As seen in:
SadoTech
Wireless PIR
International Electronics
Chamberlain Wireless Motion
First Alert
Motion Sensing Light Socket
1byone
Safety Driveway Patrol
Aeon Labs
Aeotec Z-Wave Multi-Sensor
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Good

An economical alternative to a pricey home security system. Doorbell activated; a buffet of alarm tone choices.

Waterproof. Great for outdoor settings. Wind and weather don't cause false alarms.

A light socket sensor that provides light when you enter a room and turns off when you exit.

An outdoor alarm. Accurate detection even if an intruder is out of "sight lines."

Great for indoor and outdoor use, regardless of weather.

Bad

A bit on the expensive side, but well worth the extra cost.

Inclement weather may hamper vehicle detection.

Sensitivity can be hampered if placed too close to another object. No alarm.

Occasional false alarms caused by movements in nature.

Set-up can be complicated. Temperature and humidity sensors are frequently inaccurate.

Bottom Line

A wireless doorbell sensor with adjustable alarm tone and volume. Known for accuracy and reliability. The best choice on the market.

A sensitive wireless motion detector at the higher end of the pricing spectrum. May falter at detecting vehicles in bad weather.

An inexpensive way to protect yourself and your home through hands-free, automatic lighting. A high-quality, economical motion sensor and the best bang for your buck.

A low-cost motion sensor/alarm with some known defects, including false alarms.

A more expensive model that senses motion, light, temperature, and humidity. Some notable flaws with temperature and humidity settings.

How we decide
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Products received from manufacturers
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Models Considered
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Hours Spent
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Experts Interviewed
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Consumers Consulted

Best Motion Sensors

Motion sensors offer a variety of features that provide extra security and protection. The top motion sensors include the following contenders:

Products we Considered

SadoTech
Wireless PIR
International Electronics
Chamberlain Wireless Motion
First Alert
Motion Sensing Light Socket
1byone
Safety Driveway Patrol
Aeon Labs
Aeotec Z-Wave Multi-Sensor

Considerations

Type

Several types of motion detectors exist, including doorway sensors and driveway sensors. Most motion sensors are battery-powered, but some run on electricity. Electricity-powered motion sensors often get their juice from an existing structure, such as a light fixture. Exterior motion sensors are more popular with consumers than interior sensors.

Technology

Innovative technology abounds in many modern motion sensors. For example, devices with temperature and lighting sensors may send radio signals to associated devices on a network to indicate a potential problem. Wireless motion sensors are a great option for both home and business. Some devices feature motion-sensing technology that automatically activates the lights when a person walks into the room.

Features

Features vary depending on the type of motion sensor you choose. Features to consider include -- but are not limited to -- wireless technology, light sensitivity, low-battery detection, swivel arm mounts, and components that you can update yourself.

Price

Motion detectors often cost less than $50. Basic units are the cheapest, with a general price tag of $30 or less. Pricier units typically offer more innovative technology. A set often costs more than a single motion detector.

Considerations

Type

SadoTech Wireless PIR

The SadoTech Wireless PIR Motion Sensor is a doorbell-operated motion sensor that triggers the main doorbell unit. As opposed to more expensive home security systems, this device works well as a simple alert unit. The SadoTech is particularly useful in areas where its presence makes residents feel more secure, such as a porch or basement apartment.

Chamberlain CWA2000 Wireless Motion Alert System

The Chamberlain CWA2000 Wireless Motion Alert System is great for outdoor settings like garages and driveways. A half-mile sensitivity range (from sensor to base) allows the device to alert users when vehicles or pedestrians approach. The Chamberlain can detect pedestrians and animals as well as vehicles, although our research suggests that inclement weather may sometimes hamper vehicle detection. Amazingly, the Chamberlain does not give a false alarm in windy conditions (in which tree branches sway/debris flies through the air).

