SmartThings Community

Alexa + SmartThings + IFTTT + Harmony to turn TV on and off by voice (2015 version)

Hi everyone…I will be setting up my Smartthings + Harmony + Alexa devices this weekend. The primary purpose is to control TV activities (on, off, change channels) by voice. Is the first post of this thread still the best way to set this up?

The first post still works, but now that the two-way harmony integration is out of beta, most people, including me, are using that smartapp instead of the IFTTT step.

So everything is the same except instead of setting up IFTTT recipes, you set up “harmony triggers” using the following FAQ:

That way everything just runs a little faster. But the whole virtual switch concept is still the same. :sunglasses:

But there are a lot of different ways to do it. It really just depends on how your household uses your home entertainment center. At my place we have a lot of different people, some using echo, some using the button remote, sometimes during the same viewing session. So synchronization is a big issue for us.

If you live by yourself and you’re only using echo, you don’t have to be as fussy about the switches.

Thanks! will give it a shot this weekend.

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Okay, just messed with the settings a bit and adjusted a few things. This is what I have, hopefully it’s nice and clear…

LR TV OFF (Logitech Harmony Trigger) - Switch Turned Off --> Harmony Activity Off. There is no switched on function for this trigger.
LR Watch Cable (Logitech Harmony Trigger) - Switch Turned On --> Watch Living Room TV Harmony Activity. There is no switch turned off for this trigger.
LR TV Switch - Includes the following SmartApps; Logitech Harmony (Connect), LR TV OFF (Logitech Harmony Trigger), Amazon Echo
LR Watch Cable Switch - Includes the following SmartApps; Logitech Harmony (Connect), LR Watch Cable (Logitech Harmony Trigger), Amazon Echo

Living Room Watch TV Activity
Start Sequence - TV ON, Denon Receiver ON, TV HDMI 1, Denon Receiver TV/DBS, LR Watch TV ON (ST Switch), LR TV on (ST Switch)
End Sequence - TV OFF, Denon Receiver OFF, LR Watch TV OFF (ST Switch)

Living Room TV Group - LR TV Switch
Living Room Cable Group - LR Cable Switch

Is this what you basically have, minus the TV Off function called Entertainment Center on your end. I think I set it up correctly. It did go into an endless power on/off loop for a bit, had to reboot the harmony plug to get it to stop. Not sure what caused it.

Hello New Here.

Finally after reading this post, I have setup my Alexa Echo + Smart Things + Harmony Hub to work together.

Currently - My setup is running this way.

Alexa trigger Kodi - Starts Kodi Activity
Alexa trigger Cable - Starts Cable TV Activity.
Alexa trigger Xbox One - Starts XBox One Activity.
Alexa trigger Shut Down - Shuts down all my equiments(tv, receiver, and etc)
It was very easy to setup and works great.

for above items all i had to do was add certain activity for the That portion. it was so easy to setup for a newbie like me.

However is there a way to create volume up/down or starting certain channels as activity so it can be easily hooked to that portion?

Thanks in advance. Have a nice weekend.

I set my TV and BluRay up as well with the Alexa triggers and learned a couple of things that were not initially clear.

First, don’t use someone else recipe, create your own and let it prompt you through the steps. I never could get an existing recipe to work.

Also didn’t understand about adding the action to Alexa’s To Do list and missed that step. Once that was done, everything worked great.

Still don’t fully understand the connection between the Trigger command and the To Do list, but it’s working.

UPDATE - deleted the To Do list items and everything still works.

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You shouldn’t need to to do list at all. That’s an older method that was replaced by the triggers.

Sure, the key is to always first create the activity through the Harmony app and make sure it is working over on the Harmony side.

Once you have it working there, it just becomes the “that” to your Alexa trigger.

One of the things that you will run into, though, is that Harmony doesn’t let you do the same activity two times in a row. So if you want to toggle volume up three or four times, you actually have to have two different volume up activities and switch back-and-forth between them.

Also, in order to get control of the other buttons back, you have to either then trigger a device activity after you change the volume, or you have to set up the change volume activities so there’s one for every one of your input channels. Either way is clunky.

I use them because I’m quadriparetic and I really need totally hands-free control of the volume. But I think most able-bodied people will find it more natural to do Channel app or volume up using the buttons on the Harmony remote.

So for a general volume up activity, create an activity that does not change the HDMI channel and it puts volume up as a step. That’s pretty much all you need to do. But you need two of those with different names.

