FAQ: Do you know of an outdoor motion sensor?

I have a motion sensor PIR light in the open and I can tell you it flashes like crazy on some nights. I was aware of how unreliable it could be for outside use. If you can target your PIR beam to a specific area, then it would be better.

Beams or curtain type beams is the way to go. Alternatively, if you have a gate leading to your property, you could use a contact sensor too.

I’ve been toying with an idea of use a multi sensor on my mail flap (uk door mail slot on front door) to alert me of mail. As there are burglars who put devices through them to open the front door, I plan to integrate the opening motion to my ST alarm.

I use a quirky tripper on my post box; works perfectly.

My solution to a stable outdoor motion sensor was to make my existing dumb motion sensor, that’s weather proof, rock solid and cost 15 bucks, that’s been connected to my porch light for years and made it z-wave.
You simply place a Fibaro relay between the motion sensor and the light. Now every time it trips I get a notification, and I use it for many other scenarios also.
Plus it runs on 220v so I don’t have to worry about batteries.



I thought about doing something like that, integrating zwave with a dumb motion sensor controller.

Just confirmed with a friend that the old X-10 Eagle Eye motion sensors work great out doors. Said he’s had 2 running for a cpl yrs, so it shouldn’t be hard to use one to trigger something like the Linear contact sensor to signal the hub. I use to use one outside, don’t remember having problems. Still have a cpl somewhere. I’ll see if I can dig one out and see what I can do.


Combine a very inexpensive outdoor motion flood with a Z-Wave relay interface.
They look and work great and are made for the outdoors.

I have used two kinds for nine months.
One SmartThings SmartSense Motion & Temp Sensor and two Ecolink Motion Sensor PIR-ZWAVE2.
I found I had to aim them carefully to avoid false positive in the middle of the night.
And, I sprayed them with a heavy silicone-like protectorant.
No complaints. They have exceptional battery life.
I use the outside temp alot for reference and to drive my pool pump through last winter.
Won’t do that again, it worked, but I ran that pump almost 10 days and winterizing is so simple.
We use complex logic for the lights. E.g. the pool floods only go on if all the back doors are locked. Works great.

Here is my solution to outdoor motionsensors.

The PIR sensor doesn’t register heat if it can’t see it. Using Electrical Tape to block out the lower and upper field of view. So when the Sun is comes out the Sensor can’t visually see the ground. Also block out the sky so the sensor is less likely to trigger falsely. With these sensors the house is covered all the way around. Each sensor is setup with a Push Notification to my phone during Away or Good Night modes. With the WiFi Samsung Speaker (or Sonos) and Big Talker SmartApp to speak if a motion sensor is activated.

In addition I’m using the Sonos Player with RCA Outs connected to a small speaker app powering Outdoor Speakers in the front and back of the house. The speaker amp is on a Z-Wave outlet switch that turns on during Away or Sleeping to allows SmartThings notifications outside with the Sonos if Z-wave switch turned on. If a outside motion sensor is tripped SmartThings plays the “Fire Alarm” sound effect outside to scare off anyone prowling around.

One night about 3am someone was going to break into my Jeep and the lights came on and the Fire Alarm mp3 began playing at the same time and he took off running. I’ve since repositioned the sensors for better coverage.

Video Link

I’m using the Ecolink Z-Wave Motion Sensor and have had the best luck with them.
They don’t cost much and you can get a pack of 4 on Amazon for $105.


Here you can see PIR sensor.

Align the tape without the lens for the best straight out horizontal view.

Inside with the lens and tape.

Looking through

With the tape in place blocking out the ground and sky.

Tape up and any holes and joints to reduce water, bugs or spiders from getting inside.

I found a little plastic container and turned it upside down and trim off the lid to make a protective cover. Finally I used duct tape to cover to block out direct Sun light. The grey helps it blend into the enviroment. In this picture you can barely see the two other motion sensors in the other trees.

I made a little wooden shelter for this one and it works great. I’ve considered making a front cover with a slot to line up with the inside sensor but this has been working well.

I also take advantage of covered areas along the house.

What do you guys think?


I should also mention I’m using Mike Maxwell’s Smart Zone Motion SmartApp. This app creates a virtual motion sensor that only goes Active when a group of sensors go active preventing false triggers.


BTW, if your use case works if the lights always come on when there is motion outside, there are a number of very good nonnetworked outdoor lights which can be combined with SmartThings controlled devices.

