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Philips Hue’s Motion Sensor With Pets: Is It Pet Friendly?

Picture the scene: you arrive home after a long day’s work, and as you walk through the front door, your Hue Lightstrips automatically illuminate – as do your hallway Hue ceiling lights – gently welcoming you into your home. Bliss.

That’s one of the benefits of Philips Hue’s motion sensors. But picture another scene: all your lights constantly coming on… even in the middle of your night… because your dog or cat stroll past!

So are Hue’s motion sensors pet friendly? Well the short answer is…

Philips Hue’s motion sensors are designed to be pet friendly, but larger pets can set them off. Thankfully there are a few simple solutions to this problem.

The problem: pets triggering the Philips Hue motion sensor!

A dog lying on a rug in the living room
A dog lying on a rug in the living room

An old Facebook post to Philips Hue asked whether the motion sensors are pet friendly, with the reply saying:

Hi Dario, yes the motion sensor is pet friendly. Thanks for reaching out.

Philips Hue, Facebook, 11th October 2016

But other people in the comments disagreed with this reply, saying:

My 20lb dog sets it off at low thresholds, not impressed.

Robert Slingsby, Facebook, 6th November 2016

I wouldn’t say it’s particularly pet friendly to be fair. I have two Hue motion sensors and no matter where they are placed or how the sensitivity is set, they still get set off by my dog and she’s only a collie.

Jennifer McLean, Facebook, 19th March 2017

And whilst this is from 4 years ago, more recent messages from Philips Hue also say that you need to be careful of your pets setting off the motion sensor:

This will indeed also be triggered by pets moving around. The detection angle is 100°, so you could also consider in what angle you mount your motion sensor, so it would still detect you, but not your pets.

Philips Hue, Amazon, 15th July 2019

Their blog post also says the same. So what should you do with a motion sensor which is “pet friendly”… but can also accidentally be set off by pets?!

Well I cover four solutions in detail below, but the main thing to know is that if you install it high up (i.e. not at floor level where you pets will be) and take account of the 100° motion angle, you should be fine:

Diagram showing best Philips Hue motion sensor placement to avoid pets
Diagram showing best Philips Hue motion sensor placement to avoid pets

Solution #1: drop the motion sensitivity down a bit

If you feel that it’s better to install your motion sensor lower down (or you have a really, really big dog – such as Mouse from The Dresden Files!), one option open to you is to lower the motion sensitivity option within the Philips Hue app.

To do this, go into the Hue app and select your motion sensor from the accessories section:

The "Accessory setup" section on the Philips Hue app (under Settings)
The “Accessory setup” section on the Philips Hue app (under Settings)

Then:

  • Select your motion sensor which is being mistakenly triggered by your pets.
  • Click “Advanced Settings”.
  • Click “Motion sensitivity”.

At this point, the best option is more down to trial and error. For a motion sensor installed lower down, you’ll probably want it to be at or below medium.

Perhaps try the lowest setting and if it still gets triggered by people, keep it at this. But if you find it sometimes misses you walking past, increase the setting slowly until it gets triggered by people but not humans.

If no setting works reliably though, read on!

Solution #2: install in a pet no-go zone (if possible and useful!)

PIR-based motion sensors like Philips Hue’s sensor will always get a bit confused by pets which can come too near it. It’s just a general problem that they have – which is why “pet friendly” alarm systems will still sometimes get set off by a boisterous dog!

If you’re able to, install the Philips Hue motion sensor away from pets. The kit comes with a mounting bracket so that you can install it high up a wall, or you may want to place it on a side table and prop it up so that it’s at an angle (facing upwards).

This side table approach can be particular good for pets that can’t get onto the table (so… not cats!), since they won’t come near enough to it to set it off, especially with the sensor angled upward.

This will detect people walking past, but not pets.

Of course, you need to make sure that the sensor placement is actually useful. There’s no point on installing it high up on a wall if you want it to be triggered by your children too, or placing it on a side table that you never walk past!

Solution #3: install at eye-level (or higher) and put some card or wood under it

One of the good things about the Hue motion sensor is that it has a 100° motion angle – this means that it can often detect both adults and children due to its wide angle range.

However this can also be bad, because it can detect motion at or near the floor level. If you refer to my diagram from earlier:

Diagram showing best Philips Hue motion sensor placement to avoid pets
Diagram showing best Philips Hue motion sensor placement to avoid pets

What you’ll notice here is that even if you installed the motion sensor a bit higher up than the ‘floor level’ one, the motion angle means that it’ll still be pointing near the floor – which could easily detect larger dogs.

One thing that you can do is to actually put some paper/card or wood underneath it. This will ‘cut off’ the lower half of the motion-detection angle, and stop it from detecting anything near floor level.

White paper/card or wood that’s painted white will blend in quite well with the motion sensor, especially if it’s wall mounted – it’ll just look like a purpose-made shelf for the Hue sensor!

Solution #4: Sensor snooze

If you know that there’s specific times of day when your pets usually set the motion sensor off (such as when they’re excited around meal time!), consider using the ‘Sensor snooze‘ option from the Philips Hue Lab.

This will stop the motion sensors from triggering the linked light routines during the snooze time.

This useful lab feature can be installed via the Philips Hue app by going to “Explore” and then “Hue Labs”:

Hue app phone screenshot, showing the 'Hue Labs' option on the 'Explore' tab.
The ‘Hue Labs’ option on the ‘Explore’ tab of the Hue app.

Alternatively, you can just say “Alexa, turn on Sensor snooze” to your Echo device.

This will then stop your Hue motion sensors from detecting motion for a set amount of time. To disable the sensor snooze (and start detecting motion again), when using the app you can choose how long to have this ‘snooze’ on for. Alternatively you can say “Alexa, turn off Sensor snooze” to disable this again.

The benefits of Hue’s motion sensor

My Philips Hue motion sensor on carpet
My Philips Hue motion sensor on carpet

What I describe at the start of this article (various lights coming on when you arrive home) can be an awesome panacea to a hard day at work. It’s a great way of subtly switching from ‘work mode’ to ‘home mode’.

But that’s not the only benefit of Hue’s motion sensors. They can also be used for:

  • Turning the lights on when you open or close a door. Just point the motion sensors towards a particular door, and it should detect you coming in/out of that door and turn the lights on. This is especially useful for utility rooms, where you might be carrying lots of stuff and you don’t want to awkwardly reach for the light switch.
  • Save power by turning lights off in unused rooms. You can set the lights linked to the motion sensor to turn off (or dim down) when motion hasn’t been detected for a set amount of time. This is a simple solution to an all-to-common problem: people leaving the flipping lights on!
  • Simple outdoor security lighting. just combine the outdoor Hue motion sensors with outdoor smart light bulbs, and you have an effective motion-powered outdoor light.
  • Trigger different lighting depending on the time of day. You can set the Hue motion sensor to turn lights on/off to different brightnesses (and color) at different times of day. For example, with a smart light and Hue motion sensor you can have lights come on at 10% brightness and ‘warm white’ at night – and 100% brightness and ‘cool white’ during the day.

Now that you know how to make the motion sensor pet friendly, feel free to check it out on Amazon today:

Amazon shop now button

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