One of the few rooms in our home that wasn’t automated was a walk-in closet off our family room. We had a solution that had worked for some time, but it was time to kick it up a notch. Read about how a smart motion sensor and smart bulb worked to solve our needs!
Up until recently, we had been using a Philips Hue setup in our home for a few odds & ends. However, because we tend to favor our Lutron Caseta switches, we decided to ditch the Hue system. Both systems are Apple HomeKit compatible, but we are fans of smart switches versus smart bulbs. That is because smart bulbs become “dumb” the moment someone turns the bulb housing off (ie: lamp, wall switch, etc).
In our walk-in closet off the family room had been a simple switch and bulb combo from Philips, specifically their Smart Dimming Kit. This worked fine, though our little one would often forget to turn the light off. In a move to simplify our home environment we ditched all the Philips stuff, leaving the closet in need of a new solution. Enter the combo you see here.
You can find other blog posts where I’ve reviewed countless pieces of hardware from Elgato, such as their Eve Room device (on of my personal favorites!). So it was easy and logical to add another device from them, in this case, the Elgato Eve Motion sensor. This device works simply as a trigger, sensing motion and sending this data to Apple’s HomeKit platform. What you do with that trigger is up to you.
In my case then I needed a bulb that would fit in the closet. Where the room had started off with a simple pull-string for the bulb, I removed the chain and put in a smart bulb. So what I needed was a smart bulb that was inexpensive, and worked with Apple’s HomeKit platform. Enter the LIFX Mini White.
For only $75 total I now had a motion sensor and a bulb that could be automated. Installation was as simple as hanging the sensor on the wall in an appropriate place inside the closet, and screwing in the bulb. From there, it was all software.
SETUP & REVIEW
Starting with the LIFX Mini there was yet another app you need to download and install. Setup of the bulb was relatively simple, with the photos above doing a better job showing you the step-by-step instructions. I do find the LIFX app leaves a bit to be desired, and it isn’t an app I’d want to spend much time in. But for me it was used simply for this initial setup, as once the bulb was linked to HomeKit, I’d never need their app again most likely.
Once the bulb was up and running there was a software update from LIFX, pushed to the bulb. Adding the bulb to Apple HomeKit was as simply as snapping the QR code, just like all other HomeKit devices. And that was it! Literally took just minutes.
Next up was the Elgato Eve sensor. Setting up the sensor was equally fast, and easy. Oddly enough the sensor also had a new firmware update, which also took only a short amount of time to download and install. As with all Elgato products, the instructions are clear, and setup is painless.
With this device you can set things like how long after the last time motion was sensed before it will give the all-clear, and settings like that. You can also tweak the sensitivity to match your needs. One feature I really like is that there is a small LED on the unit, and you can have this illuminate when it senses motion. This is great for setup and calibration, but also sometimes just as a way to ensure the unit is working.
Once the sensor was working and the light was in place, I moved over to the Home app, which is native to iOS. From here the real fun began! You should now have a new trigger called “a sensor detects something” which will appear now that you have a motion sensor. This would also appear if you have a leak sensor, which I have.
Tailored to meet my needs, I setup the motion sensor to detect motion at any time of the day, whether someone is home or not. When this motion occurs, the light in the closet turns on. After a minute without motion showing active, the light turns back off. And the beauty of all this is that it happens seamlessly, with my Apple TV being the backup hub in case my phone is not at home to work as the central brain.
Overall, we are quite happy with the performance. Sometimes there is a small lag from when the motion is sensed until the bulb turns on, but this is less often than the other way around. Typically, by the time you swing open the door and start to step into the closet, the light comes on. I also currently have the motion sensor sending push alerts to my phone, something you can drill down and configure within the Home app. This makes me realize how useful the Elgato Eve Motion could be just as a home security device, both as a trigger, but also just for warnings and awareness.
We’re happy with our LIFX Mini White bulb, coupled with our Elgato Eve Motion. It is a rather simply combo that provides a relatively bare-bones solution. For the cost it may not be for everyone, but for us, it works just great! If you need a motion based trigger, or just a cheap bulb that works with Siri & Apple, these two devices won’t let you down!