Source: James Bricknell / Android Central
Smart Home Sensors
Smart sensors are great little devices if you’re looking for added security. They can detect movement, alert you when someone tries to enter your home, detect leaks, and others can monitor room temperature. Our top pick is the Ecolink Z-Wave Door and Window Sensors. Set up is quick and easy, and it is compatible with SmartThings so that you can use voice controls through multiple smart hubs. Check our top picks for the best smart sensors out there.
Best Overall: Ecolink Z-Wave Door and Window Sensors
You never know when a break-in may occur, so it’s better to be safe rather than sorry. A great way to add protection is with the Ecolink Z-Wave Door and Window Sensor. It will detect whenever a door or window is opened and will send alerts immediately.
The Ecolink sensor is compatible with Z-wave Plus security hubs such as V1, V2, V3. Vera Plus, Vera Edge, and Vera Lite. It is also it is compatible with SmartThings, which is perfect if you already have a SmartThings hub. If you don’t, it does mean you will require a security hub to get the Ecolink sensor to function correctly. On the plus side, in addition to added protection, you can turn on certain lights when an entry point has been opened. This can be to deter an intruder or light your way home.
The Ecolink has two primary components: the sensor and a magnet. The sensor piece mounts onto the window or door frame, and the magnet attaches to the window or door itself. When the two parts separate, that triggers the alert. The sensors come with white and brown casings to suit the decor you have at home. It has tamper sensing technology, so you will receive reports if the casing is opened.
The battery life can last up to three years. It is built with premium materials that include rare earth magnets, which means there can be up to a ⅝ inch gap between the magnet and sensor. That is just about perfect for the most door and window installations. It is quick and easy to install; it’s just a case of pulling the tab on the sensor to begin the setup process. You can install as many sensors as you want at any or all of the entry points in your home, making you feel safe and secure.
- Compatible with Z-Wave certified hubs
- Quick and easy to install
- Compatible with Alexa
- Requires a security hub
- Larger than competing sensors
- Will occasionally receive double ‘open’ notifications
Runner-up: Philips Hue Smart Motion Sensor
Source: Philips Hue
The Philips Hue smart motion sensor detects when there’s movement within its range. You can have it set up so that light comes on when you enter a room. It will even turn lights off when you leave or when no motion is detected after a certain period. The light intensity can also be controlled by the time of day. For example, during the day, the light can be set to a crisp white light, and at night, it can be a warm, gentle night light.
The sensor is battery powered (2 AAA batteries, included) so it can be placed anywhere you like. You’ll want to place it somewhere it can detect movement, but you can place it on the shelf, put it on a side table or mount it on the wall or ceiling. There is a daylight sensor on the device as well, so lights will only come on when needed. However, you can change the light sensitivity through the Philips Hue app to suit your needs.
One thing you will need for the Hue smart motion sensor to work is a Hue Hub. The Hub is what connects all Philips Hue products and enables you to use the Philips Hue app. It is compatible with Alexa, Google Assistant, and Apple HomeKit, so you can control it with your voice if that’s your preference. The Hue smart motion sensor is a great addition to a smart home security system.
- Easy to set up
- Small and compact
- Connects with Nest or Samsung SmartThings
- Use voice control via Alexa, Google Assistant, or Apple HomeKit
- Requires Hue hub to use the app
- Limited to two times settings per day
Smart Way to Go Samsung SmartThings Multipurpose Sensor
Samsung’s SmartThings division offers tons of great smart home and smart home monitoring products, but in our minds, one of the most versatile is its Multipurpose Sensor. You can put it on doors, windows, or cabinets to monitor if they’ve been opened or closed, but you can also place it on other devices to measure tilt or vibration. You can also just use it as an ambient temperature sensor to trigger automations from your SmartThings app, Alexa app, or even IFTTT.
These are also some of the more affordable sensors available, but there is a tiny asterisk to that statement. You see, like all SmartThings products, you’ll need a SmartThings Hub to connect them to each other, the app, and any other third-party devices like an Amazon Echo or Google Nest Hub.
The sensors take a CR-2450 battery (included) and can be mounted on just about any surface with the included pads, screws, and brackets. They also sport a one-year Samsung SmartThings limited warranty.
