I almost wasted $175 installing an automatic light in my closet. Here’s how you can avoid making the same mistake, and get better results for less than $20.
Home automation is sexy. I wanted to continue this trend by adding an automatic light to my closet that turned on and off when I needed it.
However, making your home more convenient doesn’t necessarily mean that everything needs to be connected to the Internet.
The Problem: My Closet Was Dark
I needed light in my closet.
The closet in my master bedroom was dark. There was a light fixture in there, but it had never worked.
Some testing with a non-contact voltage tester proved that there wasn’t electricity powering the fixture. So the first thing I would need to do is get power to the closet.
There’s an outlet near the closet that I could extend to this light fixture to restore power. This would require cutting fewer holes in the wall. And most of them would be in the closet anyways, so I wouldn’t need to do a great job patching them up.
Making the Light Come On In the Closet When I Open the Door
The closet light fixture didn’t have a switch, so I’d need to add a switch. That meant another hole, more wiring and another patch. Not ideal.
But what if I could make it so that the light came on when I opened the door?
I could hook up some SmartThings sensors to the door so that when it was opened, it sent a signal to the SmartThings hub, which would tell a Hue light to turn on. An automatic light with no wires!
Medium effort, permanent solution, maximum awesome factor. The hardest part would be patching the holes in the wall.
Solution: Adding SmartThings to Automate My Closet Light
I started making a list of all the things I would need to be able add an automatic light to my closet.
Shopping list for automating a closet with SmartThings:
|New Light Fixture||$6.00|
|Hue LED Light Bulb||$30.00|
|SmartThings Motion Sensor||$30.00|
|Estimated Time||5-6 Hours|
I actually cut the first hole when I realized:
Wait. This is Ridiculous.
I just need light in the closet.
And I want the light to come on when I open the door.
People had solved this problem years ago. Miraculously, the idea of an automated light existed before SmartThings did.
Actual Solution: Automating Your Closet in 19 Seconds for $19
A quick Amazon search led me here: Mr. Beams Battery Operated Motion Sensing LED Ceiling Light
It does two things:
- When it senses motion, it turns the light on
- After 30 seconds, it automatically turns the light off
My new shopping list:
|Mr. Beams LED Light||$19.97|
|Estimated Time||About 19 seconds|
Bottom Line: Resist the Urge to Immediately Jump to a Wifi-Connected Solution
A motion-sensing LED light is not fancy. I’m not going to bring my friends upstairs to check out my closet lighting. I can’t turn the light on and off while laying in bed. There’s no way to tell it to automatically turn on at 5:17 when I’m most likely to be ready to use my closet.
But it got the job done in under a minute for less than $20.
Now I have light in my closet that turns on and off exactly when I need it to.
And that was the point.