Help with using Motion to turn on/off light in family room


(John) #1

So I am trying to implement motion based lighting in my family/movie room. The light switch (Z-Wave Dimmer) is directly behind the door. So when you go to the basement, you have to open then close the door in order to get to the light switch. Not a huge deal, but slightly inconvenient and a perfect candidate for automation!

I understand the logistic of “If motion is detected, turn light on”. What I’m having trouble with is how to ensure the light doesn’t turn off immaturely. Most of the time spent in this room is on the couch watching TV or at the computer desks. In both scenario, not much motion occurs. Therefore, I could understand if the sensor resets and turns off the lights while using the PC.

What other safeguards can I integrate to keep the lights on until the room is truly empty? Has anyone else run into this obstacle?


(Bruce) #2

There aren’t a lot of good choices. One is to increase the amount of time before it turns off from no motion. The longer that period, the greater the likelihood that the sensor will see some motion, and when it does that timer has to start over. The other option is to add another motion sensor, to get better coverage in the room.

I have a motion sensor about 18 inches in front of me under my computer monitor. The lights will still turn off if I sit very still long enough, like reading something that’s long.


(Brian Diehl) #3

You could hook the TV and computers up to smart outlets and tell the lights not to turn off if the draw is over a certain threshold (you’d have to monitor the systems for a bit to see what the normal operating range is).

I have a Logitech Harmony setup and if my Watch TV switch is on, it will negate certain other automation rules.

Another option includes pressure sensitive mats for the couch and computer chairs. Depending on the size of the couch, this one can get expensive.


(John) #4

Thanks, Bruce! How does the length to reset affect Battery life? If instead of setting the reset to 5 minutes, lets say I use, 30 minutes; would this kill the battery faster? Or would it technically last longer since there is a longer reset period?

And I’m also assuming (since this is my first time using a motion detector), If I have a reset to 30 minutes, it will still detect motion within that time, it just won’t perform any action. Is that about right?


(Bruce) #5

The two are completely unrelated. The motion sensor fires off events all the time, both active and inactive events, when people are around. Every time it throws an inactive, that starts the timer. How long the timer runs has no effect on what the motion sensor does. The only downside to a longer period is that the lights stay on longer when you leave the room. I’ve found that 5 minutes covers most use cases – that motion will almost certainly occur within 5 minutes if someone is there. Of course, if you fall asleep on the sofa, it’s going to turn the lights off (maybe a good thing).

@diehllane’s suggestion about using a power outlet on the TV is excellent, as you could make the TV being on over-ride the motion turning things off.


(John) #6

Interesting thought with the Harmony…

Typically, the PC is turned on at 7AM and remains on until I go to sleep. So this may not be a viable option. However, we do use the Harmony Elite, but I’ve never integrated it to ST. Could you elaborate a bit more on your setup with the harmony?

For example, could I create something to where I use motion for basic in an out with a 30 minute reset, however, if Watch TV is enabled, override the motion and then once I turn off watch TV, go back to motion sensing…?

Or is that to complex?


(John) #7

That works too (the TV power monitoring). Again, do you mind explaining how I would accomplish the override? Is hat something I would use rule machines and modes for?


(Brian Diehl) #8

Using Rule Machine you could do that.

I have a rule setup for text notification that will turn on my Philips Hue Bloom lights and my lightstrip.
Unfortunately, based on the position of the lightstrip, it will reflect bright green on the TV if it’s on.

I use Rule Machine to have the Watch TV switch being on as a condition. If it is on, then it will not turn the lightstrip on when I get a text, only the Bloom accent lights.

What about the computer monitors? Do you have those set to go to sleep after a period of inactivity? You could hook up the monitors to a smart energy switch (http://www.amazon.com/Aeon-Labs-DSC06106-ZWUS-Z-Wave-Energy/dp/B007UZH7B8) and set up a threshold based on usage. If under 2W consider inactive and allow the lights to turn off after your timer. If over 2W consider active and don’t allow the lights to turn off.

EDIT: Actually, after looking at my rule, I am actually using the Watch TV activity as the Switch to disable the rule, rather than being off as a condition for the rule. Either way would have worked for my needs. though.


(John) #9

@diehllane Ahhhh, good thinking on the monitor! I should have thought about that one! Yes, the monitors go to sleep or are turned off if not being used.

Now, if I have the Energy switch override the “No motion = off”, will the motion still log activity this way when I revert back to motion, it won’t immediately shut off?

For example:

-Motion is detected, lights turn on, with a 15 minute reset
-I go to the PC, turn on monitor, so motion is over-ruled
-I’m on the PC for an hour, but 2 minutes prior to shutting off the monitor, I got up to go to the bathroom

Would the motion reset of 15 minutes go back in to effect, this way when I turn off the monitor and it reverts back to motion detection, it will be in an active state?


(Todd Whitehead) #10

In my basement, I put a sensor on the door. When I’m down there, I do not shut the door. So if the door is open, lights are on. Door closed, lights off.


(Brian Diehl) #11

Once the override goes away, the next time your motion goes to active, it will re-evaluate the rule as that is what you would set the trigger as.
If you use the delayed off for your action, then the lights will stay on until the delay is over.

Since you would be using Motion = active as your rule trigger, that is the only time it could evaluate the rule.

If the override goes away (monitor shuts off and power consumption goes below your threshold), but your motion sensor can’t see you (different part of the room or whatever), it can’t trigger the rule and set the lights on the 15 minute delayed off. As soon as you do cross that motion sensor, it will trigger it though.

The only real issue here is if you leave the monitor on (to let it go to sleep) and leave the room.


(John) #12

Got it! Now would you recommend creating this entire rule using Rule Machine? So should I use a smart lighting SA and Rule Machine only for the override, or do the whole thing in RM?

EDIT; also, to fix the issue you pointed out in your last sentance, could I not set the monitor to sleep before the Motion resets? Wouldn’t this mean that once the motion resets, it will see the monitor below the threshold and thus trigger the lights to go off?


(Brian Diehl) #13

I would recommend doing it all in RM, but that is your preference.


(Jason Crosier) #14

Hi there I am still trying to achieve this and failing miserably. I have auto on lights on movement in the lounge which turn off after two minutes. This is great but I wish them to stay on whilst the TV is on. I have set up a virtual switch (Lounge Media On VS and a Disable Auto Lights VS) but however I put them into the Piston they still go off even though both or either of the Virtual switches are on. By the way he LMVS is switched on and off with harmony activities and the DALVS is via Alexa command in case this affects the rules however I can’t see how. Here is a screen grab of the Piston. Pretty sure I’m just being a bit of an idiot somewhere within the rules.