Outdoor Motion Sensor best practices and recommendations

Posted on
Mon Aug 05, 2019 9:06 am
eightball offline
Posts: 44
Joined: Oct 17, 2011

Outdoor Motion Sensor best practices and recommendations

I'm trying to setup some outdoor motion sensors and would love advice on best practices/model recommendations.

I have a mostly insteon based system but recently added z-wave to the mix.

Sensors I have:
2 - insteon sensors (1 old, 1 new)
3 - homeseer sensors attached to flood lights

In a perfect world:
1. These sensors would first trigger floodlights on the corresponding side of my house then trigger the remaining flood lights (i.e. north side motion detected: north triggers, pause, south, east, west trigger)
2. These sensors would work in tandem with insteon switches connected to these floodlights so they could be both bypassed and run at lower levels for regular illumination.
3. Ideally, these sensors would be hardwired (at least the Homeseer ones)

Questions:
1. Best practices generally?
2. Can I use both a dimmer and the motion sensor together? If so what's the best way to do that?
3. Can they be hardwired with a dimmer before the floodlight? Dimmer - sensor - light? Or do I need to have the sensor working independently of the dimmer? So - sensor triggers dimmer.
4. Other brand recommendations?
5. Experience with insteon sensors outdoors? These would be under eaves in southern California.

Thanks for any help/guidance.

Anthony

Posted on
Tue Aug 13, 2019 9:13 am
johnpolasek offline
Posts: 869
Joined: Aug 05, 2011
Location: Aggieland, Texas

Re: Outdoor Motion Sensor best practices and recommendations

I guess if nobody else has any information to share, I'll drop in my nickles worth; In an outside motion detector, you're going to get lots of false alarms; whether it's PIR or optical, the current state of the art can't reliably differentiate between tree limbs moving in front of a sun heated patch of ground or a 30 lb pet dog near the sensor from a human being sneaking around with a crowbar. And in terms of getting a signal back to Indigo, it really depends on how rf resistant your walls are; Inside, I've found that almost any Z-wave sensor has better response and longer battery life than the Insteons, but their signals have a rough time getting through the walls of my super insulated foil backed energy efficient window house. Absent some kind of Z-wave to wired technology bridge (which I'd love to see somebody build), if I ever did put up external motion sensors, I'd have to go with insteons since I could also plug in an outdoor rated dual band insteon plugin switch that would pass the signals onto the power line.

As far as where to put them, I'd guess common sense rules; as far back under the eves or under the porch, and not where where they would be watching any ceiling fans you have installed...

Posted on
Sat Aug 17, 2019 5:21 pm
johnfdl offline
Posts: 134
Joined: May 18, 2017
Location: Atlanta, GA USA

Re: Outdoor Motion Sensor best practices and recommendations

I personally have had good experience with break-beam to detect visitors/intruders. I posted my solution here: viewtopic.php?p=170976#p170976

Note, the Dakota 2500 system I've used is being replaced by Dakota 4000 system. I can't speak to if that system can support my setup.

Like John who posted above, other motion sensors have too many false alarms or interference issues for my level of comfort. My break beams have almost no false alarms and I've been using them for years (though they must be properly aligned and get enough sun for the solar panels to recharge the batteries). I realize this is likely well outside the scope (and perhaps price tag) of what you are seeking, but thought I'd throw it out there.

Posted on
Mon Aug 19, 2019 6:51 am
johnpolasek offline
Posts: 869
Joined: Aug 05, 2011
Location: Aggieland, Texas

Re: Outdoor Motion Sensor best practices and recommendations

johnfdl wrote:
I personally have had good experience with break-beam to detect visitors/intruders. I posted my solution here: viewtopic.php?p=170976#p170976

Note, the Dakota 2500 system I've used is being replaced by Dakota 4000 system. I can't speak to if that system can support my setup.

Like John who posted above, other motion sensors have too many false alarms or interference issues for my level of comfort. My break beams have almost no false alarms and I've been using them for years (though they must be properly aligned and get enough sun for the solar panels to recharge the batteries). I realize this is likely well outside the scope (and perhaps price tag) of what you are seeking, but thought I'd throw it out there.


The (current) problem with the 4000 series is that it has no relays that can be tied into a contact closure detector (Z-wave window sensor, insteon EZIO, Pibeacon rPi, alarm panel, etc); it's audio only. Dakota has been promising that there will be a version of the receiver with relays forthcoming in "early summer 2019", but haven't demonstrated or listed it on their website as of a week ago. The other problem with beam break detectors is that they cover only a single line; given that deer tend to use my driveway as a game trail, I went with the Dakota 2500 magnetic sensor for detecting vehicles only. But, of course that won't detect pedestrians unless they are carrying a LOT of metal. And at present, I am looking into a company called "safety Technology International" which has a whole series of devices similar to the Dakotas with an 8 relay board available. I haven't looked for a beam break in their product line because I was only interested in a new mag sensor for my mother's house.

Posted on
Mon Aug 19, 2019 7:31 pm
johnfdl offline
Posts: 134
Joined: May 18, 2017
Location: Atlanta, GA USA

Re: Outdoor Motion Sensor best practices and recommendations

Thanks John. Agreed there is no perfect solution, but for me, the break beam is as close as I can get. I am trying to detect either a car or a person so magnetic detectors won't work and motion sensors have too many false alarms. Yes, the break beam will trigger if a deer crosses it's path (I mount it a few feet off the ground so opossums and racoons won't trigger it), but for my use it works. Keep in mind, I am just looking to trigger the camera feed on my TVs when the break beam is triggered. So if it's a deer, that is fine....I will see that. I think you can still get the 2500 series which has the relay connections (required for my solution), but that may not last long.

If I only wanted to detect vehicles, then I agree a mag detector is the way to go.

Posted on
Tue Aug 20, 2019 5:19 am
johnpolasek offline
Posts: 869
Joined: Aug 05, 2011
Location: Aggieland, Texas

Re: Outdoor Motion Sensor best practices and recommendations

FYI

You can get most of the 2500 Transmitters (I assume they are getting rid of stock) but as of about 3 months ago, the 2500 RECEIVERS (and any bundle including a receiver) were out of stock, no restock data available at every online supplier I could find. And still waiting for the 4000 receiver with relays. Dakota also has a sensor suite for their MURS one mile wireless intercom system that has ONE relay in it.

And the mag sensor works for me because the house is a quarter mile off the road, and nobody wants to walk that far. The security cameras are motion triggered (mostly waving leaves), but the sensor sends me a phone push if the sensor trips while none of the BLE beacons the family carry are home (so far just delivery guys).

Posted on
Tue Aug 20, 2019 8:41 am
ELWOOD offline
Posts: 218
Joined: Feb 11, 2007
Location: Ramsey, NJ

Re: Outdoor Motion Sensor best practices and recommendations

I have been using Optex duel beam inferred detectors for 20 years with great success. My original was a hard wired version but now am using there battery powered wireless version. The detector is mounted about 3 1/2 to 4 feet above the ground. with duel infrared detectors one is set to be parallel to the ground the second is aimed at a downward angle and is adjustable. Both beams must be tripped before you get an activation. So animals under the 4 foot mounting hight are not detected. The down looking beam is adjustable to set the range the detector see's so at max it is about 40 feet, by setting an angle lower the range can be reduced to about 15 feet. Battery life id better than a year. You need to add your own transmitter so it will work with any wireless alarm. I an using a Honeywell vista 125 panel and the AD2USB alarm plugin. The detectors I have been using are there older VX detectors the newer version are the VXI.

Optex also makes break beam detectors that are also wireless. Here is a link to Optex https://www.optexamerica.com/security-products?f%5B0%5D=field_product_wire%3ABattery%20Powered&page=1

Does look like you can get them on Amazon or just search the part number.

Elwood

Posted on
Wed Aug 21, 2019 3:34 am
agame offline
Posts: 240
Joined: Jul 13, 2017
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Re: Outdoor Motion Sensor best practices and recommendations

agree with comments on limitations with outdoor sensors. wombats, wind on plants,, and at night giant moths and bats continually set off a PIR based sensor
(use a microwave-based sensor rather than an infrared PIR for somewhat better results).

the recent upgrade to Security Spy (adding local human and vehicle recognition capability) has revolutionised outdoor recognition for me...much superior to beam break sensors which I agree are the next best thing.

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