Grouping Scenes with Amazon Alexa


(Jay Trickett) #1

Hi all,

relatively long-time lurker but first time poster. Just installed a Smartthings hub with a few devices as my first foray into building out a smart home. I’m thinking about purchasing a number of Alexa devices (although I’m waiting to see Google Home in action before I take the plunge). Here’s my question, which is probably more about Alexa than Smartthings, but involves increasing the utility of their integration:

Amazon recently announced that Alexa can handle “scenes.” Can I use Alexa to establish cross-platform scenes by grouping them based on the fact that scenes are implemented as “devices”?

Here’s the idea: I’m thinking about building out my HA system using a combination of Nest devices (thermostats, protects, and nest cams), Smartthings (for z-wave and zigbee sensors, locks, etc.), and a Lutron Caseta Smart Bridge Pro (for Caseta lighting, which I do not yet have). I’ve already got Nest Manager 4.0 set up and my Nest devices working well with ST. But I’ve held off on the Lutron lighting devices based on the integration limitations with ST.

If my idea works, Alexa’s ability to recognize and run scenes might be the solution I’m looking for to integrate my various platforms. This seems possible because Alexa implements scenes as “devices,” sending a “turnOn” action to a hub/controller, with the hub/controller that set up the scene actually implementing the scene itself.

Because Alexa treats scenes as devices, it should be possible to group them within Alexa, right? Here’s how I envision this working:

  1. Smartthings has a “BedTime” routine that locks doors, turns connected things off, turns down the heat, turns on the Nest Cams, changes the mode, etc.
  2. Lutron Caseta has a “NightTime” scene that turns off all of the lights downstairs.
  3. BedTime and NightTime are recognized by Alexa as “devices,” and they are placed in a Group called “ShutEye.”

Would Alexa be able to execute the command, “Alexa, turn on ShutEye”?

Thanks!


#2

Yes, in general.

However – – you’re going to run into some issues because at present the only smart things routines that can be turned into an echo “scene” are limited to very specific device classes, basically lights and thermostats.

Just remember that echo itself doesn’t actually run the scene, all it’s doing is requesting that the controller associated with the scene run it.

But quite a few members have been using Yonomi routines in combination with smart things devices in and echo group for a while. It should work the same For the “scenes.”

A much more flexible alternative, though, is to set up a virtual switch in smart things that then can be associated with any smartthings activities, including changing modes, and then just include that virtual switch in your echo group rather than limiting yourself to a single Smartthings routine.

Echo scene capability is very nice for adding Phillips hue scenes or lutron scenes, but it doesn’t really give you anything new with SmartThings. The existing methods, particularly the use of a virtual switch, already had all of that and more. :sunglasses:


(Jay Trickett) #3

Thanks! That is extremely helpful. Maybe there was already a way to do it, but the major improvement from my perspective is the ability to run a Lutron scene, a Smartthings virtual switch (operating routines, mode changes, etc.), and a scene created on any future platforms with interoperability challenges all with a single Alexa command. For a variety of reasons, I’m somewhat wedded both to incorporating Smarthings and using Caseta for lighting. The integrations that have been attempted in the past all seem really cumbersome and unreliable. With Alexa, I’m envisioning setting up multiple “device” groups containing scenes/switches across the various platforms such as “Party Time,” “Weekend Morning,” and “Outdoor Fun.” I’d love the ability to set up 5-10 such “global scenes” and be able to tell my wife she can control our entire home just by remembering a few intuitively named commands. Huge points if it works.


#4

Yep. I’m using Lutron Caseta for light switches, Phillips hue bridge for smart bulbs, smartthings, wink, and yonomi. They all work well with echo, and the new scenes option lets me change the color ( by using a preset scene) on the RGBW Phillips bulbs if I want. :sunglasses::bulb: