Ideas? Outbuilding Auto Arm/Disarm



I want an outbuilding to be armed at all times except when I want to use the outbuilding. I have sensors already setup and distance is not an issue which is the common question I found. The problem - I am a bit stumped on how to create a routine to automatically disarm and eventually arm. I really do not want to have to change the smart home monitor to disarmed from “Home” every time I want to use the building and set it back to Home when I want the building armed.

I do have a rear door to the home that I could set a routine to automatically disarm when I exit the rear door. Where I am stumped is how do I set the building to automatically arm when I go back in the house without taking action or telling Alexa to do something.

My goal has been to achieve as much home automation as I can that will make my life easier so I can spend more time doing things I enjoy. Automated some lamps and coffee maker so far. Working on light switches at the moment going to give the Leviton switches on sale a shot and in the future considering automated blinds if pricing/function makes sense.

Any ideas or thoughts?


Because I have very little use of my hands, I have to think about stuff like this a lot. The key is to capture some behavior pattern which will occur only at the time that you want the automation rule to be triggered. That’s going to depend very much on the specific details both of the building and of your own normal actions.

Here are just some examples. It doesn’t mean any one of these would fit, but it might give you some more ideas to play with.

One) No motion as a trigger if the outbuilding is small, and you yourself are active when you are in it, and there aren’t any animals in there, then you might be able to just have the system rearm after X minutes of no motion inside. Even if the building is larger, you can set multiple sensors as a zone using Mike Maxwell’s zone manager smartapp and have the system re-arm itself after X minutes of no motion in the zone. Obviously that doesn’t work if the building is something like a chicken coop. And it may not work if it’s a grow shed which has air circulators. But it will work for quite a few situations.

Two) if there are two devices that will be triggered in sequence as you leave the building, you can use that sequence of events to arm the system. This could be as simple as a motion sensor inside the entrance and a pressure Mat right inside the door. (I say inside the door, because if it’s outside the door like a doormat then a dog running by might set it off)

So your rule becomes “if there is motion in the room and then the pressure Mat is triggered, then arm the system in one minute.” Or maybe just sequence it with the lock on the door and the pressure Mat. The point here is just to make sure that you have the sequence which will differentiate between coming in the shed and going out of the shed. This kind of sequence rule can be set up in webcore.

Note that the pressure Mat doesn’t have to be something that you step on. It could be something on a table that you put a tool kit on or anything else that you can get yourself to just do automatically as you are leaving. That’s why you have to look at your own behavior patterns.

I have this at my house where I have a hat that I almost always wear when I go out. I have a motion sensor underneath the hat. So as I get ready to leave I pick up the hat, which triggers the motion sensor. I combined this with Geopresence for a two device sequence. The Geopresence doesn’t work in your case, but it’s the same idea with a different kind of device.

  1. speaking of presence options, as long as you always take your phone with you in both directions, you could just use an ibeacon. You can set the detection zone on these for as small as a few inches. I have one on the wheelchair ramp to my front door where I have it set to just cover the area of the ramp, about 8 feet. Then it’s easy. Set the detection zone to cover the outbuilding (you can use multiple beacons to create a zone if needed). When you leave the zone, use an IBeacon receiving program that can send something to IFTTT and use that to rearm the system. Both beecon+ and geohopper can do this.
  1. Use current draw. If there is an electrical device that you turn on when you are in the room, then put an energy monitoring device on that and use its being off for X minutes as the trigger to rearm the system. This is similar to using a motion detector, but is more precise. However, it only works if you do have an electrical device that you Use in this way. This is why the solution you come up with is going to be specific to your own behavior patterns. What works great for one person might not work at all for someone else.
  1. use a contact sensor on a drawer. this one is easy and popular. :sunglasses: Put a contact sensor on a drawer. Open the drawer when you enter the outbuilding. Close it when you leave. This works particularly well if it’s a drawer you’d open anyway. This is popular for bathroom occupancy automations where you want to distinguish between one person and another. Knowing which drawer is open lets you trigger the right events.

So those are just a few options. I’m sure there are many more. But the basic idea is all the same. Identify a behavior pattern which will be unique to you leaving the building and then capture that in some way with devices that can report to SmartThings. :sunglasses:


Here’s another thread with some projects that might give you some ideas. :sunglasses:


Thank you there are some really good ideas for me to think about and I have learned a lot. I was really limiting myself to one sensor options and really limited to re-arming so now I know a lot more and I am sure something here should work. I really like iBeacon as sometimes I may go straight to the outbuilding and not in the house first so I will start looking there but consider all these options more.

Thanks for taking the time to provide a thoughtful and helpful response! Very appreciated. I’ll report back soon when I figure this out further.