Are Any Motion Sensor Actually Useful?

This is my first post … sorry if its a bit of a venting session.

I’m feeling like a lost dog in high weeds when it comes to motion sensing. I’ve tried two motion sensors integrated with the SmartThings hub and I’m no closer to having what I’m shooting for than when I started.

My initial idea was simple I thought. I wanted to improve lighting in a closet by triggering the lights on when either closet door opened.

I planned the project in two phases. Phase 1 was to use a motion sensor and Leviton Z-wave light switch to automatically turn on existing lights in my home’s master bedroom closet. I started Phase 1 about three months ago and so far zero forward progress and about $150 invested (two motion sensors and Leviton Z-Wave switch).

I began by purchasing a Belkin WeMo Motion. I selected that motion sensor with the idea that it had a movable sensor on a cable that I could easily try mounting at different locations/orientations and because it was AC powered.

In Phase 2 of the project I planned to replace the two existing light fixtures with duplex receptacles and plug a LED light strip into one of the new receptacles controlling its on/off state with a new Leviton Z-wave switch. I planned to plug the AC powered WeMo motion into the other (non-switched) receptacle so it had constant power for motion sensing. The Belkin device would always be looking for the doors sliding open, tell SmartThings hub I see motion and the SmartThings hub would then tell the Leviton Switch to turn on the lights.

When I could get that to happen, Phase 1 would be successfully completed. Phase 1 began with the purchase of a Belkin Motion device.

The Belkin product’s been a horror story. It took many tries to get that device to finally be seen using Belkin’s own app!

Once I finally did manage to get it going with the Belkin app I was then able to add the Motion as a new Thing via the SmartThings’ app. After several days of successfully testing the Motion device and many notifications lighting up my cell phone when residents walked by I unplugged the Belkin sensor to move it to the closet. Wow was that a mistake. Once I plugged it in again I was back to square one. The Belkin App said WeMo Motion Not Detected all over again.

So if I have a power outage …. well having to uninstall the Belkin app, reinstall it and wrestle the Belkin tech over and over again …. that’s seriously ugly. In hindsight, I should probably have done more research before buying the Belkin product.

Next was the quest for an AC-powered alternative to the Belkin Motion. I found the Aeon Labs Multisensor 6. This time I read many reviews and did what I thought was enough due diligence researching that device thoroughly. The Aeon device even gave me a second option of using sensed light in Lux as another way to trigger the Z-wave switch that’s non-existent with the Belkin Motion. Everything looked good so I bought one. With that purchase I was into Phase 1 cost-wise for over $100 dollars to just sense motion and/or light and I’d not even started buying Phase 2 LED strip lighting yet.

Last evening I successfully paired a new Aeon device with my SmartThings hub and started experimenting. My first test was to use motion sensed by the Aeon Gen 6 gizmo to turn on/off a Philips Hue Go. That experiment was a total failure. I could never get the Hue Go to trigger … not even once. I could see the device via SmartThings app and see that it detected light level changes via its Lux value so I investigated by looking at settings. Seems the Aeon’s minimum time interval between conversations with the SmartThings hub can’t be tweaked to less than once every 8 minutes even though the device is running on AC. I understand a minimum of 8 minutes on battery to conserve power but on AC … what’s up with that?

If I was using the Aeon device to detect an intruder I could be shot to death in 8 minutes folks and I would never have known someone had invaded my home!

So now to my question for the SmartThings Community. What the heck brand of motion sensor out there can actually do anything useful??

The Belkin is junk if it can’t come back up and be recognized again by Belkin’s own app after a power outage. Likewise what’s the Aeon good for with a minimum chat time limit of 8 minutes AC or battery?? I want the possibility of a motion trigger in place continuously not one ever 8 minutes or longer. I honestly can’t think of anything useful I can do with that.

What can give me an instantaneous triggering of the Z-wave switch by sensing motion or light increasing in the closet and what brand of motion sensor can detect an intruder without giving him 8 minutes to murder me???

tldr, but [quote=“ProtocolsLearner, post:1, topic:76055”]
So now to my question for the SmartThings Community. What the heck brand of motion sensor out there can actually do anything useful??

I am using a variety. Two Aeon Gen5, one from Monoprice (who manufactured the sensor for them, I don’t know), an Ecolink and a Smartthings.

The Aeons , are OK but I wouldn’t recommend them. At least for outside. They are not very accurate and eat batteries. Rest are better, but all are deployed indoors.

One thing to keep in mind is the latency is very variable. From instantly triggering a light to up to 20 seconds between motion and response (light coming on). If you need instant on, have you considered a plunger type of switch. There are z-wave/zigbee types of these switches (Plunger Style Z Wave switch),but maybe you make want to think about NOT automating this for the fastest response (Non-Automated plunger switch.).

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I find the Iris Motion Sensors are fast. Never had a false positive. One minute reset. Good battery life.


I have been shying away from them as the Iris system is Lowes proprietary. Looks like you have successfully deployed them.:grinning:

The first generation of the iris system was proprietary. The current generation, however, is using open standards: zigbee home automation 1.2 (ZHA 1.2) and Z wave. Consequently these devices have become very popular in the community as they are inexpensive and easy to pick up if you live near Lowe’s. So people are using many of the iris brand devices with SmartThings now, but they have to be the second generation.


Yep, they pair seamlessly with ST using the stock SmartSense Motion Sensor device type.

JD clarified what I forgot to mention.


I really like the Iris 2nd gen motion sensors, they are small and have a better SAF (spousal acceptance factor) than the large Ecolink.

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Agreed… The iris 2nd gen are nice and small, responsive and reliable.

One suggestion, are you able to deploy contact sensor(s) instead of motion? If need to stick with motion I second the Iris V2. They did awesome for several months, then I had a run for a while where they flaked out pretty bad, but in the end I think it might have been interference or possibly not having a repeater. I have added a repeater and they are back to being awesome.

Is there an easy way to identify these 2nd gen sensors in the store?

I’m really tired today, and I’ve been trying to figure out how to write a short answer to this, and I can, but other people are going to have to fill in the details.

First, the Aeon multisensor is configurable, so you can change the rest and reporting parameters. First, note that it behaves differently if it was on battery power when your first added it to your network then if it was on USB power at that time. If you intend to use it on USB power, you may have to exclude it from your network and add it back in again while it is on USB power.

You’re also going to need a device type handler which lets you configure the parameters. I’m sorry I can’t give you a link to one right now, but hopefully other people can or you can use the quick browse lists in the community – created wiki and see if there is one listed under sensors there.

OK, as to brands and all that. The inexpensive zigbee sensors, like the iris, tend to be quicker than the inexpensive Z wave sensors, like the go control. But the higher end zwave sensors are comparable. So I actually think you’re going to be fine with the Aeon (or the Fibaro) once you get the parameters set the way you want.

Now for the big thing I don’t have energy to go into right now. Cloud latency means that if the smartthings hub is involved, you just are not going to get “instantaneous” lights coming on.

There are two ways around this. First, you can just use nonnetworked closet lights that have their own built-in motion sensor. That’s what we do at my house with some Mr. beams (battery). Or as a variant you can get a nonnetworked Lutron occupancy sensor (hard wired) to control your existing lighting fixtures. (This unit combines the switch and the motion sensor, so you can still just press the switch button if you want to turn on the light manually. Just replace your regular switch with this.) These cost under $30 and work very well. I have these in one small bathroom and in the laundry room.

They aren’t going to integrate with anything else, and there’s no phone control, but sometimes you don’t need it integrate with anything else. You just want a light that comes on when the closet door opens and goes off again a few minutes after motion stops.

The other option for “instantaneous” motion trigger of a light is to use Zwave direct association between the motion sensor and the light. That will work even if the smartthings hub is down, and it allows the motion sensor to talk directly to the light switch, so there’s no cloud latency issues. The only challenge in this approach is that you can’t put any restrictionsc on it – – every time the motion sensor fires, the light will come on. It’s very simple automation. But it’s fast and reliable and you will be able to use the same motion sensor and the same switch in other more complex automations through SmartThings. You’re just adding one additional control method where the motion sensor will tell the light to come on as soon as the motion sensor detects motion.

There’s a whole lot more to say about that, but as I mentioned, I’m very tired today so I will leave it to others to handle any follow-ups.

First things first, though: work on your Aeon device so that it’s configured the way you want.

(By the way, even with the older models of the Aeon I believe it was only the humidity sensor piece that was limited to an eight minute report interval. Not the motion part of the sensor.).

I do definitely think you can get what you want, it’s just the set up isn’t plug and play on these.

These are the first gen (they’re physically different):

The model number of the 2nd gen is 3326-L.


The first GEN are usually sold in a clear plastic clamshell case and the second GEN come in a purple box that should say ZHA 1.2 or “Zigbee HA 1.2” somewhere in the fine print.

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Very cool. Thanks, I’m headed to the store.

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I prefer the Iris motion sensors over the Ecolink as well, but one downside is the Iris ones are not pet immune while the Ecolink ones are. My 10 lb cat can trigger my Iris sensors, but not my Ecolinks. Both work really well, but besides the pet immunity I would recommend the Iris sensors.

With the Iris sensors I use clear plastic tubing to limit the sensors field of view. Yes, clear plastic tubing that you can buy at Lowe’s. I think it’s the 3/8" size. You do have to remove the top of the sensor to make the whole large enough for the tubing to go thru and then slide over the the sensors cone.
It works really well. You can also put tape on the tube to limit it even more. I can provide more details and pictures if anyone wants the info.

I just use bits of white sticky note and packing tape. Can’t tell unless you look close.


Id like to see some pics… Thanks @Ross

Sorry for the delay, between work and this freaking cold I’m beat. I’ll get some taken tomorrow

Thanks everyone for all your replies.

I’ve not powered my new Aeon MultiSensor 6 via battery. JDRobert’s reply confirmed my thinking that the Aeon device SHOULD behave differently if powered by battery vs. USB (AC). You’d think the SmartThings app would provide a more instantaneous detection of motion on that AC mode than they do. The fact that my SmartThings app’s never shown detection of any motion bugged me last night so I was up this morning about 5:30AM experimenting. I still wasn’t able to get the ST app to acknowledge that the Aeon gizmo sees motion even after I set the app for max sensitivity. Maybe my MultiSensor’s defective some how but it does register changes in lux, temp, etc.

So far looks to me like I need to research JD’s Zwave direct association recommendation … I’m thinking I could direct associate my Leviton Z-wave switch with an Aeon Labs Z-wave plunger recommended by xjonx and farlicimo for my closet lighting project. It was news to me that you could set up Z-wave-to-Z-wave communication without going through the SmartThings hub. I’d already learned about cloud latency. I tried to use an Aeon Labs Minimote to control Lifx bulbs … not exactly a snappy response but it sometimes did work … just a couple of minutes after I pushed a button on the Minimote.

Before I buy anything else, however, I’ll look into a device type handler which lets me configure the parameters for the MultiSensor 6 via the links provided by JD.

When I start thinking motion sensors for security I’ll give a Gen 2 Lowes Zigbee device a try. Interesting that no one recommended the SmartThings motion sensor.