If you want to be notified when there’s activity on your property but you don’t want to invest in an expensive home security system, an outdoor motion sensor installed in a strategic location is an effective way to receive alarm alerts. You can use an outdoor motion sensor to be notified when a vehicle has entered the driveway, when someone unexpected is at the front door, or when a burglar is attempting to break in.
There are several types of affordable outdoor motion sensors. Some units are stand-alone and wireless, which makes them easy to install and operate. Choose an outdoor motion sensor based on what you want to monitor and where you want to install it.
Driveway Alarms Detect Arrival of Vehicles or People
A driveway alarm is a monitor that sends out an alert when a vehicle or person enters your driveway or property. Most systems use chime, beep and/or flashing light alerts. Other systems can be set up to automatically activate surveillance cameras and sirens, as well as interior or exterior lights, which are especially useful for people with hearing loss.
There are two basic types of driveway alarms:
- Motion Detection – This type of system uses infrared (IR) sensors to detect the movement or motion of people, vehicles and animals up to 30-40 feet away. Many systems are expandable and can accept additional sensors to give you total perimeter coverage that can include your driveway as well as your home’s entrances, yard and walkways. The Chamberlain Wireless Motion Alert System, for example, can accept up to four sensors. The FrontLine Wireless Driveway Alert System by SVAT, another expandable system, also allows you to adjust the sensitivity level so you choose the size of the objects it will alert for — larger objects (such as cars) or smaller objects (such as people).
- Magnetic Metal Detection – This system uses a metal sensing probe buried parallel to or under the driveway to detect the movement of iron or steel. Although this type of driveway alarm is technically not a “motion sensor,” it is nevertheless a reliable system that is very effective at eliminating false alerts for passing animals or people. Popular models include the Winland Vehicle Alert, which comes with a probe on a 100’ cable (longer lengths are available) and the wireless Dakota Alert.
To camouflage your driveway alarm, Dakota makes a pre-finished wooden birdhouse to hold the alarm sensors. This “faux” birdhouse looks so authentic that no one will ever guess that there’s a sophisticated security system hidden inside!
For a list of other useful ways to use a driveway alarm, read “Security is Only One Reason to Get a Driveway Alarm.”
Weatherproof Motion Detector Warns of Trespassers
Motion detectors work well to alert you when an intruder approaches your home or business, however, outdoor use of these devices can be tricky because there are many things that can set off false alarms, such as pets, reflections from the sun, moving branches, and rapid changes in temperature.
- PIR Technology Reduces False Alarms — To safeguard against false alarms, pick an outdoor motion detector that uses passive infrared (PIR) technology. Better still is a motion detector like the WatchOUT DT Wired Outdoor Motion Sensor by Rokonet that reduces false alarms by using two PIR channels along with two microwave channels and a smart processor, allowing it to compare the channels and determine if it should really alarm. This “dual technology” (or DT) allows it to recognize and ignore targets like swaying tree branches that can trigger other types of motion detectors.
- Pair With an Alarm System – An outdoor motion detector is not a stand-alone unit and must be paired with a home alarm or surveillance system. Some outdoor motion detectors work with any manufacturer’s transmitter and receiver, while others are system-specific. The wireless version of the WatchOUT outdoor motion detector by Rokonet, for instance, is compatible with several alarm systems including the Wisdom Wireless security system (also made by Rokonet). The hardwired version — the WatchOUT DT Wired Outdoor Motion Sensor – works well with the Sensaphone monitoring system.
Install motion detectors around the house in locations where intruders are likely to try to break in, like the patio door at the back of the house or the entrance to the garage. Be sure to invest in motion detectors designed for outdoor use that can withstand weather and temperature extremes – they are a little more expensive, but are also a lot more durable.
Outdoor motion sensors are an effective way to get alerts when there’s activity on your property. Use a strategically-placed outdoor motion sensor to receive notifications when there’s an unexpected visitor at your front door or a strange car pulling into your driveway. You can also use outdoor motion sensors to monitor everyday activity, like guests arriving, or to be notified when your teenage driver has returned home safely.