Home modes vs Routines vs SmartApp Rules or am I confused?

I’m trying to figure out what’s the best practice to achieve certain things. For example:

I currently am using the SmartLighting SA to turn my living room light on whenever my front door is unlocked, as long as it’s between sunset and sunrise. The goal is, when we open the front door when it’s dark outside, we are guaranteed to have lights on in the house. It works great! However, it desperately needs more logic. For example, a problem we run into is:

If we are leaving the house to go out in the evening, I will at times turn on my entry light and turn off the living room light just to save Hue bulb life. Well, the minute we unlock the door to leave the house, the living room light turns back on! Or, if we are watching a movie and have the lights off, if I need to take the dogs out, I’ll use the entry light switch right by the stairs. But again, as soon as I open the door, the living room light turns on. Now, I’ve created more work for myself as I need to constantly turn off the light.

So, I’ve now been thinking about this and the answer is simple; I need to simply have the light automatically turn on, only when the house is empty and someone arrives. The logic is easy. My question is, what solution is the best practice to do so?

Do I configure ST to change my Home’s mode to away, if everyone leaves and thus automatically turn the light off? Then, only turn the light on when someone returns, with the mode setting back to “Home”? Are modes still the current way to do things, or are they being phased out due to the v2 hub and are just around for legacy users?

Am I better off doing this with two separate routines that automatically trigger based on presence?

Or is it best to use something like Rule Machine or SmartRules and do the logic within those apps?

There are so many choices and I’m getting confused on what’s considered best practice at this point.


It sounds like you just need a routine to trigger away mode (mine is “Goodbye!”). That way when you leave it can turn off your lamp after the delay time has elapsed and your Smart Lighting app will still work as it does.

Oh and then you should configure another routine (mine is “I’m Back!”) to trigger home mode.

So Modes in Smartthings are still relevant? For some reason, I thought they were being phased out for “Routines” to take their place.

And by default, if I create a routine or a rule that activates and what it to work no matter what the mode is, is that were you just leave the “Mode” option blank, to designate “All Modes”?

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Think of a routine as more of an action while a mode is a state.

Correct, a routine can run independently of a mode. Also, in the “Additional Settings” portion of a routine, you can define it to run only in certain modes or the “Only when mode is” option in Smart Lighting.

Exactly - You got it!

Cool, thanks everyone! That clears things up a bit.

Have you tried to use the smart app “Rule Machine”.

You could do all of this using one rule most likely. It really combines the best of rules and routines and pretty much everything into one little package.

Take a look:

Do a search, you will find all kinds of great info on this app.

And it will definitely make your ST home automatons much more enjoyable.

I thought Rule Machine was dropped, to be replaced by Core… or am I missing something. I am fairly new to SmartThings and am about to dip my toe into more advanced things like Core.

It was withdrawn about four months ago, but you’re responding to a comment from eight months ago when it was still available. :wink:

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Sigh, it is monday isn’t it? Thanks JD, I thought I was responding on another thread. Need more coffee.