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Swann PIR Sensor Review

Swann PIR Sensor Review Asks Key Questions.

Swann PIR Sensor Review

Swann PIR Sensor Review Asks Key Questions.

Swann PIR Sensor Review – Swann’s SWIFI Motion PIR sensor has been a product of interest at SEN for a while. That’s not because of its intrinsic capabilities as a sensor, but because of its potential as a business model if translated into an affordable edge multi-sensor.

When we talk about a multi-sensor, we’re thinking about the HALO 3C smart sensor, which includes a bunch of seriously worthwhile stuff, including a panic button, 2-way audio communications, indoor air health index, emergency escape lighting, alert lighting, motion detection and people counting, gunshot detection, noise alerts, emergency key word alerting, 2-way audio and app management.

In SEN’s fantasy world, it would be possible to install a residential multi-sensor that detected smoke, sound, movement, offered 2-way audio, and maybe a couple of other useful things, all this enhanced by AI, managed via app, communicated at AES-256, and with no need to connect the sensor to a local controller or hub.

Swann PIR Sensor Review 1 LR
Swann PIR Sensor Review – it’s all packed quite nicely.

The Swann SWIFI Motion PIR sensor is not a HALO 3C – it’s a one-trick pony. But the idea multi-sensors supported by integral AI functionality, clever apps and professional monitoring services, could not present installers a serious business model in SME and residential applications remains hard for us to leave alone. Even the notion of a rental HALO 3C-style multi-sensor on a modest monthly plan has serious appeal in many applications.

As well as wondering about its raw sensing capability, I was curious as to whether a consumer-grade DIY product, like this Swann PIR sensor, was a viable sensing device for applications in which a user might be interested in being informed of basic movement and not much more.

In my case, that application is the home of my aged mother. If dear old Cush is moving around the place during the day, then she’s mobile – it’s not a great deal of information, but it’s worthwhile information to have. After living with it for a while, it definitely works fine for that purpose.

Swann PIR Sensor Review 2 LR
Swann PIR Sensor Review 10

But what I’m most drawn to with Swann’s SWIFI Motion PIR is that it’s an affordable edge device supported by nothing but existing networks and cloud. After witnessing digital transformation across the electronic security industry for more than 30 years, it’s impossible not to wonder whether a very clever edge sensor is not exactly what the future of the alarms industry is going to be.

In terms of the technical specifications, this Swann PIR is no deep study. It uses a pair of Maxwell AA batteries that came in the box. The specification stated these gave ‘long life’, but it’s certain a pair of the latest high-quality AA batteries would significantly enhance the possibilities.

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Swann PIR Sensor Review – Just hope I haven’t broken it at this stage…

The sensor, which has a 12-month warranty, is rated IP66 against water and dust – impressive in theory. It communicates via 2.4GHz Wi-Fi, which gives longer ranges at narrower bandwidths than 5GHz Wi-Fi – again I say it – there’s no need for a hub.

It’s important to point out that not having a hub is neat at one level but it’s true to argue this solution lacks the distributed intelligence and elevated security and comms levels of a dedicated hub with integrated 4G comms and blue cable. In our case, we’re accessing the internet via a Milesight UR32 industrial 4G LTE router plugged into a compact UPS, which is slightly better than direct to a shared router.

You handle the sensor’s modest programming, control and monitoring functionality via the Swann Security app. These sensors can also send alerts to Google and Alexa devices, but I didn’t attempt such giddy complications.

Swann PIR Sensor Review 4 LR
Swann PIR Sensor Review – more effort going into comms than detection on this board.

This is a compact sensor – it’s 125mm wide, 150mm high and 53mm deep, with a weight of 140g, a detection angle of 110 degrees and a somewhat less than modest range of around 5 metres. Having torn the sensor housing apart with my smallest flat head (perhaps I should have done this last), I found a pyroelectric element fronted by a very small Fresnel-style lens.

The specification doesn’t say if the sensor is a dual pyro. It may very well not be – I found it possible to creep up on the SWIFI by moving one slow step and a pause, etc, though the sensor had no trouble detecting normal right-angle intrusion across detection zones within its reach, especially after it had been idle.

