Philips Hue Motion Sensor (review)

The Philips Hue Motion sensor has been the go to device for many people already embedded in the Hue ecosystem, and it’s easy to see why when you buy one (or two in my case); they’re small, easy to mount, and most importantly they’re very fast to react. Since Hue devices can be exposed to HomeKit via the 2nd gen Hue Bridge, even more people are discovering what a great little device it is, including myself. I have 5 motion sensors, if you include the sensor built into the Omna 180 Cam, and this has always been the fastest and most reliable so far, although the Eve Motion can now claim to be possibly as fast since the firmware updates in late 2017.

Philips Hue packaging, whilst having a consistent theme, are not the most robust when it comes to protection. That said, all the Hue products I’ve purchased so far have arrived from either the USA or the UK to Taiwan and have never arrived with any damage whatsoever, due in large part to the fact the inner protective plastic essentially suspends the product far enough away from any potential dents. So, unless your local delivery man is going to literally stomp on your parcel, it should survive without any problems.

So, what’s in the box? Not a lot really – you get the motion sensor itself, a rubber, magnetic mounting bracket with a screw, and finally a couple of booklets. The booklets give the basic setup instructions in a multitude of languages. The mounting bracket itself can either be screwed into a wall, or any other surface that can be drilled into, or any metal surface, being that it has a very strong magnet built-in. This magnet not only allows the bracket to be held in place, but it also hold the sensor itself very strongly. There’s a recess for the bracket to sit in, but it can actually attach to any part of the rear raised area around the recess, allowing for the sensor to be placed at an angle.


Onto the Sensor itself and how you set it up; As this is a Hue motion sensor, it’s not directly compatible with HomeKit, so you are going to need the 2nd gen Hue Bridge for HomeKit functionality. When it comes to setting the sensor up, this initially has to be done via the Hue app, but once the initial setup is done with, which is essentially just getting the Hue Bridge to identify the sensor itself, you can then go on to setting up the sensor in the Home app, which was my preference.

In case you weren’t aware, the Hue Motion sensor should really be called the ‘Hue Motion, Ambient Light and Temperature sensor’, but I can see why that wouldn’t work well for marketing purposes, let alone on the front of the box. However, this is exactly what the sensor does – it has motion detection, as expected, but it also comes with an ambient light sensor, which is the small black dot above the motion sensor in the middle. In addition, you get a temperature sensor, so it’s a real three in one device, which becomes apparent once you’ve got it set up in the Home app, where it proudly displays three tiles. The motion tile just shows you when the sensor is detecting motion or not. the Ambient light sensor displays the light in ‘lux’ and the temperature sensor shows the temperature in celsius or fahrenheit, depending on your preferences. It should be noted that as with many sensors currently available with HomeKit compatibility, only the motion sensor is available for automations within the Apple Home app, so if you plan on using the other sensors for automations and triggers, then the Eve app is one of the better, free options. Another thing to be aware of, is that while the ambient light and motion sensitivity can be set in the Hue app, there doesn’t currently seem to be a way of adjusting the length of time from a motion event and resetting to ‘no motion detected’, which seems to be set at round 15-20 seconds. This can be adjusted if you were to set up and use the sensor in an exclusively Hue environment, but if you want to use it within HomeKit, then you’re stuck at the default, which while not a deal breaker, isn’t great for some circumstances.

Looking at the sensor in terms of it’s aesthetics, as with the Hue Dimmer Switch I recently reviewed, this is once again an understated piece of kit, that will blend into its surroundings, not bringing attention to itself, which for a motion sensor is perfect. Considering the three sensors it contains, it’s rather small, coming in at only 53 x 53 x 28mm. It’s powered by two included AAA batteries which should last around 2 years, which you can thank Zigbee for, the wireless  protocol that all Hue products communicate with.

So, summing up, for me this is really my best motion sensor by far. I now have two of these, and if I decide to buy any more, it will be these that I choose.

PROS

  • Very responsive to motion detection
  • includes two other sensors
  • reasonably priced
  • Easy mounting options
  • Long battery life

CONS

  • Hue bridge is needed, regardless of whether you use HomeKit or not
  • No ability to adjust the motion detection reset time within HomeKit

Simon T Bramley

Editor - Musician, graphic designer and HomeKit aficionado, living in Taipei, Taiwan.

13 thoughts on “Philips Hue Motion Sensor (review)

  • 20th August 2018 at 11:04 pm
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    Can this motion sensor be used outdoors?

    Reply
    • 20th August 2018 at 11:10 pm
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      It’s not designed for outdoor use, as it’s not rated as waterproof to any degree, however, depending on the type of climate you live in, it can be used outdoors as long as it’s under some form of cover, like a covered balcony or garden shed for example.

      Reply
  • 6th September 2018 at 4:44 pm
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    Hello! Thank you for your great blog!

    I’ve been testing a couple of HUE Motion Sensor, and noticed that only can use HUE App rules. It’s needed to be added to a room where a HUE bulb is installed. I can pair to HUE hub and not add to any HUE room, and do it in Home App, but if I add a rule in Home or in 3rd party App (like Hesperus), the motion sensor doesn’t trigger any action (rule already setup). The Hesperus rule is working fine with Fibaro motion sensor, but with the HUE sensor, does nothing.

    Perhaps it works in a similar way that IKEA’s one, that only trigger a TRADFRI bulb, but not shown in Home App.

    Have you noticed something in this way?

    Thanks in advance!

    Reply
    • 6th September 2018 at 4:48 pm
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      Hi KiZD, and thanks, I’m glad you like the site. I’ve got two Hue motion sensors and they both work with other HomeKit devices, including Hue bulbs, so I’m not sure what the problem you’re having is caused by, but I have found that if you make sure that the motion sensor is not linked to any rooms in the Hue app, and then only configured in the Home app, you should be ok. If you have to go down the route of resetting the Hue motion sensor, make sure to be within 1 metre of the Hue Bridge otherwise it wont always reset properly.

      Reply
      • 9th September 2018 at 11:36 am
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        Thanks for your answer!
        Reset and no added to any room. Doesn’t blink green when motion is detected, no advice at Home App. No push notification. Perhaps doI have to wait a few minutes more?
        Rules created at Hesperus doesn’t work. But now I’ve tried with HUE Lights App (LabApps, v3.2), and I can create my own rules, but not shown at Home App, and interface is not as clear (…or I don’t like) as Hesperus.

        Thanks for your support.
        Regards.

        Reply
        • 9th September 2018 at 11:40 am
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          Does the Hue motion sensor appear in the Home app? In the Home app, do you have notifications turned ‘on’ for the Hue Motion sensor, when it detects motion? It may seem like a simple question, but sometimes the most obvious answers are the solution.

          Reply
          • 9th September 2018 at 11:46 am
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            Hi!
            Not simple question, sometimes you can forget obvious things. Sensor appears in Home App; now I’ve deleted all recipes in other apps and notification is working, but does not trigger an ambient or a bulb configuration. Notification is quite fast, but led doesn’t turn green. If I “try this recipe”, ambient is working as desired.

            Thanks!

  • 9th September 2018 at 6:18 pm
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    Hello!
    …something is wrong. A simple timer created in Home App is not triggering an ambient. I will factory reset the bridge.

    Reply
    • 9th September 2018 at 6:20 pm
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      What automation are you trying by to create? If you are attempting to use the ambient light sensor in the Home app, it is not available so you have the to use a third party app, like Eve.

      Reply
  • 10th September 2018 at 6:34 am
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    Enable/disable Home HUB in Apple TV 4K, rebooting Apple TV, enable/disable Home HUB in iPad… but didn’t start working until iPhone rebooted. Now I can add my own rules using ambient light sensor; Hesperus is a great App for that (https://hesperus.io).

    Thanks for your help, and I will remember to reboot before ask XD

    Reply
    • 10th September 2018 at 7:17 am
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      That’s great news! I have the Hesperus app too, it’s quite useful for controlling sensors that the Home app doesn’t recognise.
      Don’t worry, you can always come here and ask you questions if you think I can help.

      Reply
  • 19th October 2018 at 4:29 am
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    Are there any light sensors which can be used to trigger automations in Homekit?

    Reply
    • 19th October 2018 at 3:53 pm
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      Hi Wynne
      You can create automations with the ambient light sensor in the Hue Motion sensor, but you would have to use a 3rd party app, like the Eve app, for example. I’m not sure about other devices that detect ambient light (usually built into motion sensors), but the only issue with the Hue Motion sensor is that it only takes an ambient light reading every 5 minutes, unless motion is detected, so it’s not the best solution, but as long as split second timing is not an issue, and you want to use it to just turn lights on when it gets to a certain level of darkness, then it would work perfectly fine.

      Reply

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