April 14, 2024

Building Unique Homes

Crafting Homes, Building Dreams

The 6 Best Smart Sensors of 2024

4 min read

Smart sensors are essentially helper devices for your existing system when you set them up as triggers for other smart devices. One that detects humidity, for example, can automatically turn on a humidifier if a baby’s nursery gets too dry. A contact sensor can trigger lights to turn on whenever you open the shed door, for instance, or set off an alarm when your teen sneaks into the snack pantry.

You can find a range of sensor types, but for this guide we tested the most generally useful types in three categories: motion, temperature, and contact.

The Aqara Motion Sensor P1 is the best motion sensor due to its straightforward installation process, versatile stand, and quick, reliable performance.

The Centralite Temperature and Humidity Sensor works well and is compatible with many Zigbee-based hubs.

The Aqara Door and Window Sensor is the best contact sensor, thanks to its best-in-class response time and compact size.

Smart motion sensors

Our pick

The P1 offers standout battery life, speedy responsiveness, and a particularly great stand. It requires use of a branded hub.

Compatibility: Amazon Alexa, Apple Home, IFTTT

The second-generation Aqara Motion Sensor P1 is easy to set up, and it reliably and quickly detects motion. It’s a great option to alert you to motion in areas around your home that you want to monitor, and you can also set it up using Alexa or Apple Home to trigger other smart devices, such as smart switches or lighting.

The P1’s rotatable mounting stand makes it especially easy to install discreetly just about anywhere. Most impressively, the P1’s dual-battery setup means that you can measure the battery life in years rather than months.

Runner-up

Though bulkier than our top pick, this sensor is responsive and works with lots of hubs. We like its design, too.

Compatibility: Amazon Alexa (Zigbee-enabled speakers only), Samsung SmartThings, Zigbee hubs

The Centralite Micro Motion Sensor detects motion exceptionally well, even if it doesn’t do much beyond that. During our testing, this Centralite sensor was easy to pair and consistently detected motion up close or from a long distance. Although this Centralite sensor lacks adjustable mounting options, its beveled edges give you flexibility during the installation process. Most important, this Centralite sensor works with many common Zigbee hubs—which includes many Amazon Echo speakers—so it’s easy to pair with an existing smart-home setup out of the box.

Smart temperature sensors

Our pick

This temperature sensor can securely mount to a wall and works with most Zigbee hubs and Alexa speakers.

Compatibility: Amazon Alexa (Zigbee-enabled speakers only), Samsung SmartThings, Zigbee hubs

The Centralite Temperature and Humidity Sensor quickly detected ambient indoor conditions in our tests. Unlike our runner-up temperature and humidity sensor, it can directly pair with a compatible Alexa speaker or other hubs that support Zigbee wireless. We didn’t love the reset and pairing process for this Centralite sensor, but it squeaked by our runner-up due to its full support of Amazon Alexa and broader compatibility with Zigbee hubs. The included screw-mountable clip gives you additional options if you’re installing the sensor in an indoor area with unpredictable temperatures or humidity levels.

Runner-up

Aqara’s temperature sensor offers best-in-class temperature responsiveness and an especially compact design, but its compatibility is more limited, and it requires a branded hub.

Compatibility: Amazon Alexa (partial), Apple Home, IFTTT

The Aqara Temperature and Humidity Sensor was one of the fastest and smallest sensors we tested overall. It provides nearly real-time temperature updates, and its tiny size makes it easier to hide when you mount it on a wall or a window frame. But this Aqara sensor’s incomplete Alexa support—you can’t create Automations for it within the Alexa app—is likely to be a dealbreaker for anyone who has an Alexa-powered smart home.

Smart window/door contact sensors

Our pick

This affordable, responsive contact sensor is small enough to be almost unnoticeable on a door or windowsill.

Compatibility: Amazon Alexa, Apple Home, IFTTT

The Aqara Door and Window Sensor responded instantly during our testing. It was also the most compact door sensor we tested—combined, both parts of the sensor take up less space than a matchbox—so it won’t stick out if you need to place it in a prominent area in your home. Unlike the Aqara temperature sensor, this model also supports Alexa automated Routines and Scenes.

Runner-up

Centralite’s door sensor isn’t as slick as Aqara’s, but it still offers solid build quality, easy installation, and wider compatibility with smart hubs.

Compatibility: Amazon Alexa (Zigbee-enabled speakers only), Samsung SmartThings, Zigbee hubs

The Centralite Micro Door Sensor isn’t as compact as the Aqara contact sensor, but it’s plenty small and shouldn’t stick out in your home. In our tests, it was a breeze to install, and we paired it with an Amazon Echo speaker (which is also a Zigbee wireless hub). We appreciated the simple button on its side for resets and pairing. This Centralite sensor is an affordable alternative to the Aqara contact sensor if you already have a compatible hub that supports Zigbee.

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