Confusion - Modes vs Routines with Devices

For certain devices I get the choice to set the Mode to Away, Home or Night and for other devices my choice is Goodbye, Good Morning and I’m Back. Why is this? I used to arm/disarm my system from the main screen, but because of this I mus now arm/disarm the system via Routines as many of the functions I wish to perform will not happen from the home screen. Shouldn’t everything affect the three states on the home screen?

it is confusing because MODES are not clearly named to indicate they are different from ROUTINES.

Routines don’t have to change the mode.
Logic and consistency is not required.

I suggest
Anticipate failures and so implement redundancy and fallback.

These two posts helped me understand… maybe they can help you as well?

SmartThings How modes work

another post

I like the quote
"Think of a routine as more of an action while a mode is a state.

The way I look at mode and routine. Routine is a trigger and Mode is condition. I have the same problem as what you are saying. One example is. When alarm goes off. Notify with lights but once you dismiss the alarm. There is no option to have the lights off as well. I have to use CoRE to do this extra task.

It’s unfortunately even more complicated than that, because the three things you see on the home screen for the SmartThings mobile app are in fact not “mode” but rather are smart home monitor “armed statuses.” Those are Arm Away/Arm Home/Disarm.

However, if you are talking about the home screen for your phone or tablet, not what you see after opening the SmartThings mobile app, then those are widgets and widgets are actually routines.

It’s extremely confusing because some of the smart home monitor support articles referred to “mode” for the armed status even though the term modes already existed for a different feature in the system. And routines are something different yet again.

The following might help:

So… If you’re referring to widgets, the widgets are related to routines. They have the same name as the routine they are associated with. You have to individually select which routine you want to appear as widgets on each of your phone/tablet devices. The most recent SmartThings mobile app update caused some problems with widgets and you might have to re-create them.

Also note that you have to do the selection step on each of your phone/tablet devices, so it is entirely possible that you could have different widgets on one family member’s phone than on another’s.

SmartThings mobile app showing Smart Home Monitor Armed Statuses

SmartThings Widgets ( you select which routines show up as widgets for each phone/tablet)

on an iPhone

on an Android phone


Goodbye, Good Morning and I’m Back are routines. Away, Home or Night are modes can be set within routines to do certain things depending on how your set up your routines. My Good morning routine turns on certain lights and sets the mode to home. For my set up, in home mode means that motion will not turn on lights or do anything to alert me that there is motion. In my Goodbye routine, all lights turn off and mode gets set to away. In my set up, away will turn on my lights and send me a push notification if motion is detected.

Thanks guys for your prompt replies. This problem came about when I installed my Arlo cameras. I wanted a way to get a simple “warning” notification that someone was on my porch for whatever reason and start a video recording without triggering an intrusion alert that had to be cleared. I have a multipurpose sensor inside my storm door, which would give me another warning notification and turn on some inside lamps to make it appear as if someone was home. But if the person opened my front door then I would get an intrusion Alert. I was able to create custom triggers to accomplish this and set the Night and Away Routines. When I returned home, and set either the I’m Back or Good Morning Routines the house would become disarmed and the lamps and cameras would be turned off. The problem is that now the Home (Stay) and the Disarm on the first page do not run the routines thus the lights do not come on or off and the cameras do not detect motion or record video. Thus the home page is useless to me. I now must use Routines to arm/disarm my home.
I am able to live with this and I don’t think too many people will care much about it, but it is a disappointment for me.

Set your routines up on a time schedule. The routines will then automatically trigger Goodbye right after you leave and I’m Back just before you get home, providing you set them to your normal times that your home/away/sleeping. You would only have to manually trigger routines if you needed to changed your schedule for an instance or a day like a day off etc. The Smart Home Monitor dashboard page has never been very useful for me. Another option is to look into CoRE.

I left this topic for awhile to do some more experimenting. For almost a year I have been trying to set up Motion Sensors, (Cameras included), to notify me what is happening outside my house BEFORE an intrusion occurs and simply send me a notification.
To Smartthings everything is an intrusion. I can somewhat understand that as at that time ST had few or no outdoor products to either sell or link with. But with Arlo, (And soon probably with Blink cameras), that has changed. I will list some of the problems I have encountered here.

