Searching for direction on motion-triggered lighting (will NestCams work?)

I’m trying to find some ideas for lighting that will work best for my current setup.

I currently have smartthings hub, nest thermostat, nest indoor cameras, nest fire alarms.

The ultimate goal is to be able to have my lights go on/off based on activity in that specific area.

My initial thought is to use the Nest Cam’s as motion sensors via IFTTT and have that trigger a smart switch that turns the lights on/off. Is this a good idea or would it be best to get a smart switch with integrated motion and ditch the camera idea?

Sounds like a very practical project! We use a lot of motion-triggered lighting at our house. :sunglasses:

First, what country are you in? The device selection and even some of the app features do vary. And light switch selection in particular is very different by region.

I’m not familiar with the Nest cameras, so hopefully someone else will have ideas there.

My first thought would be just to try the cameras by setting up a dummy routine to send a notification for motion so you can get an idea if they might work.

If it seems like they won’t, my own suggestion would be to use a standalone sensor rather than one built into a switch unless it’s for a very narrow passage. This lets you place it in the best position or even combine 2 or 3 into a zone.

For example, at our house we do use an integrated switch in the utility closet. There’s no point in having a separate sensor there since the sensor built into the switch does catch every time the door opens, which is all we need.

We have a large living room, though, and that switch is near the entry. Works fine to catch someone going into the room, but they are invisible to the switch if they come in from the patio or are sitting on the couch,. So we use multiple standalone sensors in that room.

So little details can make a big difference for each location. :sunglasses:

I forgot to mention that the biggest challenge for most people designing a motion-controlled lighting set up is the “lights off after no motion” part of the routine. That’s when the person sitting on the couch matters, because if they aren’t triggering the motion sensor, the lights may turn off too soon.

If you only want the sensor to turn lights on and you’ll use a manual switch, voice, or a time schedule to turn them off, then the integrated switch should work fine. Or again, if it’s a closet or passageway area where the person is never out of sensor range or sitting still.

Details, again. :wink:

Does the native nest cam integration in SmartThings not expose motion events?

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Great advice. I can see your thought process with this.

Sounds like, for the living room, having a motion sensor that would turn on the lights, but then manually shutting the lights off (or using voice) would be best. However, in the hallway, the motion sensor (or possibly cam in my case) might work just fine turning on/off because people usually arent staying in the hallway.

I’m in the USA. The nest cam does detect motion events, so my next thought is…at the minimum would i have to get a smart switch, so the motion can trigger the switch or is there a different way of accomplishing the same goal? I did buy some phillips hue lights and a bridge, i’m not fully understanding how to use them for my scenario. They feel like something that would be best used in voice activating situations.

Thanks so much for your feedback

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The motion events show in the Nest app (which is also integrated into google home) and i think that i got the cams to appear in smartthings through the google home integration. If that makes sense? I actually do remember it showing motion for the cams in smartthings but I’m not sure of some of the technicalities

In the smartthings app, go to the + sign in the upper right, choose devices, choose by brand and scroll down to Nest. This will add your nest cams to smartthings. Then in SmartThings, go to the automations tab, tap + in the upper right, choose add automation and see if you can create an automation with motion from your next cam as the IF and your light as the THEN.

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You have to have a smart something to turn the lights on. There are multiple possibilities that work with smartthings.

  1. Smart bulb in a regular fixture or table lamp. Once you add your hue bridge to smartthings you will be able to select individual bulbs when you create your routines. So since you already have those, that would probably be the best way to start.

  2. Switch cover or robot finger to physically move your existing dumb switch. These sound a little weird but work fine. They are battery operated devices which sit over the top of the existing rocker or toggle switch and literally move it on or off as requested. I use some of these in my own home. they can be a good solution for when you don’t want to actually replace an existing dumb switch.

These are a little bit noisy when the motor is actually operating. Not as loud as a garbage disposal, but loud enough that a cat will notice it.

There are several brands. This is the one that I use. Note that the current generation is all white, it no longer has the little silver band at the bottom. Otherwise it looks about the same.

