This could be multiple suggestions but I'll start out with my issue:
I live in the midwest and Sunrise and Sunset times don't reflect how much light is outside. In the summer, sunrise could be 6:00am but it is light outside by 5:30am, yet in the winter sunrise could be 7:50am and it doesn't get light out until 8:30am. Any logic I use to turn lights on or off around sunrise or sunset now has date conditions to apply during certain times of the year. In looking to simplify this, I decided to make sunrise and sunset offset variables and then I only need to change the variables in one place and each rule could pick them up.
This is where I ran into my second issue - I can use the variables in time offsets in wait commands and trigger events, but I can't use the time variables inside of IF / THEN statements that call on conditions (these have to be set inside each condition manually).
Of course after typing all this out, I do realize the best thing to do would be to get a light sensor to place outside and bypass all this logic. I do think variable offsets inside time conditions would still be useful for others, and/or a seasonal mode might be useful as well.
An other option that I can think of is to set hub variables where you store the Sunrise and another for the Sunset times. A single rule could update both daily during the night, and then it could be used as-is by all your other rules.
That's not a bad idea - I was storing the offset variables, but you make a good point to just store the updated time as the variable instead. I'll go give that a shot.
In my research today, I do think I might have identified a hard-wired motion / temp / luminance sensor that would work. But now I have to figure out where I could install one.
I went with the Tempest Weather Station for this and other stuff - really like it!
I changed the variables to Date/Time and have a rule that runs nightly to update them. Tried it out and seems to work on my rules. Thanks for the idea!
I was looking at the HomeSeer HS-FLS100 (Gen 2). I like the idea that if it gets stormy out and dark in the middle of the day, it could trigger rules to turn on some lights.
I’m glad to hear it worked for you!
I don’t have a HomeSeer myself, but anything that will consistently report lux values should do the trick. Before I got my Tempest, I used a Zooz sensor that was close to a window and could detect illuminance. Worked well enough!
I read your post and wonder if you could attack this differently. I pull Lux values from a local city hall weather station a short distance away. Can you use Lux/Luminance? OWM can provide that...
I was going to suggest similar. I have multi sensors externally and have rules that set hub variables to true when the lux value passes a certain threshold. That hub variable is then used to turn lights on/off. It’s handy to have a sensor on each elevation of the building as the areas are at a different level according to the position that the sun rises and sets. Using lux values also gets around changes caused by weather that sunrise/sunset with offset can’t account for.
For what I'm looking to do, multi-elevation lux sensors would be overkill (at least for now, ask me again in five years).
I do have a spot outside that will work - an electrical box that has a free port on the bottom that I can unscrew and attach the HomeSeer, I just won't use the switched function of it. The location is pretty good; north side of the house and it will get morning sun but be shaded the rest of the day. Ideally I will want it under cover, but that is a slightly larger project for another day (but that is in the works).
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