Microwave vs PIR vs Photocell – choosing the right energy saving solutions

February 10th 2022

We’ve all experienced walking into a public bathroom, or out into our gardens where the lighting has switched on as if by magic. By incorporating innovative technology into light fittings we can control when and where lights are activated. Light sensors are a fantastic way to deliver real energy savings and efficiencies. However, the big question is which sensors are the best choice for different scenarios?

The most popular sensors now available on the market include: • Microwave - detect motion • Passive Infrared (PIR)- detect temperature • Photocell – uses the natural light from the sun to detect light and dark

Move to illuminate - Microwave Sensors

Microwave sensors are an excellent solution for energy saving. They operate in a similar way to sonar in that they emit a microwave signal and measure how long it takes for the signal they send out to bounce back to the sensor. When something moves in the detection zone, this disrupts the signal and triggers the light to switch on. The microwave sensors are sensitive and so can detect movement and trigger the light to switch on in an instant. Microwave sensors can cut a substantial amount of energy wastage by automatically turning the lights off when the area is left unoccupied, ensuring that the energy required to light a space is only activated when occupied. They are the ideal solution for large commercial or industrial spaces.

Turn up the temperature - PIR Sensors

In contrast to the Microwave sensor, the PIR sensor detects infrared energy produced through body heat. They do this by measuring infrared light which is emitted from objects that generate body heat such as humans and animals. When the sensor detects temperatures returning to the original state, the lights will switch off, making it highly convenient and cost effective for the end user by reducing their electrical output. PIR sensors will only activate when heat movement is detected and so won’t activate unnecessarily. PIR is the perfect solution for domestic dwellings.

Just like natural daylight – Photocell sensors

There are few sensors which are as energy efficient and effective as photocell sensors. These nifty little sensors will activate based on changing natural light levels, turning lights on at dusk or dawn. Photocell sensors use semiconductors to control electric current. When exposed to enough light, currents begin to flow and triggers the fitting. In many products, the photocell sensor is adjustable to the amount of light required which allows you more flexibility with how the sensor functions. These sensors are utilised for a range of applications but are commonly seen in turning outdoor lights on at sunset and off at dawn. These sensors are an excellent energy efficient addition to your lighting fittings as you can be assured that lights won’t turn on needlessly.

ROBUS Top pick for Microwave sensors: Our newest extension of our ROBUS SONIC4 range, the SONIC MW is a superb solution for a Microwave sensor fitting for commercial or industrial spaces that require highly cost-effective low maintenance lighting solutions. Designed with a microwave sensor built into the fitting, this energy efficient high bay fitting ticks all the boxes.

ROBUS Top pick for PIR sensors: PIR CONNECT – The PIR CONNECT is the home device you need. Enhance your home by using it to connect all your light fittings and when motion is detected by the PIR CONNECT, watch it turn on the lights you need.

ROBUS top pick for Photocells sensors: ROBUS FALCON LED wall light – The ROBUS FALCON, is an excellent wall light solution complete with a photocell sensor. Suitable for a variety of uses including indoor and outdoor parking areas, tunnels, walkways, building entrances, loading bays and fire assembly points. This photocell fitting will serve as the ideal energy efficient for the end user.