Want to know when the delivery truck is coming? Want to turn the lights on when you get home automatically?
Whatever your motivation, stop scratching your head about the custom RF driveway sensors that play alarms and chimes. That’s so 1995 anyway. I’m talking integrate with your home automation system and send you push notifications while you’re on the other side of the world stuff.
Stick around to get the break down, it’s easier than you might think.
And don’t get to hung up on the use of Z-wave either. Just like my guide to making a smart garage door opener, you can make this work for Zigbee, Insteon, Bluetooth, whatever suits you . . . .
And speaking about smart garage door opener, make sure that you have installed sturdy garage door locks to enhance your home security.
And finally, I originally saw this hack on Youtube. But, I’m a fast reader and hate watching videos to consume information, so I wrote this up for the next geek out there that feels the same way I do. There has to be at least one of you.
What You’ll Need for Your Z-Wave Driveway Motion Sensor
Here’s your shopping list:
- Dakota Alert DCMA-2500 Wireless Motion Alert Kit ($120)
- Schlage RS100HC Z-Wave Door/Window Sensor ($35) or Ecolink Door/Window Sensor ($28)
Using the current prices on Amazon (because they get me stuff in 2 days, and I’m impatient when I’m in project mode), that’ll run you $148.
That’s a small price to pay for never stepping on a rake in the dark on the way to your front door again, right?
Like I said before, substitute liberally for #3 where needed to work with your existing system.
Why Can’t I Just Use a Z-Wave Motion Sensor?
If you’re wondering why you can’t just pick up a Z-Wave motion sensor, then rest assured that I also answer stupid questions.
That’s especially when it keeps me from having to answer them over and over in emails and comments. 🙂
Since Z-Wave is designed to be really low power (so your battery powered wireless sensors last longer), it isn’t made to stay on 100% of the time on batteries. Also, Z-Wave sensors are designed to be short range and work off of a mesh concept to extend ranges. Unfortunately, this will likely be your only outdoor sensor, and a mesh of 1 does not work very well.
How Your Hacked Z-Wave Driveway Sensor Will Work
So how does it all work?
The Dakota driveway sensor kit is doing all of the heavy lifting here. We’re just going to piggy back on top of its long range and a motion detection designed for outdoor use for just this application.
If you’re wondering about the reliability, I’ve covered the ways that driveway alarms can be disappointments in the past.
Using the wireless receiver safely inside the house, you can pick up a cheap window/door sensor that accepts an external input and tie that back into the receiver unit.
It works something like this:
- Car is detected by outdoor sensor
- RF signal is sent inside to receiver
- Receiver plays sounds and flashes a light (which you could disable of course)
- We hijack those signals to trigger our door sensor.
- Door sensor sends a Z-Wave message to its registered hub
- You trigger any smart home goodness that your little heart desires
Yeah, I know.
You’re all here for #6. But, we’ve got work to do first.
How to Make a Z-Wave Driveway Motion Sensor
- Follow the instructions in the Dakota Alert sensor to set up and mount the transmitters outside where you want to pick up the cars.
- Install the receiver unit inside your house.
- Open up the receiver to expose the contacts.
- Pop the top off of your door sensor to expose the terminals for the external input
- Use a couple of wires (22 AWG would be fine) to tie the two terminal blocks in the RS100HC to the COM (common) and NO (normally open) contacts in the Dakota receiver.
If you had trouble following along, this guy posted a solid video for all of you visual folks:
There you have it, you can now turn the outside lights on when somebody pulls into the driveway. Or, flash the lights inside to get your attention.
Your only limit is your imagination.
And if you’re looking for something more secure, you can connect a driveway gate to your home automation system too!
Please, consider sharing to say thanks if this helped you
Hi, I’m Jody. I graduated with honors with a Masters of Science in Computer Engineering and have over 15 years of experience working as an engineer with electronics products. I’m a lifelong learner and tinkerer and enjoy automating things around the house so I can solve bigger problems than getting out of bed to check if the garage door is closed . . . like too little sleep!