Smart lights are a wonderful addition to the home. Besides having loads of settings for cool colors and animations, they can also save power with intelligent scheduling and presence awareness. With a little bit of elbow grease, your lights only need to stay on as long as necessary and can turn on the second you come into the room.
The nice thing about building an automation like this is that it’s very straightforward and can work with a variety of devices. Sure, you might have some Nanoleaf Shapes that you want to automate, but if you have some remote bulbs that are harder to upgrade, you can often achieve the same results by swapping in a smart light switch. Sensors are equally flexible. You can have a Hue Outdoor Sensor that sees you pulling up in the driveway or a Switchbot Contact Sensor keeping tabs on your front door. Some lights, particularly smart outdoor floodlights, have motion sensors built right in. Most of the time, it’s possible to tie light and sensor together regardless of brand.
The specifics of smart light automations will vary depending on the lights and the sensors you’re using. When the two are from the same brand, you can expect to have more consistent interactions. When that doesn’t work out, IFTTT has proven to be a great bridge between multiple brands. Mobile platforms themselves can also give these devices a way to talk to one another. For example, iOS offers automations between HomeKit devices, so certain actions on one device can trigger responses on others.
How to automatically turn on your lights
Step 1: Install your lights and sensors.
You will need to install the official mobile apps for either product. If possible, connect to Google Assistant, Apple HomeKit, and Alexa to get as many levers as possible to put automations in order.
Many smart lights will have geofencing options available. In these instances, you don’t even need a sensor to have lights automatically turn on or off if you’re nearby. Instead, your phone’s GPS position relative to your home determines if the lights switch.
Step 2: Determine automation options.
If you’re using devices from the same brand, automation options between sensors and lights should be built into the native app. If the devices are from different manufacturers, but they both plug into Apple Home, and you’re using an iOS device, check the Automations section of the Home app. From here, it should be possible to tell the lights to turn on if motion is sensed.
Step 3: If your sensor and lights are different brands and Apple HomeKit isn’t an option, register an account with IFTTT and connect it to the accounts for your devices.
Step 4: Once you create an IFTTT account and connect to your devices, you need to create a recipe.
You can dig into the specifics on how to build IFTTT recipes here, but the process is pretty self-explanatory. Simply pick your brand and the device associated with it, the triggering action, then pick the brand of light, and the specific bulb to go off when it senses your presence.
This functionality is just one of many great smart light automations you can set up. Be sure to explore the whole range of functions available to your hardware.