Whats the current recommended "fast" Motion Sensors

I have an issue with a combination of a Ecolink ZWave Motion Sensor and a GE Link Z-Wave Light Switch being way too slow when used together (must be too many “links” :-D) Its a small hallway light, and by time it turns on, you are usually already passed it. A few searches say that both devices are notoriously slow and combination of them is known to be very slow.

Anyway, a few basic questions:

1 - It seems the easiest path to fix this is to swap out the motion sensor for something faster. What are current recommended fast acting Motion sensor? I saw recommendations for items like Iris, but those are long gone from the market…

2 - As an alternative, being that both devices are Z-Wave I thought there was a way to link them directly rather than through the hub - having motion sensor control be paired with the switch - but I cannot find any info on that - maybe I made that up…

3 - I noticed that the Z-Wave route to this device is rather bizarre. Despite the sensor being literally 2 feet away from the hub, the route to it is via two different zwave light bulbs several rooms away… Z-Wave repair seems to do nothing to change the routes. Seems odd, but that may just be Z-Wave oddity


Zwave motion sensors aren’t as fast as Zigbee. The only one that runs locally is the official smartthings one which aeotec is bringing back to market.

The country you are in will make a difference as the device selection does vary, but it sounds like you are using devices for the US market.

In any case, just be aware that in general Zigbee motion sensors are a bit quicker than the Z wave ones, but not so much that it matters to most people.

Quicker Response Typically Equals Shorter Battery Life

There are devices which have adjustable parameters and you can make them more sensitive, but be aware that that will reduce the battery life, sometimes significantly. Normally manufacturers will ship a Device intending for it to get about 12 months a battery life. If you change the parameters to make it more sensitive, you will reduce that battery life, sometimes down to two or three months.

Physical Placement

Next, before we discuss specific brands, make sure that you have the Sensor placed for maximum efficiency. Many people think that the typical PIR motion sensors are like a camera and you should place them so they are facing straight on towards the oncoming person. But in fact they are measuring very small changes in heat passing across the detection field. So you want to place them so that the oncoming person will be walking 90° to the sensor. This can make a difference of a second or more on many sensors. See the following FAQ:

FAQ: Where to locate motion sensor for fastest response?

Specific Brands

OK, onto to specific brands.

Fibaro offers the most parameter settings, so you can get it to probably be the quickest, but at the cost of battery life as discussed above. And it does tend to be one of the more expensive sensors. Note that there are two identical looking models, one for HomeKit and one for Z wave. You need the one for Z wave, the other one does not work with smartthings.


I will leave others to discuss other individual brands, there are quite a few to choose from.

Zwave Direct Association

Your idea of using Z wave direct associations would be a good one if there were an easy way to set associations in smartthings. Unfortunately, there isn’t. It can be done with custom code, but most of the manufacturer provided DTHs don’t include this method because they assume you’ll be able to do it from the hub UI.

There are a few battery powered devices that can be set in this way using the Z wave tweaker, although the code author says it only works with mains power devices. It just depends how the device handles accepting configuration.

(As @Awestun has pointed out in another thread, fortunately the fibaro multisensor is one of the ones that you can use the tweaker with, because it has a configuration button on the device itself that will allow it to accept the changes. But some other battery powered devices will only accept configuration changes when they are first added to the network.)

If you want to talk more about that option, just let us know. Note that in order to make zwave direct association work, you are going to save the configuration in the trigger device, in this case the sensor, not the target device, which in this case is the switch. So you want to see if the sensor has parameters that allow you to set associations.

Also know that if you use zwave direct association you no longer have any control over that rule from the hub. It will happen very quick, but it will happen every single time. You won’t even be able to say you only want the light to turn on at night. It will be that every single time the sensor is triggered, the light comes on. So that’s another factor to consider.