  1. get a smart switch that replaces your existing dumb switch and will work with dumb lights. There are quite a few brands which work well with smartthings, but they will require being wired in to replace the old switch. Some models are dimmers and some are just on/off switches. Since you have a hub, you can use zwave, Zigbee or WiFi protocols, but you still need to check to make sure that the specific model works with smartthings.

These days I personally like zooz or inovelli zwave switches. Moderately priced, excellent engineering, and both companies are committed to keeping up with the platform changes that are coming for smartthings over the next year. Both brands are very popular in the community. Zooz is The house brand for The Smartest House.


At our house we use Lutron Caseta switches because we don’t have neutrals at our switch boxes and at the time that we started in 2014 that was the only brand that had that option, although now other brands do as well. I do really like these for a lot of reasons, but the integration with smartthings is just not as good as the Z wave switch is right now. It still works for me because we also use Apple HomeKit and Lutron works great with that. But if you are just using smartthings I would go with one of the other brands. YMMV.

Okay, I just checked. It allows me to choose Nest Cam → Motion Detected

As far as the light part. So, one of the things i want to do is have the lights come on in the hallway when someone goes to the bathroom at night. I guess i could theoretically just install the phillips hue light with a bridge, and have the motion trigger that, but that seems overboard to have one light on that bridge. Right? So in this example, I imagine that a smart switch would be better?

Okay interesting. Do with hue…if i have (let’s say) 20 bulbs connected to one bridge, i can control each of the 10 bulbs individually? If that is so…that changes everything. I was under the impression that i would need a new bridge for every room. Am i able to adjust the dimming level as well? My idea is that, if the lights come on in the middle of the night, I’d like them to be dimmer than normal

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yes, you can control individual bulbs and dimming levels. With that said, for ceiling fixtures, I prefer smart switches. Their easier for guests and family members to use and can’t get accidentally turned off by a wall switch like smart bulbs can.

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Makes sense. I was looking into those Zooz switches. Tomorrow, I will look and see if i have a neutral wire and probably go from there. Thanks a lot for your help


Yes, it does. But it’s a cloud-to-cloud integration so there will most likely be significant delays.

I have 6 Nest Outdoor cams around my house, no other Nest devices. I played with the official Google Nest to SmartThings integration when it was first made available.

I did not find it useful. Link below describes my use-cases


Each hue bridge can handle up to 50 bulbs, and all 50 will be available in SmartThings. Other hue devices connected to a hue bridge like buttons, switches, and sensors probably won’t be available in smartthings, though.

These days there are options for switches (including some of the zooz models) which can control smart bulbs without killing the power to them. But that really only makes sense if you need some of the specific smart bulb features like color changing or setting up multiple zones in a large room. Otherwise a smart switch with a dumb bulb makes more sense in most cases.

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Okay thanks for the feedback, ill read what you posted when i get home :slight_smile:

That’s a shame with the delay part you spoke about. I’m hoping to get more nest products- like the doorbell and its a shame they dont play nice with others…if you know what i mean? I was toying with the idea of using a tri-sensor for motion detection, and temperature and then have that communicate with the nest thermostat

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my initial impressions is, hue seems to be more of a headache than what its worth. I like some of the features they offer but the integration seems dumb

Everybody has their own needs and preferences. The hue bridge is one of the most popular home automation devices in the world because it integrates very well with so many different systems. The one thing that does not integrate well is hue scenes, which they designed in a different way than most home automation systems and they just can’t be carried over very well. But other than that, they do what they are designed to do, which is provide color changeable bulbs, better than most of the competitors, but also at a higher cost.

We have two hue bridges at our house, one on the main system and one that one of my housemates uses just in his own room for atmospheric effects.

But obviously it’s up to you. If you find something else you like better, go with that. choice is good. :sunglasses:

Yeah, i can see what you mean. I guess i must be pretty basic with lighting lol. I just want them to come on when I want to and be able to adjust the brightness.

I think that I just bought the phillips hue stuff prematurely because they were deemed the best smart lights on many different sites so i figured it would do everything I want. I really should have looked at application based uses.

Good news, I’ve never opened the package so i could probably sell it

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You could sell it even if you opened it. :slight_smile:

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