Use sensor to turn on outside lights only at night

(Doug MacKay) #1


I am a novice Smartthings user. I have several light switches ans outlets that all work great with the standard Smartthings app controls.

I am planning to purchase the Ecolink Z-Wave PIR Motion Detector to turn on my outside lights when i pull into the driveway. I know it is an indoor unit, but it should be ok for my application.

My question is how i make this work with the lights. Can I somehow set my light switches to turn on when the motion detector senses my car, but only after dusk? I do not have the skills to do any custom programing, so I am curious to see if I can just make this work using the standard app features.

Thanks for any advice.

Doug M.


Welcome! :sunglasses:

First things first: I would be surprised if the ecolink will work for you. The problem with using PIR motion sensors outdoors is the number of false alarms. A warm breeze, a cloud passing over the sun, a spider crawling over the device, etc. All of these can cause many false alarms. Not only does this mean that your Automation will run at the wrong times, but it will tend to use up the battery on the device very quickly. So it’s not impossible, but it’s not that likely, either.

Instead, for the use case you describe, I would suggest considering using a presence sensor ( which might just be your phone, or could be a key fob device that you carry with you). That way the lights will come on as you arrive and you don’t have to worry about outdoor weather conditions.

Alternatively, there are many nonnetworked motion sensitive lights which work very well and are worth considering if you just want a driveway application that works for any car that arrives. Many of these have a light sensing feature so they will only turn on when it’s dark. I personally like the Mr. beams brand, but there are many others. So just another option to consider.

Anyway, as far as your original question, once you’ve established what your trigger will be ( your phone arriving or a specific sensor), then it’s easy. You should be able to use the official smart lighting feature and limit it to a specific timeframe.

(JBrown) #3


I use the Smart Lighting app turn on lights after dark with a motion sensor. As JD said when using the motion sensor during the day I get false positives but so far working great at night.