Picture of PIR Motion Sensor Tutorial

Pyroelectric ("Passive") InfraRed sensors:

'''What is a PIR sensor?'''

PIR sensors allow you to sense motion, almost always used to detect whether a human has moved in or out of the sensors range. They are small, inexpensive, low-power, easy to use and don't wear out. For that reason they are commonly found in appliances and gadgets used in homes or businesses. They are often referred to as PIR, "Passive Infrared", "Pyroelectric", or "IR motion" sensors.

PIRs are basically made of a pyroelectric sensor (which you can see above as the round metal can with a rectangular crystal in the center), which can detect levels of infrared radiation. Everything emits some low level radiation, and the hotter something is, the more radiation is emitted. The sensor in a motion detector is actually split in two halves. The reason for that is that we are looking to detect motion (change) not average IR levels. The two halves are wired up so that they cancel each other out. If one half sees more or less IR radiation than the other, the output will swing high or low.

Along with the pyroelectic sensor is a bunch of supporting circuitry, resistors and capacitors. It seems that most small hobbyist sensors use the BISS0001 ("Micro Power PIR Motion Detector IC"), undoubtedly a very inexpensive chip. This chip takes the output of the sensor and does some minor processing on it to emit a digital output pulse from the analog sensor.

For many basic projects or products that need to detect when a person has left or entered the area, or has approached, PIR sensors are great. They are low power and low cost, pretty rugged, have a wide lens range, and are easy to interface with. Note that PIRs won't tell you how many people are around or how close they are to the sensor, the lens is often fixed to a certain sweep and distance (although it can be hacked somewhere) and they are also sometimes set off by house pets. Experimentation is key!

Some basic stats

These stats are for the PIR sensor in the Adafruit shop which is very much like the Parallax one. Nearly all PIRs will have slightly different specifications, although they all pretty much work the same. If there's a datasheet, you'll want to refer to it

More links!

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tonizey2 months ago

please how can i connect it to a loud alarm and an halogen bulb?

Can i adjust the range to be 0.5 feet not 20 ? or it's fixed .

Sasando_Rote4 months ago
how to if i want used 3 PIR for the sensor?
fadecomic4 months ago

What does it mean if the LED is flashing at a very regular interval? Almost like it's on a timer? It's not random.

shantharoopan5 months ago

Excellent tutorial!!


Nawaz5 months ago

If still required, Pictures in Step 1 is from the "Infrared Parts Manual" by "GLOLAB corporation". Hope this helps :)

henrikekblad6 months ago

If you want to make your own wireless PIR sensor, try out MySensors motion sensor example:

Arduino library on Github:

sriramsrikp11 months ago

How to connect two PIR sensor in one circuit which connected with one light??? If i cross either of the sensor means the single light which is connected to the circuit should glow.

Oliverhall11 months ago

Very nice tutorial! Just want to share this place where you can get the HC-SR501 PIR sensor for cheap:

Sun Gear2 years ago
When testing, is the resistor necessary?

..the resistor is needed for testing with LED (to limit the current)

nodoubtman2 years ago
what if i would like to turn on a relay when trigger?

jonyeador1 year ago
What would i have to do so that it alerts my phone when motion is detected?

gsm shield and a activated sim card and some electronic basic supply

beardy1 year ago
How much current can the module deliver to the output?

Great write up. Thanks.
badman5 beardy1 year ago

not really, he copy and pasted it from the website he linked.

mhaziq1 year ago
Hey there guys, i would just like to know does the PIR motion works with other programming such as C programming and such. Another thing is, is it possible to do this:
When sensor detects, LED lights up
When sensor x detect, LED would dim instead of off.
Thanks. Your reply would be highly appreciated.

I actually just posted an Instructable recently that essentially does what you are asking. Only thing you would have to change in the code is the PWM value in the analogWrite() function from 0 (which is totally off) to 50 or so (which would make the LED shine dimly).

bhermance1 year ago
WOW! Thanks for this tutorial!! I love it! Thanks for doing this!!! 11 thumbs out of 10!!! :-)
stonez561 year ago
I would like to know if PIR sensor can tell me that the person in range is moving toward to the left or right? Is it possible or I need something else to detect?

Brennn105 years ago
Are you still selling the sensors on your website?
hi We sell this PIR sensor my web is and my email is
Mihaiu1 year ago

Yes, it is possible to dim the LED upon detection.
alexbjj1 year ago
Great tutorial. I am looking for tutorial where i can turn on some kind of camera with motion sensor and arduino. Rurn it on,record some video or take a few pics and turn camera off. i am very new in programming and arduino. Can you give some advice where can i find something similar, please!
u290817782 years ago
How would you increase the sensitivity of the PIR sensor using Arduino? (using code)
I'm doing a project, and coding in Arduino.
Vick Jr4 years ago
I'm going to use one of these to detect opponents in air-soft wars. Is there any material that i can cover the sensor with to protect it from BBs but will still allow IR light through?
ringai Vick Jr2 years ago
A 1/4 piece of Lexan (polycarbonate) should do the trick. You can heat form it to fit the pir using an automotive soldering iron and a suitable metal form. It's a tricky thing to do, so practice in an open area, being wary of overheating the lexan, of any fumes, and of starting a fire.
ideliza283 years ago
is it possible to change the LED into a servo, and if it is what other changes do i have to do? thank you...
can we use this PIR sensor at night, for example, a remote area with no road street lights. please reply...thank you..
This detector can detect a car? For example, a car on the road. I make a mini project on road safety. I want to put this sensor to detect the car. Will it be applied? I just want to find out.
imakethings3 years ago
gr8 tutorial.. got one of these for 2 $
creator223 years ago
i did this step and it doesn't work :( ideas???
TerryKing3 years ago
Some more info here on using these with Arduino:
Auger Duval4 years ago
I have just the sensor (TO9 can package) itself. A PIR D203S. The datasheet tells me how to hook it up: 5V, Gnd and Signal (it is an analog device). But it tells me very little about the signal I will be getting. Short of dragging out my O-scope and doing the testing; do you know what type of signal I should expect? This module from LA you use is nice, but I'm using my own uController so I wouldn't get the clean digital signal you show. BTW Wonderful writeup! you would make my old college profs proud.
opps, it a TO-5 package not a TO-9
huh, got 10 of these super cheep from my school used, now i actually know what they do!
robmiester5 years ago
Great info. I always wondered if you could take the lens/globe off. (looks like not a good idea)
love it. there are a great number of instructables with just schematics to their projects using different components like motion sensors without going into detail of how exactly they work, and their wiring, so if you ever wanted to improve on, or create your own project using the component, you wouldnt know what your doing. this on the other hand gives a great amount of information and knowledge on using the motion sensor. maybe in the near future you could do another instructable similar to this, but using RFID chips?? -Shadow