Occupancy sensors have a two-fold purpose. They are not only useful gadgets for home security, but are also very handy when it comes to bringing down energy consumption costs.
According to the FBI, you are 300% less likely to be burglarized if you have a home security system installed. With a burglary happening every 15 seconds, and an estimated total of 2,103,787 burglaries in 2012 in the US, are you really safe? Do you have an effective home security system installed? Even if you don’t, you just need to make sure you have the fundamental ones in your home.
An occupancy sensor should be on your ‘fundamental components’ list. And here’s why.
Benefits of an Occupancy Sensor
This sensor can be easily integrated with your home’s security network to provide you with an added element of security. You can connect an occupancy sensor with the main alarm panel. So even if your security system is somehow breached, your occupancy sensor will detect the presence of an intruder and alert you in time. This will give you ample time to secure yourself and your family, and call the authorities to handle the problem.
Another benefit of occupancy sensors is their usage as energy saving equipment. According to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), over 36% of the total end use of electricity in the US was residential; higher than that for commercial, industrial and transportation uses. EIA believes that occupancy sensors can help bring this percentage down. These sensors can automatically turn lights on and off when necessary. Light pollution is minimized, along with energy costs and energy waste. They are also capable of controlling the heating and cooling systems.
Types of Occupancy Sensors
There is a lot of overlapping technology between occupancy and motion sensors. Three types of motion sensors are typically combined with various other gadgets to make six types of occupancy sensors.
These are a very basic type of motion detectors. They are called passive because they do not emit any light, heat or sound. It is used to measure any deviation in temperature, picking up on the increase in heat when a person enters a room. A signal would then be sent to the main panel to switch on the lights or sound the alarm.
Combined PIR and Ultrasonic Detectors
A PIR detector is combined with an ultrasonic wave emitting detector. As compared to a simple PIR detector, this provides a much more accurate reading of when people walk in and out of the designated areas.
Active Ultrasonic Detectors
This detector emits sound waves of a frequency that is inaudible to the human ear. The sensor within this unit picks up on any movement in the room by using reflecting sound waves. This detector can activate lighting, air conditioning, heating systems or sound an alarm to notify in case of an intrusion.
Passive Ultrasonic Detectors
These work with the same technology as active ultrasonic detectors, with the difference being that these are relatively less expensive but more prone to causing false alarms.
Microwave Detector and Occupancy Sensors
These sensors are the perfect balance between reliability and cost. Microwaves emitted from a sensor are able to cover a wide space to detect any form of movement and activate lighting or sound an alarm. Microwave detectors are also compatible with batteries, so they work during power outages as well, making them ideal for use in homes.
Combined PIR and Microwave Occupancy Sensors
These sensors have an added advantage of working well in spaces with windows, which is something PIR detectors are not capable of doing because glass blocks infrared radiation.
The type of detector you choose will be dependent on your existing security system’s compatibility, the amount of money you are willing to spend, and what sort of features do you require your sensor to have. Once you have purchased your occupancy sensor, it is just a matter of placing it correctly in the house to take full advantage of its abilities.
A Few Helpful Hints for Placement!
Analyze the space you wish to put an occupancy sensor in and place the sensors accordingly.
Ceiling mounted sensors will not work well in places with high ceilings, such as lobbies.
Don’t mount sensors close to air vents since the vibration of the air flow might affect the effectiveness of the sensor
Be sure to account for all possible entrances into the premises
Make sure that tall furniture or any other equipment in the room won’t hinder the sensor’s view of the room.
Make sure the sensor’s view of the room isn’t blocked by the door when it opens.
Keeping the above hints in mind will help you strategically place sensors all over your house. Be sure to get professional help with the placement. It’s better to place a few sensors intelligently rather than a large number of ill-placed ones.