The Best Smart Sensors: Zigbee, Bluetooth or WIFI

Make your home smart: starting with motion, water, window & door sensors

Smart lights, thermostats and security cameras are the heart of the smart home, think of smart sensors as the eyes, ears & nose. Or, if you prefer, the way the house environment communicates.

Many of the sensors used in a smart home today are wireless and battery-powered, allowing you to place them wherever you like. But the position of these sensors is key. If you’re going DIY, think about the locations that are going to be most effective but least likely to cause issues if you’re using them for security. Say you’re using a motion sensor, you’ll want to put it in a place an intruder is most likely to pass by, but not somewhere where it’s triggered by daily visits from pets. There are many sensors out on the market designed to fulfill different purposes: motion sensors, door/window sensors, temperature sensors, and plenty more. And there’s a huge range of different methods for how these sensors work and how they transmit data; Zigbee, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and a whole lot more. We will concentrate only on these three.

The 3 technologies


Zigbee is an IEEE 802.15.4-based protocol for a high-level communication used to create personal area networks with small, low-power digital RF, low-bandwidth needs, designed for small scale projects which need wireless connection. Hence, Zigbee is a low-power, low data rate, and close proximity (i.e., personal area) wireless ad hoc network.


Bluetooth is a wireless technology standard used for exchanging data between fixed and mobile devices over short distances using radio waves in the radio bands, from 2.402 GHz to 2.480 GHz, and building personal area networks. 


WIFI is a family of wireless network protocols, based on the IEEE 802.11 family of standards, which are commonly used for LAN and Internet access.

Smart home sensors types

Smart home motion sensors

The name implies what they do. Motion sensors detect movement in a select area of your home, and can send you an alert, trigger a automation. One thing you should be aware of: You want to put motion sensors in a places of entry such as windows and doors. But not in places where someone can simply walk in front of. This will make it more accurate at detecting movement. There's no end of options on the market for most every smart home ecosystem, whether your home runs on Zigbee, Bluetooth or WIFI. Most motion sensors can be adjustable to control the sensitivity. There are few types of motion sensor technologies one of which is PIR. This stands for passive infrared sensor, which detect warm bodies as they pass by. Other types of motion sensors include MW (Microwave), which bounces microwave pulses off objects; ultrasonic waves; vibration, these are a little less accurate and more prone to false positives.

Smart door and window sensors

Windows & Door sensors, often referred to as contact sensors and are part of smart security systems, put on doors and windows to tell if they've been opened when they shouldn't have. But they're also really useful for creating automations based on there open or closed status - blinds, fridges, drawers, garage doors, doggie doors, medicine cabinets, you name it. If it opens and closes you can stick a contact sensor on it

Smart water leak sensors

If you want to avoid coming home to a flooded house (or at least want to warned). A lot of the traditional ones use alarms to alert you that something's sprung a leak, but what if you're not home to hear it going off? Water detectors can be put in many places. Currently we have them beside all sinks, but washing machine, bathtubs, and garage are other obvious risk areas. A key consideration is whether you want audible alerts as well as smartphone notifications. Not all of these sensors do both. Also consider what you already have in your home. Some of these sensors require a hub, but some can connect directly to Wi-Fi. If you want to connect your water sensors with other smart home devices say, to switch off your lights if a leak is found or connected to a mains water shutoff to prevent further damage.

Temperature and humidity sensors

Temperature sensors are at their best when working in conjunction with smart thermostats. Sure, they can be helpful when they're alerting you that it's too hot or humid, but they're most effective in making your smart thermostat more efficient. A good example here is the Ecobee's Room Sensors. Temperature sensors are great for effectively controlling the whole house temperature. Let's say your thermostat is in your hallway and its 71F. In your bedroom, it's 67F. Having a Room Sensor in that room will tell your HVAC that your room is colder than the hallway, and that it might need a little more heat. Averaging out between the two locations. Similarly, Ecobee's Room Sensors also check occupancy. So if they sense someone is in a room, it'll heat/cool it, but if not then it won't waste the energy. This is the true definition of making a house smart. Humidity sensor on the other hand can be in a bathroom to control the exhaust fan to keep the humidity levels in check.

Summarize Smart Sensors

Sensors play a critical part in a smart home. Without them the term smart in smart home is redundant because the home can not think on its own and has to always be told what to do. You can tell a dog the fetch the ball or the dog can see you throw the ball and react. Which kind of smart home do you want?