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How I use Smart Things for Home Automation

How I use Smart Things for Home Automation January 23, 201615 Comments

Hi, I’m Kari, creator of Keep it Simple, DIY. I’m a lifestyle blogger with an MBA who blogs about finance, Home & DIY, blogging, and more. My main motto is that if you just try, you will succeed. The key is to Keep it Simple.


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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Hi, I’m Kari, creator of Keep it Simple, DIY. I’m a lifestyle blogger with an MBA who blogs about finance, Home & DIY, blogging, and more. My main motto is that if you just try, you will succeed. The key is to Keep it Simple.


    1. I’m a huge fan of all things windows as well. I use Smart Things for all of my automation and then I speak to Cortana to have her use the app for me.

  1. I can’t say I agree. We’ve had smartthings for almost a year. It’s never worked as advertised. Some parts of it have never worked at all. I hope they eventually sort it out, but it’s not something I would have bought if I known what I know now.

  2. What I find with things is I see it and think that would handy and a week after I get the item I switch back to doing thing the old way😀

    1. I do that with some things. This just makes it super easy though. For example, when I get up in the morning typically I walk to the bathroom and turn on the light. But with Smart Things, by the time I get to the bathroom the light is already on. Thus nothing left for me to do!

  3. I use Smart Things with the Echo Dot, so I have set up voice commands for my routines. My husband is usually the last one to go to bed, so when he is ready to go to bed he tells the Echo to “Turn on bedtime”. This routine turns on his bedside lamp at 25%. And also turns on the outdoor spotlights so he can take the dog out before bed. After he comes back in and is actually ready to get into bed he tells Echo to “Turn on Good Night”. This routine turns off all the lights that the bed time routtine turned on plus the kitchen light which is always on at 30% in the evening. I have a few other routines, but these two are my favorites because my husband uses them and he is very resistant to change. FYI-We are both in our seventies and are still learning new things.

  4. Hi Kari, Thanks for these ‘smart; posts, Ive been wanting to get started with home automation for some time but not sure where to begin. Now I have some direction.

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