Best Smart Sensor 2019 – Buyer’s Guide

Whether you want to be able to detect an uninvited intruder in your living room, turn the lights on when you walk into a room, be alerted to a window or door opening that shouldn’t be, or be able to track your keys and wallet as you always seem to be misplacing them, a smart sensor can be a pretty handy addition to your home.

They’re all relatively new technology, so there aren’t many to choose from, but if anything that can make the decision even harder. If you are looking to add to your smart home with a motion, window and door or item finder presence sensor, take a look at our reviews of the best on the market to find the right one for your needs:

The Best Smart Sensors – Our Top Picks

Best Motion Smart Sensors

PHILIPS Hue Smart Motion Sensor

Now for a sensor which is a bit different. Because while the others can be used as both security or to make life easier, this is very much only the latter.

When motion is detected, it will trigger your compatible Philips Hue lighting, without the need for any other smart devices or speakers. When you walk into a room, the lights can turn on in response and then turn off again when everything is still. Not only great for making life easier, but also for saving a bit of energy.

You can also customise the lighting based on time and room, for instance, if you wake up at 6 am on a winter morning, and the landing motion detector picks up your movement, you can set the bathroom light to come on with a soft glow as opposed to the usual neon brightness.

Maybe you want them all to turn on when you get home at night through the front door, so you aren’t spending ages feeling around the walls for the switches.

If you already have a Philips Hue system in place or are looking at getting one, then the sensors make a lot of sense. It is definitely one of the most advanced smart lighting systems on the market with dozens of items and bulbs to choose from.

It runs on two AAA batteries, so is wireless and can be placed anywhere in your home without worrying about wires, fitting and power leads. Great if there is a power cut. You just need the Hue Hub too.

We only say it is near the bottom of our list because of the restrictions and lack of security assistance, but if lighting is your only worry, then it is a failsafe option. Plus, there is nothing to stop you using it in conjunction with security, so while the others can set off alarms, turning on all the lights could be a deterrent too.

We like

  • Works with voice control and smart speakers
  • Day and night setting with integrated daylight sensor
  • Can be placed anywhere

We dislike

  • Took a few goes to connect to the bridge

Final Verdict

Only for the lights, but this could well be your main concern. If it is, then you can't get a much more responsive sensor.

+ Specifications

  • Compatible With: iOS/Android
  • Works With: Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit, Google Assistant

+ Downloads

PHILIPS Hue Smart Motion Sensor User Manual

Download

HIVE Motion Sensor

If you want to receive notifications when motion is detected and you are away from home, then the Hive sensor is a great place to start.

Whether you know the house is empty and want to make sure it stays that way when you’re on holiday, or if you want to be notified when the kids have arrived back from school (as a sneaky text can be sent from anywhere), the infrared motion sensor lets you know what’s going on when you can’t see for yourself.

It can work in conjunction with other Hive products, so if it detects movement then your cameras can turn on to capture the evidence, or you can use Hive Actions to control heating, lighting and plugs at the same time.

You can set up to six time slots every day, so if you know the kids are home from 4 pm onwards, you’re the last to leave the house at 8am, and you nip back for lunch between 12.15 and 12.45, just set the sensors to be off at these times. Everything can be controlled through the Hive app, including turning it on and off without the schedule in place.

A compatible hub is required, and as Hive products work on their own Honeycomb network, only the proprietary Hive Hub is suitable as opposed to a Google Hub or Alexa. It does play very nicely with these two as voice controllers, though.

The Hive is small and discreet, so it won’t be evident that it is in place. If you are using it as more of a security aspect as opposed to a light/heat controller, the size means it won’t be spotted. It is also wireless, powered by one AAA battery, so can be stuck wherever needed thanks to the self-adhesive tabs.

The sensor works best when used as part of the entire Hive smart home system, but if you’re just after a sensor, then it is still one of the best. Just be aware of needing the Hub which will cost extra and is unable to control any other brand bar the Philips Hue lights.

We like

  • Small in size
  • Easy to set up
  • Designed to fit in corners of rooms

We dislike

  • Battery powered so have to keep an eye on the power

Final Verdict

Works best with other Hive additions, but if you want to make the most of a motion sensor in your home then it will work well without additional products too. Perfect for making life easier and upping security.

