Arlo Camera Motion Detection

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One of the best things about the Arlo line of smart security cameras is their motion detection capabilities.

Having motion activated video recording is a huge advantage – for three reasons.

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First of all, it means the system knows when something is moving – when action is taking place – and it can alert you to that fact.

The Arlo line of cameras do this quite well.

Secondly, it is more efficient in terms of the sheer amount of video you have to review.

There’s really no purpose to have hours and hours of video of “nothing.”.

What you really want is the action that took place – when a car drove by, when an animal walked into frame, when a customer came in, etc.

And lastly, it’s a huge efficiency win in terms of battery life.

Our favorite feature of these cameras is their 100% wire-free installation.

They are so easy to install – you can put them anywhere – even places without a power outlet.

But that means continuous video recording would have to constantly transmit high resolution video the base station (where it’s sent off to “the cloud”).

And that would drain your battery very quickly.

So, motion activated recording means that you only record items of interest – and it’s very efficient from a CPU and network perspective – which is what gives these cameras such amazing battery life.

(For example, the new Arlo Pro 3 camera can get up to 6 months of usage on a single charge!)

Let’s talk a little more about how this motion detection magic happens – and how we can setup our cameras to make optimal use of it.

Arlo Motion Detection – How It Works

First of all, let’s get one thing out of the way.

We’re discussing how motion detection works in the Arlo Pro, Pro 2, Pro 3, and Arlo Ultra cameras specifically.

(The Arlo baby cam uses a different technique – one that is more power hungry and requires a hardwire connection.)

Within the Arlo cameras there are electronic components installed that are called pyroelectric detectors.

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In short, they can detect changes in the Infrared radiation (heat) emitted by objects.

These are sometimes called PIR sensors for Passive InfraRed.

That means they detect the infrared radiation coming from objects.

These are relatively cheap and low-power consumption devices – they have to be because Arlo cameras must work without constant power connection.

Therefore a low power consumption means maximum battery life.

These PIR sensors are used to detect changes in any IR detected.

So, an Arlo camera will be best at picking up motion from objects (people, things) with a temperature significantly different than the background.

These sensors can see general temperature differences – and it can determine when motion has happened.

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How to Optimize Arlo Motion Detection

Given what we now know about how the Arlo cameras detect motion – we can optimize the setup.

First of all, given that the camera is triggered by the movement of objects with a temperature difference – it makes sense that Arlo cameras are best at capturing side to side motion.

Side to side motion is more likely to be picked up by the camera because it’s a more dramatic difference than back and forth motion.

In other words, position your camera to capture side motion.

As an object moves closer or farther from the camera – the “apparent motion” may look too small – or it may not look like it is moving at all!

Secondly, the Arlo camera motion detection works best when the camera is 7′ or higher off the ground – and pointed slightly down.

It’s also best to have a stable background – one that doesn’t have moving objects in it.

For example, if your camera is pointed towards a road – you can bet every passing car is going to set it off.

Why? Because a running car engine is a nice, fat temperature difference from the background temperature and the camera won’t miss it if it is moving side-by-side.

Lastly, you need to have reasonable expectations about the range of the motion detection.

The system works by picking up the IR radiation (heat) coming from objects.

This isn’t a super-expensive military device – it is a consumer electronic.

So expect that the maximum motion detection range will be something between 15′ and 25′ or so – depending on conditions.

Does this seem like a limitation?

Just remember, because of their wire-free design, long battery life, and water proofing – you can put these just about anywhere!

And remember – you can use the Motion Sensitivity settings to optimize your camera for a given location as well.

Arlo Motion Detection – In Summary

The Arlo cameras pack some amazing technology in a little package.

And their motion detection capabilities are no exception.

They use an advanced electronic component to detect temperature differences – and this let’s the camera determine when an object is moving.

Knowing how it works let’s us optimize our cameras for the best performance possible.

We hope you enjoyed this article.

You may also be interested to find out how Arlo Night Vision works.


Arlo Ultra 4K Wire-Free HDR Security Camera Teardown (

Wikipedia: Passive Infrared Sensor

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