I wanted to add smart home door sensors to the gates that lead to my garden. It turns out that door sensors for outside use are rare as rocking horse sh!t. The only outdoor sensors I found online were either expensive or incompatible with my smart home system. So, I decided to make some internal door sensors waterproof.
Using Silicone Seal To Waterproof Door Sensor
I spent a fair bit of time coming up with various ways of waterproofing indoor door sensors. It turns out that, as is often the way, the simplest solution was the most effective.
Simply applying a silicone seal around all the joins and holes of the door sensor works really well.
Pros of using silicone sealant to waterproof smart sensors
- The silicone sealant can easily be removed when the battery needs to be replaced.
- Cheap, any DIY silicone sealant will do the trick
- It works
Downside Of Waterproofing Indoor Smart Sensors
- Shorter Battery Life – The main thing that I’ve noticed with using indoor sensors outside is that the battery doesn’t last as long, especially if it’s a button battery.
I assume it is probably the colder conditions and maybe the dampness causes the battery to go flat quicker.
- Range – My smart home devices use Zigbee, which doesn’t have the best range. As the Outdoor sensors are outside (shocker), it means that the thick house walls are in between the sensors and the hub.
The gate furthest away from my Zigbee smart hub didn’t always register the correct open \ closed status. I resolved this by replacing my cheap Sonoff sensor with Hive’s more expensive door sensor. Since using the Hive sensor, I’ve never had any problems.
Best Smart Sensors For Using OutSide
I started with some cheap Sonoff door sensors. If they got damaged by being outside, it wasn’t much of a financial loss.
After a few months of using the waterproofed Sonoff sensors outside without damage, I decided to upgrade them to Hive door sensors.
The Hive sensors are quite a bit bigger than the Sonoff ones and aren’t quite as discreet on the gates. However, the benefits of much-improved battery life and better range made the upgrade worthwhile.
Top Tip: Most indoor smart home sensors are coloured white and don’t look good outside. I’ve painted the sensors brown so they are less obvious attached to my wooden gates
How Long Do Waterproofed Indoor Sensors Work Outside
I’ve been using Hive door sensors on my outside gates for over 18 months, and so far, I’ve not experienced any problems.
Both the Hive sensors are fully exposed to the great British weather and have endured heavy rain and freezing conditions.
Other Methods For Making Smart Home Sensors Waterproof
My first attempt at waterproofing the door sensor was simply putting the sensor in a balloon and tying a knot in the end. This worked, but the balloon didn’t last long against the elements and needed replacing before it perished.
I don’t have a vacuum sealer, so haven’t tried, but I can’t see why vacuum sealing the sensor wouldn’t work.
The button for my front doorbell is an indoor smart button, which I’ve spayed with a waterproof spray designed for shoes. I would have used silicone sealant to waterproof the button, but because the button moves when pressed it was a good option.
The spray does a great job at repelling water and should work for sensors that are outside in a sheltered location.
Conclusion: How To Waterproof An Indoor Smart Home Door Sensor
If you want to use a smart door sensor outside, then seal all the gaps of the sensor with a silicone seal. It’s a super cheap and easy option that I’ve found to be very effective.
The main downside of using indoor smart sensors externally is reduced battery life. The quickest way to resolve this problem is to use a smart device that doesn’t use button batteries. I use Hive door sensors, which take a CR123A lithium battery that lasts well outside.