Home security systems have layers of devices that work together to keep your home safe and protected. Door and window sensors are the backbone of a good home security system since most burglars try to enter the house through doors or windows. If a sensor is triggered, it will send a signal via Zigbee or Z-Wave to the security system’s hub.
Devices using Zigbee and Z-Wave to communicate use less data and have longer battery life than traditional WiFi or Bluetooth sensors. But the technology behind door and window sensors are fairly recent, so it’s important to know before buying your sensors that they’re compatible with your existing hub or smart speaker.
How do door and window sensors work?
When the security system is armed, the sensors communicate with the central hub or control panel by reporting the door or window is secure. If the door or window is opened, the circuit is broken and the control panel interprets this as a security breach. Depending on the type of system, a loud alarm may sound off, the control panel dials the police department or sends a notice to a connected smartphone.
A loud alarm may be a good option for those living in a busy area or an apartment building where the alarm may draw other people’s attention. In higher crime areas, systems set up to alert the police are the most effective to prevent burglary. Systems that alert a smartphone are best for people that live in relatively safe areas and prefer to monitor their own system.
Google’s Nest Detect can be used as a window and door sensor. It can, well, detect if windows and doors are opened or closed, notice motion and even tell through its built-in sensors if it’s being tampered with.
Tip: Outdoor sensors are designed to be weatherproof and can be used both outdoors and indoors. Indoor sensors should never be mounted outdoors because they lack weatherproofing and will fail from the elements.
Other uses for Door and Window Sensors
Door and window sensors are versatile and can be moved to other spots if you move homes or decide the sensor is more useful elsewhere. In fact, wireless door sensors can be used in other ways besides monitoring points of entry.
1. As anti-theft sensors
Place a sensor on your jewelry boxes, drawers, or expensive jewelry and electronics. Program the sensor to send you an alert if someone grabs your laptop or otherwise disturbs these items.
2. Turn lights on when a door opens
The Ambient suggests setting up a sensor to trigger your smart light when a door opens, and then turn off when no motion is detected, which can be helpful when you need to access a dark basement, pantry, or closet.
3. As a routine on your smart speaker
Place a door sensor on your favorite chair or recliner to trigger your smart speaker to play your favorite podcast or music.
4. To trigger smart lights
Window and door sensors with motion sensor tech can be set up to trigger smart lights when they detect movement. A light suddenly turning on may deter an intruder. Or it may be helpful when you’re moving around a dark home to have a smart light switch on when you enter a room.
5. To keep midnight snackers out of the kitchen
Set up an alert to text you if someone opens the refrigerator at a certain hour or enters the kitchen past midnight. This can also be used to keep others out of a wine cellar or liquor cabinet.
6. To keep kids out of a medicine cabinet
Most medications come in child-proof bottles to keep kids from accidentally taking harmful medication. For extra peace of mind, pop a sensor onto a medicine cabinet to get alerted if someone opens it.
The Bottom line
Door and window sensors may be the most important component of a smart home security system. They’re at the front line, keeping intruders out of your home. Smart sensors can also be programmed to trigger other actions like switching lights or music on or off, alerting you if someone has entered a room or moved an object. Their many versatile uses can make your life safer and easier.