Beginner: Timed outlet with multi-user manual override

I don’t have SmartThings in the house, yet, but I’m trying to figure out how to tackle one of my first projects. I live in a 2-unit building with a lamppost in front that plugs into a power outlet in the basement. I’d like to automate that outlet to turn on a sunset and off at a certain time, which I’m pretty sure I can do with IFTTT. The problem is that I’d also like to allow someone in either unit to turn the light on for some period of time, and for that to interact reasonably with the automatic schedule. For example, we should be able to make the light stay on later if we have guests who will leave late.

Failing that complex solution, I’d settle for a way for someone in either house to turn the light on and off manually, without also giving the neighbors access to all the other devices in our unit.


  • SmartThings hub
  • Raspberry Pi
  • whatever outlet controller is best
  • Asus RT-N66U wifi router
  • All the Internet

I’m completely unfamiliar with SmartThings and generally unfamiliar with home automation (other than one pair of Insteon dimmers), but I’m a professional coder, so I can roll-my-own if needed.

Thanks for any suggestions.

Well. you could get any one of the myriad of outlet dongles that will allow SmartThings to turn the lamppost on and off. And programming the on at sunset and off at a certain time is easy out of the box.

For the override feature, there are actually many options, depending on what you want to do.

  1. There is a big switch app that can turn on another thing when one
    thing is turned on. So, if you had an outside light switch, that
    controls other lights, you could replace the switch with a z-wave
    switch and use big switch to turn on and off the lamppost when you
    turn the outside lights on and off. (Then you could program just the
    porch lights and the lamppost would follow the same schedule.)
  2. You could replace a switch in your house with a Wemo switch. Then
    you could tie Wemo and Smartthings to IFTT and set up a long-press
    on the Wemo to toggle the lamp post.
  3. You could buy a couple of Aeon minimotes. These are little 4-button
    remotes, about the size of a couple packs of gum. You can program
    one of the buttons on each one to toggle the lamppost.

I’m sure other people will have other ideas.


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