Whether you live in an apartment, condo, single family home, duplex or dorm room, home security starts at the front door. Besides a door lock, you can opt for a magnetic contact sensor to protect your home. The door sensor helps you monitor when a door opens unexpectedly or is left ajar accidentally. Note, many door sensors are also designed for use with windows.
Search on Google or Amazon and you’ll find a myriad of sensors to choose from. How do you choose? The first, and by far the easiest, choice is to decide between wired and wireless options. If you want an easy, do-it-yourself solution, wireless is the way to go.
Here is a chart of how the Wi-Fi Window/Door Sensor from Fox&Summit compares to two leading types of battery-powered sensors.
The Window/Door Sensor from Fox&Summit operates on 2.4Ghz Wi-Fi frequency, which is readily available through a router in most homes with a broadband connection. The only other equipment you'll need to use the sensor is a smartphone or tablet. No hub needed.
While there are a few other Wi-Fi-enabled contact sensors, most others utilize Z-Wave or Zigbee as its communication standard. These radio frequency standards are low power, mesh networks that funnel communication through a hub. These sensors need you to connect a hub to your Wi-Fi router to function properly. On the plus side, the range of these sensors grows as more devices using the same protocol are installed within a home.
Conventional entryway sensors typically use 315 MHz/433 MHz, another low power, radio frequency standard. Due to the lower bandwidth used, the operating signal range for conventional sensors is bigger than Wi-Fi or Z-Wave/Zigbee when comparing them in isolation. The range advantage for 315 MHz/433 MHz becomes negligible when utilizing a Wi-Fi mesh network router or adding additional Z-Wave or Zigbee devices to create a mesh network. Conventional sensors are also usually paired with a plug-in chime, which acts as a receiver or hub for the sensor signal and lets anyone in the home hear when a door is opened or closed. Without the hub, the sensors are not very useful.
On a side note, there are a couple of notable Bluetooth enabled window and door sensors on the market, but the three standards mentioned above are the most commonly used currently.
Mobile App Features
The main difference between conventional door sensors and the smart home sensors is the ability to connect to the Internet and access features through a mobile app on a smartphone or tablet. The Fox&Summit Window/Door Sensor and most entryway sensors using Z-Wave/Zigbee are smart home sensors. With a mobile app (e.g., FS Home App for Fox&Summit), you can receive push notifications whenever your door or window is opened or closed. You can schedule specific times when to mute or silence the push notifications from your entryway sensor.
Depending on the companion app features and other smart home devices you own, you may be able to create rules to initiate actions that are triggered by a door sensor. For example, you can create a rule on the FS Home App, so that a lamp connected to the Indoor Plug from Fox&Summit will turn the lamp when the door is opened.
Through an app, you can create groups that include all your sensors, so then you can arm/disarm them all at once. For some conventional door sensors, you can also “group” several sensors to work with one hub or receiver. Or you can also group another receiver to a conventional door sensor if you need to hear the chime in several rooms. With different ringtones for each sensor grouped, you’ll know which window or door is activated by the entryway sensor.
With scenes you can set sensors, smart plugs, and smart lights to behave certain ways when you turn on the scene - like arming all your sensors for an "Away" mode. Create a "Scene" that arms or disarms sensors.
Common alkaline batteries are used in the Fox&Summit Window/Door Sensor and in most conventional entryway sensors. You could also use lithium batteries for these sensors, which means batteries for these sensors are readily available in most stores. Fox&Summit includes 2 AAA alkaline batteries with every Window/Door Sensor purchase; reducing the overall cost to the buyer further.
Z-Wave or Zigbee entryway sensors often use less common coin / button cell batteries (e.g., CR123, CR2450, CR2032, etc.). A few entryway sensors use common AAA or AA batteries but for the most part buyers will spend a little more to power these sensors, since these batteries are rarely included in the box at the time of purchase.
Choosing Z-Wave or Zigbee door sensors for your home is the more costly alternative. This is due to the additional hub purchase required and the more expensive batteries that power the sensors. The leading Z-wave/Zigbee sensor and smart hub pack runs about $90 before batteries are purchased.
Conventional door sensors, priced at about $25, are comparatively inexpensive but lack the smart home features and benefits from an Internet connected sensor.
If you’re looking for an affordable, doorway sensor that is easy to install and control through a mobile app, then look at the Window/Door Sensor from Fox&Summit. Give it a try and feel more secure.