Smart Home Tip: Motion Sensing Lights Only When It’s Dark

How to use a multisensor with SmartThings to automatically turn on lights when you walk through a room, but only when they're needed.

I’m taking a quick intermission from posting about Kodi (any good smart home’s entertainment system) to bring you a pretty cool smart home automation tip.

Besides security, one of the goals of home automation is to eliminate a lot of the manual work we do in our daily lives.  It should relieve much of our need to remember to do things like turning of lights when we leave a room or setting an alarm when we leave the house.

This smart home tip is pretty nice because it automates turning lights on and off using a motion sensor, but only when it’s dark enough in the room to need lights.  This tip helps save energy because the lights turn off automatically when there’s no motion for a while, and it doesn’t waste electricity running the lights during the day.

Required Smart Home Devices

For this tutorial, you’ll need the following hardware.

Of course, you’ll need the Samsung SmartThings Hub.  Find out why I like SmartThings.

[amazonjs asin=”B010NZV0GE” locale=”US” title=”Samsung SmartThings Smart Home Hub”]

You will need a multisensor that does at least motion sensing and light/illuminance sensing.  This one is my favorite and also senses temperature, humidity, UV, and vibration (these are no necessary, but are an added bonus).

[amazonjs asin=”B0151Z8ZQY” locale=”US” title=”Aeotec Multisensor 6, Z-Wave Plus 6-in1 motion, temperature, humidity, light, UV, vibration sensor”]

The last thing you need is a smart device that will turn your lights on and off.  There are a ton of options for this.  Here are some of my recommended options for smart light switching.

[amazonjs asin=”B01M1AHC3R” locale=”US” title=”GE Z-Wave Plus Wireless Smart Lighting Control Smart Switch, On/Off, In-Wall, Includes White & Light Almond Paddles, Works with Amazon Alexa, 14291″]

[amazonjs asin=”B01MTBCRSN” locale=”US” title=”GE Z-Wave Plus Wireless Smart Lighting Control Lamp Module, Dimmer, Plug-In, 2 Simultaneously Controlled Outlets, Works with Amazon Alexa, 14280″]

How to Set Up Smart Lighting in SmartThings

I’m assuming you can figure out how to pair the above devices to SmartThings.  It’s pretty easy.

Now, comes the fun part.  Lets set up the Smart Lighting SmartApp to take care of all the automation.

  • Open the SmartThings app
  • If you have not used the Smart Lighting SmartApp before…
    • Tap on the Marketplace icon at the bottom
    • Tap on the Lights & Switches category
    • Tap on Smart Lights
  • If you have used the Smart Lighting SmartApp before…
    • Tap on the Automation icon at the bottom
    • Tap on the SmartApps tab at the top
    • Tap on Smart Lighting
  • Select all the settings similar to my screenshots below
  • Tap “More options” to set the illuminance condition, selecting your multisensor and choosing your light threshold number
  • Tap Save, Next, give it a name, and Save

You might need to adjust the light threshold by opening your Multisensor device under the “My Home” page.  Check the Lux number which represents the light level detected by the Multisensor.

Pretty cool, huh?

Did you get try it out yourself?  What do you think?

Did you run into any issues?

Leave your comments below…

2 thoughts on “Smart Home Tip: Motion Sensing Lights Only When It’s Dark

  1. We’ve got a Z Wave switch that supposed to go on and off based on Presence, but it hardly ever works. Is the Presence method less reliable than a motion sensor?

    1. I’ve had issues with the mobile phone presence sensor because of new battery-saving technology like Android Doze. It doesn’t let apps run in the background, so it kills the process that checks your presence.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *