Passive infrared motion (PIR) sensors have been an innovative invention for the construction world. As more of our industry looks for sustainable and economical methods and materials, we’re quite deliberately drawn to these sensors for energy saving and ecological benefits.

PIR lighting works by sensing the heat from infrared light bouncing off an object or person moving in its field of view. The light then switches on and stays on while it senses movement. This technology can have a variety of uses throughout many, if not all, sectors of construction – whether that’s for security, convenience, cost or energy saving purposes.

PIR sensors can reduce energy consumption levels by 30% in commercial buildings when compared with normal light switches, so this is a great way to make buildings more sustainable and energy efficient.

This all sounds great, doesn’t it? So, why aren’t they used everywhere?

Because PIR sensors detect infrared light from heat, lights placed outdoors can be triggered by passing animals, cars and other similar objects. This can unnecessarily activate the light and use unwanted energy. Similarly, the sensors’ range may not be suitable for certain areas which means, again, they are used incorrectly.

They also still turn on in daylight or inside when there is already a substantial amount of light which can run up electricity bills and waste a lot of energy. This is because some PIR sensors, especially the ones designed for indoors, aren’t connected to other technology that can help to adjust the needs for light.

One option to help reduce the wasted energy of PIR sensors is photocells. They work by detecting the changing light levels to determine whether more light is needed. This can be useful for security lights outside that aren’t necessarily needed in the daytime or rooms that have lots of natural light through the day.

Alternatively, some high-end PIR sensors can have adjustable modifications for you to manually change the time of day which it can be activated and how long the light is left on once it has been activated. You can also combine a normal switch with a PIR sensor to turn on only when the automatic detection is needed.

In theory, PIR sensors can be used in many ways for different needs to enhance the build’s abilities. The technology, however, needs to be operated in an appropriate way to see the benefits without causing further issues and putting sustainable builds on the backfoot.

Speak to us for recommendations and guidance on the best energy efficient lighting option for your building.