On our most recent podcast episode, Michael called our IoT Podcast Hotline with a specific question. He has LIFX bulbs but no smart home hub, and he wants to automate the light in his laundry room with a Wi-Fi motion sensor. He currently uses Stringify to create some cloud-based automations.
This situation can be a bit of a challenge, although less so if HomeKit is involved. Since HomeKit works natively with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, there are some motion sensors from Fibaro and Eve that would detect motion in the laundry room. Using the iOS Home app then, you can create an automation to illuminate a LIFX bulb in the room.
However, this becomes a little trickier outside of the HomeKit world under the constraint of wanting a Wi-Fi motion sensor. That’s partly because many sensors use Z-Wave or Bluetooth, which are both more power efficient than Wi-Fi devices. Adding Z-Wave to the mix requires a hub or a bridge, however.
There is a $40 D-Link motion sensor that uses Wi-Fi, so no hub would be required to get motion alerts on a phone. Using those alert triggers to kick off the action of turning the bulb on would then be done through either Stringify or IFTTT. The D-Link motion sensor definitely works with IFTTT, so that’s probably the best non-hub option.
In both cases above, there’s one key item that’s easy to overlook: You’ll need some type of programmable action to automatically turn the light off if no motion is detected for a configurable number of minutes.
There are two other options, neither of which technically requires a true hub.
The first is buying into the Philips Hue ecosystem for its $70 Starter Pack (2 bulbs) and the $40 Hue motion sensor. Technically, this requires a bridge for the Hue devices to connect to a Wi-Fi network since they use ZigBee radios, but that’s included in the Starter Pack. And yes, that means another box in the house.
The second option may be simpler and less expensive. For around $35, a simple Bluetooth door/window sensor like this one from Eve could be attached to the laundry room door, but again you’ll need HomeKit. Or you could use a low-cost Wi-Fi door/window sensor; they start around $20, but make sure they work with either IFTTT or Stringify. When the door is closed, a connected LIFX bulb could be set to off. Open the door to break the sensor’s magnetic connection and the light can be automatically turned on.
Regardless, there are several options with different levels of investment that should work in this or a similar situation: Among other things, I use a door/window sensor like this in my bedroom closet, for example.
If you’d rather hear our response to this question, you can hit the play button below to start the podcast right at our IoT Podcast Hotline section:
And remember, you can always leave us your question by calling the IoT Podcast Hotline at 512-623-7424!