Using dumb security light to trigger SmartThings - How? Newbie!

Hello all, pretty sure this has been at least discussed before, but I can’t find a simple answer …

I have Arlo wireless cameras on the front and back of the house, talking nicely to SmartThings - when everyone has left the house, or gone to bed, the cameras are ‘armed’. The problem I have, like lots of other people, is that there is a 2-5 second delay between motion sensing and start of recording.

To tackle this at the back of the house, I have an idea … My garage already has a mains-powered motion-sensor security light, which faces the only way into the back gate and is better situated than the Arlo on the back of the house. (For various reasons, I don’t want to mount the camera on the garage, it needs to stay on the back of the house). I’d like to get the power drain that occurs when the dumb security light comes on to shout at the SmartThings hub which will then start the Arlo camera recording. I assume I need a relay of some sort in the power line for the security light … If so, does anyone have any recommendations? And if so, how would I set it all up?

I know I can buy outdoor Z-Wave/Zigbee motion detectors, but I can’t find positive reviews of any and suspect a simple relay will be far cheaper.

Any help will be very much appreciated. Cheers, Tim

I don’t have any arlo cameras, so I can’t say from personal experience. But I believe ST and Arlo are linked through the cloud.

So even if you get an instantaneous signal from a relay device sent to your hub (like the mimolite by fortrezz can do what you’re asking I think), I wouldn’t be surprised if it took another 2-5 seconds for that trigger to make it to your arlo cams anyway.

Hi, thanks for the reply. Yup, they’re linked through the cloud. And yes there will probably be a delay, but with what I’m proposing, that delay will be 2 seconds after the movement is detected well outside of my gate, triggering the Arlo to start recording 2 seconds or more ahead of when it does presently, catching whoever it is coming in the gate, rather than the top of his/her head at my back door.

Check out the mimolite, then. It has wire terminals for input and outputs, and can input/output a z-wave signal as well (depending on how it’s setup for a particular application). If there’s a way to connect the motion sensor’s output to the mimolite, you wouldn’t even need a relay, I think?

:slight_smile: that’s great news, thank you, but a) it’s £60ish by the time it reaches me and b) I still wouldn’t have a clue how to rig it up. I was thinking something along the lines of a cheapo sonoff unit, but again I have no clue which or how to rig it up. Typical newbie! Thanks again.

Homeseer recently released a Flood Light Motion Detector addon. It’s a motion detector addon for flood lights that have a motion detector.

The new unit is z-wave and replaces the dumb motion detector in your existing flood lights. Should be compatible with ST, not positive, but HomeSeer will probably release a DH soon for ST.

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That’s probably the ticket then.

Should be easier to wire up and setup than the mimolite.

Edit: if it comes in the UK z-wave frequency, that is. That’s something to pay attention to with the mimolite too, now that I think of it. Z-wave frequencies differ by region, US and UK aren’t the same.

The Homeseer unit could well be a possibility, thanks, but again it’ll be £60+ by the time it gets to me in the UK. Too expensive and only a few £££s short of an additional Arlo camera. Not only am I a newbie, I’m also a cheapskate!

I would use a Z-wave module like a Fibaro single switch, relay or Dimmer 2 for this. You can connect the motion sensor to the module on the input switch side and then run a rule such as in Webcore or smart lighting to trigger the recording. you could also use the output side of the module to control a light. Then you would see motion trigger the light and the recording and also be able to control the light from ST


The motion sensor is all built in to the light itself, its a cheapo B&Q outside light, my only option is to break the power line, (live/neutral/earth). Having thought about it further, if break the earth line and put a smart switch in, when the light goes on, the circuit completes and power would flow through the smart switch. I’d need this to then send a ‘helllloooooooo’ to the ST hub. Does this sound right? Would a Fibaro unit work for this? If not, how? I’m a newbie remember.

NON-SENSIBLE ANSWER - Break the earth line for the dumb motion sensing light inside the garage, add a simple dumb bulb into the circuit. Have an indoor ST motion sensor watch this inside bulb and shout when it senses the light going on. Rube Goldberg eat your heart out. I won’t be doing this, seems like a cheat.

If you can find where the sensor output is in there lamp and break into that then you have effectively separated the two functions. Sensing and lighting.

As for the Fibaro modules all they need to see is mains AC on the S1 or S2 inputs the same as if a manual switch were there.

IMO isolate that lamp and and have a look inside.

I also have dumb motion sensing porch lights. I have tried using the Zooz 4 in 1 sensor to detect when the light turn on and it works, but the delay of the sensor waking up is too long for my purposes. By the time the camera triggers, whatever or whoever tripped the motion sensor of the light has long gone so the camera misses them unless they hang around for awhile.
I don’t know your Arlo setup so these tips may or not help you.

  1. The Arlo Pro series cameras have less delay than the original wire free cameras.

  2. When one integrates the Arlo cameras with Smartthingsm Arlo creates a new Mode called, “Smartthings.” This mode adds even more delay. Following the advice of others on this forum, I now leave the Arlo system in the Armed Mode and do not use the Smartthings Mode at all. My Smartthings Routines or Scenes activate/deactivate the cameras I select for that routine or scene. This setup works very well for me and the delay seems to be reduced somewhat.

  3. I use the stock Smartthings motion sensors mounted under the eaves of my house and mounted about 10 to 15 feet on either side of my entrance ways. I use the motion sensors iand custom rules n these sensors to trigger the cameras to start recording on the detection of motion, thus giving me a 2 or 3 second head start. I still use the motion sensors of the cameras in case the Smartthings miss the action.

Hope that helps,


Hi Brian,
Sounds good, thanks for your advice … But, my Arlo HDs are battery-fed, so if armed all the time they will chew through a set of batteries in a very short time - If I understand it right that is? SmartThings is currently set to arm them only when no-one is in the house or at night when the kitchen door is shut and the ST door sensor is therefore closed. The front of the house is very public so it’ll be the back that gets unwelcome attention if it happens. I’m going to try a ST motion sensor under the eaves of the garage and see if that works (once my replacement arrives as the first one has gone back dead to Samsung).

That is what I thought, but with Arlo in the Armed mode, the routines activate/deactivate the cameras, so even though the mode says armed, if you have a routine, for example, the I’m back routine that disables all your cameras, there will be no battery drain. If you go to to the Arlo app you will see the screen for each camera saying that the camera is disabled and won’t accept any commands. Then, if you set up all your cameras to be active by using the Goodbye routine you will now see the cameras are active and will start to drain the batteries which is normal. I know it sounds goofy, but the routines are actually acting as on/off switches for the cameras. It would be the same as going to each camera in Arlo and manually moving the on/off slider, except that Smartthings allows you to do that in groups instead of individually.
If you understand what I am saying, try it. Set up the Goodbye routine to activate all of your cameras, and the I’m back routine to disable all of them. Then you can play with your other routines and even create new routines. I have a custom routine that turns on the front cameras when I am expecting a package delivery and turns on an indoor lamp when motion is detected.
If you need help, let me know.


Good to hear this.