When you are considering a modern security camera system, you will undoubtedly put heavy consideration on a Network Video Recorder or NVR. Such recorders are far more capable than the preceding line of recorders, better known as the digital video recorders or DVR, and distinctly improve upon advanced features like motion activated recording.


NVR and Motion Detection Recording

When you are considering a modern security camera system, you will undoubtedly put heavy consideration on a Network Video Recorder or NVR. Such recorders are far more capable than the preceding line of recorders, better known as the digital video recorders or DVR, and distinctly improve upon advanced features like motion activated recording. Not simply Hollywood fiction, motion detection is an excellent option for home and business owners to enhance security across the board. Better yet, the feature can save a security camera system owner's hard drive space through what is called motion activated recording. In this article, A1 Security Cameras provides you with enough information on how motion activation and detection work so that you can have a better grounding when considering an NVR or motion sensor camera.

What are the different types of motion sensors?

When first planning out a security apparatus for your home or business, you might be a little overwhelmed by the variety of options available. However, any singular example can be a valuable resource to you when used correctly, especially when security cameras are concerned. That is why just below, A1 Security Cameras has generalized it for your convenience, providing a general overview of the three methods any given security camera system can feature.

Cameras: While motion detection in applicable security cameras might seem complex at first glance, the function is actually straightforward from a hardware perspective. Not all cameras are capable of motion detection by themselves, but those that are will typically use PIR motion sensors, better known as infrared.

Detectors: Motion detectors work similarly to security cameras, producing a field where they’ll detect movement or a distinct change in temperature depending on the hardware. Simple examples can be found on doors and windows when a security system is implemented, alerting staff or security when the entrance is disturbed. Slightly more sophisticated but equally common examples are used in large auditoriums where the detectors activate the lights upon detecting motion. The same technology is applied to initiate alarms in stores, offices, and more upon intrusion after hours.

Recorders: The general security camera system capable of detecting motion will not necessarily do it strictly through the cameras but through the recorder itself. By implementing Video Surveillance Software into the recorder, the NVR or DVR will detect motion by scanning the pixels that make up the footage and then produce an alert upon detection of something out of the ordinary.

While motion detectors have been mentioned here, we will primarily focus on security cameras and recorders specifically for simplicity’s sake. For more information on motion detection outside of surveillance, A1 Security Cameras has previously written a post providing more detail on the subject.

What part of a security camera system detects motion?

As mentioned above, the specific part of a given security camera capable of motion detection generally uses an internal microwave or PIR motion detector. While other sensors can be used in this regard, infrared cameras are both the most common and most capable when limiting the conversation to security cameras alone.

Not to be confused with infrared cameras, PIR motion detector cameras notice changes in heat by using an infrared signal, reacting to bodies, objects, or machinery that distinctly respond accordingly to the signal sent out by the camera. As such, this type of surveillance is effectively implemented to monitor for people and the condition of machinery alike. The most common example where this feature is found is in IP security cameras. However, due to their dependence on a given environment being controlled, cameras of this nature may be subject to false alarms through random changes in temperature, flashes of light, and more. Therefore, a more dependable motion detection used in surveillance systems is found in the recorder through software.

How do security cameras detect motion?

Other than placing additional motion detectors throughout a home or business and using PIR motion detector security cameras, many recorders can feature programming that allows for motion detection capabilities. While it is possible in newer digital video recorders with the correct hardware, it is far more effective and easier to implement in network video recorders.

As mentioned above, how this advanced function works is by scanning the incoming video footage provided by security cameras pixel by pixel and sending out an alert when irregular or recognized patterns appear. Unlike human eyes, a machine uses advanced programming to distinguish features and movement. Each image that makes up a fluid video is thereby scanned, with more advanced systems even recognizing irregular or aggressive behavior provided by people within view.

Two excellent examples of motion detection in recorders rather than through security cameras are Axis and Vivotek recorders. Both manufacturers have produced software programs that typically come with their products in a base form and can be advanced to feature motion detection.

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What is the difference between motion sensors and motion detectors?

There is little difference between a motion sensor and a detector to ordinary people. In fact, the two are typically used interchangeably, having been regularly confused within the past decade. However, there are distinct differences between the two when speaking technologically. In essence, a detector is for particles in the air or water and responds when such particles match a specific parameter, while a sensor bases a response on physical parameters.

To clarify, a detector can include smoke or carbon monoxide detectors, while sensors can be internal hardware inside security cameras, photocells, and thermocouples. When it comes to cameras that have them internally, they are distinctly known as motion sensor cameras. Alternatively, the capability to pick up motion through surveillance is known as motion detection.

Do motion sensor cameras record all the time?

