The Power of Motion Sensors


Motion sensors are, without any doubt, elements that will increase the quality of our projects. They are normally required by homeowners, it is an easy way to show they have an automated house, and the way they manage the lighting circuits becomes very comfortable. On top of that, if they have a good software and commissioning behind, they will optimize some functionalities in the house.

 These sensors are normally installed in corridors, walk-in closets, foyers… but I propose them in as many rooms as possible, they are not so expensive and there is a lot they can offer to our project.

 Motion sensors are normally related to the lighting control; here we have some nice examples:

  • Daytime behavior. In those rooms where there is no window, motion sensors will switch on the lights to a high level -100%
  • Nighttime behavior. If we have a button for a “night or sleeping mode” (this button will turn off lights, close curtains, change the mode of the air-conditioning system, and set the house in the “night mode”), those lights that before were set to 100%, will be switched on to a low level, 20%. Now we can walk in the bathroom in the middle of the night without being blinded by the lights.
  • Avoid forgetting lights switched on. In some rooms we can program that after “X” minutes that lights were activated from a button without movement detection, the system will accept there is nobody anymore in that room and the lights will be switched off. Here we understand that at the moment we activated the lights from the button, we also did block the motion sensor, otherwise this sensor would switch off the lights after his waiting time. And when the system switches off the lights, will also unblock the motion sensor.
  • Ambient light conditions can be added in the actions which manage lighting circuits. In many cases this is already a parameter within the properties of the sensor. Now lights will be switched on only if it is really needed, and not during all day.

 But we can get much more from our motion sensors:

  • Control over a music zone. If we have a multiroom music system in the house, each time we go in to the bathroom during daytime, the motion sensor will trigger the music system to play the selected radio station, but not if we go in during nighttime and the “night mode” is enabled. After “X” time without detecting any movement in the bathroom, the music system will be stopped. The bathroom lights will switch on, or not, depending of the ambient light level in the room.
  • Access Control. If our project is a commercial project as a small shop, could be interesting to have a motion sensor at the entrance door with a functionality of “door-shop bell”. This sensor, in addition to the lighting control, will trigger a bell, or will play a tone in other device of our installation.
  • We can use motion sensors to simulate a security system. If we dispose of an “Away” scene which turns off the lights in the house, closes the blinds, powers off the TV and the music system, changes the air-conditioning mode… we can also add a condition that until other button is pressed, motion sensors will report (via mail, sms…) there is movement detection in the house and the system is in the “Away” mode.

As you can see, we are adding functionalities and at the same time the programming becomes more complicated and confused. It is imperative to have the correct training, software and tools, otherwise, nothing described previously will work. We are using logic conditions, variables, timers… In my opinion, the complexity of the homeowner requirements, will determine the home automation system we will use (for example KNX vs. proprietary systems), but this is for sure a good topic for other discussion point.

These are some examples of how maximize the capabilities of our projects, showing the value of home automation.  If, besides all we already mentioned, we choose a good sensor with a nice aesthetic (In my opinion as smaller as possible, some architects and interior designers really hate to see those devices in the ceiling) and we install them in the correct places (they are not so visible, but still cover the area we want), we will get some extra points as good integrators/installers.

Pedro Mera.




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