23 Cool Uses for Smart Sensors at Home

Affiliate Disclosure: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

One of my favorite ways of making some really cool automations in my smart home is through the use of smart sensors.

They are relatively cheap to buy and easy to set up whilst opening a ton of possibilities when it comes to triggering lots of automations.

Here are 23 cool uses for smart sensors to show you what these neat devices are capable of and to give you some ideas on how you could incorporate them into your own smart home.

What Are Smart Sensors?

There are several smart sensors available from different manufacturers that are each used in their own way to trigger automations.

For this article, we’ll be focusing on the use of the four different SmartThings sensors.

Multipurpose sensor: This sensor consists of two small magnets that can notify you when they come together or come apart. They also monitor for vibration so can tell you when something has or hasn’t been moved and temperature, too. These sensors are ideal for placing on doors, windows, cabinets, gates, and really anything else that gets opened or closed.

Motion sensor: This sensor monitors movement and will send notifications or trigger automations when it detects motion. They also have a temperature sensor built-in which can come in handy for certain routines.

Arrival sensor: This sensor resembles and a key chain and can be used to send notifications when people or pets leave or arrive at your home. They can easily be attached to a set of keys or a pet’s collar and can also beep which is useful when you are trying to find something you have misplaced.

Water leak sensor: This sensor can notify you when an excess amount of water touches it. As well as also having a temperature sensor built-in you can also connect it with sounds or lights to provide different ways of notifying you wherever you may be.

Here are some links to the sensors on Amazon if you want to get some for yourself:

1. Have the news and your calendar read to you when you enter your home office

Sensor used: Multipurpose

If you have a home office, connect a multipurpose sensor to the inside of the door. When the door is opened at the beginning of the day, your smart speaker could read out the new and your schedule for the day whilst you get ready to work.

You could also include turning on the lights and powering on your computer in this routine by using a smart light bulb and a smart plug.

You may also like: 23 Creative Uses for Smart Plugs

2. Change the color of the lights when the bathroom is occupied

Sensor used: Multipurpose

Setup a multipurpose sensor on the inside of the bathroom that will trigger one of your smart lights to change color, letting everyone known that someone is already in the bathroom.

When the door gets opened again, the sensor will tell the light to go back to its original color to indicate that the bathroom is free again.

A similar setup could be used anywhere where the door is shut and you wish to not be disturbed, such as if you are filming a YouTube video or recording a podcast.

red smart light

3. Have music come on automatically when you arrive home

Sensor used: Multipurpose

Have your smart speaker automatically play music for you when you arrive home by setting up a multipurpose sensor on the front door and setting up a routine.

You may want to limit how many times a day this routine runs if you find yourself leaving and re-entering several times a day.

Another consideration is how is already at the time when you enter.

My recommendation would be to use geo-fencing alongside this routine so the automation will only be triggered when you are the only one at home.

You could walk in and find a very unhappy spouse if the sensor triggered the music to start playing just as they had managed to get your new-born baby to fall asleep!

4. Let you know when an off-limits cupboard has been opened

Sensor used: Multipurpose

If you have a cupboard where you keep something that you don’t want your kids to access, like alcohol or your favorite snacks that you are absolutely not willing to share, set up a multipurpose sensor on the inside of the door.

One piece needs to go on the inside of the door and the other on the frame, so it knows when it is opened or closed.

You can then be notified whenever the door is opened and even have a nearby smart speaker announce a stern warning not to try and get into the secret stash.

Also check out: 21 Creative Uses for Smart Lights

5. Turn on the porch lights when the back door is opened at night

Sensor used: Multipurpose

Setup a multipurpose sensor on the back door and a simple routine can have the porch light come on automatically when the door is opened at night.

This saves you scrabbling around trying to find the porch light switch when it is dark and could also save a nasty fall.

6. Motion-activated LED lights in cupboards

Sensor used: Motion

Even with the main room lights turned on, cupboards tend to be dark and it can sometimes be difficult to find what you are looking for due to the lack of light.

Place an LED light with a built-in motion sensor towards the top of the cupboard so it comes on automatically whenever the door is opened. It will then turn it also off to save on the batteries when the door is closed.

7. Let you know when the window is open and its due to rain

Sensor used: Multipurpose

If you place a multipurpose sensor next to a window that can be opened, using IFTTT you can set up an automation to receive a notification when the window has been left open and the weather forecast shows that it is due to rain.

You could go one step further with this automation by having your smart thermostat automatically stop heating the house whenever the window has been left open to save wasting energy in addition to saving money.

This is a great example of where smart home devices and protocols like IFTTT work really well together and spark a huge number of ideas for more useful automations and routines.

8. Keep track of kids getting up during the night

Sensor used: Multipurpose or Motion

Set up a motion sensor in the room or a multipurpose sensor on the door so you can keep track of when the kids are getting up and out of bed during the night.

If it’s not too late and you yourself haven’t gone to bed yet, you could receive a simple notification on your phone, but if it is later and you’re already in bed, you can actually have the sensors record the activity to Google Drive.

You can then review the log the next day and keep track of how many times a night the kids are getting up over a period of time.

9. Let you know when the garage door has been left open

Sensor used: Multipurpose

A multipurpose sensor can trigger an alert to your smartphone if the garage door has been left open for more than a few minutes to reduce the change of you driving off with it being left open.

You’ll have to make sure you have a sensor with a built-in gyroscope here given that the garage door doesn’t open in a conventional way.

You also need to make sure it is installed vertically and not horizontally whilst also checking the box within the app to specify that it is attached to a garage door.

