Best way to automate dark hallway lights?

I have a dark hallway in my home with two 3-way switches (at the ends of the hallway) and 3 flood lights on the ceiling.

What I want to accomplish is have these lights turn on for few minutes with a motion sensor but only when the hallway is very dark, like at night. The hallway is kind of dark even during the day but I don’t want the lights to turn on when it’s not really dark.

I think I need to get 3 smart flood lights and a motion sensor to make this work. Am I correct? Also, which motion sensor should I get?

Thanks in advance!

First, what country are you in? The device selection does vary.

Second, it will probably be more practical for you if you use one smart master switch, one auxiliary switch to go with the master, and one motion sensor. But still use dumb bulbs. Unless you are in a rental and you are not allowed to change the light switches. That way you will still have switches on the wall that work the way you are used to but you also be able to use the motion sensor. And you will probably save a little money because smart bulbs are expensive.

As far as which motion sensor, there are a lot of good ones, and again it depends on which country you are in. Different people like different ones for different reasons.

Although there are many different ones to consider, if you are in the US, one of the most popular is the Lowe’s iris, which is often on sale and you can use a regular Iris coupon as well. This is a good fast motion sensor, so very suitable for triggering lights as you walk into an area. But it’s only available in the US, not the UK.

Following thread discusses all the different features that different sensors might have and why people might choose one over another if you’re interested in that level of detail:

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I wouldn’t get Smart Bulbs for this. I would get some 3-way smart switches. That way if you can still use the switches and also automate them.

Something like this will do well for the motion sensor too.


As far as setting the rules, the easiest would just be a time based rule, so that the motion sensor only turns on the light between maybe half an hour before sunset until half an hour after sunrise.

If you really want to base it on darkness then you have to get some kind of sensor that can determine how dark it is, and then that can add more cost.

For example, the sensor that @slagle mentioned has a built in lux sensor, but will probably cost about 20 or $30 more than the iris one that I mentioned. So you have options it’s just a question of what your own priorities are. :sunglasses::level_slider::bulb:


Wow, thank you guys for the FAST and helpful replies!

I am located in US and I own my home so I can change the switch if I like.

So, which smart 3-way switch works well with Smartthings hub? Also, what is an auxiliary switch?

Oh, and I don’t mind spending a little more on the motion sensor that can detect light level as that sounds like a good fit for my project.

Thanks again!

When you have a networked three-way set up, one of the switches will be the master that controls The current to the lights. The other will be an auxiliary switch (also called an accessory switch, a remote switch, an add on switch – – different manufacturers use different terms). The auxiliary will not control the current to the lights itself – – it will communicate with the master and tell the master to turn them on or off.

See the device class features FAQ for discussion of light switches. The light switch part starts around post 40 (this is a clickable link)

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A couple things i would point out:

  1. Fully agree on getting a smart switch instead of bulbs. Zooz make switches that don’t require an add-on/auxiliary switch, but they do require a custom device handler.

  2. I think going by time (sunset to sunrise +/- some minutes) will get you close enough to the time from when hte hallway is dark. The reason i’d avoid lux based rules is that when using lux in Smart Lighting, the rule can’t run locally.

In my halls/rooms with motion based rules, i’ve found an Iris motion sensor with GE switch provides the quickest response and runs locally using Smart Lighting.


Philips motion sensors work the best for me. Occupancy, motion as well as brightness based on how dark it is.

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