Question about automating lighting using motion sensors

Okay so I want to automate my lighting.I have some use cases that I am not sure how to implement.

Bathroom / shower areas. I want to use Zooz 4 in 1 sensors to trigger the lights on with motion, 5 minute no motion off with an exclusion of don’t turn off if the humidity rapidly increases in the space until the humidity goes down to ambient again. I.E. don’t turn the lights off if the shower is in use.

Guest / Main vanity. This has 2 entry doors, thus people come from opposing directions. Can I use sensors from either doorway pointed at the other to trigger the lights on? I don’t want to require BOTH, but EITHER of the sensors for example.

Living room, and kitchen are both fairly large spaces, how much area can a 4 in 1 sensor monitor?

Living room. This one is tricky, and not sure its possible. Say if the TV is on, with no motion assume we are sitting on the couch watching a movie, keep the lights either off, or dim even if motion. But if TV is off, turn the lights on with motion…


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Any more native answers?

The complex rules of what you are trying to accomplish can currently only be handled with a custom solution like WebCore as @jkp has specified. The native tools are really restrictive, that is why this community exists, to provide custom solutions to bridge the gap.


Ah context! That is helpful!

The bathroom scenario needs something to help out with determining that the shower is in use. If that something sets a virtual switch, for example, that can be used to enable/disable a standard Smart Lighting automation. You might also need another something to make sure the light does eventually get turned off. So this scenario might be one for e.g. webCoRE to help out with.

The vanity room shouldn’t be a problem as I use more than one motion sensor in my Smart Lighting automations, albeit in my case using virtual motion sensors to fake motion and force the lights on. They just ‘or’ together.

I can’t comment on range.

For the Living Room I don’t enable motion control until the room is normally empty, and then I add a virtual motion sensor to keep the light on if the TV is still on. So not quite the same but involving similar concepts. As with the bathroom it is how you handle detecting the TV being on that requires the work. Once you’ve got something like a virtual switch and/or a motion sensor reflecting the TV status the standard apps like Smart Lighting can step in.

Okay so I have ordered a lot of 10 Iris 2nd gen motion / temp sesnors from an Ebay seller (price was right, I have LOTS of CR2 batteries waiting to be used, good mix for me!).

So let’s look at the lighting issues.

Master bath.

I want the lights to come on with sensing motion, whether on the toilet, or in the shower. I thus far have been succesful in doing this with a single ceiling mounted ADT SmartThings dual branded sensor.

Master vanity / changing room. This is a funny shaped room. Picture a hallway with a long vanity and mirror on one side, and then a bump out room canted at a 45 degree angle, so if you drew it out, the room would look like a kids drawing of a house with 2 sinks at the bottom. The entry and shower / commode door would be on what in the drawing would be the 2nd floor. I am planning on making a wedge mount and moving the ADT ST dual branded sensor HERE, and using it to turn on / off the light for both the vanity, AND the dressing room. HOWEVER…

I need to figure out a way to detect only HUMAN sized motion. I don’t want the motion of the ceiling fan, or the cat to turn my lights on.

That puts me back in the bathroom / shower / commode area. THis is where one of the Iris 2nd gen sensors will go, just a one for one swap. Is there a way I can use the temp sensor to keep the lights on with this? That way I don’t have to keep it mounted to the ceiling?

Front hallway. This one is tricky. The hallway is a long hall, with more of those funny 45 degree angles. I want to trigger the light when someone approaches the hallway, however there are 4 accesses to this hallway. in sort of a bent cross shape. Front door, to living room is one line, front bedroom to kitchen is the second line that is bent…

Main / Guest vanity. Just a hallway, no bump out. an entry door on each end. The idea here is to use the Iris sensors on each end pointed at the other door to catch any motion and turn the light on.

Main / Guest bath / commode. Same arrangmenent and question as master bath. Can I use the temp sensor to keep the light on? Let’s say ambient temp in the house is normally 74 deg F, and the temp runs up to 80 in this one room and the light is on, keep it on until the temp drops to 74 or 75…

That uses 4+ of the Iris sensors.