First Alert PIR725 Motion Sensing Light Socket

The First Alert PIR725 Motion Sensing Light Socket is a hands-free device for the inside of homes and businesses. This sensor automatically turns on the light when someone enters a room and turns it off after the person leaves. The device is installed into an existing light socket and the bulb is screwed into the fixture. Some owners tell us that the motion sensor works best in rooms with relatively low ceilings. This technology is also a great addition to dark rooms and spaces, such as closets and basements. A small number of customers told us that the First Alert does not always work on pets, but it does with humans.

1byone Safety Driveway Patrol

The 1byone Safety Driveway Patrol Infrared Wireless Home Security Alert Alarm System protects driveways and exteriors. The device is suitable for garden sheds, business warehouses, aircraft hangars, and many other outdoor settings. Two sensors work with one receiver -- an optimal set-up for monitoring two places at once. A handful of customers we surveyed mentioned that this device occasionally gives a false alarm, mistaking a bird or other small animal for an intruder.

Aeon Labs Aeotec Z-Wave Multi-Sensor

The Aeon Labs Aeotec Z-Wave Multi-Sensor is a four-in-one, indoor/outdoor sensor. This device senses motion, temperature, lighting, and humidity. Combination indoor/outdoor tolerance enables the sensor to work under different weather conditions. While our research indicates that the Aeon does a great job monitoring motion and lighting, the temperature and humidity settings can be inaccurate at times. Several users told us that humans almost always trigger the detector, but smaller dogs and other animals sometimes do not.

The First Alert automatically turns on the light when someone enters a room and turns it off when the person leaves.
Considerations

Technology

This unique doorbell motion sensor includes a passive infrared sensor (PIR). The PIR triggers the main doorbell unit and works well in various settings. A generous communication range between the sensor and chime unit makes the SadoTech even more effective than some other units on our shortlist, although major obstacles have been known to interfere with the signal from time to time. Some owners are of the opinion that this motion sensor monitors more vertical space than it does horizontal.

The Chamberlain CWA2000 relies on wireless technology. However, a lithium ion battery provides backup if necessary and should probably be used exclusively with this unit in colder weather (20 degrees Fahrenheit and under). At least one owner we surveyed told us that the battery compartment is difficult to access, but this is a minimal concern. The Chamberlain works well in both rural and suburban settings.

The hands-free First Alert screws into existing light fixtures, taking the place of a typical light bulb. The device works with incandescent bulbs up to 100 watts and compact fluorescent bulbs up to 50 watts. Location matters when using this product. For example, it does not always detect motion as well when placed next to a wall or in close proximity to other objects. Overall, however, the First Alert is a reliable product that will prevent you from fumbling around in the dark.

The 1byone Safety Driveway Patrol includes a transmitter and receiver. The transmitter requires three AAA 1.5V batteries and the receiver requires three C 1.5V batteries. For best results, the manufacturer recommends that owners use only fresh, high-quality, alkaline batteries. LED indicators on the receiver announce possible intruders or visitors. This unit does not need line-of-sight to operate properly -- a high-tech feature we really appreciate. If you place the 1byone too close to the road or a busy sidewalk, however, your sensor may pick up some "traffic noise."

The Aeon Labs Aeotec is a Z-Wave sensor designed for indoor/outdoor use. The battery-powered sensor has a remarkable optimized range of 300 feet when outdoors. The sensor sends radio signals to any Z-Wave device on the network when it detects IR changes. For extra security and protection, an internal USB connector powers the device if the batteries are removed or do not work properly. Users have told us that it is important to keep the device on for several minutes during initial configuration so that it can establish a strong connection with other devices on the network.

A generous communication range between the SadoTech's sensor and chime unit make it an effective technology for the home.
Bill
Expert Consultant
Bill
Engineer, Do-It-Yourself Guru

Bill has been a hardware store owner, locksmith, and general home repair guru for over 40 years. His ability to solve problems and repair every item in every situation is a true gift. In his spare time, you may find Bill working in his garden, tending to his perfectly manicured lawn, or riding his bike.

