Why I Love This ‘Hidden’ Smart Lighting Feature – New Video

When people think of smart lighting, they usually think of the obvious: full color (RGB) bulbs. Setting rooms to bright green, or dancing to strobe lighting effects. But I actually prefer a less discussed smart lighting feature: motion sensitive lighting.

This is simple to set up, and it feels like something out of sci-fi. I discuss how to achieve this simple-but-powerful functionality in today’s video.

The timestamps for each section are:

  • 0:00: Intro
  • 1:02: Philips Hue approach
  • 1:48: Alexa approach
  • 3:10: Smart switches approach
  • 3:46: Wrapping up

I mention various products in this video – you can check them out below (none of the links are affiliate links – feel free to click away!):

ZigBee Bulbs

Alexa-compatible Sensors

Motion Switches

Video Transcript

Hello, I’m Tristan from Smart Home Point. Many people love smart lighting, and for good reason. Being able to have your rooms change between loads of different colors is naturally awesome.

[Me dancing] Woo, I’m so cool!

Uhh… okay. Well, yeah. Moving on. Whilst that IS cool (and I mean, the lights, not my dancing), there’s actually an even better feature of smart lighting: motion sensitive lights. When you walk into a less-used room (such as a basement, utility room or a spare bedroom), having the lights turn on automatically is pretty useful.

After all, you might be carrying a big basket of laundry and you can’t easily hit the light switch. Or maybe you only need to pop into a room for a few seconds to quickly pick something up – and turning the light on and then off again feels a little bit archaic. Yes I know it’s not difficult to hit the light switch, but smart homes are all about accessibility and making our lives easier, so why not apply motion-activated lighting where it makes sense?

There’s a few ways of setting this up. In my case, I’m a big Philips Hue fan (sorry Paul Hibbert) so I have a Hue Motion Sensor sitting on my computer desk – aimed at the door. Then when someone walks in, I have the Hue Lightstrip around my desk set to come on at a dimmed brightness. After 1 minute, the lightstrip goes off again. This is all entirely configurable within the Hue app itself – I could have 5 lights in this room, and choose for them all to come on at full 100% brightness. It’s easy to configure exactly to your own needs, and because it’s Philips Hue, compatible lights from GLEDOTPO, Innr and others will also work.

If, however, you dislike Zigbee and the Philips Hue ecosystem, please unsubscribe from this channel immediately. I’m joking, seriously, thank you for all your support! The good news, if you dislike Philips Hue, is that there’s loads of other ways of achieving motion-activated lighting.

For example, you can purchase an Alexa-compatible motion sensor. SwitchBot, BroadLink and Shelly all spring to mind, although an Echo Flex with the motion attachment will also work fine. You can then set up a routine within the Alexa app. Routines have two main parts: the trigger, and the action (or set of actions). The trigger is what sets off the actions. In this case, you can set the trigger to “smart home” and then choose your motion sensor. Select “when motion is detected”, and then for your actions, you just need to choose the smart lights that you want to turn on.

You can select just one light, or multiple. You can also choose the color and brightness too of course. You’ll probably want the lights to go off automatically too. To do this, add another action and choose “Wait”. Specify the wait time, and then go back and add more actions and turn off the lights you chose previously – and this time choose “power: off”.

This approach is more clunky than with Philips Hue, but it still works well and the Alexa platform supports a lot more devices. Heck, you could actually use an indoor smart camera as the routine trigger, instead of using a motion sensor. There’s lots of choice here.

If you hate both Philips Hue AND Amazon Alexa, you can also purchase smart switches that have built-in motion sensors. These can also be configured to turn the linked light on and off after motion is detected, but there is a downside. Smart switches usually don’t work with smart light bulbs – they’re more designed for the “dumb” bulbs that they’re wired to. So if you go down this route, you CAN have motion-activated lighting – but you won’t have RGB support, and you’ll probably be stuck with 100% brightness too (unless you find a dimmable smart switch with a built-in motion sensor, but these aren’t too common).

Anywhoo, that just about wraps up today’s video. Whilst I don’t dislike full color smart lights, I much prefer motion-activated smart lighting – so I wanted to shoot today’s video and explain how you can achieve this too. I hope you enjoyed this video – if you did, please click the thumbs up button which will tell YouTube that more people should watch this video. Please also consider subscribing to my channel, and pressing the bell icon which will notify you when I release new videos. Thank you!

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!

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