Closet Lights

We have some walk-in closets as well as regular closets with double sliding doors. Here are some thoughts on how to bring light into the closets:

  • For the walk-in closets we can use a motion sensor to check if there is somebody inside. During day time we want to have the light at full brightness. However, early in the morning when everything is still dark we prefer somewhat dimmed lights. I am thinking of doing this by having the motion sensor routed back to the vera. The light is controlled by a z-wave dimmer. I then adjust the dimmer setting as a function of “time-of-day”.

  • For the regular closets I could also have a motion sensor. However, would they trigger if the doors are open and somebody walks by? Probably. So maybe I should have two door sensors (due to double sliding doors) to check if they are closed and only turn on lights if they are opened. I am not sure if that will work well, though because if somebody closes it 1" short of completely closed it will not be recognized as closed and therefore the light does not come on when the door is opened.

Maybe this is complete overkill but I would appreciate your input and opinion. Btw, I am thinking of connecting this to my security system. That’s of course not because it’s a security issue but because I think those wired sensors into a security system are more reliable and cheaper than using z-wave sensors. I then just link the security system into vera to trigger the appropriate actions.

There are so many options for this. Whether it is overkill or not is up to you. In general, I don’t think that closets are worth it. But, having said that, I have two closets under automation.

Dim levels at various times are a simple matter for PLEG. You could go with a Z-Wave motion multi-sensor that detects light levels, but I’ve yet to see one of these scenarios operating well.

You can attach multiple magnet sensors on a single door/window sensor. Just use normally open(NO) external magnet sensors wired in series. All the popular Z-Wave door/Window sensors can have external magnet sensors attached. But, yes, both doors would have to be closed. (Closing the doors properly doesn’t seem like a bad habit to me. But, it did take me over 15 years to teach the kids how…) Also, since these are sliding doors, you can put a series of magnets next to each sensor so that you could have several inches of door open and the sensor still reads closed.

You can use a motion sensor strategically mounted inside the closet to limit unwanted triggers when the door is open. Would it be that bad to have “false” triggers if the light is automatically going to turn off? Also, the undesired triggering may encourage passersby to close the door. But, if closure doesn’t become a habit, they’ll likely become acclimated to it and won;t be urged to close the door after a while.

You can use a cheap motion sensing occupancy sensor switch and avoid the expense of Z-Wave, though you would not be able to schedule various dim levels. The Lutron occupancy sensor even has a light sensor that prevents triggering if the room is already bright(daytime).

I have two doors that open on one closet … I use a door sensor on one door, magnet on the other.
I use PLEG to control the light. The light goes out when door closes OR timeout. If the door is left open or partly left open … just quickly close/open the door.

Z-waver, Richard, thanks for the replies. It looks like you guys automated almost everything in your house. There must be tons of sensors and miles of wires. Based on your responses I will give it a try, too.

Quote: “it did take me over 15 years to teach the kids how…(close the doors)”. LOL! I will consider installing a strobe so when the door is open and the kids are walking by they will get flashed. That should help with closing the doors, especially if it happens in the dark of the night. :wink:

[quote=“maja, post:4, topic:186621”]Z-waver, Richard, thanks for the replies. It looks like you guys automated almost everything in your house. There must be tons of sensors and miles of wires. Based on your responses I will give it a try, too.

Quote: “it did take me over 15 years to teach the kids how…(close the doors)”. LOL! I will consider installing a strobe so when the door is open and the kids are walking by they will get flashed. That should help with closing the doors, especially if it happens in the dark of the night. ;)[/quote]

In my house doors that used to get left open (pantry and laundry room) now have lights tied to the doors. After a short time they new to turn off the light you need to closed the door (there is a time out on it also) and if you wanted to see when you went back in you needed to make sure the door was closed before. After a short time everyone knows to close the door now.

Also you don’t have to use the inwall door sensor like we talked about before. On this door you might want to use a traditional blox sensor inside the closet on the top inner edge of the door and you can put multiple magnets on the door. So no matter if the door was closed all the way or open a few inches there would be a row of magnets allowing the sensor to see the door closed for the last say 6" or what ever you choose.

I was looking to automate my ‘step-in’ closet but rather than spending $60 on a z-wave sensor and z-wave socket, I spent $8 on an LED bulb like this ([url=]404 page) which does the job perfectly. I open the door and the light comes on. I close it and about 90 seconds later it turns off.

I have my master bedroom walk-in closet automated, and NO it is NOT OVERKILL. We walk in and out a a few dozen times a day, and there isn’t enough natural light, so this really cut down on hitting the light switch. I use an EnOcean occupancy sensor right over the entry door - we don’t keep the french doors closed, so door contacts would not have worked… Lights are florescent fixtures, so use a on-off non-dimming z-wave switch. This has high WAF.

On the other closets I don’t have any automation, and I don’t think they are worth it. In fact, they are just about the last non-zwave switches (along with garbage disposal and fireplace). Course, I am about to automate the light in my laundry area with a sensor and z-wave switch, and it is really just a closet… But you always have your hands full of laundry walking in-and-out of there, so automation has value there too…

I am trying to implement this now. I have a DSC panel with EnvisaLink and hooked up a magnet sensor to the panel. However, it takes some 30s for EnvisaLink to see the change in status of the sensor. Obviously, that isn’t going to work (unless you are ok waiting for 30s before the lights come on). So how did you guys implement this through automation?

For these small spaces (bathrooms, walkin closet, pantry, laundry room) I just use the Leviton occupancy switch, no zwave required. I used the dimmer versions for the master bath and the vanity area of the kids bath, and the normal on off version everywhere else. The dimmers have a variety of options for what happens when motion is detected (go to a specific level or to the last level you used) but you aren’t going to be able to do the dimmer in the morning brighter in the evening, not sure that is a deal breaker.

They work great and get smarter over time as far as what the trigger point should be for day light to not trigger the light for rooms with windows based on your behavior ( if you keep turning on the light manually when the sun is shining in the room it becomes less sensitive to the sun light)

Since most of my switches are on the same wall as the door and hence face away from the door, they generally will not trigger just by walking by even if the door was left open because you are walking behind the field of view. The only two switches that don’t work well for me are my pantry, as the switch is perpendicular to the door, so will false trigger when you walk by (I am going to try a piece of tape to cut down on the field of view so it doesn’t trigger as easily).

And in one of my bathrooms, I have to set the time out to the full 30 minutes because the shower curtain is far from the switch and blocks the motion detector and if folks take a long shower the light will go out on them (maybe a plus if I don’t want them taking a long shower!).

Every thing else I generally have set to a 5-10 minute time out and works awesome. I still use zwave for a bunch of other areas, these small spaces just didn’t seem to merit the need for that complexity when all I need are simple triggers when in use turn on, turn off when not modes.

shallowearth, thanks. Our big WIK also has the switch outside but the smaller ones have it outside and so does the pantry. Hence I don’t think the occupancy switch will work well (frequent false triggers). The bulb BOFH mentioned might work better. I still prefer the approach with the magnet switch, though. My problem is just with the huge delay when the sensor is triggered and when EnvisaLink sees it.

Yeah, don’t you love when they put the switch on the out side of the closet? That just makes me nuts. In my home theater they put the switch out side the room and I am thinking what is wrong with this builder… Sheesh. My friend had a bathroom with the switch on the outside and I am like great, anyone can walk by and switch the light off on you!

One other suggestion now that I know your setup.
You could put a z-wave switch (or dimmer) in place of the current switch, and then put a Fibaro battery powered motion sensor on the ceiling of the closet pointing at the door or sliders, and direct associate the switch to the sensor so it comes on and off with motion (the Fibaro is pretty configurable with how the association works and time outs etc). The doors should block most of the motion field of view as long as the doors are partially closed if you angle it right, so you shouldn’t get lots of walk by false alarms. And the direct association means it will be instant when you open the doors or walk in… No delays.

If you want guaranteed no delays, a sensor like the Fibaro that supports direct association is your friend.

The only trick will be the dim level, you will either have to do something fancy to program changing the parameters of the Fibaro in the morning and night and making sure the config gets updated, but instead I would recommend just doing something sneaky to opportunistically set the memory on the dimmer to the setting you want ( the Fibaro by default will turn on the light to the last saved dimmer level). To do this set a scheduled scene during the day ( when folks aren’t likely to be home) to turn on the dimmer level to the level you want then immediately turn the light back off. Ditto, do the same in the wee hours of the morning to reset the dimmer level to a lower setting in prep for the morning or if the door is likely to be open and the flash of light noticed, right before bed time or similar sneaky time.

It shouldn’t take nearly that long for the DSC to update Vera. Internal lights I have automated with DSC wireless contacts take a little longer than ones I have automated with EnOcean occupany sensors - but work reliably within 2 seconds of the door being opened. (So two seconds total for DSC to alert Vera via Envisalink and Vera to turn on the light via z-wave - and that is worst case)…

I have an EnvisaLink EVL-3 connected to my VeraLite and sensor trips are almost instantaneously reported. You should verify whether the delay is between your alarm system and the EnvisaLink or between the EnvisaLink and the Vera by logging into the EnvisaLink directly and watching how much of a delay there is before a sensor trip is displayed. (Go to EnvisaLink IP in your web browser - username password default is user/user.)

Thanks everybody for the responses. I didn’t know that z-wave devices can directly control each other without going through a controller, as shallowearth mentioned. This could be very helpful in certain situations.

It turns out that this is actually not such a situation. My initial step was similar to what jrt8587 suggested for debugging, i.e. I was looking at the signal appearing on EnvisaLink’s website which did take a rather long time despite constant refreshes. I then figured I just skipping the EnvisaLink part, hook up a z-wave device and trigger it based on the magnet input. It turns out that it responded almost immediately. It responded a bit quick one way than the other (I think when closing the circuit the reaction was quicker) but not more than 1s which is plenty enough as opening the door also takes some (short) time.

The take-away is that EnvisaLink forwards events instantly to vera. However, based on this experience service provided through EnvisaLink probably will see some significant delay.