Are there scenes?

Greetings! I’m a brand new Smartthings user, but I’ve used home automation devices for about 15 years. In the case of Smartthings, I think that’s more of a hindrance than a benefit, because it looks like Smartthings is designed very differently from any of the solutions I’ve used before.

Anyway, here’s my basic question, which for some reason I just can’t figure out: how do I set up a “scene?” I don’t know if ST calls them something else, but I’m coming from using Vera, where everything was pretty much divided into devices and scenes. This is limiting in some ways but exactly what I need in others. Most of the time, I don’t actually want my automation solution to think too much for me. Sometimes I just want to be able to hit a button and have all the lights in a room turn on to preset dim levels. But for some reason I’m having a really hard time figuring out how to accomplish that in Smartthings. Could someone point me in the right direction?

SmartThings uses what they call “Hello Actions” or phrases as scenes. The actions can be used to turn on/off stuff and also change the Mode. Mode is essentially the state of your home and can be triggered by the actions or other SmartApps. The actions can be found by hitting the bubble icon in the top right corner of the mobile app (for Android at least) and you can add new ones by hitting the gear icon next to “Change mode and more”. The Modes can be edited/added by Dashboard -> gear icon -> Modes.

See this topic for reference:

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Wow. Ok…

First, thank you so much for your response and for taking the time to help me out.

…But that’s not going to work for me.

It looks like Smartthings, as a platform is really taking the automation part of home automation and running with it, but not really caring about the home control part of things. The software is definitely not geared toward having me control things myself, as it takes far too many screen taps to get to either the devices or these “modes” you’re talking about.

I would appreciate some clarification of the lighting part of a test mode that I’ve created. I can see where I specify which lights turn on, and i can see where I specify a dim level, but I don’t see any way to set individual dim levels for each light in the mode. It looks like I can only set all dimmers to the same level. Is that correct?

But back to my main issue: that it’s difficult to control things manually. I regularly switch between 3 scenes in my main living area. Bright lights for making dinner and moving about the house, lower lights when dinner is made and we’re eating, lower lights when we’ve finished eating, and very low lights for movies. With Smartthings, it seems like I either have to go into the app, go to that bubble, tap on “change mode and more,” and pick from a single list of modes. That’s a lot of steps, and at the moment I have 32 scenes in my ZWave controller, which would make for a long list.

I like Smartthings, and it can do a lot of things the competition can’t, but some of this isn’t working for me. If I have any of this wrong, I’d be happy to be corrected.

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I think this is what you’re looking for. I haven’t used it in a while but give it a try.


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OK, thanks for the suggestion. How do I use that? I’m brand new to Smartthings.


I tried to install it today and it’s not working. Something must changed in the core ST app since I wrote it. (sorry)

I’ll get with ST and see how I might get it up to date. I’ll post back when I do.


@Dignan17 Your assessment of SmartThings ‘automation’ vs ‘control’ model is a sound one, but it doesn’t excuse an app that is so slow to launch and cumbersome to navigate.

I couldn’t live with it either. I park my scenes as scripts on a server, and call them using iRule


That’s what I was afraid of. OK, my hub is going back to Amazon. Too bad, this thing had potential.

I tend to agree with you… when I original got into ST I was looking at it as a home remote. But a funny thing happened: I ended up using it more and more and more for home automation, and less and less for home control. Now, part might very well be that it isn’t horrible easy to do home control, but I think a larger part is that it’s really easy to do home automation, and it’s pretty cool how much you can do with out having to open the app.

Having said that, I do still have a need for some level of home control AND with a wife and two kids who don’t have phones I needed a way to do this. I found the Intermatic remotes (HA07 and HA09) do a great job for this. Both my kids have one in their room to control the things in their room. And I have the bigger remote in my den.

These can be setup to turn on/off just one thing, or many things per channel. These are great for some adding quick and easy control, while still using ST for the more complex home automation.

@chrisb Thanks for the information, but I think he has already given up. Like you, I had a different idea of how ST would work for me. And after getting it, I was a little concerned on how I saw it work. But, I have adjusted the HA in my house, and really I have NO problems with it at all. And in my eye;s it really frees me up to design my own home control and true automation.

ST is not for everyone, you need to be technically inclined and willing to read through a lot of noise to get to the meat of HA.

Wow, that’s a little patronizing. If anything, ST is far more designed for ease of use and general consumer consumption than other options out there. The fact that I can’t make the app set multiple lights at different dim levels - whether manually or automated - tells me that this system just isn’t for me and was poorly thought out.

With my current system, I have a scene that turns on 12 different lights to 7 different dim levels, all to get even lighting throughout the first floor of my house. From what I can tell, the best that ST can do is set all 12 lights to the same dim level. And even then, it can only do increments of 10%. I have another scene that turns the lights on in my bathroom to a 1% dim level so my eyes don’t have to adjust in the middle of the night when I get up. The controller I use supports coding and applications too, by the way.

Here’s the thing, there are other solutions that give me home control and automation. ST only gives me one of those. In my second post I gave a scenario where I have four different lighting levels for the same space. I’d like to tell me how you would accomplish the same thing with ST using only automated processes and the app on your device.

This is where you are wrong, you can make set them at different dim levels, you just have to code it yourself. Did not mean to be patronizing to you, just have seen this so often where someone gets the hub and because they don’t want to put the time into it, they leave. It is ok, this is YOUR choice.

For the scenario that you suggested, I would look at the Code in the IDE, and code it to my needs. They are going to be coming out with an update that will allow you to do many “If Then do this and this” sort of things. Right now the type of things you are requesting are not “Built In”. Yes this is frustrating for new users, but once you take time and read through the boards and the documentation. You find that it opens up a whole new world for you to explore and enjoy.

@wacmware tried to help you, but the app is out of date with the current ST. So needs to be updated. I think if you are patient and work with the ST ecosystem. You will see that you have MUCH more control here than any other system. And generally (although I admit that I am still learning) there are many people who will create an application for you to install, that will do it if it is interesting enough for them to take on. Or some even do it, just because they are nice. Ok most of them are Nice :smile:

Sorry if you feel offended. I am just very sad when people give up so easily. I am disabled, and according to my Docs a example of a miracle. I should have died 2 years back, I am still here. Maybe it is because I do not want to see you give up that I am working so hard to get you to stay with us. I just do not want people to give up, even if it is something like this. So do not mind me. I know you have a life that is completely different from my own. So do what you want, but whatever you do… Don’t give up (SMILE)

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I don’t see it being that black and white. I see the current ads for SmartThings exclaim “the easiest way to automate your home”. That, and rightly so, is going to attract a lot of people who are unwilling/unable to “put the time into it”.

If @Dignan17 came to SmartThings because of their advertising, his assessment is indeed correct. SmartThings didn’t think to support any dim level or different levels for multiple lamps. I have been involved with HA for decades and these seem like pretty common needs to be awol.

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Exactly. I run my own business and I have a newborn in the house. I’m not going to learn how to code something that I was able to do in 10 seconds with my other controller. With my current system I can log in, click “New Scene,” name it, then choose how every device I want in the scene will behave, and save it. Done. No coding required. I can then go from there and make these things more powerful, having a scene triggered by whatever event I like, whether it’s a remote control button, time of day, sunset, motion sensor, etc. These are all the basic functionalities of the controller I’m using, and I didn’t have to code anything to do it.

What drew me to Smartthings was the fact that it had a good focus on ZWave devices while supporting a wide variety of other new products like Nest. What pushed me over into buying one was the presence sensors, which accomplish something that my controller just isn’t good at. ST is also far better at basic logical conditions like “do ___ when motion is detected, but only between these hours.” These things are possible with my controller, but that would require some annoying coding and if I wanted the presence sensors anyway I decided I might as well jump ship. What I didn’t plan on finding was a product that was woefully underdeveloped with baffling feature omissions (like those dim levels).

Want to hear the punchline, though? I’m actually going to keep the ST hub. I discovered that I can use it solely as a presence sensor, which will pass the data along to my current controller. So then I have the best of both worlds.


I have not seen those ads, what drew me here was the advanced scripting and openness of the product. What kept me here was the community. I fully admit that my thoughts are based on what I have seen so far here at smartthings.

I expect that every home automation system states how easy it is to use and install. I did my research amd knew what I was getting into. Even with that, it was not wholly what I expected. Realizing that, I worked with you guys here in the community and support and was able to resolve all my issues and learned much in the process.

Like I starred smartthings it’s not for everyone. I just would have liked the gentleman to try a little longer. Ultimately I am not him and with his circumstances, so I certainly understand if this system is not right for him.

With that being said I obviously overstepped here and that was not my intent. Please forgive the intrusion

Glad to know you will be around. I will be glad to help where I can to assist you with developing the apps to make it work completely for you. As I stated in the above messages I was not intending to offend you. I am autistic and have add on top of kidney failure, so sometimes I Mrs up with communication.

I feel that SmartThings has a huge gap in the middle of the target market - it’s indeed super easy to do trivial automation and it’s a dream (well… almost) for power-users who can write their own apps. But for those sophisticated users who have certain expectations of what HA supposed to do and how things supposed to work, but who cannot write their own apps, there’s definitely a confusion and disappointment. “Scenes” is one such area. Originally, ST didn’t have any notion of a “scene” and instead relied on “mode” for conditional logic. “Hello Home” actions were added some time later and are rather a kludge than a proper scene implementation.

Sorry, could not resist to chime in. :smile:

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My ST “scene machine” app should be pretty easy to fix. Just need to sit down and do it.

It’s pretty easy to use:

  1. Pick lights and switches to “group” together and name (dinner time).
  2. Set the grouped lights/switches to desired levels/states.
  3. Tap record.
  4. Tap play any time you want that scene.

Then rinse and repeat for one to many desired scenes.

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Scene Machine is an honest attempt to address lack of scenes in ST, but it does not solve the problem entirely. First, it can only control switches/dimmers, nothing else. Second, it’s a singe scene solution, i.e. if you want more than one scene, you need to install multiple instances of the app. Also, because unlike devices, app tiles cannot be arranged into groups or even re-odrered, once you have more than a dozen apps installed, it becomes practically unmanageable.


So if I made a scene generator (recorder) app that created virtual devices for replay that could be renamed. grouped and pictures added as icons that would be a better scene machine. Sounds like a good idea.

OK, “Scene Machine V2.0”

Oh, what else would you want to control beside switches and dimmers?

Wackware (Twack)
I love this stuff!

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