I used to care about ZWave over Zigbee because when I first started, I found Z-Wave a lot more reliable than Zigbee (and extra benefits of being able to direct control some devices) - but Zigbee seems more reliable these days. That said, having bought a number of SmartThings branded devices (and having most of them fail within a year) I am weary of those. I had mixed experiences with Aeotec - the Mini-motes rock, but one motion sensor of theirs, which I loved due to support of being powered by USB, just stopped working after a few months (still sends data, but always detects motion no matter what.) FWIW, the current Ecolink sensor is listed as executing locally.

US market is correct

I have not 100% confirmed this, but I do not think the delay is in the detection. Other motion sensors - both ZWave and Zigbee seem to be a lot faster to detect motion… (which leads me to the obvious thing I need to try, swapping the sensors with another location…)

The space is a bit tight, its an odd shaped hallway, but currently the sensor is positioned in a corner, with about 45 degree angle to either entry into the hallway. That said, I may adjust it based on your comments as I may not have been thinking about it in those terms…

My extent of messing with direct associations was linking the local on-the-wall scene controllers to specific ZWave devices, which did not really involve the Hub (other than pairing the scene controller to hub) - but it occurs to me now that in this case I had a separate controller. Did not occur to me it involved the hub to configure it. I assume this can be done via groovy code (I am comfortable with Groovy) and as long as. it is something that needs to run once, i can probably handle it once I figure out what needs to be done. But I would rather not use a permanent custom DTH as I want to keep execution local long term where possible.

Not sure what “ZWave Tweaker” is - but will do some research. I have an Aeotec Z-Wave stick somewhere, but never got it connected as, from what I understood, it will not play nice with SmartThings (being a competing controller) - I am going to assume this is not what I would need for “zwave tweaker”

Heh, I understood that, but also did not really think about it until you mentioned it. This almost seems like it is not an issue, but it may be - in which case all of this direct association stuff may be irrelevant :-/ That said, there are literally no settings exposed for the device via standard DTH, so maybe “Tweaker” would be useful for that… or would i just copy the DTH, add extras, modify the settings and then switch back to standard handler? Would that work?

Thanks for all the answers

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Zwave tweaker is a custom DTH which can be used temporarily with any zwave device. All it does is expose all of the parameters and association settings for the device. You change those to be what you want, and they will then be stored in the device itself as long as it accepts a configuration command. Then you switch back to using your regular every day DTH for that device

So you can do it with the tweaker or you can do it with your own custom code if you would rather. :sunglasses:

You might also be able to put it on the ceiling pointing down so that someone walks underneath it. That’s common for odd shaped rooms or short hallways.

MUCH rather use someone else’s already written and much better tested code (if it works) :smiley: Off to install it

Meanwhile , I moved one of the other sensors there, going to test in a second to see if it reacts faster… I think part of it is the switch itself :-/

That makes way too much sense. :smiley: Looking at it with a fresh perspective, it occurs to me that the way things are positioned, the door also masks the body from the sensor, and you mentioning PIR made me remember that it is looking for heat, and not just motion… that may be part of my headaches too…

Last question that may be slightly off-topic. I notice that this is one of the few rules I moved from “Smart Lighting” to “Automations”. Are “Automations” also executed locally? I doubt it, but could this contribute to this? I know very little about how “Automations” fit into the scheme if things…

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As of right now, only smart lighting can run locally. However, I believe the intentions are eventually to make more stuff available locally, but it’s not here yet.

Anyone know how the Philips Hue motion sensor (zigbee) stacks up against fibaro or others in terms of speed?

It’s fast but not local, the official smartthings sensor is what you want imo, the mount is superior too.

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Anyone have intel when the Aeotec version of the ST sensor will be out?

Ugh, that can be a contributing factor.

Meanwhile, it seems that Zwave Tweaker is not quite compatible with the new SmartThings app, the settings are there, but the “scan” buttons to run the commands are missing, is there something simple I am missing?

Just ask in the tweaker thread. I know some people have been using it with the current app, but I’m not sure exactly what’s available or if it’s different on iOS and android.