How do you handle pet / house sitters when you are Away?

(Brian Smith) #1

When we are away for more than two or three days, we have friends check in on our cats. I’m curious to see how others do this. I would like to pull some collective intelligence and trial/error.

  • Overall how are you configured?
  • What SmartApps do you use?

I set the house to Away mode when we are gone (obviously).

What we have:

  • Kwikset locks and doors have Multi-sensors on them to tell us when they are open or closed. Not everyone uses a code, though.
  • The main area they would walk into has zwave dimmers, so I can turn on and off lights with the proper SmartApp(s).
  • There is are also two motion sensors on the first floor in key areas that can sense when the house has “quieted down”. I already use that process for Good night.

(Greg) #2

I have a babysitter mode that basically disables ALL my automations. My thought is that if I’m trusting them with my kid I guess I can trust them with my house. But it’s nice to have a dropcam!

For your set up I would drop the extra money for a presence sensor since they are coming and going without you being home. Of course if ST releases user levels then go with that. Then I would set a babysitter mode that would turn on the proper lights and unlock the proper doors based on their presence. I would set it that the door would only unlock during hours you expect them to be there. Then have it rearm away mode when they leave. I’m pretty sure all of that is easy to do with presence activated hello home phrases, no apps needed.

(Brian Smith) #3

Ah, now I realize I was not clear enough in my original post! Sorry about that.

When I said they don’t all use codes, I mean they sometimes use keys, since I rekeyed our new locks with the old keys. I don’t think that presence sensors are practical because it can be any number of friends stopping by. (Sometimes they are away with us! We all love to travel!) Also, I think asking them to carry a sensor or to ask them to install an app “so I know where they are” will get the big N-O. Even through that is not what it does, it tracks location and that is all people think about.

I’m going to work to have everyone use a code. So, if I could find the app that sets a mode based on a code entered, that would probably work. I would also need an app that would flip back to away mode from “pet check in mode” when the house quiets down or the door is locked. Actually, I would probably lock the door after X minutes that they are in the house, since you can open the locked door fem the inside without issue - a safety feature I actually really love.

I wish the locks could tell you when they were unlocked with a key. That would allow me to execute the same actions if they did it with a code and would not “scare” the system into thinking that someone is in the house that shouldn’t be.

However, the addition of a camera is a great idea and I should do that at a minimum.

(Greg) #4

OOH sorry, maybe try this app this person posted today! Tie the mode change to a virtual switch that is triggered by the door unlocking? If you could tie the mode change directly to the unlocking that would be ideal, but I think I read elsewhere that you can’t do that?

(Brian Smith) #5

I just saw that as well. I was thinking that I might want to change modes when someone shows up instead of just lights. But, this would be a good start.

(Greg) #6

you can change mode by the state of a switch. so have the lock control a switch to change modes

(Brian) #7

I just have a guest mode where it notifies me of all door events, but ignores motion and disables alarms (except my gun safe).
I feel like the more you know about your house the more paranoid you get that someone might break in. Just think back to all the years that went by that you had no idea what was going on in your home during the day. I take comfort in just knowing the essentials, like door action.

(Ben Edwards) #8

You could give the pet sitter a SmartSense Presence tag and allow access only certain days/times.

(Brian Smith) #9

@Ben I thought of that, but they only come over when we are on vacation. So, giving a sensor is not the most optimal because they will have to remember to bring it. I can see that for a dog walker that is at your house on a daily basis, though. But, I think determining what is happening based on the code entered in the lock would go a long way and offer a lot of options for other tasks. For example, when my in-laws come over, they could enter their code and ST could then trigger a mode that also alerts me when they arrive.