Use motion/contact sensor on set days and times


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

Any help at all is greatly appreciated.

Thank you!

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.

Hello JD,

Thanks for replying and for moving my thread to a more appropriate section, I apologise for the mishap. What drew me to the idea of using SmartThings was your post here: How to Get Started Creating Complex Rules in SmartThings - Wiki / How-To - SmartThings Community

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.

One suggestion

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. :sunglasses: This will allow you to do the combination of days and times you asked about.

Here’s a sample Automation from Home+:

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. :sunglasses:

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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.

A good resource for getting started with HomeKit is Shane Whatley’s YouTube channel.

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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.

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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.

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