+ Specifications

  • Compatible With: iOS/Android
  • Works With: Alexa, Hive

+ Downloads

HIVE Motion Sensor User Manual

Download

Panasonic Smart Home KX-HNS102EW Motion Sensor

The Panasonic range of smart home devices is both popular and vast, and these motion sensors can work in conjunction with the other items in the selection.

Not only can they be set up to detect intruders and activate camera recording, alarms and sirens, but they can also be used to make life easier.

For instance, if a sensor in the landing is triggered in the morning when you wake up, it can automatically turn on the smart plug-controlled lamp in the hallway ready for you coming down the stairs on dark mornings. Likewise, you could set it to turn on the bathroom light is that is always your first port of call.

If you are using it for this reason as opposed for security purposes, then you can turn the sensitivity of the sensor down, so your cat or dog is not picked up when they’re on their nightly prowl around the home.

It requires the KX-HNB600W Hub Unit to work best and to communicate with other items in the range. A total of 50 items can be connected to an individual hub, so there’s plenty of scope to kit out your whole home.

The network will work up to a distance of 300m, which is also great if you have large distances to cover. Pairing all of the sensors up to the hub is simple thanks to one push pairing installation. Power comes in the form of a battery, and there will be an indication when this is running out through the app.

Regarding the entire Panasonic system, there are a few flaws. While the sensors work well, when we reviewed the cameras they were one of the poorest in image quality so if they are the two items you’d ideally feature the most, an alternative brand may be best. But purely for sensors, it is a great collection.

We like

  • Easy to set up the system
  • Reasonable price for buying one or two
  • Seems well built and strong

We dislike

  • Bulky in shape

Final Verdict

A relatively well-priced sensor from Panasonic, and there are plenty of additional items in the range if you'd like to expand it one day.

+ Specifications

  • Compatible With: iOS/Android
  • Works With: Panasonic Hub

+ Downloads

Panasonic Smart Home KX-HNS102EW Motion Sensor User Manual

Download

Yale PIR Motion Detector

Should smart security be your main issue over things such as intelligent lighting and power, then you’ve probably considered the Yale range if it isn’t already in place.

This motion detector is a great addition to a Yale Home Alarm System, and just like with the Hive setup, all of the separate components can work simultaneously. Just add on what you need to tailor it all.

Because it works with the home alarm, it would also be a great addition to any out-buildings or garages. Multiple detectors can be linked up to the alarm so you could have one in every room if you wish.

Other reviewers and users have also commented that they have ones installed in their cars, vans and caravans, and any attempt to steal them when on the driveway sets the house alarm off. Great if vehicle theft is a concern in your area.

You can control every alarm separately, so if you’re in bed you can just set the upstairs ones to be off and downstairs on, or if the dog sleeps in the living room, you can have this one off but have the hallway and kitchen on. This is done through the app, where you can also name each one to ensure it is the correct one you are changing.

It has a 90° detection span, so should cover the entire area you need it to if it is sat flush against a wall.

It is wireless and easy to fit with the included wall plugs and screws. Power is given by three AAA batteries, which are simple to change and the first set come with the sensor purchase. Batteries should last two years according to the instruction manual, but only time will tell; it is still worth checking them regularly, and a little flashing light will let you know when it’s time to change.

We like

  • Great addition to alarm system
  • Multi-use
  • Easy to connect and fit
  • Price is great

We dislike

  • Need screwing to the wall

Final Verdict

An affordable addition to one of the best security systems on the market, and it is easy to use too. A pet-friendly option is available if this is a concern.

+ Specifications

  • Compatible With: iOS/Android
  • Works With: Yale Security System

+ Downloads

Yale PIR Motion Detector User Manual

Download

Best Window and Door Sensors

HIVE Window or Door Sensor

Another Hive product which is perfect to add to your system, it allows you to receive a notification when a window or door is opened, and you are either away or in another room.

It can also put your mind at ease and let you know that all of the windows and doors are indeed closed when you’re on a staycation, by a simple check of the app where there are a log and timeline of activity. Or, you can tell if the kids have arrived home from school without having to rely on them remembering to text you.

All of the individual Hive items can work together to create your perfect home set up, so if a window is opened intentionally, the heating can be turned off, so none is wasted. Or if the front door is opened, the lights can turn on to welcome you home or off when you leave.

Installation is simple as long as you follow the instructions; it can be just as easy to get it wrong, meaning they won’t work. But once it is all done, they seemed to work incredibly well and notify us in good time.

We like

  • Price
  • Works well and immediately

We dislike

  • Would be pricey to cover every single door in home

Final Verdict

For an added peace of mind, whether you have the Hive system or not, these window and door sensors are a great way of keeping track of the comings and goings of your home.

+ Specifications

  • Compatible With: iOS / Android
  • Works With: Amazon Alexa

+ Downloads

HIVE Window or Door Sensor User Manual

Download

Samsung SmartThings Multipurpose Sensor

This multipurpose alarm is primarily for detecting open windows and doors, but can also let you know the temperature in case you have left an unmarked window open, and it gets a bit chilly.

By connecting it to the compatible Samsung SmartThings hub, you can use the app to check up on your home when you aren’t there. So if you accidentally leave something open, or if a window suddenly opens when nobody is in, you will get an alert and be able to see clearly what has caused it.

Why not set up a little programme of events if an alert is given? For example, if it detects a temperature dip, use your smart thermometer to turn the heating off, so none is wasted, or if somebody is in your home who shouldn’t be, set off an alarm and capture them on camera.

It is very easy to get started straight out of the box. Just pop a battery in, and you can place it anywhere. You could place it on a cupboard which is packed with valuables, so if it is broken open, you can get an alert. Or, if you have a cat flap, it could make a great tracking device for when they are home or away.

Alerts are pretty instant which is great, and will keep your mind at rest – no worrying that something is going to happen and you’ll only be told once the culprit is miles away.

We like

  • Quick set up
  • New sleek design compared to old model
  • Battery powered - can be hidden easier

We dislike

  • Battery life is a bit unpredictable

Final Verdict

Simple to get it started straight out of the box, this sensor can give you instant alerts if something is amiss in your home - a great addition to a system or as a standalone.

+ Specifications

  • Compatible With: iOS/Android
  • Works With: Alexa, Google

+ Downloads

Samsung SmartThings Multipurpose Sensor User Manual

Download

EZVIZ SWANN ezSensor Move Pro Open/Close Detector

Able to send notifications to your smart device through the EZVIZ A1 Alarm Hub (sold separately), just use the included adhesives to install the Swann to any unfixed surface, such as a window or door that you want to monitor.

Whether it be an access point, garage door or outbuilding, it will alert you to any opening or closing movement so you can keep a check on what is open or act if something is triggered when you’re away.

Likewise, you can set it up to let you know if something has been left unopened for a particular time frame. So if you have an elderly relative who needs to open a cabinet to access their medicine, pop the detector on the door, and you can see whether they have taken it or not. Or, if your child should get home from school at 4pm and open the front door, if a certain amount of time passes without it being triggered you can check up on them.

The EZVIZ range of products is quite extensive, so you can always install the cameras or siren to work alongside the window and door detector and react if one is triggered. There is no stringify possibility with IFTTT yet, but they’re working on it.

Unlike the other sensors on the market, the Swann is one single product rather than two separate pieces which require each other to work. It is wireless so is flexible and pretty undetectable when placed.

The battery is rechargeable and can last up to 3 months on a single full charge.

We like

  • One single item
  • Time alerts
  • Rechargeable battery

We dislike

  • Requires the hub

Final Verdict

Minimalistic and having freedom of placement, this is a brilliant option and affordable, too.

+ Specifications

  • Compatible With: iOS/Android
  • Works With: EZVIZ ezAlert Internet Alarm Hub

Eve Door & Window Sensors

Able to understand when your window or door is open or closed, the Eve sensor can alert you to any suspicious activity or help you keep on track of the status of every access point in your home.

Because it is HomeKit compatible, you can create relationships between the sensors and other items in your home if you have a hub (such as iPad or TV). When your front door is opened, you could choose to activate your lighting, or when a window opens, choose to automatically turn off the heating and radiators to save some energy depending on the temperature.

