MODES and ROUTINES - a mystery to me

I’m glad everybody (but me) seems to understand the relationship between Routines and Modes. I’m not even using Modes in my Routines since nowhere in the App does it tell me what “actions” a particular Mode is executing. I’m using SHM to control all “alert states.” Can anyone tell me EXACTLY what a particular Mode (Away, Home, Night) does when it is acive??
I know it’s probably a very old topic but I’m new to ST and already have a load of “THINGS.”


Modes don’t “do” anything on their own; in my experience, they’re primarily useful for limiting other actions.

Routines “do” things like turning switches on or off, arming / disarming SHM, and changing modes. They can be triggered by presence, button, switch status, sensor state, etc.

My examples:

  • I use presence to switch the ST mode between home / away. My Ecobee thermostat is automatically set to its native home / away mode based on those, since my wife is at home on maternity leave and not following a reliable schedule.
  • I have an “I’m back” routine which is triggered when the mode changes to home.
  • I have smart lighting routines which are limited to only occur if the mode is home.
  • I also have a mode called “disabled”; the hub never switches this mode, but I can set automations to only run in that mode, allowing me to disable those routines without deleting them (I understand the Connect app has an enable/disable switch but I"m still using the Classic app).
  • I have a vacation mode; when I’m on the way to the airport, I turn on vacation mode and it enables my vacation lighting director, sets the thermostat appropriately, shuts off the water, etc.
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The following should help explain. This is a clickable link:

Also, the following thread explains the difference between SHM armed states and modes, so it should also be of interest: