Effective Placement Can Prevent a Burglary: Where Your Sensors Should Go

Written by | Updated April 8, 2015

Motion sensors are one of the best ways to help protect your home from an invasion, but it’s not enough to place them willy-nilly around your home. To effectively utilize sensors, you’ve got to get into the mind of a potential thief. Where would they expect a motion sensor to be or not be?

The Least Effective Placement

Motion sensors work best when they can cover the widest possible area. Some detectors can cover between 50 and 80 feet, so it’s best to place them where they have an unobstructed view of the room. However, there are some places a motion sensor just shouldn’t go.

Directly Across a Window

This placement is bad for two reasons. One, heat-activated motion sensors can be confused when placed directly across from sunlight, particularly on a hot day or when a cloud passes by blocking the light. Two, sensors work best when a burglar is walking parallel to them rather than straight toward them.

Near a Heat Source

Much like placing it across from a sun-lit window, you don’t want your sensor sitting next to a hot air vent or radiator. A change in infrared heat, like the heater kicking on, could trigger the alarm.

Directly Across From a Door

Motion sensors, particularly passive infrared sensors, work by assessing a change in the ambient room temperature or infrared lighting. They need a wide view to properly work. Action directly in front of a motion sensor will only show slight alterations in infrared over time, so it’s best to place your sensor someplace else.

The Most Effective Placement

Sometimes, in order to help thwart an intruder, you need to get a little creative with your placement.

Use a Corner

Placing your motion sensor in a corner of your room with a view of each entry point is one of the most effective placements for it. The sensor can take inventory of its surroundings without obstruction and notice any changes going on. It provides the most coverage. If you stick it up high in the corner of a room an intruder will be less likely to notice or reach it.

Try a Hallway Outside Your Bedroom

The master bedroom is often one of the first points of attack for a burglar. Place a motion sensor in the hallway leading to your bedroom, but don’t place it on or above your door. Instead, place the detector in a spot a burglar would have to walk by to get to your room. Motion sensors work best when able to detect movement from side to side, rather than head on.

Behind Your Valuables

Burglars are there for the goods, so consider placing a motion sensor behind the costly stuff in your house like the TV, computers, or jewelry. Set the sensor either on the equipment itself, like the back of the TV, or on the wall behind it. When the burglar moves the object the sensor will notice the item is missing and trigger an alarm.

On the Patio

If you’ve got a patio, wrap your sensor in saran wrap to keep it dry and place it perpendicular to your door and windows. It’ll pick up on when someone steps onto your patio or porch and let you know.

Second Floor Bedrooms

Burglars are getting craftier as time goes on, so don’t put it past one to scale the walls and try to enter through a second floor window. Place motion sensors in all second or third-level bedrooms in the corner near the ceiling for added security.

Cover Your Basement

A lot of burglars will try to enter through the basement, so stick a couple of sensors down there where they can keep watch over the windows and door. Basements get cluttered so keep them up high where they can see clearly. Consider adding one near the hallway or staircase leading to the upper level so you’ll catch them before making it to the main floor.

On the Ceiling

When an intruder breaks into a house the first thing they’ll look for is the motion detector and alarm system. They’ll likely assume it’s placed along the wall, so trip them up by placing it on the ceiling. Many sensors on the market today work at any angle, so place sensors on the ceiling near the front and back door.

Make Them Part of the Decorations

If you’ve got a mantle with family photos on it in the living or dining area, stick a motion sensor on there. The decorations should be situated in a way they’ll block a thief from noticing the sensor without blocking it from serving its purpose. Try sticking it between two photos or in a stuffed teddy bear, like a nanny cam.

You can never be too cautious when it comes to protecting your home. Buying additional sensors to cover the areas in your home a burglar won’t expect them is a great investment. It’ll help give you an added sense of security and leave minimal chances of a thief slipping in undetected. Don’t be afraid to get creative when it comes to protecting your family and your investment.

Written by Hillary Johnston

A proud mother of four, Hillary is passionate about safety education. She holds a degree in Public Health and Disaster Management. Learn more

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