  1. There is a disconnect between the Dashboard and Routines. While Routines can trigger a Mode, the inverse is not true. If I arm my system with a Routine I can set the Mode. Everything I have set up to work with that Routine works as I set it up to do. But, if I Arm the system from the Dashboard, the Routines are completely ignored.

  2. There are no choices in the Security Rule (from the gear on the Dashboard. The first page of this Rule has one slide switch to use every open/close and motion sensor for Armed/Away monitoring. No other choices here. If you slide the switch to off it turns itself back on automatically. The second page is for monitoring the Armed/Stay Mode. Again, there is one slide switch that lets you monitor all open/close sensors but no motion sensors. Sorry ST but Arlo is a motion sensor. Again, there are no other choices available and if you slide the switch to off it automatically turn itself back on. If you remove the Rule from the third page, you lose your Dashboard. I’m defeated again.

  3. So next I try to use custom rules from the gear on the Dashboard but again they are separate entities and do not work wit the Dashboard. To save battery life on the Arlo cameras I leave the cameras in the off state. Using routines I can turn them on when I am in the Away or Night modes, but the Dashboard will not activate them through Custom Rules. So I am defeated again. Other than the Armed (Away) mode on the Dashboard which uses the Security Rule which monitors everything, the Dashboard is useless to me. I must now Arm/Disarm my system with Routines only.

  4. The Notify Me When App does not have a section for Notifications without an intrusion alert.

Conclusion. I take my safety and home security very seriously and put a lot of thought into how I can outwit potential burglars. With all of these problems including long Arm/Disarm times from the dashboard, long delays with notification, updates that screw everything up, unannounced changes, etc.I am seriously looking for a different system, For now I will have to use what I have, but the question I have to the ST developers is this- Would you trust your life and home security to ST?

Just for clarification, Although there are a couple of old knowledgebase articles that use the terminology, the term “mode” does not apply to the smart home monitor alarm states (disarmed, armed Home, armed Away). Those are SHM “alarm states.”

What’s a mode?

The term “mode” was used in the system before smart home monitor was ever created, and it refers to the behavioral filters that control when routines and other smartapps run. When you first set up smart home three of these are predefined: “home” “away” and “night.”

You can add your own modes to the system, and many people have many of them. For example, at our house we distinguish between “night” and “asleep”

Other people have modes for guest or “baby sleeping” or “party” mode.

What’s an SHM Alarm State?

In contrast, You cannot change the smart home monitor alarm state names or add more of them. You just get the three official ones.

It can definitely be confusing, particularly since both start with three and both have one called “home,” but if you can keep the difference clear it becomes much easier to follow both forum postings and official support articles. :sunglasses:

As far as having an intrusion run a routine, you can certainly do that. You just don’t do it with SHM.

Instead, have the exact same event that triggers the intrusion run your routine. Easiest way to do this is by creating a virtual switch and then having that switch turning on run your routine. There is already a smartapp in the marketplace that can tie a routine to a virtual switch. This has been around for a long time and is very popular. In fact it’s so old that it uses even older terminology, “home phrase,” instead of “routine,” but they mean the same thing.

This is the same way that people create an echo voice command to change a mode and smart things. So you can just read through the FAQ for that and you’ll see how it’s done.

Also know that if you want to be able to run a routine with one tap you can set it up as a widget on a smart watch or your phone. That can be useful for some routines.

It was a little difficult for me to follow your post because I think you were using “mode” when you meant “alarm state,” but I wasn’t sure. It could’ve gone either way. But in any case, you should be able to get the routines to occur automatically, just perhaps a little differently than you thought.

Finally, if what you really want is that when you manually change the alarm state you want to have a set of routines run, that can be done with core. Core is a community created rules engine, very sophisticated, but pretty complex to set up. If that’s the use case that you need, let us know and we can point you to the information on core.

What would it take to fix this kind of inconsistency?

A commitment to discoverability not currently evident on the ST priority list?