It will save you running around your home to check everything is closed too, as all you need to do is consult the app or ask Siri. You can also acquire insight and check when the last time your teenager’s bedroom window was opened to let some much-needed air in!

There is a generous amount of appliances in the Eve collection, such as a weather station, indoor air quality monitor and radiator valves, if you want to pack it out a bit.

The actual sensor seems very reliable and alerts quickly; we had no ‘missed events’ throughout our testing. If this is a particular concern for you, then there is scope to create an entire security system with other motion sensors and cameras for extra alert possibilities too.

No hub or bridge is needed, and it connects to your HomeKit enabled device using low energy Bluetooth so should be pretty reliable too. A battery is included and should last for a long time according to their statistics. It is an ER14250 battery, not quite as easy to access as an AAA, for instance, so keep stocked up just in case.

We like

  • Installation is quick and easy
  • Packers included for a custom fit (when doors and frames aren’t naturally straight/flush)
  • Setting up rules and relationships is easy

We dislike

  • Price is steep for an item which only works with HomeKit/Siri

Final Verdict

It may only be for Apple users really, but if you are one of the millions out there with an iPhone or iPad then it will make a fab choice.

+ Specifications

  • Compatible With: iOS
  • Works With: Apple HomeKit

+ Downloads

Eve Door & Window Sensors User Guide

Download

Best Item Finders

SAMSUNG SmartThings Presence Sensor

Able to allow you to monitor several instances, from lost keys to people arriving home and knowing where the cat is, item finders are a great way of keeping track of everything that is important.

It will also let you know when somebody arrives home, or you can set up relationships with other appliances. So once you reach the driveway, the lights in the hallway can switch on, or when your child arrives home, the tag on their backpack will let you know.

Just connect it to the Samsung SmartThings hub, and it can also work with other security appliances, sound speakers or plugs. In fact, there is a great list of IoT items it can work alongside.

Another use is attaching it to your pet’s collar, which we think will come in handy for hundreds of people up and down the country! It will alert you if Patch is a certain distance from home and has presumably burrowed under the fence again but the incident passed you by. Or if you have a cat flap and like to know Garfield is safe at home when you’re at work, it can let you know they have left.

The noise is not overly loud, so if your keys were in your jeans pocket under a pile of clothes or in the wash basket, then it is debatable whether you will hear it. There is also limited functionality, for instance, if you dropped your keys when out shopping, there is no map on the app to let you know where they actually are. If you got an alert to say the dog had run off, there is no way to tell where they actually are.

For this reason, it is best used for a presence sensor to check on the comings and goings of the household, or left in the car so it can alert you if this is moved away from home.

We like

  • Easy to set up
  • Small so can be carried easily

We dislike

  • Limited functionality

Final Verdict

It has it's limitations, but is still a good priced sensor tag and if you're already a fan of the Samsung range, then it will make a brilliant addition.

+ Specifications

  • Compatible With: iOS/Android

+ Downloads

SAMSUNG SmartThings Presence Sensor User Guide

Download

Tile Mate

One of the world’s best-selling Bluetooth trackers, the Tile Mate will help you find keys, wallets and phones with little stress if they have been lost in a short or medium distance range.

It is 25% smaller than the original model, so is even easier to attach to anything and not be obstructive. Simply hook it to a keychain, bag or wallet to begin, or use a Tile Mate adhesive to fit to a flat surface.

Detecting items is easy enough. As long as the item is in Bluetooth range (usually up to 100ft), the sound can help. For instance, if you’ve literally just had your keys in your hand, put them down for a minute and now can’t find them, just get your smartphone to tell the Tile to emit an alarm sound so you can hear them before you see them.

If you can’t find your phone and it is on silent, the app can turn your phone on loud so you can ring it. The only downside is that the app needs to be open, so if you’re someone who likes to shut down everything once it has been used to save battery, it may not be as handy as first thought.

The app can also remember the last time and place it saw the Tile, so you know where to look first. Thanks to the map, it is pretty accurate in pinpointing the location. The pointer can be a bit vague though, especially in built-up areas, so the proximity feature will help you zone in on it.

