We describe our novel instrumentation architectures for infrared laser spectrometers. Compact, power efficient, low noise modules allow for optimized implementation of cell phone sized sensors using VCSELs, diode, and quantum cascade laser sources. These sensors can consume as little as 0.3W with full laser temperature (<0.001K/Hz1/2) and current control (<2ppm/Hz1/2 noise), photodiode preamplification (<2pA/Hz 1/2 noise floor, 1MΩ transimpedance), and digital lock-in amplification with 3 independent channels. We have implemented sensors based on laser absorption spectroscopy, photoacoustic spectroscopy, and Faraday rotation spectroscopy using the openPHOTONS systems, with performance rivaling standalone laboratory measurement instrumentation. Additionally, as openPHOTONS is an open source software repository, this instrumentation can be quickly adapted to new optical configurations and applications. Such modules allow the development of flexible sensors, whether implementing closed path spectrometers, open path perimeter monitoring, or remote backscatter based sensors. This work is also the enabling technology for wireless sensor networks (WSN) of precision sensors, a desirable sensing paradigm for long term, wide area, precision, temporally and spatially resolved studies. This approach can complement existing remote sensing and mapping technologies including satellite observations and sparse networks of flux towers.