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In this article, I’ll take a look at some of the best motion sensors in 2020 to automate both your indoor and outdoor lights. I’ll include solutions for Philips Hue, Lifx, Sengled, SmartThings, and Zwave and few other major brands of smart bulbs that are compatible with all major home ecosystems.
Want to make your smart lights turn on when you enter a room?
Want to light up your yard when Fido needs to take care of business at night?
You’re barking up the right tree. Continue on, kind reader.
Smart Lights Are The Bomb
Smart lights are the bomb diggity. An early adopter of Phillips Hue lights, I love them, and I have been using them for years. They are more expensive than other options, but they just work the way they should.
Since the arrival of Hue, there have been several viable competitors that have entered the fray that have made them even more affordable and pervasive [source AndroidCentral.com].
But rather than just controlling our lights using my voice with Alexa, how can we better use them to save energy and make our lives even more convenient?
In a recent study conducted by Statistica. the market research firm predicts that the energy management segment of the smart home category will grow from 34.12m to 45.1m IN 2024.
But how can we level up and manage our energy consumption even better?
With one of the best motion sensors of 2020—of course.
But like most things related to smart home technology, many of the best motion sensors rely on a hub or at least need to be compatible with smart home ecosystem you are using.
So in this post, I will cover the best motion sensors for lights from the most popular smart lighting brands, including Hue, Lifx, and Sengled as well as ecosystems like SmartThings, Zwave and more.
Continue reading for the scoop.
Best Motion Sensors: Price Comparison Table
Here are my recommendations in a convenient pricing table. The table is updated nightly via direct integration with the Amazon API. Click on the SEE IT button to see the up-to-the-minute price on Amazon.
Best For Phillips Hue: Phillips Hue Indoor Motion Sensor
If you want to easiest way to make your smart lights turn on when you walk into a room, this is it. It does require the Hue Hub and bulbs in order to get it to work, but like Hue lights, this just works as advertised. The Philips Hue Indoor Motion Sensor will help to save energy by not having the lights on all the time, which in turn will also save you some cold hard cash.
It even has a built-in light sensor so it will conserve energy during the day. (If the room is already bright, the lights won’t turn on). The sensors can be placed anywhere you want to detect motion, or you can mount it to a wall using the provided screw. This does not interfere with your current schedules or Alexa integration. I have one in my hallway, living room, and bedroom and it just works great.
Thanks to our friends at TWiT Netcast Network for the helpful video review. Sweet studio setup, guys!
Yes, Philips Hue Hub is required.
What’s in the Box?
- 1 Philips Hue Motion Sensor
- 2 AAA batteries
- Mounting screw
Best for Lifx, Sengled, and Others: SmartThings Motion Sensor
If you don’t have Philips Hue lights, your best option is to go with a Samsung SmartThings motion sensor. Like Hue, this also requires the SmartThings Hub in order to get it to work. A nice add on feature of this sensor is that it can alert you when motion is detected. This is a nice security feature. Another benefit is that this is tiltable with a magnetic ball mount so you can optimize your detection coverage area. It will also work with both Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.
In addition to SmartThings, this will also work with the Z-Wave and ZigBee communication protocols. In addition to the sensor and magnetic ball, it also includes wall-mounting pads, quick-start guide, and a health and safety guide, which is interesting. I have not tested this product, but it is highly rated on Amazon and customers say it just works.
Yes, a Samsung Smarthings Hub is required.
What’s in the Box
- Magnetic ball
- Wall-mounting pads
- Quick-start guide
- Health and safety guide
Best for Pet Owners: Z-wave Plus Motion Detector
This Ecolink Pet Immunity Motion Detector is compatible with Z-Wave hubs that include Samsung SmartThings, Vera Plus, Vera Edge, Vera Lite, HomeSeer, D-link, Connect, and Piper NV. The hub is required to get this to work. At the time of this writing, this is Amazon’s Choice for a motion detector.
If you have Phillips or Lifx, I recommend the other two options just because they will work natively with those products. The best thing about the Z-wave Plus Motion Detector is that it is immune to movement of pets as large as 55 lbs. This makes the annoying problem of a pet triggering the lights on and off go away. It is also easy to install and the kit includes flush mount and corner mount wall brackets. It also has a whopping FIVE-year battery life, which means you can just set it and forget it.
Yes, a Z-Wave Hub is required [see above].
What’s in the Box?
- Flush mount wall bracket
- Corner mount wall bracket
- 1 CR123A battery
Another Great Option: Aukora Motion Sensor Bulbs
Another great and highly recommended product on Amazon is Aukora Motion Sensor Bulbs. These also work as advertised for indoor use. They are great for overhead lighting or for any light where the bulb is visible. Customer like that they are bright enough to use for standard household bulbs. While they are just 12 watts they are LED so that makes them brighter than traditional bulbs.
One customer said that they were the “answer to their parenting prayers” as a solution to his kids’ forgetting to turn off a hallway light. A two-pack is also super inexpensive. It will detect motion up to 10 feet. It also has a built-in “Dusk to Dawn sensor” that auto switches ON at dusk when the motion sensor is activated and OFF at dawn to help you further save on electricity. They will not work with Amazon Alexa or Google, however, and they will also pick up the detection of animals. Otherwise, I would have put them higher on this list.
Another company, Goavee, makes a similar bulb if you want to compare.
What’s in the Box?
- Two bulbs
- Product documentation
Best for Outdoor Use: Philips Hue Dusk-to-Dawn Outdoor Motion Sensor
OK, here’s a shocker: my top recommendation for an outdoor lighting motion sensor is also made by Philips Hue. Ideal for a front porch, this light will deter would-be intruders or package thieves from breaking in or stealing the package containing your latest smart home gear. Of course, this also requires the Philips Hue hub in order to work.
At the time of this writing, this has a TON of reviews on Amazon with a near-perfect rating. One customer said she uses it to scare away a thief who has been stealing her plants on her porch! What’s extra cool about this sensor is that you can use it to trigger indoor lights too. So, when you arrive home from a long day at the office, your outside lights and desired inside lights turn on auto-magically. Now, that’s what I call smart.
Yes, Philips Hue Hub is required.
What’s in the Box?
- 1 x Motion Sensor
- 2 x Wall Brackets 2 x screw (3.5×35)
- 2 x screw plug (6×35)
- 1 x M4x12 boss screw
Best Motion Sensors: Your Turn
So what do you think of the best motion sensors for 2020?
Do you plan to use any of these products to make your smart lights turn on when you enter a room? Or maybe you plan to use one or more of them to automagically light up your yard at night?
Do you already have a Philips Hue Hub? What about Samsung SmartThings?
Is there a product you feel I missed and should add here?
Please leave a comment below and let me know. I would love to hear from you!
Oh, and if you don’t want to implement any of this you can always have your cat take care of things for you.
If you enjoyed this article about some of the best motions sensors out there, you may also enjoy some of our other posts:
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About the Author
Tim Brennan, Technical Writer & Blogger
Tim Brennan [a.k.a. "Tec Timmy"] is a senior technical writer with over 20 years of experience writing for companies and organizations in and around Greater Boston, including GE and MIT. In addition to actively writing for this smart home blog, Tim is also a regular contributor over at UniversalRemoteReviews.com. Tim holds a BA in Journalism from Northeastern University. Brennan is a father to two sons, an active blogger, a Star Wars nut, and loves a good taco🌮. There is a strong chance he is developing a crush on Amazon Alexa. You can learn more about Tim here.