I think I've got a problem with the motion detector that controls the
lights on the garage. It has always been 'odd'- but now it just
seems to *not* detect anything some days-- and on others seems to be
tripping when nothing is there. [though I can't rule out critters
It has been hanging there for 5-6 years & since day 1 it will let a
car drive right up to the garage [straight at it] and not trip until
the driver gets out of the car. It is supposedly a 180degree
sensor, but 120 would be generous, and the edges seem to wave back and
The way I have this set up, if it matters, is the sensor is mounted
above the door and operates carriage lights on either side of the
The lights are switched-- but not 3-way.
So is there a *really* good detector that has a wide field of view,
and will detect objects coming straight at it up to about 100 feet
away? [minimum of 50']
The one I have now works better than any I've used over the past 15
years or so. Most are crappy. I don't know what brand it is off hand,
but I bought it at Lowes and it has a "soft start" that extends the
bulb life too. It has been up for a year and works well in bad
weather, warm weather, etc.
I don't know about distance as I have it aimed to go on at about 25
feet or so, but it will go on from sensing the car and not the driver.
On Sat, 17 Dec 2011 07:01:45 -0800 (PST), DerbyDad03
Yes, but the motion detector will not know you are in the car. The
car is a big hunk of cold metal. Many of these sensors are actually
sensing heat, not motion. You can pull up in the car and it will not
go off. Only when the driver gets out of the car, it will sense body
heat and turn the light on.
The one I have now will sense the car, even when I back into the
driveway. It may be sensing the warm exhaust, but in any case, it
works better than my old ones.
I use an X10 motion detector without any floods. Then when it detects
and sends and x10 signal, the program another box turns on the house
floods on that side of the house, if it's nighttime and sounds a chime
in the house. But, it will not detect a cold car or a car that is at
the ambient air temperature. So, if a car is running a a pretty high
speed and then pops in front of the detector, it probably sees no
difference and ignores it. However, if the car is really warmed up and
approaches slowly, allowing the hood, etc. to warm up, it detects as the
sensor sees a difference between the air temperature and the car.
Because I have a slow very steep road coming to my drive and then about
100' of drive, it usually detects. Although, at Halloween, I actually
put one of these sensors next to the road to fire off a Halloween
animation. It usually saw most cars, however, when I was testing with
my own car, cold out of the garage, it occasionally missed. Another
problem is that when the outside temperature gets to the upper 90s, it
won't detect a person, again because there is little difference between
the body and the ambient. The best way to reliably detect a vehicle
coming onto your driveway is either a pressure sensor or metal mass
detector, or a photo cell across the drive; the former probably won't
detect critters, the latter will if they are tall enough. Sorry for
Thanks for the very good information. I am going to be putting a "system"
on my shop as soon as it is finished. I am going to splurge on this, as I
have YET to see a motion detector that either works right, or lasts very
I keep seeing X10 come up, so take it that there are a lot of satisfied
users out there. I just want to get a reliable system that will detect
human bodies, and not animals in the night. I have seen one deer track on
my property in six years. Mainly, I want an intruder alarm for inside a
perimeter, and automatic lights on when it senses something.
I have five metal halides that came off a large hotel in Las Vegas. But
they are 110 stepped up to 220, and take about ten minutes to get bright.
Those will be on a timer for certain hours, and on a switch that I can
regulate. Those puppies make it look like daytime.
Thanks to everyone who made contributions here on this thread. The day
before this thread started, I was thinking of how to word a post about this,
but this has answered all my questions.
Except one. Is X10 the way to go for the money, or is there better that
won't cost an arm and a leg?
For 'bright' light see if you can get those xenon arc thingies. They
used to be made by some tube company, Eimac?, in northern california.
I met the inventor, interesting engineer. You might be able to get
them at surplus outlets, too. Being an arc they fire then stabilized
at around 20V 10A [from memory]
The light source is constructed of quartz holding two electrodes
pointing at/facing each other with the resulting arc centered in a
parabolic reflector to throw the light forward, metal rings at each
end of the cylinder provide contact to each electrode.. I think they
were designed to be robust light sources unaffected by vibration to be
mounted on military vehicles like tanks. I heard a colleague mounted
four along the top rack on his 4WD, when he fired them up he said he
illuminated objects more than mile away. I can attest to their
brightness. I saw one of those old 16mm video projectors using one as
its light source running in bright office space, the tube lit the 15
foot screen beautifully, even against the bright office light
Anway, they are small, pretty fast coming on, super bright, and fairly
I think they are also used in some medical product, endoscopy-like
lighting, where they provide bright, correct color for examinations.
Can't remember the company's name, though.
I don't want to turn you off to X-10. It sounds like it works for
many, many people and it just may work for you.
I hear about people automating their whole house with X-10, using
macros and other "high tech" X-10 configurations.
There are forums dedicated to X-10 and I would suggest you browse
through some of them to get a feel for the technology and perhaps even
post your requirements.
You'll get part numbers for the various components and I'm sure you'll
get advice related to the Do's and Dont's (capabilities and
limitations) of the technology.
As I said earlier, for the price of the components, it's well worth it
if you can get it working for you.
try your question on alt.security.alarms
I just asked this question there.
It appears two technologies stand out:
optic/passive IR and microwave
Honeywell makes a series of motion detectors for the security
industry. These are installed by pro's, might meet your needs
However, for vehicles and distance it sounds more like the microwave
would work better.
Protech: Piramid XL2 microwave stereo doppler processing
If you get too cheap on this function you end up with a 'critter'
detector or worse, a 'fair weather' detector.
I don't know that an X-10 motion detector light is any better than any other but you can buy a motion detector without the light and program it to trip a light. That way you can put the motion detector at ground level pointing across the driveway instead of pointing down the driveway.
Also, maybe a silly question, but have you tried cleaning it? After a few years it might just be really dirty.
On 12/17/2011 5:34 PM, email@example.com wrote:
a motion detector without the light and program it to trip a light. That
way you can put the motion
detector at ground level pointing across the driveway instead of
pointing down the driveway.
I have 2 and have to chime in that they are not really that great. Mine
triggers on wind coming down the side of the mountain. I plan on moving
it to a different location to see if that might help. BTW, it also
triggers on critters, but that's ok as I want to know when a bear, that
usually stays away from house, comes into the area. I have already seen
one a few months ago. I still think the best solution might be an IR
beam across the driveway. Most critters would be under the beam.
Aside from the facts that;
1. my garage door is generally open anyway,
2. the motion detector is just to operate lights,
3.by the time the thief found anything of value in there either me, or
my neighbor would be 'talking to him'
. . .
I would guess, that if he saw the door open, he might suspect that
someone just opened it, or someone is *trying* to get him to enter the
Thanks all for some informative stuff. Darn thing started working
again. [maybe it *was* just dirty? I didn't intentionally clean it,
but I took it off and tightened wire nuts all around-- everything
seemed tight-- but I must of hit something.]
So now I've got some time to put it off in hopes that the low end crap
gets 'good enough' before I feel the need to replace again.
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