Best Motion Sensors Reviews 2021 (Philips Hue, Aqara, Ecobee, Samsung Smartthings): Pros & Cons

Motion sensors are gradually becoming (or have become) part of our regular home devices. A motion sensor, also referred to as a motion detector, is an electrical device that uses sensors to identify some form of movement or motion nearby. Usually, this device is built-in or fixed as a part of a system that carries out this function automatically. That is to say that with the integration of this component, the user would be alerted if there were some form of motion in the perimeter of the measured area.

There are hosts of motion sensors today with the ability to perform their primary function – motion detection – within their various capacities.  Motion sensors can be installed at both homes and offices. They have been used in phones, in motion-activated recorders and motion tracking lights. Other items like game consoles, virtual reality systems and even hand dryers and paper towel dispensers are not left out of motion-activated controls.

In terms of power source, some are wireless like the Aqara motion sensor and so require the use of batteries while some are simply plug-in motion sensors that you stick into a motion sensor outlet.

When it comes to pricing, there are some really good quality and good budget motion sensors. One of them is the Aqara motion sensor. Let’s have a look.

Aqara Motion Sensor

The Aqara motion sensor is quite modest, having a compact design. It is an indoor wireless motion sensor with a motion-tracking light. It has a motion range of about seven meters. As a wireless motion sensor, it is battery powered with a battery life of up to two years.

The motion sensor also works with the Aqara Hub and you can use the Aqara app with it. Most importantly, you can also use it with the Aqara Home Kit. In coordination with the Hub, the motion sensor also functions as a security device when the alarm mode is activated. The Hub will send an alarm and a notification to your phone if motion is detected, for instance when you are not at home.
We would say that the biggest selling point of the Aqara motion sensor is the price point, which is quite affordable for this sort of device.

Check out other Aqara products on Amazon:

Unboxing the Aqara Motion Sensor

The box and packaging are quite simple. When you open the box, what you get are:

  • The Aqara motion sensor device
  • The sensor stand. You can use this stand as an optional extra. Well, we suggest that you use it
  • A welcome card
  • A description manual; the information in this is in English language, German, Russian languages and Chinese.

Design and Features of the Aqara Motion Sensor

Now, as we pointed out earlier, the Aqara motion sensor has quite a small and compact design. It is very discreet. On the front of the device are two sensors. The first sensor is the motion sensor, while the second one is the ambient light sensor.

When you turn the device over to the side, there is a small button, which is used for setting up the device. The side button is also used for resetting the device if you need to do so.

Aqara motion sensor

The design of the stand allows it to tilt and swivel in varying directions of 360 degrees. This is to give you different angles if you decide to fit it into the wall. However, the motion sensor has a maximum detection range of 170 degrees.

When you turn the device upside down and look at the base, you will notice a rubber fold. The fold means that it is possible to use the device alone without the stand. In turning the bottom of the base, you also access the battery compartment.

One of the major things that caught my attention is how small and modest the Aqara motion sensor is. If you compare it to Philips Hue Compatible motion sensor, it is a lot smaller. In fact, even when you use the stand, it is still smaller.

One other feature of the Aqara sensor is the use of ZigBee wireless technology. Just in case you do not know much about it, let me give you a quick brief.

Zigbee technology is similar to your Wi-Fi or Bluetooth communication system. It is a system that allows for dual communication between a sensor and a control system. Zigbee offers short-range connectivity for up to a hundred meters line of sight, which is affected by environmental characteristics. Zigbee is preferred in low data rate applications that require long battery life and secure networking. Another cool thing about Zigbee technology in this device is that it supports data transfer from the Aqara sensors at a rate of about 250 kbps.

Setup of the Aqara Motion Sensor

To install the stand, all you have to do is use the sticky area of the stand to attach it to the sensor. Then plug-in the Aqara Hub, which, by the way, has Siri Voice Control Automation. When connected, the voice control is activated and the motion sensor plug-in light around the hub blinks.

Activating the Aqara App

To fire up the Aqara app, select the device you want to connect and follow the on-screen instructions provided for you.

When prompted, press the pair (set-up) button and the Hub will let you know when it connects. When it is all connected, you can rename the device for easy identification, if you want to. You can also select the room that this motion sensor is going to go in.

When you have confirmed this whole setup, install the device in the room where you are going to use it. Even without setting up the Home Kit, it is automatically done because the Hub is already paired and is already exposed within the Home Kit app.

You can also watch this video from Aqara to help you set up your Aqara sensor:

Performance of the Aqara Motion Sensor

Moving to the performance of the Aqara motion sensor and how you get the most out of it.

The best way to get the best use out of this sensor is to use it in automation or a scene mode. This is because even where the Wi-Fi is not stable or maybe disconnected, as long as the Hub is on and powered, the associated automation will still function properly.

And so we had to test it, and we used it in a room downstairs to trigger on the lights in a situation where someone stepped in. To do this, go to the automation settings within the Home app and create that automation.

This device works for up to seven meters for motion detection and it does work really well. We took it to the bathroom where there was a problem with the one other motion activated light control sensor. People were in the bathroom and were not being detected, and the light was not being triggered.

When you compare the Aqara motion sensor to the Philips hue compatible motion sensor, it works just as well. However, the Philips Hue motion sensor is much more expensive than the Aqara motion sensor.

For security alerts, turn on the alarm when you decide to leave the house. The Hub sounds an alarm when the battery-powered motion sensor alarm is triggered and sends a message to your phone.

Notes on the Aqara Motion Sensor

A few things are worth noting on the Aqara motion sensor.

Just as we had previously stated, the Aqara device has, as one of its features, an ambient light sensor. We noticed that the ambient light sensor is not exposed in the Home Kit, nor does it open in the Aqara app. This is unlike the Philips Hue motion sensor, which has an ambient light sensor and a temperature sensor.

One other thing that you need to take note of is when positioning the sensor. If you place it inside a room and what you want is that it should only be triggered when a person steps into that room. In this case, because the motion detection is so long, you will need to make sure that the positioning of the motion sensor is done in such a way that it only detects a person when they are actually walking into the room. While the test was being carried out, it sometimes caught someone walking by.

The Verdict

This is our verdict on the Aqara motion sensor.

  • It is a  very low cost and at the same time a good performing and very reliable motion sensor
  • It is quite simple to set up and install. The size of the Aqara motion sensor and its ability to be positioned on any surface is a big plus
  • The range of detection of seven meters and the detection angle of 170 degrees are among its major strengths added to the fact that it works with the Apple Home Kit
  • It uses CR2450 batteries, giving it that long life of two years
  • The ZigBee wireless protocol, which keeps it connected to the Hub when working with or without WiFi or Bluetooth connection is another plus. This makes it really fast and a great sensor

This is a really cool motion sensor, particularly when compared to the Philips hue compatible motion sensor. It is quite good and cheaper. You can order this online and have it delivered to your doorstep.

Philips Hue Motion Sensor (Indoor)

For your interior motion sensor lights, the Philips Hue Compatible Smart motion sensor is one of the interesting picks to turn on your indoor motion lights automatically when movement is detected. In addition to being a wireless and battery-powered motion sensor, the Philips Hue motion sensor is also a ZigBee certified device. It joins the list of ZigBee technology put into smart home devices.

It is a compact device, which can be placed or mounted on any stable solid surface.

Philips Hue sensor

It has a particular uniqueness because it can be also positioned on any magnetic surface using its magnetic screw knob. The magnetic mount means that you can be more precise on the angle you want to position it. The use of the knob or wall mount is optional as you can simply set the sensor on any stable surface as well and it will work just fine.

The accompanying Philips Hue app offers many functionalities, which allows you to customize the sensor according to your needs. For instance, you can choose which room or rooms to be activated when motion is detected. You can specify what actions to be taken and at what time the sensor should be active. If more than one room is programmed, different actions can be taken for each of them. There are also daytime and nighttime customization as well as the sensitivity of daylight motion.

The Philips Hue Motion Sensor is only compatible with Hue light bulbs and has to be connected to the Hue Bridge/Hub for it to function appropriately.

Check out other Philips Hue Products on Amazon:

Unboxing the Philips Hue Motion Sensor

Philips Hue Motion Sensor box contents

User Manual In the package is a multi-language user manual and details on how to set up the sensor. A second manual has warnings and cautions regarding the product.  

Fixtures Included in the box are some fixtures for mounting the motion sensor to the wall. There is also a very strong magnet and if you just put the screw fixtures directly through, it will fit on the wall. Then you can get your sensor and it will just hold on to it. The magnet is really good, it does not drop it in any way and you can angle it slightly if you need to.  

Motion Sensor In terms of size, the motion sensor comes in just under 5 1/2 cm, either way, thickness wise it is 2cm. It looks nice and compact. On it, we have a light sensor, a PIR motion sensor, and an LED light. There is a setup button behind the sensor if you need to reset it. In doing this, just stick a pin into the tiny hole there to reset the sensor. At the back of the sensor is a screw that you can loosen to open the back of the sensor, revealing the batteries, which you can change as needed. The sensor also has a plastic covering, which if you pull out, the battery comes alive and then you can set it up.  

