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Types of occupancy detection sensors and their uses

Occupancy detection sensors can be a vital tool for anyone wanting to manage their buildings smartly and more efficiently. The information they provide can be used to help manage a wide range of functions within an office or workspace. This article looks at the most common types of sensors and the ways they can be used to help you see what’s happening in your buildings.

Why use smart occupancy sensors?

  • Manage desks, meeting rooms and workspaces more effectively Occupancy sensors connected to the Internet of Things (IoT) allow you to see live, real-time information about which desks, rooms and breakout areas are being used. Having access to this live information means less time wasted searching for available rooms, and saves the hassle of turning up to a room which has been accidentally double-booked.Smart sensor technology gives an instant view of workspace availability, reducing the reliance on staff having to physically book rooms out, and remembering to cancel them, which can often result in rooms sitting empty.Most sensors will send their information to a cloud-based platform, enabling you to manage multiple rooms and buildings using one system, creating more streamlined booking processes across the organisation.
  • Use space more efficiently and identify under-used areas In today’s modern working world, where staff often have more flexibility over their working hours and location, there doesn’t necessarily need to be a desk for each worker, but identifying how much space you do need can be difficult.Occupancy sensors allow you to track the usage of desks over time, so you can see how well-used they are and identify areas of pressure or those that are under-used.They can also help to identify which parts of a building people naturally congregate in or rooms and buildings that are not being used to their full potential.In an increasingly-pressured financial climate this data can be crucial evidence when it comes to making any decisions about consolidating buildings or sites.
  • Provide a better working environment for your staff and help save energy Knowing which rooms are occupied and when enables you to ensure heating, lighting and ventilation are just right for users.Being able to see how many people are in a given space means things like air conditioning or heating can be set to just the right levels.It also has the benefit of helping you to increase energy efficiency, saving money and reducing the impact on the environment, as you can see empty areas and ensure lighting/heating/air-conditioning is switched off.

What are the different types of occupancy sensor?

Occupancy sensors usually use one of, or a combination of, the following types of technology. The information below should help you to choose the best smart occupancy sensor for your needs:

  • Passive infra-red (PIR): These sensors work by detecting heat from the human body. They receive thermal signals from their surrounding environment and are able to tell when these are interrupted by the presence of a human.PIR sensors come in varying forms, some as units which you stick to walls or ceiling, others that are placed under desks.They are usually unobtrusive, easy to install, low maintenance and a great cost-effective option.
  • Smart sensors/people recognition cameras: Smart sensors read visible light from within the electromagnetic spectrum. They are able to identify outlines of faces or bodies to give an indication of the number of people within a space.They can give a more accurate picture of the usage of a room or a particular area than PIR sensors but are at the more expensive end of the spectrum.
  • Ultrasonic sensors: These send high frequency sound waves into an area to check for a reflected pattern. It recognises the steady state of the room, so if the reflected pattern is changing continuously it assumes there are people in the room.The sound waves are transmitted at about 40kHz, which is well above the level of human hearing.
  • Microwave sensors: Similar to ultrasonic sensors, these work by sending high frequency microwaves into an area and checking for a reflected pattern. The reflections change when a moving object enters the field of detection.Microwave sensors have a higher sensitivity and greater detection range than other types of sensor.It is important that their levels are set correctly when installed as the microwaves can penetrate through most building materials, which could lead to inaccurate readings.

To find out more about Pressac’s low-energy, under-desk PIR occupancy sensors get in touch.

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