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Thanks JDRoberts for your quick response. I will look into the virtual switch thing,but as of right now I don’t know what one is. I have been looking at this from the standpoint of a non technical person or single mom who wants a simple, reliable no-fuss security system. I can understand that Arlo being a new device to ST we might have to play around with it, but in the past I couldn’t get it to work with ST motion detectors either. If you remember the app someone created a while back called “I’ve Got Mail” or something similar, that is what I am trying to recreate using motion sensors instead of open/closed sensors. I have not used his app so I don’t know if it triggers an intrusion alert or not.

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I’m not a SmartThings developer, not even a community developer. I’m just another customer. But my answer to the question is simple: “never have, never would.” I use an entirely separate security system.

Not only that, the SmartThings official Terms of Service tell you not to depend on it:

Data accuracy and consistency from SmartThings sensors, including those provided by SmartThings directly, resold by SmartThings, or supported by SmartThings, is not guaranteed. Therefore, you should not rely on that data for any use that impacts health, safety, security, property or financial interests.

For example, because temperature readings may vary significantly from reading to reading on an individual device, between devices, or over time, those readings should not be used to control heating and cooling in environments where food spoilage, health risks, or damage to physical goods could occur.

Alternately, presence data from SmartThings devices or mobile/Smartphones can vary in accuracy, and therefore should not be used to control access to secure locations without secondary authentication.

If that seems inconsistent with a product which is marketed as a home monitoring system, many people have noted that in the forums, I don’t have any explanation for the inconsistency. I’m just another customer, but at least you know that others have noted the same issues.

I don’t think anything is allowed to trigger an intrusion alert except the alert set up through smart home monitor. But you could have a single motion sensor going off trigger both a smart home monitor and a virtual switch coming on. It’s just you to have to set it up in two separate places. I know that’s extra work, it’s just the way things are for right now.

As far as how to set up a virtual switch, there’s a step-by-step for that in the echo FAQ I mentioned. I think it’s pretty self-explanatory, but you can ask any questions about that in that thread:

I understand exactly what you’re saying about the complexity. When it works as intended, SmartThings is my absolute favorite home automation system. But while it is very powerful and flexible, it is neither intuitive nor “discoverable” (discoverability means that if you just poke around in the app you’ll find all the important features).

I do have a technical background, but I had to quit work a few years back when I became quadriparetic. I now use a wheelchair and have limited hand function so I have to pay other people to do pretty much anything on the system, even change the batteries in a sensor. So I do very much understand the desire for a “set and forget” system. But at least we have this community and there are many people here who are always willing to help you figure out how to get the system to do something. That’s a big plus. :sunglasses:

Thanks again JDRoberts for your help.I had read that statement from ST before and that is why I purchased a Monitored Security System. I have ranted some about the reliability and long delays, (especially presence sensors) but there are also limitations to the Security System. Being a closed system I do not have the ability to customize it the way I would wish and it doesn’t offer much in the way of HA. The products it supports are very limited and very expensive. I also know that ST is a home monitoring system - not a security system, but their advertising would suggest that they are a security system, legal wordage aside. If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck…
20 years ago I was a web developer/database designer but now that I have retired, I wish to be as non technical as possible. As has been stated in other posts, the official smart apps are very few and very limited in what they can do. ST has so much more potential.
As I also stated that a year ago, since there were very few outdoor devices so ST really did not need to address them, but now with the integration of Arlo and unofficially (Native ST Apps), Blink which I think will be huge, for ST someone at ST should rethink the Dashboard, Routines and Smart Apps to include outdoor devices that shouldn’t trigger an intrusion alert and have the ability to control other devices including indoor devices.
As usual You have been very knowledgeable, kind and helpful. Thanks again.

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I have my Goodbye routine set up so that when motion is detected all the lights turn on at 100% and I get a push notification. If you have a zwave siren, then you can set it up to activate also when motion is detected. I don’t use smart home monitor at all.

Thanks tpip, I plan on purchasing a zwave siren shortly. Do you use the Notify Me When App?

Never heard of that app. I only use routines. I have askAlexa for voice control. I have a couple of CoRE pistons setup but not as a motion detection alarm, but you could use that.