The laundry room is already configured with my pre existing Iris 2nd generation motion sensor. Senses motion, light comes on, motion stops for 1 minute, light goes out…

Living room is a great room that is oddly angled. A box with another box on it at 45 degrees again, that blends into the hallway. I want to trigger the lights with motion, if the lights are off, and turn lights off with no motion after XYZ time, This room I want to get a Zooz 4 in 1 sensor as I want to measure RH as well to run a dehumidifier. The temp isn’t my biggest concern so much as is humidity…

Dining room, just a box, but it is open concept to the kitchen and living room. Not sure how to control that light…

Kitchen. Again, open to the hallway and dining room…

Master bedroom, other bedrooms, don’t want motion activated lighting at least for now. However the master, another Zooz 4 in 1, and another dehumidifier will go a long way to keeping my home comfortable for a LOT less money…

Watch out for the dehumidifiers…They use a lot of energy!

Ecolink makes a pet immune motion sensor. They work great and the battery life is excellent!

The Zooz 4-in-1 is GREAT for humidity sensing. It turns on my bathroom fan within five minutes of the shower being on.

Don’t forget that you can put a motion over the shower area…I have my Zooz hardwired in a spot that captures movement while someone is in the shower.

Here’s an example of a webCoRE Piston that uses variables for various automations as it pertains to turning on/off the light and fan in my toilet room. It might not be exactly what you are after but will give you a good idea of a semi-complex webCoRE Piston and the possibilities.

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More so than an air conditioner? I would hope not…

Sorry, I was wrong about the capacity… I was thinking the 50 pint models.

According to the spec sheet, pulls a max of 4.8 amps at 115 v AC. Considering my home AC has 2 30 amp breakers and is likely wired 220v, I am thinking that if I can reduce the load on the AC by pulling more humidity out of the air particularly from the main part of the house, and the master suite, I could save money on electricity usage.

The idea is one of memory, and one of necessity. Mold tends to grow with higher humidity, and it is a struggle to keep RH under 60 % during the summer with the Gulf of Mexico just a few miles away from me, Galveston Bay is literally 2 miles from me as the crow flies.

Yes I need to fix / replace weather strips on doors and eventually replace windows and siding with more efficient, but I am trying to take the steps I can afford. I figure drop the cost of my HVAC, and that frees up funds to invest in more upgrades…

I may not need 2 large dehumidifiers, but I do know I need to remove moisture from the air.

Master suite is approx 12’ wide x 34’ long, and irregular in shape. Due to the irregular shape, considerably under the 384sq ft that it would be assuming a rectangle. Anyway I am still trying to figure out sizing on these things… Low power usage, energy efficiency, reliability, and effective operation are critical…

Dehumidifiers work just like outdoor a/c condensing units. The issue is although the dehumidifier is pulling humidity out of the house, its also dumping the hot air back in which makes your a/c work harder to cool the house.

Maybe I had the wrong dehumidifiers but I promise you that although we were a little more comfortable, the electric bill actually went up! The solution for me was to leave the windows closed at all times, turn the a/c off if a door was opened for too long and “lower” (I think that the right word) the over all comfort level.

House is typically at around 50-55% humid with the temps on average at around 79 degrees. Was a little rough at first but we got use to it. My a/c (2 units) would run all day if I set it to 74 degrees! $$$$$$$$$

However, I do understand that humidity is more problematic in other regions.

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Yeah, I am in coastal Texas. If I set my AC to 79 degrees, I would have black mold everywhere within a week!

Another option, and one we are SERIOUSLY considering, is, as I mentioned I am replacing my AC system, splitting it out multi zoned. The master suite tends to be most humid. There is no vent fan to remove the shower humidity since there is a window (isn’t building code nice?). Not sure how to do the multi zones without breaking the bank. Smart Vents might be a good way to go.

Basically, if I could keep the RH to under 50%, I could easily keep the temp at 76 deg and be comfortable. Much over 50% though and it starts feeling sticky…

Probably a massive redesign to the ducting system would go a LONG way to improving efficiency. The house was built in 1984 and was most likely designed and built by imbeciles.

