On our most recent IoT Podcast episode, Michael called in to our voicemail hotline with a closet question. More specifically, he’s looking for a HomeKit solution to enable light strips in his closets. The idea is to have the light strips turn on when he opens the door, and Michael is looking for some sensor and light strip suggestions.
Stacey and have both implemented similar solutions and have some ideas. Stacey’s first thought is to go with Philips Hue light strips — an $80 investment for 80-inches of color or white lights — and its $39 motion sensors. To use these together, you would need a Philips Hue bridge as well. If you don’t have one, that’ll be another $59.99 but one can support up to 50 lights. Philips Hue has committed to
Thread Matter support, so this gear is somewhat future-proofed.
I automated one of our closet lights and can recommend a less expensive option if Michael doesn’t already have any Philips Hue gear. There are a bunch of HomeKit compatible lights strips on the market to choose from and any of them will work with a HomeKit door/window sensor.
For the sensor choice, I’d suggest the Eve Door/Window sensor, which is the same price as a Philips Hue motion sensor. Eve is already on board the Thread train, so you have support for the next-generation Matter smart home protocol.
In terms of smart light strips, Eve offers one for $80 and LIFX has one for $90, You can save money with the $35 Meross light strips or Nanoleaf’s $40 option. Prices will vary based on the length of the strip as well as due to differing features: white vs color, all one color or color gradient support, etc…
Any of these will work but I’m a little partial to the Nanoleaf choice because smart lights are all they do, and they’ve been making great products for a long time. But again, any HomeKit supported smart lights will light up that closet.
Regardless of the sensor and light choices, once you have the gear, it’s just a matter of setting up HomeKit automations to turn the lights on or off depending on what the sensor status is. So no more walking into dark, scary closets or leaving the lights on when you leave the space.
To hear Michael’s question in full, as well as our discussion on the topic, tune in to the IoT Podcast below:
JD Roberts says
Two factors that might affect device selection: max brightness, and integration with other platforms, particularly Alexa.
Many people, myself included, prefer Alexa voice control to that of Siri at the present time. So I look for devices that work with both.
Meross, Nanoleaf, and Philips Hue Will work simultaneously with HomeKit and Alexa. Eve will only work with HomeKit.
brightness is measured in lumens. 800 lm is about the equivalent of a 60 W bulb. 1100 lm is about the equivalent of a 75 white bulb. 1600 lm is about the equivalent of a 100 watt bulb. 2600 is about the equivalent of a 150 W bulb.
People use LED strips both for mood lighting, when the brightness may not matter as much, and for practical use like kitchens where it may matter a lot. Closets are sort of an in between use case: some people want really bright lights in the closet and others don’t care much.
There’s a very significant difference in brightness between the brands mentioned so far. Also note the length when comparing models: the more length you use, the more brightness you’ll get, just as two lightbulbs will give you more light than one.
As of November 2021:
Meross: about 800 lm per 32’
LIFX: 1400 lm per 2 meters
Hue 2nd generation: 1650 lm per 2 meters (The first generation was noticeably dimmer)
Eve: 1800 lm per 2 meters
Nanoleaf: 2000 – 2200 lm for 2 m (these are bright!)
If brightness is important to you, confirm the lumens for the specific model you are considering before you purchase. Or consider whether you have room to place multiple strips.
Just as they vary in length, LED strips can also vary in width, which sometimes makes a difference if you’re trying to fit it on a door frame. Meross are noticeably thinner than most of the other brands, which may also be why they’re dimmer. But if you do want to place the strip on a door or window frame, you may also want to check the width before purchasing.
also note that the Meross strips do not support HomeKit adaptive lighting at this time. Adaptive lighting is a feature which lets you set the lights to vary their tone over the course of the day to match the natural light outside. Cooler in the early morning, brighter at noon, warm and less bright in the late afternoon. I don’t think most people would care about this for closet lighting, but it is another thing to be aware of when considering candidates.
I like Meross devices a lot and use a number of them in my own home, but they are a budget brand and May not offer all of the same features as the more expensive competitors.
Stacey Higginbotham says
JD, you’re hired! This is excellent, and it’s clear you’ve thought quite a bit about this.
JD Roberts says
Thanks! After seven years of hanging out in the SmartThings forum, I’ve learned that:
1) different people want different things from home automation
2) most people don’t know which features of a smart device will impact the solution they’re looking for.
At the same time, I’m one of those Star Trek engineering type people who enjoys reading technical manuals and is fascinated by the compromises that engineers make, whether it’s to hit a specific price point or a weight limit. So I’m in that very small group that thinks one of the best things about the Internet is it means you can read the user manual before you buy the product. 😉
A device isn’t a solution until it’s matched to the specific details of what someone needs. Including budget, ease of installation, maintenance requirements, and interoperability with other systems. Until then it’s just a candidate.
I enjoy looking at the differences between candidates, and laying them out so that someone who doesn’t read technical manuals on vacation can figure out which candidates will match the solution they’re looking for. Including considerations of budget and maintenance requirements.
The restrictions on the solution are what make it an interesting puzzle to solve. At least for me.
$179 to eliminate having to switch on a light when you open a closet?