How I use Smart Things for Home Automation


How I use Smart Things for Home Automation

I previously posted 5 reasons why I love Smart Things.  Two of the reasons I mentioned was that it is versatile and fun.

I use Smart Things for both Security and Home Automation.  My home is set up with open/close sensors on every door, a siren, a garage door sensor/opener/closer, a front door deadbolt, thermostat, and multiple light bulbs.  I thought long and hard about whether to use light bulbs or light switches.  But, this is for a future post. All together, I have 25 Smart Things that all work together in my Smart Things app.

Smart Things has a great feature called Routines.  This is where you can set your automation however you’d like.  I have 13 Routines that help me get through my day automatically!

Kari Wakes Up – This routine is the beginning of my work day.  It is set to happen only within a 30 minute window on the days I go to work.  Once the motion sensor in my room senses motion (which is usually me turning off my alarm), it turns on the light at my night stand, the lights in my bathroom, and the lights lining my way out of the house.  Additionally, all of these lights are set to only turn on to 20% so they aren’t too bright for the early morning.

Good Morning – I have Good Morning set to disarm the system when I trip the motion sensor in the family room for the first time on any day of the week.  On my weekdays, this one prevents the siren from going off with the following routine.

Garage Open – Like Kari Wakes Up, Garage Open is set to only occur within a small window on the days I leave for work.  When I walk downstairs (where the lights are conveniently already on), I trip the motion sensor in the family room which cues the garage door to open.

Garage Close – I have this routine set to automatically close the garage door at the time when I’m always out of the house by.  This routine is mainly set up for ‘just in case’ rather than every day use because I use the button in my car to close the garage door that way it doesn’t stay open unattended.  Usually, it just verifies that the garage is closed and on the off chance that it isn’t, it closes it.

Kari Leaves  Once my phone leaves the geo-fence or once a set time after I leave occurs, this routine turns off all of the lights that were turned on when I woke up, makes sure everything is locked, and re-arms the system to night mode since others in the house are still sleeping.


Bathroom Lights On – This routine turns on only the lights in my bathroom when I walk into my room and the mode of the house is set to Disarm.  This has actually been the routine I’ve had the most problems with because my logic side wasn’t working so well.  For a few days, the lights were turning on when I was still asleep because I would toss and turn and I had the routine set incorrectly.  I think I’ve got this handled now though. 🙂

Bathroom Lights Off – After a set amount of time, I have the bathroom lights turn off.  I tried using the motion sensor in my room for a bit but I noticed that the lights would turn off while I was taking a shower with that option.  So, I chose the amount of time it takes me to get the shower ready, take a shower, and get back in my room as the amount of time between when the lights turn on and off.

Lock front door – Anytime the front door closes, this routine will automatically lock the door.  This is both my favorite and least favorite routine because there have been times before Smart Things when I would go to bed and not know the front door was unlocked.  I’m very particular about locking the door right when I use it but sometimes I forget that when other people use the door, they don’t have the same OCD about the door as I do.  So, while it’s great that the door locks automatically right when it closes, it locked me out quite a few times when I was taking down the Christmas lights.  Luckily, the door also has a code pad so I wasn’t really locked out.

Goodbye – This routine is set to change the mode to away when everyone in the house leaves.  It does this when all of the cell phones that are programmed as devices leave the Geo-Fence.  With this routine, the system checks to make sure doors are locked and the garage door is closed and if they aren’t it will lock and close them for me.

I’m back – I’m back occurs when any phone re-enters the Geo-Fence and disarms the system.


Lights on at dusk – I have this routine set to turn on the light on my nightstand, the lights in my family room, and the lights over my stairs 30 minutes before dusk.  I have always turned these lights on at night and now they turn themselves on for me!

Good Night – This is the only routine I typically use with Windows Cortana.  Good Night is set to turn off all of my lights in the house and verify/adjust all doors to make sure they are locked and closed, and arm the system.  With Cortana, you can use phrases like ‘Hey Cortana, Smart Things, Good Night’ and Cortana will at least attempt to perform the routine for you.  This isn’t perfect yet because sometimes Cortana will open the app but won’t be able to get all the way to the routines which are still quite nested in the app.  There is note that the Windows Smart Things app will be updated, but it has not happened as of yet.  I hope for this to improve because I love that I don’t always have to log into the app and go through multiple screens to get to the Good Night button.

Disarm at Night – I go to bed before others in my house get home at night so I use Good Night to arm the system and Disarm at Night disarms the system and turns on the family room lights when another person arrives from the household arrives in the Geo Fence or opens the interior garage door.

The last step of the day is for the last person in the house to use the Good Night Routine.

I also have a smart Thermostat in my house which I got when there was an automatic rebate through our electricity provider.  I have the thermostat set to change temperatures at different times of day rather than when someone is or isn’t home.

The next Smart Thing I will get that will be added to routines will be an irrigation system control.  Last year, my control panel stopped working (actually, somehow during one month, 10 times the amount of water was used – without any puddles or any leaks or anything.  I’m not quite sure how this happened but as soon as I started manually turning on the sprinklers, everything went back to normal).  So, there also happens to be a great rebate for the Smart Irrigation Control that I plan on getting before watering season starts.


Does anybody else use Smart Routines?  What types of routines do you use?


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10 Windows Phone Features I Can’t Live Without!

Windows Phone Features

When I first heard about Windows Phones, I was so excited to see what they were all about. So, as soon as my first upgrade came, I switched from Android to Windows. Almost instantly, I fell in love with the platform and couldn’t wait for all of the new features to come. The most anticipated upgrade for me was the upgrade from Windows 8 to Windows 8.1. I could not wait for Cortana and even downloaded the preview version for developers so I could put it to use before hitting the market.

Well, recently, I was up for upgrade again and decided to try to use an Android again for the sole purpose of cutting cists. I was trying to get off of monthly payments because I felt like payments were consuming my life. After only three months with my new Android phone, I had had enough and decided the payments weren’t bad after all and that I should get myself a new Windows Phone. So, now I have the new Microsoft Lumia 950 running Windows 10.

When I switched to android, I realized that Windows Phones had quite a few features that I just couldn’t live without because they had been a part of my day to day phone experience. Below are my ten favorite features.

    1. Live Tiles – Not only can i see which apps have notifications from my glance and lock screen, the app tiles are live and show how many notifications are outstanding. The added bonus to this feature is that the tiles rotate through each notification with a short description so you can know what the notifications are before even opening the app.
    2. Camera Button – Since the creation of cameras, there’s been the idea of Point and Shoot. This offers familiarity, nostalgia, and simplicity to the photo taking process. Windows has made sure to include this button on their phones to help save time and bring back this known feature. This feature is very beneficial and also helps to keep the phone steady and avoid blurred images.
    3. Syncing between devices – Windows is an all-encompassing experience. If you have a Windows phone, tablet, or computer, all of your data can easily be easily accessed from any device at any time. You can just pick up right where you left off! And, the mobile apps are just as friendly as the desktop programs!
    4. Tile Picture Background – This is one of my favorite useless features of this phone. I always have a photo I love as the background of my phone/desktop/etc, but with other phones, I have to cover the photo with the apps. With Windows, the photo becomes the tiles and a white ‘grout’ type section separates the tiles. The lines make it easy to tell one tile from another without taking away from the photo.
    5. Folders – Folders are something new that have come to the Windows phones. Androids have had folders for quite some time, but I just never liked the way they opened or were able to be used. The Windows folders on the other hand are very perfect. Each tile that is inside the folder can still perform live updates while in the folder and when the file is opened, the tiles neatly add a row and then close back up when the folder is closed. This is very helpful for putting similar items together or saving room on the screen.
    6. Glance Screen –The glance screen was the feature I missed the most. Being able to look at the phone to see how many notifications I have and which apps the notifications are for us a huge convenience. Not to mention, there is a night mode so the text color can be changed. I prefer white font during the day because it’s bright and red font at night because it’s not as harsh. There were a few apps that tried to act like the Windows glance screen on the Android platform, but ultimately, none of them even compared.
    7. Pinning tiles – Can’t find the app you’re looking for? No problem, just find the mobile webpage and pin it! Or, pin your favorite contact or a Facebook group. There is so many different things you can pin. The experience is extremely customizable.
    8. Driving Mode – Ok. This one I really really hated living without. Driving mode to me is not only for myself but for everyone I know. When I am using driving mode, the phone will not let me know I have a text message. Instead, it will text the person who texted me to tell them I’m driving and it will hold the notification until I look at the phone (which won’t be until I arrive because I don’t know there’s anything waiting for me). So, my friends are taken care of with the text back and then I’m taken care of because without the notification, there is no temptation to see what the text says. I have Bluetooth in my car so I choose to allow phone calls to come through while driving, but you can easily turn these off during driving mode as well. Android had a few apps that claimed to be this feature, but once again, none of them compared.
    9. Hey Cortana! – Cortana was my most anticipated feature at the Windows 8 to 8.1 upgrade. I was so excited about this feature that I downloaded to preview version so I would be able to use it before the official version was released. My favorite way to use Cortana is to tell her to remind me of something either at a certain time, certain place, or when I talk to someone. She can also track packages, routes, and much more. My new favorite thing to do with Cortana is to say ‘Hey Cortana, Smart Things – Goodnight’ and then she opens my Smart Things app and turns off all the lights in the house an makes sure my doors are closed and locked.
    10. Text From Computer – Ever since texting, I’ve wondered why you can’t just text from your computer. Of course, computers have instant messages but when I’m typing on the computer and I get a text message, it’s a pain to have to switch keyboards. But, I’ve heard recently that Windows is going to be syncing the calls and texts so you can reply from Cortana. Yes! I have used accounts such as Text Now to be able to text from the computer but you can’t use your own phone number.

Lastly, one thing I’m extremely excited about is the Lumia 950 doc to connect the phone to a monitor and use the full Windows 10 desktop experience.  Now at this point, I already have a computer hooked up to the tv, a laptop, a tablet, and my phone so I’m not quite sure what good this doc would do me but when it’s time to get a new computer, I may just consider downsizing to the doc.


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5 Reasons Why I Love SMART THINGS

5 Reasons Smart Things

1. SMART THINGS is discrete – I love the good ol’ home feeling when it comes to my house but as we are in this century of cool new toys, I get so excited about every little time saving opportunity.  The Smart Things hub allows me to bring all of the new excitement to my home while only taking up a small amount of space in one of my many cubes.

2. SMART THINGS is easy – The Smart Things app walks you through the process of installing devices and allows you name and organize your devices.  Day to day utilization of the app is very straight forward and you can do almost anything you can think of.

3. SMART THINGS is secure – With Smart Things, I can set notifications for if doors and windows were unlocked or if there was motion in any part of my house.  On the off chance that a door was left open all day, I can check the app to see if the door has been opened while I was away before going into the house.  Not only does this give me peace of mind, it saves time of finding that baseball bat and opening every closet in the house.

4. SMART THINGS is versatile – The creators of Smart Things built their hub and application with the plan of expansion.  They know that there will be many future opportunities for this program that currently do not exist and they’ve left the platform available to use new features as they are created.  Not only that, Smart Things also allows users to create codes for non-standard smart equipment.  A quick Google search will bring up just how to use the new device you want to use.

5. SMART THINGS is fun – Even though being secure is most important, I find that I most enjoy the home automation aspects of Smart Things.  On a standard day, I get up and stumble downstairs in the dark, trying to not trip over anything because turning on a light would mean that I have to walk back and forth in order to get all the lights off by the time I leave the house.  I now have Smart Things to enhance my morning laziness.  I have a motion sensor in my room that is activated when I wake up and turns on the light in my bedroom and the hall.  Then, when I get to the family room, another motion sensor activates and opens my garage door.  Once I close the garage door, the lights in my house turn off.  How fun is that?!

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