Philips Hue Motion sensor bathroom automation trick

Automating the bathroom with HomeKit is done.  And after setting it up I realize that there was a little issue with the way I set it up.  So after putting some thought into it I came up with this simple Philips Hue motion sensor trick that I want to share with you.

Here’s the situation. I’ve set my bathroom up with a Philips Hue bulb in the ceiling light, 2 Hue bulbs in the vanity light fixture and a Philips Motion Sensor right beside the vanity lights.  The thought behind this was to have my bathroom lights switch on/off when someone goes in/out of it.  Simple right?  Not quite.  What happens is, the position of the motion sensor is very important.  Motion sensors cannot pick up movement behind glass.  So where the toilet is, and also when someone is in the glass shower cabinet, the motion sensor doesn’t see any movement, and turns the lights off.

Setting a delay for the Automation works,  In this example:  When detecting motion in the bathroom, turn on lights, and turn them off after 4 minutes.  It’s OK to have this, but I feel that 4 minutes is too long, plus, there was a bigger issue.  Imagine yourself in the shower for 4 minutes and the lights goes off.  Not ideal.

So here’s what I did in the end.  There are 3 Hue bulbs in the toilet, and the Philips Hue Motion Sensor on the left side of the vanity lights.  I set the Left Side vanity lights bulb (furthest from the shower) to turn off 4 minutes after motion is detected.  The Right side bulb to turn off 5 minutes after motion is detected, and finally, the Ceiling bulb to turn off 10 minutes after motion is detected.  All this was set in the HomeKit app, and is relatively easy to do, but there’s lots of lines.

Here’s the automation instructions that I use (yes… just 7 for a bathroom):

  • Motion Detected in Upstairs Bathroom
    • Only from 1:00 AM to 6:00 AM (Early Morning)
      1. Ceiling Light, 70% intensity, Turn Off After 4 minutes
    • Only from 6:00 AM to 8:00 AM (Mornings)
      1. Vanity Left Light, 100% intensity, Turn Off After 4 minutes
      2. Vanity Right Light, 100% intensity, Turn Off After 5 minutes
      3. Ceiling Light, 100% intensity, Turn Off After 10 minutes
    • Only from 6:40 PM to 1:00 AM (Evenings)
      1. Vanity Left Light, 100% intensity, Turn Off After 4 minutes
      2. Vanity Right Light, 100% intensity, Turn Off After 5 minutes
      3. Ceiling Light, 100% intensity, Turn Off After 10 minutes
This is what the 7 automation looks like in Homekit.  It’s not shown in any particular order.

The great part of this setup is that it gives the person inside the bathroom an idea of how much time is being spent in there.  Not only do I save electricity by the Home Automation controlling the bulbs, the person also knows how long he/she is in the shower.  Plus, there’s a clear and visible signal that there motion must be detected within 10 minutes before it goes totally dark.  If they want all lights back on they have to just wave at the Philips Hue Motion Sensor.

After setting this up, I realize that the next thing that had to be done was to adjust the location of the Philips Hue Motion Sensor.  After looking at the lay out, and considering the location of the glass shower closet, the best place to locate the sensor would be on the ceiling facing towards the door so that it can already detect a person that’s about to come in as opposed to only switching on the lights when they are in the bathroom.

Bathroom Vanity and Ceiling Lights

One thing missing is the Philips Dimmer Switch to be placed outside of the toilet.  This is needed when anyone wants to use the toilet outside of the 7:00pm till 12:00am, and 6:30am till 8:00am times where I set the Automation to take place.  Please read this article on the need for a physical switch.

Also, I’ve set an automation between 12:00am till 6:30am that only the Ceiling lamp turns on at 70% brightness for those late night visits to the toilet.  I think this is really cool, no more retina burns at 4am.

So, there’s my home automation settings trick.   Hope you like it and try some of your own.