Sensors have always been a key component of home security systems, but with more families buying into smart home technology, now even more people are installing their own smart motion sensors to integrate with their smart bulbs, automated routines, and other home monitoring devices.

Finding the right spot for motion sensors can be surprisingly difficult. Poorly placed sensors will not pick up on movements happening out of range, or they could even trigger too often if they register sudden changes in temperature or other false alarms. Most motion sensors on the market now have a range between 50 and 80 feet, but some can be adjusted for more or less sensitivity.

 

The point of most smart home devices is to ease your mind rather than introduce new worries, so be sure to first choose the kind of sensor that fits your needs, and then take the time to place it in a good location. Here are some tips for installing your sensor.

 

DON’T install a motion sensor:

 

Near active vents, radiators, or fireplaces.

 

Many sensors detect motion by tracing heat patterns in a room, so keep your motion sensor out of the direct airflow of any vents or heat sources that might trick it into a false positive.

 

Facing large windows.

 

Consider placing your motion sensor on a wall that faces away from large windows—otherwise you might get notifications of an intruder anytime a cloud moves in front of the sun, or when the mail carrier stops by.

 

Behind house plants.

 

You might think that behind a leafy plant would be the perfect place to hide your motion sensor, but the foliage will just obstruct the sensor’s view. The exception to this rule is if you want to use a sensor only for detecting temperature—then it might be better off hiding behind a plant because it will pick up on the room temperature without interference from bodies and other sources of heat.

 

At the end of a hallway.

 

Sensors are more effective at capturing motion that moves parallel to them rather than coming straight at them. So instead of placing your sensor at the end of a hallway, place it on a wall where people will be walking alongside and past it.

 

DO install a motion sensor:

 

In bottleneck spaces.

 

Is there a hallway or room in your house that everyone has to pass through to reach other areas? If so, concentrate your motion sensors around that space to ensure that you capture any motion passing through.

 

Around entry points.

 

It should go without saying, but don’t forget to install motion sensors around any entrances to your home. That can include not just your front and back door but also potentially first-floor windows or your garage—anywhere a burglar might attempt to break in.

 

In drawers, cabinets, or safes.

 

If you store valuables in certain drawers or cabinets around the house, with a smart sensor you can monitor any snooping guests, intruders, or even just your kids. You can place the sensor inside the drawer so that it doesn’t get jostled or triggered unnecessarily; it will only pick up motion when someone looks inside.

 

High on the walls.

 

Especially if you have young children or pets, try to find spots for your motion sensor where it will be out of reach of curious hands or mouths! Get out a ladder and install the sensor high out of reach.


When in doubt, consult the user manual for your sensor, and don’t be afraid of a little trial and error. Sensors can be relocated if you experience unanticipated issues with their placement. It might seem tricky to find the right place for a sensor, but it’s well worth the convenience you’ll experience once you have it running.