SmartThings Community

How can I turn a switch back to off at a pre determined time?

(Cody Farmer) #1

Hello so I have a few virtual switches that I use to control routines that contain security features within ST. As it is its fine I can say alexa turn on goodnight and it will run the routine I ask but if I want to use it again I have to say off instead, similar situations with other routines I do. It’s a matter of fluid integration for me my wife and others. It’s hard to explain to people that oh now you have to say alexa turn off to do the opposite because of the swith state. I would like a way where when I give the phrase let’s say alexa turn on goodnight…lights turn off, security settings turn on, night mode goes on. Then at some point later I would want that switch to go back to an off state automatically so the next use would be the same alexa turn ON command. Any guidance would be helpful.

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(Robin) #2

Have you tried using a simulated momentary switch?


(Cody Farmer) #3

no I haven’t. what exactly does that kind of switch do. I can guess but I assume I use that instead of a simulated switch.


(Robin) #4

It is a push button instead of an on / off switch.

It immediately returns to off after each press.

Select as the ‘type’ in the IDE instead of the simulated switch type you are currently using.

I use a few of these with my Alexa integrations and they work well.


(Cody Farmer) #5

OK so I found the momentary virtual button that connects with my goodnight routine but now how do I activate through alexa. With the simulated switch I just said alexa turn goodnight on/off, the simulated momentary button is now functional I guess I just need the verbal commands for alexa. I discovered through alexa and my app is now a push instead of off on. Before I was using Michaels phrase activates simulated switch


(Robin) #6

It’s the same, “Alexa, Turn on X”


(Robin) #7

Also, you don’t need the separate ‘switch activates phase’ app anymore, it’s been built into routines for a while now.


(Cody Farmer) #8

Even with security features


(Cody Farmer) #9

I can attach it to my routine I want and I can press the button on my app and it works but alexa just spins. What action makes it function…when button is pressed or when switch is turned?


(Cody Farmer) #10

Got it. Just had to change the button to off on both. Thanks guys


(Robin) #11

I’m not sure about that… but you’re activating a switch, not a routine, so should be OK.

I actually use CoRE instead of routines and I’m not at home to test.

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edited to correct I misunderstood what Robin was suggesting. He is correct that you can bypass the smart app “activates home phrase” just by using the “run automatically” from the switch turning on that is built into the routine.

If you want to do without a virtual switch all together, you can for some routines, but Unfortunately, there are significant limitations on the routines that can be used with Alexa without needing a virtual switch.

Basically these routines can only include devices that Alexa could have controlled without the routine, switches and lights and thermostats.

If the routine includes any other devices, including locks, sirens, cameras, appliances or garage doors, then you will get an error message that Alexa cannot run that routine.

So many people still use a virtual switch in order to voice enable those routines.

That then introduces another issue, which is that the original “Switch activates home phrase” doesn’t work with momentary switches.

The newer “Alexa helper” does work with momentary switches, so it’s a good choice as a substitute if you need the various advanced options that it offers such as timers.

BTW, Another alternative is to use the “power allowance” feature of smartlighting and set the virtual binary switch to always turn itself off after one minute. That makes it then very similar to a momentary switch, and will have it available again for use to turn on after a minute has passed. You won’t need this for a routine, but it’s a good technique to be aware of if you are working with other smartapps or third-party integrations.

edited to update so now that I understand correctly what Robin has suggested, that would be the simplest way if your routine requires that you use a virtual switch and you don’t need the advanced features of Alexa helper. :sunglasses:


(Robin) #13


If a routine (containing security stuff) is activated by a virtual momentary tile (using the 'Automatically Perform" function of the routine itself), does Alexa still throw up an error?

I.e. Can the built in ST Alexa app see the cheat?



Oh, I see. My bad. I thought you were referring to the ability of echo to run the routine directly without needing a switch. You’re right, you can use The “run automatically” feature in the routine without needing the “activates home phrase” smart app. There’s no limitation on that because from Echo’s point of view it’s just turning on the virtual switch. Good call. :sunglasses:

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(Dale C) #15

I was curious about the pros and cons of using Momentary Button Tile for the virtual switch instead of the Simulated momentary switch, when is it best to use one over the other. I had been using the MBT with my virtual switches but I can’t remember why I had issues with the simulated momentary switch now. Any thoughts?


(Michael Sammon) #16

get rid of the momentary button and virtual devices all together. yes certain devices , such as close the garage, will not allow the routine to be used by alexa if contained in the routine. instead use core to command a task, such as close garage door, only if the routine is executed.

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(Cody Farmer) #17

I just spent 3 days installing ask alexa lol, shout out to Michael for all his help. And I do have core installed but have limited education on its uses and functions with setups, givin any amount of free time I could probably tackle such a task but right now I’m looking for simplicity. I do have garage doors and other security devises and was able to get the simulated button tile to function my routine with simplicity. Wife approved… I like the power allowance method and I’m glad you brought that to my attention for I might use it in other applications and it’s a good tip to know. One day I will mAster coRe.

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(Jason "The Enabler" as deemed so by @Smart) #18

You can also use EchoSistant.

I have a profile named “House”.

I say, “Alexa, tell the house it is time for bed”.

It runs a routine which also triggers a CoRE piston. My lights turn off, my thermostats adjust, mode changes, and SHM arms.

Just so you know, the only required part of the phrasing is, Alexa, tell the house.

I can tell the house to make me a bowl of cereal… It still performs. This gives flexibility to everyone.


(Robin) #19

I always use ‘Momentary Button Tile’ and its been a long time since I used the other. If I remember right I found the other didn’t function fully with every smartapp (mainly rule machine at the time).

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(Cody Farmer) #20

So your trigger for the same routine is just alexa tell the house…? Then people can say whatever they want?