Not necessarily; in recent history, the trend of motion activated recording has been on the rise. Such an ability allows a security camera system to save room in the central storage hardware in the recorder. While constant and regular recording can be done, it is becoming increasingly common instead for cameras to start recording upon detecting motion, heat, or irregular activity. The capability is made possible by the implementation of software, through a security camera featuring an internal motion sensor, or both. Another example of motion-activated recording can easily be seen in video doorbells, products that have become widely popular within the past decade.  

What is the difference between an active and passive motion sensor?

An active motion sensor features both a transmitter and a receiver that sends out a specific signal while then recording any possible reaction. A passive motion sensor does not feature a transmitter but rather only receives signals it can monitor. Security cameras can feature both depending on the type of surveillance included. As mentioned above, it is becoming more popular for security cameras to feature motion triggered recording, which is possible through an internal active motion sensor.

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What is motion triggered recording?

Motion-triggered recording is essentially the same as motion activated recording, except that it is primarily done through a given recorder and begins recording upon the detection of movement. As an easy to setup function, such a capability allows a given security camera system to use its storage more efficiently and save on power consumption.

How far can a motion sensor detect?

The effective distance for any given security camera motion sensor is dependent on a specific example. It is not uncommon for such devices to be viable in a broader expanse, with some even providing functionality at a range of over twenty to thirty feet. With that said, such motion activation is often unreasonable. It might hinder those who use security cameras for specific security purposes or to interact with visitors at an entrance. Therefore, most brands that have provided an option for motion detection also allow for specific parameters to be set around such a function. These can include restricting alerts to movement within a specified distance from the camera or even a designated area within the field of view.

Will motion detection send alerts?

Yes, most security camera systems that feature motion detection will also feature an option to alert the owner when movement is detected. For example, Panasonic has developed security camera system software that alerts the owner when movement is detected. However, keep in mind that for motion detection alerts to be possible, a given security camera system must be connected to a local network that provides a link to the greater internet. Depending on how the owner configured their system, alerts can also range from the most minor of movements anywhere within view to when specific parameters are breached. Hikvision, Axis, Dahua, and more brands have also developed motion detection systems capable of sending alerts.

What is the difference between motion detection control and motion alert control?

In examples like Ring and Nest cameras, there are options in a given configuration menu labeled motion detection control and motion alert control. Also applicable to other brands featured on this site, these options control how and if you get alerts when a given security camera system detects motion. Such a capability is essential because these options will help you set the parameters of a given system, like customizing it to ignore a street in front of your house and restricting it to the space in front of your front door. Of course, the option can also be removed for some cameras, disabling the alerts for cameras that might just be used to display a massive yard or those that work with other motion-capable devices.

What is threshold?

While this might have a different meaning in other systems and subjects, security camera systems feature an entirely unique definition. As mentioned above, a security camera system scans pixels to detect changes in a given environment when it comes to motion detection. In essence, the threshold is how much difference an object or objects undergo to be recorded. In a more technical sense, the threshold setting determines when recording is initiated by how many given pixels a new object changes or takes up. It does not necessarily react to new objects but will activate the recording process when an object gets close enough or moves enough to fulfill the previously set parameters. According to Dahua, it is dependent on an object and the surrounding environment. For this setting, the lower it is set, the faster a given camera will record an object or environment.

What is the difference between sensitivity and threshold?

Sensitivity is related to the threshold but inherently different in the sense that it monitors any changes in its given view. Whereas the threshold monitors a given object already within view, sensitivity considers that object's motion and everything around it. Opposite of the other setting, a higher sensitivity means the quicker the camera is to record video footage, while lower correlates the need for more movement to be made. A lower threshold is more likely to record based on less motion. Those just beginning to purchase a security camera system will likely need to experiment with both settings on each camera to find their preferred sweet spot.

What's the difference between PIR and motion and detection?

There are different aspects in terms of function when discussing security cameras systems, PIR, motion, and detection. A common misconception surrounding PIR or passive infrared with those that have them or are considering them believe the devices detect movement. Technically, passive infrared cannot detect movement due to it only receiving incoming signals. Instead, it only reacts to incoming heat signatures that are out of the ordinary. This means that when having to do with detection, a PIR will generally be a singular part of the process, assisting a greater security camera system by sending a signal upon detection of a heat source provided by an animal, man, or machine.

Put simply, PIR, motion, and detection are all factors in a given security camera system with motion detection. They are functions surrounding the capability, PIR being the detection of heat, motion using sensitivity and threshold, and detection is the ultimate outcome that alerts you.

What is smart motion detection?

Smart motion detection is a step-up or more advanced version of the base motion detection technology. Also referred to as SMD, smart motion detection features more sophisticated algorithms that can identify vehicles, animals, and people instead of basing functionality on movement alone. Such an advancement is only possible when the central recorder features the enhanced software. While it is not necessarily required, the addition of a passive infrared sensor in a connected camera or an additional detector somewhere in the greater system does help for functionality. While more capable, the technology is also more expensive than the base option. Axis, Hikvision, and Lorex are some of the many brands on A1 Security Cameras that have produced a version of smart motion detection.

