Smart Porch Light

What’s the purpose of dimming porch lights, if you don’t mind my asking? I have a porch light with build-in light sensor so it turns on at dusk and turns off at dawn without any fancy Internet-dependent automation. I use a 10W, 800 lumen LED bulb I bought from Ikea for $5. It consumes less than 3 kWh energy per month costing me roughly 50 cents per month to operate. At this price I don’t really care if it’s on at full brightness all night long. Is it really worth it trying to automate it, considering that it also increases a chance of failure due to Internet outage or frequent SmartThings scheduling hiccups? Just thinking out loud here… :slight_smile:

We have lights that would bother the neighbors if they were on full brightness all night, but we still like to have them go full brightness if we come home late.

@Navat604, I searched for something similar first but didn’t find anything. How did you find it?

@geko, I use an LED bulb too, so it really doesn’t have anything to do with saving money. I just don’t like bright lights on the exterior of homes, but I do want bright lights for security reasons when I’m coming home late or when someone approaches my home after dark. It also seems to have the side effect of not attracting as many bugs. I haven’t been using it long enough to say for sure that the dim light is keeping them away, but that would be fantastic if it is.

I really don’t have SmartThings scheduling issues but it could be that I just don’t notice. The possible failures due to internet connectivity issues are a concern on the original hub, however, the new version of the SmartThings hub runs apps locally on the hub so no internet connection is required. Mobile phone presence sensors might not work but all of the other triggers should still work fine.

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Oh, so they say, so they say… I’ll believe it when I see it. :wink:

I know that smartapp because I am using it :smile:
It’s kind of a long name but here is a link.
Dusk-to-Dawn Light Control with Lux control and Motion Dimming - RC2

D’oh! He confused me with a descriptive title. Thanks for sharing the link.

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In my case. My backyard is really dark and having one light on at 10% is just about right without bothering my neighbors with light pollution. So when I arrive home late at night. With motion, light on at 50%. That’s bright enough to get up my stairs. 100% brightness for unexpected guess when I am in goodnight mode. Sure, I can put in a dumb timer but why :smile:

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Yeah my fronts are all on at 100% but I keep my back door light set to minimum.

@geko The reason for dimming porch lights is simple, at least for me it is. I have 4 porch lights across the front of my house. 2 on the porch and 2 on the garage. I currently have a robot through my Wink hub to turn them on just before dusk at about 25% and to turn them off after midnight.

I originally had all 4 of the lights come on at 100%. I thought, hey the brighter the better right? I was wrong. I was outside one night and walked across the street to look at my house ( I really like my house, I just built it last year ) and I noticed that all I could see was the 4 really bright LED lights. I couldn’t see the house! I couldn’t see my landscape lights or the flood lights. The 4 lights literally blinded me to seeing the house.

So, I looked around the street and I noticed that my house was shining like the North Star. Did I mention it actually sits on top of a hill at the highest point in the neighborhood. I really like my house. I also noticed that everyone else’s porch lights were much dimmer. So, I stood across the street with my App open and adjusted my porch lights. I can see the house now.

But, I really like the idea of my lights going to max brightness when I come home and then dimming shortly after. I consider that true home automation.


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That’s one funny story. Sounded like you really like your house.

Yeah, I kind of like it… It took seven months to get it built the way I wanted it and I try to take care of it. Now, I want it all automatic!

I tried using those fixtures with the dusk to dawn feature as well as w/motion. Every one I’ve bought fails…and for what they cost it makes much more sense to use a regular fixture (that costs very little and is reliable) and a $15 programmable bulb being as I already have the home automation network there might as well use it!

Got mine for $20 each, I think, almost 6 years ago. Still work like a charm. I guess I’m luckier than you are. :smile:

I figure most people interested in this primarily to not bother their neighbors. It’s not a concern for me since my neighbor’s houses are far enough not to be bothered by my porch light and I don’t mind my house to be well lit at night.

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Mine is set like most, Porch/patio lights on at dusk 10% off at 10pm, then on only if backdoor opens/someone comes home/or motion in driveway at 100%
My flood lights supplement, anyone arriving/fence gate opens/or stranger in driveway, 6 floods at 100%.

The sunrise and sunset scheduling is fixed. I also added the following features.

  • Added an offset option for sunrise and sunset
  • Added trigger for motion sensors
  • Added trigger for vibration sensors (Door knock)*
  • Added trigger for contact sensors*
  • Added option to overlay a button on the app icon to trigger lights
  • Added individual brightness settings for all events
  • Adjusted settings pages layout and messaging to try to make setup easier.
  • Added option to have events pushed to hello, home

To Do:

  • Remember light levels if they’re adjusted outside of the app and reset to default on the next sunset
  • Add trigger for doorbells.
  • Suppress subsequent events of different types if a trigger is still active. This will prevent changes to the light level if multiple events with different brightness settings are triggered.

*I don’t currently own a contact sensor or vibration sensor so neither of those have been properly tested outside of the simulator. I’ll retest once SmartThings releases their new Multi Sensor.

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This is the goal for my outside lights. I am going to tweak an app that is already out there.

  • Lights come on at sunset at a dim level of 5%
  • If a motion sensor is detected the lights go to 100% for 5 minutes
  • Lights turn off at 1:00am
  • If a motion sensor is detected after 1:00am the lights go to 100% for 5 minutes
  • The lights turn on 30 minutes before sun rise
  • The lights turn off at sunrise

This app does all but the last 2. You could easily modify it to get the result you want.

Is anybody else having trouble with this app? It worked fine for me until recently. The last few days I have to re-run the app daily or it won’t fire.

That sounds suspiciously like the symptoms of Sudden Scheduler Death Syndrome. There’s a lengthy topic on it here:

No fix or ETA on a fix exists.

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