Newbie Question: Motion detection takes too dang long!

Admittedly I don’t know all of the tricks yet but… I was hoping that this would work a little better and be less gimicky out of the box. I just moved into a new house and wanted almost everything automated so I started with lights. The idea is that when someone enters a room or bathroom, the lights go on (immediately) and when they leave, after 1 min, they go off. I thought this would be a fairly common, if not immensely frequently used, used case. I purchased several Hue lights along w the Hue Hub, the motion sensor is from Smartthings, latest version as of this writing. I put the sensor over the door frame facing into the room so it wouldnt be triggered by someone walking past the door.

Now for the big unveiling: My wife is a big Prince fan so I coded all of her lights in her office to Prince Purple and told her to walk in the room. She did and nothing happened so she switched off and on the light switch She just said “So what’s the big surprise” because when you this, you get the normal white lights. Eventually I was able to demo this but the delay killed the moment. I have the same problem in the bathroom. The delay is about 2-3 seconds. To troubleshoot, I moved the hub to the same area as the bathroom and office but still experience this delay. Honestly, it’s not workable. (BTW, how come the motion sensors on my garage door activate immediately? That’s what I want here).

Can anything be done w my setup? Suggestions? Are there “Faster sensors”? Other techniques such as using multiple sensors (why should I need that? But I’m willing for the high traffic areas of the house). Thanks everyone.

  • Stuck in Seattle

I’m sure that was frustrating. :disappointed_relieved: (By the way, I’ve moved this to the projects area of the forum so you can get individualized responses based on your own set up and requirements.)

First things first, motion sensor placement. Take a look at the following FAQ (this is a clickable link)

See if that gives you any ideas to start with.

Second, brand of sensor. There have been three or four models of the SmartThings brand motion sensor, and the most recent has turned out to be the slowest, unfortunately.

The Lowe’s iris motion sensor is quite popular and seems to be one of the fastest of the inexpensive ones.

Another option to consider is the Phillips hue motion sensor which is very fast. You can set it up one of two ways, either just connected to the hue bridge without bringing smart things into the picture, which will probably be the fastest, or using a custom device handler from the community which let you connected to the smartthings hub.

But no matter which one you pick, all of the advice on motion sensor placement will apply, so do read that FAQ first.

At my house, we use the Hue motion sensors, with the hue bridge, not with the custom code, and we get the fastest response that way, just about 400 ms (just under half a second). But for various reasons different things may work in different households.

More discussion:

And a thread specific to the SmartThings models:


Thank you - this was excellent. I went back and read every thing and I think I simply bought the wrong sensor. From what I’ve gathered, my sensor placement isn’t terrible but I do plan on doing some experimentation. One HUGE lesson learned: Use some blue painters tape to experiment with placement BEFORE using the double-stick tape that comes with the sensors! Since I’ve made the investment in Hue, I am going to use their sensors. Fingers crossed! Thanks very much.


Hey there and welcome the Addiction!
@JDRoberts has given you some fantastic advice and I figured I’d throw in my 2 cents as well.

Everything I say is based solely off of my own personal experience… so, it may be and probably will be different for you. But, here goes…

  • The only thing I’ll own with the ST branding on it is the Hub. i will NOT touch any of the other devices, I’ve just seen too many reports of issues with them over the past 1.5 years.
  • I sweat by the IRIS motion sensors that JD mentioned above. They are almost instant for me, If the automation is running local, it is pretty much instant. if they are cloud based there may be a second delay. But still very very fast.
  • Sensor placement is everything! Location Location Location. I learned very quickly to not put them over a door, unless it is at the end of the hall and I want the lights to come on as I walk down the hall. In my bathrooms I have found that putting them in the corner of the room, just inside of the door, seems to work best. I have mine pointing down at an angle and pointing out from the corner. The sensors have a fan shaped sensor area and they work best if you are walking in front of from one side to the other, so where I locate mine causes persons to break that barrier as soon as they enter the room.
  • Also, the IRIS sensors are very well priced. Buy a lot of them! Each of my bathrooms has at least 3. One for walking into the room and keeping the lights on while the person is at the sink. One in the shower so the lights do not go out. And these things are super crazy sensitive. The closer you are to it, the more sensitive it is. People like to sit really still while they are using the squatty potty… lol… and then the lights go out! So, I put one right next to each toilet and the slightest movement keeps the lights on.
  • and finally, throw away that double stick tape. Go to the hardware store and get you some of the blue sticky gummy rubber stuff that you ball up and stick things to the walls with… it works great and doesn’t destroy the drywall.

Have a great day!


I use Quakehold to stick them to the wall.

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I second that!

I second that too!

Yup, this too.


I don’t bother with the double-stick tape at all - I use the Scotch Command strips and cut them down a bit if needed. That also has the advantage of allowing you to easily take down the device to change batteries and then just stick it back in place.


Thanks Bamarayne - very helpful and practical. I bought the ST sensors trying to stay w the brand but your advice to get best of breed inside the eccosystem makes sense to me. Wow, 3 sensors! I was just thinking 1. lol. Plus I didn’t realize these could be placed in a shower (i assume not in direct contact with water but steam is ok?)

Ordering! Thank you Ross.

In one shower I have it up in the corner. In the other it beneath a stone shelf… So the never actually get wet… Though my wife has tried to kill the one under the shelf several times by spraying it… Lol

Would that be called Sensor Murder? :slight_smile:

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Great advice here on the motion sensors. One other thing to think about is bulbs vs switches. Not sure if you went with bulbs for the color aspect, lack of neutrals, etc., but switches may work better for visitor, significant others, kids, etc. If you haven’t yet, ths is a good read


thank you for this!!! I am trying to add motion sensors to a baby nursery mainly to be used at night with a lamp that will have a Hue bulb, but I had not idea where to start, and I looking into the monoprice and ecolink, but then read that they are too slow. I am definitely going to try the Iris Sensor.

Does anyone know if they go on sale often? I know I can use 15 off 50 coupon if i only buy a pair, but dont we all want to maximize our discounts? LOL

Don’t use quakehold near areas where it can get warm. It becomes a gooey mess LOL


Thank you Jimmy - I had this question and you answered before I asked! Thank you.

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Yes, I’ve seen them down around $20 sometimes but it has been awhile. Also, different Lowes stores will sell them at different prices so YMMV. They are also sold on Amazon did drop the price as low as $17.17 back in late Sept 2016 but has been stuck at $30 ever since. Check the Deals category often. Still, if you have the $15 off $50 coupon, compared to other motion sensors, the price is still very reasonable.


Sometime Amazon Warehouse will sell stuff cheaper. Currently the Iris motion are only a little cheaper than new. $26.99 you sometimes have to click the other offers section on the right side to find them.


OK everyone - I wanted to report back on this. I bought 4 Hue Sensors based upon the advice of all ya’all. They are PERFECT. Near instant recognition. I am using the native Hue App for this, not the ST apps, though I plan on experimenting to see if one is better than the other. I also bought 4 Iris sensors but I have not played w them yet. So far I am using the Hue sensors for entry and the old (ha ha, 1 week old) junkie ST Sensors for motion IN the room, though they don’t seem to work 100% of the time like I expect. I’ll likely use Hue for entry into rooms and Iris for motion IN the room. Thanks so much everyone.


Be sure to check put this thread before you get your next batch of Iris sensors

Nice Tommy! Thanks!