10. Let you know when the fridge door has been left open

Sensor used: Multipurpose

Accidentally leaving the fridge door open for an extended period of time could result in spoiled food, so it is important to make sure it is closed when it isn’t needed.

Attach a multipurpose sensor to the fridge door and you can set it up to alert you when the door has been left open for too long.

Unfortunately, I’m not aware of anything that can shut the door for you, but at least you can be told when it has been left open.

fridge left open

11. Let you know when the mail has arrived

Sensor used: Multipurpose

Setup a multipurpose sensor inside your mailbox and you can be notified whenever the mail arrives.

As is the case with a lot of routines that involve sensors, you may want to limit the number of times a day that you receive the notification, especially when mail typically only gets delivered once per day.

You don’t really want your smartphone buzzing for what seems an eternity just because some outside has decided to keep opening and closing the mailbox.

If you have kids whose job it is to collect the mail, you could include your smart speaker into this routine and announce when the mailbox has been opened as a trigger for them to do their chores.

You never know, they may be more receptive to your smart speaker asking rather than you as the parent.

12. Keep track of your pet’s movements

Sensor used: Arrival

Cats will often leave your home and roam the streets, only coming back when it is time for them to eat, but dogs typically like to stay at home and don’t usually run away.

That being said, attaching an arrival sensor to your dog’s collar will alert you when they leave your home.

You may want to combine this with geofencing, so the alert doesn’t get triggered if you too have left your home and are taking the dog for a walk.

13. Let you know if you the medicine cabinet hasn’t been opened

Sensor used: Multipurpose

If you tend to forget to take your medicine or vitamins when they are needed, connect a multipurpose sensor to the medicine cabinet where they are kept and have it notify you when it hasn’t been opened.

This simple notification acts as a great prompt for when it is needed.

14. Let you know when the dryer is finished

Sensor used: Multipurpose

As they are magnetized, you can attach a multipurpose sensor to the inside of your dryer and set it up to notify you when it is finished.

You can then go and collect the laundry and turn off the dryer so it isn’t wasting electricity by being left on unnecessarily.

If you used a smart plug alongside the sensor, you could have the drier power itself off whilst also sending you the notification that the laundry is done.

15. Let you know when the car is pulling up on the driveway

Sensor used: Arrival

Keep an arrival sensor in the car or on your key chain and you can receive a notification whenever the car is pulling up on the driveway.

If the sensor is attached to your keys, you can also trigger it to beep through the app if you have misplaced them.

16. Automate the air freshener when the bathroom isn’t being used

Sensor used: Multipurpose

Another use for a multipurpose sensor in the bathroom that you may not have thought about is to have an air freshener automatically disperse when the bathroom door is closed for a period of time and then gets opened.

The opening of the door would be the trigger for an automation that briefly powers on an air freshener and then turns it off again when it has finished dispersing.

This can keep your bathroom smelling fresh and means you don’t have to remember to spray the air freshener on a regular basis.

17. Let you know to help unload the groceries

Sensor used: Multipurpose

Place a multipurpose sensor in the trunk of your car and it can notify you when it has been opened.

The opening of the trunk along with geofencing could be used as the trigger for an automation where your smart speaker announces that the trunk is open and some help is needed to unload the groceries.

If you aren’t within earshot of the speaker, you could also have a notification sent to your phone or have your smart light bulbs flash a certain color.

Go one step further with this automation and have your smart lock automatically unlock the front door so there isn’t a need to scrabble around looking for a key whilst carrying the heavy groceries in.

18. Let you know if the pool gate is left open

Sensor used: Multipurpose

If you have a pool in your backyard, you’ll know how important it is to keep the gate shut, especially if you have kids running around.

Install a multipurpose sensor on the gate so you receive a notification when it has been left open for too long.

Just keep in mind that a lot of sensors won’t be able to hold up in the rain, so only use this idea if your pool gate is covered.

19. Let you know if a window has been smashed

Sensor used: Multipurpose

Multipurpose sensors have a vibration sensor built-in which can be used to notify you if a window has been hit hard.

These simple sensors can alert you if a hard object has come flying into the window or someone has attempted to break in by smashing the glass.

20. Remind you to feed your pets

Sensor used: Multipurpose

If you find yourself forgetting to feed your pets when they are due to eat, you should consider attaching a multipurpose sensor to the containers you keep their food in.

The sensors don’t just track whether something has been opened or closed but can also notify you if there has been no detected vibration.

If it has been so many hours since a vibration was last detected, the sensor could send you a simple notification as a reminder.

hungry dog

21. Trigger a night light for the kids

Sensor used: Motion

Place a motion sensor just outside the kids’ bedroom and you can have it automatically turn on a smart light bulb so they are able to see should they get up during the night.

You’ll probably want to have the light turn at a reduced brightness otherwise it can be quite harsh on the eyes especially where they have been shut during sleep.

22. Let you know when there is a water leak

Sensor used: Water Leak

Place a water leak sensor wherever you suspect a leak may occur and it will let you know if it does ever happen.

Placing one near a sink, radiator or a hot water boiler are all good ideas.

23. Monitor the temperature of your pipes

Sensor used: Water Leak

As well as letting you know about leaks, the water leak sensor can also monitor the temperature around your pipes.

It can notify you if the temperature around your pipes is getting too cold and are at risk of freezing over. This could save the pipe bursting, so this little sensor comes highly recommended.

Final Thoughts

I hope you these 23 cool uses for smart sensors have given some inspiration on how you can make use of them in your own smart home.

Smart sensors are one of my favorite smart home devices for how affordable and easy they are to set up, yet they are still very powerful and can be used within lots of different complex automations.

If you enjoyed this article, here are some more you may like: