Electronic security systems are complex structures. A properly installed security system may contain any number of devices performing a variety of detection, communication, or monitoring tasks simultaneously. Their complexity is, in part, a necessary response to criminals attempting to subvert existing security measures to covertly achieve their goals. While technological advancements have made it far more difficult for would-be burglars to attain success, it has also made it harder for business and home owners relying on those systems for protection to understand exactly how a specific device aids in the overall protection of their property.
Partnering with a professional security provider like EPS Security can help to bridge the gap in understanding. With 65 years of experience in installing commercial and residential security systems, our consultants, engineers, and technicians have an in-depth understanding of how security devices work and the best way to install them to protect your home or business. While we’re glad to learn the ins-and-outs of security systems so our customers don’t have to, we do find it’s helpful for business operators and homeowners to have a working understanding of the more common devices appearing in our systems. As such, we’d like to introduce you to one of the fundamental aspects of an intrusion alarm system: the motion detector.
What is a motion detector? How does it work?
A motion detector is capable of sensing motion where there shouldn’t be any. Because of their small sizes and discreet designs, motion detectors are easy to install and position for a variety of coverage options, from a single device covering an entryway or living room to multiple devices working in conjunction to protect assembly areas and warehouses. Because of this adaptability, motion detectors are amongst the most common and easily recognized features of a burglary alarm system.
When motion detectors were first created in 1950, they detected motion by emitting high frequency electromagnetic waves and interpreting their bounce-back like a Doppler radar—a form of sensor still used today called an ultrasonic motion detector. Nowadays, the technologies behind motion sensors have become more advanced and more varied to improve security and decrease the dreaded “false alarm.” Passive infrared detectors, commonly referred to by security providers as PIRs, emit infrared waves to detect sudden changes in room temperature. Another common form of motion detector is the microwave sensor, which functions similarly to ultrasonic models but instead detects shifts in microwaves as people pass by.
In the past, motion detectors were responsible for a disproportionate amount of “false alarms” on security systems. In homes, pets might trip a PIR detector unintentionally, or inventory falling off a shelf in a business could set off a microwave sensor—both of which might result in a late-night call to an unhappy customer. Luckily, technology has advanced to the point where multiple forms of detection are commonly used by security technologies developers in their motion detectors. For example, a Resideo© 5898 Wireless X-Band DUAL TEC motion sensor uses both PIR and microwave technology to establish whether the actual movement (picked up by the microwaves) was caused by an object with a higher heat signature than the room (determined by the PIR). Furthermore, many modern motion sensors come with adjustable sensitivity settings or “pet immune” options to exclude small and mid-sized pets from detection parameters.
Exactly how far a motion sensor can detect depends on its design and location. For instance, standard PIR motion detectors utilize multiple detection “zones” that can range from just a few feet to over 35 feet–assuming, of course, that the device is installed as high off the floor as the manufacturer recommends. Other motion detectors may be designed specifically for detection at much farther distances. For instance, the Honeywell DT-900 series motion detectors can be programmed to detect as far as 120′ from the devices if installed correctly. While the DT-900 series and other standard motion detectors beam outward and downward from the device in a wedge shape, specialty detectors are available that change the shape of the detection zones and the location of installation, such as the Honeywell DT-8360 ceiling-mounted 360° motion sensor used to cover open commercial areas or large residential rooms. The adaptability of motion detectors allows for professional security providers to design custom systems to cover the unique interiors of most homes.
How can a motion detector help protect my home or business?
Motion detectors fill a unique niche in a comprehensive intrusion alarm system. Many devices on a conventional security system are perimeter protection devices—that is, they sense whether someone is trying to force their way through a door or smash through a window. And while certain motion detectors can be used in select outdoor scenarios, motion detectors are most frequently used to provide interior protection for a property. If an intruder overcomes perimeter devices or simply finds an unprotected way in, carefully positioned motion detectors can send a signal to the alarm control panel—and then to the designated monitoring center—for the expedient dispatch of emergency services.
Motion detectors are so good at detecting motion that modern security systems, especially in homes, are often programmed with a “stay” or “night” feature. If a homeowner were to arm their security system for the night and then wander downstairs for a glass of water, it would set off the alarm, effectively calling the police on themselves. Instead, perimeter interior protection devices such as motion detectors can be programmed to remain off when an alarm is set to “stay” or “night” mode while activating the door contacts, glass breaks, and other perimeter devices for protection purposes. In this way, motion detectors retain the flexibility that security providers and their customers have relied on for decades, providing maximum protection with an increasingly minimized risk of false alarms.
So much of how optimally a motion detector provides protection for a home or facility depends on placement, product quality, and how well a device works in conjunction with the other sensors on a system. While basic knowledge of a security system can help with day-to-day operation, a far more intimate knowledge of electronic protection services is required to engineer, install, and maintain a comprehensive home or business security system. EPS Security prides itself on our high-tech products and well-trained staff, but it’s also our decades of security industry know-how that has allowed us to sustain the high standard of quality and protection our systems have become known for. Whether securing your home and family or your business and livelihood, look no further than EPS Security for your protection needs and let us show you what 65 years of security experience can do for you.