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The 5 Best Motion Sensor Cameras (And What You Need to Know About Them)

Cameras with motion sensors capture footage only when sufficient movement occurs, while AI-based features like person detection can eliminate unnecessary footage altogether.

What Can Motion Sensor Cameras Do?

PIR, or ‘passive infrared’, is used by most motion activated security cameras. It detects infrared energy given off by objects, be it human or animal. If there’s a rapid shift in infrared energy detected as the object crosses the field of view, the smart camera will start recording.

Credit: Security Camera King

Top 5 Best Wireless Motion Sensor Cameras

Here are our picks for some of the best motion detector cameras on the market.

How much does a motion activated camera cost?

Motion activated cameras are common, so there’s a wide range of cameras available at wildly different price points; Arlo Pro 4 Spotlight, for example, costs somewhere in the region of $200, while AlfredCam (our top pick for indoor motion detection camera) is just $29.99. In other words, there’s something for everyone.


Best motion sensor camera indoor

Available to order via AlfredCamera. $29.99.

AlfredCam on a glass table
Image via AlfredCamera.


  • Excellent infrared night vision
  • Super affordable
  • Motion detection zones, schedules, and person detection (with Premium)


  • Indoor only

AlfredCam is a Wi-Fi enabled motion sensor camera that alerts your phone when it detects movement. It marries quality and affordability, combining the great features found in the AlfredCamera app with new ones made possible only through hardware. Its easy plug-in-and-go setup makes it perfect for indoor surveillance. 

Premium users can enjoy person detection, which uses AI to only alert users when humans are detected. Users can then use two-way talk via the app to chat with whoever is on the other side. Other features, like night vision, capture every detail in 1080p HD even in environments with virtually no light.

Arlo Pro 4 Spotlight

Best motion sensor camera outdoor 

Available from Arlo. From $199.99.

Arlo Pro 4 Spotlight
Image via Arlo


  • Person, vehicle, package, and animal smart motion detection
  • Spotlight maximizes visibility at night
  • Emergency responses at the touch of a button


  • Expensive

Its weather resistance makes it suitable for indoor and outdoor usage alike, but outdoors is where it truly shines thanks to the discreet spotlight and simulated night vision.

Google Nest Doorbell

Best motion sensor doorbell camera 

Available on Google Store. From $179.99.

Google Nest Doorbell camera
Image via Google


  • 3:4 aspect ratio maximizes doorway visibility greatly
  • Distinguishes between people, packages, animals, and vehicles
  • Sleek and contemporary design


  • Expensive
  • Facial recognition may seem invasive to some people

The Nest Doorbell is Google’s answer to video doorbells. The battery-operated version is wireless and attaches to either your door or the wall adjacent to it.

Much like the Nest Cam, by incorporating built-in intelligence, its motion sensing capabilities are quite advanced. It can tell the difference between people, packages, animals, and vehicles in real time, and send push notifications based on the information it gathers. ‘Nest Aware’ uses facial recognition to even notify you when a familiar face is at the door.

Two-way communication lets you communicate with whoever’s at the door, while the 3:4 ratio, displayed vertically, maximizes what you can see, from sky to ground.

Google Nest Cam

Best motion activated camera for smart home

Available on Google Store. From $199.

Google Nest Cam
Image via Google Store.


  • AI-based person, animal, and object detection
  • Extremely fast notifications from AI functions
  • Attractive device


  • Expensive
  • Nest Aware Plus required for 24/7 continuous video

Google’s flagship Nest product, the Nest Cam is a battery-operated wireless motion sensor camera. Chic and discreet, it’s suitable for use indoors and outdoors.

Motion sensing goes a step beyond most competitors by incorporating facial recognition and other intelligence-based technologies, with the intention being to streamline and automate home security. 

Unfortunately, 24/7 continuous video history requires a ‘Nest Aware Plus’ subscription (and since it’s a security camera, it’s probably wise to record footage), but 24/7 live view is available out of the box. 

