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PIR vs. mmWave Sensors for Home Automation

PIR vs. mmWave Sensors for Home Automation

Two popular options for motion detection in smart home systems are Passive Infrared (PIR) sensors and millimeter wave (mmWave) sensors. Each technology comes with its own set of advantages and drawbacks, making them suitable for different applications depending on the specific needs of homeowners. Let's delve into the pros and cons of each:

Passive Infrared (PIR) Sensors:

A PIR sensor detects changes in passive infrared radiation to detect motion.


  • Cost-Effective: PIR sensors are typically more affordable compared to mmWave sensors, making them an attractive option for the budget-conscious.
  • Energy-Efficient: PIR sensors consume minimal power since they only activate when they detect changes in infrared radiation, such as body heat. This energy-efficient operation means that most PIR sensors for home automation are battery powered.
  • Simple Installation: PIR sensors are relatively easy to install, requiring minimal setup. They can be conveniently integrated into an existing home automation setup without requiring significant modifications.


  • Limited Range and Field of View: PIR sensors have a limited detection range and field of view compared to mmWave sensors. This limitation may result in blind spots and false alarms if not strategically positioned.
  • Susceptibility to Environmental Factors: PIR sensors can be triggered by environmental factors such as changes in temperature, sunlight, or moving objects like pets which will result in false alarms.
  • Limited Sensitivity: PIR sensors are better at detecting more significant changes in infrared radiation. Using PIR sensors to detect human presence can work well, apart from for situations of limited movement. For example, two people sitting down on a sofa will trigger a PIR sensor, but if they're sat still for a couple of hours the PIR sensor is unlikely to consider the room as being occupied. mmWave sensors are better for this usecase.

mmWave Sensors

A mmWave sensor (such as the Smart Human mmWave Presence Sensor with LUX and Distance Detection) emits high-frequency radio waves and analyzes the reflected signals to detect motion.


  • High Accuracy and Sensitivity: mmWave sensors offer superior accuracy and sensitivity, capable of detecting even subtle movements with precision. This advanced technology reduces the likelihood of false alarms and ensures reliable performance in various environmental conditions.
  • Extended Range and Coverage: mmWave sensors have a broader detection range and coverage area compared to PIR sensors.
  • Versatility: mmWave sensors can operate effectively in diverse environments, including indoor and outdoor settings.


  • Higher Cost: mmWave sensors tend to be more expensive than PIR sensors due to their advanced technology and enhanced capabilities.
  • Power Consumption: mmWave sensors typically consume more power than PIR sensors due to their continuous wave emission and signal processing requirements. It is more common for mmWave sensors to be mains powered rather than battery powered.

So which should I use?

PIR and mmWave sensors are both great contenders for detecting motion and presence. PIR sensors can be more appropriate when accuracy is less important, due to the cheaper cost of a PIR. Alternatively, a mmWave sensor is more well suited to situations where you require a higher degree of sensitivity.


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