Motion Detector vs. Presence Detector

The pros and cons of each option.


September 18, 2020

3 135 Motion-Detector-vs.-Presence-Detector-Pros-and-Cons Desktop

With the introduction of smart technology in homes, gone are the days of having just a simple deadbolt as your defense from burglars. However, over the years, most homeowners have significant ambiguity when it comes to some of the available smart technology security gadgets, especially motion detectors and presence detectors.

The evolution of security sensors

If you walked into a security accessory store in the 1990s and asked for a motion sensor, you would be given a contraption to hang in a particular area in your house. The device would then automatically switch on a light or trip an alarm that scares away a burglar.

Unfortunately, the effectiveness of these gadgets tended to come into question because of the false positives. In other words, a raccoon scavenging in your trash would trigger an alarm from these motion detectors.

Currently, homeowners are exposed to a multitude of motion detectors that don’t wake you up at night when a raccoon is busy vandalizing your trash bin in the backyard. Today, you can go to a home security shop and end up with a genuine presence detector. But how do you tell the difference between the two tools and what best suits your home?

Motion detectors

A motion detector is the linchpin of your home security setup, considering it’s the main device that detects movement in an area. When a sensor is tripped, the device sends a signal to your security system’s control panel monitoring center, highlighting the existence of a potential threat. Subsequently, this triggers an alarm.


  • Small size and easy to stealthily install, making it harder for a burglar to invade your home unnoticed.

  • Today’s motion detectors work with CCTV systems, which helps you identify your intruder.

  • Easy to install and it can be placed where you wish.


  • Most motion detector are restricted to a small area, typically about room size

  • The signals of most motion detectors cannot go through walls or windows

  • Most motion detectors on loops may not always be effective.

Presence detectors

A presence detector is used to identify if an individual has got into or out of a secured area through changes in the prescribed surrounding and is not based on movement. For example, in the instance a burglar sneaks into your home, a presence detector tags his or her thermal radiation, which it later converts into an electric signal, alerting you of an intruder. In this case, the burglar doesn’t need to move to be detected; the heat from their body in contrast to the room temperature is enough.


Depending on the particular model of the device used, the area that can be covered by a presence detector may vary from your entire home to a selected.

The signal of most presence detectors can ordinarily travel through walls as well as windows.

Hard to identify and avoid as they are stealthily made and installed .


Because presence detectors identify thermal changes, this means false positives may be an issue

The coverage of a presence detector may work against the devices as it fails to monitor all preferred location with today’s monitoring technology.

Lauren Slade is a Dallas-based writer and editor.

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