you will have to get its own hub and bridge.
- Some smart home devices come with built-in smart sensors, like Smart doorbells that come with built-in motion sensors to send alerts when detecting motion. Also, smart thermostats have built-in temperature sensors to detect the change in temperature and adjust upon it.
Best smart sensors
There are many types of smart sensors, the most notable are:
- Smart home motion sensors
- Smart security door and window contact sensors
- Smart moisture, flood and water leak sensors
- Temperature and humidity sensors
1. Smart home motion sensors
As we already mentioned, motion sensors detect movement in a selected area to send alerts in case of unusual activity or to trigger certain actions through smart devices such as switching light, locking doors or else.
Those sensors have to be wisely placed, to detect only the motion in concern more accurately. You will find motion sensors in the market that are compatible with almost all wireless protocols out there.
- Most motion sensors have an adjustable sensitivity functionality.
- Some motion sensors come with passive infrared sensors (PIR), to detect motion through detecting the body temperature.
- Some motion sensors come with MW (Microwave), to detect motion through bouncing microwave pulses off objects. However, this type is less accurate.
- Other sensors may combine more than one type of detecting.
- Before you buy a motion sensor check the motion coverage and sensitivity, and the ability to adjust those through your platform. Going for a motion sensor with an adjustable range can be very beneficial.
- Some motion sensors have a “pet immunity” functionality; to recognize pets in a certain size, not to send false alerts for pets passing by.
Best smart motion sensors
Samsung SmartThings Motion Sensor
For 24£ you can get Samsung’s Motion Sensor, which you can detect motion and temperature anywhere in your house; and activate specific preset tasks routine.
This sensor can be installed on the wall or furniture, and works with Zigbee protocol.
You can use it with SmartThings hub, the new Echo Plus or Echo Show.
Hue Motion sensor
For 34.99£ on Amazon, the Zigbee motion sensor from Philips for the Hue light bulbs will help you control the lights whenever someone enters or leaves the room, and adjust lighting according to daylight levels to conserve energy.
You can connect this sensor to HomeKit through a Hue hub. You can also use Alexa to set a specific routine on your smart devices.
Fibaro Motion Sensor
For 69.99£ on Amazon is more expensive than other similar sensors, however, you will get a motion sensor compatible with HomeKit and Z-Wave with a remarkable design, and can detect temperature and vibration.
Sonoff Motion sensor
You can find the Sonoff’s SNZB-03 Zigbee Motion Sensor for only 7.5£ on Amazon.
This sensor comes with a detection range of 6m and 110° viewing angle. The company suggests pairing it with ZB Bridge, however, you can control it through the SmartThings hub using eWeLink.
This sensor really deserves the 129£ price tag, as it detects motion using a PIR sensor (passive infrared sensors) besides monitoring temperature, humidity and noise. In addition, it can notify you if there is mould risk in your house.
Minut motion sensor offers other features such as:
- sound recognition, to detect and notify you about alarms that went off
- Built-in 85 db siren that goes off in case of emergency
- Connects to the hub through WiFi
- 6-month battery life
Onvis Motion sensor
The 31.99£ Onvis Motion sensor is compatible with HomeKit. It can trigger the light in case of someone entering or leaving the room, on top of having a temperature sensor.
2. Smart security door and window contact sensors
Contact sensors are put on doors and windows to notify when they are being opened, making them useful as part of smart security systems. They are useful when installed on blinds, drawers, garage doors, doggie doors or anything similar.
They can be used as standalone devices, or paired with a smart home system like SmartThings, Apple HomeKit or Amazon Alexa to activate a series of commands on other smart devices such as turning lights on/off, switching TV or whatever you desire.
Best Smart security door and window contact sensors
Samsung SmartThings Multipurpose Sensor
This sensor can monitor contact, temperature and vibration, so for 23£ you get a 3×1 device. Other features includes:
- It can detect knocking, making it very useful for the front door.
- The sensor is magnetic to be easily attached to any metal gate or door.
- Compatibility with Samsung’s SmartThings hub and Echo smart speakers with Zigbee
Sonoff wireless door/window sensor
It seems like Sonoff is sticking to a low pricing strategy with some of its sensors like this one too comes with a low price under 8£ on Amazon.
This small-sized sensor can work directly with SmartThings and Sonoff Zigbee hub, in addition to the ability to use IFTTT functions. Plus it can run Alexa Routines smoothly.
Stitch by Monoprice Wireless Smart Door/Window Sensor
Stitch Wireless Smart Door/Window Sensor is sold for 19.99£ on Amazon. It features:
- Using WiFi to connect to smart home systems
- Have its own app in addition to the ability to work with Alexa and Google Assistant
- It can be used anywhere, from the front door, garden door, pet door, drawers or else.
