Making magic happen with sensors

Those who know me well or have seen my presentations, know that I’m very big on sensors, particularly for residential projects… I love them.

Lighting control sensors are a key product for making homes smart and more intelligent, and are often misunderstood, not appreciated, and subsequently under specified.

The Big Sensor Misconception

It seems as though many home owners, designers, and specifiers don’t really understand what lighting control sensors are, how they work, and the benefits they can provide.

Many people hark back to the concept of the traditional PAR38 sensor flood light of the the last century that are installed on thousands of home garages and porches around Australia, and see these locations as being the only location for modern day lighting control sensors, if at all.

Whilst these areas are indeed prime locations for sensors to control outdoor lights, modern sensors are much more flexible, discreet, and have extraordinary functionality; particularly Philips Dynalite multifunction sensors.

I see many projects from specifiers that greatly under-utilise lighting control sensors, and often don’t even specify them at all.

The omission of lighting control sensors can be a missed opportunity to provide a fantastic user experience that is one of the most appreciated features of a smart home.

Making Magic Happen

In a modern home, much of the intelligence can be fully automated, particularly routines that are regular and predictable.

In areas where we need light as we move between or into spaces, sensors provide a fantastic experience; allowing lights to turn on and off when we need it.

For many applications, lighting control system sensors can be the first device that home owners and residents unknowingly interact with, rather than a ‘light switch’ or manual user interface.

Together with an ethernet gateway (PDEG), this product combination can provide high-levels of home automation to effectively control power and lighting – making real magic happen.

In addition to the more known ‘presence detection’ mode, Philips Dynalite sensors can operate in ‘vacancy detection’ mode to turn off lights when no motion is detected. This feature and the powerful programming behind it provides great flexibility and assists with energy management to ensure lights are turned off when not required.

With Philips Dynalite sensors being multifunctional, the in-built light level sensor can be programmed to have lights only turn on when the level of natural light falls below a specific threshold.

Sensors are a feature of the greater Philips Dynalite lighting control system that can provide many benefits that cannot be appreciated and valued if they haven’t been considered and provided.

The functionality and flexibility of Philips Dynalite sensors and the greater Dynalite lighting control system may also provide a point of separation from other lighting control systems.

Sensor Positioning

When we understand how multifunction sensors work, we know that positioning and location is very important.

By knowing the different detection pattern of each sensor, and the intended application, we can strategically position sensors in rooms and spaces to provide the best user experience.

For enclosed rooms such as bathrooms, powder rooms, laundry, garage, pantry, and storerooms, sensors should be positioned to detect intentional motion into the space, avoiding detection of unnecessary motion from adjoining areas.

For transitional connecting spaces such as hallways and passages, sensors should be positioned at entry points to detect motion to have lights turn on immediately when entering the area.

I specify sensors in most rooms and areas, often utilising more sensors than manual user interfaces – because they help make the magic happen.

Dynalite Products

The Philips Dynalite sensor range is quite extensive, but there are specific sensors that are more popular for residential projects. These sensors are all multifunction sensors that detect motion and light level.

The popular DUS360CR is a ceiling-recessed sensor that has a 360 degree detection pattern. When installed in a typical 2.4 metre high ceiling it provides a maximum 7m x 5.5m detection pattern.

The DUS360CS is a ceiling-surface-mount sensor that has the same specification as the DUS360CR with a maximum 7m x 5.5m detection pattern from a 2.4 metre high ceiling.

For typical residential projects, the DUS360CS is installed in locations that do not have a recessed ceiling, such as on concrete ceilings in garages or storage areas.

The DUS90CS can be surface-mounted on a ceiling or wall, depending on the required application. When installed with the supplied base, the DUS90CS has an IP54 rating, allowing it to be installed in weather-protected outdoor locations.

For a typical residential projects, where the DUS90CS is wall-mounted, it has a 90 degree detection pattern that can cover up to twenty metres.

Philips Dynalite have a similar model (DUS30CS) that provides a 30 degree detection pattern that extends for a 28 metre range. This sensor is good for long, narrow applications such as hallways and corridors.


The Networked Sensors brochure is a fantastic resource that describes the features and benefits of Philips Dynalite sensors.

The Sensor Positioning Application Guide is another resource that describes the intricacies of optimising the positioning of sensors.

I would love to know your thoughts about lighting control sensors, the functionality that you currently provide, and the functionality you might provide for future projects.

This series of articles from my Dynalite page focuses on products from the Philips Dynalite networked lighting control portfolio. Many industry professionals regard Philips Dynalite as being the world’s best lighting control system, that I have represented with Lightmoves for many years. SimonLakey

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