So I may say “Alexa, trigger lion” (my first volume up)
“Alexa, trigger tiger” (.my second volume up)
“Alexa, trigger lion”
“Alexa, trigger DVD” (map buttons back to the WATCH DVD activity)

That’s a lot of work just to take the volume up three notches, but it’s what I do. :sunglasses: It’s still easier for me than physically pressing the buttons.

Sample Harmony activity to turn TV volume up one.

Here the TV is listed three times in the “Louder 1” Activity Start Sequence. Once to power on, once to NOT change the input, and once for the volume up key

Here I am setting the device to NOT change the input channel.

And selecting the VolumeUp key as a step in the start sequence. Choose Edit Entertainment Device, then the device, then the command. (This is also how you could choose a starting channel)


The end sequence just powers off the master device. This means it will not turn off if I’m changing to any other activity that also uses the TV.

add a second activity that does the same thing so you can switch between them

Then I make a second activity that does exactly the same thing, it just has a different name.

Again, make sure you have the activity working the way you want on the Harmony side from both the Harmony app and the button remote before you add the echo trigger in IFTTT. :sunglasses:

And as I said, I think control of volume is way too much work for most able-bodied people, both to set up and to use every day . But for those with limited hand control, it’s very useful.

Adding a specific channel to the start sequence

Setting up a starting channel is work to set up, but very easy to use. It just becomes “Alexa, trigger Disney channel” or “Alexa, trigger ESPN TV” or “Alexa, trigger Netflix” or whatever. :sunglasses: So I think a lot of people like those. It’s just a matter of setting a starting channel for the activity. But you will have one activity for every favorite channel. And one IFTTT recipe for every activity. So that’s why you have so much set up work.

Wow thanks for all the info JD Roberts.

I didn’t see ur replies until now. I got it setup similar way now with trial and error.

First thing I setup was mute activity. I quickly found out that I can’t use the same activity to unmute. So I created 2 separate ones then I found out non of my buttons were working. I always had my tv and receiver to be always on so switching activity wasn’t a problem. As for the buttons I just added them to the mute activities like u suggested.

Then I did same for pause and play.

I use my system with kodi and it worKS well.

If I want to control everything by voice this is going to take lots of activities per real activity.

I wish ifttt and logitech would let us create sub activity like specific device button action without involving power and inputs.

For example. Press mute button on receiver. Press P on mce keyboard. And hook this sub activity or button action to “THAT” portion of the receipe.

This way the mute trigger can be shared by multiple activities.

Regardless this is extremely cool controlling my ht system via voice. Thanks for the detailed explanation with screeshots. I am going to reread everything to see if I missed anything. Thank again JD Roberts.

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As for cable TV channel thing. I gotta try that out once I move. I just bought a house and will be moving in 10 days. Will not have cable until then. Gonna try to automate lots of stuff including security and thermostat.

I know many of us have been migrating away from the IFTTT step/stuff, to focus on “native” solutions that can be run purely within our homes.

But, the new Echo+IFTTT functionality for defining your own commands, DOES add-in a conversational option now.
e.g. instead of saying “Alexa turn on…” or, “Alexa turn off” – we can now also say, “Alexa, trigger…”

When we leave the house, we now say, "Alexa, trigger goodbye."
Or, when we’re getting ready to go to bed at night, we’ll say, “Alexa, trigger goodnight.”

Granted, I already have the “goodbye” actions covered via presence sensors, anyway… But, sometimes you just wanna SEE everything turn off (real-time,) – instead of knowing/assuming it will automatically turn off moments later in your wake.

We just find this “trigger” word to be slightly more “conversational” for some actions.
Sure, I wish we didn’t need to say “trigger.” I wish we could just say, “Alexa, goodbye/goodnight” – and tie an IFTTT or SmartThings event directly to those commands. But, “trigger” seems more conversational than “on/off” for these situations. (e.g. Otherwise, we’d have to say something like “Alexa, turn on/off goodbye.”

Wishes for Alexa:
1.) Ability to configure SPEECH commands via IFTTT as “actions.” e.g. IF presence sensor active, THEN speak "Welcome home, Sir."
2.) Ability to send commands/instructions to Alexa via IP/network, instead of voice-only. e.g. Have SmartThings or home PC send her a “sentence” – so she can respond. e.g. SmartThings sends a “Play Pandora” command to Alexa when presence sensor arrives (behind-the-scenes communication TO Alexa.)

Net result: We arrive home, SmartThings senses the presence sensor on our key fob, and triggers Alexa to say, “Welcome home, Sir.” After which, SmartThings sends another command to start Pandora (behind the scenes) and the only thing we here is Alexa saying, “resuming your U2 station on Pandora.” – followed by music, of course.

