Sabbath mode for sensors

I’ve been looking to setup a smart alarm system for my home for a few months now, and I keep running into one issue.

If I have an “entry” sensor on my front door, then I won’t be able to open it on Sabbath by virtue of causing the accelerometer (or whatever is actually doing the sensing) to trip, and/or causing a light to flash.

Is there any way to completely disable the sensor itself (i.e. turn off the accelerometer), not just disabling reporting events to the system?

My only other solution is to pull the sensor off any opening that I anticipate needing to open on Sabbath (not the greatest solution).

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There may exist somewhere in the world some sensors that accept “shutdown” commands via ZigBee or Z-Wave, but I don’t know of any. It is not something that was considered in the specification.

  1. You could pull out the battery prior to Sabbath and reinstall after.
  2. You could automate #1 by replacing the batteries with DC power supplies connected to smart power outlets.
  3. Or you could rig up a battery powered relay to do the equivalent of #2 with batteries only.
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With a little logic, perhaps a Sabbath virtual switch could be used: do whatever if NOT Sabbath…

While I wouldn’t recommend SmartThings as a primary security system as it is just not reliable enough (see many discussions in the forums), the usual method for addressing this issue is to use hardwired sensors and then cut power to them altogether for the Sabbath. It’s only the battery powered ones that have the issue of operating independently.

If you do want to use these kinds of sensors with SmartThings for home automation or convenience cases, there is a community – created integration method that can work well:

The other alternative is the old “NikeNet” solution of going around the house and removing batteries from individual sensors as part of Sabbath preparation. It works, it’s just inconvenient. :sunglasses:


Sabbath, Bloody Sabbath!!

Of course… There it is possible that setting off the sensor is “permissible”…

But probably not… :wink:

The conclusion to the linked article:

Rav Rosen and Rav Henkin both point out that the issues surrounding electronic sensors have been discussed both explicitly and implicitly for decades.
See, for example, R. Shlomo Zalman Braun, She’arim Ha-Metzuyanim Ba-Halakhah, second edition, 80:2 (automatic door); R. Gedaliah Felder, Yesodei Yeshurun vol. 5, pp. 160-161; R. Yehoshua Neuwirth, Shemiras Shabbos Ke-Hilkhasah 23:53; R. Gersion Appel, The Concise Code of Jewish Law, vol. 2 p. 214; R. Mordechai Eliyahu, Responsa Ha-Rav Ha-Roshi, no. 73; idem., Responsa Ma’amar Mordechai 4:166; R. Levi Yitzchak Halperin, Responsa Ma’aseh Chosheiv 1:12; idem., Shabbat and Electricity, chs. 7 (alarm system) & 9 (automatic door); Prof. Zev Lev, Ma’arkhei Lev, pp. 387-388; R. Shalom Yosef Gelber & R. Yitzchak Mordechai Rubin, Orechos Shabbos, 26:26-33 and notes; R. Eliezer Melamed, Peninei Halakhah, Shabbos 17:14 and Harchavos.
From what I can tell, the permissive position is unique and unsustainable.

A friend of mine who is observant says that rather than removing batteries they use a standard two-piece contact sensor for the door with the magnet piece mounted with a 3M command strip. Then as part of sabbath preparation they just move the small magnet piece to a different position on the wall where it won’t trip the sensor. That way it doesn’t get lost but the sensor won’t trip when the door is opened.

They also use a cover for motion sensors.

It’s obviously not as convenient as an electrical circuit you can automatically shut off, but he says his children enjoy the process of going around the house and preparing everything, and going around the house that way is something he remembers doing with his grandmother when he was a child, so for his family it is less a matter of inconvenience than just part of the transition process.


Thanks for the replies :grin:

The battery powered relay and additional magnet idea seem feasible to me.

I’ve discussed the issues of electrical circuits and sensors on Sabbath with my Rabbi, and the end result was that until we can conclusively decide that you can use them (in whatever capacity), you should refrain from using them.

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No disrespect. I am in the same boat with you, but Just take the easyway and create a Sabbath routine and have no action taken on all the sensors which impact you.

In my scholarly oppinion. HA does not break Sabbath if your motion sensor triggers a light for you when it is dark.

Forgive my ignorance but is the concern tripping the door sensor or tripping the door sensor and causing the light to flash?

You could likely set up automations that would ignore the door sensor during Sabbath. There’s also the SmartApp, Shabbat and Holiday Modes, under Presence & Modes in the Marketplace.

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The concern is the intentional act of opening the door causing an electrical device to change state, which includes both the LED on the sensor turning on and the radio inside the sensor telling the hub that it detected “open”.

That’s why the first post says the OP doesn’t want to just ignore the sensor activity. He needs the sensor activity to not happen on the Sabbath. Which includes both the LED on the sensor turning on and the radio inside the sensor telling the hub that it detected “open”.

See the links above that @tgauchat listed. This is a common issue for security systems and for that matter appliances.

If I recall correctly, Samsung was one of the first companies to sell a refrigerator and an oven that have a “Sabbath mode” option.

There are some security companies that sell systems that have a Sabbath mode option for their hardwired sensors, but You can’t really do it automatically with battery powered sensors. Hence the options discussed above.