- Works with Alexa Routines too even without a Zigbee hub
- Has a motion sensor
Eve Door and Window Contact Sensor
Eve Door and Window Contact Sensor is a 41.79£ great gadget, it is compatible with HomeKit. What’s different about this sensor is that it comes with extra spacers to make sure the two parts of the sensor are in correct alignment, which is useful in case of having non-standard doors and windows. It also has a motion sensor that only works with HomeKit.
The sensor uses BLE wireless technology to connect to the HomeKit hub. Unfortunately, this gives it a short response range that doesn’t exceed 20 feet (about 6 meters) from the hub.
3. Smart moisture, flood and water leak sensors
Moisture and water leak sensors are not new to the market, as there are a number of non-smart options in the market that use sound alarms to alert you in case of sensing moisture. You can put moisture, flood and water leak sensors in any place such as sinks, bathtubs and more.
On the other hand, you can find water sensors that double as freeze detectors such as Honeywell Lyric Wi-Fi Water Leak and Freeze Detector or Roost Smart Water Leak and Freeze Detector.
However, sound alarms are not always useful especially if you are outside. Smart sensors can send notification on your smartphone, and some can be controlled remotely through a hub and WiFi network. In addition, you can find smart sensors that can be connected to other smart devices such as smart light, smart plugs or any other; to switch them off in case of emergency. Some sensors allow you to build a series of commands using IFTTT, to take certain actions whenever your house is overflowing. One of the best smart sensors to provide this feature is the iHome Wi-Fi Dual Leak Sensor, where you can trigger smart plugs to switch off when detecting moisture.
Best Smart moisture, flood and water leak sensors
iHome Wi-Fi Dual Leak Sensor
The iHome Wi-Fi Dual Leak Sensor is sold for 29.99$ on Amazon, and it comes with dual probes and a two years battery life.
The sound alarm in this sensor is so loud, plus it can send notifications to your smartphone and integrate with other smart devices through a hub.
Samsung SmartThings Water Leak Sensor
This sensor is considered one of the best options in the market, however it offers less coverage than the iHome sensor.
In addition, it has a temperature monitor plus the ability to integrate to SmartThings using Alexa or Google Assistant.
YoLink Yosmart Water Leak Sensor
The YoLink YoSmart water leak sensor comes at a low price of 16.99$ on Amazon. It uses Semtech’s LoRa (long-range) technology instead of Bluetooth, Zigbee, Z-Wave or Wi-Fi; which offers up to a 30-miles coverage range making it ideal for larger buildings.
However, to connect this sensor to other smart devices you will need a YoLink Hub.
4. Temperature and humidity sensors
Temperature sensors are one of the most used sensors with smart thermostats, to help adjust room temperature according to temperature and humidity levels. These sensors increase the effectiveness and efficiency of the HVAC system.
You can put temperature sensors around the house to adjust the individual room temperature to be aligned with the rest of the house.
Extra features include checking room occupancy, like the one in the Ecobee’s Room Sensors; to adjust the temperature accordingly saving energy. Also, the sensor can iterate with other smart devices to switch them on/off in case of temperature changes, like switching fans or coffee machines or smart plugs.
Best Temperature and humidity sensors
Ecobee Room Sensor
To use this 79$ sensor you will need an Ecobee Smart Thermostat, Ecobee4 or Ecobee3 Lite. It can measure the temperature of an individual and have an occupancy check feature for more energy efficiently.
Monoprice Z-Wave sensor
The 30$ sensor can be used to detect and send alerts for:
The sensor uses Z-Wave Plus for wireless connection, making it suitable to be used as part of a Samsung SmartThings setup.
Eve Room sensor
The 2nd-en Eve Room is sold for 89.95£ on Amazon, it has an aluminum body with a high-contrast 1.54-inch E Ink touch display on top with 4 layouts to choose from. In addition, it comes with replaceable batteries instead of rechargeable batteries.
It can detect:
- Air quality
Unfortunately, this sensor is only compatible with HomeKit.
Kangaroo Water and Climate Sensor
This 29.95£ multi-purpose sensor can be wall-mounted to monitor temperature and humidity, in addition to the ability to put it on any flat surface to detect water levels.
It’s connected using WiFi to be used anywhere around the house.
Airthings Wave Mini
This 69.99£ small-sized sensor can monitor air quality through an app, to track:
- Mold, based on ASHRAE mold index
The sensor is compatible with Google Assistant and IFTTT through Bluetooth. However, it’s not compatible with Amazons’ Alexa.
Netatmo Weather Station
With a price on the higher side, 149.99£, this sensor has 2 modules to monitor:
- Indoor temperature and humidity
- Air quality
- Barometric pressure
- Outdoor air quality
- Weather conditions
- Outdoor temperature and humidity
The Netatmo Weather Station is compatible with Alexa and IFTTT, yet there is no HomeKit support.