Outdoor motion sensor

Can somebody please explain (in layman terms) what motion sensor I can buy to sense when someone has entered by drive and send a signal to turn my Lifx light bulbs on via the SmartThings hub. I’ve no idea why this is so difficult. Surely this is quite a common request? I’m prepared to spend a bit to ensure no false alarms.

I use my camera system. Motion is detected, triggers an event. I’m sure others will have suggestions for a motion sensor. I think there are some outdoor rated, but none I know off the top of my head.

I would suggest that you search for “outdoor motion sensor”. There are numerous threads on this topic.

I bought a normal outdoor motion security light and wired in a vision zwave relay. It uses the sensor as the switch input and allows me to control the light via zwave.

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I use the Dakota Alert DCMA-2500 Motion Alert solution coupled with a MIMOlite - works like a boss.

The Dakota solution works extremely well over extended distances (up to 1/2 mile between sensors and the base station). The base station has a great feature in being able to open/close dry contacts when motion is detected (via different channels if need be). Those dry contacts interact with the MimoLite which is connected to ST via Z-Wave.

It works like a charm. The Dakota solution has different transmitter/sensor types - I use two from their range. the general driveway/motion transmitter and their universal transmitter. The universal transmitter is really flexible as it can hook up to regular magnetic door close sensors.

Ive dropped a few of the universal transmitters into weatherproof boxes to monitor three gates around my property plus general motion at front and back yards.



I used a standard mains powered motion sensor that is wired to a standard mains powered 30w LED security light, the sensor is powered from a standard plug in my garage, at the plug face i added a power sense Zwave pocket socket

when motion is detected the power draw goes above 10w and anything i want turns on or off, i have outside LEDs, they switch from colour change to Police flash, i have other security lights all plugged into pocket sockets which also react simply via a custom device handler written by Cobra

However if you dont want a security light the pocket socket will not detect a power draw because nothing is being drawn so it wont help you

My setup has never gone wrong and is pretty cheap because all you need is cheap parts and one zwave pocket socket

Do you have the light plugged into the Zwave socket? It’s the light activating, not the sensor alone, that pulls above 10W to trip, right?

Power socket to sensor
Sensor to light

The sensor is on 24/7 but because they have there own adjustments for lux and on duration they draw basicaly nothing until lux reaches your set amount and movement is detected, then the sensor triggers its own in built switch to power in my case a 30w led light

At that point power draw goes from 0.5w to 30w at the socket. Detected by the power sense pocket socket and controled via a custom smart app writen by Cobra here on the forum

You could buy a all in one security light with motion sensor or 2 seperate items dependant on needs

Can I just reiterate the phrase in "layman terms ". To those that have replied, thank you, but phrases like dry contact and relay input mean absolutely nothing to me. Why would they?

What I need is someone to tell me specifically what to buy and to ensure me that it’s compatible with UK SmartThings. And then how to rig it up.

So, can anyone help me using simplistic terms and language?

What do I need to buy to make my LIFX wifi lights come on when a car enters the drive?

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Thanks for your help Bryan

Laymens terms
do you have the ability to afix a motion sensor, security light and connect a cable to make it work ??

If so then buy a cheap motion sensor from toolstation, 30w security light from toolstation, cable and a 3pin plug, dependant on your install location you may need ducting for the external cable or armoured cable or grey or white cable, only you can decide

If this is not something you can do then you will need an electrician but they really are easily done by a DIYer, if you are looking for a battery powered sensor that just sticks to a wall and it works, nothing exists, you have to find what suits you best and work at a solution

When it is all wired up and working, the app will see that power is being drawn on motion, send a zwave signal to any switch or Smartthings connected device and turn it on and off if needed
Even if your LIFX lights are wifi you can still use IFTTT to contrl them from within smartthings

I also have a proper security camera fitted outside that has awsome Night vision but you cant beat actual daylight for recognition, so it auto switches to daylight mode if the security light comes on add to that a Fibaro RGBW led light set up as well which switches to police mode on motion after a set time of night and all triggered by a cheap motion sensor, once you have the motion sensor installed you can have all sorts of fun

or an all in one unit

plus a smart plug


app to make it work from the very awsome Cobra


What light did you use for this project? I picked up a cheap LED security setup to wire the switch side of the relay to the motion sensor. However it turns out the sensor needs to see a load to trip the timer. So my z-wave relay will fire but never auto shuts off.

