Motion Sensors Without Photocell

What are your options?


December 1, 2020

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One of the most critical components of a security system are motion sensors. The majority of these sensors have a photocell that detects movement.

These photocells work much like the photocells used on lights that come on at dusk and go off at dawn — they react to changing light levels. But when it comes to a motion sensor, those changing levels of light are triggered by motion. And motion is how the detector knows that someone or something is in the area.

What does a photocell do?

A good home security system uses photocells to its advantage. Photocells are designed to “see” things around them and then send a signal to a device about the thing the photocell “saw.” In most cases, this happens when a security light either detects motion or notes a change in the level of light.

However, it’s not always necessary to have a photocell to get an effective motion sensor. Exploring other options can be a good idea when changing light patterns in your home could cause too many false alarms.

Photocell sensor alternatives

Alternatives to photocell-based motion sensors include infrared sensors, which detect motion when the beam between sensors breaks. A broken beam indicates that someone or something crossed the sensor’s path, but these sensors are easy for burglars to avoid.

Motion sensors with photocells are easier to work with and more reliable since they detect motion in a much wider area and focus on people and animals that may move through that location.

Choosing the right motion sensor

Selecting a motion sensor is important, and you should base your choice on several different considerations:

  • Where you plan to place the sensor

  • The cost of the sensor you’re choosing

  • Potential compatibility issues with other devices

  • Potential for flickering or changing light to trigger false alarms

  • Degree of regular maintenance required for the sensor

These considerations will help you choose a motion sensor that best meets your needs.

A good security company can help

When it comes time to choose a motion sensor — with or without a photocell — it’s essential to make sure you invest in equipment you can trust to work reliably.

Are you interested in monitored home security? Get a free quote from Brinks Home™.

Jason Stevens is a senior writer for Brinks Home. He is a "tech guy" who enjoys sharing home security and automation tips with others.

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