HomeKit Weekly: Building HomeKit enabled outdoor lighting without an electrician

One of the areas of my HomeKit lighting setup that I ignored for a long time was outdoors. We honestly didn’t have a real need until recently when we got a new puppy. If you’ve ever had a puppy, you know that a lot of time is spent outdoors trying to train the dog to use the bathroom outside. It became clear that we didn’t have enough outdoor lightning when we were taking her out late at night and early in the morning. Like any smart home fanatic would do, I looked at solving this problem without the use of a costly electrician and add HomeKit support in the process. This week, I am going to explain my outdoor HomeKit lighting setup.

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HomeKit Weekly is a series focused on smart home accessories, automation tips, and tricks, and everything to do with Apple’s smart home framework.

Outdoor Homekit lightning in the front yard

Before I get to what I did in the back yard, I want to explain how simple it was to add HomeKit enabled lightning to existing floodlights. In my front yard, I have a standard floodlight that the builder put in. All I needed to do was swap the existing bulbs to to two Philips Hue Outdoor Flood Lights that are paired with the Hue Outdoor Motion Sensor. If you don’t have any Hue lights at the moment, you’ll need the Hue bridge to start using the products. Hue also offers a starter kit for just a bit more that includes two indoor bulbs as well. If you need for them, it’s a better deal.

From a HomeKit automation standpoint, I had it set to where at 7:00 PM, the motion sensor becomes active and automatically turns on the floodlights if it detects motion. It turns off after ten minutes. The idea here is to create a pathway if I come home after dark to go to the front door. If it’s not someone in my family, the hope is that the floodlights will deter whoever is coming to our door.

The installation process was super easy. Once I screwed the lights into the socket, I flipped the switch on and then used the Hue app to scan for them. Once they were added, I installed a software update, and then I was up and running. It’s much brighter than it was previously as well.

Hue Floodlights

Lighting in the backyard

In my backyard, I have a similar floodlight as the front yard on the non-screened in part of my deck. All I did was add two more Hue Outdoor Floodlights that are set to automatically come on at dark if the back door is opened. It will shut off after 15 minutes. I am using an abode alarm system in my home, so all of the doors are exposed in HomeKit (check out my abode review).

Because of the placement of the existing floodlight, the vast majority of our yard is pitch black at night. It was annoying for my kids when they wanted to play at night, but it became super annoying for me when taking the dog out. Like I mentioned earlier, I wanted to add a floodlight that was HomeKit enabled and wire it up without using an electrician. I knew I wouldn’t be able to fish it to a light switch, so I needed to get more creative with my outdoor HomeKit lighting setup.

The first problem I ran into is that all of the HomeKit flood lights I found were not the right color. Our trim is white, so it needed to match. I then came up with a really fun solution. I bought a generic floodlight in the right color and planned to wire it to an outdoor HomeKit plug. I mounted the floodlight near my gutter, ran the outdoor electrical cable behind the gutter, and under my screened-in porch. I then pulled the wire through the deck near the wall, put an outdoor plug on it, and plugged it into the outdoor HomeKit plug.

The outlet (marked as a “light” in the Home app) is connected to an automation where it comes on at night for 15 minutes if the backdoor is opened. I can also use my HomePod to say “Hey Siri, turn on/off the back yard lights”

HomeKit Automations

Wrap-up on outdoor HomeKit lighting

I am pleased with our outdoor HomeKit lighting setup. All of my Philips Hue products have been working well. The only issue I an into is one of the floodlights showed up as “not updatable” in the software updates. I knew I needed to update them due to a recent vulnerability. The fix was to delete the light from the app, flip the switch off and back on, and re-add it. As soon as I did that, the update showed up.

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