Basement Lights Automation Help Needed

Hello everyone,

I need to setup my some basic automation in my basement. My kids always go down to my basement to play for a while and then return upstairs leaving the basement lights ON. Sometimes it would be ON for the entire day. My basement has LIFX bulbs installed. I have got a new IRIS motion sensor to turn on/off lights.

I would like to know how to do some basic automation to my basement.

  1. Turn on the light when people walk down to the basement.
  2. Turn off the light when there is no motion.
  3. Keep the lights ON till people are present in the basement. example: my kids will go down & play for 45 mins sitting on the floor . I wanted to keep the lights ON until someone is present in the basement and turn off the lights when no motion is detected. - I’m not sure this is possible with smartthings.
  4. My Basement is close to 1000 SF in size. I’m attaching the basement layout. Do i need to place multiple motion sensors in my basement for this light automation. Pls suggest the best spots to place my Iris motion sensors to get better performance.

Thanks in advance,

My game room is about half that size and I have multiple sensors covering it. Most of my open rooms with motion triggered lights I run 2 sensors.

I would recommend in the top left, top right, and lower right corners. Should give you pretty decent coverage.

Smartlighitng should handle most of those rules. I would probably set a longer “turn off when no motion” maybe 10-15 minutes. Motion sensors seem to have issues detecting small motion (ie sitting) .

Not sure what you are asking for in step 3. Motion trigger will turn off/on. Manual switch will still turn on, but motion will override it and turn it off. It only does this on motion state change, so it will need to move from motion to no motion.

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Thanks Ben for your reply.

For #3. I was asking how to keep the room lights ON until someone is occupied. For example, when i go to the basement, the motion sensor detects the motion and Turns ON the lights. When I sit & watch TV in the basement for an hour, I’m expecting the lights to be ON till i’m occupying the room. Since i’m sitting on a sofa and watching TV & there is no motion detected it should not turn-off my lights.

This is fixed by extending the no motion time limit. I doubt that anybody will be sitting perfectly still for 30 minutes watching TV, unless they fell asleep.
Personally I use OC sensors on the doors, both from the yard and from the house to turn on the basement lights. This way I am not walking down dark stairs. I also have motion sensors in the basement on with motion, off after 5 minute with no motion ( No entertainment room, just laundry and my work shop, so unlikely anybody will be in there for more than 5 minutes without moving )

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I also have a Harmony Hub remote, so if the the TV is ON (activity is ON) to leave lights on. It’s a little buggy, since it does not refresh very quickly, but I have a Core rule to force it which works pretty well.

When it does not work, just wave my hands like an idiot till the lights come back on. I keep a short timeout (about a minute)

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The issue of allowing motion inactivity to turn off lights is always a challenge. You gotten a lot of good suggestions, I’d just like to throw in a couple of additional points.

One) for a room of that size, definitely consider using multiple motion sensors all assigned to one zone. That way activity on any sensor will register as activity in the room and you don’t have to be quite as careful about placement. :sunglasses:

@Mike_Maxwell has an excellent smartapp for exactly this purpose, very popular:

Smart Zone motion detector (Zone Motion Manager) [Deprecated -- no longer supported]

Two) even so, there are some households where people just don’t seem to move quite as much and may not be detected. Some people will address this by adding a second kind of device into the mix. You could use a pressure mat under a sofa cushion (although that doesn’t catch kids playing on the floor), you can use an open/close sensor on a cabinet or door if that fits your particular usage pattern. That gives you a lot more options.

Mike also has a very clever universal device type handler which would allow you to have any other sensor report as a motion sensor and be combined in your zone from option one above.

So those are just some additional options. :sunglasses:


Oh, and one more note on placement…

All of these PIR motion sensors work on the same principle, which is measuring a change in heat as it moves across the Detection field. For this reason you will get the quickest and most reliable detection if you don’t place the sensor so that the person is walking straight towards it. Instead you want to catch them moving across the field. For this reason some people place them on the ceiling pointing down, others place them on the wall crosswise to where the people will walk. There are some sensors specifically designed for ceiling mounts which have a wider angle to catch people coming from both directions. I would definitely consider having at least one ceiling mount sensor over the area where the kids will be playing.

More discussion of various sensor features here:


My nest protect detects the slightest movement. wish the Nest protect offered presence sense output. it would have made a nice presence detector…

A better option would be to use a camera to detect changes in frame to detect presence… but its going to be complicated unless you use something like BlueIris to process the frames on a high end PC, but its certainly an overkill…

I would suggest investing in ceiling mounted motion sensors (3-4) and some heat sensors and mount them in a grid fashion to get better coverage

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Thanks @JDRoberts for your detailed explanation on this topic.

I also would like to know if there is an way to get alerts to my phone if the basement lights were ON for ‘X’ no of minutes.

Thank you @desertblade @RLDreams, @BatraD @JDRoberts for your respone to my questions.



There are several different ways to do it, but the one that gives you the most options is core.

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This reminds me of a energy saving device that we used to lease to commercial buildings and motels. Leaving out the thermostat functions for simplification it would monitor the exterior door contacts. If a contact opened the motion detector would have a time window for detecting movement ie: five minutes. If motion is detected then the room/building is in the occupied mode. It is reasonable to assume an exterior door would normally be closed but it is possible that the interior door could be left open. Adding a second motion to the stairs instead of the door switch may be a work around. I have not begun to explore CoRE so while this may be a way to determine occupancy I have no idea if it is possible to program or setup.


I use an energy monitoring plug on the tv and on the basement Alexa. That way motion keeps the lights on and when the tv or Alexa (radio) is on it keeps the lights on. But if no motion and no media, well that is much harder unless you have an Alexa like we do.

Then I just have the kids tell Alexa to turn on play time which keeps the lights on. That requires a method of turning the lights off since now they will stay on indefinitely which is obviously a drawback. I use a mixture of time, door sensor, and Alexa switch. (They can always say turn off play time.). But I haven’t found the perfect combo yet because kids aren’t predictable creatures of habit like us adults are. :grinning:

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With core, this is very doable.

Separately, if you use the combination of Mike Maxwells universal device type and his zone manager, both also described up thread, you can have contact sensors report as motion sensors and so include them in your motion sensor zone. I don’t think you can include the energy reports from the TV switch, though. It can take an on/off switch and have it report as motion/no motion, though, so it might just depend on the specifics.

but CORE would give you the most options, and you wouldn’t need to use the universal device type. That’s why it’s so popular, even though it is definitely complex. :sunglasses: