Best practices for using Away Mode

What’s the best way to use Away Mode? I want things to happen when presence sensors leave the premises, but do I actually need a mode for it? I have all sorts of mode-based automations happening that I need to happen whether I’m Home or Away. For instance, right now mode changes to Away when everyone leaves. But if we’re on vacation, the mode will change to Evening at sunset anyway, and then Home/Day at sunrise, making Away Mode somewhat pointless.

You need to add more Modes:

  • Vacation Away
  • Vacation day

That makes sense. What about if I’m just out late one night and get home at 3am? I’ll still need the house to perform Evening Mode, and then Night Mode while I’m away… Should it be Away Evening, Away Night, etc?

I’ve honestly never found much a use for more than Home, Away, Night and Party modes. The key is using mode filters to prevent modes from automatically changing. i.e. If we’re on vacation, night mode doesn’t get turned on because that Routine only runs in Home mode. I also use a lot of time or illuminance based automations for things like turning lights on with motion, so that negates the need for a lot of modes.


The entire Mode concept in SmartThings is well-intentioned but completely half-donkey’d.

Any given household is in multiple “modes” at any point in time (e.g., it is both in Vacation Mode and Daytime Mode and Summer Mode). SmartThings only implemented a single Mode and that’s a huge annoyance.

I’ve complained about this for … well… literally 4 years, I think.


Yeah, a bit annoying to have to only use 1 mode at a time.

I actually have 8 modes:

Late night
Weekend day

Each mode does different things based on the family schedule and preferences.

All of the modes change automatically at preset times, except for away and sleep modes.

Sleep mode is set when we all go to bed.

Away mode sets when everyone is away from home. No matter what time of day it is, when someone arrives home the system will reevaluate the time and day and will set the mode to whatever it is supposed to be.

So if the house goes into away mode while currently in morning mode, it will stay in away mode. If we come back 3 days later during the evening mode time slot, the system will change from away to evening upon our arrival.


Does anything happen while you’re in Away Mode?

Yeah, everything in the house turns off, the a/c is adjusted upwards, and security is armed

Ah ok. I still want my porch lights (etc) to come on and off while I’m away. I suppose those could just be time-based.

Yeah, now that you mention it, that is somewhat of a security concern.

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Yeah, I use modes for the most basic level of automation in the house. There are also…

Time and mode based
Time based
Motion based
Presence based on individuals

Different things work for different households, so I don’t think there really is a “best practices.” But you can get a lot of ideas from seeing how other people use them. :sunglasses: Try the following thread (this is a clickable link). Even though the thread title is about routines, a lot of the discussion is about modes:

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I use modes quite extensively. I have the following modes

Cool Down
Quiet Time
Warm Up

Then I use webCoRE pistons to automate my home depending on the mode I am in. My rules use mode restrictions to restrict certain things from happening while in certain modes. For example, if my presence sensors screw up, my garage won’t open if I am in sleep mode. If we are in company mode my motion alarms won’t trigger at night, if we’re away and sunset happens our away lights come on, etc.

This takes a lot of pre-planning but so far it works great for my home and circumstances.


If the other modes automatically happen at a certain time, how do you override for abnormal modes like Company?

I also use modes extensively and yes some of the away modes are redundant at the moment but I’ve begun to use them to show activity in the house when I’m away.

Sleep Away
Morning Away
Day Away
Evening Away
Night Away

I agree that they are a great way to automate things based on time of day instead by have to use time windows in WebCoRE. Like everything, there’s multiple ways to program your home.


My modes fire in sequence. Morning to day to night to quiet time to sleep. Company day to company night to company sleep. If we leave, whatever home mode we’re in gets changed to an away mode and then when we return the mode changes to wherever it should be based on time of day/night.

I use virtual switches to change mode from home to company. So, if company shows up and will be staying more than a day I flip the virtual switch which then changes the mode to one of the company modes based on the time of day. Then the company modes fire in sequence based on time of day. When the company leaves, I flip the virtual switch off and my mode changes to the appropriate home mode and we’re back to our normal routines.

I also use a virtual switch to change to vacation mode.


SHM armed state is not a Mode. Those are two different features. You can only have one of each.

I like it. I was wondering why you didn’t have Morning-Home or Morning-Away, etc, but I assume those are family-based modes that are of no use to anyone if nobody’s home.

Yeah, morning is basically a wake-up mode. Shut off alarms, turn off outside lights, and adjust the thermostat. It will also turn on lights in certain rooms if motion is detected and it’s dark outside. Home-Day fires once it’s light outside.