Features of the Philips Hue Compatible Motion Sensor

ZigBee Certified: With the use of ZigBee, you do not need the aid of WiFi or Bluetooth for the motion sensor to connect to its hub and work. ZigBee certification of this device puts it up with the other ZigBee certified products in the market, which is a plus in smart home devices.

Batteries: The Philips hue compatible motion sensor is powered by two AAA batteries. The included batteries can last for two to three years.   

Size: The Philips hue compatible motion sensor is pretty compact. This feature is key because, for a device that is made to detect motion, it should be small to fit in strategic spots without appearing to disorganize the look of a room.  

Motion Sensor Range and Sensitivity

The Philips Hue motion sensor has a motion sensitivity of about 16.4 feet (5 meters). There are two sensors on the front of the device. One sensor is for detecting motion and the second is for detecting how much light is in a room (brightness). For instance, if it is a really bright day, you can set the sensitivity not to turn on your light bulb when it is bright.

Note that the Philips Hue motion sensor uses infrared so it does rely on the amount of light in the room to be effective.

 

The motion sensor has a view angle of 100 degrees. Included in the box are two screws and an anchor. This is available just in case you want to wall-knot it and depending on where you want to put it. For this purpose, the bracket to which it attaches is magnetic.

Philips Hue sensor screws

The bracket is magnetic for two reasons. First, it is really convenient when you want to attach it to something like your fridge. The second is the ability to adjust it almost anywhere you want. Essentially, you have a lot of freedom to adjust as you want and there is no fear of it falling at all. I think this is a really simple but genius idea by Philips.

The Philips Hue App

The Philips Hue App is where you set up everything. Here, you can control and make adjustments. The features are more than you might expect for a simple device. You can rename the device, you can pair it with any Philips light bulb you want, you can decide what time of the day it should begin to detect motion and you can decide what color output of the bulb or maybe the brightness output.

Philips Hue App interface

Pairing and Installation of the Hue Compatible Motion Sensor From your Android phone or iPhone, activate the hue app. Select “Settings” and choose “Accessories set up”. Select the “Add accessories” option and choose “Hue motion sensor”. The app will then search for your motion sensor. Ensure you have placed the battery properly into the device; the blinking light indicates functionality. Allow the search to be completed and your app and sensor are paired.

Setting and Customization of the Hue App

Once your sensor has paired with the app, you can make changes to areas such as the room where the motion sensor will be used and its settings. You can rename the sensor, change the room it is associated with and carry out other customizations according to your preference.

The first thing you need to do after paring the app and the sensor is to create a room for the sensor, which you do by clicking on the “Create room” button.

Next name the room, e.g. Bedroom. You will also need to select an icon for the room you created. Thereafter, choose the lights that you want to control in a room. The app selects all light by default. Click the arrow on the top right corner to save your changes and the room is created.

To make further customization, click on the room you want to reconfigure. Looking down you can see “Day behavior”.

There is an option, which says “Between and after.” Here, you indicate how you want the motion sensor to behave during the specified time. For instance, you may want the light to be bright and to switch off after 10 minutes. You have the freedom to set the timing as you wish.

There is “Night Behavior” as well with which you can instruct the sensor on how to behave during the specified nighttime, e.g. from 10 pm to 6 am. For instance, you might specify the time you want a room to be dimmed and how long the light in a room should be on before the sensor switches it off. These functionalities give you a lot of control in deciding how you want to use the sensor.

Further down, there is the “Advanced settings” option, which you use to customize your sensor further.

Daylight sensitivity: Based on your current measure of daylight, you can adjust this setting so that motion will not trigger the light in the room.

Motion sensitivity: If your lights turn on too easily you can lower the sensitivity. If your lights do not turn on easily enough, you can raise the sensitivity. The “Enable Sensor” option allows you to disable it when you have to reset. There is also a delete option.

 

The app has the same options for iPhones. The configuration method follows exactly the same way to set up as well. There is no difference from the Android app, so you can follow these same steps. However, you need a Philips hue hub/bridge and a light bulb for it to work.

Philips Hue bridge

Pros of the Philips Hue Compatible Motion Sensor

Let us now consider some of the features of the Philips Hue sensor motion that makes it a great choice for many homes.

Compact: The motion sensor build is nice and strong, and the size is just cute. Its compact nature is quite nice, which means it is neither intrusive nor detracts from the decor.

Magnetic adjustable base: The base for adjustment of the position of the motion sensor is quite cool. It is a simple and smart concept. You would not have to worry that the joint areas may become stiff or break off one day. This is because there are no joints, just a magnet.

