Motion Lighting

Some rooms are easy to automate the lights such as laundry room, hallway and closet. In these rooms, when motion stops, or a couple of minutes after, the lights can be turned off.

But most of the rooms in my house are not so easy to automatically turn the lights off. When I sit down in the family room, or sit at the kitchen table, for example, there is no motion, but I still need the lights on.

Is there something I’m missing? How are lights automatically turned off in these type of rooms/situations? Do I just have to manually turn the lights off?

You can do whatever you want, of course, but there are a couple ideas I've seen that might help you. One is adding multiple motion sensors. When I started down the lighting-automation path, I usually just had one sensor per room. Now I usually have at least two. Part of the reason for starting with one was probably cost (I've slowly added more over the years) but maybe also a belief that one would be sufficient (it may be in some cases). In any case, I'm often happier now with two or more. I'm happiest with the Lutron "occupancy" (motion) sensors because they can be configured to be pretty sensitive and catch me even if I'm mostly sitting and hardly moving at all, but there's quite an expense to setting that up if you don't have a Lutron RA2 system already. Adding another typical, cheaper Z-Wave or Zigbee motion sensor closer to where you are (something likely to catch you where you are but not necessarily when you walk into the room) may be just as good.

A second idea is just increasing the timeout in your motion-lighting app. For rooms I normally move quickly in and out of, like hallways, this is pretty low for me (1 minute or even zero and just relying on the sensor's built-in delay). For other rooms, you may consider increasing this timeout (15 minutes or more? your preference) so that the chances of you making some motion it will see within the timeout are greater. Yes, this will leave the lights on longer than you want in some cases, but you still have the option to turn them off manually--and consider that the alternative was them staying on indefinitely because you forgot. :slight_smile:

Finally, there are non-motion ideas you can employ. Besides the first idea above, my living room also has a "couch sensor" I cobbled together with a pressure mat and a Z-Wave contact sensor with connections for external sources (you can find a couple specific ideas for this here and on the ST forums; the Ecolink Z-Wave Plus contact sensor is often recommended for this purpose). If this sensor is "closed" (i.e., couch is occupied), I have this count as "active' motion (via the unofficial contact-motion app to make it easy) and keep my lights on. I thought about expanding this idea to elsewhere, but I'm happy enough with the Lutron sensors that I don't think I will anymore.

Perhaps others will have more ideas. Otherwise, between these three ideas--adding another sensor (or more), increasing the timeout, or finding alternatives to motion (like the famed pressure mat/contact sensor "hack")--hopefully you can find something that works for you.

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I will second the more sensors idea. I have a sensor that sits on my laptop dock and pretty much goes active if I start typing. Most of my rooms are covered well by 1 sensor. Others need two.
(We do leave the living room light on of the house is occupied.)

If you are using the built in motion lighting app, there are multiple ways to override the motion sensors so their detections are ignored, whether that be auto on or auto off, up to you.

I personally have a virtual switch for every room that disables motion on/off in that room, then I expose that to Alexa and then all I say in that room is disable motion sensing and it does that.

But I also manipulate this switch with my goodnight routine for instance since the minimum brightness in the bedroom is still too bright, so saying goodnight disables the motion sensing in that room until I say good morning.

Another way I handle it, specifically in the family room with the TV, is through the power monitoring of my UPS (through NUT on a Rpi), which the TV is hooked up to. So when the power goes above a threshold, technically it polls the TV state, which is a Vizio TV which has its own hubitat driver, but you could get away with just if above power level X, disable motion sensing, if below power level Y, enable motion sensing.

But that app has room for a lot of overrides, one in particular I have been thinking of exploring is in the bedrooms and having a contact sensor on the door. So if the door is closed, motion sensing is disabled, and if the door is open, enabled.

same for me, if my TV or projector for example is on, it stops the motion lighting rule, either leaving the lights on as they were or stops them from turning on if i move

like the idea, i was considering pressure matts or something under the bed

Has anyone considered using MEMS D6T thermal sensors instead of PIRs? If I understand what I am reading online a MEMS D6T sensor will detect a body at rest, whereas a PIR will only detect a body in motion.

I have not found any zWave MEMS DT6 sensors though :frowning: That COULD be a drawback!

I use object detection on a camera. Works perfectly for spotting a person (eg. me or the missus) in the living room and keeps the lights on accordingly.

I've found the best practice is not to use cameras for motion detection initially because camera motion can be triggered by all sorts of things that are not necessarily/really motion (eg. light levels changing, shadows, sunshine etc). But with object tracking it works great as a virtual motion sensor to cancel the delay in a lighting timeout.

I also use Withings sleep pads for the bedroom. These are relatively good at sensing presence in the bed and hence can control lighting, HSM activation etc. It works pretty good.

I have one of those too. I call it a "light switch." Sorry, couldn't resist :slight_smile: But in all seriousness I have experimented with webCoRe's ability to detect whether a switch was turned on manually or not and then used that to override the motion sensor.

All jokes aside, and that is a fair point, but I touch that virtual switch once or twice a day at max, versus every time I enter or exit the room, so in my book that is an improvement. I have always been of the opinion that Alexa/GH provide nothing that additional hardware can't do. They just are very versatile and provide a decent crutch for when you don't want to spend the extra money or time.

How does that work? Is the switch/light not already on when you would be in physical range to turn the light switch on?

Yes you did need to be within range of the switch but the way I have it set up is in the basement... so while many lights were controlled by the motion sensor you only had to click on one of the wall switches manually and it would override the motion sensor for ALL the basement lights.

The logic I use is a tad more complicated. I have a motion sensor at the top of the stairs and one at the bottom of the stairs. If I trigger the top of the stairs and then the bottom of the stairs I assume I am entering the basement and I turn on all the lights. On the reverse, if I trigger the motion detector and the bottom of the stairs and then the top of the stairs, I assume I have left the basement and I turn off all the lights.

That functionality works 90% of the time but every once in a while the cat interferes and I find myself sitting in a dark basement! Hence the override. But I like your idea too... I think I can incorporate that logic pretty easily so either will work.

There is an app that may help you a little, you might want to take a look at it. It is designed w/your use-case in mind (among others) and may be a relatively simple way to improve your current setup.

It's called Room Director. By one of our more prolific app developers...

Hmmm that looks interesting! I like the idea of the lights dimming before they actually turn off!

And the fans go wild.... :wink:

Your family will "oooo" and "ahhhh" and carry you around the house on their shoulders. I envy you your celebrity... :smiley:

Check out @bptworld's apps, there are a number, and they can be very useful.

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I ended up making a snoot for one of my motion sensors out of a TP roll. You think they will be impressed?

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Sometimes getting snooty is a good thing.

Wait, woah, did you order that on Amazon!?

:wink:

Nicely done, I don't know how anyone could complain about that.

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@danabw,

Do you know of any Zigbee MEMS DT6 sensors?

No, sorry, nothing I've ever looked into...

Download the Hubitat app