Is Motion Sensor Lighting A Good Investment For Your Home?

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Save money on outdoor security lighting while at the same time, protecting your property (and your own personal safety) with floodlights that are activated when motion is detected by a sensor. Floodlights that are illuminated from dusk to dawn are high-energy consumers and can easily be replaced by automating the activating process.

Motion activated outdoor lighting has a shock value to would be intruders. Suspecting that your home is shrouded in darkness making it an easy target for burglary would be intruders are shocked when they are suddenly flooded with light. It’s just common sense to expect them to move on to a less protected target.

In addition to protecting your property from criminals, motion activated lighting can provide an element of safety for you when you are returning home after dark or if you venture outside to investigate a strange noise. Strategically placed, motion activated floodlights can illuminate the driveway, entryways and other walkways around your home. Some insurance companies will even offer premium incentives for homeowners with this type of security lighting.

The basic mechanics of the motion detection sensor is fairly simple. The active sensor works by pulsing a stream of energy such as microwaves or sound that is sensitive to changes in the environment. Most lighting systems are of the passive variety designed to detect infrared energy. These passive systems known as passive infrared detectors can be calibrated to detect a person by picking up on the infrared energy they emit.

The motion sensor is sensitive to both motion and the amount of infrared energy that it is sensing. The electronics are designed to find a relatively rapid change in the amount of infrared energy it is sensing. This is why these sensing devices are triggered by a person or animal moving and not the slow gradual change that occurs in the infrared energy in the nighttime environment.

Motion sensors are also used indoors and are generally called occupant sensors. A special feature of many occupant sensors is that they detect not only the presence of a person in a particular area but also detect the absence of a person as well. The way they work is fairly simple and straightforward. The motion detector itself is designed to sense both the presence and the absence of a person, send the appropriate message or signal to what is called the control unit which then processes the information and sends a signal to a controllable switch which then either opens or closes a relay which either turns lights on or turns them off.

Besides providing security, the occupant sensor is a very effective energy savings device because of its capability to turn off lights when a room or area is not being used.

There are basically two different systems available for occupant sensors. One type involves a separate unit for the motion detector and controller and a separate unit for the power supply and switch (relay). This setup is the most popular type of occupant sensor and is generally the least expensive. A more recent innovation is called a wall box sensor and includes all the components housed in a single compact package. Wall box sensors are generally less powerful in terms of their detection capabilities than their older counterpart.

Another type of motion sensor uses infrared heat energy generated by a person. These passive devices do not emit any radiation and are strictly detection devices that are designed to be sensitive to any object that emits energy at a wavelength of approximately 10 microns, which is the maximum generated by a person. These devices are generally known as passive infrared sensors or PIR and are restricted by the fact that they are line-of-sight systems.

Finally, a device called an ultrasonic occupant sensor uses a system that sends out ultrasonic waves, which then pick up on how often these waves are reflected. Operating much like naval sonar devices, these sensors detect motion through a change in the frequency of the waves that are reflected. These devices are among the most sensitive sensors when it comes to detecting movement.

RAB is one of the leading manufacturers of motion sensors and provide a variety of sensors, each configured for specific purposes. One of the most popular models is the Stealth 110. This unit provides 110-degree coverage, which translates to 50′ out and 70′ wide. Generally used in commercial or industrial settings, the Stealth 15LV is primarily used as a motion detector in corridors. This unit has a 15-degree coverage and can detect motion as far away as 75′ using a 12′ scan. The Stealth 200 provides 200 degrees of coverage or 30′ out and 100′ wide. The primary application for this model is along the side of a building for close coverage.

RAB also offers motion sensor light kits that don’t involve the more complicated wiring found in the above-noted models. These units have either a bell or a bullet floodlight that illuminates whenever motion is detected in the area covered. The STL110H series has 110 degree coverage or 50′ out and 70′ wide. The STL200H series has a 200 degree coverage or 30′ out and 100′ wide.