Insight

What are Occupancy Sensors and How Can They Benefit My Business?

Occupancy sensors are an important tool for many homes and businesses; helping to save energy, reduce costs, and increase safety. Let’s explore how these little devices work and how they could help change the way you engage with your space.

What are they and how do they work?

Occupancy sensors, or occupancy meters, come in a variety of shapes and sizes depending on the application. Generally, they look like small, circular devices mounted on the wall or ceiling.

Their main function is to detect the presence of people in a room or area. When used to control lighting, or other devices such as air conditioning, they help save energy by ensuring these devices are only running when they are needed.

They use a variety of technologies to measure movement and occupancy, including infrared, ultrasonic, and passive infrared sensors. Infrared sensors detect infrared energy emitted by people, while ultrasonic sensors detect sound waves reflected off of people. Passive infrared sensors measure changes in infrared energy to detect motion and occupancy.

How are occupancy sensors different from motion detectors?

At first glance, occupancy sensors and motion detectors have very similar functions, but there are some key differences. Motion detectors are designed to detect movement and (usually) trigger an alarm, while occupancy sensors are designed to detect the presence of people and activate devices like lighting and air conditioning.

Motion detectors are often used in security systems, while occupancy sensors are used in more complex solutions that often integrate many sensors and smart devices. Furthermore, motion detectors usually cost more and are bigger in size, since they need more powerful sensors to detect motion. On the other hand, occupancy sensors are usually smaller since they only need to detect occupancy and not motion.

What advantages do occupancy sensors offer?

Occupancy sensors can help to reduce costs in many different ways. By optimising the use of devices such as lighting and air conditioning, they can lower utility bills and general ‘wear and tear’ on those systems. Additionally, they can help improve safety by responding to the presence of people and activating the right devices.

However, integrated in the right way, their use can be hugely expanded. From a commercial perspective, occupancy sensors can help track hot zones within a space and help keep on top of maintenance and cleaning. They can also help identify when and why faults with other pieces of equipment (like TVs, turnstiles, etc) occur without needing to deploy staff to every corner of your building to keep watch for misuse and other issues.

Factors to consider when choosing occupancy sensors

When choosing occupancy sensors, it is important to consider the features that are available. Features such as adjustable sensitivity, multiple zones, and wireless connectivity can make a big difference in how effective the sensors are.

It is also important to consider the cost of the sensors, as well as any installation or maintenance costs. If you’re purchasing the sensor to add to a customised system, always remember your final goal so your complete integration will be successful. Sketching out your total solution will help identify the features that are important for you to achieve the desired result.


The use of occupancy sensors can be a great way to save money, increase safety, and improve the overall efficiency of your business. With the right sensors, you can be sure that you’re getting the most out of your space and taking advantage of the latest technology to help you succeed.

If you have any questions about automation for your business, speak to our team today.

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