As it is, right now, In away mode, it is set to 75, home mode is 73, and night is 71. I would LOVE to have smart vents in place, shut down, or reduce flow to the kitchen, living room, home office / studio and laundry room when we are asleep, open them up and reduce the flow into the bedrooms and master bath during the day…

Big problem is, smart vents are…

A. Expensive.
B. Require additional power be run to them…

We live a couple miles from Tampa Bay and don’t have humidity issues. We have aluminum windows that leak terrible (I’ve been too lazy to fix them).

We never open the windows. Wife has pollen issues. 5 days a week the AC gets set to 85 all day and 76 when we are awake and 73 at night. I actually have a hard time keeping enough humidity in the air. We have to run a small humidifier to keep the humidity above 45%.

I think our climates are similar. Cooling about 1100sf.

Well, assuming my Honeywell T-stat reporting is accurate, and allegedly it is, my current in home RH is 68% with the temp set to 74 deg F. Outdoor temp is 80 deg F, and outdoor RH is 65%…

Yes, leaky aluminum frame windows, blah blah blah…

According to your current conditions are 71 deg F at 98% RH outdoors OUCH. My RH is going to get that way shortly, kind of shocked it isn’t there now…

I should mention my wife is occupying the house when I am at work. and we have pets… So I don’t want it in the mid 80s while I am gone…

I’m in Birmingham, Alabama and the heat/humidity can be brutal here, just like your location.

I use the Netatmo weather station. It has the outdoor module as well as 3 indoor modules. It is all very reliable and I never have an issue with it. It is integrated via a 3rd party app.

My house was built in 2014 and I added extra insulation, so indoor humidity is not an issue for me. But, it is brick and can turn into an oven if not monitored. I have a split a/c system in the two story house with Honeywell thermostats running it. They are directly integrated into the ST environment.
I do not use any humidity sensors in the system other than the Netatmo.

Each room has multiple motion sensors, some of them are broken into zones and some are just set up to ensure full coverage of the rooms. Bedroom operate on who’s room it is and if they are present or not. I use Iris gen2 motion sensors and Life360 as my presence sensors.

I have around 25 pistons in WebCore for automations. These pistons run 95% of the house automations. I have approximately 10 in Smart Lighting. These are the absolute must run even if ST or the internet are down. They are primarily lighting automations only.

I have smart switches hard wired in every switch in the house, around 50+ of them as well as a multitude of plug in switches and about 25 Hue Bulbs. All controlled by motion and automations.

To get this system in place and running exactly as I want it took me around 2 years, but that was during a time that ST was in huge upheaval. The cloud was incredibly unreliable during that time, 2015 - 2017. But honestly since around mid 2017 the cloud has done nothing but improve. I am in the beta programs so you would think I’d be unstable, but it really isn’t.

I hardly ever touch my automations any more other than to do maintenance on things. I check to make sure devices are working properly and that the automations are performing exactly as expected.

My point of all of this is that each system is completely unique. My best recommendation is that you find the devices you want to use, and then experiment with them and the automations.

Learn the basics of WebCore. It’s a real life saver.
If you’re using Alexa, Learn to use EchoSistant. It expands on your system control and gives you amazing feedback options as well as many other features.

Do not be afraid of the custom apps. Most of the developers go out of their way to ensure the apps are as user friendly as possible AND they are almost always online here to help out with any issues you may experience, from install to setting up automations.

My recommendations of smartapps to install:

Echo Speaks
Rooms Manager
Virtual Device Creator (virtual devices run local if applied correctly)
ST community installer

There are many more, but these are what I use to manage my 200+ device system.


@BigHoss, I just found it odd. I hope you can solve it.

I am going to end this off topic conversation in your thread. Sorry about that.

@oldcomputerwiz no problem. I am pretty sure a lot of the problem I have is this house is super leaky. I am very jealous of everyone saying their house was built sometime in this last 20 year timeframe. My house has been through several hurricanes tropical to starves and incredibly badd construction methods. I am trying to solve the many problems it has but it’s going to take time and money both of which are in somewhat limited quantities these days.

I should note that I am going through and any insulation and radiant barrier as I go as well. That would have been done he years ago but my health hasn’t been cooperating enough with me crawling around the attic. I need to hire some help.

As a go through I am recocking windows and like I said insulating in repairing any leaks that I can find. With the new AC system comes a new air handler and plenum which should handle a huge part of my energy and humidity problem.