I wondered if it was possible to have a contact/motion sensor operate only on a certain day of the week and during a set time range?
My Father has Alzheimer’s, and I want to automate the lighting as much as possible for him. For example, I want the hallway and restroom light to switch on during the night when the bedroom door opens (contract sensor), but only between midnight - 6 am and only on weekdays.
I would be able to set up multiple rules similar to the above example.
I am seeking advice on what hardware I will need to make all of this work. I will use motion and contract sensors on/near doors.
My current setup is:
LIFX A60 globes connected directly to the following router;
Ubiquiti AMPLIFI High-Density HD MESH Home WiFi AC Router 3x3MIMO AFI-R
This forum is for people who are using the Samsung SmartThings ™ Home automation system. So all of the questions and answers are assumed to be in that context.
You don’t have to have a smartthings hub to use the smartthings platform, and there is an integration with LIFX, but you would still need to get a motion sensor and there just aren’t very many that work in a smartthings set up without a hub.
(Because there is a hardware selection factor in what you’re asking about, I’m moving this thread to projects so you can get individualized suggestions on that as well.)
The short answer to what you were asking is that certainly it’s possible, but it depends on what platform you’re going to use.
Anyway, before we go any farther, by any chance do you use Apple devices in that home? Does someone who live there have an iPhone? That would open up some additional possibilities.
If you are interested in using the Samsung SmartThings platform but you don’t want to get a hub, then the trick is finding a motion sensor that will work.
To be honest, at the present time I do not recommend getting a SmartThings hub for a situation like yours: there’s just a lot of unreliability, and that could be very frustrating for someone with your father‘s condition.
Oh, I also forgot to ask if you are using an echo device in the home. Because that also opens up some additional possibilities. If you get an echo device that has a zigbee hub inside, those have been very reliable, Will also work with your LIFX bulbs, and there are some motion sensors that will work with them as well. And then it doesn’t matter whether you have an iPhone or not.
I assume that I need to create a Level 2 based rule, but I am unsure of my options and the best way to go about it.
I apologise for leaving out important details:
My current setup is:
Hub: (Unused): Google Nest Hub Gen 2
Globes: LIFX A60 globes connected directly to the following router;
Router: Ubiquiti AMPLIFI High-Density HD MESH Home WiFi AC Router 3x3MIMO AFI-R
Phones: iPhone 8 Plus, iPhone X, iPhone 12 Pro
iPad:: 12.9-inch iPad Pro Cellular
I also have a Google Nest Hub Gen 2 that was given to me, but I have not opened it up just yet. I am open to using a SmartThings hub, but I also want to have a reliable setup, and so I will heed your advice on looking at other options.
I do not have an Echo but I am more than willing to buy one being an Amazon Prime member.
I appreciate your help and look forward to your reply.
Google nest hub is not actually a hub, in the sense that it does not establish a network. I know that’s super technical and don’t worry about it if you don’t want to, but if you go with that you still have to use Wi-Fi-based sensors.
WIFI: great range, poor battery life
The problem with Wi-Fi-based sensors is that Wi-Fi uses way more energy than zigbee, zwave, thread, or Bluetooth. Usually a battery-powered motion sensor used to trigger lighting would be expected to go for 1 to 2 years on a single set of batteries. Zigbee, zwave, Thread, and Bluetooth can all definitely meet the one year goal.
Although there have been engineering improvements in Wi-Fi in the last two years, it’s still not anywhere in that range, and a typical Wi-Fi motion sensor will usually only go 2 to 3 months on batteries. That’s acceptable to some people, but honestly not to most.
So the biggest advantage to going to sensors that need a real hub is that you get way better battery life.
I’ll be honest, with what you already have and the details of your use case, my personal recommendation would be to use Apple HomeKit. You will need to add a $99 HomePod mini to act as the hub for the system, but you will get very good reliability and a lot of future options.
To that, I would add the aqara G2 camera, which acts as a zigbee hub for its own sensors. Aqara a Devices are very inexpensive, and although they can be flaky in a smartthings setup, they are very reliable with HomeKit and will run locally. I believe each camera can act as a base station for up to 32 additional devices.
You can get the bundle of the camera +3 motion sensors for $117 at Amazon. Note that the Aqara camera uses HomeKit secure video, which is a local system and will also use iCloud for recordings, which can save you a lot of money if you are already paying for an iCloud account.