As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, I really like the Mr. beams brand of nonnetworked motion sensor outdoor light. Very well engineered, not too expensive, widely available in a variety of form factors and with different light levels . We use a bunch of these.

Now stick an Aeon sensor near them with its motion sensor turned off and trigger SmartThings events off of the change in lux when the Mr. beams turns on. :sunglasses: You have a reliable motion sensor light that always works even if your home automation system is down, but if SmartThings is up you can get additional notifications and events.

However, what you can’t do with this kind of set up is use a mode to prevent the motion sensor lights from coming on. Some of the nonnetworked lights do have a remote control that let you turn off the motion sensor, but those models cost more and you’d still have to do it individually for each light.

So again it comes down to your particular use case.

1 Like

Thanks JDRoberts. I’ve already got light fixtures installed and setup with in-wall smart dimmers in the house so new fixtures doesn’t work in my case. Would also like to be able to trigger other actions in the future besides just the immediate light around the motion.

I really thought that finding an outdoor sensor would be an easy task. Very surprised at the lack of products in this category.

1 Like

Yeah, it can be frustrating. It’s a physics issue, it has to do with PIR sensors. There are alternatives, but they cost a lot more than the DIY home automation market will pay for. So really it’s a budget issue – – the manufacturers don’t make them because people won’t buy them at the required price point.

If you’re willing to buy three sensors for each zone, as discussed above @mike_maxwell 's zone manager smart app will solve most of the false alert problem. It’s a good solution, but obviously requires spending more money. But with that one you could use the Aeons (or the Fibaros in a sheltered location, they’re not as weatherproof).

I’ll have to find the article I read and provide a link, but I liked the idea it brought up. You use your existing hardwired motion detection outdoor flood lights. Add a relay in the lights outlet box connected to the flood lights. When the detector triggers it of course turns on the flood lights and the relay status is now on. Based on the change in state of the relay you can automate other actions. I liked the idea that it used hardwired solution with no need to replace batteries and you can use any hardwired motion detection outdoor lights even existing ones.

Ah, there is already another post on it with the video I watched, The ultimate Outdoor Night Motion Sensor?

At this point (September 2016) we should also mention that there are several video doorbell’s and some cameras that have their own motion sensors and can be integrated with SmartThings. Quite often these motion sensors work better outdoors than any that connect to SmartThings directly. ( One reason, to be honest, is that these tend to be more expensive devices and they can put more intelligence into the motion sensors to help filter out some of the false alarms.)

Some of these are only warranteed for indoor use, but depending on your weather may work in a sheltered location outdoors.

Current official integrations include Arlo cameras and the skybell video doorbell.



There also IFTTT integrations with Ring and several cameras, including blink and homeboy. Look in the “security and monitoring” channel section, not “photographs and videos” (which are for services, not devices).

And one of the community developers has a blink manufacturer approved integration with many features. You will have to pay a license fee for that one.

1 Like

@Alwas can you tell me what sort of Fibaro relay you used? Thanks.

Sure, it was this one, Fibaro Relay Insert 1 * 2.5 KW


1 Like

Thanks for the swift response. Bit more help if you can…?

The use case here is to use a 240V PIR motion sensor as an input to ST. I don’t want to control any lights directly using the relay due to location and the probability that I will use Smart bulbs (turned on/off by ST).

So… if I wired up the relay as follows:

And replaced the switch with the output from the PIR (between S1 and I) that would then result in ST see the relay turning on and off. Correct? In my case there would be no load I’d just have a PIR.


I think someone more intelligent than me should chime in here, as I can’t remember exactly what I did, in layman’s terms I placed the Fibaro between the light and the motion sensor, so when motion triggers it sends power to the light, via the Fibaro, so I get notified, and the Fibaro can also turn the light off, or on, if needed. You need the wiring diagram of the motion sensor as a starting point. Sorry I’m not more useful.

Okay, think I have it. Here’s the response:

So to answer the original question. If you want to use a mains powered PIR to trigger ST then you can use a Fibaro Relay (the FGS-212 replaced the FGS-211).

In my case I’ll be using it without any load (my lights will be Hue bulbs in a different location). I’ll be using the motion detector to trigger the relay and then use ST to turn lights on/off/up/down.

the fact that this will be located high, won’t require batteries, needs along range (12m) drives the requirement.

Thanks for the pointer @Alwas