- Works with SmartThings Hub and Zigbee 3.0
- Alerts on Android and iOS
- Works with Alexa and the Google Assistant
- Can mount just about anywhere in your home
- Can monitor open/close, tilt, vibrate, and temperature
- Requires SmartThings Hub and App
- Battery life is spotty
Best Flood Sensor: SimpleSENCE Leak and Freeze Sensor
You never know when a flood will occur in your home, so why not invest in a leak senor? This sensor from SimpleSENCE will notify you when it has detected a leak so you can react immediately, keeping your home and valuables safe. It’s quick and easy to set up, and you can easily add more sensors around your home. Plus, they are all controlled through an app. You can even add other people to your notification list. This is handy for when you’re not immediately available.
As well as a leak sensor, there is also a temperature sensor. It can monitor ambient temperatures in a room. This is useful during wintertime when colder temperatures could cause a pipe to burst. Whenever a leak or low temperature is detected, the sensor sets off an audible alert as well as a notification to your phone.
The sensor is battery powered, requiring 2 AAA batteries, which can last up to two years. There are battery indicators on the device too. SimpleSENCE offers a dedicated support team whenever you encounter problems with the sensor. One thing to note is that if the sensor is on the border of your Wi-Fi range, then a Wi-Fi extender will help to boost the signal.
If you have a leaky basement or bathroom, this sensor will be your best buddy.
- Monitor multiple sensors on one phone
- Can also monitor ambient temperatures
- Audible alarm could be louder
- May need a Wi-Fi extender to boost the signal
Best Temperature Sensor: SensorPush Wireless Thermometer
The SensorPush wireless thermometer is small, compact, and very easy to use. Combined with the app, you can monitor the temperature and humidity within your home throughout the day. You can view the current stats, see the changes hourly, or have an overview of the whole week. If you really want to geek out, you can export data as a CSV file and view it on computer software like Microsoft Excel.
Information is sent via Bluetooth, so you’ll only receive notifications whenever you’re in range of the sensor. The sensor can hold data for up to 20 days, so if you were to go away, you could view data back 20 days. To receive notifications when you’re away from home, you will need to purchase the SensorPush Gateway, which connects to your Wi-Fi system to send you notification updates. You can buy multiple sensors and monitor them all through one device. You can also control one sensor through multiple devices. The battery life on the sensors can last up to a year.
There are many uses for a temperature sensor within a connected home. During the summer, if you notice the temperature quite high in your home, you could set air conditioning ahead of time so that you can return to a nice, cool house. Likewise, during wintertime, you can turn on your heating if the temperature is too cold. You can also use it to monitor your fridge temperature. There are so many different ways this device could be useful.
- Easy setup
- Can view data from the last 20 days
- Can export data to CSV file
- Need a hub to receive notifications when away from home
- Connects via Bluetooth
Best Dusk until Dawn Sensor: LOHAS Dusk til Dawn Light Sensor
These are light bulbs with a built-in sensor. They’re made to be used outdoors and will automatically turn on when it gets dark and will turn off during the day. Once installed, just set the switch to the on position, and it will do its thing. It seems like a simple sensor, but if you’re looking for a light that comes on at night and turns itself off in the morning, then this dusk until dawn sensor is what you are looking for.
These lights are energy-saving 6W LED bulbs, and they are built to last for 30,000 hours and shine at 500 lumens. The base is an E26 screw base, commonly found in modern homes. The bulbs can be used in the porch, driveway, patio, hallway, and more.
- Energy saving
- Commonly sized screw base
- Great price
- Could shine brighter
- Short life span
Safety is paramount for anyone. A great way of keeping an eye on your doors and windows in your home is with the Ecolink Z-Wave Window and Door Sensor. It sends you instant alerts whenever your door or window is opened without your knowledge. The fact that you can install multiple sensors around your home and monitor all of them from your phone can give you peace of mind.
Additionally, it can be part of your smart home system. The Ecolink can turn on lights automatically when you open your front door or alert you when another member of your family has arrived home. It can even turn on your heating system. Either way, for security or smart home features, it is an excellent addition to a growing smart home.
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
Jeramy Johnson is proud to help to Keep Austin Weird and loves hiking in the hill country of central Texas with a breakfast taco in each hand. When he’s not writing about Amazon products and services, he’s defending his relationship with his side-chick Alexa to his family. You can follow him on Twitter at @jeramyutgw.
DJ Reyes Worked on an earlier edition of this guide.
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