12 Comments

Summary:

You can control your lights and appliances based on time of day, but a Kickstarter that launched Wednesday wants to add daylight to the mix via a connected sensor and closed system.

lightsentrydiagram
photo: Light Sentry

When it comes to programming my lights and my window shades, time of day is a favorite parameter to use. In some cases I am really looking for a specific time, like when my blinds go up at a set time, but in other cases it’s a proxy for sunrise and sunset. While many home automation apps allow you to schedule things for sunrise and sunset there’s another option launching today that offers a light sensor for your smart home.

Light Sentry is launching a Kickstarter for a sensor that attaches to a pole outside the home and communicates with a connected hub, light switches and power outlets. Thus, you can install a Light Sentry outlet for where you plug in your Christmas lights, or put a Light Sentry switch for your porch light or wherever you think you want to control something with daylight as opposed to time.

The benefit here is that instead of going out to the cloud to get sunrise and sunset data, you can pull it from your local network. The downside is that it so far doesn’t tie into other connected home options on the market. The full kit containing a sensor, hub, and three switches or outlets will cost $390 at retail and is $295 on the Kickstarter. The product will be delivered November of this year.

I like the idea of bringing a daylight sensor into the home network, especially if you can mesh network it to the devices you want it to control so things will still work when the internet is out. My current experience is that I want my outdoor lights and holiday lights to go on at dark, but my blinds to close much earlier before the sun gets too low and heats up my house. Given this, I’m not the target market for the Light Sentry, but I can see others who don’t have a mess of connected gadgets giving it a look.

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  1. I don’t get why pulling sun rise sun set data from webservice is a bad idea

    1. Stacey Higginbotham Ed Wednesday, May 14, 2014

      It’s only a problem when your internet is out. Which, for some people happens enough to make it an issue.

      1. What if it darker earlier because of a cloudy day, impending storm OR your home is in the shade of trees or buildings? For any of these conditions time schedules (pulled from the internet or the Farmers’ Almanac) are irrelevant.

  2. Given sunrise/sunset is at a predictable time I don’t see using a service that much of an issue either – as to lack of connectivity, if logic is running inside home could default to using same time as previous day .. this solution seems overkill for me (and expensive for a light sensor).

    1. If one day uses the same sunrise and sunsets as the previous day, lights would always go on/off at the same time everyday. Using nature to trigger the events along with the dimming feature, saves money by using less electricity and extends the life of the bulb.

  3. so easily done with a photoresistor and a raspberry pi or arduino and over $300 cheaper

  4. Isn’t this a bit old-fashioned? It’s a closed system that doesn’t interact with any other systems. It uses an unspecified wireless protocol (WiFi?) with no mention of security, yet requires a computer for setup. The sales presentation is very polished, however.

  5. The Light Sentry uses the very latest technologies including Bluetooth Low Energy. The several levels of security surpass most systems preventing hacking. The details for security can be provided if you’d like. As to the computer being used for programming, this is a convenience…large screen and full keyboard. An app will soon follow for those who want to use a smartphone for programming. Bill Dorn, Sonne Industries, LLC. bill@SonneIndustries.com

  6. Stacey…You are the target market for the LIGHT SENTRY because you CAN have your blinds close before sunset, The beauty of the system is that you can program your Power Gates to be triggered by time, triggered by sunlight or triggered by time-conditional (a specific time IF certain lighting conditions exist). Bill Dorn, Sonne Industries, LLC bill@SonneIndustries.com

  7. The postmaster Saturday, May 17, 2014

    Seems like a poor solution. If you have lat long and time, the logic to predict sunset is pretty trivial. Installing a sensor, configuring it, maintaining and cleaning it? What a pain.

  8. John Harrison Tuesday, May 20, 2014

    Wow, $300 for a daylight sensor?
    And it’s not even April 1st….

  9. robertinhouston Tuesday, May 20, 2014

    Finally! A solution for that vexing problem of how to get my lights to turn on automatically during a total solar eclipse. That has really been a problem for my home automation system. I am really glad someone has finally solved it.

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