Hi Martin,

I too have a Dakota Alert DCMA-2500 and a FortrezZ MIMOlite z-wave module. I’ve successfully connected the MIMOlite to my Smartthings hub and can turn the MIMOlite off and on with the Smart Things classic app. The app even sends me a text when the MIMOlite module is turned on.

However, I can’t get the Dakota Alert to send me a text when someone comes in our driveway. I’ve tried multiple wiring configurations between the DCMA-2500 and the MIMOlite without any luck. I’ve also changed the J4 jumper in the receiver to 10 seconds and still no luck. How exactly do you have yours connected? Did you have to do anything special to get it to work? Any help you could provide would be great.


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Hey Ben

I have my setup mounted in a project box on a wall in the garage. I will get a ladder out and take a bunch of pictures for you plus confirm software setup. I won’t be able to do it until the weekend though, I hope that’s ok.

I can confirm this setup works extremely well, never touch it, just works. I use two different types of remote sensors. The driveway motion sensors in a few places plus the universal sensors with external magnetic sensors for gates.


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That would be awesome. I look forward to your pictures and setup info!


Hi Ben,

As promised, please see a few images of the physical wiring between the MIMOlite and the Dakota Alert boxes.

It sounds like you’re close; just to confirm, I have the MIMOlite setup with the generic zwave motion profile, '(Z-Wave Motion Sensor).

When motion is detected, it fires off a couple of automations using the Smart Lighting app; one to control perimeter lighting around the home and another to trigger a virtual switch which I expose in WebCore for interaction with Node-Red - that latter is not required for Smartthings uses (secret sauce).

As mentioned, I have a couple of different Dakota sensors - regular exterior sensors detecting motion on the driveway or around the yard; I also have the universal sensors hooked up to magnetic reed switches to detect gate open/close events.

As you see in the images, I only use a single relay channel on the Dakota to keep it simple but you could use multiple MIMO’s (or the dual version) to detect alerts in different channels.

I hope this helps, shout and perhaps I can try and help troubleshoot




Martin, super helpful post there, thank you so much !

May I ask three things - does your Dakota sensor sense people as well as cars?

Also, did you look into alternatives to the Mimolite? such as hacking a door sensor or using another sensor which accepts external input?

Also, how far can the Dakota white receiver box me away from the wireless motion sensors?

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Yes, the DCMA-2500 will sense people too. Every time the boys next door walk through the yard at night my flood light turns on for them :wink:

I am using some Monoprice Z-Wave Plus Door/Window Sensors instead of a Mimolite. I’ve hooked up the external input to the DCMA-2500. There is a handler that you’ll need to use in order to enable it.

My Dakota receiver is in the house, with the farthest sensor about 50 yards away outside. Dakota says that these will go for a half mile line of sight.

I’ve only had this setup for about month, but so far it’s been great.


Hi @madmarko

  1. the dakota sensor detects movement very well, be it a car or person walking on to my drive or person jumping over my yard fences. its super reliable (I wish all my internal sensors worked as reliable :slight_smile: ). As stated in my original post, I use a few different sensors with the dakota system, the regular outdoor motion devices ( i have multiple of these devices around the perimeter - I dont seem to get any false positives); their universal sensor I hook up to gate sensors, only trip when gate opens - I have to say, its far exceeded my expectations.

  2. how far… as @xdreamwalker has stated, they say up to 1/2 mile with line of sight - mine are ~50-80 yards in straight line - not tested further sorry. Im considering a mailbox addon which would stretch that…

  3. as for, did I consider alternate setup - actually… I’m now using the dakota device with a homemade micro-controller (ESP8266 NodeMCU) - I’m starting to use MQTT for most sensors these days via Node-Red and Home Assistant. the recent community post gave me a nudge to get up on the ladder to document my setup so went ahead and updated it.

its been working great for approx 1yr via MimoLite/ZWave but as stated, I’m moving most of my home automation to a new platform for various reasons but mostly for complete open flexibility.


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thanks. It’s a straight shootout now between the Dakota and an Infrared beam. The Dakota is cheaper to expand though which is possibly tipping it. Can I assume the sensor is like a “more targeted” PIR than most PIRs on the market e.g. the ones attached to security lights.

funnily enough i’m constantly teetering on the edge of migrating to Home Assistant from ST. With the ESP8266 I guess you don’t need your SmartThings as a Zwave radio any longer?

Having read the term Node Red twice in the last two days i’ve just looked up what it is, and I think it’s exactly what Home Assistant needs. As this article says, it’s a match made in Heaven. Thanks for mentioning it. Learning all the time!