Outdoor lighting - flood light/security lights

I learned last night that “flood light” doesn’t necessarily mean “outdoor light”- and realized I have zero clue what I need to do :slight_smile:

The 4 corners of my house have basic (no motion/daylight) what I call “flood lights”. They’re turned on from inside.
I can’t remember to turn them off during the day so looking for a solution.

Option 1: “outdoor” smart light bulbs that would screw into existing fixture that I can control through an app
Option 2: new fixture of some sort - maybe with motion sensor or daylight sensor.
Option 3: do something with the switch inside where I could control through an app. Keep using regular bulbs, existing fixtures.

Other ideas? I’m thinking that long term option 3 would be best. If so, I have no idea how to go about doing that. Also those switches are in a line with other ones… like 2-4 right together under one switch plate for different lights. I have no idea if this makes a difference.
(And don’t worry… I know I don’t know what I’m doing and will have a friend do the actual electrical stuff once I know how I want it)

What do you suggest? And specific products for doing so?
I was also thinking about a ring spotlight but not sure that’s cost effective at $189.

Thank you all!!

Option 3 would be your simplest and most cost effective way of going about that. Wiring in a smart switch is not all that different from a regular switch. One thing to note though, most of them require a “common” wire. (usually white) So you may want to make sure your house is wired with one. I believe there are smart switches out now that do not require one, but don’t quote me on that.
Once you have a smart switch installed, there are many ways to go about controlling your lights. You can do it via the ST app, Alexa app (if you use Alexa) or just set it to turn on/off at certain times. I’m not positive how to do it, but you can also set them to turn on/off at sunset/sunrise.
You can do those same things with smart bulbs also, but at a higher price and if someone happens to turn the switch off inside, they will not work.

You can choose a paddle switch like this one…

Or a toggle like this one…

Along with others depending on the existing switches and whether or not you want them to match. Having 4 switches right next to each other, is not usually a big deal with these either.

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I’m in the US

Amanda, by choice I would go with option 3 and use a Fibaro (or Aeotec) relay connected to the internal switch … But…
It all depends on two things:

  1. The wattage (current draw) of the existing lights - Obviously relates to how much the relay can handle
  2. If you leave the lights on all night (or want them timed)

Assuming (1) is ok then you could just use an app to turn them on/off with sunset/sunrise or during a set time period - the in-built ‘Smart Lighting’ app will probably do that for you.

If you want something a bit more fancy then you will need to source an outside motion sensor (difficult to find a reliable one) or do like I do and use a cheap chinese ‘break-beam’ sensor connected to a contact sensor.

I’m in the UK, so prices vary obviously, but the Fibaro relays (which I use a lot of) are about £50 and the break-beam sensor was about £10.00
I used a Fibaro contact sensor (which has cable inputs) which cost about £35

Another option is to use some kind of motion sensing light to trigger the others…
I can help you with suggestions for that if that’s what you would like to do.

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Yes I’m interested in a motion sensing light. In addition to the lights at the corner of the house, I have front and back porch fixtures (that I’m also leaving the light on 24-7 right now). Maybe replacing on of those with a motion could be good. I had considered the ring one for the front.

I’m hesitant to have the corner lights on constantly when it’s dark - but security wise I’d say that will keep people away before they’d even trigger a motion one.

It’s $15 a month to turn on the street light in front of my house - I’m assuming these newer type LED lights even running all night every night will be cheaper than that and cover all around my house.

One of the guys here @fido uses a cheap motion sensing wall light near his front door (plugged into a smart socket after drilling through the wall) to control other lights.
The smart socket will ‘sense’ when the motion light is on and you can use this to control other lights.

So… if you use something like this for both porch areas, then either one (or both) could be setup to trigger the main lights (and go off again when motion stops.)

Can you give an example of what kind of socket. Not sure I’m following :slight_smile:

Ok… I’m in the uk so you have a lot more options than me…

You could use a Smartthings outlet (or any kind of outlet that reports wattage used). plugged into the wall then a cheap ‘dimming’ wall light outside. (Plugged into the smart outlet)

These lights usually are ‘dim’ until they sense motion then go ‘bright’ - returning to dim when the movement ceases.

What I did for Fido was create a smartapp that knows the difference between the current draw of dim and bright. (as read by the smart outlet)
In his case… Dim was about 7 watts I think and bright was about 30 watts
So… we know when the power drawn goes between 7 and 30 the light must be on bright (because the movement sensor saw something)
This was configured to turn on some leds but you could do the same (with the fibaro etc) to turn on the ‘main’ lights

I like that a lot! I’m going to have to keep that in mind once I work my way to the outside lights myself.

Obviously it’s nice if you can cable the outside lights to somewhere not seen
(I think Fido comes into his adjoined garage so the outlet & cables are not seen)
But it seems to work well for him.

