Can a Smart Thermostat Detect Room Occupancy

Round smart thermostat with touch screen installed on the wall indoors

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If you have been considering the impact your thermostat has on your energy bill, and you would like to find out if a smart thermostat can detect the occupancy of a room, then you have come to the right place.

We will start by saying that no, a smart thermostat on its own is unable to detect if there are people in a room. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t possible! By pairing your thermostat with motion sensors, you can easily detect room occupancy with your system.

Once your motion sensors have been paired with your smart thermostat, it will be able to automatically switch on, off, or adjust the temperature in the rooms in your home based on whether people are in the room or not. So without further ado, let’s get right to it!

Smart Thermostat Features

There are many people around the world who don’t know what motion sensors are or how they can be used with a thermostat. So, before we get into sensors and detecting occupancy, we want to look at why you should choose a smart system in the first place.

Smart thermostats have developed massively over the past decade or so, offering excellent comfort and total convenience. If you select the correct thermostat for your home, you can enjoy the benefits of many features.

Here we will look at some of the common features found in modern smart thermostats on the market.

Wireless Connectivity

With a smart thermostat system, you can control your device with the use of an app from anywhere in the world with the simple push of a button. This means you can access the control options for your smart thermostat using your Android or Apple device.

You can keep track of the energy usage within your home from your device.

Energy Savings

One of the biggest reasons people choose a smart thermostat system over other options is the potential energy savings. They do this by using high-end technology to monitor and manage your home to make it as efficient as possible.

Smart thermostats basically act as an automatic dimmer switch. They can manage the temperature and adjust it based on how many people are in the room. This means that less energy is wasted because the temperature and speed are adjusted based on this information.

Weather Forecast

When your smart thermostat is connected to the internet, you can access weather forecasts for your geographic location. The thermostat can then automatically adjust your temperature setting based on the forecast, making the system even more efficient.

Motion Sensors

Of course, this is the topic of discussion in this article. The biggest upside of using a smart thermostat is the ability to pair it with motion sensors that can detect the room’s occupancy and adjust the settings appropriately. 

Using motion sensors allows the thermostat to regulate the temperature (and lights if you pair these) in the various rooms in your home. The sensors send the information to the thermostat, which can make adjustments based on the data.

Some thermostat manufacturers offer motion sensors with a smart thermostat. But if the thermostat you want does not come with sensors, you can simply purchase these separately and pair the two. However, ensure you check the compatibility of the thermostat and sensors before purchasing them.

What Is An Occupancy Sensor for Thermostats?

Every year that passes, technology improves, and it is constantly changing and reshaping every part of human life. In this vein, smart home devices are revolutionizing the processes involved in comfortable home living.

Most homes have thermostats that regulate the temperature around your home. But these days, using a smart thermostat with occupancy sensors can save you lots of money on your energy bill.

Occupancy sensors predominantly use passive infrared (PIR) sensors to monitor how many people are in a room. These sensors are excessively sensitive and can also detect and manage the temperature and light in a room in addition to monitoring occupancy and motion.

Because of this, the sensor can detect how many people are in a room and adjust the thermostat accordingly. You would be surprised to know that this type of thermostat adjustment system is widely used, especially in gyms, hotel rooms, military barracks, hallways, and shopping centers.

Do Thermostat Sensors Detect Sleeping People?

It is not necessary for the people in a room to be moving around for the sensors to detect occupancy. They can monitor if there are people sleeping because these devices are very sensitive and can pick up the smallest of movements and heat levels in a room. Because of this, you can rely on this technology to efficiently control a room’s temperature based on room occupancy.

happy family mother, father and children laughing

The Most Common Occupancy Sensors

While there are many options when it comes to occupancy sensors for your thermostat, the two main sensor considerations are:

  • PIR
  • Ultrasonic

How Does a Thermostat Room Sensor Actually Work?

PIR Sensors

This is the main type of sensor that people use to monitor and regulate the temperature in their homes. PIR sensors use infrared technology to detect heat signals in a room and send the response to your thermostat control unit to activate the necessary response.

PIR sensors are unable to detect motion behind any obstacles. This means that you need a sensor in every single room and, if there is a large obstacle blocking part of the room, such as a bookcase or entertainment unit that divides the room, you will need a second sensor.

Ultrasonic Sensors

An ultrasonic motion sensor detects movement through sound waves. Scientifically, the process used is the Doppler effect. While you may have heard of this term in a high school science class, you may not remember what it is. Basically, it revolves around the variations in the sound waves that assist the sensors in motion detection.

Ultrasonic sensors emit sound waves continuously to detect movement in their surroundings. The sound wave that returns without any changes to the pitch means there aren’t any people in the room. If the pitch changes, it detects motion.

In Commercial Buildings: Why Are Sensors So Popular?

Buildings like hotel rooms, military barracks, and college dormitories are some of the most common places that use motion sensors with their smart thermostat. Using this system ensures that the rooms are appropriately heated or cooled while saving energy costs.

It is important to remember that you will need a sensor for each room and hallway in your home, office, or building. Of course, the cost of the system increases with every sensor, but the cost will be made up over time.

Can a Smart Thermostat Detect a Room’s Occupancy?

Most smart thermostats these days can be set up to detect the occupancy of a room when paired with motion sensors. To do this, simply install the motion sensors of your choice into each room of your home and other spaces where people spend time. These motion sensors pair to the thermostat using Wi-Fi.


A smart thermostat requires a connection to Wi-Fi and a motion sensor that can detect the occupancy of a room. While it may seem like a costly installation to do this for each room in your home, the energy savings and overall experience are very rewarding over the years you will use the system.

Slava is a man of mystery and no-one seems to know exactly where he is at any point in time. When he isn't enjoying writing about all things audio and technical he can be found researching his next project of interest. The man never rests.

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