Automating Home Exterior Lighting - 3 Ways to Do It

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Nothing is scarier than pulling up to a house at night and unlocking the door in the dark. You enter the house and fumble for the light switch as you hold your breath, hoping everything is all right. If you use home automation for nothing else, you should use it to automate your porch and entry lights.

Home Entry Lighting Options

Fortunately, several practical options exist for automating your home's entryway lighting:

  • Use a key fob
  • Carry a remote control in your car
  • Use an exterior motion detector

Key Fobs

A key fob is a small device, roughly the size of your palm, which attaches to your keychain. They generally have several buttons that allow you to turn on lights, disarm security systems, and even unlock doors. Many fobs only work with proprietary systems and require you to have their matching system installed. Examples include HAI systems, Elk Security Systems, and Visonic Security Systems. Some fobs are available that work with generic home automation technologies such as X-10 and Z-Wave. Be aware when using one of these devices outside, that exterior walls may act as a barrier to inside access ports. If you experience problems using your fob outside, you may need to install an outside device, such as a light switch or access port.

In-Car Remotes

While key fobs for your home automation system may not be easy to find, remote control units are readily available. Keeping a remote in the car or purse is still a reasonable option although bulkier than a fob. Because the remote has control of your system, you can activate indoor home automation devices including turning on lights in the house that you've automated. Just as with the key fob, exterior walls may act as a signal barrier to inside devices. If you experience problems using your remote control unit outside, you may need to install an outside device such as a light switch or access port to support a wireless connection.

Exterior Motion Detectors

When all else fails, motion detectors are always an option. Virtually every home automation technology (X10, Z-Wave, Insteon) has them. They are available with dusk/dawn sensors to disable them during the day and most have an automatic shutoff timer to turn them off when no motion is detected. The downside to using a motion detector is that any movement can trip them. Of course, that may be exactly what you want.

The Benefit: Increased Home and Family Safety

Whether you simply turn on the porch light as you pull in the driveway or turn on every light in the home before you enter, your loved ones will feel more secure when you add this feature to your system. Many people jump into home automation because it's fun. Using the technology to automate your porch lights and to illuminate the home's interior can also make you safer. What better investment could you make?