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November 30, 2014

Days are short and nights are long. Little news for us living during the winter Finland. This adds the challenge of darkness to living at the countryside. At the remote countryside you are responsible yourself for creating enough light in the house and around the house. Until now we had the problem of total darkness when we arrived for example Friday evening. The yard is pitch black and you have to keep the lights in the car on while stumbling towards the Villa and before you switch the outside lights on that are attached at the house.

The natural solution comes is the form of yard lights. But how do you switch them on when you arrive? There are SmartHome solutions that cost a lot of money. I opted for the less expensive version of a remote house control which only knows three states (present, absent, and incoming). My remote house control system is not ideal for the arriving-in-the-yard problem because if I would switch on the yard lights with the incoming setting then they wouldn’t work when I’m actually there and the house is in present state. And if I use only the present state and switch them on before I drive onto the yard, then they would be always on when I’m there (including day time). In theory I could add a manual switch for the yard lights but in a log home adding light switches is not trivial if you don’t want to pull cables visibly on top of the logs. The collection of switches besides the main door is already now busy enough.


The solution of placing another light switch for the yard lights is not to place a light switch. ??!!??? The actual solution is a twilight sensor which one can acquire for less than 40 Euros. I got one Steinel twilight sensor designed in Germany made in Europe (whatever that means nowadays).



The twilight sensor sits outside and switches the lights on when there is less than 1 Lux. In combination with powering that energy source only in the present state of the house, the yard lights are only on when I’m there and when it’s dark. So far, so good. But do I need to have the yard lights burning throughout the night when I’m sleeping? Actually no. This is where the third automatisation of my yard lights comes into play. The Steinel twilight sensor also has an eco-mode which allows me to define for how long of an interval the switch shall be off during the night. With my current settings (and it’s got an algorithm which learns how much light there is every day) it keeps the light on for about 5 hours in the evening and three hours in the morning.


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