Home security has evolved over the last few decades, and nowhere is this more visible than contact sensors and intelligent locks.
Nowadays, you can have technology informing you of intrusions, intruders, and unwanted guests all from the comfort of your personal panic room. While these are excellent tools to prevent a home invasion, they have a daunting number of uses to the point that you can start feeling like you are living in a sentient home.
If this sounds interesting to you, then fantastic, we have a detailed list of some of the best outdoor contact sensors money can buy!
Whether you are looking for a sensor on a budget, a device with more options than a swiss army knife, or a product that could be placed on a federal building, this article has all of that and more.
Get yourself a cup of coffee and lock your windows as we take a look at the best outdoor contact sensors on the market today!
Outdoor Contact Sensors
When it comes to electronics for the outdoors, you have to know what to look for.
In the opinion of this writer, resistance to the elements is paramount if you want a device that will last a long time.
Besides being water or dust resistant, you have to consider how much automation you want from a product, its battery life, and what accompanying features you are looking for.
This article is designed with the intention of giving you the best products across all price points without sacrificing quality.
Ideally, you can find a contact sensor that meets your needs while also being waterproof. However, this is surprisingly hard to find. If you find the perfect indoor contact sensor and want to DIY it into an outdoor sensor, here is perhaps the best guide you will find.
And finally, before we start discussing our favorite products, there is one final thing to mention.
Many smart home experts have found that using a simple motion sensor is oftentimes more practical than finding or building an outdoor contact sensor. For this reason, we have included a couple top motion sensors on our list, even though they don’t fit the technical criteria of an “outdoor contact sensor.”
Because this sensor isn’t zigbee or Z-wave, it won’t be compatible with every device. Instead, it will require a Honeywell alarm system to work. Honeywell security systems includes Honeywell, Ademco, Resideo, Vista, Lynx, Tuxedo, and more — so you might have a Honeywell system without even knowing it.
This Honeywell contact sensor is built to survive against the elements, regardless of what weather you may experience in your neck of the woods. Whether you live in Anchorage or Anaheim, this sensor can withstand temperatures ranging from -40 to 150 degrees Fahrenheit.
Outside of its inspired adaptability it also comes with a surprising list of features for an otherwise innocuous-looking device.
If you want to recreate the surveillance of a government building you can easily do so with Honeywell’s activity monitoring that sends notifications to your phone. Simply get the Resideo Total Connect application and you can monitor your property remotely.
It also fades into the background quite easily with its minimal design that could easily be misconstrued for something else.
It can be installed externally on the outer parts of your home or fence and will require little more than a screw. It requires two lithium batteries to run and shouldn’t take up more than five inches of space at the most.
A small minority of consumers have stated that the plastic exterior can feel a bit cheap and deteriorate over time but not nearly enough to warrant any real concern from interested buyers.
For those concerned about wanting to connect it to the rest of their house, it is compatible with Smart Things, Wink, Vera, and ZigBee. It is also recently able to be paired with an Amazon Alexa if you want to know the temperature, the battery life, or whether or not your neighbor is peaking into your backyard again.
The Centralite looks more like a new-age smoke detector than a miniature motion sensor, though that works in its favor. Rather than being a true contact sensor, this product instead detects motion. If you demand a contact sensor specifically, Centralite also makes a nearly-identical product as a door sensor.
Before using the device outdoors, you should know that it isn’t actually rated for outdoor use. So direct rain, snow, or extreme humidity could be the death of the device. However, the budget price saves you plenty of money to buy or build a shield that allows you to keep the device out of the elements.
While there are surely better ways to waterproof a sensor, some well-placed plastic wrap will likely do the trick. Better yet, just spend ten or fifteen bucks on a waterproof electrical box.
This device looks like a forgettable feature of any outdoor patio or gate and offers security at a price that is so minimal it almost warrants concern. Despite initial fears about this product being cheap and ineffective, it actually serves its purpose admirably and at a cost that will hardly put a cut in the coin purse.
The Centralite Micro offers a detection range that extends up to fifteen feet, specifies a 2-year battery life (from experience, listed battery lives can fluctuate a great deal), and comes with a hardwired temperature sensor.
You are offered a bit of customization in its lighting scenes, air conditioning settings, and even alarms that go off when motion is detected. All you need to install this device is adhesive strips, making it incredibly flexible when it comes time to place them around the perimeter of your home.
I have struggled to find any real criticisms towards this device, which is very reassuring when you are looking at a cheaper product. At an MSRP of 30 dollars, this product adds more automation to your home, provides up-to-date notifications about activity, and even doubles as a remote thermometer that can send temperature updates directly to your phone.
If you are in the market for a motion sensor but don’t wanna invest big bucks – this is a great candidate for your home.
If you have some background with home security you may have purchased a Ring doorbell in your search for a more protected home. If so, then the Ring outdoor contact sensor will be perfect to connect with the rest of your home.
It’s estimated that over 20 million homes have video doorbells installed on their home – it is much easier to connect two products from the same company than trying to work with a third-party product.
We aren’t just recommending this product for the sake of brand recognition, however. This contact sensor offers all the features you could ask for including a few you probably never thought of.
To get the elephant out of the room expeditiously – this product is weather-resistant and can withstand the elements so you don’t have to sweat through the thunderstorms. The IP66 rating means it should hold up well against water, dirt, and humidity.
Included in the product are masking tape and screws along with an easy-to-follow installation guide (most of these sensors are fairly simple to install).