Considerations

Features

SadoTech Wireless PIR

The SadoTech will alert you if someone pulls into your driveway, opens your mailbox, or approaches your door. This technology is appropriate for businesses, too; proprietors appreciate the alarm tone notification when a customer walks in the door. Four levels of adjustable volume and over fifty different alarm tones (including one that sounds like a barking dog) top the list of excellent features offered by the SadoTech Wireless. Most chimes last about 30 seconds, giving you ample time to collect yourself in the event of a visitor or an intrusion.

Chamberlain CWA2000 Wireless Motion Alert System

Easy to install and operate, the Chamberlain CWA2000 Wireless Motion Alert System features a weatherproof outdoor sensor with adjustable sensitivity control. The system has room for up to eight sensors; these sensors are easy to adjust so you don't experience a false alarm. The number of beeps corresponds to each sensor, with one beep for Sensor One, two beeps for Sensor Two, and so on (depending on how many sensors you choose to use). At least one owner we surveyed cautioned that the shorter beeps can be easy to miss.

First Alert PIR725 Motion Sensing Light Socket

The First Alert PIR725 senses movement in all directions within a 360-degree radius. Intended for indoor use only, this product has a sensitivity range of 12 feet when installed in paths with heavy motion/foot traffic. The sensor's incandescent bulbs offer contemporary lighting with a white glow. Placing the unit too close to a wall, object, or other structure could impede its motion detecting capabilities -- buyers should take this into consideration before installing the product. The duration of the light is about four minutes and is not adjustable; a handful of users told us they wished they could change this feature, but it's a minor concern when you look at all you get for the First Alert's budget price.

1byone Safety Driveway Patrol

The 1byone is a portable receiver with three handy settings: High, Low, and Off. Two sensors work with one receiver. The receiver gets an alert signal and sounds the alarm regardless of which sensor detects an object. One drawback we found in our research is the fact that this product can give false alarms during the day and night. We're also disappointed by the fact that colder weather -- around 40 degrees Fahrenheit and lower -- can affect the 1byone's performance. Several users told us that the device picks up motion best when an object moves towards it rather than past or away from it.

Aeon Labs Aeotec Z-Wave Multi-Sensor

The combination Aeon Labs sensor reports temperature and lighting levels in the immediate area. It's a versatile product in that it is suitable for both indoor and outdoor use, regardless of weather. Unlike some other sensor products on the market, Aeon users can avoid unwanted triggers by adjusting sensitivity levels. Other notable features include low-battery detection and a swivel arm which is handy for mounting the device on a wall -- although a few owners called this hardware "flimsy" in our survey. If you want to pad your device with extra technology, we recommend using the updatable firmware when you first set up the device. As mentioned before, the temperature and humidity settings on this device are often inaccurate. If these settings are important to you, their noted design flaws may give you some pause.

The SadoTech will alert you if someone pulls into your driveway, opens your mailbox, or approaches your door.
Considerations

Price

SadoTech Wireless PIR

A cost of $25 puts the SadoTech Wireless PIR Motion Sensor near the top of our pricing bracket. For the price, customers get over fifty unique alarm tones and four levels of adjustable volume. The range of alarm tones is a really nice feature because you get to choose the tone that appeals to you the most -- you can even choose the sound of a barking dog if you want to! This unit really delivers in terms of quality, performance, and longevity; many customers continue to use their SadoTech for many years without issues.

Chamberlain CWA2000 Wireless Motion Alert System

The Chamberlain CWA2000 Wireless Motion Alert System costs $29. For the money, owners get a weatherproof, outdoor sensor with adjustable sensitivity control and a generous, half-mile detection range from sensor to base. The alarm's sound is not customizable and therefore not as melodious as the alarm tones of the SadoTech. In fact, it sounds a lot like the "low battery" alarm on a smoke detector. Overall, this is an effective, quality product; in our research, we encountered only sporadic complaints about malfunction.