Swann PIR Sensor Review Installation

When it comes to installation, the teeny tiny instruction manual proudly proclaimed there was no need to drill walls to install the sensor – instead you could use the supplied adjustable mount and double-sided tape.

Home handy hacks out there will have learned from bitter experience that double-sided tape is a double-edged sword. Once installed – and let’s face it, every DIY device must be installed at least twice – there’s no shifting double-sided tape without tearing the surface of gyprock, ruining the adhesive layer of the tape, or cracking the mount of your shiny new sensor. Blu-Tack is your friend during wireless device placement.

In my case, the adjustable mount did not crack – that was a positive – but neither did it adjust in the tilting or panning sense. Because I’ve got the sensor sitting at right angles to foot traffic, this was no great issue for me. But if you were mounting the device in the corner of a room and needed to achieve a 45-degree angle outwards from the mounting wall, not panning is a problem.

Swann PIR Sensor Review 7
There are significant limitations to range and zoning with a lens this size and shape.

It wasn’t until I’d completed the process of commissioning that I worked out the best order of commissioning. First, you hop into Appstore and download the Swann Security app. Then you go through the process of registering with Swann, all the way to pairing devices. Then you put your phone down and get to grips with the hardware.

The process of opening the sensor was slightly harder than expected. Perhaps this comes down to the tight fitment and the chunky weather and dustproof seal inside the housing. Once you’ve cracked the oyster shell and slotted in the batteries – there’s a little tab at the bottom of the housing that’s meant to allow this with one push of a small flathead screwdriver but doesn’t – you quickly pick up your phone and select ‘pair device’ and scan the QR code while the sensor is in its power-up program mode.

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Swann PIR Sensor Review – the internal waterproof seal is the chunkiest PIR seal we’ve seen…

You need to select the Wi-Fi network the sensor is to operate on, as well as entering the Wi-Fi network password – all this is undertaken in the app step by step. You then name the device, and check out the details of your connection, including the network name, Wi-Fi strength and battery charge remaining.

Because the sensor is compact and mobile, this is useful information if you choose to move the sensor to cover another area of interest which may have a different wireless relationship with your Wi-Fi base station or extenders. Once the phone app and sensor are paired, it’s pretty much job done, though you need to select home and away in real time on the app if you don’t want to constantly be generating loud alarm motion event notifications on your phone.

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Swann PIR Sensor Review – getting connected posed no problems.

I found the scheduling side of the app quite easy to operate once I’d had a play around with it. The different modes incorporate sensitivity settings – home is less sensitive than away, for example, and night is somewhere in between.

In terms of performance, there’s some latency – the specification states latency is 8 seconds, though it was difficult to ascertain whether this assertion was correct – catch rate varied considerably and made me wish I could undertake a more complex SCEC grid-style testing process.

During set-up I’d selected the highest sensitivity settings (away) and after an hour of living with the sensor I began to suspect it was factoring in a delay after each alarm event not mentioned in the specifications. My number of movements and my number of alarm events were not the same if I stayed in the secure space. However, when I entered the space for the first time after being away a while, I always seemed to be detected.

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Swann PIR Sensor Review – Swann’s app is easy enough to navigate.

Is the Swan SWIFI a capable security alarm? Not really. Even on the highest sensitivity settings its catch rate is unpredictable and there’s latency introduced by the cloud comms factor that doesn’t meet Australian Standards for alarm response. But that doesn’t mean SWIFI can’t provide useful information to users comfortable with its limitations.

If you’re worried Swann is going consume the professional alarms market with ‘pro-grade’ security sensors at crazy prices, the answer is a hard no. But is this Wi-Fi security-sensor-as-an-edge-device concept crying out for the attention of a serious security manufacturer? Absolutely yes – just make sure you take installers and their business models (and the Australian Standards for alarms and alarm monitoring) along for the ride…

You can geek out on Wi-Fi comms options here or read more SEN news here.

“Swann PIR Sensor Review Asks Key Questions.”

SWANN PIR Sensor Review 8
Swann PIR Sensor Review – not the cleanest board work we’ve seen…
John Adams
John Adamshttps://sen.news
A professional writer and editor who has been covering the security industry since 1991, John is passionate about clever applications of technology and the fusion of sensing and networking. A capable photographer John enjoys undertaking practical reviews of the latest electronic security systems.

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