It sends you notifications directly to your phone when a sensor is triggered and can trigger your Ring Alarm if you wanna let the neighborhood know about it.
It has a listed battery life of five years with the included 2 AA batteries and offers Z-wave compatibility. Those that live in particularly frigid environments may wanna take caution however this device is not meant to withstand temperatures under -4 degrees Fahrenheit.
This product does not come without a few drawbacks, the biggest being that you do need a Ring alarm or Ring alarm pro for it to work. Outside of that, another concern is the outer part of the device is designed pretty poorly and can sometimes make installation fairly difficult. Several reviews state that the battery case has been a nightmare to deal with when trying to mount the product.
Before using the device outdoors, you should know that it isn’t actually rated for outdoor use. So direct rain, snow, or extreme humidity could be the death of the device. However, the budget price saves you plenty of money to buy or build a shield that allows you to keep the device out of the elements. While there are surely better ways to waterproof a sensor, some well-placed plastic wrap will likely do the trick.
If you are looking for the cheapest contact sensor you can find that won’t break on you the second you bust open the packaging, you are going to want to take a look at the ThirdReality Contact Sensor.
Outside of it being the lowest price tag on this list (not including the fact it regularly gets discounted) this product is very favorably reviewed and works perfectly competently as a motion sensor on any doors or windows you can think of.
This AAA battery-powered device comes with a long list of compatible devices including Alexa, Zigbee devices, SmartThings, Aeotec, ThirdReality, and finally Hubitat. It works via Bluetooth and setting it up is as simple as pairing your BlueTooth device to it.
It has a two-year battery life that can be checked on through the app, a log that records all activity, and the ability to set up routines for your lights and other smart devices. A hub will be required for any functionality, which is pretty common for smart contact sensors.
Most folks seem more than satisfied with the device and it is easy to understand why. This product costs less than most fast food meals and still does it’s just without fuss or hassle.
With home security products, there is typically a glaring weakness in most products. For the ThirdReality contact sensor, this has to be its nonexistent weather protection. So if you do set it up outdoors, make sure it is underneath the overhang of your roof.
Although Sensative Strips might sound like a product for your teeth, it is actually an outdoor-rated contact sensor with some pretty cool features.
First, as the name suggests, the device is extremely thin (only 3 mm). So, depending on the location where you mount it, the strip will be either indetectable or nearly indetectable. This contact sensor fits nicely in window frames, often resulting in a sensor that is invisible from the outside.
Next, it is one of the few contact sensors on the market that is truly outdoor-rated and marketed as such. No plastic wrap or electrical tape or rain visors needed — just unpackage and install the device.
Complaints with the device are generally related to the battery, which is marketed as having “up to 10 years battery life.” In reality, the battery won’t get anywhere close to 10 years of function (as confirmed by many frustrated users). Worse, the battery cannot be changed or replaced, so when the battery fails the device fails along with it.
Although the price is higher for this device, it is still relatively affordable.
And it should work with nearly any Z-wave hub, so you aren’t locked into a particular alarm system. So for anyone that doesn’t want to enter the Honeywell or Ring ecosystem by purchasing one of the products listed above, yet needs a durable outdoor contact sensor, this may be your best option.
Rounding out this list of exceptional motion sensors is the aesthetically pleasing Eutdett motion sensor alarm.
Like the Centralite product discussed previously, this alarm is a motion sensor rather than being a contact sensor in the truest sense of the word. However, it is included here due to some excellent features and the fact that it is truly weatherproof.
This product fits anywhere on the outer part of your home whether that be a gate, garage, or greenhouse, and offers a range of 16 feet of motion detection. It is one of the more reasonable prices you will find in Contact sensors and comes with enough features to warrant the modest cost.
As the name says, this product can withstand unexpected weather with an IP55 rating making it desirable for those who want it in a vulnerable part of the home.
Outside of its external fortitude and desirable cost, you also get a one-year warranty and 24/7 customer support should you require it.
Rather than needing a hub and a sophisticated alarm system to function, this product is a standalone sensor and alarm. So if you want a sensor but don’t want to pay “smart home” prices then this is a great option.
You get the choice of 52 different ringtones at 4 different decibel levels (which you can hear up to 100 meters) and the choice of visual signals for the hearing impaired. All this comes included with a very simplistic installation that allows for the EutDett sensor to be installed virtually anywhere.
Things to be aware of with this device are things most consumers should be wary of with contact sensors.
Due to the visual detection of the device, placing it in direct sunlight can cause false alarms. Equally important is making sure it isn’t facing walkways or roads with heavy traffic for the sake of your sanity.
Outside of these very minor concerns, the device has been universally well-received and is an excellent product for its customization, ingenuity, and weather resistance.
With this comprehensive list, you can make your home as close to autonomous as possible without installing some dystopian AI into your fireplace.
The best option is to find an outdoor-rated contact sensor that meets your needs and integrates into your smart home. If this isn’t possible, you will need to decide between purchasing a motion sensor instead, or purchasing an indoor contact sensor and using your DIY skills to waterproof it for outdoor use.
Smart sensors are fantastic tools to make the monotonous tasks of your morning and evening routine a part of the past. They also come with the additional benefit of peace of mind.
So whether you want your house to become automated or simply wish for your yard to be more closely monitored, you have the choice of one, the other, and all of the above!
For similar articles on home security, check out accompanying Swift Moves articles to get the most detailed information on motion sensors, smart locks, smart home devices, and more!