Does The Hue Outdoor Motion Sensor Allow Lux (Daylight) Control?

Lux values, brightness sensitivity, and daylight control all refer to the same setting in your smart motion detectors. This setting is where you pick how bright it has to be before your motion sensor will trigger. The lower the setting, the more light the sensor needs to activate.

This is a powerful setting. Not only does it allow you to optimize when your lights activate, but it also allows you to save money on energy costs and gain full control over your smart home systems.

However sometimes Philips Hue has been criticized for missing out essential features from their accessories. What about their Outdoor Motion Sensor – does it give lux control?

Yes, the Philips Hue Outdoor Motion Sensor features brightness sensitivity settings. You can control these settings in the Philips Hue app, but if you have HomeKit you are going to have to work a little harder to get at these settings. It’s a little more involved on HomeKit, but you’ll learn HomeKit’s best features on the way, so it’s worth it!

A Quick Look at the Hue Outdoor Motion Sensor

A Philips Hue Outdoor Motion Sensor
A Philips Hue Outdoor Motion Sensor

The Hue Outdoor Motion sensor is an ideal solution for integrating your outdoor lighting into your smart home.

This sensor is ready to handle nearly every weather condition be it rain or shine. It also features an impressively wide motion detection range. The unit uses AA batteries for power meaning you don’t have to worry about positioning this near an outlet or buying some hard-to-find batteries.

The sensor integrates into smart homes through the Hue Bridge. This sensor also plays nicely with HomeKit and other smart home tech. It might need a little troubleshooting to get the best functionality, but it works great once it’s all set up.

Best of all, you can control the daylight sensitivity of this sensor.

What is Lux or Daylight Control?

Motion sensors allow you to trigger lights, and other smart home tech, based on the sensor’s ability to perceive movement. This sounds straightforward, but there is more than meets the sensor’s eye when it comes to this technology.

These motion sensors don’t have one, static, threshold for how much light they detect. Rather, you can specify a range of light that they will respond to.

This means you can prevent the motion sensor for triggering during the wrong conditions. The lower the sensitivity, the harder it is for your motion sensor to trigger. Lower settings are ideal for people who want to make sure their lights are only triggering at the right moment. Higher sensitivities are ideal for people who want their lights triggering much more often.

This might seem like one of those marginally useful bonus features, but lux control is actually a valuable part of a motion sensor.

Here’s why you want to get familiar with this setting.

Why Your Motion Sensor Should Have a Daylight Sensitivity Control

The Daylight Sensitivity option on a Hue indoor motion sensor from the Hue app
The Daylight Sensitivity option on a Hue motion sensor from the Hue app.

Being able to control the threshold of brightness your motion sensor responds to allows you to make sure your lights are only turning on when you want them to.

One of the biggest advantages of getting familiar with this setting is preventing misfiring. There’s nothing more frustrating than waking up in the middle of the night for a glass of water and having your entire house light up like the 4th of July. On the other hand, it might be worse if your motion sensor doesn’t register you coming home and night and leaves your entryway dark and potentially dangerous.

Getting the hang of this setting allows you to stay in control of your smart home technology. Whether inside, or out, brightness sensitivity allows you to make sure that your lights are turning on exactly when you need them to and no sooner or later.

You want to make sure that the motion sensors you are using have this feature. Philips Hue Motion Sensors come with this feature as a standard part of their products. Other brands are hit or miss. The most basic models might trim this option.

Smart home technology is all about being in control of your home and making sure you have a seamless experience. With the right brightness control setting, you can dial in the perfect experience.

What Kind of Lux Control Does the Hue Outdoor Motion Sensor Have?

The Hue Outdoor Motion Sensor has a standard slider for controlling the lux setting.

You’ll be able to slide the value of the brightness sensitivity up to make it more sensitive and down to make it less sensitive:

The Daylight Sensitivity option on a Hue indoor motion sensor from the Hue app
The Daylight Sensitivity option on a Hue indoor sensor from the Hue app

It will take some experimenting to get the setting exactly right. Changes to light levels might require you to update your settings. As the seasons change, if your neighbors install the Christmas Vacation lighting package, or if you upgrade your own lights, you might need to adjust the value.

If you’re having trouble getting the setting just right, there are a few tricks you can try for a quick solution.

Troubleshooting the Daylight Sensitivity Control

Just like with all smart home tech, there are some well documented issues with equally well documented fixes.

Here are some of the most common issues users experience with their Philips Hue Outdoor Motion Sensors and how you can get them fixed almost immediately.

How to Make the Most Out of Your Daylight Sensitivity Control

This is the first thing you should try if your Hue Outdoor Motion Sensor isn’t giving you the performance you are looking for.

When you use the daylight sensitivity control to select your desired threshold for registering motion, you need to make that setting under the condition in which your sensor will be operating.

Here’s an example of how it works. If you have all of your lights turned on, and you drop the sensor’s sensitivity to nearly zero, it will register that brightly lit room as its near-zero threshold. This means that, under normal lighting conditions, it probably will never register movement as it’s never going to be as bright as when you had all of your lights on.

So what’s the fix?

Always set your brightness sensitivity in the actual lighting conditions your device will be operating. If it’s an outdoor sensor that has a primary job of turning on floodlights at night, set the brightness setting in the evening or under similar low-light conditions.

You can do the inverse of this for sensors that have daytime tasks to perform.

Tips for Apple HomeKit Users

HomeKit is a great piece of technology when it comes to smart homes. Many of the most common brands and best pieces of smart home tech work right out of the box with HomeKit.

There are, however, a few exceptions.

The Philips Hue Outdoor Motion Sensors technically works right away with HomeKit, but there are a few kinks we need to iron out.

The Philips Hue Bridge hides the sensor from HomeKit. This means that any level of automation that factors in lux values won’t be able to integrate the sensor. There are a few workarounds that allow us to bring the sensor back under HomeKit’s control.

The Philips Hue sensors technically report both light and temperature levels to HomeKit even if you have to work a little to make use of that data. Let’s go over how to make HomeKit, effectively, take control of the sensor’s brightness sensitivity.

Your first step is to create a new automation by hitting the plus icon. You can make a basic automation here that simply detects motion and turns on lights, but we’re here for lights turned on by lux value.

Scroll down and select “advanced.” After that, you should see an option to “Convert to Shortcut.” This is going to let us get access to the sensor’s light values. We’re going to create a quick “If statement” as our Shortcut with these settings:

  • Use your desired motion sensor as the Input
  • Use “current light level” as Name
  • Select “Is less than” as your Condition
  • Select your desired lux value that you want your motion sensor to activate on
  • Delete the Otherwise and add a Control Home action
  • Your Control Home action will be your desired light, brightness, and color
  • End your Shortcut with an “End If”

Follow these steps and not only will you master the true potential of HomeKit, but you will also be able to access the Philips Hue Outdoor Motion Sensor’s single best feature.

When all else fails, you can always check your battery and reset.

The Old Reliable Reset

The Philips Hue Outdoor Motion Sensor tends to get a little tricky for some users. If your device starts acting up, it’s time to try the most reliable fix in the tech world.

Hit the reset button.

There is a small hole on the back of this device:

Back of the Philips Hue Motion Sensor
Back of the Philips Hue Motion Sensor

Recessed inside that hole is the reset button. Here’s how to reset this sensor the more thorough way possible.

  1. Change the AA battery (this is for good measure)
  2. Press and hold the reset button for 10 seconds
  3. Release the reset button
  4. Sync your sensor to your bridge and app of choice

After that reset, your device should be ready to go. Make sure to always set your brightness sensitivity under normal operating lighting conditions, and you’ll be able to make the most out of this important Hue sensor feature.

About Tristan Perry

Tristan Perry is a software developer who is passionate about tech gadgets, DIY and housing. He has therefore loved seeing smart homes hit the mainstream. Tristan also has an academic background (in Math & Computer Science), and so he enjoys digging into the technical ways that smart home devices work.

Tristan owns close to a dozen Amazon Echo devices, way too many Philips Hue bulbs and lightstrips, a boat-load of Ring Cameras and Doorbells... and a bunch of other smart home devices too (from Reolink, Google Nest, GLEDOPTO and others).

If you have any questions, feedback or suggestions about this article, please leave a comment below. Please note that all comments go into a moderation queue (to prevent blog spam). Your comment will be manually reviewed and approved by Tristan in less than a week. Thanks!

2 thoughts on “Does The Hue Outdoor Motion Sensor Allow Lux (Daylight) Control?”

  1. Thank you. This is very helpful informative explanation on how daylight sensitivity works.
    I would like to clarify how it works with the day and night settings. I have Hue Outdoor motion sensor set with zone 1 for daytime and zone 2 for nighttime. If I set the sensitivity setting at dusk, will that be the time that it switches from day to night settings of the sensor?
    so if the daylight sensitivity is set correctly it actually overrides the day and night time settings, but does use the day & night light settings (ie zones linked to day & night?) is this correct?

    • Thanks Bruce, and very good question. My Hue Outdoor Motion Sensor is currently packed up in a box somewhere (we tried moving house then it fell through at the last minute… long story). When I dig it back out, I’ll check this again. In the mean-time, your comment is now showing up so if someone else knows the answer, they should be able to reply too.


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