Newbie help with first smartthings project: control light with motion sensor?

I am pretty new here, like bought yesterday new.

I am used to steep learning curves and I am happy to break things and learn how to fix them going forward.

I am totally confused though with the whole apps/smart apps/community projects and how I go about doing something.

My first aim with my smart things is pretty basic.

I have a motion sensor and a lifX bulb. I want to set it so that during the night when I walk through to the kitchen the light comes on automatically. When I walk out it turns off. I was hoping it would be fairly easy to set it some sort of set of rules to acheive this. Looking through the smart apps I seem to be able to turn the lights on but not off?? There appears to be some projects in the community that may help me but I have no idea how to get those projects onto my smartthingshub? Is there some sort of pc console I have missed here? I’ve seen some screenshots that seem to come from a computer rather than any of the apps.

Apologies for the complete newbie questions but even if someone could point me in the direction of further reading I would be most grateful!



Welcome! I’m only about three weeks in and you are right the learning curve is HUGE!! Here’s a few links that got me started. Hope they help you. From reading your description, you should be able to do what you want in the ST app, but Rule Machine seems to be where most go for their specific problems. So my advice is read, read, read, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Have fun!


ah thats perfect!!! Thank you! I will have a read and start going through it! I expected it to all be pretty comprehensive but even I am surprised at the lack of some sort of structured heres the basics and then heres the slightly more advanced and how you get into it all. I expected someone who got into it with very little IT knowledge to probably give up fairly early on. Even the setup was a nightmare!

The activation code on the bottom of the box??? …looks at the actual smart things box and hub…oh yeh…the activation code that was actually on the underside of the packing the instructions were wrapped in!!! Doh!!!

LOL!! I know what you mean. I would not recommend ST to anyone that doesn’t have some IT background and some programming knowledge as well. From what I’ve seen in the threads, the instructions are great, but you still have to be able to interpret “code speak” and understand the basics of programming language and how it works. If you don’t, you have to be willing to put in the time to learn a bit before you can even start to understand. I also forgot to mention that you will need Github to get Rule Machine or any other app outside of ST. It’s free and has a steep learning curve as well. At least for me anyway. :slight_smile:

I’ve just read about github. That was the missing link I was confused about!

I will setup over the next couple of days and see whee I get to! Thanks again!

The officially supported SmartThings solution for this is the Smart Lighting SmartApp.

No GitHub, IDE, etc., is required. And doesn’t involve the configuration complexity of Rule Machine.

Sure, Smart Lighting has a lot of limitations, but it is one of very few SmartApps that can run locally and should always be considered as the first option.


Agreed with @tgauchat No need to be overly complex, especially in the beginning. Smart Lighting has the option to turn on with motion and turn off after X minutes without motion.

1 Like

Thanks for the replies guys. I will setup smart lights initially to get it working but I would like to add another sensor into the mix and have a combination of sensors to turn the light on and off. I’d like to probably add 3 sensors in controlling this for night time and normal kitchen I am going to have to bite the bullet and learn the complex method.

One thing i have setup straight away which has been really good is adding my phone into the mix as a presence sensor and automatically setting up to arm the alarm.You could build up a decent alarm setup pretty quickly using these sensors. I thought it would take a while before I had enuogh sensors to really play around but I seem to have plenty of options with just a few things and a phone!

You can use multiple motion sensors in the same Smart Lighting automation. Where you will have to jump to Rule Machine is if you want to trigger the light on a motion sensor OR a contact sensor OR a time frame, etc. Smart Lighting only allows one “trigger”.

As far as using SmartThings for your security system…that all depends on your requirements. Some people find the lack of a cellular backup, no keypad support, no delays to sound a siren and the lack of reliability to be enough of a problem that they go with a separate security system. For me it was just a bonus of the system, and while I will wait for some of the features mentioned before I add a siren, its still nice to get an alert on my phone if anything were to happen while i’m away. Assuming Smart Home Monitor is in a good mood and arms itself :yum:

1 Like

just an update more in case anyone stumbles on this as another newbie!

I am having issues with the Lifx bulb. The first one completely died when I plugged in my smartthings hub (very strange?). The second one I replaced it with last night stuttered on the firmware update and failed. Luckily I had the windows firmware updater which did upgrade the firmware on the 2nd attempt. Turning the light on and off via the smartthings hub was dodgy to say the least. I had an instant in the night where the motion sensor was triggered, the light was supposedly turned on but it never actually came on. I’ve seen 2 cases where the light was supposed to be on even according to the lifx app and it still wasn;t on.

I am thinking of taking this one back and changing to phillips hues. for £20 pounds more I can get the bridge and 2 white light bulbs and its only 15 pounds per additional bulb against 40 on the lifx? PLus there are a myriad of options on the hue side of things. Quite fancy those strips but anyway thats another thread.

Second major issue is I went ahead with the rule machine. I thought I was losing my marbles. Long story short…you can’t install rule machine if you are a uk customer on the install instructions in the wiki or in the various threads through github. There is an ongoing issue with oatth that basically means uk customers are sh*t out of luck. When I realised this I copied the code from the 2 apps and manually installed in my apps on the uk server as opposed to it throwing a massive paddy through the US server and just giving me a 500 server error.

When I manage to get some sort of stability to my lighting situation I will have another go with rule machine. Its been a bit of a nightmare just to get to this point! Looking at it in more details I should have probably gone for the phillips in the first place but the bridge always put me off.

1 Like