Garmin Dash Cam Mini 2

Available on Amazon. RRP $129.99.

Garmin Dash Cam Mini 2.
Image via Zmodo


  • Very discreet
  • High quality footage
  • Parking Mode uses motion detection to look after stationary vehicles


  • Doesn’t automatically send footage to phone
  • No GPS

Motion detection cameras for cars function in the same way as security cameras, but the use for the motion detection is more specific.

Credit: Techs You Can’t Live Without

Can You Turn Your Phone Into a Motion Sensor Camera?

Launched in 2014, Founder and CEO Alex Song developed the app to address a major shortfall in the market—ultra-affordable security cameras that boast the features of some of the most expensive available, including motion detection.

Alfred can be used on old phones, tablets, computers, or alongside AlfredCam, a dedicated indoor security camera with infrared night vision. When a viewing device detects motion, the user’s phone will be instantly notified. 

Premium users also have access to person detection, which uses AI to trigger motion recording only when a human is detected, thereby reducing unwanted notifications.

Advanced Motion Detection Features

Some motion detection cameras, including AlfredCamera, do more than just start and stop recording based on movement. Advanced features can make it a lot more useful to users in the long-run. 

Here’s the advanced features to look out for.

Motion detection notifications from Wyze and AlfredCamera
Motion detection notifications from Wyze and AlfredCamera.

Facial recognition – less common than regular person detection is the incorporation of AI that learns, memorizes, and distinguishes faces. Some might find this a little dystopian, but it is a great way to be instantly notified of who is standing at the front door.

Nest’s ‘Familiar Face’ setting (available only with an Aware subscription) learns and eventually distinguishes faces that the user knows from one’s they don’t.

alfredcamera detection zone box
Motion Detection Zone on AlfredCamera
AlfredCamera motion detection schedule setting
alfredcamera motion detection schedule time
alfredcamera motion detection schedule day
Motion detection scheduling on AlfredCamera.


Do motion sensor cameras record all the time?

Do motion cameras need WiFi?

Usually, motion detection cameras require a Wi-Fi connection to send push notifications to phones, meaning the true benefits of motion detection are derived from a camera connected to a stable internet connection. This doesn’t have to be the case, though. They can simply save footage to storage without sending a notification.

What is a PIR sensor?

A PIR sensor (passive infrared sensor) detects infrared energy given off in the scene it observes. Everything that emits heat also emits infrared energy, but infrared is invisible to the human eye. The PIR observes the shifting wavelengths. This information can then be processed to reveal information about movement, depth, size, and heat.

How far can security cameras detect motion?

Generally, security cameras detect motion somewhere in the vicinity of 15 to 25 feet. AlfredCam is able to detect motion up to 32 feet in daylight, and up to 22 feet in night vision mode.

What do motion sensors see?

In the context of cameras, motion sensors see infrared. A PIR (passive infrared sensor) is the type of sensor that detects general movement, but an imaging sensor is needed as well in order to gauge information about who, or what, moved, and these sensors are in all cameras. This compares sequential images from the footage, frame by frame, to determine information based on changes to the pixels.

How far can security cameras detect motion?

Generally, security cameras detect motion somewhere in the vicinity of 15 to 25 feet. AlfredCam is able to detect motion up to 32 feet in daylight, and up to 22 feet in night vision mode.

Why is motion detection not working?

Can a mouse trigger a motion sensor?

A mouse is unlikely to trigger a security camera motion sensor, but in theory, it could. The factory settings of most commercial security cameras with motion sensors would purposely have the sensor ignore something so small. It would trigger it if it came very close to the lens.


Improving safety and security isn’t just a matter of installing any old camera. The tech we choose must be truly useful to us, and that requires convenience. With that in mind, motion detection is a vital feature many users will need to get the most out of a security setup.

Motion detection means efficient surveillance, streamlining and significantly improving the security of a space.