Missing features: Scenes vs Routines

When compared to Routines, the Scenes creation menu is missing two features: ‘Delay this action’ and ‘Auto turn off’. Is there a reason those features have been excluded?

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Scenes don’t have an on or off concept. They are just a snapshot at a moment in time of the state values of one or more devices.

For example, suppose you had a scene with the following

Light A is off
Light B is blue at 40% brightness
Light C is green at 70% brightness
Switch D is on
Location Mode is “party time”
Security Mode is Armed (Home)

When you actuate the scene, you set each of those devices to those values.

But there’s no binary opposite for “blue at 40% brightness“ or location mode at “party time.“ these variables have multiple possible values.

So there just isn’t a “turn off“ for scenes. On most home automation platforms.

Instead, you create a different scene that you switch to if desired. Maybe light B would be on white at 100%. Maybe it would be off. It’s up to you. But you have to create a scene that defines that.

As far as a delay before implementing the scene, some platforms do have that, some don’t. I can see where it would be useful, but I think most architectures would put the timer feature into the IF/then structure, which in smartthings is an automatic routine.

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I’m having trouble comprehending “scenes don’t have an on or off concept.” The scene that I was trying to create was to simply turn off a certain light after two minutes. So couldn’t the scene have the option to set a device to the specified value and include an option to turn off after a designated time?

It might, but that’s not scenes usually work. Scenes are just a set of device states and then you use them either with an immediate “do that” from a tile in the app or a voice command or a button press or you automate them with a rule or an automated routine or an endpoint smartapp.

From the early 2023 Smartthings documentation:

Scenes are used to simultaneously set a group of Devices to a particular state. Scenes do not have triggers, and are activated either by tapping the Scene in a SmartThings client (such as the SmartThings app) or by using the Scenes API.
Scenes are different from Rules. For example, a Rule can be configured to “Notify me if a door opens when I’m not home.” This Rule, when activated, will wait for the door to open when you are not home to notify you.
Conversely, a Scene may be configured to “turn on my living room light, turn off my bedroom light, turn on my kitchen light, and set the brightness level” - this Scene will set these Devices instantly when the Scene is activated.
Scenes do not have triggers; Rules do. However, a Scene can be used as a part of a Rule. See Scenes in the SmartThings app.

Scenes | Developer Documentation | SmartThings

In most home automation systems, scenes do not have triggers, they do not have timers, they do not have delays, they do not have if Filters… They are just a set of state values, and they are used immediately and simultaneously as soon as the scene is actuated.

Think of a scene controller device that goes on the wall. You push a button and that scene happens.



As @JDRoberts says, Scenes are generally understood to represent a snapshot, not an ongoing action. So you wouldn’t reasonably expect them to allow for delays and future actions. That is probably the reason.

However as Scenes have been renamed to Manually Run Routines in the only place they can be created and edited, you might reasonably expect them to be capable of performing identical actions to Automatic Routines. So I don’t see it as a valid reason any more.


That was some useful information - I understand the differences much better now, thank you. I had not yet read the ST dev docs for Scenes, I appreciate that link.

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Yes, I was definitely expecting the action selection to be the same.
After years of functioning reliably, some of my routines have been failing this week - so I am creating duplicates and failover notification automations in Google Home.

  name: Porch light routine malfunction
  description: IF SmartThings porch light routine fails, THEN malfunction scene will trigger
    - type: time.schedule
      at: sunset+30min
        - MON
        - TUE
        - WED
        - THU
        - FRI
        - SAT
        - SUN
    type: device.state.OnOff
    state: on
    is: false
    device: Light (Porch) - Outside
    - type: device.command.ActivateScene
      activate: true
      devices: Malfunction
    - type: time.delay
      for: 2min
    - type: device.command.OnOff
      on: false
      devices: Kitchen Sconce - Kitchen

This particular instance wasn’t difficult to compensate with an additional GH action but it would’ve been nice to have the option in the Scene menu. Thanks for the explanation.