One note about Aqara: this is a very big Chinese brand and they have been making a lot of effort to sell into the United States, including adding US servers for devices bought through there aqara direct store on Amazon. I do not recommend buying this brand from eBay or Aliexpress. You might save a few bucks, but they aren’t expensive to begin with, and you run a very high risk of getting something which is either counterfeit or locked to the China servers.
And if you don’t want the camera, just turn it towards the wall, it will still work as a base station for the sensors.
Once you’re using HomeKit, you can use the basic Automations in the home app or you can get into more complex stuff by using a 3rd party app.
You’re also well positioned for new devices which are expected on the market in the next two years adhering to the new Matter standard Because Apple is all in on Matter and has already announced that matter compatible Devices will work in the same app as the existing HomeKit compatible Devices.
You can also add additional devices in the future if you like from HomeKit compatible or matter compatible devices. Meross is one of my favorite low-cost Wi-Fi brands. Good engineering, good safety certifications, works with Homekit and smartthings and IFTTT. Very well priced. They have plug-in smart plugs, some colored lighting, a power strip, a garage door controller, a really nice little table lamp, and some other items. No sensors, though, because of the battery issues we already discussed. If you do look at me Ross, be aware that they have some models that work with HomeKit and some don’t; in the setup I’m recommending you want the ones that work with HomeKit.
So in terms of reliability, simplicity, and future proofing, I would recommend:
A) 1 HomePod mini, $99. This will give you remote access for your HomeKit set up and let you create automations. It does work as a smart speaker, but you don’t have to use that feature if you don’t want to.
B) 1 Aqara G2H camera bundled with some of their motion sensors. Buy this from AqaraDirect on Amazon. Later you can add additional sensors if you like, like some open/close sensors, vibration sensors, whatever is useful. You’re going to use this with HomeKit. $117 for the camera and three motion sensors, although there are a lot of other bundle choices as well.
C) the $14.99 Home+ App from Matthew Hottgartener, the first and still the best third-party HomeKit app. This will allow you to do the combination of days and times you asked about.
That would be all you need for what you’ve described so far. Then for the future you can add more aqara devices, more LIFX Devices, maybe some Meross devices if you’re looking for smart plugs.
There are other options, but some provide more versatility and less reliability
There are lots of other ways to do all of this, and I don’t recommend that somebody that doesn’t already have an iPhone start out with HomeKit because of the upfront costs, but as far as reliability, it’s a really solid system.
The three big factors in any home automation system are reliability, versatility, and cost.
In the inexpensive systems, you are often trading off Reliability and versatility. So the first step is to be clear with yourself about what your most important priorities are.
I started out back in 2014 thinking that my highest priority would be a system that could do just about anything and work with just about any device on the market, but at a relatively low cost, which is what brought me to smartthings in the first place.
But after running my phase one setup for about two years I realized that I needed much higher reliability then I was getting. As a tetraplegic, my home automation system is much more than just a fun hobby. 🧑🏻🦼 If the lights don’t go on, I can’t just walk across the room and turn on the wall switch: both of those things are physically not possible for me. And I have to pay other people to do most of the maintenance work, including just changing batteries.
so I decided that my own personal requirement was for an MFOP (maintenance free operating period) of at least six months, and preferably 12. I don’t expect any system to be perfect, but I do want it to be about as reliable as the dishwasher and the washing machine.
I have been able to meet that reliability requirement with a number of different systems, including HomeKit, Philips Hue, Lutron, and Alexa. But I get it by giving up some of the complexity that I might get from a system like smartthings. I still use smartthings for some cool convenience use cases, but not for my essential automations. Choice is good.
The automations you want can be accomplished in a straightforward way with SmartThings.
As you don’t have a SmartThings hub, I second @JDRoberts suggestion to start with HomeKit. There are now some very inexpensive motion sensors for HomeKit, and cameras also show up as motion detectors that you can use in your Automation. I use Eufy Indoor cameras for this, which can be gotten for under $40.
Sorry for the late reply. Thank you for taking the time to outline all of the above for me. Your post is by far the most helpful and detailed response I have ever received on a web forum, you are too kind. I am going to follow your advice and purchase the HomePod, Aqara sensors and Home+ software. Reliability is essential for Dad as he will rely on the smart home more and more over time, and I may not be in the area to fix any issues that arise. I don’t have any questions at this point as you have covered just about everything. I will let you know once I have purchased everything and report back!
