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Which Sensors Are Best to Keep Your Home Safe?

February 14th, 2019

Is it possible to have too many sensors in your smart home security system? Likely not. But it can be costly and more is not necessarily better. So how do you determine how many is too many? And how do you determine what the right choices are for your home?


If you’re considering a smart home security system, there are a variety of sensors available to you to achieve the right home sensor coverage. Most common in the market are devices that detect motion (including vibration), the presence of water, ambient temperature, and air quality as well as contact sensors. Depending on your particular security goals you will generally employ a variety of sensors throughout your home.


Before we dig in on how many you might need, let’s cover the basics of each type.

Smart Home Sensor Types

  1. Infrared motion sensor: Can be active or passive. Active motion sensors send out ultrasonic sound waves (used in ultrasounds) that reflect back to the sensor in a continuous pattern. When the pattern is interrupted by someone walking into the area, it triggers the sensor. A door that unlocks as you approach to go through it works like this. A passive infrared motion sensor detects heat given off by animals and humans. When there’s a sudden increase in the energy, for example if a burglar enters a room with an armed sensor, the sensor triggers an alarm. Specially designed sensors are available to accommodate households with pets and are dependent upon the size of the animal.

  2. Door and window sensors: Employs a magnetic field that sends a signal when it’s broken. Can be set to use vocals such as “front door, open,” to beep, or to sound an alarm.

  3. Contact sensor: These two-piece devices monitor opening or closing. Can be used on doors, but also on anything that opens or closes, such as a medicine cabinet if there are dangerous or valuable medications in your home, a liquor cabinet or wine fridge, even the drawer with the knives in it if you have young children. Installed so that the two pieces are in contact with each other when the door or drawer is in a closed position, the sensor alerts you if its two pieces lose contact with one another.

  4. Glass break sensors: A glass break detector monitors sound or vibration, and when it notes a frequency similar to glass shattering, the alarm goes off. These can be especially useful for sliding glass doors or very large windows. These devices can be used in combination with door and window sensors. Those sensors monitor the open/closed status of the door or window, but provide no information on the status of the glass panes themselves.

  5. Flood sensors: Are placed against the ground and feature probes and water sensors so you’re alerted immediately if any pipes burst or any leaks from appliances occur. Should be placed in all rooms with water-based appliances.

  6. Temperature sensors: Detecting temperature of an area or room, if these are placed in parts of your house such as a basement or crawl space, they can alert you if the temperature drops too low and the pipes may freeze. Avoiding that can save you thousands of dollars!

  7. Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors: Technically these are also sensors, sensing harmful qualities in the air to keep you safe, and can be integrated with smart home technology to provide helpful alerts no matter where you are.


Now that we have the full run down of the many possible ways you can secure your home using smart technology, let’s talk about what would work best.

Basic Sensors

If you have a small home with few windows and only one or two entry points, you may be most interested in a basic package of sensors for your home. Consider a motion sensor for outside your main entry and by a garage if you have one, door sensors for the front and back door, and window sensors for any easily accessible windows. If you have a basement that tends to get damp, definitely consider a flood sensor as well.

Mid Level Sensors

If you have a mid-size home with several entry points, a slightly more complex set of sensors may be best. Especially if you have children in the home with you, you may want more safety and security to keep them and your home safe. Consider some motion sensors for the main areas of your home and door sensors for every way in and out. Think about expanding your use of window sensors, using them not only for windows you might think of as easy entry points, but also for monitoring the status of the windows in second-story bedrooms to keep kids safe from falling. Adding some contact sensors for dangerous areas such as your medicine cabinet would be smart as well.

Most Critical Sensors

If you have a large home or one in a very visible and busy area, many expensive possessions, and/or some special situations requiring extra monitoring, using a mix of all of the sensors can keep you and your home safe. Glass break sensors on windows or doors most likely to be used for entry, along with window and door sensors throughout the home will help keep your house secure. You can have motion sensors for the major areas of your home and contact sensors for your safe. Temperature sensors will help you stay aware of potential hazards such as freezing pipes, and place flood sensors near appliances that could leak and ruin your home.

Your Choice

If you don’t fit squarely in one of these boxes, you can mix and match what feels best to you. If you’re afraid your teens’ friends could get into the medicine or liquor cabinet, you can go with a basic level but add the contact sensors. If your home is in a highly trafficked area, beef up the door and window sensors but maybe don’t invest as much in interior items.


To really nail down the right options for you, it’s best to work with a professional who can complete a site survey, learning the particulars of your home and what you’re most comfortable with. They can recommend a tailored plan to meet your needs.



To learn more about sensor options, head to our products and services page. And if you’d like to take the next steps to ensure your home, valuables, and family are safe, get in touch with Select Security today for a FREE SmartHome consultation!

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