Easy to set up: Setting up the hue compatible motion sensor is quite straightforward and simple. Just pair it with the app. Many options are available for use to fit your preference.

Range: The 16.4 feet (5 meters) range is a very good range of sensitivity. To detect movement from that distance can only be a plus.

Battery life: Two to three years is a significant time to use a motion sensor battery. This keeps you off the thought of having to worry about battery changes at intervals.

Allows light sensitivity adjustments: The motion sensor light sensitivity adjustment is a good one too. In certain weather, seasons and even periods of the day, it comes in quite handy.

Allow motion sensitivity adjustments: The motion sensitivity is quick and responsive.

Cons of the Philips Hue Compatible Motion Sensor

A major gripe about Philips Hue motion sensor is that it cannot turn off until 30 seconds of no motion. Though it may seem a bit insignificant, as it does not affect the performance of this device in any way, a shorter turn off time would have been a simply good addition to it.

Only works with hue bulbs: This makes it a bit limited. For a motion sensor, being able to use it with other light bulbs would have made it more flexible.

No bracket to a narrow view of sensor: Due to the detection sensitivity range, it can pick up things around the perimeter that are not intended to pick up. If a bracket were created to block off those areas that do not need to be scanned, it would be nice.

Other Hue Compatible Motion Sensors

 

One of the very few Hue compatible motion sensors is the Ikea Trådfri motion sensor, which will work on a Hue bridge. However, you need to know that there is no possibility to configure the Ikea Motion sensor because it does not appear on the hue app when it is connected to the Hue Bridge. This means that you cannot make any sort of change to the light colors, daylight sensitivity and all. Customization remains very limited. So, the simplest step to handle this would be to go ahead and buy a Philips Hue motion sensor.  

Ecobee SmartSensor

The Ecobee Smart motion sensor is a unique device in the Home Kit world. It is a motion and contact sensor built into the same device. It is great for telling when doors or windows are open.

The sensor works with the Ecobee Security Haven to send notifications to your phone when a door or window opens or movement is detected. However, you need a Haven subscription to access this feature. Nonetheless, you can leverage your Apple Home Kit by using the contact sensor for things like when a door is opened, the light is turned on, announcements are made, and these kinds of things, which is great.

Ecobee smart sensors
Check out other Ecobee products on Amazon:

Samsung Smartthings Motion Sensor

The Samsung Smartthings Motion Sensor is not just a motion sensor but also has a built-in temperature sensor. It is, therefore, a two-in-one device. This means it can trigger an alarm system and lights. You can also get it to trigger your air-conditioning or even your fan if the temperature reaches a certain degree.

The Samsung Smartthings motion sensor is a small-sized device that can fit into the palm of your hand. That goes a long way to show how small and compact it is.

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When you flip it over, you will see the backplate. You can remove the backplate to see what is inside the motion sensor. It is like a three-part device.

You can mount the plate by screwing it to the wall or wherever you want to mount the sensor. There is a keyhole on the back of the device if you wish to fit it directly into the wall.

At the side of the device is a pull tab, which will activate the motion sensor by connecting and activating the single CR2477 cell battery.

The pairing button is also positioned at the back of the motion sensor. When you are ready to detect and pair, just place it next to the Smartthings hub and press it, and it will find it and connect without much ado.

Additionally, in the box, we have a few screws and stickers, which completes the content of the box. You can complete the setup within 15 minutes.

Check Out Other Samsung Products on Amazon


Features of the Samsung Smartthings Motion Sensor

  • The field of view is from 15 feet and 120 degrees viewing angle
  • The motion sensor device is pretty compact. It is great that it should be inconspicuous and not that easy to spot. It fits into the palm of your hand. That shows you know how compact it really is
  • When you open it up with just two clips on the top of the bottom, you will see a reset button, which allows you to resync it with your smart things hub
  • Yes, you must have a Samsung Smartthings Hub for it to work
  • It is powered by a single CR2477 cell battery. Smartthings developers have said it can last 6 to 12 months depending on how much motion is detected daily
  • The Smartthings App is where everything seems to be centralized for the Smartthings Hub as well as the motion sensor. So, if you go over to your home device section, this is where you have a list of all your things.
  • It can also work with the Philips Hue light bulb and can also tell you the temperature
  • There is also an activity log, so you can go really in-depth in terms of details of what has been happening in the last little while. You can also view any automation tied to this particular device

Read our reviews of the Aqara motion sensor and the Philips Hue motion sensor 

JD Squad