First Alert PIR725 Motion Sensing Light Socket

A price tag of $18 makes the First Alert PIR725 Motion Sensing Light Socket one of the cheapest options on our list. We admire this model's range and build quality, but we recommend you place it in an area with few obstructions for optimal performance. This sensor automatically turns on lights when someone enters a room. You can even use this product in a dark space, such as a closet or basement, for added light. Although the device detects movement, a few users told us that they had to wave their arms a bit to activate the product. Overall, however, this is an admirable, functional unit with an extremely appealing price.

1byone Safety Driveway Patrol

The 1byone Safety Driveway Patrol Infrared Wireless Home Security Alert Alarm System costs $47, making it one of the more affordable sensors on our list. This system pairs easily with additional units to create a well-rounded security system. If you're looking for an affordable alternative to pricier home security systems, this could be a good choice for you. That being said, several customers we surveyed had trouble with the 1byone, experiencing intermittent detection or a faulty unit upon arrival.

Aeon Labs Aeotec Z-Wave Multi-Sensor

The Aeon Labs Aeotec Z-Wave Multi-Sensor is one of our list's most expensive options. The four-in-one sensor ideally detects motion, temperature, lighting, and humidity both indoors and outdoors. We caution potential buyers that the humidity and temperature sensors are known to be slightly off; however, the motion and lighting sensors are rock-solid. We also heard from several owners that outdoor use drains the battery much faster than indoor use. Another slight drawback: in spite of Aeon Labs' well-written instructions, set-up can be a bit complicated.

With the SadoTech, you choose your alarm tone. You can even choose the sound of a barking dog if you want to.

Best of the Best

The SadoTech Wireless PIR Motion Sensor wins our "Best of the Best" award. With a price of $25, this product ranks towards the top of our price range. However, the SadoTech's combination of accurate motion detection and reliable signals make it well worth its price, especially in comparison to more expensive units.

This motion sensor does a great job of helping customers feel safe and secure. As a doorbell sensor, the SadoTech is particularly beneficial to people who live in basement apartments or darkened areas (cul-de-sacs, wooded neighborhoods) where there is less light. We agree with customers: this product's fifty unique alarm tones and four levels of adjustable volume make it a great choice for the indoor settings of most homes. SadoTech promises an operating distance of over 500 feet between the sensor and main chime unit, and positive feedback from satisfied customers tells us that this product delivers on that promise.

Another great feature: this wireless product plugs easily into an electrical outlet -- no batteries required! If you're looking for a high-quality motion sensor that reliably alerts you to intruder/visitor motion -- but doesn't startle you with false alarms created by the wind or other foul weather -- the SadoTech is the most excellent option on the market today.
Best of the Best
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The SadoTech's fifty unique alarm tones and four adjustable volume levels make it a great choice for most homes.

Best Bang for your Buck

The First Alert PIR725 Motion Sensing Light Socket wins our "Best Bang for Your Buck" title. With its overall dependability and performance, this motion sensor makes a useful addition to any dark space in your home. The First Alert's motion-sensing light provides consistent illumination in dark areas, eliminating the need to fumble around in the dark to turn on a light. That being said, the First Alert's two most attractive features are its superior protection and budget price tag.

This motion sensor works with incandescent bulbs up to 100 watts and compact fluorescent bulbs up to 50 watts. Using this product is no hassle; screwing in and turning on the First Alert takes no more time or effort than it would to change an ordinary light bulb. A few potential problems cropped up in our survey, such as owners having to place the product in a clutter-free line of sight to get it to work. Overall, however, we think the bright light and dependability offered by the First Alert is worth the investment.

If you frequently fumble in the dark -- or if you just want an inexpensive motion sensor that helps you feel more safe and secure at home -- the First Alert is our top recommendation.
Best Bang for your Buck
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The First Alert's two most attractive features are its superior protection and budget price tag.
The team that worked on this review
  • Jennifer
    Jennifer
    Writer
  • Melissa
    Melissa
    Editor
  • Jess
    Jess
    Researcher
  • Jimi
    Jimi
    Product Analyst
  • Ben
    Ben
    Operations