What is Turbo HD Passive Infrared (PIR)

What is Turbo HD Passive Infrared (PIR)

Turbo high definition passive infrared is a technology developed by Hikvision that implements passive infrared hardware into high definition security cameras. Whereas most cameras may not necessarily feature an infrared or another motion sensor internally, this type of camera is specifically guaranteed to include such. Furthermore, they are generally meant to be IP cameras, functioning by themselves or along with a greater security camera system. However, these cameras are capable of reducing false alarms by implementing enhanced integration between the sensor and software. Instead of the sensor simply recognizing a change in temperature, these types of cameras are meant to recognize and record human body heat and ignore other changes in temperature.

What can set off a motion detector?

What sets off your motion detection system depends on the type of sensor and software your system includes. However, when strictly discussing motion detectors by themselves, any number of movements, animals, vehicles, or persons can cause a reaction from them. Distinctly speaking, anything that produces a change in temperature (including people and animals) will alert an infrared detector while microwave sensors are set off by movement around them. That is why integrating them into a greater security apparatus is pivotal in making them as effective as possible. When used with the software that makes security cameras effective, you can choose to ignore alerts based upon specific standards and be likewise alerted when those standards are met.

How do you stop bugs from triggering motion cameras?

Different from animals and people, bugs may be a massive nuisance when it comes to your camera. Especially at night, when LED lights are activated and used to illuminate an area, bugs may constantly send you false alerts and turn your motion-sensing camera into more of a bother. However, there are methods that will neutralize such a bother without too much effort. Some traditional methods include:


  • Use night infrared night vision if possible
  • Clean around the camera and nearby regularly
  • Placing drier sheets around the camera
  • Planting lavender, mint, and other plants that bugs hate nearby
  • Reduce or turn off surrounding lights
  • Use flea collars and other insect repelling devices

As shown above, a security camera system owner can also edit their motion detection settings to better alert the owner to people and more significant movements. That, added with the solutions above, will provide an effective measure against bugs triggering your motion cameras.

What is person detection?

Person detection is exactly as it sounds, using the software in your centralized recorder to determine standard features among men and women. Such a function provides security camera system owners with the capability to easily detect people rather than get false alarms by animals, cars, and so on. Such a feature can also be edited like sensitivity and threshold, providing you with the opportunity to set parameters to distinguish where the camera will distinctly alert you when a person is close. Motion detectors do not necessarily have this feature due to the uniqueness to security camera systems, but they can complement it.

Do all security cameras have motion sensors?

Many modern security cameras do feature some capability in motion detection but by no means do most and the vast majority that do require software to function effectively. However, cameras distinctly identified as motion detection cameras or IP security cameras do feature the hardware in some regard. Furthermore, modern software designed for recorders that scans the incoming footage from security cameras has proven to be a more effective measure for motion detection than many sensors themselves. Separate detectors actually do an equally good, if not better, the job of detecting movement in a given security camera system and should be used to compliment your surveillance.

How much does a motion activated camera cost?

Motion detection cameras, by themselves, can typically range around the same as modern IP security cameras. As mentioned above, such devices typically feature built-in sensors that can complement a given surveillance system but are not necessarily effective without accompanying infrastructure and software. If a ballpark price range is needed, such cameras can be found for below $150 and can range far above $300 when all features are considered. Cheaper models can be found, but they might be cloud cameras or something similar and not be as effective as traditional cameras.

When would you use motion activated recording?

When property crime is a distinct worry, motion activated recording is an excellent security measure to consider for your home or business. Many homeowners across the world actually use motion detection on a regular basis through video doorbells, seeing when a package is dropped off or to view a visitor at their doorstep. Modern technology has also allowed for the system to be used in a sophisticated manner, allowing for a given security camera system to detect irregular movements from a person or vehicle. In reality, motion activated recording provides for an effective method to both save power and storage space in a given hard drive, making it one of the most common features that is growing in popularity.

Why should I use motion detection with motion sensors?

Motion detection is an easy and cost-effective measure for any home or business owner to implement into their security camera system. The chances are that when you have a modern security camera system with an NVR or even a DVR, the function is entirely open to you. However, when it comes to implementing it, A1 Security Cameras entirely recommends you consider the feature for your own surveillance.

When it comes to making the most out of features like motion detection, choose A1 Security Cameras to design a security camera system that is right for you. Combined with a massive catalog, our design services will meet your standards and provide you with the exact surveillance that meets your needs at every point. Contact us today to learn more!

Feb 7th 2022 Wayne Hahne

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