Help Automating Outdoor Lights

I’m new to Smartthings and working through different scenarios and logic and need some guidance. I’ve searched through the threads and nothing seems to match up to my needs.

I have a scenario where I have outdoor lights that I would like to turn on after sunset and turn off at 11:30PM. I created a basic automation for that and it is working like a charm. Additionally I would like to add in a presence sensor so that when a member of my family arrives home after 11:30 PM that the lights come on for 15 minutes and then turn off. I am searching for how I can automate this and nothing seems to fit the need. Has anyone else had this scenario before and if so how did you solve it? If you have seen a thread that does address this, please post it, I would love to see how they addressed it if they did.

Thanks in advance for any help.

Have you looked at CoRE?
This will cater for your needs.
Have a search on the forum for it.
Here is one I have that gives you an idea.
It’s a simple one.

This works on time, motion and a lux value.


I was looking at CoRE but when I couldn’t find any good screenshots, I sort of gave up. This really helps me and based on what you are able to do, it seems like it would definitely meet my needs. I am going to give it a shot.

Thanks bobbles

Core can certainly do this, but it’s quite complicated to set up and it might be overkill for the particular scenario.

Instead, you can consider setting up a virtual timer. There is an article in the community – created wiki for how to do this.

Once you have the virtual timer, you have the presence sensor arrival after 1130 turn the virtual timer on for 15 minutes and then turn itself off. And you will have a Smart lighting automation so that the real light follows the timer, turning itself on when the timer comes on and turning itself off when the timer goes off.

That way your original time schedule rule still works, but you also have a virtual timer with a different rule in a different time period. :sunglasses:

And if you do decide you want to look into core, here’s the FAQ for starting that. But it does sound like all you need is a virtual timer.


Can’t you just use 2 smart lighting scenarios?
You have the first one already, sunset to 11:30pm.
Make a second one select motion as trigger. Then limit time using power allowance to 15 minutes. Then under other settings limit time to 11:30 to sunrise.

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It would take three smart lighting scenarios because you can’t combine power allowance and presence (or motion) in one. So you would have one late night automation that turns the light on with presence, and a third late night automation that turns the light off with power allowance.

The reason why I prefer using a virtual timer is because once you set power allowance for a specific time period, it will always shut the light off once the power allowance limit is reached.

I prefer to retain the ability to also have manual control of the switch.

For example, say at one in the morning there’s a stray dog in the yard. You recognize the dog as belonging to your neighbor, but they’re out at the movies . So you want to go out and see if you can catch it.

If you used a virtual timer to turn the light off when you got home late, you could now just turn on the light with echo, or at the switch, or on the dashboard, and go out and try to catch the dog and the light will stay on until you turn it off again.

If instead you had set up a power allowance to turn it off after 15 minutes late at night, then the light is going to turn itself off after 15 minutes even if you’re still chasing the dog around the yard.

So I do use power allowance, but I only use it with a virtual timer, not the real light. Otherwise I’m always limiting myself to the power allowance.

But again, choice is good. :sunglasses: If that’s not a light you would ever want to turn on for longer than 15 minutes late night, you could use power allowance on the real light. But you would still need one automation to turn on and then power allowance to turn it off.

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Your right again @JDRoberts. I had to go look at my lighting automation.

It does suffer from the problem where if it doesn’t see you it starts timing and will turn the light off on you. It’s basically for when we walk into the kitchen to grab a drink or something in the evening. Now I know how to fix it.



I have to say I am enjoying this discussion and am learning a lot. I installed core and I think I have it working as expected but I am also going to give the virtual timer a shot too. Keep the ideas coming, it is really helping me to understand Smartthings and all of the capabilities!


I’ve gone back and started using the official Smart Lighting App. Just would create two rules in your case. It’s been working well.

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Thanks everyone for all the advice! This has been a great experience and hopefully this will help others. I’ve got a couple scenarios like this one I am going to try using CoRE with and also leveraging virtual timers. With the holidays coming up this is going to be very helpful.

Thanks again!

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