What if it isn’t where you left it or is out of the Bluetooth range? Enlist the help of the Tile community, with over 5 million worldwide users. When a member comes into the range of the item, it will notify them, and they can let you know. This makes it one of the largest lost and found groups, and over half a million items are found every day.

Batteries are designed to last for a year, after which you can replace the Tile Mate for a special member price. They are non-replaceable and non-rechargeable, which just seems a bit unfair but a years use for the price isn’t bad.

We like

  • Can tell you where the item last was
  • Good size for carrying around
  • Community lost and found group

We dislike

  • Community aspect only works if there are other local users
  • Battery isn’t replaceable or rechargeable

Final Verdict

Item finder sensors aren't yet in their prime, but this is definitely one of the top picks and most efficient at it's job.

+ Specifications

  • Compatible With: iOS/Android/Windows

+ Downloads

Tile Mate User Manual

Download

Help and Resources

Smart Sensor Buying Guide

Motion Sensors

There are a few types of motion sensor based on the overall aim of the device, but they all work in a similar way. A passive infrared sensor (PIR) can detect movement by measuring infrared light reflecting off objects in its field of view.

The different aims of a motion sensor are:

Security

If you know the house is meant to be empty and a motion sensor detects movement then you may have a security issue on your hands, so you can act. Or, maybe you want to check someone has arrived home and like to get a notification that movement has been sensed in the hallway as they arrive through the front door.

Control

Set a sensor up by your front door for when you come home, so the lights and heating immediately come on in Winter. You could also pop one in the hallway or bathroom for those visits to the bathroom during the night when you spend ages hunting for the light switches. It will instead detect you approaching and do it for you.

Window And Door Sensors

These are designed to let you know when a window and door is open. So whether you want to check what is open before you leave the house easily, check when people come and go when you’re at work or need to ensure nobody gains access when you’re away, there is a multitude of uses depending on your needs.

The most common entry route for burglars is unsecured windows and doors, and locking them doesn’t guarantee 100% safety. When combined with other sensors and cameras, they can help you act before any damage is caused.

Item Finders

These are portable sensors, designed to tell you where an item is. Whether it is your keys, purse, bag or cat, they can alert you when they are out of a certain distance range or emit a sound so you can find whatever they are attached to.

There are a few limitations with them. They don’t always tell you where the keys you dropped in town actually are, or where the cat has wandered off to. Therefore, they’re best for anyone who misplaces items in their home within hearing distance, but some can provide map data.

Hubs

Most of the above will require a smart hub of some sort to work, whether it be their own brand or a general one such as the Google Home Hub or Echo Dot. They can give the item an internet connection if they aren’t standalone wireless appliances, which is important for allowing them to communicate with your smartphone or tablet.

Hubs also allow all of the separate items to communicate with each other and set up schedules and relationships.

If you want to opt for a general hub, then you need to ensure your sensors work on the same frequency. Some will only work with proprietary models, so bear it in mind.

FAQs

Which Brands Make The Best Smart Sensors?

Most smart sensor brands also make other smart home items and appliances, such as Philips, Samsung, Eve, Yale and Hive. There are also some product-specific items such as Tile Mate item finders and presence sensors.

If you already have a selection of appliances from one particular brand, such as Hive or Eve, it could be best sticking with this so everything works well together and there will only be one hub needed.

Where Do I Position My Smart Sensor?

This is quite important, as you don’t want to be triggering false alarms but also want to pick up on absolutely anything suspicious.

If you have a motion sensor, being able to capture and movement in the entire room may be best. You can usually disable it is needed between certain hours. A high corner is ideal.

Window and door sensors can be placed on any access point, or maybe even a cupboard or garage if you’d like to monitor these. If you just want to be able to see when your household come and go, then the main door will be best, or if you want to check which windows are open before you leave the house in the morning then pop it on the ones which are frequently opened.

Item finders usually have a ring which makes them easy to attach to keys, a bag or in a wallet. They could also be attached to a pet’s collar. Think about any items you usually misplace, or if you want to check when people get home or tell the lights to turn on when you’re within a certain distance of the house, attach it to an item you or your family member are always carrying.