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What are the Pros and Cons of a Battery Operated Motion Sensor?

By Troy Holmes
Updated May 16, 2024
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Motion sensors are small devices that monitor movement within a defined perimeter. These devices are available in solar, electric, or battery operated units. Powered units can only be used near buildings and automobiles that have access to electrical power sources. The battery operated motion sensor is more compact and it can be used in remote locations where no power source is available.

A solar powered motion sensor is available for most residential applications. This form of sensor requires an adequate sunlight source to function properly. Solar powered units are less expensive than other units but can become inoperable with cloud cover or bad weather.

A battery powered motion detector typically requires two or four batteries to operate. These batteries normally last a few months before they need to be replaced. When using a battery operated unit, rechargeable batteries will be less expensive over time.

Corrosion is the biggest concern for the battery operated motion sensor unit. This form of motion sensor is exposed to water, heat, and natural elements that cause the batteries to deteriorate quickly. These types of sensors require periodic inspection to ensure the batteries are in good working order. Failure to inspect the batteries could result in acid deterioration of the entire sensor compartment, making it completely inoperable.

An electrical motion sensor requires a low-voltage electrical source to operate. This type of unit typically requires the manual excavation of an electrical line in a yard. This form of electrical line takes several hours to install because the line must be buried and connected to an electrical outlet. Most electric motion sensors are used indoors. These can typically be found in banks and museums to deter would-be thieves.

A battery operated motion sensor transmits information without the need of an electrical line. This is easier to configure and requires minimal installation equipment. Most battery operated units include a simple sensor and receiver device. These units can be installed in a few minutes.

The battery operated motion sensor can only transmit signals about 400 yards (approximately 365 meters). This typically provides ample coverage for most residential surveillance systems. Longer range systems are available but require more power to send a more powerful transmission signal.

Hybrid solar powered motion sensors provide a method to constantly charge the batteries of a unit. These devices use a solar panel to provide a low charge for the rechargeable batteries of the unit. Hybrid units are typically more expensive but provide the added convince of long-term battery life, which is more cost effective for a battery operated motion sensor.

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Discussion Comments

By Soulfox — On Apr 26, 2014

Perhaps the biggest problem with a battery powered motion sensor is that people tend to forget to test and change batteries. Think about it. When's the last time you changed the battery in your smoke detector without the thing sounding an alarm that alerts you it is low on power? How many people, even when they hear an alarm, simply unplug the whole smoke detector and forget about it.

That might sound a bit cynical, but the fact is that it is easy to overlook battery operated devices and not check on them. It seems that would be doubly true when you are talking about a motion detector in a remote location.

By Logicfest — On Apr 25, 2014

@Markerrag -- a familiar plot line during crime dramas includes someone intentionally cutting power in a building before burglarizing it for the sole purpose of shutting off security systems.

How realistic of a scenario is that? Hollywood would have us believe it is very common, but entertainment is hardly an accurate reflection of reality.

Still, that's the kind of thing that you just know consumers think about when purchasing security systems.

By Markerrag — On Apr 24, 2014

A major advantage of a battery operated sensor over one that requires electricity is that the battery operated one will still work during a power outage. One of the few things we can count on in this life is that there will be power outages from time to time. Motion protectors generally protect things, so there is a risk that property will be unprotected during those outages. It's a small risk, but it is there.

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