Just did your option #3 - Lutron Caseta switch with ‘dumb’ LED bulbs. Provides the necessary timer function along with other ‘smart’ integrations through ST (including presence/arrival and motion-triggered events). Bonus feature for me is the ability to dim the bulbs down for all-night usage. They cast enough light to provide security lighting, but not so much as to irritate the neighbours or draw too much power.

Curious why you chose the lutron instead of the less expensive GE?

Mostly base on good feedback from everyone on these forums about the Lutron, and difficulty finding the GE switches in Canada.

I do indeed, i have a simple 30w led flood light connected to an inexpensive outdoor motion sensor, my power is provided by an electrical cable running from an indoor ( garage in my case ) socket, at the socket i have just added a zwave power plug (not sure what American/Canadians call them ) but whichever you choose make sure it is capable of reporting power usage

The outdoor motion sensors usualy have 2 settings on them, one for Lux and one for how long the light stays on for once movement is detected, once movement is detected the motion sensor which is plugged in to the smart socket naturaly draws current to illuminate the security light, that is your magic switch right there, from that voltage change detection you can do all sorts of fancy pants things within smartthings

Trigger other lights to come on/off if they have smart sockets attached, maybe trigger indoor lights to switch on, anything you can think off and all controled by the sensed voltage change from the motion sensor which costs very little

My personal setup is 30w led floodlight connected to motion sensor with smart plug at wall socket, i have led strips around some of my soffits controled by a Fibaro RGBW controler, my Leds cycle through colours from sunset to midnight after midnight they go off BUT if movement is detected the LED lights fire up in Police mode, couple that with a 30w floodlight and a 10w wall washer that is on all night and the overall efect is pretty off putting for anyone who thinks my driveway is a dark oppotunity at night… sadly a horizontal sprung blade triggered by motion is illigal in the Uk
We do also have one of the Sonos speakers configured to announce " someone is outside" when the motion sensor detects movement and our dogs now also recognise the anouncement, 3 dogs at the window barking, lights at full and soffit lights flashing Police colours… Fast food delivery guys love it honest :slight_smile:

But non of this would be possible without the fabtastic smartthings apps created by Cobra specificaly for my use case of outside lighting

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You could put them (or replace them) on a motion sensor or a dusk/dawn sensor and leave the switch on so they will be automated that way. Mine have each an independent dusk/dawn sensor so they turn on and off automatically. LED, they use very little electricity, I have others with a motion sensor. If you want to make sure the switch is not being accidentally touched, remove it, connect the wires together and put a plate over it. No need to do any fancy ST integration.

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@Awp - Lots of good suggestions here, but I’m really unclear that we actually understand your goals clearly…basic things like:

  • Is SmartThings integration/control a key requirement for all of the lighting (four corners, front and back doors)? It doesn’t sound like it, from what you’ve said so far. We might assume that since you’re here in the SmartThings forum, but you’ve not confirmed that.
  • It seems like your preference is for the four corners lights to be on all night rather than on via motion, that feels safer to you (and could be - I’m no a security expert, but that is a common approach in commercial security systems - lights on):
  • You want motion sensing on the front and back door so they only turn on when motion is sensed, possibly Ring doorbell up front.

So based on above, if integration w/ST isn’t critical for the four corners the simplest approach is something like this timer switch for each light, which an electrician could install/set up for you in a few minutes. That would allow you to set a timer for each corner light, while also being able to turn them on/off manually via the switch if desired.


Then you can put a simple motion detecting light on the back door…many examples available, here’s one randomly selected. If you preferred you could also put a timer on a regular light on the back door (like the corner lights), of course.


Then put a Ring doorbell on the front door so you have video/audio of who approaches your front door, ability to respond to doorbell rings via you phone if you wish, etc. Ring also integrates easily with SmartThings if that is important. You can also put the same motion light over the front door so you have both lighting and recording when people approach. Ring requires $30/year for storing video from cameras, but that’s cheap enough that it’s worth it for a simple turnkey video solution.

You could also put a Ring on the back door (another Ring doorbell or a Ring spotlight or floodlight cam) if you want video in back as well. If you stick with one vendor’s devices for both doors that makes it easier to monitor your doors via one app on your phone.

From what you’ve said I think something like above will meet you goals and provide an easy to use and relatively inexpensive system to light up and monitor your exterior, with “enough” automation/integration. If your goals are different than I’ve assumed from your statements, you can correct and that will help folks here to provide the best advice possible.

Well I think if I was going to go to the effort of putting in a new switch that had a timer, it would be the same (except maybe cost difference which isn’t that drastic with this) to do one that I’d be able to connect with ST.
I just hooked up my hub today so if think I’d like to control from my phone.

That’s very helpful clarification…if you want ST integration w/the switches then definitely get some GE Zwave plus or other similar ST switches. :slight_smile: You can set a timer using the ST SmartLighting app which will run locally and always work even when internet is out. However, if the Hub itself goes down then you’ll lose the automation and have to turn the lights on/off manually from the switch. Probably won’t happen much, but something to be aware of.

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Most if not all flood lights with a motion detector have a timer on it, mine goes 1, 5 and 10 minutes.