@Technodad Thanks for the YouTube channel tip. I’ve subscribed. I will also look at the Eufy range as well.
Good luck on this to you and your dad. Please post your experiences- many of us have been or will be in similar situations.
One thing I did not see in the thread: Don’t overlook the HomeKit Intercom feature in case you ever need to speak to your dad remotely. While it’s true that most cameras can do voice response, the HomePod audio will be much easier to hear and understand.
Thanks for that. The intercom feature will come in handy as he will undoubtedly rely on it in time. I am in the process of purchasing the HomePod Mini.
I have an update on my situation as well as a product that I found. I forgot to mention that I wanted to convert some of my E27 standard globes to “Smart” globes and have them work with Homekit. I dug around and found a device that converts these globes to Switch on/off only smart globes controllable via Homekit.
I found a few others, but most of them were Alexa/Google only, and the ones that were Homekit compatible were under 50w rated for the load, and none rated for 220/240v for Australia. I have a large 4000lm 50w E27 dumb light outside, and I want it to be on Homekit.
I ordered four of their Smart Light Sockets to control some non-smart globes that I do not want to replace with LIFX lights.
The Smart Light Socket has a high max load rating of 150w and supports Asia/Oceana voltage. This will allow me to convert some of the 1700lm globes and the 4000lm to be controllable via Homekit without splurging on LIFX globes.
I also left out that I have a T8 batten light outside. I had to think carefully about how I would control this light as it’s wired to a very narrow old school architrave light switch inside, with no way to fit a module behind it. Terncy advised me that their Smart Switch 3 gang module can be wired near the light outside, providing that I rely on the inside switch to remain on, which I have no problem with. The module is handy as it allows me to wire two other lights outside and have them controlled via Homekit individually, providing that I do not exceed the total load of the Smart Switch 3 gang module on their website (I’m limited with how many links I can post as new member).
Terncy warned that their devices only work with their hub, and conversely, their hub not working other Zigbee devices. I’m a little skeptical over that as I thought Zigbee, being a universal protocol, would work with any Zigbee hub. Despite being skeptical, I went ahead and purchased their Smart Home Hub.
This device is neat as it will allow Dad to switch the lights off in one go when he has finished using the washroom, instead of relying on a timer or trigger to turn everything off.
I also like this device because it’s a 4 in 1. An ambient light sensor, which is also programmable in Homekit, activates a dimmed LED ring around the button to ensure that the switch is visible in the dark. There is also an ambient temp sensor built-in which opens up air-con control and anything related to temperature. It also has a PIR sensor on each side of the device, with each side being separately programmed, all of this programmable in Homekit!
Terncy has motion sensors and mains sockets; however, I still want to purchase the Aqara camera JD suggested. I want some basic CCTV at the front of the house, and I have the LIFX Nightvision (IR) out there not being used to its full potential. I also subscribe to 200GB of iCloud storage, so it’s a no-brainer for me. Tercny also does not have standalone PIR sensors, which is a shame, so Aqara will fulfil my needs there.
Aqara was out of stock when I checked on Amazon, so that purchase is put on hold for me. I will purchase their Camera/Hub and door/motion sensors.
Terncy will handle the manual wall switch, and internal motion triggers through its dual PIR sensors. Ambient temp, ambient light detection (I could add triggers for this), the dumb indoor/outdoor E27 lights, and allow the T8 Fluro tube light outside to be Homekit controlled.
I will report back once I start connecting everything.
The Zigbee standard allows for the option of “manufacturer proprietary” profiles, so it is indeed possible that a particular zigbee device might work best, or only, with its own hub.
And many zigbee devices will only have HomeKit compatibility when used with their own hub, because of some of the security requirements HomeKit imposes. (This is even true of Philips Hue, for example, and of Ikea.)
So that’s not unusual in this context.
Sounds like you’re making a lot of progress! Good luck, and let us know how things go. I’ve been intrigued by the Terncy devices since they were first announced, but don’t know anyone who has one.
I have both of you to thank for steering me in the right direction, and I will definitely provide a detailed rundown of the setup and report on its functionality once it is completed. I think that there are some Aqara stock shortages at the moment due to the pandemic, however, I might just bite the bullet and buy from a local supplier if Amazon stock does not show up soon.
The good thing about smart devices is that I don’t need to purchase everything right away. As long as I have the HomePod, a hub, and some of its devices, I can get going with it.