I think ANY sentence that we can speak to Alexa, she should be able to consume via IP/network (then speak the results, etc.) This should include volume-level commands (so we can script volume level changes based on the time-of-day, or SmartThings events/triggers.)

Just my two cents…

For mute wouldn’t it be easier to create a simulated switch called “Mute” and have that run an activity that simply mutes or unmutes based on whether it’s turned on or off? The main issue I see with this is keeping it in sync since muting from Harmony wouldn’t flip the ST switch. I have the same sync issue with turning everything off - I almost always use my voice to turn stuff on but if I turn everything off with the Harmony remote the “TV” switch is never turned off in ST.

How can I trigger to shut off everything
My problem is I have to shut down the tv the cable box or mygica android box and my A/V reciver how can I get them to all off trigger?

Sorry I did scroll through this thread and perhaps missed it.
I only found how to trigger off the “main” device
But I need them all off.

Many people have their home entertainment equipment set up so that turning off one main device will automatically turn off the others. But if you don’t have that set up it’s fine.

First create an activity in Harmony to shut all devices off

Remember the first thing is always to get a Harmony activity set up that does what you want. Once you have that harmony activity working when you select it from the Harmony handheld remote, or from the Harmony app, then you can add the IFTTT recipe to have a Alexa trigger it. But first get it working perfectly on the Harmony side.

So in this case, you probably just need a Harmony activity (which you can call whatever you want to) that does nothing except include each of the devices that you want to have turn off. So maybe it’s the TV and The game box and the Roku or whatever.

The only thing that activity does is turn on those devices when it starts, and turn off those devices when it ends.

I have one like this that I call “shut down.”

Harmony likes to turn everything on before it turns them off

Once this is set up, when you select it to start from Harmony, it will first turn on any of those devices that are not already on. Then when you select it to turn off from Harmony, it will first turn on any of those devices that are not already on, and then immediately turn all of them off. Which is a little weird but gets the job done.

So again, still all just looking at the Harmony site, if you have an activity called shutdown that includes your television and your Roku and your game box, when you start shutdown, those three devices will come on.

When you end shutdown, those three devices will turn off if they were already on.

If you hit the end shutdown selection when only the TV was on, it will first turn on the Roku and the Gamebox and then it will immediately turn off all three devices, the TV, the Roku, and the game box.

So now you have a shutdown activity in harmony that you can trigger from Alexa or from SmartThings.

Create a recipe to END the shutdown activity with an Alexa trigger

Now it’s easy. Use IFTTT to create a new recipe. Choose an Alexa trigger for the “if” . I just use “shutdown.”

Use the Harmony channel for “that,” select your shutdown activity, and make sure you select end the activity. That’s all you need.

Now when you say “Alexa, trigger shutdown” no matter what your entertainment devices were doing, harmony will turn on the devices in the shutdown activity, and then immediately turn them off.

Thanks @JDRoberts I will give it a go. :smile:

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There is actually a Harmony " End activity" THAT in IFTT already. That was the only recipe I kept after the direct integration with Harmony.
I have a virtual switch “TV” " Alexa turn off TV" just ends whatever the current Harmony activity is. That virtual switch is also in my Good Night routine, although I usually just say " Alexa turn off the house " on my way up the stairs. ( I have a " house" group in Echo that has all of my lights, door locks ( through IFTT ) and the TV virtual switch)

" Alexa turn on house" works as well with the exception of turning the TV on, since that switch is set to end current Harmony activity. I had never thought to do it, but the daughter decided to walk in and “turn on house” the other day. I didn’t know and came in trying to figure out WTF every light in the FireTrucking house was on. Naturally assuming ST had a nervous breakdown or something.


How do you getting this tiling setup?

@JDRoberts hi bro
I have a Sony Bravia TV
i just buy Amazon Echo.
Now i want control my TV by voice via Amazon Echo ( on/off/volum up/down…)
So I need buy only Hamony Hub or buy both Hamony Hub and Smarthings to do it ?
// Sorry my english not good :frowning:

If the Harmony hub can control the Sony Bravia, you can do the on/off easily with just the Echo and the Harmony. You don’t need SmartThings.

However, I don’t think you will like the volume controls whether you have SmartThings or not.

Because Harmony does not allow you to execute the same harmony activity two times in a row, to get volume up, you have to have two different Harmony activities and keep switching between them.

It works, but it is slow and awkward.

It’s worth it for me, because I am quadriparetic and cannot physically use the regular television button remote. I also cannot easily hold down the microphone button on a typical television voice remote.

But I think most people who have more hand function will just use the button remote for volume control.