From an engineering standpoint, the one for the refrigerator is really interesting. Not having the light come on when the door is opened is pretty obvious, but you also need to not have the compressor start because of the change in temperature when the doors open. Different companies have addressed this differently, with most changing the refrigerator over to just a time based schedule for the duration of the Sabbath., But it was an interesting problem. We read about it in one of my engineering classes in college. It was a case where the potential customers could very clearly describe the problem, but they didn’t have any proposed solution because they didn’t know what was possible. And then when the engineers came up with a proposed solution, they had to go back to the potential customers to make sure it would meet their requirements.

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Also no disrespect, this is a good idea from @lmosenko, but the security of my family would always trump any religious ideology. I summered in an Orthodox Jewish neighborhood for many many years, some of the flat out stupid/dangerous things people would do to avoid these kinds of situations still boggles my mind to this day. In fact it’s my strongest argument against organized religion.

Opening a door is fine, just because there happens to be a little bit of plastic and metal on it, should change nothing. Or maybe don’t open the door since those hinges are then doing work too…

Let’s not get into an argument over other people’s religion/philosophies. It’s not going to get us anywhere as far as the purposes of this forum. (And besides, people who really care about their family’s security aren’t going to be using SmartThings for that purpose anyway. :wink:)

It’s an interesting engineering problem, and given the parameters of the use case other community members may have practical suggestions so we can help each other in that way. But let’s not put anyone in the position of having to defend their personal philosophies, provided what they’re doing meets NEC standards, of course. :smiley:

Submitted with respect.


I fully respect your opinion JD but not bringing up the obvious isn’t helping either.

My immediate neighbor would have me come over on Sunday to turn his oven on so his wife could cook dinner. After several weeks of this it dawned on me he never came back asking me to turn it off. I asked him the following week why that was. He said he just left his (gas) oven on all night and turned it off in the morning. W. T. F.?

You are right that ST isn’t great for security but if that’s one use the OP expects the system to function as, disabling it intentionally is tantamount to willful negligence against the safety of his family, which I’m sure ANY God would be displeased with.

Religious belief is not a reason to ignore logic. Stating counter points against the beliefs and having discussions is the only way to further the evolution of one’s own beliefs and understandings in their chosen religion.

The irony of that statement upsets every moral fiber in my body, so I will bow out now. I truly mean no disrespect. Only wish to offer logical counterpoints.

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Apparently you are not familiar with, so called, “extremist”, religions. :cry:. There are plenty of “unsafe” (or worse) practices which are abhorrent to logical family values.

Yah… Discussion along these lines doesn’t fit in this Community.


Sorry everyone for starting up on @eygraber. But I do side on logic over religion. Even if I am still traditional. And to not want him to change his ways. Just don’t think that my Rabbi can tell me not to know if my house is safe. What’s next. He will tell me to turn off my Smoke/Co sensor because it will warn me that my house is on fire because I left my oven on. No FAT chance! FYI, I helped him mod his doors and bulds to be turned on and to dim and go off for Sabbath. He did not think it broak it for him and his faily.

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Perhaps mod the door sensor? Assuming the magnetic reed switch is ‘closed’ with the door closed, adding a switch in parallel with the reed switch to keep it ‘closed’ when the door is opened (no LED blink; no signal to hub) may meet the spirit of the regulation…

Close the switch for sabbath, open it otherwise :sunglasses:

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That should work as well. Most rabbis have said that it is when an intentional act creates a state change that “work” has been performed. It’s OK if an electrical device is in one state before the Sabbath begins and then continues for the duration of the Sabbath. And while different rabbis may have different opinions, that’s for them to argue about. Each individual community member has to work with the one they work with.

(Again, while I think the discussions of applying logic to religion can be interesting and valuable, they don’t belong in this particular forum. For this forum, when someone says they have a personal reason for a particular use case, regardless of whether their reasoning is aesthetics or religious or family tradition or whatever, we should just accept the parameters of the use case given and work with those provided the solution doesn’t violate NEC code. :sunglasses: )

A magnetic sensor which could be set to a persistent “closed” would be an interesting approach, although I don’t know how easy it would be to do The modification. It would be cool, though, because then you could automate the process of switching it from “always closed” to “reporting events.”


Continuing the discussion from Sabbath mode for sensors:

Hi All,

If the SmartThings sensors (Multipurpose and Motion) are set up to not turn on or off anything, at least on Sabbath; and the LEDs on the sensors do not flash on state change (which so far the ones I have do not seem to light); then the only Sabbath issue is transmitting and saving the state change to the Hub data?

If the hub does not receive the data, then the sensor being active is NOT an issue since the attempted unsuccessful transmission itself is not a problem?

Obviously, I would not want to disable the Hub for Sabbath as it controls many things that I DO want to happen such as scheduled light on/offs. I am thinking of getting a second hub, connecting all the OK Sabbath devices to one hub and the PROHIBITED Sabbath devices to the second and just unplugging the Prohibited Devices Hub during Sabbath. Does this seem like a workable solution?

A brief look tells me two hubs can be in the same system, but it is a little complicated to control actions from one hub to the other and also it may introduce some lag (another forum),. So I will need to think about if this works, would it be a practical solution for me.