Need some help so I can mentally “connect the dots” with tying in Alexa, IFTTT and SmartThings.
I’ve read thru this thread, JD Roberts other cool one the Echo + IFTTT + SmartThings + Harmony one, and the update at the top of his FAQ on the Echo regarding using IFTTT “triggers” with Alexa.
Basically I want to turn on (or off) multiple switches around the house using one verbal cue with Alexa. Being a noob I’ve been taking baby steps so I started off by making my first virtual switch. (Note: this was all within SmartThings, no Alexa, no IFTTT). So this virtual switch when activated would turn on all the lights in the house with the help of a Routine and a SmartApp. And presto it worked, turning on lights for the entire house when I turned on my virtual switch (but again, didn’t yet tie this in with Alexa).
I want to do that same kind of thing but using Alexa and want to make sure I’m doing it the right way.
The question I’m sort of scratching my head with is…what is the best way (if there is one best way) to accomplish tasks using the Echo to switch on multiple devices. Specifically, is the correct path:
**Alexa Trigger via IFTTT which then flips Virtual Switch, then using a SmartApp (Alexa Helper for instance) it turns on the Routine which flips on multiple devices? **
Or is this too many steps? Does the new Alexa/IFTTT Triggers require a different sequence? (i.e., no longer needing a SmartApp)? Also should I really be using Routines to accomplish this or are the Echo Groups the right way? Yep, I’m a little confused.
Again, the goal is to have a number of scenarios where voice commands via Echo turn on (or off) multiple devices. For example, “Alexa trigger downstairs lights” and all the downstairs lights in the house go on, “Alexa trigger shut off downstairs” and all the lights downstairs go off.
Controlling multiple switches with one voice command
If all you’re turning on is switches, the fastest, easiest way is just to put them into an echo group, and turn on the group with one Echo voice command.
You can also include switches that are then associated with Mode changes or running routine if you want to.
One of the nice things about Echo is that it lets you put a switch into different groups, so you can have as many groups as you want that do different things.
For example, I have one group called “all lights” which has all the lights in the house except a couple of night lights. So when I say “Alexa, turn off all lights” they all go off.
I have another group called “bed” which includes a pathway of lights from the living room to my bedroom. When I say “Alexa, turn on bed” those four lights come on. When I’m ready to go to sleep, I say “Alexa, turn off bed” And they go off again.
I have yet another group called “central” (our name for the living room) which includes One of the lights from the “bed” group and another three lights in the living room area.
So there is one light in the living room which is in three different groups: “all lights,” “bed,” and “central.” Works very well.
So just depends on what you want to do, but I would start by looking at the echo groups, because that’s the easy way and very flexible.
Once you’ve authorized a smartthings device as noted in the second method in the echo set up FAQ, you can then use it in any echo group you want.
including devices you can’t authorize through the Alexa/smartthings integration
So echo groups will very well if all you want to include are switches because they will show up on the device list in the Echo app and you’ll be able to use echo groups.
But what if you want to intrude include a lock or some other device that at the present time echo does not recognize?
In that case, the easiest way will be to use the echo triggers through the echo IFTTT channel. However, you will have to set up one IFTTT recipe for each smartthings-controlled device that you want to include in this voice command.
For example, say I wanted to have a “secure the house” voice command that would turn off the lights in my bed group, turn off the TV, and lock the front door.
IFT TT does allow me to use the same trigger for multiple recipes, so that’s what will make this work.
I will make one IFTTT recipe that uses “Alexa, trigger secure the house” as the IF and turns off the TV using the Harmony channel as the that.
Another IFT TT recipe that uses “Alexa, trigger secure the house” as the IF and locks the door using the SmartThings channel as the that.
And then however many IFT TT recipes it takes me to turn off all the lights that I want to turn off.
Once that is all set up, I only have to say “Alexa, trigger secure the house” and multiple IFTTT recipes will fire.
Alternatively, if I had set up control of the lock and the TV through something that was tied to a virtual switch, I could’ve just used that virtual switch with echo groups in the first method.
So there are different ways to do it just depending on what you find easier to set up and maintain.
I am not sure why I am having trouble in Step 2. I created the virtual switch and can see it in the ST app. I authorized it for use in Echo step 3 so that it could be discovered by Echo and I can trigger the virtual switch by voice. My problem is I added the SmartApp by @MichaelS called AlexaHelper via IDE but for some reason I can’t figure out how to access the new SmartApp so that I can trigger the GoodNight routine from the new virtual switch?
Once you’ve added it in the IDE and published for yourself, you then go into your app and go to the Marketplace (bottom right corner). Click on SmartApps up in the top left and then click on My Apps.
That will show everything you have published for use.
Thanks Brian! I totally missed the “My Apps” at the bottom. I had to scroll up the screen to see it, Got it! Geez, I feel like a total newbie.
@MichaelS your Alexa Helper rocks dude! And thanks to @JDRoberts for all your great tips and help on using echo for controlling home automation. I am really loving all the fine tuning capabilities of SmartThings home automation specifically for my unique home. I am so impressed with Amazon Echo but more impressed with the the awesome help of this community of developers and users. Thanks a ton!
Wow, this is amazing! @MichaelS thank you so very much! I don’t have an echo yet, but I used this along with an SMS -> SmartThings IFTTT to send #whatever via my iPhone to my IFTTT SMS number. Who needs HomeKit if we have this?!
Thanks…and there is a newer version of the app being released today. Be sure to follow the discussion here: [RELEASE] Alexa Helper
As for donations, yes…With that I will put you on a beta list where you get the new releases first and have any priority items (i.e. new features) put first to the list. I have a button on my GitHub Page that will allow you to donate. It is not required, but is sure appreciated!
This FAQ is now completely out of date, but it’s so old that I can no longer edit the first post. However, a lot of things have changed and there’s a much simpler method now. See the new 2017 FAQ at the following link:
Old thread, same topic, trying to get a virtual switch to control home modes so I can use my google home to toggle the virtual switch in turn changing home modes where my lock is tied to. Can’t find the Switch activates home phrase smartapp though, closest thing to it is smart lighting, but I can’t get that to do what I want…
That’s because this thread is two years old, and things aren’t done that way anymore. (Whenever you see “deprecated” in a thread title, it means that the method/devices discussed have been replaced with something newer.)
The reason you no longer need the “switch activate home phrase” smart app is because this functionality is now built into routines themselves. (“Routine” is what hello home phrases are now called.)
Just look in the routine towards the end where it says “automatically perform” and there will be an option to automatically perform when something turns on or off. Select your virtual switch there, and you are good to go.
Look at the post just above yours. It has the link to the 2017 version of this thread which has the screenshots that show you this process.
Thanks! It was the setting within the routine that I didn’t know existed. Now I just need to figure out the best way to reset the switch so that it doesn’t stay in the on position…I know there are different types of virtual switches, not sure if one would serve this purpose, or if it’s just within the settings afterwards
Your hub has one mode and it is always set to some value. So you are setting it to “Night.”
If you want it to be not “night,” you have to set the mode to something else.
The default mode that SmartThings uses is “home,” so they have “home” “night” and “away.” So you just need another routine to set the mode to “home” again. A lot of people just have it change at sunrise, some people have it change at a specific time like 7 AM, some people use other logic. That’s totally up to you. But you can just create a routine that will change the mode to “Home” and run it based on whatever logic makes sense to you. That way it will be ready again the next time you want it to change to “Night.”
(BTW, Just so you know, most people will not respond to questions posted in deprecated threads other than to direct you to an active thread because it tends to mess up the forum when these very old threads keep rising to the top because of new activity. So in the future, please ask your questions in active threads instead.)